Møn, 2014

Møns History

The 13th Century

Around 1220 the construction of the wooden castle Stegeborg was begun and during the years 1225 to 1246 the castle was transformed into a brick-fortress by its owner at that time: Jacob Suneson af Hvideslægten, and that was not a bad thing to do because the peaceful time was soon to be broken by the Lübecks.

The Lübecks started their visits by the end of King Valdemar the 2nd's reign (1202-1241) and they could not resist taking advantage of the situation when the King died and his 4 sons began to fight amongst themselves. Erik Plovpenning (1241-1250), who was the real successor to the throne demanded that his brothers should accept him, but as they would not, war broke out. Møn was unfortunately affected by this war as the Lübecks had taken one of the other brothers´ part: Knud the duke of Blekinge who happened to be imprisoned in Stegeborg by Erik Plovpenning. So after they had conquered Copenhagen in 1247 they seized Stege and set the duke free, who at the end of the war in 1248 nevertheless had to accept Erik Plovpenning as the new King.The Lübecks took the opportunity to raid the entire island and the robberies by the Lübecks continued far into the 16th century. These raids along with the continuous pledges of the island not only ruined Møn but even the entire Country.

The Kings had to gather money to pay for their wars against for example the Lübecks, and often the only way was to pledge* parts of the country to money-contributors or others who had proved themselves worthy of some sort towards the King. At that time the one who got the pledge then moved to the land given to him and started to drain the land and the people living there of all resources, and if the King did not manage to pay the debt before a given date the land was then owned by the other part. So a pledge = a piece of land given temporarily to a person who had lent money to a king. The land given as a pledge was then free to be used and abused by the new temporary owner until the king managed to pay the loan back.

One of the first pledges of Møn started around 1250 by a man named Henrik Ämeltorp who got Møn as a pledge from king Erik Plovpenning. But when Erik's brother Christoffer (1252-1259) came to reign over Denmark he took the pledge back by force, only to give it back when Ämeltorp and the Lübecks had taken control over Møn and Stegeborg and the king had a more pressing matter on the rise: the rebellious Archbishop Jacob Erlandsen...

On the 10th of August 1250 Erik Plovpenning was killed by his own brother by the order of a man named Lage Gudmund, who demanded that Erik was to be decapitated and thrown into the sea weighted with iron and foot chains with big rocks. Each year a dinner party was held in the memory of the king by a Guild named after him in Røddinge.

After King Christoffer´s death in 1259 the welfare of the country became more confusing. The successor to the throne Erik Glipping was only 10 years old so the widowed Queen Margrethe Sprænghest had to lead the country. A bishop named Peter Bang talked the Prince Järmer of Rügen into launching an attack on Denmark, which he did and in 1260 Møn was seized and robbed. The following year the queen and her son were captured by some Counts from Holstein and the situation got even worse.
Under such circumstances ordinary life was interrupted and trade fell into German hands. King Valdemar Sejr (1202-1241) had given them some rights in this field and those rights were not only approved by his successors, Abel (1250-1252), Erik Glipping (1259-1286) and Erik Menved (1286-1320) but also expanded. Also those occupied with crafts were effected as the Germans introduced pre-worked crafts. They founded a trading place on the beach outside Mandemarke, which got the name Brøndhøj or Brøndeby. This place still existed in 1550 when it was used as a royal customs place, but it vanished without a trace into the ocean at night the 1st of February 1625 (More about this later).

During King Erik Glippings reign (1259-1286) a Norwegian pirate by the name Alf Ellingsenterribly raided Møn and several other islands terribly and not even a fleet of 30 ships could stop him.

In 1268 Stege received its municipal charter from Erik Glipping (1259-1286), which meant that Stege got sole rights on producing and selling some chosen goods. The farmers´ goods also had to be brought to Stege to be sold there and nowhere else. The farmers also had to pay customs for the goods they brought into the town to be sold. This monopoly ended in 1857.

After Erik Glipping's assassination in 1286, Møn fell into the hands of Prince Witslav of Rügen as a pledge. The Prince however had some unfinished business with some outlaws he himself had ruled over in a court of law. One of those outlaws, Lord High Constable Stig, wanted revenge and as he could not harm the Prince in person he had to attack his property instead. Together with his fellow outlaws and supported by the Norwegian king Erik Præstehader (Priest-Hater), who also held a hostile mind towards Denmark, he started with burning down Nykøping on falster and continued a week later with an attack on Møn.
On the 30th of July 1288 they landed at Grønsund and marched towards Stege while raiding the rest of the island with sword and fire. within 24 hours they tried to capture the castle and get a holding point for their continuous raids, but they failed...The castles commandant at that time, Henze Falkenhaven, defended the castle so well that they had to retreat, only to get a so proper and thorough farewell by the residents of Møn that they never dared another attempt. The Outlaws, especially the Lord High Constable Stig, however were furious and had to do some damage, so on the 5th of August he let his wrath fall upon Stubbekøping and burned it down. The prince Witslav of Rügen held Møn as his pledge for 20 years, but no records have been kept about how he managed his pledge and how it affected the citizens of Møn. One could only guess that he wanted his pledge paid in full and the people probably had to suffer under him.

Stege Church (Sct. Hans Kirke) was constructed during the 13th century. Stege Church originally had twin-towers, but those were destroyed together with the church bell during a fire in the 15th century. During the middle ages up to the 19th century the dead were buried under the church floor and right outside the church, but as the amount of corpses increased, the stench finally was unbearable both inside and outside the church and the cemetery was moved. The new cemetery was founded right outside of Stege's eastern wall and most of those buried inside of the church were moved. But still you will find two sarcophages with the earthly remains of the family Moltke from Marienborg inside the church.

Stege once had another church, Sct. Gertrud's Church. It was a really wealthy church and it was situated behind the square Gåsetorvet on the east side of the town. Sct.Gertrud was the patron of travellers and farmers and at Gåsetorvet farmers came and sold their live poultry. After the reformation in 1536 the church got into financial difficulties, so during the 1600's the church decayed into ruins and after the war against the Swedes in 1679 it was hard to see if there had ever been a church there. So, using the bricks of the church, and with some financial help from the King, Stege's church of today, Sct. Hans Church, got a new choir. Today you will find a parking lot where St. Gertruds's church once lay.
Behind Gåsetorvet, up against Sct Gertrud's Church, once lay Sct Annægården where monks practiced relief of the poor and took care of the sick, exept for those with leprosy who were taken care of outside Stege.
Another old construction in Stege which dates back to the 13th century is Hestgardeporten. Inside this gate the farmers placed their horses and carriages while they were on Gåsetorvet to sell or buy goods.

Corrections made: 17/3-2003