1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Denmark
DENMARK (Danmark), a small kingdom of Europe, occupying part of a peninsula and a group of islands dividing the Baltic and North Seas, in the middle latitudes of the eastern coast. The kingdom lies between 54° 33′ and 57° 45′ N. and between 8° 4′ 54″ and 12° 47′ 25″ E., exclusive of the island of Bornholm, which, as will be seen, is not to be included in the Danish archipelago. The peninsula is divided between Denmark and Germany (Schleswig-Holstein). The Danish portion is the northern and the greater, and is called Jutland (Dan. Jylland). Its northern part is actually insular, divided from the mainland by the Limfjord or Liimfjord, which communicates with the North Sea to the west and the Cattegat to the east, but this strait, though broad and possessing lacustrine characteristics to the west, has only very narrow entrances. The connexion with the North Sea dates from 1825. The Skagerrack bounds Jutland to the north and north-west. The Cattegat is divided from the Baltic by the Danish islands, between the east coast of the Cimbric peninsula in the neighbourhood of the German frontier and south-western Sweden.
There is little variety in the surface of Denmark. It is uniformly low, the highest elevation in the whole country, the Himmelbjerg near Aarhus in eastern Jutland, being little more than 500 ft. above the sea. Denmark, however, is nowhere low in the sense in which Holland is; the country is pleasantly diversified, and rises a little at the coast even though it remains flat inland. The landscape of the islands and the south-eastern part of Jutland is rich in beech-woods, corn fields and meadows, and even the minute islets are green and fertile. In the western and northern districts of Jutland this condition gives place to a wide expanse of moorland, covered with heather, and ending towards the sea in low whitish-grey cliffs. There is a certain charm even about these monotonous tracts, and it cannot be said that Denmark is wanting in natural beauty of a quiet order. Lakes, though small, are numerous; the largest are the Arresö and the Esromsö in Zealand, and the chain of lakes in the Himmelbjerg region, which are drained by the largest river in Denmark, the Gudenaa, which, however, has a course not exceeding 80 m. Many of the meres, overhung with thick beech-woods, are extremely beautiful. The coasts are generally low and sandy; the whole western shore of Jutland is a succession of sand ridges and shallow lagoons, very dangerous to shipping. In many places the sea has encroached; even in the 19th century entire villages were destroyed, but during the last twenty years of the century systematic efforts were made to secure the coast by groynes and embankments. A belt of sand dunes, from 500 yds. to 7 m. wide, stretches along the whole of this coast for about 200 m. Skagen, or the Skaw, a long, low, sandy point, stretches far into the northern sea, dividing the Skagerrack from the Cattegat. On the western side the coast is bolder and less inhospitable; there are several excellent havens, especially on the islands. The coast is nowhere, however, very high, except at one or two points in Jutland, and at the eastern extremity of Möen, where limestone cliffs occur.
Continental Denmark is confined wholly to Jutland, the geographical description of which is given under that heading. Out of the total area of the kingdom, 14,829 sq. m., Jutland, including the small islands adjacent to it, covers 9753 sq. m., and the insular part of the kingdom (including Bornholm), 5076 sq. m. The islands may be divided into two groups, consisting of the two principal islands Fünen and Zealand, and the lesser islands attendant on each. Fünen (Dan. Fyen), in form roughly an oval with an axis from S.E. to N.W. of 53 m., is separated from Jutland by a channel not half a mile wide in the north, but averaging 10 m. between the island and the Schleswig coast, and known as the Little Belt. Fünen, geologically a part of southern Jutland, has similar characteristics, a smiling landscape of fertile meadows, the typical beech-forests clothing the low hills and the presence of numerous erratic blocks, are the superficial signs of likeness. Several islands, none of great extent, lie off the west coast of Fünen in the Little Belt; off the south, however, an archipelago is enclosed by the long narrow islands of Aerö (16 m. in length) and Langeland (32 m.), including in a triangular area of shallow sea the islands of Taasinge, Avernakö, Dreiö, Turö and others. These are generally fertile and well cultivated. Aeröskjöbing and Rudkjöbing, on Aerö and Langeland respectively, are considerable ports. On Langeland is the great castle of Tranekjaer, whose record dates from the 13th century. The chief towns of Fünen itself are all coastal. Odense is the principal town, lying close to a great inlet behind the peninsula of Hindsholm on the north-east, known as Odense Fjord. Nyborg on the east is the port for the steam-ferry to Korsör in Zealand; Svendborg picturesquely overlooks the southern archipelago; Faaborg on the south-west lies on a fjord of the same name; Assens, on the west, a port for the crossing of the Little Belt into Schleswig, still shows traces of the fortifications which were stormed by John of Ranzau in 1535; Middelfart is a seaside resort near the narrowest reach of the Little Belt; Bogense is a small port on the north coast. All these towns are served by railways radiating from Odense. The strait crossed by the Nyborg-Korsör ferry is the Great Belt which divides the Fünen from the Zealand group, and is continued south by the Langelands Belt, which washes the straight eastern shore of that island, and north by the Samso Belt, named from an island 15 m. in length, with several large villages, which lies somewhat apart from the main archipelago.
