Jacob Severin

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Jacob Sørensen Severin (born October 27, 1691 in Sæby , North Jutland ; † March 21, 1753 in Dronninglund Castle ) was a Danish merchant from Copenhagen and the founder of the Greenland trade.


Severin was born as the first child of the later mayor of Sæby, Søren Nielsen (around 1655-1730), and his wife Birgitte Ottesdatter. In 1713 he married Maren Nielsdatter (around 1651–1734), who was over 40 years his senior, and the wealthy widow of a Copenhagen merchant. With great diligence, Severin built up a prosperous company in the following years, which specialized in the growing trade with Iceland and Finnmark .

While King Christian VI. When he ascended the throne in 1730, initially wanted to give up trade and mission in Greenland, the missionary Hans Egede managed to convince him of the opposite. The Danish Greenland policy was to rest on three mutually supporting pillars: trade in the colony's goods, Christian missionary work and the assertion of the Danish claim to sovereignty.

However, the proposals met with little approval from the Danish merchants, who still had the failure of the first trading company, Det Bergen Grønlandske Compagnie , in mind in the 1720s. Severin, experienced in the Nordland business, took up the king's idea. In 1733 he was granted the trade monopoly for Greenlandic goods, which was renewed in 1740. In addition to grants for the mission, Severin received the right to fly the Danish war flag and use weapons. In armed conflicts at sea in 1738/39 against the Dutch, he asserted the Danish interests in Greenland. Severin founded important trading points in Greenland, u. a. 1734 Christianshåb ( Qasigiannguit ) and 1741 Jacobshavn ( Ilulissat ) named after him .

In 1749 Severin returned his trading monopoly to the king, who passed it on to a newly founded company , which in 1774 became Den Kongelige Grønlandske Handel (KGH). She completely dominated Greenland's economic life until 1979, but was far less successful than Severin in the 18th century. From then on, this focused on trading in Norway. Through one of his best friends, the missionary Paul Egede , he remained lifelong connected to Greenland and the missionary work there.

Jacob Severin became one of the most respected, influential and wealthy merchants in Copenhagen. He married twice more, in 1735 Birgitte Sophie Nygaard (1704–1739) and in 1742 his relative Maren Dalager (1719–1753), sister of Carl Dalager , who gave him three daughters and died just a few days before him in the ancestral home of Schloss Dronninglund near Aalborg .