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Fredericia: The religious sanctuary

Fredericia was founded as a fortress town in 1650. And the location made good sense militarily.

The location on a headland meant that the city could be fortified and protected with relatively few kilometers of ramparts. At the same time, the city and the fortress could be supplied with both food and troops from the lake side.

Unfortunately, no thought had been given to where the inhabitants would come from. Large parts of the area behind the ramparts were swamps. And there wasn't much catchment area. Only a few small villages: Hybo, Hannerup and Ullerup. A total of 47 families lived here, which the king moved within the ramparts with the stroke of a pen. It may sound like a violent assault, and it was certainly not popular that the farmers now had to live within the ramparts and cultivate their fields outside. But they were tenant farmers and thus did not own the land themselves. Besides, the king's word was law. So he got his way.

The king had big plans for Fredericia. The city was to show the world his wealth and power. Among other things, the plan was for Fredericia to be a canal city like Venice, so that you could sail up to the city's large squares.

Therefore, 47 families from the peasantry were not enough at all to create the living city the king envisioned. And to attract immigrants, the king gave the city a number of special privileges. Among other things, tax freedom, free building plots, impunity for criminals, asylum rights, customs freedom and tolerated stay for a number of religions.

By placing the fortress city on a promontory, the ramparts only had to cover 120° of a circle to protect the city, but the lack of catchment and large swamp areas in the southern part of the 103 ha that lay within the ramparts caused problems in attracting enough inhabitants to the city

The sanctuary of Fredericia

Religion was not something you took lightly in the 17th century. The Danish state stood firmly on the Lutheran faith as the country's religious foundation. But in Fredericia, the king gave permission in 1672 and 1684 for other Christian denominations and the Jews to live and work in the city. The news of the religious sanctuary spread among the many religious communities that were under pressure in Europe. Not least the Huguenots – the Reformed – who, among other things, came from areas in France and Belgium where Protestants were harshly persecuted and oppressed. Jews and Catholics also came to Fredericia to have peace to practice their faith.

There was no question of freedom of religion. The Evangelical Lutheran faith was at the top of the hierarchy. And the other religious communities were not allowed to carry out missions in the city. And if you stepped next to the rules for the sanctuary's religious framework, the hammer fell. It happened, for example, in 1726, when the son of a Jewish rabbi, Moses Cohn, had a child with Catharina Hansdatter. The child was naturally born out of wedlock. And the staff was tough. Moses was punished with a year of slave labor in iron and then exiled. The Christian Catharina was beaten - that is, tied to a stake in the market square and whipped. After that, she was chased out of town.

Tobacco became a new profession

Fredericia's new inhabitants brought new crops to the area, including potatoes and tobacco plants. The tobacco plants in particular had royal interest, as it was expensive to import tobacco from Prussia. King Frederik IV made an effort to attract tobacco growers. And as early as 1722, Fredericia was able to produce considerable production, and for over 200 years tobacco was the most important industry in the city. You can see more about tobacco production at the City Museum in Fredericia.

Many churches without towers

In the religious sanctuary you will find many churches. Trinity and St. Michaelis Church belongs among the Lutheran churches. The Reformed Church, where the Huguenots lived. And St. Knud's Church is Catholic. In addition, we have a Jewish burial ground.

Here, too, the fortress city comes into play. Because the churches have no towers. There should be no tall buildings for the enemy to target during a siege. However, the Catholic church has a tower that was built after the military importance of the fortress was played out.

Come, see and take part in the riddle hunt

Faith can move mountains. And people. It shows the fascinating history of Fredericia's creation. Experience the exhibition in the city museum and go on a riddle hunt around Fredericia's streets and see if you can find some of the city's religious secrets. In the riddle hunt, you must help the spirit of the child that Moses and Catharina had by solving a series of tasks through the city.