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Encyclopedia > Ludvig Holberg
Ludvig Holberg
Ludvig Holberg

Ludvig Holberg (December 3, 1684January 27, 1754) was a Danish writer and playwright born in Bergen, Norway. Holberg's works about natural law and common law were read widely by many Danish law students over two hundred years, from 1736 to 1936. Image File history File links Please see the file description page for further information. ... Image File history File links Please see the file description page for further information. ... December 3 is the 337th (in leap years the 338th) day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Events France under Louis XIV makes Truce of Ratisbon separately with the Empire and Spain. ... January 27 is the 27th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1754 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... County Hordaland District Midhordland Municipality NO-1201 Administrative centre Bergen Mayor (2004) Herman Friele (H) Official language form Neutral Area  - Total  - Land  - Percentage Ranked 215 465 km² 445 km² 0. ...


Studies and teaching

Holberg was the youngest of six brothers. His father, Christian Nielsen Holberg, died before Ludvig was one year old. He was educated in Copenhagen, and was a teacher at the University of Copenhagen for many years. At the same time, he started his successful career as an author, writing the first of a series of comedies. Copenhagen (Danish: København) is the capital of Denmark, and the name of the municipality (Danish, kommune) in which it resides. ... University of Copenhagen The University of Copenhagen (Danish: Københavns Universitet) is the oldest and largest university and research institution in Copenhagen, Denmark. ...

He began to study theology at the University of Copenhagen and later taught himself law, history and language. He was not particularly interested in theology as a career, settling for an attestats (similar to a Bachelor's degree today), which gave him the right to work as a priest; he did not attempt a baccalaureus, magister or doctorate in the subject, nor did he follow a career as a theology professor, priest, or bishop. In Holberg's youth, it was common to study theology and specialize according to one's degree, for example in Greek, Latin, philosophy or history. For the purpose of becoming a lawyer, it was normal to study abroad. In 1736 the Danish Lawyer degree was established at the University of Copenhagen, a degree which continued to be granted for 200 years, and for which Holberg's writings remained common reading material throughout this time. Holberg was formally appointed assistant professor after having first worked as one without pay. He had to accept the first available position, which was teaching metaphysics. Later, he became a professor and taught rhetoric, or in other words Latin. Finally, he was given a professorship in the subject which he prized most and was most productive in, history. To meet Wikipedias quality standards and appeal to a wider international audience, this article may require cleanup. ... A bachelor is traditionally an unmarried but marriageable man, however some restrict the usage to men who have never been married. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Events January 26 - Stanislaus I of Poland abdicates his throne. ... Metaphysics (Greek words meta = after/beyond and physics = nature) is a branch of philosophy concerned with the study of first principles and being (ontology). ... Rhetoric (from Greek ρήτωρ, rhêtôr, orator) is one of the three original liberal arts or trivium (the other members are dialectic and grammar) in Western culture. ...

Holberg was well-educated and well-traveled. In his adolescence, he visited large cities in countries such as The Netherlands and France, and lived for a short period of time in Rome; and for a longer period of time in Oxford, England (1706–1708), which was rare during that time as intellectual life was centered in continental Europe. He was not formally admitted to Oxford University, but spent his time there using the libraries and participating in Latin discussions with the English students. This article is about the Dutch United Provinces. ... City motto: Senatus Populusque Romanus – SPQR (The Senate and the People of Rome) Founded 21 April 753 BC mythical, 1st millennium BC Region Latium Mayor Walter Veltroni (Left-Wing Democrats) Area  - City Proper  1285 km² Population  - City (2004)  - Metropolitan  - Density (city proper) 2. ... Oxford is a city and local government district in Oxfordshire, England, with a population of 134,248 (2001 census). ... Royal motto (French): Dieu et mon droit (Translated: God and my right) Englands location within the British Isles Official language English de facto Capital London de facto Largest city London Area – Total Ranked 1st UK 130,395 km² Population – Total (mid-2004) – Total (2001 Census) – Density Ranked 1st UK... The University of Oxford, located in the city of Oxford in England, is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. ...


