Thursday, June 30, 2011

Esrum Abbey, Esrom Kloster, Cistercian Monastery Museum, Nature Center

Esrum Abbey
Esrom Kloster
Cistercian Monastery Museum, Nature Center

Esrum Abbey was founded in 1153 as a Cistercian Abbey.  Of a large complex, only a small brick section remains; but there are many outbuildings that show the age of the farming and other agriculture that supported the Abbey. See

An Archbishop Eskil was impressed with the Order of Cistercians at Clairvaux, and asked Bernard de Clairvaux to send monks to begin an Order here.  The location is near Hillerod, north Zealand.  FN 1

By 1536, the Abbey owned 300 farms, and many churches and lucrative mills, in the surrounding area. 

We like to think that religion where monks were up at 2AM for prayers because their superiors were serving the interests of God, submitted to punishments for infractions because God demanded, and worked hard as the Rules of the Abbey or group required. We like to think that all those foundations would be part of an institution that itself valued abstinence, doing without, harsh life.  Not so.  It became wealthy, wealthy. 

Update:  There is a book on this topic, reviewed today in delivery July 23, but dated July 24, 2011 page 14, Book Review in the New York Times, Render Unto Rome, The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, by Jason Berry, see  As in other areas of corruption, he addresses institutional and groupsecrecy and non-accountability as not a product of divine will, but human avarice. Is that so?

Were these the offices, or are they caretaker residences?

After the Reformation, the Lutherans allowed the monks to continue their life here until it was closed in 1559. Down came the buildings, and the materials reused at Kronborg Castle and other places. A handy quarry-brickyard.

Since its closing, the Abbey has been used as a stud farm, a tax office, to billet soldiers, and now a museum and nature center.

Buildings are kept in the old manner, with thatch roofs still doing good service.

Fn 1

Bernard de Clairvaux.  Bernard of Clairvaux.  What follows is commentary, not a travel matter, except to the degree that extensive travel lets someone put pieces of a puzzle together.

Still:  Why do we just say, "Ah-h-h.  Bernard."

No free ride.  Bernard de Clairvaux is the clarion call after  The Great Schism, in 1054 AD or so, the split of the Orthodox Christians, from the Roman (think Empire) Christians, see

Bernard issued the The Call of All Clergy (Roman) for its newly on-its-own religious machine to gain power, prestige, turf, converts at any cost.  Is there anything in the dogma that reflects what the Founder did, said.  Is sleep deprivation for monks brainwashing, or devotion.
Check history, check psychological control processes.  See Bernard and what he preached -- killing an evildoer is not killing a person, so on with crusades and kill any who do not believe with us -- that extended not only to the middle east, but to France (heretic wars) and to the north of europe.
In the north of Europe, Northern Crusades converted people, not theology, not merit.
In some areas, Christians that were already converted, but by Central European Orthodox missionaries, not Rome, were targeted.  See a view of Bernard as instigator and institutional promoter, not (is this also true? following the model of the Founder)
End of rant.  Instead of reinstating a renovation for a Cistercian Monastery, Denmark could establish a women's abuse shelter.

Gilleleje - Place of Harbors. Church and Fishing Boats Harbor Jews WWII

Gilleleje. A Town that Saved Jews
Gilleleje Kirkegard. Sonaendenesk Church 
Hornbaek Beaches

Gilleleje marina, Zealand, DK

Gilleleje.  Now also busy marina and vacation home area, Gilleleje saved the lives of hundreds of Jews. Gilleleje (pronounced "GILL e ya", see, is a fishing town at the north of Zealand, Denmark. The harbor now is full of commercial and recreational vessels.

In World War II, however, Gilleleje rallied during the German occupation to save hundreds of Jews by smuggling them to Sweden in the fishing boats. There were 7,500 Jews residing in Denmark overall at the time, and nearly all escaped by means of various routes set up by the Danes to get them to neutral Sweden. Of that number, 1,500 or so moved through Gilleleje.

Find the full story at Rescue of the Danish Jews, at 

Many Jews were concealed in the attic of this church, until they could be taken to the fishing boats. See  Eighty one, however, were in the attic at the Church when they were betrayed by someone in the town. They were captured, and killed.

