The 18th Century

The Hanseatic League:

A group of towns which formed a gigantic trade association which lasted for some hundred years. It controlled almost all of the trade in the North- and Baltic-seas. In the spring of 1700 the Great Nordic War broke out, it lasted for 21 years and concerned the entire Europe. The Hanseatic league's reign was then over.

Around the year 1700 about 180 families lived in Stege, mainly poor people.
Denmark as a whole was beginning to rise from the ashes of the many wars and the country border reached all the way down to the river Elbe.

In 1703 a navigation school was founded on the initiative by King Fredrik the 4th and around the same time some of the guard-houses were rebuilt to boatswain houses. The attempt to establish Stege as a forum for sailors failed and the school only graduated 6 mates in 20 years! So the navigation school then became a house of correction/penitentiary and draper's shop. The penitentiary once had a presumed Danish princess as its prisoner (see below). Since 1851 it has been a nursing home for mentally disabled.

In 1766, the 17 year old Christian the 7th became king and the country, the trade and the maritime condition improved so much that other nationalities were beginning to move to the country. Big farm reforms also were on the rise and new opportunities were opened for the local residents and the emigrants as the Crown property was sold.

The Crown property on Møn was sold in 1769 and it was then the big estates on Møn were created, manors were built, many farmers bought their own farms, more and more merchants and craftsmen settled on Møn, many of them coming from abroad. The merchants usually lived in their merchant houses near the town gates in Vestergade and at Mølleporten to make it easy for the farmers to stop and trade. The merchants bought goods from the farmers to sell or trade for other colonial goods. The merchants often themselves owned a tradeship which they sailed to the nortern part of Germany, Norway or Sweden where they traded their goods for iron, coal or colonial goods. There was no competition between the merchants, they all held the same prices, but then again the customers would not even think about "betraying" their merchant and go to another one.

From 1770 until 1803 the penitentiary in Stege had a prominent inmate: "Princess" Anna Sophie Magdalena Frederica Ulrica.

Anna Magdalena Frederica Ulrica

The Princess in the Penitentiary
This is the "true" story about the supposed daughter of King Christian VI, who spent the last days of her life in the penitentiary of Stege on Møn.

This is how it all started: In the summer of 1761 Anna Sophie Magdalena Frederica Ulrica and her 'butler', a Norwegian student, Henrik Kirchhof, came to Copenhagen. Anna was then about 25 years old.

Almost immediately they began their task to get her royal inheritance confirmed by the royal court. She claimed that she was the proof of an intimate relationship between the King and the Queen’s sister, the widow Sophie Caroline.

In the beginning nobody took notice of her story but then in May 1767 she sent a petition to the Royal Court where it was stated that she was the King's daughter and rumours began to circulate. A commission was gathered in 1769 whose task was to investigate her story.

This is what they found out: Anna said that she was the offspring of King Christian VI and his wife’s sister the widow Sophie Caroline. It was commonly known that the King had a close relationship to his wife’s sister, but as he was in bad health nobody suspected that they had something else than a close friendship, but the Queen was nevertheless very jealous as he spent much of his time with her. Anna had probably heard about these rumours and based her story on them.

She also said that she was raised in a forester’s house near Fredensborg and that the King had visited her many times there. She had also lived together with the Countess Schack and she had then been kidnapped by some unknown men to Norway. She couldn’t remember any details about her childhood or the kidnapping or the kidnappers.

After some years in Norway she travelled on to Holland where she met Henrik Kirchhof, a Norwegian student, to whom she had shown some valuable pictures of the King and Sophie Caroline, which she claimed that she had had since her childhood but no details were given. Henrik had been persuaded by her story and the evidence and offered her to help her claiming her rights. They had travelled back to Copenhagen in 1761 and started to spread the rumours that she was the King´s daughter but no one really believed them, until they send the petition in 1767. She also claimed that in 1763 she had visited her then elderly mother and she had supposably recognised her at once and written a letter which confirmed that she was her daughter. Anna never showed Henrik this document if it ever existed. Some years later when the King, the woman who took care of her in the forester’s house and the Countess had died, they decided that the time was up!

