Christian Ditlev Frederik Count Reventlow
The history of a dynasty
Statesman and social reformer Christian Ditlev Frederik, Count Reventlow (1748-1827) inherited Pederstrup in 1775. As the oldest son in one of Denmark’s wealthiest noble families, he had completed a thorough education that not only equipped him to take over the family’s possessions on Lolland, but also set him on a path towards a career in the central government in Copenhagen. C. D. F. Reventlow completed his education in 1773 when he returned home after a couple of years’ studies at the university in Leipzig and a subsequent Grand Tour of Europe. Here, he had been introduced to new thoughts and ideas about society’s setup and the rural population’s living conditions, fostered by the great philosophers and economists of the age.
Towards the pinnacle of power
In 1748, the young Crown Prince Frederik (VI) was confirmed and then given a seat in the Council of State, backed by a number of influential men, including C. D. F. Reventlow, the young Crown Prince seized power at his first meeting with the Council of State, thus incapacitating the conservative government that had ruled the realm since 1772.
This paved the way for a whole string of reforms in Denmark collectively referred to as the Agrarian Reforms. Marked by the enlightenment thinking and new economic ideas of the period, a steady stream of reforms were elaborated – primarily targeted at the agricultural sector, the principal industry in Denmark. The abolition of adscription, conservation of the forests and the adoption of the first national Education Acts are just a few of the measures that C. D. F. Reventlow would instigate along with the Crown Prince.
Crisis and stagnation
Denmark got involved on the French side in the war between France and England. In 1813, the Danish realm went bankrupt, and the following year, Denmark had to cede Norway to Sweden. The positive spirit of the time that had characterised the great reform work was now succeeded by crisis and stagnation. At the same time, C. D. F. Reventlow was isolated politically.
The last years
In 1813 – at the age of 65 – C. D. F. Reventlow chose to retire from government work in order to settle at Pederstrup with his wife and the couple’s nine children. He lived here through to 1827, when he passed away aged 79.
The museum’s collection consists of paintings and objects related to C. D. F. Reventlow, the Agrarian Reforms and the people who helped launch this great work.