Brass of the Month

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Page last updated 04 March 2015


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Copyright: Kevin Herring

Above the canopy arch are two female figures in loose clothing each holding palms and flowers, adding to this overtly Renaissance work.

The marginal inscription is in Low German and reads;


This translates as;

 “ Sir Iven Reventlow Knight / Margareta Reventlow, Daughter of Clawes Rantzau of Raestorf deceased / Gabriel Sir Iven’s son / Anna Reventlow, Daughter of Otto von Buchwald of Wensin deceased. “

The inscription on the canopy arch is in Low German and reads;



“On all these may our true God be merciful”

On the abutments at the top of the pillars supporting the canopy are “Anno” on one side and “1569” on the other, denoting the year of Iven’s death.

The two canted shields in the top corners of the marginal inscription are the arms of Reventlow – Party per fess Argent with an embattled brick wall Gules. Those at the bottom are;

a) Sinister, Buchwald - Party per fess Argent and Gules, overall a bear’s head Sable, crowned Or and langued Gules.

b) Dexter, Rantzau - Party per pale Gules and Argent. 1

The whole brass is in excellent condition with very effective use of shading and cross hatching in the engraving. It is from the workshop of Matthias Benning, bell and cannon founder of Lübeck.  Benning was also responsible for the grander and larger brass to Bishop Johannes Tydemann 1561, for which he was commissioned by Tydemann’s executors. This brass is now relocated from the choir to the south wall of the nave in Lübeck Cathedral. It uses the same type of lettering and background for the marginal inscription. Other similarities include the distinctive type of shading and cross hatching and the recumbent figures above the canopy. The distinctive design concept chosen for both brasses seeks to convey an aura of power associated with office for the commemorated.

Iven was born in 1495 in Rixdorf a tiny hamlet close to Lebrade. He was the son of Joachim Reventlow and his wife Abel Buchwald. Reventlow is a name of Danish origin and his was an established Holstein noble family. The Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein at that time were under Danish control and the whole area was subject to on-going territorial disputes and periodic warfare between Germany and Denmark. In 1518 he married Anna von Ahlefeldt and they had six children including a son Gabriel ( he appears on the brass ) born in 1523. Anna died in 1530. His second wife was Anna von Buchwald (she appears on the brass) who bore him two children. She died in 1546. His third wife was Margarethe Ottosdatter ( Otto’s daughter) Rantzau and three more children followed before Margarethe died in 1550. The last wife was Margarethe Clausdatter (Claus’ daughter) Rantzau ( she appears on the brass). Iven himself died at Rixdorf on 25th October 1569, outlived by Margarethe who died in 1594.

He was an astutely ambitious man who assembled extensive lands and acquired positions of power and influence. In 1523 he was knighted by Frederick I of Denmark at Gottorp castle. He accompanied Duke Christian  (Frederick’s son, later to be Christian III) during the siege of Copenhagen, under the command of Johan Ranzau, in what has become known as “The Count’s War”. When Christian became King and sought the merger of the two Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein they fell out, with Iven refusing a separate oath of allegiance to the King and resigning as “Landmarschall” of Holstein, a position he had held since 1539. Instead he switched his allegiance to Christian’s brother, the young Duke Hans (Hans the Elder 1521-80) and became his close advisor.

Iven was the equivalent of lord of the manor with estates held at Rixdorf, Schöneweide, Lammershagen and Stocksee in Holstein and Lindved in Schleswig. He became Sheriff of Segeburg 1526-30, Gottorp 1533-34, Tønder 1533-37, and Flensburg 1539-46.  Latterly, Fehmarn 1550-57 and Rendsborg 1547-60, conferred upon him by Duke Hans. His role as “Landmarschall” 1539-45 meant he represented all the knights who held estates in Holstein at the Danish diet.  He was also a Magistrate in Bordesholm.2

I am indebted to our Member Reinhard Lamp for the translation of the German text.





1. Norris “The Craft” Phillips & Page London 1978 Plate 247

2. Klaus Kruger “Corpus der mittelalterlichen grabdenkmäler in Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein und Lauenburg (1100-1600)” Stuttgart 1999 pp. 469-70.

This brass commemorates Iven Reventlow with two of his wives, Anna von Buchwald and Margaretha Clausdatter von Rantzau, together with his son Gabriel from his first marriage to Anna von Ahlefeldt.  It is mounted in a wooden frame on the north wall of the nave above the pews in St Hippolyt’s church in the small village of Lebrade. It was placed there in 1882, with no sign of its original location but likely to have occupied a prominent position in the chancel.

The brass comprises a quadrangular plate made up of 5 smaller plates, with overall dimensions of 220 x 160 cm.

It shows Iven as the dominant figure under a pronounced arch of a canopy with a landscaped background of hills which includes two fortified houses / castles, denoting his wealth in terms of territorial and estate holdings. He wears plate armour of the period and holds a halberd in his right hand whilst clutching a sword behind his back in the other. At his feet are a pair of gauntlets and a crested helm. He wears a flat beret on his head with a feather. The two wives are shown as smaller almost identical figures, receding behind him, together with Gabriel in doublet and hose with cap in hand, all gazing intently at Iven and standing on a tiled pavement, which enhances the perspective and the depth of the composition. Iven’s portrayal is reminiscent of Hans Holbein’s painting of Henry VIII of England.

March 2014 - Iven Reventlow, 1569, St. Hippolyt’s Church, Lebrade,  Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.