Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve, Frederik III’s son from his relationship with Margrethe Pape, held the office of Governor of Norway for 35 years, and in 1672 he built a large and impressive palace on Kongens Nytorv. In 1699 he sold the palace to the Dowager Queen Charlotte Amalie, for whom the palace was named Charlottenborg.
A few years before, Gyldenløve had purchased the lot at the corner of Bredgade and Dronningensgade (now Dronningens Tværgade) as well as a number of adjoining lots. All of the buildings were demolished, but Gyldenløve’s builder, Ernst Brandenburger, felt that the cellars were so striking and grand in appearance that they ought to remain standing. They did, and today the cellars serve as home to Restaurant AOC.
It is unlikely that Gyldenløve ever actually resided in his “little palace’. After the death of his half-brother, Christian V, in 1699, Gyldenløve spent his remaining years in Hamburg, and it would be his son Ferdinand Danneskiold-Laurvigen’s task to decorate the noble mansion with its 9 bays facing Bredgade and its 5 bays facing Dronningens Tværgade.
Danneskiold-Laurvigen planted a very large orchard on the grounds that in his time covered the land from Store Kongensgade to Frederiksgade. In the most distant corner of the grounds could be found an ironworks for smelting ore taken from the family mines in Laurvigen (now Larvik).
Ferdinand Danneskiold-Laurvigen assumed ownership of the palace after the death of his father, but when he died in battle his son, Vice-Admiral Conrad Danneskiold-Laurvigen, became the new owner. He was a rather verbose man who, among other things, established Denmark’s first private theatre in his home, where an audience comprised of just 20 noble lords and ladies could enjoy the performance of French farces.
Conrad’s interest in the theatre would unleash a huge scandal in the Danneskiold-Laurvigen palace.
Conrad carried a torch for a young actress at the Royal Danish Theatre, Mette Marie Rose. The possibility of spending time together was severely limited, however, because Mette Marie’s father zealously guarded his dear daughter’s virtue.
However, the father enjoyed a drink now and then, and on 11 March 1765 he ended up keeping company with a couple of Conrad’s brother officers who quite literally drank the old actor under the table. Meanwhile, Conrad’s carriage had pulled up outside the back entrance of the Royal Danish Theatre, and the young Mette Marie was spirited away to the palace – either with or without her permission.
The next morning her father realised that he had been tricked. He complained first to the Chief Constable, who saw no particular need to act, and later to the King himself.
Frederik V was himself a bit of a bon vivant, both in terms of the pleasures of the table and of the flesh. He found the story rather intriguing and, a few days later, summoned Conrad to Christiansborg to hear all the piquant details. Conrad, however, denied knowing anything about the matter. The next day, after the King had been persuaded that Mette Marie was actually inside the Danneskiold-Laurvigen palace, he ordered his guards to surround the house. Mette Marie then came out, ‘tear-stained, but unhurt’ according to the captain of the guards.
The king was furious – not so much because of the ‘kidnapping’, but because Conrad had lied to him. He sentenced Conrad to pay a fine of 10,000 rix-dollars which was to go towards a pious purpose, and also required him to pay Mette Marie Rose 200 rix-dollars each year for the rest of her life in ‘reparations’. Conrad was finally exiled to Norway and the palace was temporarily rented to the French chargé d’affaires.
In 1783 the palace was purchased by State Councillor Frédéric de Coninck who, along with his business partner Niels Lunde Reiersen, had built a mighty commercial empire that included 70 ships at sea. Frédéric de Coninck had amassed a considerable fortune and also owned Dronninggaard on Lake Furesøen. The artist Erik Pauelsen was commissioned to decorate the room today known as the Dronninggaard Chambers. The chambers has two beautiful painted wall panels and three overdoors as well as views and sections of the romantic garden around Frédéric de Coninck’s estate at Lake Furesøen.
When Christiansborg Palace burned down in 1794, the royal family was forced to find other accommodations. The Dowager Queen, Juliane Marie, purchased Frédéric de Coninck’s palace and took residence there. However, her stay was short because she died soon afterwards in 1796 during a summer holiday at Fredensborg. Her favourite room at Moltke’s Palace was the Green Chambers and she spent many of her waking hours there.
The property was renamed Brun’s Palace when the rich merchant Constantin Brun and his wife Frederikke moved in. Frederikke Brun was born in Germany but had come to Denmark as a small child when her father was appointed priest for the German congregation of St. Petri in Copenhagen. Her childhood home served as the focal point for German spiritual life in the capital city. From 1800-1810 she travelled around Europe, becoming acquainted with leading cultural personalities of the day, including Goethe, Madame de Stäel-Holstein, the Humboldt brothers and Angelica Kauffmann.
The palace in Bredgade and the Brun’s summer house Sophienholm, located near Frederiksdal, became meeting places for the famous artists of the time. Baggesen, Oehlenschläger, J.L. Heiberg, Weyse, Ingemann, Kamma Rahbek and Thorvaldsen were among the house habitués. Frederikke Brun spoke excellent German, Italian, French and English and kept up a lively conversation with her artistic visitors. She became famous for her good-natured character and sense of humour, and she took her friends’ practical jokes with gentle good grace.
In 1836, after the Bruns died within a short period of one other, the palace was bought by Heinrich Lütthans, who was a lieutenant-colonel in the Civic Guard. He was bourgeois through and through, but artistic types continued to make their way to the palace. The Lütthans family could not offer sparkling intellectual conversation and French refinement, but Madame Lütthans’ hearty Danish cooking was highly prized by many, including the sculptor, Thorvaldsen. Their home also exerted a special pull on young students from the nearby Regensen dormitory due to the family’s five pretty daughters. Regular guests included the poet Christian Winther, who eventually married the oldest daughter, Julie, after repeated complications.
The Moltke family, who had not had a proper home since offering their own palace of Amalienborg to the Danish royal family, took over the palace after the death of Heinrich Lütthans, giving the edifice the name it bears today. A.W. Moltke was head of the Danish government from 1848 to 1852 and was nominated by the King to Parliament. After the harvests at his estate in Bregentved and other family holdings, Moltke would move his entire household to Copenhagen. In 1877 the palace was expanded by extending the Dronningens Tværgade wing by 7 bays. On the top storey was built a skylight room to house Moltke’s highly valuable art collection. The public were permitted to view these works in Moltke’s private gallery, which is known today as the Golden Hall.
Times changed. New governments came into power, and succeeding generations of the Moltke family were not particularly interested in politics. Thus their need for a Copenhagen home was no longer as great, and the Count could now travel by automobile from Bregentved to the city in less than two hours, a journey that once took two days by carriage. The telephone could handle less important business. At the conclusion of the 1920’s the Moltke family put the palace up for sale, but the Count was not willing to sell to just anyone. The Copenhagen Craftsmen’s Guild was considered a worthy buyer, and in 1929 the board of directors entered into purchasing negotiations with the Count. These negotiations resulted in the sale of Moltke’s Palace to the Craftsmen’s Guild in 1930, and the year after, of the neighbouring property located at 41 Bredgade.
The Craftsmen’s Guild proceeded to begin the last expansion of the old palace to date, building a new wing that today houses the Large Assembly Hall.
Since the time of the Craftsmen’s Guild purchase of Moltke’s Palace, the old edifice has provided the setting for a number of important gatherings and ceremonial occasions. In has played host to celebrities from both home and abroad, including Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, shipping magnate Mærsk McKinney Møller, sculptor Robert Jacobsen, ceramist Bjørn Wiinblad, poet and philosopher Piet Hein, pianist and actor Victor Borge, and many others.