Zealand, or Sealand (Dan. Sjaelland), measuring 82 m. N. to S. by 68 E. to W. (extremes), with its fantastic coast-line indented by fjords and projecting into long spits or promontories, may be considered as the nucleus of the kingdom, inasmuch as it contains the capital, Copenhagen, and such important towns as Roskilde, Slagelse, Korsör, Naestved and Elsinore (Helsingör). Its topography is described in detail under Zealand. Its attendant islands lie mainly to the south and are parts of itself, only separated by geologically recent troughs. The eastern coast of Möen is rocky and bold. It is recorded that this island formed three separate isles in 1100, and the village of Borre, now 2 m. inland, was the object of an attack by a fleet from Lübeck in 1510. On Falster is the port of Nykjöbing, and from Gjedser, the extreme southern point of Denmark, communication is maintained with Warnemünde in Germany (29 m.). From Nykjöbing a bridge nearly one-third of a mile long crosses to Laaland, at the west of which is the port of Nakskov; the other towns are the county town of Maribo with its fine church of the 14th century, Saxkjöbing and Rödby. The island of Bornholm lies 86 m. E. of the nearest point of the archipelago, and as it belongs geologically to Sweden (from which it is distant only 22 m.) must be considered to be physically an appendage rather than an internal part of the kingdom of Denmark.
Geology.—The surface in Denmark is almost everywhere formed by the so-called Boulder Clay and what the Danish geologists call the Boulder Sand. The former, as is well known, owes its origin to the action of ice on the mountains of Norway in the Glacial period. It is unstratified; but by the action of water on it, stratified deposits have been formed, some of clay, containing remains of arctic animals, some, and very extensive ones, of sand and gravel. This boulder sand forms almost everywhere the highest hills, and besides, in the central part of Jutland, a wide expanse of heath and moorland apparently level, but really sloping gently towards the west. The deposits of the boulder formation rest generally on limestone of the Cretaceous period, which in many places comes near the surface and forms cliffs on the sea-coast. Much of the Danish chalk, including the well-known limestone of Faxe, belongs to the highest or “Danian” subdivision of the Cretaceous period. In the south-western parts a succession of strata, described as the Brown Coal or Lignite formations, intervenes between the chalk and the boulder clay; its name is derived from the deposits of lignite which occur in it. It is only on the island of Bornholm that older formations come to light. This island agrees in geological structure with the southern part of Sweden, and forms, in fact, the southernmost portion of the Scandinavian system. There the boulder clay lies immediately on the primitive rock, except in the south-western corner of the island, where a series of strata appear belonging to the Cambrian, Silurian, Jurassic and Cretaceous formations, the true Coal formation, &c., being absent. Some parts of Denmark are supposed to have been finally raised out of the sea towards the close of the Cretaceous period; but as a whole the country did not appear above the water till about the close of the Glacial period. The upheaval of the country, a movement common to a large part of the Scandinavian peninsula, still continues, though slowly, north-east of a line drawn in a south-easterly direction from Nissumfjord on the west coast of Jutland, across the island of Fyen, a little south of the town of Nyborg. Ancient sea-beaches, marked by accumulations of seaweed, rolled stones, &c., have been noticed as much as 20 ft. above the present level. But the upheaval does not seem to affect all parts equally. Even in historic times it has vastly changed the aspect and configuration of the country.