To try to understand that era, read The Shoah Resource Center account, Yad Vashem: 

There had been a longstanding Jewish population also in Gilleleje. This site states that the Germans sometimes were allowed some escapes, see  

This stone, in the Gilleleje Church graveyard area,  shows Valdemar and Holga Lendorf, both born 1864-5, and I  can't read the dates of death. 1920 something for Holga? Then Hugo and Beatrice Lendorf, all meticulously tended.

Gilleleje is a quiet, fishing and vacation spot, with wealthy areas on the access roads near the water. The town is quiet, with thatched-roof homes.  Thatch is long-lasting, and seen often.

The larger fishing boats in WWII made false sides, or put holes in the bulkheads, for concealing escaping Jews for the crossing.

Sweden is just across the water.  Just outside town, heading south, is an old lighthouse. Find world lighthouses at

In the front of the lighthouse, facing the water, is the lever light, original swinging iron basket light. These date from the 1630's in other places, like the Swedish Falsterbo Fyr lever light in Scania. Fill it with burning coals, hoist it up, and swing it so it would be more visible than a stationery light.  The motion could distinguish it from another ship's light, or a lantern.  The information for Falsterbo looks applicable to this, see more at torch-light, as well as the mirrored light in the tower. Could this also have been used for signals to the fishing boats heading to Sweden, with Jews hidden inside?  

The beach is protected from development,

 and full of beach plums.

Is this one the Nakkehoved Ostre Fyr lighthouse in our tour guide?  It is very heavy looking. This has slimmer lines, and some decoration, a narrower light at the top.

Frederiksborg - Kronborg. Christian IV and Mistress: Vibeka Kruse

Kronborg and Frederiksborg
Two Castles, One Christian IV

Kronborg, at Helsingor; and Frederiksborg, at Hillerod, are some of a number of castles, royal residences, other structures built or rebuilt in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Add Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen.  Frederick and his son, Christian IV, were builders. This section sorts them out, and adds details about Christian IV's relationships, as we cobble them together from various sites.

Frederick and Christian are in the line of Oldenborg kings. Christian became King at age 11, in 1588, and was crowned at age 19.

1.  Frederiksborg is baroque and elegant, a place for state occasions, show, carriages on the cobbles, elegance. 

  • Compare that to the earlier Kronborg nearby, more massive, its defense designs still apparent in fortifications, ramparts. Kronborg had been built by Christian's father, Frederick.  It was more functional than show-residential, and is on the Oresund waterway between Denmark and Sweden.  It started as a place to collect shipping fees and defend against Sweden (only 2.5 miles away across this narrowest part). It is massive, heavy-looking, deep mazes of tunnels beneath, royal apartments and galleries around its central and cavernous courtyard. Fire. 1629. 
  • Christian IV's father, Frederick, used the earlier site and made it into magnificent castle, and it was destroyed except for outer walls. Enter son Christian IV and the rebuilding, see

2.  Christian IV was born at Frederiksborg in 1577 and lived there until he built and moved to Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen in 1610.  He lived at Frederiksborg with his first Queen, Anna Catherine of Brandenburg, and they had six legitimate children with her (the designation is specific at

The first Queen, Anna Catherine, died in 1612.

Note that the King is to have moved before then, in 1610, to Rosenborg in Copenhagen (with his mistress Vibeka Kruse? built for her?).  Watch the dates.  The puzzles of people and overlaps have to be cobbled from different sites.

3.  How to keep the castles straight.

The sites often overlap because reference to Christian IV, who did much building and restoring, will show them all.  A fine overview with photos and details and chronologies for Christian IV's work focuses on his Copenhagen castle, Rosenborg, but offers information as well for Frederiksborg, see 

  • Details of his Rosenberg Castle at Copenhagen are useful as corroboration for what we found as to Frederiksborg:  It lays out clues of a lifestyle of opulence and indulgence as to Christian IV that is echoed elsewhere, and this in no way detracts from King Christian's many accomplishments militarily and as sovereign. At Rosenborg, for example, dinner banquets with 16-20 dishes, and 38 different courses, and wine and beer without limit, see copenhagenet.Frederiksborg is clearly a place of state, a royal residence, and was used as Christian's residence until he moved into Rosenborg at Copenhagen in 1610, according to Copenhagenet.

