Leo Ulfeldt

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Leo Graf Ulfeldt (born March 22, 1651 in Copenhagen , † April 11, 1716 in Vienna ), also written Uhlefeld in Austria , was a Danish nobleman who fled to Austria ; he was Austrian field marshal and viceroy of Catalonia .

Family and origin

His mother Leonora Christina Ulfeldt , a daughter of Christian IV. , Was married to Corfitz Ulfeldt at the age of 15 , who soon after rose to become the most powerful man in Denmark and controlled the country's fortunes as court master. Soon after the king's death, however, he fell out of favor with his successor. Shortly after the birth of their son Leo, the family had to leave the country. The deposed politician, who continued to strive for influence and power, got entangled in various intrigues, which escalated into treason. This could not diminish Leonora's love and she traveled to England to claim back an amount of money for him that he had once lent to the King of England. He evaded his payment obligation in a less royal manner, had Leonora arrested and extradited to Denmark. For twenty-two years, from 1663 to 1685, she was held as a state prisoner under humiliating circumstances in the “Blue Tower” in Copenhagen . Her husband drowned in the Rhine in 1664 . The son Leo, however, found acceptance in Austria and entered imperial service there - initially under a false name.

In Austrian service

In 1682 Leo Ulfeldt was given command of a company on foot under Field Marshal Raimund Montecuccoli . Not long afterwards he was entrusted with the command of a cavalry regiment. With this he distinguished himself in the fight against the Turks, especially when he successfully defended a pass against 2000 Tatars with 80 cuirassiers . He was then promoted to major general and received special grace from the ruler. When the later Emperor Charles VI. , Maria Theresa's father , asserted his claim to the Spanish throne, Ulfeldt accompanied him as troop commander to Spain , where the two landed in Barcelona in 1704 . In the War of the Spanish Succession that followed, he made such outstanding contributions to Charles's cause that in 1706 he was promoted to field marshal and appointed viceroy of Catalonia . In the same year he also directed the successful defense of Barcelona. The fighting dragged on for a long time. But when Spain was lost to the House of Habsburg in 1714 and Barcelona had to be evacuated, he returned to Austria.

With the permission of the Danish government, he was able to visit his mother, who lived in Maribo Monastery after her liberation , twice - in 1691 and 1693 - the first time incognito. Since 1697 he was married to Countess Anna Maria Sinzendorf and had two sons with her. An Anton Corfiz Ulfeldt was Austrian politician and diplomat. The second Franz Anton became Privy Councilor and Colonel Sergeant in 1736.

Rediscovery of Jammers Minde

It is of great literary historical importance that he brought the notes of his mother Leonora Christina Ulfeldt about her 22-year imprisonment to Austria, where they were kept by him and his descendants. This work, which was later recognized as one of the first great works of modern Danish literature under the title Jammers Minde (Eng. Remembrance of misery ) , remained unrecognized in the family archive. The Austrian Ulfeldt died out in the male line, but the descendants of a granddaughter who was married to Count Waldstein lived on. They no longer had any idea of ​​the content or the meaning of the document. Only a later, educated and historically interested descendant discovered it in the Waldstein library and in 1868 subjected it to a scientific analysis that led to the discovery of its significance. The manuscript that emerged so surprisingly was bought by Denmark and is now in Frederiksborg Castle .



  1. The office of Reichshofmeister came into being around 1430 and was the highest state office in the Danish Empire. He was a kind of prime minister and representative of the king. In addition to his prominent constitutional position, he had a number of important tasks, even if his duties were not clearly defined. In the 16th century he headed the financial administration and was in charge of the rent chamber and customs.
  2. Ernst Heinrich Kneschke, New General German Adels Lexicon , p. 329, digitized version