Stenbock's Prison

 
 

In the northern end of Artilleristok you’ll find the Vicarage, that has much larger windows than found elsewhere in the Citadel. Beneath it we find the only cellar in the whole citadel. This belonged to a building, that may even have been here before the citadel was erected. Originally this dethatched building housed the first church in the citadel, and strangely enough also an attic for the commandant and a room for bread – which was also baked here during the construction of the citadel.

Between this house and the Artilleristok, there was a narrow passage called “The Cantor’s Passage”. In due time the building got rather decayed, and the church much too small for all the soldiers and their women.

 
 

There are a few projects existing about this house. One is from 1705, i.e. one year AFTER the present church was taken into use. It says: “In the place where the old church was found (thus it must have been torn down by then) it it nessecary to erect a new barrack of same height and width as the other barracks and build in such a way that a priest and other officials of the church may live here”

This project did come through at a cost of 2650 Rigsdaler – the cellar was kept intact.

You may still see traces of this rebuilding. I f you follow the white frieze beneath the gutter, you can clearly see that the profile changes, and if you look very careful you’ll see that the Artilleristok originally had its northern end here, and archaeologists have found that the dividing wall here is really the old ending wall.

The Vicar and his clerk moved in, but were soon forced out again. Their accommodation should be used as a prison for the captured famous Swedish Field Marshal Magnus Stenbock.

He had to surrender in Holstein in 1713, and in the beginning he stayed under fairly free conditions in Copenhagen, until it was found that he sent secret spy letters to the Swedish King, in which he not only gave informations on the defences of the city, but even scoffed at the King of Denmark. He was therefore imprisoned in the Vicarage, yet in a befitting manner with two servants and possibility to enjoy his hobbies of art. The picture under this text is a self portrait he sent to the Danish King, asking for mercy, and for his freedom. But since letters were still found, in which he talked very differently, he was not released.

While imprisoned here, he received a visit by the Russian Zar Peter the Great, when he stayed in Copenhagen.

Yet Stenbock never achieved his freedom, but died in his prison in 1717. 

 
 

 

Following the death of Stenbock the vicarage was subject of harsh fighting between the Danish Church and the Army. The Church wanted it back as a Vicarage, and the Army wanted to keep it as a prison for prisoners of higher classes. The Church eventually won this juridical fight, and even today it is a Vicarage housing the Chaplain.

In this house the clerk also had to teach the many children of the Citadel, so it has also been a School. However, the children in the old days were no happier for going to school than the children of today, and their parents were rough soldiers, who were rather uninterested in the learning of their children. So the Army hired a subcommisoned officer who twice a day went around the Citadel with a cane, and collected the children – which helped very much in improving attendance.