The Remarkable Remains of Peder Winstrup

During our visit to the Lund Botanical Garden we came across a small exhibition at the far end of one of the tropical greenhouses. The display was part of Lund’s 350 years celebration and was dedicated to the selection of plants found in the coffin of former Bishop of Lund, Peder Winstrup.

Botan’s summer exhibition in 2017 is about the plants found in Bishop Peder Winstrup’s chest.

Bishop Peder Winstrup was buried in 1680 in the cathedral of Lund. With the coffin there was a large amount of plant material as a filling in mattress and pillow.

The Botanical Gardens show an exhibition of pictures on Winstrup’s coffin and the plant removers found. You will also have a guided tour around the garden where we will tell about the 17th century plants and about the species that were found in the coffin.”

We found this fascinating enough but then the next day, as we passed the Lund Historical Museum deliberating as to whether to go in or not (only a time consideration), we saw the two posters on the wall and decided that it was an exhibition we could not miss.

It turns out that Peder Winstrup was a polymath of the first order. At the Botanical Garden we were surprised at the amount and variety of plant material that had survived in recognisable form in his coffin but didn’t quite realise the significance of the man, with whom they had been buried for centuries, until we read his story and saw surviving artefacts from his life in the Lund Historical Museum.

Peder Winstrup was a Bishop in Lund for 41 years and an enterprising man with high ambitions.

He was captured in this painting by David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl: the so-called ‘father of Swedish painting’. This ‘famous’ painting of Charles X’s coronation at Uppsala Cathedral in 1675 shows all the Swedish bishops including Winstrup standing second from the left.

He was a true renaissance person. He became a doctor of theology, professor of physics and philosophy, chaplain to the Danish king and architect.

He wrote and published books. He spent 19 years at various schools and universities.

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In 1631 he published a collection of his poems ‘Epigrammata’ and in 1666 and 1671 his major theological work ‘Pandectarum’. In between times he wrote “about everything under the sun, from archeological reflections to ecclesiastical funeral speeches.”  He set up his own printing press. He was a major book collector and on his death his library had 2,989 volumes. Most of the books were theological but his interests covered many other subjects including history and law.

Inside the Exhibition

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Winstrup’s Coat of Arms

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Winstrup’s Bishop’s Cope

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And it just happens that I have just received the gift, fresh off the press, of an English version of the story of Bishop Winstrup. I’m looking forward to reading more about this little-known, highly educated and cultured man of the pre-Enlightenment era.

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10 comments on “The Remarkable Remains of Peder Winstrup

  1. julie stivers says:

    So the plants were in his coffin “buried” in the cathedral? 1) Was he buried, exhumed and mummified? 2) If he was intentionally mummified and the plants included in the coffin, were they hesitant to remove them as they may have contributed to the success of the long-term mummification? I know I can probably find the answers to these questions online, but it’s more fun to quiz my friend Barbara.

  2. Hi Julie, nice to hear from you and thank you for this ‘technical’ question this evening! I understand that mummification took place during the centuries that PW was buried in his coffin at the cathedral. I have no idea about the mummification process.It was amazing that his gloves and clothes remained intact. On at least a couple of occasions the coffin lid was removed and an 1833 drawing exists and a 1923 plate glass photograph both showing his mummified face. It is believed that the plants were deposited in the coffin to help him along his way. I now have the book in English so I can read more about him/the process but I’ve inserted above a photo of the final page where you can read more. Are your questions prompted by the research you did on the Michigan botanist lady? Thanks, Julie.

  3. Fran says:

    What a fascinating story. Reading your post made me think his life and death sound like a plot of an historical novel. Hope your new book reveals more of this larger than life character.

  4. ms6282 says:

    Always good to come across something interesting by chance.
    (Looks like he had nearly as many books as I have 😊)

  5. julie stivers says:

    Sorry I didn’t reply sooner — even though I checked the box that said notify me of new comments, it didn’t come through on my e-mail. Yes — I don’t know what came first, my interest in plants or my research on Emma Cole. Since both occurred just as we were settling in at the cottage, surrounded by plants, I suspect it was simultaneous. Interesting info in that page you posted.
    Too bad you couldn’t be here Sunday — I had a 70th birthday party for John, and, harmoniously, 70 people came. All in our little upper unit — it also was a “shopwarming”. Much fun.

    • I cannot believe that John is 70!! And 70 people is quite a crowd but I guess that lovely spacious ‘unit’ or The Lodge has space enough for such entertaining. I just can’t imagine the parking manoeuvres. Glad you had a very happy time, and yes, wish we could have been there. Pass on our best wishes to John. By the way Sunday was our 40th wedding anniversary! (and 4 people came)

      • julie stivers says:

        Congratulations! 4 for 40 sounds about right. We have these two communities, in town and up here, so it was a merger. We borrowed some friends’ grandchildren to help direct parking. It was an open house too, so it was spread out over four hours.

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