Statue of Holberg in Bergen
Statue of Holberg in Bergen

Holberg's travels were a main inspiration in his later writings — these experiences matured him both artistically and morally. Holberg let himself be inspired by old Latin comedies and newer French comedies he had seen in Paris, and street theaters in Rome. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (344x798, 155 KB) Summary Holberg In Bergen Photo: Nina Aldin Thune User:Nina-no Licensing File links The following pages link to this file: Ludvig Holberg Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (344x798, 155 KB) Summary Holberg In Bergen Photo: Nina Aldin Thune User:Nina-no Licensing File links The following pages link to this file: Ludvig Holberg Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used... There are several places named Bergen: Bergen, Norway, the second largest city in Norway Bergen, Belgium, better known by its French name of Mons In Germany: Bergen, Hessen Bergen, Lower Saxony Bergen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp near Bergen, Lower Saxony In the Netherlands: Bergen, North Holland...

His writings can be divided into three periods, during which he produced mainly history, 1711 —1718; mainly satirical poetry and stage comedies, 1719 — 1731; and mainly philosophy, 1731 —1750. His rich output of comedies during the middle period was shaped by his role as house dramatist at Denmark's first public theater, opened in Copenhagen in 1721. These comedies are the works on which his fame rests today.


In Paris, Holberg met the Danish scientist Jacob Winsløw, who was Catholic. Winsløw tried to convert Holberg, without success. Holberg began to consider himself a Lutheran, and held anti-Catholic views. The Lutheran movement is a group of denominations of Protestant Christianity by the original definition. ...

Holberg criticized school doctrines in Christianity, arguing that "Children must be made into men, before they can become Christians"[1] and "If one learns Theology, before learning to become a man, one will never become a man."[2]

Holberg believed in people's inner divine light of reason, and to him it was important that the first goal of education was to teach students to use their senses and intellect, instead of the uselessly memorising school books. This was a new, modern understanding of the question of religion, and it shows he was a renaissance man. Holberg was interested in intellect because he felt this that banded society together. He also wondered why there was so much evil in the world, especially when one could let reason lead the way. One could say that he distanced himself from a religious explanation of evil towards a rational/empirical train of thought, and this is important because of his status as an author; both in his time and ours. Empirical is an adjective often used in conjunction with science, both the natural and social sciences, which means an observation or experiment based upon experience that is capable of being verified or disproved. ...

Holberg was open to biblical criticism, and the heliocentric worldview of the times didn't worry him. This stood in contrast to the biblical view of the Earth as the center. Holberg's religious representation was, for the most part, deism. He was critical of the notion of original sin, however, instead subscribing to the notion of man's free will. In astronomy, heliocentrism is the theory that the Sun is at the center of the Universe and/or the Solar System. ... Historical and modern Deism is defined by the view that reason, rather than revelation or tradition, should be the basis of belief in God. ... This article is about sinfulness. ...

Holberg’s declared intentions with his authorship were to enlighten people to better society. This also fits in with the picture of Holberg as a renaissance man. It is worth nothing Holberg enjoyed larger cities with deep culture – small cities and nature did not interest him.

Influence on science

Before Holberg's time, science was dominated by the theology that the world was unmovable. The eighteenth century renaissance meant that science became more popular, and this was advancement for experience based experiment (empiricism) that had given science a new foundation and possibilities. Holberg added the principal part of this development.

Holdberg's concept for science was that it should be inductive (through experience built on observations) and practical to use. A humorous example is his Betænkning over den nu regierende Qvæg-Syge, (1745) where he reasons that the infection referenced in his book comes from microorganisms. Induction or inductive reasoning, sometimes called inductive logic, is the process of reasoning in which the premises of an argument support the conclusion, but do not ensure it. ... A microorganism or microbe is an organism that is so small that it is microscopic (invisible to the naked eye). ...

Holberg's finances

In youth

Holberg had to live a modest life in his youth and early adulthood. He earned a living as a tutor and as a travel companion for noble men and tried to work as a private sports coach at the university. He received further support from a grant to travel to other universities in other countries, namely Protestant universities, but this was a condition he did not respect, for he searched out those places where the discussion were the loudest and the experiences were the largest.

During his stay in England, Holberg set his eyes on academic authoring and on his return, he started writing about history. Later he wrote also about natural and international law, possibly at the prompting of an older professor who likened him to natural and international law authors such as Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf. Hugo Grotius Hugo Grotius (Huig de Groot, or Hugo de Groot; Delft, 10th April 1583 - Rostock, 28th August 1645) worked as a jurist in the United Provinces (now the Netherlands) and laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law. ... Samuel Pufendorf (January 8, 1632 - October 26, 1694), was a German jurist. ...

