Prime Minister Klaus Berntsen
Official’s uniform with rapier, 1910. This uniform belonged to Prime Minister Klaus Berntsen (1844-1927). The uniform is now at the museum Møntergården in Odense. Photo: Jens Gregers Aagaard.
Rapier which goes to an Official's uniform. Uniform and rapier belonged to Prime Minister Klaus Berntsen (1844-1927). The rapier is now at Møntergården in Odense. Photo: Jens Gregers Aagaard.
Prime Minister, Klaus Berntsen (1844-1927), was born at Eskildstrup in Funen and was elected to parliament for the first time in 1873 for the party 'Venstre' – the Liberals. He was a member of parliament for 51 years – the longest serving member ever.
Who rules Funen?
During the 19th century, the people of Funen had more influence on the local government. In the market towns, leading merchants were elected and, in the country, major farmers gained more power with the establishment of parish councils in 1841. During the next 100 years, still more people were given the right to vote at municipal elections including small landowners, domestic servants and, from 1909, women, too.
The municipality and the city council
In 1868, Odense had a town council in the modern sense of the word. The town council became the city's ultimate authority and assumed charge of the municipal treasury. Odense Municipality was born! The municipality had an enormous influence on citizens’ everyday lives. It was responsible for schools, helping the poor and the city’s physical development. Initially, the members of the municipal council were elected as individuals, but the 1870s saw the emergence of political parties.
Berntsen was born at Eskildstrup in central Funen. As a young man he had been taught by Christen Kold, and he, too, became a teacher at the free school of Højby and principal of the folk high school at Særslev.
Berntsen was elected to parliament for the first time in 1873 for the party 'Venstre' – the Liberals. He was a member of parliament for 51 years – the longest serving member ever – and during that time, he was a minister in several Liberal governments and he was prime minister from 1910-13.
In his memoirs, Berntsen describes how, in the public schools, the children were often beaten until the blood flowed if they were unable to recite their homework by heart.
Klaus Berntsen died in 1927 and is buried in Højby.
This location is part of the exhibition 'Funen – at the centre of the universe', at Møntergården in Odense. Read more about the exhibition on our website.