Denmark Eccleastical Instutions

Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership
Female Heads of Danish Eccleastical Instutions
A number of Lutheran chapters for noble ladies were founded in the late 17th and early 18th century. They were significant landowners and very influential in their local "realms"

See also Denmark Heads

Chapter of Vallø (Vallø Adelige Stift, Vallø Stift, Vallø Kloster) The Lutheran chapter for noble unmarried ladies was founded by Dowager Queen Sofie Magalene in 1738. The Abbess had to be of royal birth and the three successive Abbesses of Vallø exercied both Eccleastical and secular authority from 1728 to 1810After 1810 the chapter has been lead by the Dechaness

1738-43 Abbess Friederike von Würtemberg-Neuenstadt
Dowager Queen Sofie Magdalene had decided to turn the County of Vallø, which was part of her dowry, into a chapter for ladies of the high nobility. The abbesses had authority in the Stift and possesed jus vocandi - the right to appoint the priests in the 17 churches within its territory. Friederike was daughter of Duke Friederich August von Württemberg-Neuenstadt.

1738-57 Dechaness Beata Henriette von Reuss-Plauen
She was daughter of Imperial Councillor, Baron Rudolph Caspar von Söhlenthal, and Chief Lady of the Court of Princess Louise (Hofmesterinde). She lived (1696-17579

1748-82 Abbess Louise Sophie Friederike af Slesvig-Holsten-Sønderborg-Glücksborg
Used the title; Heiress to Norway, Duchess to Slesvig-Holsten, Glücksborg, Stormarn and Ditmarsken. She possesed both secular and ecclesiastical authority in the whole of the chapter, though the founder, Dowager Queen Sofie Magdalene had secured herself the right of veto for life. Louise Sopie lived (1711-82).

1758-68 Dechaness Anna Margaretha von Schmettau
Daughter of Privyl Councillor Peter von Brandt and widow of Privy Councillor and Envoy Frederik Vilhelm von Schmettau. Chief Lady of the Court of Prince Frederik. She lived (1685-1768).

1773-76 Dechaness Margaretha Maria Thomasine Numsen
She was daughter of Major General Johan Peter von Ingenhaef and widow of Fieldmarchal, Privy Councillor Michael Numsen, and lived (1705-76)

1776-85 Dechaness Eleonora Louisa Caroline Knuth
Daughter of Privy Councillor Joachim Christopher Moltke and widow of Privy Councillor, Stiftamtmand, Count Eggert Christopher Knuth. She lived (1728-85)

1782-1810 Abbess Sophie Magdalene af Slesvig-Holsten-Sønderborg-Glücksborg
The chapter (stift) influenced both church, schools, roads, bridges, inns, mills, forestry, care of the poor and sick. The Stift is still a major landowner. It was decided not to appoint new Abbesses after her death, and the Dechaness became the leader of the Chapter.

1785-93 Dechaness Frederikke Louise Holck-Winterfeldt
Daughter of Count Adam Ahlefeldt and widow of Privy Councillor, Count Gustav Frederik Holck-Winterfeldt til Wintersborg. Chief Lady of the Court of Dowager Queen Juliane-Marie (Overhofmesterinde). She never stayed at Vallø, and lived (1736-85)

1793-98 Dechaness Marie Elisabeth Moltke
Daughter of Privy Councillor Baron Verner Rosenkrantz til Villestrup and widow of Privy Councillor Anton Heinrich Molkte, and lived (1742-98)

1799-1809 Dechaness Charlotte Elisabeth Henriette Holstein
Daughter of Baron Inn- und Knyphausen and widow of Privy Councillor, Chief Master of the Hunt Count Christian Frederik Holstein til the County of Ledreborg.

11 Dechaness Henriette Sophie von Düring
She was daughter of the Hannoveran Lieutenant General ernst Friederich von Rheder and widow of Friederich Ernst Christoph von Düring. She resigned and never lived in the chapter. In the 1810s the Chapter developed from an exclusive institution for the daughters of the highest nobility to a "life insurance" for unmarried daughters of the Danish nobility. She lived (1752-1819)

1811-39 Dechaness Lucie Charlotte Sehested Juul
Daughter of Count Christen Scheel and widow of Christinan Sehestedt Juul til Raunhold. She died as
Chief Lady of the Court of Dowager Queen Marie Sophie Frederikke, and lived (1765-1839)

1840-65 Dechaness Margrethe Vilhelmine von Schmettau
Daughter of Privy Councillor Christian Ludvig Stemann and widow of Count Gottfried Vilhelm Christian von Schmettau and lived (1780-1865)

1865-93 Dechaness Sophie Amalie Bardenfledt
It was not until the 1860’s, that Vallø started to sell it's farmhouses making many farmers and "husmænd" came to own their own farms. The castle burned almost to the ground an the 86 year old leader of the convent fled her chambers in her nightgown.
She was widow of Carl Emil Bardenfleth (Geheimekonferentsråd and Kammerherre) and daughter of Count Gottfried von Schmettau. She lived (1810-93)

1893-1904 Acting Dechaness Marie Winfrida Bangemann Huygens
Daughter of the Dutch Ambassador, C.D.E.J. Bangemann Huygens. (d. 1904)

1904-08 Acting Dechaness Komtesse Juliane Pauline Sofie Knuth
She resigned from the post.

