Hans Schack

Hans Schack
Born October 28, 1608
Langballig, Duchy of Schleswig
Died Februar 27, 1676 (aged 66)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Buried at Trinitatis Church, Copenhagen
Allegiance Denmark Denmark 1627-1630
Sweden Sweden 1630-1635
 France 1635-1651
Hamburg Hamburg 1656-1658
Denmark Denmark 1658-1676
Rank Field Marshal
Battles/wars Thirty Years' War
Second Northern War
* Siege of Copenhagen
* Battle of Nyborg
Awards Order of the Elephant
Order of the Dannebrog

Hans Schack, (28 October 1608 – 27 February 1676), was a member of the north German noble family Schack, who after many years in French service, entered the Danish service, made major contributions during the war with Sweden, and loyally supported Frederick III when he overthrew the Danish constitution. He became a Danish field-marshal, commander-in-chief of the Danish army, member of the Board of State, and of the Danish Privy Council, and made a Danish count.

Early career

As a young man, Schack began his military career by serving in the Danish army during the early years of the Thirty Years' War. He entered Swedish service in 1630, and thence in French in 1635, becoming colonel of cavalry 1642, and later maréchal de camp. In 1651 Schack retired from the French service to his estates in Saxe-Lauenburg, where he remained until 1656, when he became military commandant of Hamburg.[1] [2] [3]

Danish service

Faced with imminent war with Sweden, the Danish government wanted to recruit the experienced and reputed Schack for a senior position in the Danish army. In order to satisfy Schack's demand for a permanent position, he was in 1658 appointed lieutenant-general, colonel of horse and foot, and made a member of the War Council. He also became naturalized as a Danish noblemen, receiving two manors free of charge for life; Riberhus and Møgeltønder (the later Schackenborg Castle). As military governor, Schack commanded Copenhagen during the Swedish siege of 1659. For his successful defence of the city, he was rewarded with promotion to field-marshal. In the fall of the same year, Schack led the Danish forces to victory over the Swedes at the battle of Nyborg.[1] [2] [3]

Political role

Schack was a popular figure in Copenhagen, not only as a defender of the city against the Swedes, but as a defender of its privileges. In 1660 he was co-opted to the Danish Rigsråd, in spite of being a recently naturalized foreigner. When Frederick III in the same year overthrow the Danish constitution, and created an absolute monarchy, Schack was, together with Hannibal Sehested, the King's main supporter in the Rigsråd, persuading the clergy and bourgeoisie to support the regime change. The King needed loyal supporters in the government, and Schack was in 1660 appointed to Rigsfeltherre (commander-in-chief of the Danish army), and made president of the Board of War, a member of the Board of State, and Stiftsbefalingsmand of Ribe stift. In 1670 he was also appointed a member of the Gehejmekonseil (Privy Council), which that year was created as a successor to the Rigsråd. Within the new government, he was the leading proponent of the military party, in opposition to Sehested and the Treasury, and an efficient administrator of military affairs. As a reward, he was in 1661 given Møgeltønder in fee simple, and became one of the first enfeoffed counts, Lensgreve, when the King in 1671 created that dignity.[1] [2] [3]


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