A Brief History of Regensen

Collegium Domus Regiæ, King Christian’s Red Court or just Regensen; our beloved home that goes by many names.

The story of Regensen dates back to 1569, even though the college itself had not yet been built at that time. Due to a lack of theologists in the reformed Denmark, King Frederik II established the Kommunitet foundation, with the purpose of supporting 100 talented and economically disadvantaged (male) students at the University of Copenhagen. It is Denmark’s oldest student grant and it initially functioned by providing students with daily meals. In 1623, King Christian IV extended the resources of the Royal House to the Kommunitet foundation, by lending them money to buy property in the heart of Copenhagen, which would ultimately be used to build Regensen. Thus, when the construction of Regensen was finalised in 1624, the Kommunitet grant was used to cover daily meals and housing costs of the 100 students it was supporting.

The original grant lasted up until 1736, when the provision of daily meals was replaced by food allowances to the students living at Regensen.

The college has always been a self-owned institution, despite the overall operations having been managed by the University of Copenhagen, with particular influence from the Faculty of Theology. The university’s most important task at the time was to educate ministers, a function which was supported by Regensen. In 1848, the management and finances of Regensen were handed over to a manager selected by the University of Copenhagen’s Konsistorie, making up the university’s most vital organ. In 1983, the management of the Kommunitet foundation was finally handed over to the University of Copenhagen’s 1983 College Collaboration, consisting of four of the old colleges located in Copenhagen. Up until this day, Elers, Borchen, Valkendorf and Regensen continue to be owned by the 1983 College Collaboration.

Regensen originally housed its 100 residents in two buildings, which were connected by a church wing that ran through Købmagergade. Regensen’s church acted as a parish until the Trinitatis Church was built in 1656. Large parts of Regensen burned down in Copenhagen’s Fire of 1728, the largest fire in the history of Copenhagen, where 28% of the city was destroyed and 20% of the people were left homeless. Only the part of Regensen between Købmagergade and the gate to Store Kannikestræde managed to survive the fire. Regensen was left more or less intact after Britain’s bombing of Copenhagen in 1807. The same could not be said for the University of Copenhagen’s Great Hall, which is why many of the University’s official ceremonial events started taking place at Regensen’s Church.

In 1907, Regensen made a special deal with the Municipality of Copenhagen regarding the removal of the lower part of its church wing in order to give way for a covered passageway on Købmagergade, opposite the Round Tower. At the time, cars driving by in the area were very common, and the purpose of the passageway was to decrease the many traffic accidents which were taking place in Copenhagen’s Inner City. Today, cars are not allowed to drive on Købmagergade at all. In addition to the passageway, the Municipality of Copenhagen financed the building of the fourth wing of Regensen, known as the Barracks. Building the Barracks meant that students living at Regensen no longer needed two students to live in one room - or in the case of the double rooms, four people. The increased privacy did not, however, lead to a more free romantic life, as the ban against having guests stay over, such as women, continued up until 1963. It was only in 1971 that women were allowed to live at Regensen. Today, Regensen has an equal gender distribution.

Regensen has a strong institution of student driven societies. Some suggest that the tradition of establishing societies, in true rebellious Regensen spirit, resulted from King Frederik XI’s ban on creating societies in 1820. The first society created at Regensen remains active and is known as 'Vækkerforeningen af 1832' but commonly goes under the name 'Gamle' (the Old One). It was established in 1832 with the intention of ensuring that students would wake up in time for the morning devotional at 6 am. Gamle introduced fines for those who had been awoken but still did not show up. The fines accumulated quickly, and the society eventually started using the money collected from the fines to host big parties.

The societies at Regensen can be described as being similar to Hogwarts houses. They have an ever shifting nature and the identity of the societies often change in accordance with the students living there at the time. For instance, while the society called Gamle has persisted for the last 187 years, Regensen has seen many societies disintegrate due to having too many members or indeed too few joining them. Sometimes new societies are made, but old societies can also be revived. Today, there are a total of eight societies at Regensen and even though they are constantly evolving, they remain the foundation for much of the social life at Regensen, including weekly meal clubs and frequent parties.

Regensen’s most proud symbol is the Linden Tree, also referred to by some as Miss Linden. The tree stands tall in the middle of Regensen’s courtyard. It was planted in 1785 by the college’s provost at the time, A.C. Hviid, who wanted to plant a tree as a symbol of vitality following the birth of his newborn son. Regensen has always been run by a provost, and it is a prerequisite that all provosts recruited must be professors at the University of Copenhagen. Miss Linden is celebrated two times annually, first at the Linden Lunch in the Spring, just after her leaves have budded, and finally at the Linden Ball in the Summer. Indeed, every semester Regensen hosts a total of three big parties, all arranged by the group of students that move into Regensen at the start of the semester.