Climate, Flora, Fauna.—The climate of Denmark does not differ materially from that of Great Britain in the same latitude; but whilst the summer is a little warmer, the winter is colder, so that most of the evergreens which adorn an English garden in the winter cannot be grown in the open in Denmark. During thirty years the annual mean temperature varied from 43.88° F. to 46.22° in different years and different localities, the mean average for the whole country being 45.14°. The islands have, upon the whole, a somewhat warmer climate than Jutland. The mean temperatures of the four coldest months, December to March, are 33.26°, 31.64°, 31.82°, and 33.98° respectively, or for the whole winter 32.7°; that of the summer, June to August, 59.2°, but considerable irregularities occur. Frost occurs on an average on twenty days in each of the four winter months, but only on two days in either October or May. A fringe of ice generally lines the greater part of the Danish coasts on the eastern side for some time during the winter, and both the Sound and the Great Belt are at times impassable on account of ice. In some winters the latter is sufficiently firm and level to admit of sledges passing between Copenhagen and Malmö. The annual rainfall varies between 21.58 in. and 27.87 in. in different years and different localities. It is highest on the west coast of Jutland; while the small island of Anholt in the Cattegat has an annual rainfall of only 15.78 in. More than half the rainfall occurs from July to November, the wettest month being September, with an average of 2.95 in.; the driest month is April, with an average of 1.14 in. Thunderstorms are frequent in the summer. South-westerly winds prevail from January to March, and from September to the end of the year. In April the east wind, which is particularly searching, is predominant, while westerly winds prevail from May to August. In the district of Aalborg, in the north of Jutland, a cold and dry N.W. wind called skai prevails in May and June, and is exceedingly destructive to vegetation; while along the west coast of the peninsula similar effects are produced by a salt mist, which carries its influence from 15 to 30 m. inland.
The flora of Denmark presents greater variety than might be anticipated in a country of such simple physical structure. The ordinary forms of the north of Europe grow freely in the mild air and protected soil of the islands and the eastern coast; while on the heaths and along the sandhills on the Atlantic side there flourish a number of distinctive species. The Danish forest is almost exclusively made up of beech, a tree which thrives better in Denmark than in any other country of Europe. The oak and ash are now rare, though in ancient times both were abundant in the Danish islands. The elm is also scarce. The almost universal predominance of the beech is by no means of ancient origin, for in the first half of the 17th century the oak was still the characteristic Danish tree. No conifer grows in Denmark except under careful cultivation, which, however, is largely practised in Jutland (q.v.). But again, abundant traces of ancient extensive forests of fir and pine are found in the numerous peat bogs which supply a large proportion of the fuel locally used. In Bornholm, it should be mentioned, the flora is more like that of Sweden; not the beech, but the pine, birch and ash are the most abundant trees.
The wild animals and birds of Denmark are those of the rest of central Europe. The larger quadrupeds are all extinct; even the red deer, formerly so abundant that in a single hunt in Jutland in 1593 no less than 1600 head of deer were killed, is now only to be met with in preserves. In the prehistoric “kitchen-middens” (kjökkenmödding) and elsewhere, however, vestiges are found which prove that the urochs, the wild boar, the beaver, the bear and the wolf all existed subsequently to the arrival of man. The usual domestic animals are abundantly found in Denmark, with the exception of the goat, which is uncommon. The sea fisheries are of importance. Oysters are found in some places, but have disappeared from many localities, where their abundance in ancient times is proved by their shell moulds on the coast. The Gudenaa is the only salmon river in Denmark.
