Christian IV’s Arsenal Hall

The 156m-long Arsenal Hall, built by order of King Christian IV, has contained cannons since it was completed in 1604. Below are some examples of what you can discover in the hall.

‘The Holy Roman Empire Ends at the Eider’
In the 1700s, the Eider Stone was mounted on the gateway to the Danish fortress in Rendsburg. Rendsburg was close to the River Eider, which formed the border between Schleswig and Holstein. For centuries the two duchies had been divided between the dukes of Gottorp and the kings of Denmark, but only Holstein had the German emperor as feudal overlord.
In 1806 the German empire collapsed, and Holstein came under the rule of the Danish king. The stone was dismantled and deposited in the Rendsburg arsenal. In 1863 it was moved to the arsenal in Copenhagen, together with a whole host of other artefacts that are among the finest treasures in the museum’s collections today.

On page 95 of Den sidste Danmarkshistorie (‘The Last History of Denmark’, 1996), the Danish historian Søren Mørch writes:
‘Rumour has it that Queen Victoria … [in 1863] asked her prime minister Lord Palmerston for an explanation of the issue of Schleswig that was on everyone’s mind at the time. Palmerston allegedly answered that he could not provide an explanation, and that there were in fact only three people in the entire world who could: The Duke of Augustenburg who was dead, a German professor who had lost his mind, and himself, who had forgotten … At The Royal Danish Arsenal Museum in Copenhagen they have a stone that provides part of the explanation. Until 1806 it was mounted on the southern gateway of Rendsburg Fortress, and it has the following inscription Eidora Romani Imperii Terminus, which has been translated as ‘The Holy Roman Empire Ends at the Eider’. A clear message to anyone arriving in Rendsburg from Europe.’

Christian IV’s Cannon Scale Built for the Arsenal
The master carpenter Vidt Kragen is usually credited as the creator of the large wooden construction that supports the cannon scale hanging from a large hook. Vidt Kragen made the dragon spire on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, and was one of the leading master carpenters during the reign of Christian IV. In May 1614, Vidt Kragen was paid 20 old Danish crowns for his work on the scale in the arsenal, the first time he figures in accounts relating to its construction.

Numerous master carpenters - Jens Christensen, Hans Kloug, Laurids Jensen, Børge Børgesen, Willum Jonsen and Gregorius Jacobsen – worked on the scale from June 1611 until March 1613. Payments to Willum Jonsen included reimbursement “for the scale he has accepted to make”. And in February 1612 the cabinetmaker Lennert Leiland was paid to carve lion’s heads on the wooden construction. Vidt Kragen’s job was therefore apparently limited to minor adjustments to the scale.

In 1622, Christian of Anhalt wrote in his diary that the scale stood in the middle of the hall, emphasising that it could be operated by a single man. Around 1730 the scale was moved into the arsenal courtyard, which took a serious toll its elaborate woodwork. When it was moved back indoors in 1832 - to the position it still occupies today - a large part of the carved decoration was removed during an extensive restoration.

 

 

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