Alumni of Regensen

  • Ole Borch (1626-90), chemist and founder of Borch’s Collegium
  • Thomas Kingo (1634-1703), bishop and poet
  • Hans Gram (1685-1748), royal historiographer and leader of the Royal Danish Library
  • Hans Adolph Brorson (1694-1764), bishop and poet
  • Søren Gyldendal (1742 - 1802), bookseller and publisher
  • Steen Steensen Blicher (1782-1848), author and priest
  • Rasmus Rask (1787-1832), man of letters
  • Poul Martin Møller (1794-1838), writer and philosopher
  • Christian Winther (1796-1876), poet
  • Andreas Peter Berggreen (1801-1880), composer
  • Johan Nicolai Madvig (1804-86), philologist and politician
  • Rasmus Nielsen (1809-84), philosopher, professor, and dr. phil.
  • Ditlev Gothard Monrad (1811-1887), bishop, theologist, and prime minister
  • Carl Eduard Rotwitt (1812-60), liberal politician and prime minister
  • Carl Ploug (1813-94), poet, editor, and politician
  • Japetus Steenstrup (1813-97), zoologist and antiquarian
  • Jens Christian Hostrup (1818-92), poet and priest
  • Rasmus Malling-Hansen (1835-1890), priest, principal, and inventor
  • Viggo Hørup (1841-1902), politician, journalist, and co-founder of the newspaper Politiken
  • Hugo Hørring (1842-1909), head of a ministry department and prime minister
  • Ernst von der Recke (1848-1933), poet and philologist
  • Niels Finsen (1860-1904), medic and Nobel Price winner
  • Vilhelm Buhl (1881-1954), prime minister (Social Democratic Party)
  • Carl Roos (1884-1962), germanist, professor, and dr. phil.
  • Otto Andrup (1885-1953), mag. art. and museum director
  • Hartvig Frisch (1893-1950), professor and minister of education (Social Democratic Party)
  • Tage Kemp (1896-1964), doctor and biologist
  • Julius Bomholt (1896-1969), folk high school principal and minister (Social Democratic Party)
  • Kaj Barr (1896-1970), iranist, professor and dr. phil. h.c.
  • Kaj Munk (1898-1944), priest and poet
  • Knud Hansen (1898-1996), folk high school-ist, and dr. theol. h. c.
  • Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen (1900-38), historian and writer
  • Regin Prenter (1907-90), theologist, professor and dr. theol.
  • Jens Otto Krag (1914-78), prime minister (Social Democratic Party)
  • K. B. Andersen (1914-83), head of Parliament and minister (Social Democratic Party)
  • Knud Togeby (1918-74), literary critic, professor and dr. phil.
  • Simon Spies (1921-1984), travel king
  • Søren Villiam Hoff (1922 - 2018), WWII resistance fighter and writer of hymns
  • Erik Amdrup (1923-1998), surgeon and author
  • Mogens Glistrup (1926-2008), politician and lawyer
  • John Idorn (1933 - 2004), journalist and writer
  • Henrik Bjelke (1937 - 1993), writer
  • Niels Oluf Kyed (1937-2018), lawyer, board chairman and treasurer (Venstre)
  • Thorkild Grosbøll (1948 - 2020), priest and debatist
  • Jarl Frijs-Madsen (f. 1965), ambassador
  • Henrik Marstal (f. 1966), musician, writer and debatist
  • Sørine Gotfredsen (f. 1967), priest, writer and debatist
  • Iben Thranholm (f. 1969), writer and debatist
  • Michael Thouber (f. 1971), CEO of Kunsthal Charlottenborg
  • Lasse Bo Handberg (f. 1972), dramatist and artistic manager
  • Maria Gadegaard (f. 1974), CEO of Gl. Holtegaard
  • Ida Auken (f. 1978), politician
  • Anna Mee Allerslev (f. 1984), mayor of Copenhagen
  • Anna Lidell (f. 1987), chair of DJBFA / Composers and songwriters
  • Rakel Haslund-Gjerrild (f. 1988), writer
  • Aki-Matilda Høegh-Dam (f. 1996), member of parliament (representing Greenland)
  • 1569

    King Frederik II founded the Kommunitet, a foundation with the purpose of sustaining the daily needs of 100 male university students. The king’s counselors at this time were Peder Oxe and Johan Friis, and perhaps also Niels Hemmingsen, who inaugurated the foundation on the first of May, same year, with a speech in Latin. During the first four years students dined in Helligåndsklosteret (Cloister of the Holy Ghost) on Amagertorv, where they were also taught academic discussion conducted in Latin. The dining hall of Amagertorv is kept to this day in Helligåndshuset, right next to the Church. Because of this original placement, the Kommunitet has often been termed 'Klosteret' (The Cloister).

