Middelfart is a market town on Funen, with 15,922 inhabitants (2020). The city is located in Middelfart Municipality and belongs to the Region of Southern Denmark. The old name Melfar means "the water you travel between" or "the middle crossing" and thus refers to the ferry traffic between Jutland and Funen. The city is located between the Little Belt Bridge and the old Little Belt Bridge at the narrowest point of the Little Belt. The city coat of arms depicts a ship from Middelfart. From Middelfart there are 11 kilometers to the north to Fredericia, 34 km to Assens to the south and almost 46 km to Odense to the east.
In the time of King Valdemar II, there must have been a royal estate ("Gormsborg"), of which remains have been found - boulders, monk stones, an old paving, etc. - by digging in a field by the cemetery; in a priest's report from 1623 it is also stated that "the western end of Medelfart must be the oldest, in which there must have been a manor in the past, called the castle". The beginning of the town has probably been a small fishing village.
The Middle Ages
As early as 1362 councilors are mentioned and in 1425 a byting. In 1496, King Hans gave the city the same privileges that Odense and Assens had received from previous kings; later they were confirmed in 1540, 1569 and 1596, among other places. The town is mentioned several times in medieval history. In 1287 it was burned by the assassins. In 1296 there were negotiations here between Erik Menved and Erik Præstehader and in 1306 and 1310 between the king and the brothers Duke Valdemar IV of Southern Jutland and Duke Erik of Langeland. At the beginning of 1359, 3 Jutland nobles, Niels Bugge to Hald, Ove Stisen to Eskebjærg and Peder Andersen (Hvide) on their way to Margaard on the way home from Slagelse, where they had negotiated in vain with Valdemar Atterdag, were murdered in Middelfart by some fishermen; but the suspicion of the murder fell on the king, though he solemnly abdicated. The residents of the houses in Vestergade, where the perpetrators lived, had from that time to pay an annual fee in land debt or blood money, the so-called "Bug money" (49 shillings instead of the odious three-mark fine), a tax which was not abolished until 1874.
Middelfart has probably always belonged to Funen's smaller towns, but its location as a crossing point has still given it some significance. On the other hand, this location also posed a danger to the city in times of war, such as in the Count's Feud, when it had to settle 600 lots of silver and later 1,000 guilders, in the Swedish War, when the Allied troops in November 1659 went over to Funen near the city, and in the First Schleswig War, when the Prussians bombed on May 8, 1848, though it was an open and defenseless city. Whether it has ever been fortified is not known; according to Christian IV's ordinance of 1628, it was to be surrounded by ramparts and tombs; no traces of fortifications are seen on Resens Atlas. Like Funen's other cities, it was a bit strong during the Swedish War.
Under the dictatorship
In 1672, Middelfart had 756 inhabitants. In the 18th century it went back even further for the city, to which great fires and plague contributed; 1746 burned part of the town (25 houses in Søndergade), in 1761 it was ravaged by bloodshed (1769: 735 Indb.), And on June 2, 1791, 14 farms and houses burned.
The town has had a Latin school, which had premises in Brogade in a building which has later been used as a warehouse. The school probably existed before the Reformation, as already in 1507 schoolchildren are mentioned; it was repealed in 1740.
The town has had a guinea pig trapping law, whose law or slant is from 1593, but which is believed to be much older (1541 a dispute was filed between Middelfart and Gamborg townsmen about the guinea pig catch). It drove the hunt in Gamborg Fjord, in which the animals are hunted. Even in the second half of the 19th century the catch could be 7-800 pieces a year, but sometimes it was much larger, so in the winter of 1854-55, when 1742 pieces were caught. In the late 1800s, the catch ceased altogether and the layer was dissolved.
In the wars against the Germans in 1848 and 1864, Middelfart was a bastion in the defense of Funen that was subjected to a bombardment from the Jutland side by German cannons.
In the 18th century, the harbor was very bad and unsafe, as it only consisted of a ship's bridge, which was unusable in severe weather, and the town's vessels had to search under Fænø in the winter. A new port was built in 1834-36.
The early industrialization
Middelfart's population was increasing at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century: 1,633 in 1850, 1,840 in 1855, 2,123 in 1860, 2,336 in 1870, 2,345 in 1880, 3,078 in 1890, 4,469 in 1901, 5,162 in 1906 and 5,716 in 1911.
Until the 1860s, ferry operations were the main nerve of city life, however, fishing, among other things for guinea pigs, were also important occupations. The city did not really grow again until after the mental hospital was completed in 1888 and with the beginning of industrialization.
At the turn of the century, there were factories and industrial plants: 1 iron foundry and machine factory (which employed about 100 workers), 2 tobacco factories, 2 distilleries, 1 dyehouse and "Nordic Cable and Wire Factories" (a 1898 established limited company, share capital DKK 750,000).
In Middelfart, 7 markets were held: 1 in February, 2 in March, 1
in April, 1 in July and 1 in September, all with horses and cattle,
1 in November with cattle and sheep. There was market day every
Tuesday and Friday, the 1st Tuesday of every month with live cattle.
The composition of the population by industry was in 1890: 302 lived by intangible enterprise, 921 by craft and industry, 445 by trade and turnover, 187 by shipping, 122 by fishing, 74 by agriculture, 40 by horticulture, 556 by various day-care enterprises, 65 by their funds, 17 enjoyed almsgiving, and 349 were patients in the mental institution. According to a 1906 census, the population was 5,162, of which 372 subsisted on intangible activities, 152 on agriculture, forestry and dairy farming, 104 on fishing, 2,491 on crafts and industry, 594 on trade and more, 378 on transportation, 174 were retired, 853 lived by public support and 44 by other or unspecified business.
In Middelfart, three newspapers were published: "Middelfart Avis", "Middelfart Dagblad" and "Middelfart Venstreblad" (the last was printed in Svendborg).