To make the most possible profit, Holberg published his own works and sold them as papers under a subscription to interested people, typically in an ark. Holberg also tried to, with some luck, a distributor in Norway. His book about natural and international court came in several versions, and one can say to an extent, this was not a good, or solid, source of income.


Holberg lived modestly and could invest a large part of the profits from the sale of his books to the side and loan them out or invest them in more active ventures. He has several times in his writings criticized towns people and nobles who used the towns people’s resources in unproductive ways to carry them around in chairs, to serve in houses and throw away money on luxury. He ate reasonably and didn’t use his money to be driven around. He said his travels on foot, and continued walking, was the reason he could keep his malaria, which had plagued him in the south, under control. Red blood cell infected with Malaria, derived from mala aria (Italian for bad air) and formerly called ague or marsh fever in English, is an infectious disease which causes about 350-500 million infections with humans and approximately 1. ...

When he came to the conclusion he could put his money in better ventures than trading, he put his money in real estate. His first large property purchase, Brorupgaard close to Havrebjerg, happened in stages; first he loaned money to the owner at that time, and later took over the farm himself. A city in Denmark. ...

Some years later, Holberg also purchased Tersløsegård by Dianalund, the only one of his properties which is preserved because the others in Bergen, Copenhagen and Havrebjerg are either burned down or torn down.

Sorø Acadamy and Holdberg's will

Holberg was both unmarried and childless, but in the end of his life had a small fortune. He was interested in leaving a legacy and left his estate to Sorø Academy, which was a royal riding academy, with the goal of creating an institution at a university level for young men coming from nobility. Holberg supported the idea of the academy, worked out suggestions to which academic direction it would take and was asked by the king's superintendent to refer some professors for the school. Drawing of the courtyard at Sorø Academy, Denmark by Ole Jørgen Rawert. ...

The agreement with the king included that Holberg would be free of taxes from any income from the farms he owned, because the amount donated to the school should be larger than the amount he would pay in taxes. At the same time, he earned the title of baron. Spaytans brader Baron is a specific title of nobility or a more generic feudal qualification. ...

Holberg's casket, a work of Johannes Wiedewelt, is on display at Sorø Monastary Church Johannes Wiedewelt, (July 1, 1731-December 17, 1802), Danish neoclassical sculptor, was born in Copenhagen to royal sculptor to the Danish Court, Just Wiedewelt, and his wife Birgitte Lauridsdatter. ...

Stinginess or sensible conservatism?

It is shown in Holbergs correspondence he was very conservative with money where he thought it would not be of any use, for example, he was against raising the wage of the pedagogues of Havrebjerg.

Holberg commented several times that he was willing to use money if it was put to good use, for example, he would use money on medication and supplied for his farm hands if they suffered from injury or illness.

When academia had large economic difficulties , because funding was very limited, Holberg agreed to help fund the acadamy (at Sorø Acadamy) while he was alive.


Norwegian Edvard Grieg composed the Holberg Suite (opus 40) to honor Holberg. The suite is in the style of country dances from Holberg's time. Edvard Hagerup Grieg (June 15, 1843–September 4, 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist who composed in the romantic period. ...

The Norwegian University of Bergen awards the Holberg International Memorial Prize. The €520.000 endowed prize was awarded to Jürgen Habermas in 2005. The University of Bergen (Universitetet i Bergen) is located in Bergen, Norway. ... The Holberg International Memorial Prize is awarded for outstanding scholarly work in humanities, social sciences, law, and theology. ... Habermas speaking with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, 2004 This article is about Jürgen Habermas. ...

There is a town named after Holberg on Northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada. It was founded by Danish immigrants in 1907.



