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Karine Nielsdatter

City of Halmstad in the late 17th century

She was the next oldest child in the large family of Niels Jacobsen and Maren Pedersdatter Lasson. When 21 years old, she was married to Axel Aand, who previously had worked (just like Niels Jacobsen) as Skriver (writer) at Skanderborg Castle as well as alderman in Randers - an alderman is a member of a municipal assembly or council. Their life together passed quite normal in their first years of marriage. Axel looked after his trading business in town and at the town hall while Karine took care of the household. According to what was expected, she gave birth to children; Margrethe in 1621, Mette in 1622, Karen in 1623, Elisabeth in 1625. Due to the raging war with the Swedes, the entire family had to flee across the sea to the city of Halmstad in Sweden (which was Danish at the time) in 1627. While in Halmstad, Karine gave birth to little Anna in 1628. Her husband Axel died in Halmstad just before his last child was born. Now a widow, Karine made her return to Randers with her five small children at the end of the war in 1629. The town had been occupied for two years by the troops of Wallenstein. After a while, she started to look for a new husband and found a suitor in Jesper Lauritsen, a widower who had been married only a very short time to Maren Bentsdatter. From this marriage he had collected a nice sum of money which would become helpful in raising the children of Karine who herself had inherited funds from her husband and her father. Both Karine and Jesper knew the importance and value of their fortunes well. Jesper Lauritsen had been appointed alderman in Randers in 1626 and had served as vassal at Dronningborg castle which was an old monestary re-built to a castle by Christian III after the Reformation. The castle was demolished during the years 1721-1756. After having married Karine Nielsdatter in 1633, Jesper Lauritsen became the fourth richest man in Randers. When Maren Pedersdatter, wife of Niels Jacobsen, died he also came in control of her inheritance which qualified him well in the Mayor election. In those days, it was important for the city to have rich mayors since they were expected to use their own money to re-fill the city’s cash pile in times of need. In 1632, the same year that little Anna died, a chandelier which had been donated to the Sct. Morten’s church by the father of Jesper Lauritsen in 1605, fell down and was badly damaged. Jesper Lauritsen came to the rescue and paid for the repairs out of his own pocket. It had to be sent to Lybeck in Germany and did not return until 1641 when it was re-installed in the church where it is still hanging. In addition to the five children Karine gave birth to in her first marriage, she had another five with Jesper Lauritsen. They were Maria in 1630, Maren in 1634, Lauritz in 1637 and Niels in 1638. Little Axel died as a baby in 1642. When she became a widow for the second time in 1655, her children were grown-ups. Two of them were married to prelates and another two to aldermen. Only the youngest two daughters were still at home in 1655. Later, both of them married mayors in Randers. Marie Jespersdatter married Johan Stenbeck in 1667 and Maren Jespersdatter married Morten Seemann. The sons, Lauritz and Niels, were still in the Latin School in Viborg where they graduated in 1657. When Karine Nielsdatter’s husband had died in 1655, she received something extra ordinary - a Royal blessing to be her own master. For the times, this was extremely unusual. Now, just like men, she could manage and have unrestricted access to her funds and properties blocking out any family member who otherwise would interfere with her affairs. Over the next couple of years, she demonstrated  great skills in managing her investments, just like her parents and brothers. She acted as a sort of a banker, extending loans and credits. When the poor loan-taker could not pay up, she covered herself by taking security in the property. This happened for example to the nobleman Peder Seefeld of Havnö at Mariager fiord. In 1664, he took a 2000 daler loan from Karine (‘a great deal of money’). The value of the entire Havnö estate was 2820 daler without the farm. In order to be able to pay Karine back, he had to mortgage several other of his estates. When he mortgaged his farm Stevn too heavily, Karine simply took it over. She sold the property in 1668 to Niels Winter. Thanks to the business skills of Karine Nielsdatter, many of her many heirs inherited large sums of money. Karine died in 1675, 76 years old. She is buried in Sct. Mortens Church in Randers.

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