Rosenkrantz (noble family)

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Coat of arms

Rosenkrantz, also spelled Rosencrantz, is a Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish noble family. The family is known since the 14th century and belongs to the old nobility. It has played a prominent role in Denmark and Norway, its members having been estate owners as well as high officials. The family name appears in William Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet (see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern).

Rosenkrantz in Denmark and Sweden[edit]

The oldest known member of the family was a man named Niels Iversen (fl. 1308).

The Yearbook of the Danish Nobility operates with the following family lines:

Line I: Hevringholm[edit]

The Hevringholm line consists of the family's oldest known members, who are related to the lord farm Hevringholm in Norddjursland. Period: c. 1300–1600.

Line II: Boller[edit]

The Boller line, which includes the legitimised line and the barons Rosenkrantz of Rosendal. This line emanated from line I in the beginning of the 16th century and became extinct in the beginning of the 18th century.

Line III: Arreskov[edit]

The Arreskov line.

Line IV: Rosenholm[edit]

The Rosenholm line consists of descendants of Jørgen Ottesen Rosenkrantz to Rosenholm. This line became extinct in the paternal line in 1802 with Frederik Christian Rosenkrantz.

Line V: Villestrup (baronial)[edit]

The baronial line of Villestrup, which is a side line of line IV. This line was founded by Baron Werner Rosenkrantz til Villestrup (1700–1777). The family seat Rosenholm was inherited by this line in 1802, and all present Danish members of the Rosenkrantz family, belong to this line.

Line VI: Barritskov[edit]

The Barritskov-Brusgård line, which is a side line of line IV. This line was founded by Otto Christian Rosenkrantz (1727–1785). The line is named after the lord farm Barritskov, which after Frederik Christian Rosenkrantz's will was transferred to the Rosenkrantz Family Estate. The line became extinct in 1838 with Marcus Giøe Rosenkrantz.

Line VII: Rydhave[edit]

The Rydhave line.

Line VIII: Glimminge[edit]

The Glimminge line. This line was founded by Axel Rosenkrantz (1552–1630). Among his sons were the known Holger Rosenkrantz «the rich» and Palle Rosenkrantz to Krenkerup. The line became extinct in 1807 with Erik Skeel Rosenkrantz to Søby (1772–1807).

Line IX: Older Scanian line[edit]

The older Scanian line alias the Ørup line, which emanated from line I in the beginning of the 17th century. Børge Rosenkrantz til Ørup († 1614) is considered as this line's founder. The family remained on the Ørup Estate after that Scania in 1660 was ceded to Sweden. Holger Rosenkrantz (1688–1758) was in 1752 naturalised as Swedish nobleman under the name Rosencrantz.

Line X: Newer Scanian line[edit]

The newer Scanian line, which emanated from line IX in the beginning of the 18th century. The family is still living in Sweden.

Line XI: Southern Jutlandic line[edit]

The Southern Jutlandic line, which emanated from line I in the end of the 14th century and became extinct around 1630.

Rosenkrantz in Norway[edit]

The Rosenkrantz Tower in Bergen


Among the Rosenkrantzes in Norway, was Erik Ottesen Rosenkrantz. His name has been given to the Rosenkrantz Tower in Bergen.

Barony of Rosendal[edit]

Main article: Barony Rosendal
The Rose Garden at Rosendal

The history of Rosendal dates back to the 1650s, when Ludwig Holgersen Rosenkrantz (1628–1685) came to Bergen as commissioner of war for the Danish king. At a ball at the fortress of Bergenhus, he met Karen Axelsdatter Mowat (1630–1675), sole heiress to the largest fortune in the country at the time. Her father was a great land-owner, and had more than 550 farms all over Western Norway. They married in 1658, and were subsequently given the farm Hatteberg in Rosendal as a wedding present.

In 1661, Ludwig Rosenkrantz started building his own manor in Rosendal. He completed this in 1665. In 1678, King Christian V of Norway gave the estate the status of barony. It was and remained the only fief barony in Norway.


Rosenkrantz means wreath of roses or rosary. The family's name appears to be derived from the coat of arms, in which we find a wreath of heraldic roses instead of the usual torse between the helm and the crest.

Another theory consists of a relationship to a town in Danish called Rudbøl and in German Rosenkranz, which is crossed by the border between Denmark and Germany.

Coat of arms[edit]

Standard arms

The standard arms of Rosenkrantz are party per bend gules and azure, a bend checky argent and sable. Above the helm and the wreath of roses, there is a peacock feather between two buffalo horns having four ditto feathers each. The horns are divided into silver and pattern, and pattern and red, respectively.

The oldest known illustration of the standard arms, is found in the Gelre Roll of Arms of the 14th century.

Later and more complex arms of the baronial lines, include the standard arms.

See also[edit]

Literature and sources[edit]