In the Shadow of the Sound Toll: Urban Development in Elsinore, 1550-1700

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentationForedrag og mundtlige bidrag


How did negotiations between the Danish state, town magistrates of Elsinore and the general population shape urban development in Elsinore during the sixteenth and seventeenth century? How did the town’s composition influence socioeconomic development? During this period, Elsinore was the third largest town in Denmark proper. Though the population did not surpass 5,000 during the early modern period, the town shared some traits with some of the more populous and cosmopolitan towns around Europe. Due to the sound toll, the income gathered from the town constituted between five and ten percent of Denmark’s income. This in turn made the town an important commercial node in Europe and attracted people from across the continent. For a century, part of the town – Sandet – was known as Little Amsterdam due to the many Dutch migrants and both Dutch and Scottish migrants came to hold office in the town. Sandet was later burned down by Swedish invaders, but Dutch merchants and artisans continued to leave their mark on the social and economic life. In the seventeenth century, around 30% of the town’s population was migrants, which greatly influenced the urban development in Elsinore. Moreover, due to the town importance for the sound toll, a large garrison was always present at the town’s castle Kronborg. At times, soldiers and their family constituted as much as fifty per cent of the town’s population. They were often lodging in town but were under a different jurisdiction than the general populace. This too created a special dynamic and influenced negotiations between town and state concerning the development of the town. Using municipal auditors’ accounts (kæmnerregnskaber), tax records, probate records, the sound toll accounts and court proceedings from the period, this paper seeks to provide a holistic account of the many varied determinants for urban development in Elsinore.
Periode12 apr. 202315 apr. 2023
BegivenhedstitelESSHC 2023: European Social Science History Conference, Göteborg
PlaceringGöteborg, SverigeVis på kort
Grad af anerkendelseInternational


  • urban history
  • social history
  • early modern
  • Elsinore
  • Danish history