Peder Oxe

Peder Oxe (1520 - 1575) was a Danish finance minister and Steward of the Realm ("de facto" prime minister).

At the age of twelve he was sent abroad to complete his education, and resided at the principal universities of Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Switzerland for seventeen years. On his return he found both his parents dead, and was appointed the guardian of his eleven young brothers and sisters, in which capacity, profiting by the spoliation of the church, he accumulated immense riches. His extraordinary financial abilities and pronounced political capacity soon found ample scope in public life. In 1552 he was raised to the dignity of "Rigsraad" (councillor of state); in 1554 he successfully accomplished his first diplomatic mission, by adjusting the differences between the elector of Saxony and the margrave of Brandenburg. The same year he held the post of governor of Copenhagen and shared with Byrge Trolle the control of the treasury.

A few years later he incurred the royal disfavour for gross malversation in the administration of public property, and failing to compromise matters with the king, fled to Germany and engaged in political intrigues with the adventurer Wilhelm von Grumbach for the purpose of dethroning Frederick II in favor of Christina of Lorraine, the daughter of Christian II. But the financial difficulties of Frederick II during the stress of the Northern Seven Years War compelled him, in 1566, to recall the great financier, when his confiscated estates were restored to him and he was reinstated in all his offices and dignities.

A change for the better immediately ensued. The finances were speedily put on an excellent footing, means were provided for carrying on the war to a successful issue (one of the chief expedients being the raising of the Sound tolls) and on the conclusion of peace Oxe, as lord treasurer, not only reduced the national debt considerably, but redeemed a large portion of the alienated crown-lands. He reformed the coinage, developed trade and commerce and introduced numerous agricultural reforms, especially on his own estates, which he was never weary of enlarging, so that on his death he was the wealthiest landowner in Denmark.

Oxe died on October 24, 1575, after contributing, more than any other statesman of his day, to raise Denmark for a brief period to the rank of a great power.


*"P. Oxes live og levuet" (Copenhagen, 1675)
*"Danmarks riges historie, vol. 3" (Copenhagen, 1897-1905)

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