The Danehof

From the middle of the 1200's, the Danish parliament met at Nyborg Castle; the Danish word for meeting was "hof", and the word "Danehof" appeared from around 1300. This body functioned as a court of law, dealt with foreign policy and settled disagreements relating to the power of the crown. The Danehof's meetings were an expression of the idea that all groups have a right to take part in the governing of the country; no group should be left out of this process. This development was mirrored in other European countries such as England and France, where parliaments began to be organised, with leading men representing the citizens.

Countless important events happened at the Danehof gatherings in Nyborg. In 1276, King Erik Klipping succeeded in getting the nobles to acknowledge his little son, Erik Menved, as the heir to the throne. In 1282, Erik Klipping issued his coronation charter, also called Denmark's first constitution. In 1287, the same king's murderers were sentenced at Nyborg, including Chamberlain Stig, the only one of the Danehof nobles who hadn't voted for Erik Menved as Erik Klipping's successor. Whether the real murderers were sentenced for the crime is another story... It was also in Nyborg that Queen Margrethe I's son Oluf was chosen as the crown prince of Norway. In 1413, the Danehof at Nyborg passed a law stating that the Duchy of Southern Jutland was now officially a part of Denmark. 

During the almost 200 years that Nyborg Castle was the seat of the Danehof, the castle grew and changed in appearance. To the east, there is a large tower called Knud's Tower; now only the lower part is preserved. It was in all likelihood built in the 1300's. Around 1400 there was a building project that led to great expansion of the castle. The palace had a story added, making it 3 stories high. Shortly after that, the palace was extended to the south wall. On the new top floor, a grand room was created for the king to entertain and receive the court and the Danehof members, as well as emissaries from the now very extensive Baltic empire. At around this time, Queen Margrethe I founded the Church of  Our Lady in Nyborg, to celebrate her victory over Albrecht of Mecklenburg in the struggle for the Swedish throne. As a unified complex, the church and the castle are a monument to the creation of the Union of Kalmar, with Denmark, Norway and Sweden under the same rule. 

The king or queen did not call the Danehof gatherings together after 1413, probably because they were no longer necessary. The nobles had acquired more permanent influence through the royal council and the king had gotten more control of the nobles by having a say in the composition of the royal council. As a compensation for the Danehof meetings, there were Lords' Days, similar to the earlier annual gatherings: anyone could come and lay his case before the assembly, in the presence of the king or queen, and public affairs were openly discussed.