    1573

    The Kommunitet foundation is given its own house along Nørregade, the former grounds for one of the wings of a Bishop’s hall.

    1618

    The Kommunitet foundation acquires grounds between St. Kannikestræde and Skidenstræde (today’s Krystalgade). It is the same place where Godfred of Ghemen set up the first Danish bookpress. A set of buildings belonging to a noble’s court is transformed into living quarters for 120 students. The acquisition of these new quarters is initiated and partly funded by King Christian IV.

    1623

    The new 'Collegium regium' ('Royal College'), commonly referred to as 'Regensen', comes into use. However, the construction was not entirely finished until 1628.

    1627

    The Church wing facing Købmagergade was erected and furnished as a student’s church. In 1656 the newly built Trinitatis Church took over its functions. Hereafter, the church of Regensen was only used for practicing daily communion and the like.

    1658

    Many residents of Regensen are conscripted to 'The Student’s Regiment' for defending Copenhagen against the Swedish.

    1659

    During 'The storming of Copenhagen' on the 11th of February, several alumni were killed. The students were organized into a corps of 134 alumni spread over four companies. During the assaults on the Swedish enemy, the Regensen residents fought side by side with the seamen of Nyboder. Because of their signature black capes, the Regensen residents would come to be known as 'the black ones'. Among the Regensen residents, the king rewarded the brothers Seidelin and Ole Borch (who would later found Borch’s College, also part of Kommunitet foundation). Borch was granted the title of professor and got the tithes of Strø parish for life, and the Seidelin brothers were given good offices by the king.

    1696

    A feud between students and the nobility played out. The servants of the nobility besieged Regensen on 8th of march, 'destroying every window'. Cf. Holberg: Jakob von Thybo, 5. Act, 6th scene.

    1711

    During the plague, 12 students are hired as corpse carriers. This developed into the so-called 'corpse carrier privilege' lasting from 1714 till 1795.

    1723

    The first jubilee in Regensen is held to mark the 100th year of its existence.

    1728

    During the Great Fire of Copenhagen from the 20th to 23rd of October, the house of Kommunitetet on Nørregade as well as most of Regensen were burned to the ground. Of the original buildings of Regensen, only the two lower parts of the stockwork from the gate at St. Kannikestræde until Købmagergade remain.

    1731

    The house of Kommunitetet was rebuilt and the provision of meals was re-established until 1736. In 1746. The provision of meals is ended and replaced by a weekly allowance. After 1795, the house of Kommunitetet was used for offices of the university etc. The wing towards Krystalgade is rebuilt.

    1744

    The wing towards Kannikestræde is rebuilt. Simultaneously, the residence of the provost is moved from 1st hallway to 5th hallway.

    1749

    The church wing is rebuilt; the expansion including the tower and clock is built in 1780. The church chapel is used for dispute- and preaching rehearsal, until the bombing in 1807 after which it is used as an assembly hall by the University. After the rebuilding of the University, it is used as a depository for a number of large book collections. From 1862 onwards, it is used for parties and as a study hall; one compartment is separated and used as a music room.

    1785

    On the 12th of May, provost A.C. Hviid plants the linden tree in the middle of Regensens yard. It is a tree of the special kind Tilia Cordata Erecta Fredensborgensis. In April 1803, 69 alumni planted the now cut down trees in front of the church wing. In 1834 linden trees were planted beside the now demolished guard house.

    1793

    'The feud of the post house' between officers and students unfolds. In the late 1700’s there were often streetfights in Copenhagen between the army and citizens, including students. In 1793, a fight broke out in front of the post office on Købmagergade, and the students were called to the fray with the bell tower of Regensen, which the crown prince later had removed. A bell for ringing in the hour is mounted in 1808 after the bombardment of Copenhagen, which had left the latin quarter’s tower of church of our lady without the powerful bell.

    1795

    The students’ privilege of being corpse carriers is abolished. However, the corpse carriers guild kept their office in the gates of Regensen until 1860.