Did Christian IV ever live at old Kronborg? Perhaps not much? He did its extensive repairs after a disaster fire. See

Potpourri of Castles

Built by Christian IV, used as his residence after 1610, and he died here 1648. Buried with Queen Anna Cathrine of Brandenburg (first Queen) at Roskilde Cathedral

Kronborg:  built by Christian's father, King Frederick

Frederiksborg, near Kronborg: Christian was born here

Amalienborg:  Current royal residence, Copenhagen

4.  Life at Frederiksborg

Christian IV was fun-loving. Amorous themes at Frederiksborg are not subtle.  And they are indulgent.  One feast, it is said, began at 11 in the morning and lasted until late evening.  There were 35 toasts, all drunk well up, and more as well. They finally carried King Christian to bed while still in his chair. A scheduled envoy arrived for an appointment the next day. The King was indisposed, and they were told he was off hunting, and had been since dawn. See The carriage access road is cobbled, with quarters for soldiers, retainers, other, flanking. It is a long walk from the parking area past the old fortifications, into the castle, and from there into the interior courtyard.

Renaissance luxury, Frederiksborg.

The castle burned in 1859;  this tower and some other wings survived. See,

Fun in the chambers. The alternatehistory site is not clear whether its accounts refer to life at Frederiksborg or where, but Frederiksborg makes sense. If we find later that these are Kronborg and not Frederiksborg, we will fix.  At this point, we believe from our own logs and the sequence of photos on the card that these are Frederiksborg. On the other hand, if Christian resided mostly at Rosenborg in Copenhagen after 1610, he would have wanted a recreational spot out of town, and would Kronborg provide the same elegance?

The photo at shows this as Frederiksborg, so Frederiksborg it is. Scroll down for it.

See the hearts and flowers on the wrought iron gate top, whimsical little brass-toned figures in fake joust, and the number 4 for Christian IV inside the C and holding up the crown.

The crown is particularly symbolic because a special one was made for Christian IV, gold and pearls, very heavy, now on display at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen. See
King Christian himself was a military man, however, and engaged in battles himself, even losing an eye to flying shards.

Here he is, in the chambre a coucher,  dressed like a Roman, about to Conquest. Note the clusters of grapes, and hunting horns for the chase? The horns could refer to the 1639 discovery of the Golden Horn at Gallehus.

Lots of little cupids, lots of little watchers.
Now we know what this little carriage entrance was for.

Or do we?

Back to Rosenborg in Copenhagen:  this site notes that the Queen had her quarters at the south end, and the King had his at the north.  We had thought that Christian built Rosenborg for Vibeka Kruse.  Was the Queen also in residence there?  When did the first Queen die? Scandinavian soaps.

Look closely at the details on the wood carvings of this clock, we think it is, and the bright paints. Midway down: the two profiles facing out, not handsome people at all -- homely, real folks.

More important: They even look pregnant. Who is that in the center, looking out?  Is that Vibeka Kruse, the King's Favorite?  See FN 1.  We see, however, that there were others.  He had 23 children and "numerous lovers," see

Now back to Kronborg:  are there themes here that suggest Christian IV's interests

More figures looking pregnant.  Why, Kronborg, why? Is that why?  Note the lions -- a family name that meant Golden Lion was given to the King's off-road children. But these are blue lions

More fun on the way out. 

Right this way, my little poppet. Don't let a bad camera color mechanism deter you, my dear. Down we go!  Whoop!


FN 1  Vibeka Kruse.

The favorite mistress of Christian IV was a woman named Vibeka Kruse, a waiting-maid to the second wife of Christian IV,  Kirsten Munk. The first wife had been Anna Cathrin of Brandenburg. See  She also served Kirsten's mother, later, one Ellen Marsvin.

The King began his amorous affair with Vibeka in 1629 - the year of the big Kronborg other fire -- with the encouragement of the mother.  The King's relationship with Kirsten had soured.

Vibeka had a son with Christian IV, a boy named Ulrik Christian Gyldenlove. That name means Golden Lion, and is a family name -- all the children of the sheets were given that surname. And they have done well:  a noble lineage, with many accomplished personages.

