Jens Mikkelsen Ehrenborg

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Jens Mikkelsen Ehrenborg
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Fredericia in southern Jutland in Denmark
  • Soldier
  • Public servant
  • Nobleman

Jens Mikkelsen was a Danish soldier and public servant who later became a Swedish nobleman. He was born in 1621 in Fredericia in southern Jutland in Denmark and he died in 1690. His name was often written Jöns Michelsson in Swedish and in 1687, he was knighted, and took the surname Ehrenborg. In his youth, Mikkelsen served as an officer in the Danish army and later he worked in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's offices in Copenhagen and he was a faithful servant to King Christian IV.[1] At around this time, Mikkelsen rented an estate called Spannerup (now Spannarp) in the eastern province of Scania (Skåne).[2]s According to family tradition, he then rented or bought Howdale (now Hovdala) Castle not far from there in 1654[3] although he maintained certain rights to Spannerup that he only sold to the Swedish Governor General Gustav Otto Stenbock in 1663. For a while during these years, he also had burgher rights in the city of Helsinborg but in 1665 he obtained the rights of a nobleman to own Howdale.[4] In 1658, Scania was conquered by the Swedes and all inhabitants who wanted to remain resident in the province had to resign their positions in Denmark. Jens Mikkelsen chose to stay in Scania and swore his loyalty oath to the king of Sweden on 15th May 1658.[5] Mikkelsen adapted well to the new situation. In 1670 he was appointed a seat on the commission that would revise the taxation system in Scania.

Mikkelsen during the Scanian War During the Scanian War of 1676-1679, Mikkelsen chose to keep a low profile, just like most other landowners and prominent men of Danish origin. Indeed, the whole population had to be wary because of the precarious situation and the persecution of people who were suspected of enemy sympathies. Mikkelsen was very much a victim of this situation. His daughter Anna Catharina had married a Swede called Martin Nordeman who was a professor at the University of Lund. Because of his Danish family connections, Nordeman was allowed to stay in Scania when the Danes came back, but in November 1676 he was arrested on the charge of espionage. He'd employed two Swedish students to spy for the Swedes. Nordeman ended up in a Danish prison and was later sent to Sweden.[6] In June 1677, Mikkelsen was also reported to be a Swedish spy and he betook himself to the Danish army camp near Malmö to free himself of the accusations. He provided the Danes with detailed information about the Swedish army positions in northern Scania and also denounced the Swedish commander Johan Gyllenstjerna's cruel treatment of the Scanian peasantry. On 23rd June 1677, Mikkelsen applied for a 'salva guardie' certificate that would salvage him and his estate from Danish attacks.[7] According to family history, Mikkelsen was considering a return to Denmark proper at the time.[8] Howdale Castle had Swedish troops posted there in 1677, as part of the small war campaign that was being fought against the Danes.[9] At this time, most of the land was a no man's land where Danes and Swedes fought ferocious small party warfare. Neither side would hazard another field battle. In August 1678, the Danes lost Christiansted (Kristianstad) fortress and ordered strongholds, castles and mills between Christiansted and Landscrone (now Landskrona) and some other areas to be destroyed. The Danes sent out the King's Friskytter Corps to herd all the cattle to the fortresses and to either destroy or bring the crops to the fortresses. Mikkelsen now found himself with the Danes at the gates. [10] According to the Ehrenborg family tradition, it was Captain Severin and Lille Mads, both legendary friskytter, who led the troops that demanded access to the castle. [11] The castle was looted but the Mikkelsen family and their servants saved themselves by escaping through a back door and jumping into a rowing boatthat took them across the moat and into the woods. [12] It is not clear exactly where Mikkelsen's sympathies lay, but he, like many Scanians at the time, was in a very difficult position.

After the War In 1687, Jens Mikkelsen was knighted for his services to the Swedish crown and he took the surname Ehrenborg. A branch of the family was elevated to baronial status in 1817 but the last family member left the castle in 1981 and Hovdala Castle is now a popular museum.[13]


  1. Nordisk familjebok, Ehrenborg, 1904–1926
  2. Fabricius, vol II, p.76.
  3. Brogårdh, p.4.
  4. Fabricius, Vol.II, p. 94.
  5. Fabricius, vol.I, p.71.
  6. Vadenbring, p. 143.
  7. Fabricius,vol. III, pp.115-116.
  8. Brogårdh, p.7.
  9. Fabricius, vo.III, p.148.
  10. Fabricius, vol.III, p. 171.
  11. Brogårdh, p. 5.
  12. Brogårdh, p.6.

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