Population.—The population of Denmark in 1901 was 2,449,540. It was 929,001 in 1801, showing an increase during the century in the proportion of 1 to 2.63. In 1901 the average density of the population of Denmark was 165.2 to the square mile, but varied much in the different parts. Jutland showed an average of only 109 inhabitants per square mile, whilst on the islands, which had a total population of 1,385,537, the average stood at 272.95, owing, on the one hand, to the fact that large tracts in the interior of Jutland are almost uninhabited, and on the other to the fact that the capital of the country, with its proportionately large population, is situated on the island of Zealand. The percentages of urban and rural population are respectively about 38 and 62. A notable movement of the population to the towns began about the middle of the 19th century, and increased until very near its end. It was stronger on the islands, where the rural population increased by 5.3% only in eleven years, whereas in Jutland the increase of the rural population between 1890 and 1901 amounted to 12.0%. Here, however, peculiar circumstances contributed to the increase, as successful efforts have been made to render the land fruitful by artificial means. The Danes are a yellow-haired and blue-eyed Teutonic race of middle stature, bearing traces of their kinship with the northern Scandinavian peoples. Their habits of life resemble those of the North Germans even more than those of the Swedes. The independent tenure of the land by a vast number of small farmers, who are their own masters, gives an air of carelessness, almost of truculence, to the well-to-do Danish peasants. They are generally slow of speech and manner, and somewhat irresolute, but take an eager interest in current politics, and are generally fairly educated men of extreme democratic principles. The result of a fairly equal distribution of wealth is a marked tendency towards equality in social intercourse. The townspeople show a bias in favour of French habits and fashions. The separation from the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, which were more than half German, intensified the national character; the Danes are intensely patriotic; and there is no portion of the Danish dominions except perhaps in the West Indian islands, where a Scandinavian language is not spoken. The preponderance of the female population over the male is approximately as 1052 to 1000. The male sex remains in excess until about the twentieth year, from which age the female sex preponderates in increasing ratio with advancing age. The percentage of illegitimacy is high as a whole, although in some of the rural districts it is very low. But in Copenhagen 20% of the births are illegitimate. Between the middle and the end of the 19th century the rate of mortality decreased most markedly for all ages. During the last decade of the century it ranged between 19.5 per thousand in 1891 and 15.1 in 1898 (17.4 in 1900). Emigration for some time in the 19th century at different periods, both in its early part and towards its close, seriously affected the population of Denmark. But in the last decade it greatly diminished. Thus in 1892 the number of emigrants to Transatlantic places rose to 10,422 but in 1900 it was only 3570. The great bulk of them go to the United States; next in favour is Canada.
Communications.—The roads of Denmark form an extensive and well-maintained system. The railway system is also fairly complete, the state owning about three-fifths of the total mileage, which amounts to some 2000. Two lines enter Denmark from Schleswig across the frontier. The main Danish lines are as follows. From the frontier a line runs east by Fredericia, across the island of Fünen by Odense and Nyborg, to Korsör on Zealand, and thence by Roskilde to Copenhagen. The straits between Fredericia and Middelfart and between Nyborg and Korsör are crossed by powerful steam-ferries which are generally capable of conveying a limited number of railway wagons. This system is also in use on the line which runs south from Roskilde to the island of Falster, from the southernmost point of which, Gjedser, ferry-steamers taking railway cars serve Warnemünde in Germany. The main lines in Jutland run (a) along the eastern side north from Fredericia by Horsens, Aarhus, Randers, Aalborg and Hjörring, to Frederikshavn, and (b) along the western side from Esbjerg by Skjerne and Vemb, and thence across the peninsula by Viborg to Langaa on the eastern line. The lines are generally of standard gauge (4 ft. 8½ in.), but there is also a considerable mileage of light narrow-gauge railways. Besides the numerous steam-ferries which connect island and island, and Jutland with the islands, and the Gjedser-Warnemünde route, a favourite passenger line from Germany is that between Kiel and Korsör, while most of the German Baltic ports have direct connexion with Copenhagen. With Sweden communications are established by ferries across the Sound between Copenhagen and Malmö and Landskrona, and between Elsinore (Helsingör) and Helsingborg. The postal department maintains a telegraph and telephone service.