Vibeka Kruse was influential, and the King gave her a Holstein estate, and a house in Copenhagen, a modest palace called Rosenborg.

But then the King died.

Queen Kirsten (she was still the queen?) had had a daughter who then married, and her son in law expelled Vibeka from Rosenborg, even though Vibeka was sick herself at the time.  She died a few months later, in 1648.  See

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kronborg - Amleth to Ur-Hamlet to Hamlet to Hamyul

AAAA-aaa-mmmm-le-e-e-e-eth ---
AAAA-aaa-mmmm-le-e-e-e-eth ---

It hasn't the same ring. 

Would that name have echoed through the ages. 

We looked up the origins of the Hamlet story, and found some historical-myth-sounding roots, and changes to fit agendas of the tellers of the tale through the years.  Kronborg Castle is said to be the inspiration for Shakespeare's Elsinore, and for that reason alone is worth a closer look at it and the play. Entertain the idea that the actual inspiration was from the castle at the time at Sonderborg, Jutland, now much Renaissanced. See

Hamlet story's original setting for Saxo, however, was in Jutland, not Zealand where Kronborg is located.  See

  • Myth? The site examines the Icelandic story, and there are elements of the non-human there. There is also something called the Hrolfssaga, with story parts like the later Hamlet.
Our focus is not on a "historical" Hamlet, but whether Kronborg deserves credit as the location for Shakespeare's story.  He knew Saxo, probably, and Saxo said Jutland.

Perhaps Kronborg Castle could stress more that Kronborg is only an "inspiration" to an absent author; that we find no specific Hamlet; and that Saxo drew his "inspiration" from Icelandic and other myth. 

I.  First, become familiar with Denmark's geography. 

What is the difference between Zealand, where Kronborg is located, and Jutland, where Saxo places Amleth. Denmark est omnis divisa in partes tres. 
  • Section 1. Jutland, where the original events apparently occurred, is the west, the peninsula portion of Denmark, attached to Schleswig-Holstein, then part of Denmark, but now part of Germany. 
  • Section 2. Zealand, where Kronborg Castle and Shakespeare's Elsinore derived from it, is located, is the east, the large island across from Sweden, on the Oresund waterway. Both Kronborg and Copenhagen are located on Zealand. 
  • Section 3. Fyn, or Funen, is the center portion, the smaller island, and is not part of the Hamlet tale. 
And many, many other clusters of islands. 

II.  Jutland: 

How to find out if Shakespeare knew Sonderborg Castle. Sources often just state conclusively that he used Kronborg as the basis for Elsinore, see for example

Why would Sonderborg instead not be the real inspiration for Elsinore.  Sonderborg's ramparts, ghosts.

Did Shakespeare say he used Kronborg as his location? It was not completed until 1585; Sonderborg had the longer history. See

 "Amleth-Hamlet'" for Saxo could not have taken place at Kronborg because it was not built until 1490; and Saxo specifies "Jutland".  Saxo wrote in 1185.  Sonderborg was built in 1260 or so.

Sonderborg, then, would place it geographically accurately, on Jutland (see Saxo), and the castle there is on the water and every bit - if not more - historical. See it at

 Travel to Germany to school would be a simple land-walk-ferry (at that time) back out the peninsula at the southern end of Denmark to Schleswig-Holstein area and on down to Heidelburg.

It has been renovated many times, but the site has been fortified since 1260, and inhabited before then.


A.  There was a real Hamlet in about 700, say Chronicles based on oral tradition

That was some 700 years before this castle was started. Is that so? See For a serious literary overview, see The History of Hamlet at

B.  Others used the story,  The Saxo version survived; the Kyd version based on Saxo is lost;  the later Shakespeare, probably based on Kyd, survived.

1.  1600-10  Shakespeare's version, probably based on Kyd.

Find Hamlet at

That presents black ground and white print.  For white ground and black print, see,

Shakespeare bio:  1564-1616.  He wrote Hamlet in the period 1600-1610, but earlier drafts could have been written about 1590?  That earlier date for drafts could put the drafts at about the same time as Kyd's version.

King Christian IV.  Hear music of the era, a Kyrie, at, by Mogens Pederson, prominent composer in Denmark 1585-1623.  Pederson lived during the reign of Christian IV, and during the life of Shakespeare.

