Møn, 2014

Møns History

The 16th Century

In 1505 Anders Bille, Denmark's Lord High Constable, became feudal lord on Møn.

On the 20th of December 1507, king Hans forbade the people on Møn to take their goods outside the country to Germany. The goods are to be sold on selected market days on Stege square.

In 1510 Stege was attacked by the Lübecks but the fortress held the battle and the Germans had to withdraw. They did however destroy Borre in the same raid. Borre was the second largest town back then.

On Whit Sunday the 1st of June 1510 the Lübecks attacked Møn. The Lübecks felt betrayed by king Hans and wanted revenge, so they arrived with 14 ships and landed on the eastern part of Møn. Anders Bille the feudal lord was a clever man when it came to war. As he detected the Lübecks, he armed some of the residents in Stege and on Stege Castle with weapons, food, drink and other useful things needed to resist a siege. He also ordered that boiling water and pitch mixed with chalk were to be prepared around the entire town wall, so that those who could not fight because of their age or gender could pour the mixture over the enemy!
The citizens kept calm during the approach of the Germans, and the Germans thought it was because the people were afraid and they approached the town feeling quiet secure. As they moved forward they did however destroy and burn down everything in their way including Borre which at that time was the second largest town on Møn. As they reached Stege they provocatively yelled to the citizens to begin to fight, but nothing happened. Under this false sense of security they dared themselves all the way to the rampart and even down into the moat, as they believed to quickly climb the town walls. Then Anders Bille gave the signal to the residents to fire their ammunition and the unfortunate Lübecks who already had got over the moat and were on the way up the town walls were met by a shower of boiling water and pitch. The attackers lost any further interest in continuing the attack and fled. The leader of the Lübecks, Starterbol, who had been the first to jump in the moat and the first to climb the wall, died of the hot shower he was welcomed by, and his troops left him behind as they fled. As the citizens of Stege saw that the Lübecks were on the run, they followed and with the help of arriving farmers they killed a great amount of them. The Lübecks however were not discouraged by their defeat on Møn and continued on to Langø, where they were met on the beach by the residents of the island (they had gotten the news of what had happened on Møn earlier), which made it impossible for them to land.  The Lübecks then sailed onwards to Helsingør, but there they found a royal garrison on the beach and instead of attacking the people with ammunition they attacked them with bad language!!! But as yelling and bad language never have killed anybody, they made a last desperate attempt to destroy something, so that they would not look totally foolish and burned down some unguarded smaller ships and took some of them home with them...

On the 2nd of April 1516, King Christian the 2nd (1513-1523) gave Stege the privilege to hold an early Market day on the 22nd of July (Sct. Maria Magdalenas day).

In 1523 King Christian the 2nd was banished from Denmark and went into exile. King Frederik the 1st (1523-1533) took over.

On the 4th of July 1524 King Frederik the 1st forbade in hard words that Møn's farmers to sell or buy goods any place else than in Stege! They might have forgotten the previous king's demands on this matter and continued their private trade. Pedlars could not sell anything on the countryside. Blacksmiths and Shoemakers had to follow certain rules and laws and again no trade was to take place at the harbour, as it only was a place where fishing boats were to be kept. All residents were to carry arms so that they could fight back every attempt of attack by the banished King Christian the 2nd.

The year 1534 was the year when the citizens of Stege blew up they own castle! But it all started one year earlier in 1533 when King Frederik the 1st died. The citizens and the farmers wanted their old king Christian the 2nd back who had gone into exile in 1523, but that of course the new King Christian the 3rd, the nobility and the priests couldn't allow since Christian the 2nd had been much too kind towards the ordinary people of the land and that effected the status of the more wealthy and powerful men of Denmark. So war broke out between Christian the 3rd and count Christoffer of Oldenburg who was on Christian the 2nd's side.
A day in 1534 when the owner of Stegeborg, Anders Bille, had gone on a visit to his manor Søholm (Gjorslev today), he left 4 of the castles' noblemen and 4 citizens in charge of the castle, but the moment he was out of sight the bailiff of the castle was tricked into Stege itself and killed. The 4 citizens who had been in charge committed treachery and opened the castle's gates, and the citizens of Stege rushed in. They raided the castle and finally blew it up! They handed over the robbed goods to the Count. But all good must come to an end. Count Christoffer of Oldenburg suddenly switched sides and Anders Bille joined him. Anders Bille got half of the robbed goods back, which had fallen into the custody of the Count, and used his new found power to get back at the treacherous citizens of Stege. The 4 men who had opened the gates to the castle were hanged on Stege's square. Some sources say that they were decapitated and their heads were built into Stege church's wall near the altar! The castle however was never rebuilt, though there were several attempts to do so.

In 1538 Count Christoffer of Oldenburg handed over Ulfshale to the citizens of Stege, giving them the right to fish, cut down trees and let their cows and horses grass there.

On the 6th of February 1538 King Christian the 3rd forbade the farmers on Møn to sell their goods to Germany, as the citizens in Stege did not have the amount of land to provide themselves with these goods and the manufacturers of cloth, hop and iron in Stege could not sell their goods. Farmers who were caught selling to others than Møn-residents could lose all their goods.

In the beginning of the 16th century around 2000 people lived in Stege, but the period that followed was not so great: The Herring fishery was beginning to fail and the wealth of the city declined. Stege's Castle was gone, the feudal lords often lived on their private mansions or other places in Denmark. King Frederik the 2nd was busy with the 7-year-war and for that he needed both boats and money. Stege was to contribute with more ships than the bigger cities Roskilde and Næstved. 50.000 bricks were to be sent to Copenhagen so that Kronborg could be build. Extra taxes were introduced. The farmers on Westmøn began to sell their goods at the harbour at Grønsund. King Frederik the 2nd pledged the island to his feudal lord to pay a debt of 20.000 rixdollars. Stege fell into poverty, both trade and shipping almost ceased to exist, the town was so poor that the King had to relieve the town of taxes as no more money was to be found.

On the 16th of June 1582, King Frederik the 2nd gave Stege the privilege to have a market day on certain weekdays, where the farmers could sell their goods and the townsmen were obliged to have some goods for sale for a fair price, which could be hop, salt, iron and clothing.

On the 21st of June 1582 King Frederik the 2nd, had to relieve the citizens of Stege from tax and aquit the unpaid taxes from earlier years, caused by the lack of herrings. He also redused town-taxe to 100 Mark the following years. The citizens of Stege were so poor that they were on the verge of being beggars.

In 1583, King Frederik the 2nd again forbade the people on Møn to trade with the Germans.

In the end of the 16th century the herring fishery had slowed down so much that it brought Stege to its knees. The many wars of Christian the 4th(1588-1648) enforced the crisis and when the citizens of Stege did not have any fields to grow grains on. The King gave them the field right outside Stege called Rødstensmarken. Today you will find a street called Rødstensvej there. Rødstensmarken was situated behind the area where Stege's mills called Mølleparken were located, and it is from here the name of Mølleporten derives (Mill = Mølle). Where Mølleparken once lay the cemetery lies today.

Feudal Lords on Møn during the 16th century:
Anders Bille 1517
Albert Gøe 1535 and 1537
Claus Ulfeld 1536
Herluf Skade 1556
Niels Ulfstand 1557
Jacob Brockenhus 1563
Eberhard Bille 1567
Virike Podebusch 1568 (Eberhard Billes wife)
Peter Munk 1571
Bredo Ranzow 1596

Corrections made: 17/3-2003