Sweden to hand back historic Danish document

jyske_lovlittleLong running bartering between library directors has led to an agreement by Sweden to return an ancient text to Denmark.

The Danish Code of Jutland, which enshrines property ownership and has been compared to the British Magna Carta, was originally signed in 1241 by King Valdemar II. It has, however, been housed in the Stockholm Royal Library for the past 300 years as part of stolen war booty.

Denmark has been unsuccessfully requesting the return of the ‘Jyske Lov’ for years, but now the director of the Royal Danish Library, Roland Kolding Nielsen, has announced he has reached an agreement with his Swedish counterpart. The topic of the return of war booty has widespread ramifications across European museums, and curators have expressed fears that a precedent for such handovers could see their collections emptied overnight. Therefore, the new agreement is likely to involve some form of exchange, with the Swedes able to swap the Jyske Lov for a culturally significant item held in Denmark.

“I’m going to talk with my Swedish colleagues and see if we have anything they might be interested in,” said Danish Culture Minister Per Stig Moller, adding that he will do everything possible to find a suitable replacement.

The Jyske Lov – referred to in Latin as the Codex Holmeinsis – provides Danes with the basic right to privately own property and protect it from raiders, reports the Copenhagen Post.

An excerpt reads, “with law shall land [i.e. the nation] be built. And if all men would keep what is theirs, and let others enjoy the same rights, there would be no need of law. […] If the land had no law, then he would have the most who could grab the most.”

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