What is a Danish Manor?

There are about 730 manor houses in Denmark. The exact number depends on which definition of ‘manor’ you apply.

Fundamentally, ‘manor’ is a historic term, which relates to a reality that no longer exists. What the Centre believes is that you can classify a farm as a manor, if it existed at a time when the term was current.

A manor was originally a farm owned by a gentleman or nobleman: in other words, a farm, which he ran, and on which he most often resided too. The manors had special privileges, and they usually had copyhold farms [Danish: fæstegårde] attached to them. After 1660, you no longer had to be a nobleman to qualify for ownership, but at the time, a farm could be classified a manor if it had been one prior to 1660, or had subsequently been granted privileges by the king. Those privileges were gradually phased out, but the final remnants of the special status of Danish manors did not disappear until the abolition of the tithe system in 1908.

In formal terms, it was neither its farmland nor its buildings that determined whether a house or farm was a manor. In general, however, what distinguished manor houses from other farms was the scale of both its land and its buildings, but the smallest manors were smaller than the biggest farmhouses.

On this page you can find a series of descriptions of themes, which are relevant to the diverse evolution of manor houses across the centuries. You can also view three electronic maps, which show Danish manor houses in 1770, 1850 and 1900 respectively. Many farms changed their status from manor to something else (and vice versa) over the years. The above-mentioned maps include farms, which clearly fulfilled the requirements for being a manor at the times in question, and which were regarded as manor houses at the time. It must, however, be emphasised that there are always cases of doubt and borderline cases, so it is impossible to compile a totally clear-cut, comprehensive list of manor houses.

You can also visit the website, www.danskeherregaarde.dk, compiled by The Danish Research Centre for Manorial Studies. On this website you will find descriptions of all the manor houses in Denmark.