    Ca. 1800

    Several building designs are altered, much to the students’ joy. These include iron bars in front of the windows, stone floors in the rooms, chest benches and double four-poster beds.

    1820

    The Student Society is founded during a feast at Regensen.

    1823

    The second jubilee is held on the 1st of July to mark the 200th anniversary of Regensen. This is king Frederik II’s birthday, and also the anniversary of the battle of Kolberger Heide. For some years, a party was held on this day to celebrate the founding of Regensen, first as a fest at the college, later with a picnic.

    1831

    'Regensens readers society' is founded in room 2x4. Because of disagreements with authorities, the society was abolished in 1839 and the room was transformed into the so-called 'readers’ lounge', a precursor to today’s library. The readers’ lounge was moved to Little Churchwing (later the domicile of the vice-provost) in 1846, and later in 1862 it was relocated to the Church hall. The abolishment of the reader’s society makes for the creation of 'The academic readers society' ('Akademikum'), lasting from 1839-43.

    1832

    Gamle is founded as the first 'awakening society' - in danish 'vækkerforening' - meaning, quite literally, a group of people who take turns to wake each other up so as to not be late with the tasks of the day.

    1833

    The songbook of Regensen is published for the first time. Later editions in 1842, 1848, 1902, 1923, 1930, 1944, 1950, 2001, and 2019.

    1835

    The Porter’s pub on Great churchwing is closed.

    1837

    A student plants the vine at 1st hallway. The next year, students plant two more at 2nd hallway.

    1838

    Regensen is visited by Swedish students at a large scale for the first time.

    1839

    The first Danish student comedy, 'The changed regensianer' by Carl Ploug is played out by the students of Regensen on the 10th of February.

    1839

    The students’ address to King Christian VIII in wake of his inauguration is worded in room 2x3. The address suggested to instate democracy.

    1843

    Jens Christian Hostrup (1812-1892) writes ‘Gjenboerne’ in his room on 4th hallway during the winter months. It was played out on the 20th of February, 1844. The play was written to mark the joining of the academic readers society with the students society.

    1865

    After the defeat of the Danish forces in 1864, Danish-minded people of Slesvig visited Regensen. A 'Church Book' is procured, meant to record any news or event which matters to all of Regensen. A 'klokker' (bell ringer, also the word later used for the college representatives) is elected to keep the book ajour.

    1868

    A committee of 5 members is set up 'to handle the internal affairs of Regensen and represent Regensen outwardly'. The committee was abolished again in 1872.

    1869

    On May 1st, the Kommunitet's 300th anniversary is celebrated; cantata by Carl Ploug.

    1885

    The Linden tree’s 100th anniversary is celebrated; cantata by Iver Iversen. The society Pip is founded.

    1904

    The Regensianer Society was founded on 16 October in Regensen's reading room.

    1907

    On 27th of August, the wreath was hoisted on Regensen's new wing ('Barracks'), which was erected on the grounds of the old Trinity parish. With the same conversion, the archway towards Købmagergade is created, and the contubernal system is abolished.

    1909

    On 4th of February, the Minister of Culture and the Riksdag's Finance Committee visited Regensen after the renovation was completed.

    1910

    The new Rigshospital, the central hospital of Copenhagen, which has been built with funds from the Kommunitet foundation, is complete. Later, the building of Studentergården (1923) and Kvinderegensen (1935) were funded in the same way with considerable deterioration of the Kommunitet's finances as a result. The society Uglen is founded.

    1915

    On September 11, the 50th anniversary of the creation of the klokker institution is celebrated. The provost’s chain is established as a gift from Regensianersamfundet.

    1916

    On April 25, the Faroese student Jens Lindvig designed the Faroese flag (Merkið). Regensen then marks this every year on the day.

    1919

    On May 1st, the Kommunitet foundation’s 350th anniversary was celebrated at a party in the University's 'Solennitets' Hall. On the 10th of May, on the same occasion, a feast was held at Regensen, attended by King Christian X.

    1920

    On March 20th, a party is held at Læsesalen (the study hall) for the students from Southern Jutland. On 16th of July, the Student Association celebrates its 100th anniversary with a feast in the yard of Regensen.

    1922

    The society Skrap is founded. The last Icelandic residents leave as a result of the establishment of the Danish-Icelandic personal union in 1918.

    1923

    June 30 marks Regensen's 300th anniversary. A party is thrown in the University's Solitude Hall, with an evening feast in the yard of Regensen. King Christian X participates. On July 1st, a play is performed followed by a dinner and Linden ball.