1908-21 Acting Dechaness Karen Elisabeth Marie Christine Wichfeldt
She resigned from the post.

1921-32 Dechaness Anna Sophie Margrethe Emanuella Sponneck
In 1919 the special privilleges for "fidelkomier" was abolished but Vallø and the Chapter for Noble Ladies of Vemmetofte were allowed to continue as special foundations. She was widow of Geheimekonferentsråd, Kammeherre, Envoy, Count of the Realm Frederik Vilhelm Sponneck and daughter of Kammerherre, CountKnud Brockenhuss-Schack. She lived (1859-1932).

1932-43 Dechaness Margrethe Caroline Augusta Julie Danneskiold-Samsøe
She was widow of Count Christian Valdemar Danneskjold-Samsøe and daughter of Baron Carl Juel-Brockendorff to the Barony of Schellenborg and Stamhuset Thorseng, Hindemae and Hollufgaard, and lived (1867-1943).

1943-46 Acting Dechaness L.H. de Seréne d'Acqueria

She lived (1867-1949)

1946-48 Dechaness E.T. Moltke, née Countess Danneskiold-Samsøe
She lived (1869-1948)

1948-65 Dechaness Benedicte Moltke
In 1958 the chapter bought a car a replacement for the coach that had been used until then. She was widow of Count F.C. Moltke and daughter of Count K.A.V.Knuth and ived (1893-1986)

1965-68 Dechaness Edele Sophie Charlotte Elisabeth Ahlefeldt-Laurvig
Widow of Count Julius Ahlefeldt-Laurvig and daughter of Kammerherrre H.C.F.V. Cederfeld de Simonsen. Her daughter, Beke Reventlow, has been Dechaness since 1994. She lived (1893-1984)

1968-1994 Acting Dechaness Ella Adelaide Wichfeld
From 1976 the Chapter was open for widows or divorcees and later also for non-nobles. Normally known as Addi, she was daughter of Kammerherre N.H. F. Wichfeldt and unmarried. She resigned in 1994, and lived (1898-2001).

1994- Dechaness Beke Reventlow
Widow of Christian Benedict Frederik Reventlow, lensgreve Reventlow of the County of Christianssæde (1915-84), and daughter of Count Julius Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Lehn and Edele Cederfeld de Simonsen (Dechaness 1965-68), she is mother of two daughters and a son. (b. 1921-).



Other chapters for noble ladies. They were less important than Vallø but signficant landowners.

Vemmetofte kloster (Chapter for Noble Ladies 1735-1976)
Founded by Princess Sophie Hedvig af Danmark (Title in Danish was priorinde på Vemmetofte)

.....1768.... Prioress von der Osten

........ Ida Sophie Leth
(b. 1754-)

Untill 1877 Anna Teilman
She lived (1809-77)

Until 1886 Prioress Caroline Moltke née von der Maase
She lived (1827-86).

Until 1911 Vilhelmine Marie von Bardenfleth
She lived (1833 -1911)

........Prioress Gerda Helene Tuxen
Former Headmistriss of Comtesse Moltke's Shool for Girls. She lived (1879-1963).

Around 1913 Prioress Ellen von Rosen

Prioress Karen Bardenfleth
Former Missionary, she lived


Støvringgaard Kloster
aronesse Christine Fuirens willed the estate of Støvringgaard to be made into a chapter of noble lady in 1735 , inhabited by noble unmarried ladies 1760-1981.



Roskilde Kloster
Margrethe Ulfeldt and Berte Skeel founded the first chapter for noble ladies in 1669. It merged with the Det Adelige Jomfrukloster i Odense in 1974 and is still a selv-owning foundation, though not inhabited by noble ladies any more.

Around 1401 Abbess Sofie Clausdatter (Roskilde sankt Clara kloster)

1692-1733 Prioress Mette Reedtz

1699-1720 Patronesse Berte Ottesdatter Skeel til Holbæksgaard, Skovgaard og Selsø
Also known as Birthe, she was joint leader of the Chapter for noble ladies with Margrethe Ulfeldt. She was the wife of Nils Rosenkrant til Stougaard and as her own children had died, she created the estate of Holbækgård as a fidecommis for her nice, Charlotte Amalie Mogensdatter Skeel in 1700 and aquired local jurisdiction for the estate (birkeret) the following year. Charlotte Amalie was married to Christian Ludvig von Plessen and had inherited the fidecommis of Fussingø after the death of her father, Mogens Skeel, in 1794. Berthe was daughter of Otto Skeel, and lived (1614-1720).

1699-1703 Patronesse Margrethe Knudsdatter Ulfeldt til Totterup
Married to General Admiral-Lieutenant and Privy Councillor Niels Juel til Valdemar Slot, Eriksholm og Totterupholm (1629-97) and lived (1641-1703).

