På Dansk In English Auf Deutsch På Svenska  
  About Tycho Brahe About the Museum Visit the Museum Press Info
Tychos life
In his footsteps
The familY
Sophie Brahe
The scientist
Tychos Island

Sophie Brahe

"I have a sister named Sophie, who was widowed six years ago. Her husband was a good, noble man."

She was still quite a young woman at that time, and had the comfort of one child, a boy. As is so often the case, she had a lot of worries during her years of widowhood, and she began to search for ways to pass the time, that as far as it was possible, could cheer her up now and again. At Eriksholm (her house in Scania, which is built like a fortress) she designed a wonderfully beautiful garden, which is unparalleled in these northern parts of the world. She put enormous effort and inexhaustible work into this project, and other undertakings that I shall not mention, and she laid out the gardens in accordance with the foremost rules, with a well-planned arrangement both of a series of different kinds of trees and garden plants, as well as other suitable details – all in a place where nothing of this kind had existed before.

However, when this work was completed she still did not quite free from the weight of her troubles and she sought diversion in chemistry, with the intention of preparing certain spagyric medicines. This was also work that she carried out with no little success. Soon she was not just supplying these preparations to her friends and to the upper classes, where there was a need, but also free of charge to the poor – and thereby she provided them all with great assistance.

But she found that not even this road led to the fulfilment of her intellectual ambitions, which continuously aimed further and higher, and finally she devoted great energy to astrological predictions based on birth horoscopes. It might have been her bright talent and one or another Genius that continually prompted her to aim higher and higher, or that her gender in itself predisposed her for curiosity for knowledge of the future, maybe also mixed with a certain amount of superstition.

While I myself had given her instruction and guidance within these first areas when she asked for it (admittedly more in chemistry than horticulture, which she herself understood sufficiently well), I strongly advised her to stay away from astrological speculations, since I felt that she should not devote herself to subjects that are too abstract and complicated for the female mind. But she, who has a strong mind and so much self-confidence that she is equal to any man in spiritual matters, ignored my advice and threw herself with increased eagerness into her studies, and taught herself the basics of astrology in just a short time, partly from Latin writers, that she had translated to Danish at her own expense, also partly from German writers in the subject (she has excellent knowledge of German). When I saw the clear signs of this, I stopped working against it, and merely advised her to exercise prudence in her further studies". (Tycho Brahe, extracts from Urania Titani)

Sophie Brahe was born in 1556 at Knutstorp. When she was 17 years old, she became Tycho’s assistant and helped him with observations during a lunar eclipse. In 1577, she married Otto Thott of Eriksholm, the present Trolleholm. After 11 years of marriage, Otto Thott died, and afterwards Sophie managed the estate and raised their son, Tage Ottesen Thott. She visited her brother on the island of Hven 5-6 times a year, and might stay at Uraniborg for several weeks at a time. Tycho regarded her as his colleague and called her his "learned sister". She provided him with someone to have an intelligent conversation with.

On Hven, Sophie met Erik Lange, a wealthy and learned man, who was especially interested in alchemy, i.e. the art of making gold. They got engaged in 1590, and Erik subsequently went abroad. Sophie returned to Eriksholm to finish raising her son. She waited for Erik for eleven years.

His interest in alchemy cost him such great sums of money that in the end he was ruined. His creditors pursued him, and he fled abroad to try to solve his financial problems. Sophie tried to help him, and pawned the Eriksholm lands to her brother Steen Brahe, in order to raise money.

When Tage, her son, left Eriksholm to study abroad, Sophie decided to follow Erik Lange. Eventually she found him in Hamburg, completely destitute. In 1602, they were finally married.

Her marriage to Erik Lange brought with it many worries, and Sophie was forced ever deeper into debt because of his economic difficulties. When Tage returned from overseas, he took over the running of Eriksholm. It is not known where Sophie spent these years. For a while, she stayed with her son, but it is not known if Erik Lange accompanied her there. Erik died destitute in Prag in 1613. Sophie later devoted herself to genealogy, and her family book is now in the Lund University Library. Her final years were spent in Elsinore/Helsingör, where she died in 1643, 87 years old. A few years later, her son took her remains and buried them in the family grave by the church of Torrlösa. The mausoleum was destroyed in 1862, but in 1914 a memorial stone was placed on the site where her coffin was buried.