More than 450 years as a school
The oldest building at the school is “Klosterbygningen” (the monastic building), the foundation of which goes back to the 1100s when a group of Benedictine monks settled there and erected Skovkloster (The monastery in the woods). At the time of the Reformation, the King seized most of the lands and buildings of the Catholic Church, among them Skovkloster.
During the Reformation in 1535 King Christian III seized all the lands of the church, including Skovkloster in Næstved. The King himself became the highest authority in ecclesiastical matters, and the existing monastic orders were gradually phased out. Most of the monks at Skovkloster were allowed to remain for a transition period, which was not unusual. The last monks left Skovkloster in 1559 and settled at Antvorskov near Slagelse.
The then king, Frederik II, therefore had the chance to offer the former monastery to Herluf Trolle as part of a land property exchange. The King got Hillerødsholm, present day Frederiksborg Slot. The King then had extensive, contiguous hunting grounds in North Zealand. When Herluf Trolle took over Skovkloster, it was renamed Herlufsholm.
The school was founded on May 23, 1565 as a school for children of nobles and other honest people. In this way the school served not only the nobility but also children with ability and desire for learning and education. But Herluf Trolle himself did not live to see his dream come true. In the summer of 1565 he once again had to go to war as head of the Danish Navy during the Nordic Seven Years’ War. He set sail against the Swedish fleet at Femern. In the battle of June 4, 1565 he was fatally wounded and died the same month.
In the absence of her husband Birgitte Gøye became the first director or governor of the school. To secure the school against inheritance demands from relatives a charter or foundation was formed, and the estate and its lands were handed over to this foundation.