Noble estate

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Schleswig and Holstein around 1650, the aristocratic estate districts (light orange) were mainly in the east of the duchies and were under the common sovereignty of the Danish kings and the dukes of Gottorf

The noble estate describes - similar to the knight or the chancellery - a certain type of property in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein . In the once independent Duchy of Lauenburg , the so-called noble courts were also spoken of. The aristocratic estates were agricultural holdings and administrative districts at the same time. From the Middle Ages until their dissolution during the Weimar Republic, they formed the predominant economic system in the three duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg. For historical reasons, the aristocratic estates are mostly in the eastern part of the country.


From land to manor

Breitenburg estate around 1590. In front of the fortified manor house are the garden and the farmyard
The manor house at Gut Panker
The gatehouse at Gut Jersbek
The cow house at Gut Emkendorf

The noble estates have their origin in the Middle Ages. In Schleswig and Holstein , a knighthood was formed from members of the most important established families and knights who had moved here as settlers of the Saxons . The knighthood has been enfeoffed with land by the sovereigns since the 12th century , above all in the colonial area of ​​the former Wendish , eastern regions. There were advantages for both sides. The knights, who often came from the Equites Originarii , built low castles - called arx or castrum - which served both to protect the knight and his family and to secure the land. These simple, but fortified mansions mostly formed the nucleus of the later mansions . In return for backing the country's knights were the landlords , which rendered the local farmers and the charges on farmyards, the so-called curia , forced labor did.

In the following centuries the legal position of the originally free peasants changed. After, among other things, several waves of plague led to a population decline and in the course of the Reformation church lands were transferred to the nobility, it became important for the landlords to bind their farmers to the property and to prevent emigration. The once free peasants increasingly became serfs . Some of the farming villages were abandoned and what were once farms became what later became manor villages .

Noble estates from 1524

In the Great Landesmatrikel of 1524 the Danish king gave Frederick I the prelates the right and knights that they as landlords were allowed to speak even "right about neck and hand." So they received the so-called High Jurisdiction without interference from the rulers; this is in contrast to the (rest of) empire, where blood jurisdiction was reserved for the sovereigns and was only passed on to feudal recipients in exceptional cases. Serfdom - which, however, also included a duty of care - was confirmed as legal. The goods of the knights authorized to do so were designated in the register as noble property and the lords had a vote in the state parliament .

The goods emerged from the fortified seats of the Middle Ages, some of which have survived to the present day. From the castle-like mansions (such as Nütschau ), stately properties developed in the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, which increasingly managed without fortifications. The mansions were preceded by courtyards with gatehouses, barns, stables and other farm buildings, which were mostly followed by the manor villages. Mills, dairies and craft businesses were also among the goods.

The noble estates were largely independent within the state structure in the Danish-dominated Schleswig-Holstein. From 1544, supremacy over the goods districts was subject alternately to the Danish crown and the ducal house of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf . Since the 17th century, the status of the owner was no longer decisive for the qualification of a property as "noble". Even commoners could now own a noble estate. The former privileges of the noble owner have been attached to the estate itself as real rights since the register of 1652. The rights passed to each new owner of the property without being granted again. In the course of the 18th century the importance of the state parliaments and with it the political influence of the landlords waned. The economic and cultural importance of the goods continued.

The serfdom was lifted in different phases until 1805 and the property was mostly leased . In the villages belonging to the estate, rural self-government was guaranteed by a farmer bailiff until 1867 .

With the introduction of the Prussian constitution in 1867, the noble estates lost their jurisdiction and were reorganized in manor districts . The landowners remained until the dissolution of the manor districts in 1928, however, still "authority of the lowest administrative level", so practically mayor legitimized from the property for the manor district.


Many of the once noble goods exist to the present day in the form of farms or sometimes as tourist facilities. Most of the goods are still privately owned. The former manorial estates are farmed by the families on their own or are often also leased. Some of the facilities serve public or cultural purposes, such as Gut Salzau , which today houses the regional cultural center.

The goods form an important dominant feature within the cultural landscape of Schleswig-Holstein; often they are the center of the former Gutsdörfer and bounding through their farms, access alleys and fields Knicks formative components of the landscape.


Well-known goods include:

Related terms

  • Manor ; Legal form corresponding to the aristocratic estate with manorial rights and state parliament (in other north, central and east German states, in Bavaria and Austria: Hofmark )
  • Mansion ; Residential building of the landlord of a noble estate / manor
  • Manor ; stately form of the farm or farm building of the noble estate / manor
  • Raised hide ; tax-exempt aristocratic residence without manorial rights (in Tyrol)
  • Lock ; in Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg: only residential buildings of the sovereigns or bishops, in other regions also used for stately mansions

Web links


  • J. Habich, D. Lafrenz, H. Schulze, L. Wilde: Castles and manor complexes in Schleswig-Holstein . L&H Verlag, Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-928119-24-9
  • I. Bubert, H. Walter: Manors, castles and mansions in eastern Holstein . Sventana-Verlag, Schellhorn 1999, ISBN 3-927653-09-8
  • Hubertus Neuschäffer: Schleswig-Holstein's castles and mansions . Husum 1989, pp. 68f, ISBN 3-88042-462-4
  • Georg v. Hobe-Gelting: The legal position of the noble estates and manor districts in Schleswig-Holstein in the period from 1805-1928 . Kiel, Univ. Diss., 1974


  1. a b I. Bubert, H. Walter: Manors, castles and mansions in eastern Holstein , page 2
  2. a b c d Hubertus Neuschäffer: Schleswig-Holstein's castles and mansions , page 5
  3. a b c J. Habich, D. Lafrenz, H. Schulze, L. Wilde: Schlösser und Gutsanlagen in Schleswig-Holstein , page 17
  4. ^ Hubertus Neuschäffer: Schleswig-Holstein's castles and mansions , page 6
  5. a b J. Habich, D. Lafrenz, H. Schulze, L. Wilde: Castles and manor complexes in Schleswig-Holstein , page 18
  6. a b c Hubertus Neuschäffer: Schleswig-Holstein's castles and mansions , page 9
  7. ^ I. Bubert, H. Walter: Manors, castles and mansions in eastern Holstein , page 3