Get a glimpse of the exhibtion

Skarhult launches six videos for school children about women´s history. 

History textbooks for school children have long been criticised for mentioning too few women. In a newly published Swedish history textbook for 8th graders there are more named Nazis than there are women. As a counteraction, Skarhult’s Project Manager Alexandra von Schwerin releases six educational videos about powerful women through the centuries, based on the exhibition Power in Disguise at Skarhult. The videos are a unique private initiative to compensate for the pressing lack of women in Swedish school children’s deficient history education. They are recommended as a complement to the history education in the intermediate and senior levels. Teachers are welcome to use the videos with its accompanied study questions in their teaching. Briefly, it is time to learn history differently! 

Meet the initiator Alexandra von Schwerin at Skarhult Castle outside Lund, Sweden: 

After each video we suggest questions that the teacher can use in the classroom.
E.g. – Who do we become without female role models? 

Video 1 – Not Just Men 
Swedish history is a history about middle-aged men with power; kings, politicians, prime ministers, writers, and scientists. Which ones do you remember? Which ones can you name? The reality is completely different. Our history is filled with strong women! 

– When does history become a science? 
– Why have women not been entered into history textbooks? 

Video 2 – 16th Century – A Widow With Power 
Welcome to Lesson 2 about Power in Disguise at Skarhult Castle. We have travelled to the 16th century. All estates, farms, factories, and businesses are run by families. Sometimes a man is the manager, but it is just as common that a woman is head of the business. In this video the tour guides Alexandra von Schwerin and Sara Bijnens talk about the immensely powerful Mette Rosenkrantz, the woman who came to be the richest in Denmark and the one that built Skarhult Castle in the middle of the 16th Century.  

– Why were there more women managers during the 16th century than today? 
– Why are women invisible in historical sources? 

Video 3 – 17th Century –  Driven Warrior Daughter 
Welcome to the third video from the Power in Disguise at Skarhult Castle. Sweden is at war during 75 years. The history taught from this time in schools concerns war, battles, and brave kings. However, this history took place outside the borders of Sweden. If we were learn about the history within swedishborders, we would be taught that half of all men are dead, and who do you think took over? 

In video no 3, the guide tells us the story of a typical noble woman from this time – Beata von Königsmarck. She purchases Skarhult Castle in 1663. She is not primarily a woman, but first and foremost a member of a social and economical elite. This means that it is obvious to her that she is to make financial and strategic decisions, run a large staff of employees, as well as buying and selling estates. She will run the Skarhult estate for 60 years. 

– Why is Beata von Königsmarck not present in Skarhult’s documented list of owners until 1692 despite buying the castle already in 1663?
– Give examples of historical sources where we can find women? 

Video 4 – 18th Century – Independent Countess 
Welcome to the fourth video about the Power in Disguise at Skarhult Castle. We have left the wars and Sweden’s period as a great power behind us, and instead entered the 18th Century, a time of Liberty, Enlightenment, parties and masquerades. In this video we meet Countess Stina Piper who receives Skarhult as a wedding gift in 1754. She leads a dramatic and turbulent life close to the Royal Family and the Royal Court in Stockholm. Her life is a story of loss, lust, love, and independence. 

– What does it mean to run a “salon”? Organise a salon in the classroom! 
– Why could Stina Piper not keep her three children? 

Video 5 – 19th Century – The Servant Girl
Welcome to Video no 5 about the Power in Disguise at Skarhult Castle. In this lesson we talk about the industrialisation and the nationwide urbanisation. Tilda Marie Månsdotter Nilsson Kaunitz, a young woman from a small country cottage, moves away from Hästveda in northern Scania when she acquires work as a waitress at the Railway Hotel in Lund. There she falls in love with one of the sons of Skarhult Castle, Hans Hugold von Schwerin. Against all odds they marry, but Tilda Marie is due to her background never welcomed at Skarhult. However, she does provide  a male heir when she in 1906 gives birth to the son Hans, whom later becomes the owner of Skarhult.  

– Why does women’s influence significantly decrease in the 19th century? 
– Are you allowed to marry whoever you want today? 

Video 6 – 20th Century – Role Model for Young Housewives 
Welcome to Video no 6, the final video, about the Power in Disguise at Skarhult Castle. We have reached the 20th century. Women have gained suffrage and no longer need to ask their husbands for permission for everything. However, despite these changes the highest ideal for a woman is to become a good housewife. In this clip you will meet the chatelaine Margaretha von Schwerin who in 1944 opens a School for Domestic Science at Skarhult. Hundreds of girls come to Skarhult to acquire every skill a woman needs to know in order to become a good housewife. Margaretha personifies a paradoxical time when the organised fight of the Women’s Movement led to several rights for women, but the ideal was nevertheless that women should remain in the private spheer of the home. 

– What rights do women gain during the 20th century? 
– What does it mean to be a “good housewife”? 

Why are women not mentioned in history books? History professor Svante Norrhem explains.