Diocese of Zealand

The Diocese of Zealand (Danish: Sjællands Stift) was a protestant diocese in Denmark which existed from 1537 to 1922. During this period, the diocese functioned as the head of the Church of Denmark, beneath the crown, and its bishop was regarded as Primus inter pares.

The diocese had been formed in 1537 following the Reformation of Denmark, and was dissolved in 1922 when it was divided into the Diocese of Copenhagen and the Diocese of Roskilde.


The Diocese of Zealand was established in 1537 following the Reformation. During the Reformation, the former Catholic bishops in Denmark—who had led the country's dioceses—were removed from their positions and their property was confiscated by the Crown. From that point onward the monarch of Denmark functioned as the head of the newly formed Church of Denmark. At the onset of the church, bishops were officially styled as superintendents, to reflect their diminished authority beneath the crown, though this proved temporary. The title of archbishop was also abolished with the reformation, though the Bishop of Zealand was considered primus inter pares, and regarded as the head of the church beneath the authority of the crown.[1]

The diocese of Zealand replaced the Catholic Diocese of Roskilde, though it maintained much of its infrastructure. The Roskilde Cathedral remained the diocese's central cathedral and the official residence of the bishop remained in Copenhagen, as had been the case for his Catholic predecessors, although it moved to the former city hall, now known as Bispegården, which translates literally to the Bishop's House.[2]

Apart from the island of Zealand, from which the diocese took its name, the diocese covered Møn, Amager and various smaller islands in the area. Various dependencies and distant islands also fell under the diocese's jurisdiction, including the Faroe Islands, the Danish colonies in Greenland, and other overseas territories. The island of Bornholm was included in 1662,[3] following the 1660 Treaty of Copenhagen which ceded the rest of the Diocese of Lund to Sweden.

In 1922, the diocese was divided into the Diocese of Copenhagen and the Diocese of Roskilde. Harald Ostenfeld, the last Bishop of Zealand, continued as the Bishop of Copenhagen while Henry Fonnesbech-Wulff became the Bishop of Roskilde.

Bishops of ZealandEdit

List of prefects (Stiftamtmænd)Edit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bøgh, Anders (20 June 2011). "Bispeinstitutionen". danmarkshistorien.dk. Aarhus University. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Bispegården". dankinkbh.dk. Archived from the original on 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2011-04-28.
  3. ^ Aage Kure, Biskopper i Lund, Slotsherrer på Hammershus, Landsdommere på Bornholm, 2001