Good times and bad at Gyldensteen 

Lady Luck was capricious with the lords of the manor. Meet Birgitte Gøye’s frustrated fiancé, who had to wait 30 years for a wife. And at the other end of the scale of happiness: the son of a French widow who always came out on top. 

Jesper Daa 

In around 1525, the families reached agreement on a proposed marriage between Birgitte Gøye and the 33-year-old Jesper Daa from Enggård (later Gyldensteen). The marriage contract had been signed and Birgitte Gøye had received her dowry. 

But in 1528, she returned it again, swearing that she would never marry him – she had never wanted to, but felt pressured into the match. It seems that Jesper Daa did not take offence at the rejection. But what could he do? They had been legally promised to each other, under a binding contract. 

So the couple had to continue living separate lives. However, they could not marry anyone else because they were constrained by their legal engagement. Eventually, the king stepped in and asked the smartest minds at the university to look into the matter. The conclusion they reached was that the engagement should be annulled. Fifteen more years then passed before Jesper Daa was wed – almost 30 years after his first engagement. 

Jean Henri Huguetan Gyldensteen 

In 1685, a French widow and her three adult sons – one of whom was named Jean Henri Huguetan – fled their country when conditions for French Protestants took a turn for the worse. Jean Henri’s dramatic life led him from one country to the next, until he eventually found himself in Denmark. 

The fleeing family initially set up home in the Netherlands, where the brothers soon built up a successful book shop and banking business. They earned money hand over fist, especially on loans to France. Then the financial business took a nosedive: Jean Henri Huguetan was declared bankrupt and attempts were made by the French to abduct him. As a result, he fled to a region in Germany where he married a noblewoman. He himself was then ennobled and appointed prime minister of one of the minor duchies. 

For reasons unknown, the newly anointed baron made tracks for Denmark in 1711. The Danish Court was quick to spot the value of the Frenchman with a solid understanding of finances, and he was accepted into the Danish nobility. Shortly afterwards, the Baron purchased Enggård estate on Fyn. 

In 1720, he was elevated to the highest title of nobility in the country – Count – and he changed both his own name and that of his estate to Gyldensteen. The French émigré continued in the service of the state until his death at the age of 85 in 1749. 

The manor tales are written by Linda Corfitz