2.  Castle summary, based on Saxo 1200

Castle displays are useful, but look further for details. This one connects the Prince Hamlet story of Shakespeare back to something called Saxo's Chronicle, Gesta Danorum, written about early events in Danish history, written by Saxo in 1200, says the display, and printed in 1514. What was the year in which the events took place?  Where was the original location on Jutland?

Ha-a-m-l-e-e-t.  Ha-a-a-m-l-e-e-t.  Ha-a-a-m-l-e-e-t!

Fair use of small part of large narrative display.  We use a photo to start research later. Hamlet story original setting: Jutland.  Castle display provides, in summary:


Orvendil and Fengi were two brothers who jointly ruled Jutland. The king at the time was King Rorik of Denmark. Orvendil married Rorik's daughter, Geruth.  They had a son, Amleth. 

Fengi then murdered Orvendil, his brother, and married the widow Geruth in an attempt to gain rule of Jutland for himself. Is that it? 
  • The Kronborg narrative is clear if Fengi and Orvendil shared a "throne" in addition to Rorik: "In his chronicle, Saxo describes how Fengi murders Orvendil and marries his brother's widow in order to seize the throne." That must mean their joint throne?  How old was Amleth when Fengi murdered Orvendil. How did Amleth find out.
  • How about Rorik? Would he not take an interest? Perhaps he did. Must read the Saxo.  He still reigned on his throne over all of Denmark, with Jutland and the Sub-Brothers being only a part.
Prince Amleth, somehow learning of the dastardly deed, fears his uncle Fengi and pretends to be insane,  That ruse gives him cover to avenge Orvendil's murder. 

The display continues:  Although Shakespeare probably did not read the actual Saxo, the story was widely read in the 1500's, and added to.  Shakespeare was not the first to use the story. One Thomas Kyd created a revenge-drama based upon it in about 1600.  End of account at the castle.

2.  Thomas Kyd version: probably no later than 1590, given other events in his life

Thomas Kyd wrote a Hamlet character drama (that Shakespeare probably knew, because the story was widespread) was called "Ur-Hamlet".  It has been lost. Thomas Kyd bio 1558-1594   Accordingly, it must have been written substantially before even 1595, because Kyd became embroiled in his own tragedy:  Turmoil, loss, accused of heresy, tortured for atheism, caught in inquisition intrigues, and finally dying, broken and in poverty in 1594. The play, gone. Who will avenge Tho-o-o-o-m-a-a-a-s-s-s!

The "Ur" in Ur-Hamlet means "primordial", a Germanic root, see  Apparently Saxo's Latin (some think the Latin was a translation from the Gaelic, see Wikipedia) was not translated into English into 1608?  More corroboration that Shakespeare probably used Kyd.

3.  Saxo's Chronicles version 1185, more accurate date of writing:

Saxo Grammaticus (Saxo, A Man of Letters), wrote the tales as , Deeds of the Danes, in 1185 in Latin, based on earlier spoken tradition. He was from Zealand, see the Folklore Society Saxo introduction to Powell's English translation, below, at xii.

4.  Frederick York Powell's version of Saxo.  1893

Find an English Saxo at this 1893 publication by the "Folklore Society" at  There is a long introduction to the volume, and it includes much more than the Hamlet story. Read about Saxo there.

That is difficult to read as a scan of text in google book form, so read the original written Amleth in a more narrative English translation: D.L.Ashliman.

4.  The best for us.  D.L.Ashliman version. 2000-2011

Now, this one is exciting.

Read the story Amleth Prince of Denmark, from the Gesta Danorum, edited by D.L. Ashliman of the University of Pittsburgh, 2000-2011, at -- it is more spell-binding than either Saxo's or Shakespeare's Hamlet. Get details of the relationships, motivations, who did what and when to whom, and what happened next, alas!  Thank you, Dr. Ashliman. Ashliman also presents wide-ranging folk tales, legends, fairy tales, Germanic myths, sagas.