    1927

    The society Tilia is founded.

    1929

    The society Conventet is founded.

    1930

    Central heating and hot bathing water was installed. The stewards are thus superfluous and a party is thrown to mark their leave.

    1931

    Regensianersamfundet donates a bell to the klokker post, which is still in use today.

    1935

    On May 12, Linden's 150th birthday is celebrated. A lattice, donated by the New Carlsberg Foundation and designed by Ib Andersen (1907 - 1969), is set up in front of the new wing (‘the Barracks’).

    1937

    The society Hof is founded.

    1951

    The society Sioux is founded.

    1953

    A. C. Hviid's linden tree dies. It is felled the following year and a new one is planted.

    1959-61

    The regency is modernized with hot water in all rooms, improved kitchen and toilet conditions and fresh painting of the woodwork.

    1963

    The ban on overnight guests is lifted and the night watch is abolished.

    1965

    The 100th anniversary of the office of Klokker (representatives) is celebrated in the University's Solitude Hall with a feast for all former klokkers and the living regensianere.

    1969

    The Kommunitet foundation's 400th anniversary is celebrated in the University's Solitude Hall.

    1971

    Female students are admitted. The first female klokker, Birthe Louise Bugge, is elected the following year.

    1978

    A large amount of archives from Regensen are submitted to the National Archives.

    Ca. 1980

    The poor economy of the Kommunitet foundation necessitates the introduction of partial payment for heat.

    1981

    The position of Deputy Provost is abolished upon the death of H. C. Krag Hansen. The deputy provost's residence is included in the common area.

    1983

    Regensen joins the 'University of Copenhagen's College Collaboration of 1983', which also consists of Valkendorf, Elers and Borch's colleges. The remaining part of the Kommunitet foundation's assets are transferred to the College Cooperative on this occasion, and rent is introduced. The duration that students are allowed to live at Regensen is also extended from 4 to 5 years.

    1985

    At 'Lindefrokosten' (The Linden Lunch - a traditional seasonal feast), The Linden tree's 200 year anniversary is celebrated with the participation of Queen Margrethe II.

    1986

    The conditions for a ministerial loan for the partial renovation of Regensen entail a long-running legal dispute that threatens the College Cooperative's continued existence. The case was settled in 2000.

    1990

    Queen Margrethe II participates for the second time in the Linden lunch.

    1993

    The vine is felled during the reorganization of the paving in the yard of Regensen.

    1994

    The 150th anniversary of 'Gjenboerne' is celebrated. The play is staged anew with regensianere in the roles. The society Ping is founded.

    2001

    The society 'Siqno' is founded

    2003

    There is a fire in the attic of the wing at Krystalgade.

    2005

    The meta society Homo is founded.

    2007

    The Icelandic ambassador Svavar Gestsson attends the annual Linden lunch, marking the 200 year anniversary of the birth of the Icelandic poet, Jónas Halgrímsson. The meta society The Provost’s Boys ('Provstens Drenge') is founded.

    2008

    The TV room on '2. Gang' closes, as the room is transformed into an industrial kitchen to use for parties. At the same time, the common room 'Fægtekælderen' (the fencing room) is renovated to be used as a common living room, and the post ('embede') 'Fægtemester' is founded. The wing 'Kasernen' (the barracks) turns 100 years old and is celebrated by the students of Regensen. The society Conventet is re-founded.

    2009

    The new industrial kitchen is created. The society 'Conventet' is dissolved once again. The Regensen Schnapps Guild ('Snapselauget'), who are picking herbs and mixing schnapps for the Revue and Linden lunch parties, is inaugurated and assigned a corner of the attic for the purpose of storing their creations.

    2010

    The society Siqno is dissolved.

    2011

    The 'teacher room' is renovated and Regensen establishes its own archive. The common room 'Fægtestuen' is flooded during a heavy rain storm and renovated.

    2012

    The Jonas Thomsen Sekyere Scholarship is established, providing lodging for 2 international students a year at Regensen. The kitchens of Regensen are renovated. An extension is built for the kitchens in the wing 'Kasernen'. The society 'Konventet' (who prefer the more international-sounding 'Konvencio') is refounded again for the second time. The title 'vice provost' is re-established by the provost Stuart Ward (now with a necklace, but without a special place of residence).

    2016

    Regensen’s Brewers’ Guild is founded.

    2019

    Regensen gets a new website.

    2020

    Regensen adapts its traditions and culture to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    2021

    Regensen translates its website into English.