C. D. F. Reventlow
Youth and education
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. The Council was formally
headed by the mentally disturbed King Christian VII. 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
Crisis and stagnation
Around 1800, the situation changed in earnest for Denmark, and
thereby for the reform work. Participation in the war between
France and England became inevitable, and Denmark got involved on
the French side. 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.