  • Den Politiske Kandestøber, 1722
  • Den Vægelsindede, 1722
  • Jean de France eller Hans Frandsen, 1722
  • Jeppe paa Bjerget eller den forvandlede Bonde, 1722
  • Mester Gert Westphaler, 1722
  • Barselstuen, 1723
  • Den ellefte Junii, 1723
  • Jacob von Tyboe eller den stortalende Soldat, 1723
  • Ulysses von Ithacia, 1723
  • Erasmus Montanus eller Rasmus Berg, 1723
  • Don Ranudo de Colibrados, 1723
  • Uden Hoved og Hale, 1723
  • Den Stundesløse, 1723
  • Hexerie eller Blind Allarm, 1723
  • Melampe, 1723
  • Det lykkelige Skibbrud, 1724
  • Det Arabiske Pulver, 1724
  • Mascarade, 1724
  • Julestuen, 1724
  • De Usynlige, 1724
  • Kildereisen, 1725
  • Henrich og Pernille, 1724-1726
  • Den pantsatte Bondedreng, 1726
  • Pernilles korte Frøkenstand, 1727
  • Den Danske Comoedies Liigbegængelse, 1727
  • Den honette Ambition, 1731
  • Plutus eller Proces imellom Fattigdom og Riigdom, utg. 1753
  • Husspøgelse eller Abracadabra, utg. 1753
  • Philosophus udi egen Indbildning, utg. 1754
  • Republiqven eller det gemeene Bedste, utg. 1754
  • Sganarels Rejse til det philosophiske Land, utg. 1754


  • Peder Paars, 1720
  • fire Skæmtedigte, 1722
  • Metamorphosis eller Forvandlinger, 1726


  • Nicolai Klimii iter subterraneum, 1741. (Overs. til da. av Hans Hagerup, 1742: Niels Klims underjordiske Rejse.)


  • Moralske Tanker, 1744
  • Epistler, 1748–54
  • Moralske Fabler, 1751
  • Tre latinske levnedsbreve, 1728-1743

Historical Works

  • Introduction til de fornemste Europæiske Rigers Historier, 1711
  • Morals Kierne eller Introduction til Naturens og Folke-Rettens Kundskab, 1716
  • Dannemarks og Norges Beskrivelse, 1729
  • Dannemarks Riges Historie, 1732–35
  • Den berømmelige Norske Handel-Stad Bergens Beskrivelse, 1737
  • Almindelig Kirke-Historie, 1738
  • Den jødiske Historie fra Verdens Begyndelse, fortsat til disse Tider, 1742
  • Adskillige store Helte og berømmelige Mænds sammenlignede Historier, 1739–53
  • Adskillige Heltinders og navnkundige Damers sammenlignede Historier, 1745


  • En primær kilde er Ludvig Holbergs latinske levnedsbreve. Det kan anbefales at benytte Aage Kragelunds moderne udgave: Ludvig Holbergs Tre Levnedsbreve 1728-1743. Udgaven indeholder en indledning, Holbergs tekst parallelt på latin og dansk, kommentarer og register.
  • Ole B. Thomsen: Embedsstudiernes Universitet, bd. 1-2 (Akademisk Forlag, København 1975)
  • Grethe Ilsøe: Juridisk eksamen for ustuderede. Kollektiv biografi af 1. kandidatgeneration (eksamensårgangene 1736-65) i: Personalhistorisk Tidsskrift, 1985, nr. 2


  1. ^  "Børn maa gjøres til Mennesker, førend de blive Christne."
  2. ^  "Hvis een lærer Theologie, førend han lærer at blive Menneske, bliver han aldrig Menneske."

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Ludvig Holberg - Embassy of Denmark Washington (3989 words)
Holberg also took pleasure in the company of English stu-dents; he tutored them in languages and music; he was frequently invited to join them in Hall at Magdalen College, and he spent merry evenings in the inns and at a music club in which he played.
Holberg brought out his plays in print: Den danske Skue-Plads (The Danish Stage), in five volumes, 1723-31; when, in the reign of the theatre-loving Frederik V, the theatre was resurrected, Holberg wrote another six plays, published as Volumes 6 and 7 in 1753-54.
Holberg spent each summer at Ters-løsegaard: I take pleasure in seeing the fruits of the earth flourish, and the harvest brought in, in seeing cattle and sheep walking as if in procession to their gathering places at morn and eve, he writes in Epistel 29.
Ludvig Holberg Essay (1185 words)
Ludvig Holberg is the father of modern Scandinavian literature.
Holberg himself had been born in Bergen, Norway, and can be claimed as both a Danish and a Norwegian writer, a figure of whom both countries today are proud.
Holberg's attitude is evidence of his liberal thought and openness to new and different ideas, without, however, raising his voice against Protestantism or the Establishment in general.
  More results at FactBites »



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