Antvorskov


Antvorskov

Antvorskov was the principal monastery for the order of Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God, located about one kilometer south of the town of Slagelse on Zealand, Denmark.

In 1165 Valdemar the Great, who was himself an honorary Knight of St John, gave a piece of property to The Order of St John Hospitallers. The monastery (Danish:kloster) was acutally built during the time of Archbishop Eskil. The Hospitaller Mother Monastery on Rhodes and one on Cyprus were built to house pilgrims to the Holy Land. Daughter houses were supposed to forward any "profits" from properties to the Mother Monastery. Over time, espcially after the the collapse of European 'kingdoms' in Palestine, the Hospitallers focused more on helping local people, especially lepers, which was common throughout Europe. [Antvorskove Kloster.da.wikipedia]

Antvorskov was the headquarters for the Hospitallers in Scandinavia; its prior reported directly to the head of the order in Germany and the pope. As a result, it was one of the most important monastic houses in Denmark. The prior often served as a member of the State Council (Danish:rigsråd) until the Reformation.

During the 1200 and 1300's the monastery became one of Denmark's major land owners. People who were nearing death and seeking to withdraw from the world into a quasi-religious life donated some or all of their goods to the monastery. Properity was also donated by families for perpetual prayers for deceased relatives, or to purchase a place inside the abbbey church.

Despite its land wealth, Antvorskov was often scolded for failing to send the required excess to the Mother House. In time Antvorskov owned farms and land all over Denmark and as far south as Rűgen, where a daughter abbey at Maschenholt was established in 1435.

The rank of priors is long but a few outstanding names appear. Henrik of Hohenscheid was an advisor to kings Erik Klipping and Erik Menved from whom the monastery received many lucrative holdings. Jep Mortensen rebuilt the monastery between 1468 and 1490 with the addition of a new chapel attached to the abbey church. Eskil Thomesen who was the last Catholic prior received permission to wear the attire of a bishop and perform a bishop's functions without being ordained. Thomesen opposed the introduction of Lutheran teaching and was responsible for sending Hans Tausen to prison in Viborg for teaching Lutheran 'heresy' at his Good Friday sermon in 1525. He refused to ratify the election of Christian III in 1534 and was a fierce opponent of Christian III. When Count Christopher of Oldenburg failed to get Christian II reinstated, Christian III came after Thomesen and Antvorskov Abbey. He demanded money from the house to pay off the debt he incurred trying to secure his election. [ibid.]

Hans Tausen, who is credited as being a leading catalyst for the Danish Reformation, lived at the monastery and gave a sermon on Good Friday 1525 that launched the Reformation in Denmark.

After the Reformation, the monastery complex became a royal residence, in 1585 it became illegal to use the name Antvorskov Abbey to refer to the property; it was to be called Antvorskov Castle. [Antvorskov Slot.dk.bygning/Antvorskov] Frederik II died there in 1588. Frederik IV's consort was made Countess of Antvorskov, but upon her death the properties reverted back to the crown. In 1717 the castle became a staging location for the Danish army, housing troops. In 1774 Anvorskov was broken up into nine large estates and passed into the hands of local noble families.

In the 1722 the abbey church reopened for services, but the new owner, Finance Minister Koes, ordered the church pulled down and the materials used to rebuilt his manor at Falkenstein. In 1799 States Minister Bruun bought the remaining estate and divded it into the four parcels and sold them off. By 1816 the last of the ancient buildings stood in hopeless disrepair and were torn down.

In his autobiography, Hans Christian Andersen mentions excursions to the ruins of the monastery.

References

"Antvorskov Kloster" Wikipedia Danish.


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