Denmark History: From the Origins to The Vienna Treaty of 1864

Denmark is a country of ancient human settlement, among the most characteristic and conspicuous traces of the presence of man in the prehistoric age are the so-called kjøkkenmøddinger (kitchen waste), piles of leftover meals that date back to the early Neolithic and refer to populations of fishermen. In the Neolithic, with the affirmation of agriculture, there was the first exploitation of a territory relatively favorable to crops, especially cereals. In Roman times, Denmark had a well-organized agricultural population in villages. As for the tribal population of the Dani, the first king of which we have historically verified information is Godfrey, who managed to stop the expansionist pressure of Charlemagne. Godfrey, however, was killed by a conspiracy of soldiers and his successor came to terms with the emperor of the Franks and established the southern border of the country along the Eider river, strengthened with the construction of the Danevirk (or Vallo dei Dani). Aroldo Klatz, who became king, but ousted by the sons of Goffredo, obtained from Ludovico il Pio the help to return to the throne; however, he had to be baptized (826) and allow the Benedictine monk Anscario to organize missions to convert the Danish people. For Harold I succeeded Gorm the Old and his son these Harold II, who forbade the pagan rites to the benefit of the Catholic religion. Skilled warrior, he conquered Norway and Holstein and at his death (ca. 985) his son Svend, called “Beard Forcuta”, occupied England (1013) and his successor, Cnut the Great, united the crowns of Denmark, England and then Norway: the the union of the last two was short-lived as it dissolved in 1042. The ruler of Denmark and Norway later became Magnus the Good, Norwegian and son of Olaf the Saint. In 1047 Denmark regained its own king: Svend Estridsön, grandson of Cnut the Great, whose death was followed by a period of civil wars under Aroldo Hén, Cnut the Holy, Olaf Hunger, Erik Ejegod, Niels, Magnus and Erik Emune, which ended with the accession to the throne of Valdemaro I (1157-82). The latter, initiator in all fields of an era of progress, under the guidance of his adviser Absalon of Roskilde, archbishop of Lund, conquered the island of Rügen and part of Pomerania and Mecklenburg from the Vendas (ancient Slavic population). Valdemar II, known as the Victorious (1202-1241), conquered Estonia (1219) and the territory between the Eider and the Elbe: taken prisoner (1223) by his vassal, Count Henry of Schwerin, and then defeated by Frederick II in Bornhöeved (1227), however, he had to surrender a large part of his conquests.

Inside Valdemaro reorganized the army and the administration on a centralized basis, giving a new economic impulse to the country. Meanwhile, the Church also aimed to achieve ever greater independence and the successor Erik IV (1232-50) came to imprison Archbishop Jakob Erlands, the main exponent of the demands of the clergy. In 1282 Erik V was forced by the nobles and the Church to sign a Magna Carta, with which he made the diets annual and shared legislative powers with the Parliament. His successors engaged in wars against Sweden, Norway and the Hanseatic League for hegemony in the Baltic, wars that ceased with Valdemaro IV Atterdag (1340-75), who signed the onerous Peace of Stralsund in 1370. On the death of these, his daughter Margaret, who had been regent in Denmark during the minority of her son Olaf and regent in Norway after the death (1380) of her husband, King Haakon VI of Norway, became, on the death of her son Olaf (1387), queen of Denmark and Norway. Visit for Denmark history.

Defeated the king of Sweden in the battle of Falen (1389), in 1397 Margaret formed the Union of Kalmar with the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Unhappy with the policy that the new ruler Erik VII was conducting against the Hanseatic League, the Swedes broke away from the Union as early as 1434 and subsequently reaffirmed their independence under the rulers Christian I of Oldenburg (1448-81), founder of the current dynasty, and Hans of Luxembourg (1481-1513). With Christian II (1513-23) the Kalmar Union, already tried by the Swedish claims, was seriously compromised. In 1520 the bloodbath that the Danish king himself ordered in Stockholm, killing the followers of Sten Sture, could not stop the decline of Danish rule as Sweden elected Gustav Vasa as king and obtained independence. The new sovereign Frederick I (1523-33), ascended to the throne in a moment of religious and social conflicts, allowed the penetration of the country of the Lutheran Reform, which became the state religion in 1536 with Christian III (1534-59). In the meantime, the nobility was gaining strength, the same one that had wanted Christian III to the throne and that had then pushed Frederick II and Christian IV to try useless and counterproductive wars against Sweden.

Participation in the Thirty Years War ended in disaster for Denmark. The Treaty of Brömsebro of 1645 dictated completely unfavorable conditions for which Denmark lost its hegemony in the north. The disastrous consequences of the war and the excessive power of the agrarian aristocracy required the rearrangement of finances and public administration also wanted by the clergy and the bourgeoisie. The first move against the nobility came from Frederick III (1648-70) which on 13 October 1660 proclaimed the inheritance of the crown and in 1665 the law (Regia) which sanctioned the establishment of the absolute monarchy of divine right with consequent centralization of the supreme powers in the hands of the sovereign. After him, Christian V and Frederick IV engaged in new wars against Sweden (1675-79) and then in the Nordic war (1700-20), which ended with the incorporation of Schleswig into the Danish kingdom. The second half of the eighteenth century was characterized by the influence exercised by the German councilors, among whom the figure of JF Struensee excelled. An enlightened politician, Struensee engaged in a bold reform program but fell victim to the xenophobic reaction provoked by the nascent Danish national consciousness. His death favored the liberal reaction, which succeeded in carrying out in a typically Enlightenment climate a series of measures for which protectionism was liquidated, the old privileges in agriculture were abolished, new impulses given to the economy, the trade in goods was abolished. slaves in the colonies, there was the emancipation of the Jews. Involved in the Napoleonic wars, Denmark allied with France but faced a serious defeat sanctioned by the Peace of Kiel (1814), for which it had to cede Norway to Sweden, obtaining Pomerania from Germany which was exchanged for the Lauenburg. The liberal ideas spread in Europe penetrated into the century. XIX also in Denmark, causing sharp conflicts with the representatives of the absolute monarchy. It was Frederick VII the first Danish king to accept with grace the enacting liberal proposed a Constitution on 5 June 1849 which were established two chambers elected by universal suffrage. In addition, Frederick worked to ensure that Denmark and Schleswig had a single government together. His successor Christian IX, who ascended the throne in 1863, tried to complete this project, but was opposed by Prussia and Austria. The inevitable war was resolved negatively for Denmark which signed a treaty in Vienna (1864)which cost the loss of Schleswig, Holstein, Lauenburg and the island of Alsen.

Denmark History - From the Origins to The Vienna Treaty of 1864

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