John II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev

John the Elder (German: Johann der Ältere or Hans der Ältere; Danish: Hans den Ældre; born: 29 June 1521 in Haderslev; died: 1 October 1580 at Hansborg Castle, Haderslev) was the only Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev. The predicate the Elder is sometimes used to distinguish him from his nephew John the Younger, who held Sønderborg from 1564 as a partitioned-off duke. As a co-ruler in the duchies of Holstein and of Schleswig John the Elder is numbered Duke John II, continuing counting John of Denmark as Duke John I of Holstein and of Schleswig.


The Duke's coat of arms.

John was the son of King Frederick I of Denmark and his second wife Sophie of Pomerania. As a possible heir to the throne, he enjoyed a careful education and spent several years at the court of his brother-in-law Albert in Königsberg. This was in Lutheran Ducal Prussia, a Polish fief, modernized into a secular state from the Teutonic State of Prussia since 1525. This successful policy would be seminal for John's understanding of politics and the state, as he also never became a fully sovereign prince.

Reign as Duke (1544–1580)

From 1544, he ruled the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein jointly with his brother Adolf and his half-brother King Christian III of Denmark. He ruled from Haderslev Castle and later built Hansborg Castle in his hometown, a magnificent Renaissance castle, situated east of the city.

His territory consisted of the Counties of Haderslev, including Tørning, Tønder and Løgumkloster and this islands of Nordstrand and Fehmarn in Schleswig, plus Rendsburg and some smaller communities in Holstein.

During his reign, John joined the Reformation and founded several social and educational institutions, notably the Duke John Hospital in Haderslev. He introduced many reforms to the legal system and was regarded as a dedicated judge. As one of the first rulers between the seas, he sat down for an active land reclamation and coastal protection program, presumably he ruled over the most vulnerable stretch of Schleswig coastline. In 1559, John, Adolf and Christian's successor Frederick II occupied the independent peasant republic of Dithmarschen and divided them among themselves.

John died childless in 1580. After his death, his territory was divided between Adolf and Frederick.


In contrast to most of the dukes of Schleswig and Holstein, posterity has a very positive view of John the Elder. This holds especially for his capital Haderslev, which was a ducal residence only during his time and has benefited ever since. he is still popular as a sort of patron saint. The largest annual summer festival in Haderslev, the Hertug-Hans-Fest is named after, and the local brewery Fuglsang has named a beer after him (Hertug Hans Pils). Even the Hospital (which he founded) still bears his name. His judgments were fully published in book form (De Hansborgske Dømme).



John of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 29 June 1521 in Haderslev Died: 1 October 1580 in Haderslev
Regnal titles
New title
sharing rule and revenues in Holstein and Schleswig among the brothers
Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev
no issue
his brother and nephew inherited
Preceded by
Christian III
Duke of Holstein and Duke of Schleswig
as John II
with Adolf (1544–1586)
Christian III (1523–1559)
Frederick II (1559–1588)
Succeeded by
Adolf and Frederick II
(in condominial rule)
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/12/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.