The commission however found out that her story was very untrustworthy. First of all, the children of the woman in the forester's house didn’t remember ever seeing Anna, neither had the servants of the Countess Schack seen Anna. Anna however had been in Norway, but she had not been kidnapped, she had gone to Norway by her own free will and there she had travelled around without paying for her stay. When it got a little bit heated around her because of her unpaid bills she got the opportunity to flee to Holland by ship. In Holland she earned her living by being a prostitute and she supposably met Henrik that way. He fell in love with her and believed her story. Though when she had to present the pictures and the document to the commission, they had been stolen, or that was what she said at least. She claimed that the landlord had taken them from her room, but he swore that he had not seen any of them.

As the evidence was gone and her story very untrustworthy, the verdict for Anna’s claim was that she should work for life in a faraway penitentiary, that would be Stege! Henrik for that matter was sentenced to 8 months in prison, it was what he already had served during the trial, and was set free. Anna arrived to Stege's penitentiary in June 1770; she was then 34 years old.

Nevertheless the commission had some doubt and the story was kept secret, she was punished very mildly and she was given a small fee from the Royal Court. In the penitentiary she worked her way up and got a good position and finally got 2 small rooms and some freedom. She lent the other prisoners money for a sky-high interest and for her fee from the Royal Court she kept court in Stege. She also visited many important people in Stege. All the time she held up her claim and many people believed her.

Then in 1803 after 33.5 years in the penitentiary she was released and her fee raised. She only lived 1 year and 2 months in freedom before she died and with her she took the truth about her royal blood into her grave.

Source: An article in the Danish magazine "Søndag".
Additional editing by Joachim Henkel.

In 1774 a terrible fire haunted Stege for one and a half day, burning down 112 properties, the northern part of the city up to Nørrestræde almost totally dissapeared. The city got some financial relieve during two years after the catastrophe.

In November 1782, there were 4 distilleries in Stege, 25 years later in 1807 the amount was 18.

In 1786 Frederik the 6th formed a commission which puts an end to "Stavnsbåndet" which lasted from 1733 until 1788. "Stavnsbåndet" was a obligation which the farmers had towards the estate where they were born, to stay there for a certain period of their life.

The year 1788 was a rough year as the King of Sweden, King Gustav the 3rd, attacked Russia where Catarina the 2nd ruled. She asked Denmark for assistance as the 2 countries had made a deal several years before. The Norwegian prince Carl moved into Sweden with about 12.000 soldiers. Denmark did not want to engage in any war at the moment and did not have any money either for such a course, so extra taxes were collected from the people. The war never really began as the English threatened to participate in the war and noone wanted that to happen.

In 1789 the number of citizens in Stege had reached 791 and trade had begun to flourish again. In total around 7000 people lived on Møn.

The church did not own much and maybe because of poor managing of the existing money, the income did not match the costs of the church, so it began to fall apart. When the merchant Meyer in 1793 became churchwarden and was in charge of the church economy, he wanted to get some money into the church chest fast, because some church bench rows had fallen apart. Meyer had to lend money to repair the church, and the security for the loan was the pharmacy! You might wonder why, but the year before the pharmacist had borroughed 1700 rixdollars from the church and presumably had not payed it back.

In 1794 Christiansborg Castle burned down and the citizens of Stege volontarily collected 524 rixdollars for the rebuilding of the castle.

In 1797 Møn finally got a head of the county that lived on the island and who was respected and wellliked man: P.A. de la Calmette was Chamberlain on Marienborg and he was the one who laid out the park around the mansion with channels and small houses for relaxation. He also collected trees, so therefore you will find trees in the park which should not grow in this region. He also began building the small castle in Liselund park.

Corrections made: 12/9-2003