5. A College.

A contemporary costumed setting, but the real play

We are looking for our photo of a recent Hamlet, seen a few years ago, feigning madness, with Ophelia -- and she is worth a discussion in her own right. She had the potential to be a great character, but Shakespeare focused elsewhere in Elsinore. See

6.  And Hamyul/Hamlet - Hamlet in a Korean-language adaptation

Go to New York, the theater LaMaMa -- and rely on the favorable NYT /review,  See this reinterpreted Hamyul with: as the review informs,  Young Kun Song as Hamlet, Iklyu Park (Claudius), Youn Jung Kim (Gertrude), Man Ho Kim (Polonius), Byungkoo Ahn (Director) and We (hoping to be in an audience, knowing the story and not depending on knowing Korean, which we do not, alas).

H-A-A-A-A-A-m-m-m-m-m-m  Yu-u-u-u-u-l-l-l-l!



Do something!

Ah, but there are things to consider .... what if ... what if ... alas ...

And alas, poor Ophelia. Again in the shadows. *


*  Why is she so shunted?

Go back to the Saxo Nine Books of the Danish History, google book page 234.  She was shunted aside by Shakespeare as well as Hamlet because he, the cad, had already been married twice, and abandoned the first.

"Shakespeare derived from Saxo's Amleth (Hamlet) the story from which he composed his immortal tragedy.  Saxo, however, represents Hamlet as having been twice married, first to a daughter of the King of Britain, whose name does not appear, whom he abandoned to espouse Hermetrude, Queen of the Scots."
The Ashliman translation-interpretation, however, has Hamlet married to both at the same time, so his abandonment may have been emotional but did not affect the status, see Ashliman at

Ophelia would have been #3.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kronborg Castle: Decorative Details, Tapestries, Story Carvings

Kronborg Decorates.
Up Close
The Artist, the Carver
The Personal

1. Tapestries, personalized.

Kronborg has a whole tapestry room.  Enjoy the Nativity, with the amazed cow, with headdress; and the donkey, with its tongue out, about to lick the baby?

Joseph says, Wha?

Joseph is none too handsome. These tapestry details would not show the detail unless highlighted with shadows, thus the change in shade to a cooler tone.  The original is more tawny.

Some medieval tapestries show vehicles and lights in space, apparently. Next person to Kronborg: check the Tapestry room, after reviewing this site at;  and please translate the wording.  We understand these were used as teaching tools not only the ladies doing their needlework year after year, but for anyone who came to the castle.

Read the history of tapestries and their uses at wall insulation, providing warmth; portable castle to castle; status.  The blue color would have come from woad, an expensive wood source from the South of France, in Cathar country. The numbers of colors were limited.

The Papal Crusade against the Cathars, the Albigensians in the South of France and the Pyrenees, extended 1000-1300+, perhaps at the same time as these tapestries were woven.  The teaching of doctrine would have been particularly important also because the Inquisition was commencing just as the Cathars and Alibigensians, believing in a gnostic or dual theology of Christianity, were being wiped out as heretic. See Timeline, Heresy Wars, Cathars 

2.  Carved stories on chests, wardrobes:

Rosettes are a favored design feature from the Middle East to Europe.  Do a search for rosette design history, and find a timeline of its use and meanings, from 196 BC in Egypt, to Mesopotamia, and see also

The front of the chest shows two scenes from Eden, details of panels below. Note all the rosettes: one of the earliest decorative motifs in the world.  Egypt, Mesopotamia, follows human migrations.  Is it in Africa?
On the far right, the angel guarding the way to Eden (never come back no more) also is depicted as female, as the Bible says.

The panels represent Eve's arrival in her own right, and the temptation.  See panels below. Note, though, that the Tempter is not in the form of a snake. 

Question for theologians:  Is a deity all-powerful who cannot control the borders?  Joke.

There is no "removal" of a "rib" from a "male" and then a creation of a female out of it.  Instead, one entity sleeps, and half of it is separated out.  Right this way, dear.  Adm as Hermaphrodite.

Both beings are right there, as the Bible says.  Yet the buck got passed.  Adam condoned, participated, assumed the risk. Did he ever tell her which tree was meant as forbidden?  The deity didn't.  The deity relied on Adam to pass the word. There were lots of trees, and which is in the "center" of a huge Eden? Which is knowledge? Which is life? Help out here, says Eve.

How was she to know which was off limits. I can't even find my way to the soup aisle.