1703-35 Patronesse Vibeke Nielsdatter Juel
Also known as Wibiche , she became Joint Leader of the Capter together with her brother and sister after the death of her mother, Margrethe Ulfeldt. After their death she continued to run the chapter. She was first married Christian Bielke and then to Gregers Juel, with whom she had 6 children. She lived (1672-1735).

1703-22 Patroness Sophie Nielsdatter Juel
Took over the patronage of her mother, Margrethe Ulfeldt together with her sister, after the death of her brother. She marrried Niels Kragh, was mother of 3 children, and lived (1664-1722).

1720-37 Patroness Birgitte Ottosdatter Skeel
Took over the patronage of her sister, Berthe Skeel, with her husband, Otto Eriksen Krabbe, she had one daughter, Charlotte Amalie Krabbe (
1689 - 1709), and 1732 she got the permision to leave the post of Patroness of the Skeel-family to her niece, Charlotte Amalie Skeel and her husband, Iver Rosenkrantz, . She lived (1669-1737)

1737-63 Patroness Charlotte Amalie Christendatter Skeel
Took over the patronage after the death of her aunt, Birgitte Skeel and inherited the fidecommis of Holbækgård
 from her and had already
inherited the estates of Eegholm and Krabbesholm from Birgitte. She was daughter of Christen Skeel and his second wife, Charlotte Amalie Plessen,  and married to Chancellor Iver Rosenkrands til Rosenholm og Rygaard (1674-1745), and lived (1700-63).

Odense Kloster (Adelige Jomfrukloster)
The chapter was founded by Karen Brahe, one of the country's richest ladies and most learned persons of her time.


Until 1913 Prioress Vilhelmine Charlotte Henriette Louise Baronesse Schaffalitzky de Muckadell
She lived (1840-1913).

Gisselfeld Adelige Kloster

...  Komtesse Frederikke L.C. Danneskiold-Samsøe
She was the second prioress of the convent.

Until 1954 Prioress Komtesse Magdalene af Danneskiold-Samsøe
She lived (1876-1954)

Det grevelige Dannemandske Stift Aastrup (The countly chapter of Aastrup) 1886-1983


Maribo Kloster (Chapter of Maribo)
The chapter was founded 1418 as the first Bridgettine abbey in Denmark and abolished after the reformation in 1536. It was reestablished as a Lutheran Chapter for Noble ladies in 1556, and became an exteremely rich landowner and the Abbess functioned more or less as a local County Sheriff (Lensmand). The Abbess was granted
the jurisdiction of those who lived at the estates of the Chapter and 1559 over the City of Maribo and surroundings. This meant that she had the right to appoint the judge (birkedommer) and received the income from the costs of the proceedings and fines. She managed the City of Maribo jointly with the Confessor (Konfessoren). The Chapter (protestantiske jomfrustiftelse) was abolished in 1621.

14...Margrethe Eriksdatter Krummedige
She was (b. 1400-?)

Around 1535 Anne Joachimsdatter Hardenberg
She (d. after 1536)

1556 Ellen Andersdatter Gøye til Kilegård
Abbedisse i Maribo kloster

1556-64/65 Mette Marsvinsdatter
Her inaguration was witnessed by King Christian 3, and
 a number of noble families paid to accommodate their unmarried daughters or sisters at the abbey for the rest of their lives, unless a marriage prospect arose. Already in 1563 the Lutheran Bishop of Fyn, who had responsibility for Maribo, received complaints that the abbey was harboring Roman Catholics. Allegations of the continued prayers for the souls of the dead, the singing of Catholic hymnns, the refusal to listen to the Lutheran pastor's sermons (he was heckled in church), and the resumption of the habit of the Bridgettines were all cited as proof that the abbey was "corrupting" the women who went to live there, and she was rebuked by King Frederik 3 for not keeping her "House in order".  She "reigned" externally almost as a County Sheriff over the vast estates and population and the Town of Maribo and internally over the canonesses in the chapter.

1556-? Prioress Drude Pogvisk

1564/65-82 Margrethe Urne
She entered the chapter in 1542 and "reigned as Abbess ably and well like no other abbess before or after her". There were complaints that the chapter
was opened to anyone who wanted to visit, the canonesses fought openly and refused to comply with the rule or the abbess, many were drunk on a regular basis, drinking up the fourteen barrels of beer received each year as rent and more. It was also asserted that women's rooms were used as brothels for any young nobleman who wandered inside. She was daughter of Knud Urne til Søgård, and (d. 1582).

1582-96 Sophia Gyldenstjerne
Elected by the Assembly of Canonesses and instated by the two Councillors of the Realm, Chancellor Ejler Grubbe and Steen Brahe. In the beginning she was an able administrator but soon the old disputes among the canonesses entrupted again and she was removed from office by King Christian 4.

1596-1602 Margrethe Pedersdatter Norby
Elected as successor of Sophia Gyldenstjerne. She had been married to Jørgen Bryske until their divorce, and in 1564 she entered the chapter. Daughter of
Peder Norby til Urup (d. 1602).



Last update 01.01.13