Arild Huitfeldt

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Arild Huitfeldt

Arild Huitfeldt , baptized name Arvid Huitfeldt, in Latin he wrote himself Arnoldus Witfeldt, (born September 11, 1546 in Bergenhus , †  December 16, 1609 in Herlufsholm ) was a Danish politician and historian .


His parents were the feudal man Christoffer Huitfeldt zu Berritsgaard († 1559) and his wife Øllegaard Trolle.

The father became a member of the Imperial Council in 1553 and moved from Bergenhus to Korsør in 1556 , then to Gotland . Arild was placed with Johannes Machabæus in Copenhagen. After his death in 1557 he came to (later bishop) Poul Madsen . With both he was taught by private tutors. In 1562 he went to high school in Strasbourg , where he learned the Latin language from Johannes Sturm . When his uncle Herluf Trolle died in 1565 as a result of a war wound, he had to return to Copenhagen. There he was forced to agree to an inheritance contract with the brother of the deceased Børge Trolle, which was unfavorable for him and his mother. In 1566 he returned to Strasbourg. In 1568 he went to Tübingen and from there to France, where he matriculated in Orléans in 1566 and studied law in addition to further training in Latin. On this trip he also met the Schleswig lawyer and historian Poul Cypræus , who later helped him collect historical material. Around 1570 he returned to Copenhagen, where a lawsuit against him for the surrender of land was up for decision. After the decision, which was unfavorable for him, he joined the Kancelli as secretary. After a successful inheritance process, he received, among other things, the collection of documents that his uncle Herluf had created. She later enabled him to write his great history. In 1573 he was promoted to chief secretary. He owed this rise to the Chancellor Niels Kaas, with whom he was on friendly terms and who valued his zeal for work. All letters and requests for mercy to the king went first through his hand. He was also responsible for school, church and science and whatever else was assigned to this authority. He soon got in touch with all the major people involved in the history of Denmark. He accompanied the king on his travels and met the historian and theologian David Chyträus in Güstrow in 1576 . Since the secretary's salary was low, it was customary to receive sports for mercy or privileges , sometimes in the form of smaller fiefs. So he got the St. Hans monastery in Viborg , a cathedral provost and a canonical in Aarhus and also in Søndmøre in Norway.

In 1580 he resigned his post as chief secretary allegedly for health reasons and retired to his estate Lillø and Odersbjærg in Gers Herred with the trading place in Skaane . In 1586 he got a seat in the Imperial Council. In addition, he became the realm's chancellor and was placed at the head of the judiciary. For his work he was given further fiefs. He was also a judge on the royal court. In 1591 he accompanied Nicolaus Theophilus on a diplomatic mission to Saxony. When Christian IV took over government in 1596, he was his advisor. At the beginning of the 17th century he was on many important diplomatic missions. In December 1606 he suffered a stroke , retired from all public offices and lived on Herlufsholm until his death , where he had become school director in 1583.

His historical works appeared one after the other in an unusually short time. He used the work of his predecessors on a large scale. According to Arild, the chronicle written in Danish was supposed to be the preparatory work for a chronicle written in Latin. The intention was also to create a kind of prince mirror for the young King Christian IV by depicting the past , by trying to work out causal connections in the course of history. In Danmarks engined Krønike I shows that Huitfeldt supporters of monarchomachs was. His scribes, however, were not very careful when copying old documents, which, according to the custom of the time, he included verbatim in his chronicle, which means that many of the original documents have been preserved. His style is clumsy, and he was quite careless when he drew lines between isolated, contradicting pieces of information from the past. He lacked a critical view of the sources. Even so, Arild's chronicle was held in high esteem for a long time. In today's perspective of the well-advanced source criticism, the shortcomings of his chronicle, which are probably also caused by the great haste in drafting it, become more and more apparent. He described the past as an aristocrat of the 16th century and projected his contemporary conditions into the society of that time. It also has to do with his view of history: people are the same at all times, and history repeats itself over and over again. The criticism of his representation began with the investigations of Hans Gram in the 18th century and was deepened and systematically presented by Kristian Erslev in the 19th century. Part of his handwritten collections came to the university library in 1617, where he fell victim to the flames in 1728. The most important manuscripts, however, remained in private hands for over 100 years and have largely been preserved.

Works (selection)

  • Danmarks Riges Krønike I. En kaart Historisk Beskriffuelse paa hues Merkeligt som sig Aarlig under kong Christian den tredje, Danmarkis, Norgis, Vendis og Gottes konning etc haffuer tildraget. Copenhagen 1595.
  • Danmarks riges Krønike II. Historisk Beskriffuelse om hues sig haffue tildragit under Kong Christiern den Andes. Copenhagen 1596.
  • Danmarks riges Krønike III. Konning Friderich den Førstis: Danmarckis, Norgis, Wendis oc Gotthis konning etc .: histori som regerede almost IX. aar. Copenhagen 1597.
  • Danmarks riges Krønike IV. Historiske descriffuelse om huis sig haffuer tildraget under the stormectigste prince oc lord Christiern, the prince aff det naffn: oc regaerede vdi 33 aar fra det 1448, oc indtil det 1481. Copenhagen 1599.
  • Danmarks riges Krønike V. Kong Hansis Krønicker. som vaar danmarckis, suerigis, norgis, vendis oc gotthis kinge, hertug vdi slesuig, holsten, stormarn oc dytmersten, greffue vdi Oldenborg oc Delmenhorst: som regaerede i 32 aar fra anno 1481 oc til anno 1513. Copenhagen 1599.
  • Danmarckis rigis krønicke IX: from Kong Dan den første, oc indtil Kong Knud the 6th as he redigeret to visse aar oc tider . Copenhagen 1603.
  • Danmarks Riges Krønike VI. In a kaart chronologia: forfølge oc continuatz, paa huis as her vdi Danmarck skeed oc concern him, fran Canuto VI. oc det aar 1182 oc indtil det Oldenborgste stem vidtager 1448, som er 266. aars historier. Copenhagen 1600.
  • Danmarks Riges Krønike VII. The anden Part Chronologiae. Fra Erik Menved til Valdemar Atterdag. Copenhagen 1601.
  • Danmarks Riges Krønike VIII. Den Tredie Part Chronologiae. Fra Oluf Håkonsson til Christoffer af Bayern . Copenhagen 1603.
  • The spiritual histori offuer old Danmarckis rige, det he, Eñ kort crønicke huorledis bisperne sammesteds, oc the Christian religion vdi this land he forfremmet, opuoxt oc forekommen indtil before tid: sammeledis it register om de norske bisper. Copenhagen 1603.
  • Bispekrøniken: the spiritual histori offuer old Danmarckis Rige. Copenhagen 1604.


Individual evidence

  1. "Kancelli" was the authority of the Chancellor.
  2. Knud Fabricius: Kongeloven. P. 76.
  3. Harald Ilsøe: Dansk Biografisk Leksikon. P. 600.
  4. Harald Ilsøe: Dansk Biografisk Leksikon. P. 601.