Elen Olava Holmberg 1763-1846

At the end of the eighteenth century Elen Olava Holmberg (known as Madam Holmberg) was the manager of the best known hostelry in Trondheim. It was situated at today's Munkegt. 62, on the corner of Olav Tryggvasonsgt (street). Here she offered good accommodation for travellers. Madam Holmberg, who lived with her mother and three daughters, was divorced.
Some "free" texts (by Bjarne Tvete and Conradine Dunker) suggest that Holmberg's establishment was quite a central point in town life. Travellers from near and far would stay with her, and thus she kept abreast of what was going on in town. Her salons were probably an important social meeting place and a centre of news.
But one particular episode ensures Elen Holmberg's place in the town history: French prince Louis Philippe had been forced into exile following the political upheavals in his country. In 1795 he travelled in Norway, all the way to the North Cape. In Trondheim he stayed in Madam Holmberg's hostelry, under cover of the name "Müller". After some days, rumours started to circulate about his real identity, and he continued north.
In 1830, Louis Philippe I became the French King (1830-48, the last one!). He had maintained his interest in Norway, and in 1838 he actively funded the research vessel La Recherche, which voyaged north on expeditions. When the King later learnt that Madam Holmberg's lodgings in Trondheim still existed, he sent her a musical cabinet clock. This was a memento of his stay with her, more than 40 years back in time! There is little doubt that Elen Holmberg must have been touched by such a remarkable gift! The clock today is in the Knudtzon room of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters in Erling Skakkes gate 47.
Recommended reading: Bjarne Tvete: Fra Madam Holmbergs vindu [From Madam Holmberg's window]. Rune, 1973.

Author: Einar Rædergård