He descended from a German immigrant aristocratic family. During the 1550s he made himself a career in Norway where he successfully opposed the last remains of Hanseatic influence, which earned him the benevolence of King Frederick II. He also worked as a squire and local official. Relatively late, after the death of Peder Oxe, he became a leading man of the government. From 1575 to 1590 he was the Treasurer and Statholder at Copenhagen Castle (a kind of “Minister of the Affairs of the Capital”) by virtue of which he was in reality a kind of a prime minister without being appointed. However, he shared this position with the Chancellor Niels Kaas.
As a state official Valkendorff showed himself energetic, able and reforming, but often offensive and reckless, a fact that created frictions with some of his colleagues and occasionally also with the king. To Copenhagen his work was very important. He founded students’ dwellings, supported the education, maintained justice and in many ways anticipated the activities of Christian IV, sometimes paying for it out of his own pocket. In foreign politics he supported the neutral line of the king and avoided taking part in the wars of religion.
After the death of Frederick II in 1588, Valkendorff assumed control of the guardianship of Christian IV but this position led to his downfall. In 1590 he had to vacate all his offices after accusations of abuse of power and the judicial murder of Magnus Heinason. Though not quite unjustified these accusations were probably mostly politically motivated.
For some years Valkendorff kept in the background but gradually he regained his influence and at the accession to power of the young Christian IV in 1596 he was at last appointed Steward of the Realm, a post he kept until his death. During these last years of power he still showed himself energetic but somewhat more cautious.
- (Danish) Dansk Biografisk Leksikon vol. 15, 1984
- (Danish) Dansk Biografisk Leksikon online: Christoffer Valkendorff