Industries.—The main source of wealth in Denmark is agriculture, which employs about two-fifths of the entire population. Most of the land is freehold and cultivated by the owner himself, and comparatively little land is let on lease except very large holdings and glebe farms. The independent small farmer (bönder) maintains a hereditary attachment to his ancestral holding. There is also a class of cottar freeholders (junster). Fully 74% of the total area of the country is agricultural land. Of this only about one-twelfth is meadow land. The land under grain crops is not far short of one-half the remainder, the principal crops being oats, followed by barley and rye in about equal quantities, with wheat about one-sixth that of barley and hardly one-tenth that of oats. Beet is extensively grown. During the last forty years of the 19th century dairy-farming was greatly developed in Denmark, and brought to a high degree of perfection by the application of scientific methods and the best machinery, as well as by the establishment of joint dairies. The Danish government has assisted this development by granting money for experiments and by a rigorous system of inspection for the prevention of adulteration. The co-operative system plays an important part in the industries of butter-making, poultry-farming and the rearing of swine.
Rabbits, which are not found wild in Denmark, are bred for export. Woods cover fully 7% of the area, and their preservation is considered of so much importance that private owners are under strict control as regards cutting of timber. The woods consist mostly of beech, which is principally used for fuel, but pines were extensively planted during the 19th century. Allusion has been made already to the efforts to plant the extensive heaths in Jutland (q.v.) with pine-trees.
Agriculture.—Rates and taxes on land are mostly levied according to a uniform system of assessment, the unit of which is called a Tonde Hartkorn. The Td. Htk., as it is usually abbreviated, has further subdivision, and is intended to correspond to the same value of land throughout the country. The Danish measure for land is a Tonde Land (Td. L.), which is equal to 1.363 statute acres. Of the best ploughing land a little over 6 Td. L., or about 8 acres, go to a Td. Htk., but of unprofitable land a Td. Htk. may represent 300 acres or more. On the islands and in the more fertile part of Jutland the average is about 10 Td. L., or 13½ acres. Woodland, tithes, &c., are also assessed to Td. Htk. for fiscal purposes. In the island of Bornholm, the assessment is somewhat different, though the general state of agricultural holdings is the same as in other parts. The selling value of land has shown a decrease in modern times on account of the agricultural depression. A homestead with land assessed less than 1 Td. Htk. is legally called a Huus or Sted, i.e. cottage, whilst a farm assessed at 1 Td. Htk. or more is called Gaard, i.e. farm. Farms of between 1 and 12 Td. Htk. are called Bondergaarde, or peasant farms, and are subject to the restriction that such a holding cannot lawfully be joined to or entirely merged into another. They may be subdivided, and portions may be added to another holding, but the homestead, with a certain amount of land, must be preserved as a separate holding for ever. The seats of the nobility and landed gentry are called Herregaarde. The peasants hold about 73% of all the land according to its value. As regards their size about 30% are assessed from 1 to 4 Td. Htk.; about 33% from 4 to 8 Td. Htk.; the remainder at about 8 Td. Htk. An annual sum is voted by parliament out of which loans are granted to cottagers who desire to purchase small freehold plots.
The fishery along the coasts of Denmark is of some importance both on account of the supply of food obtained thereby for the population of the country, and on account of the export; but the good fishing grounds, not far from the Danish coast, particularly in the North Sea, are mostly worked by the fishing vessels of other nations, which are so numerous that the Danish government is obliged to keep gun-boats stationed there in order to prevent encroachments on territorial waters.
Other Industries.—The mineral products of Denmark are unimportant. It is one of the poorest countries of Europe in this particular. It is rich, however, in clays, while in the island of Bornholm there are quarries of freestone and marble. The factories of Denmark supply mainly local needs. The largest are those engaged in the construction of engines and iron ships. The manufacture of woollens and cotton, the domestic manufacture of linen in Zealand, sugar refineries, paper mills, breweries, and distilleries may also be mentioned. The most notable manufacture is that of porcelain. The nucleus of this industry was a factory started in 1772, by F. H. Müller, for the making of china out of Bornholm clay. In 1779 it passed into the hands of the state, and has remained there ever since, though there are also private factories. Originally the Copenhagen potters imitated the Dresden china made at Meissen, but they later produced graceful original designs. The creations of Thorvaldsen have been largely repeated and imitated in this ware. Trade-unionism flourishes in Denmark, and strikes are of frequent occurrence.
Commerce.—Formerly the commercial legislation of Denmark was to such a degree restrictive that imported manufactures had to be delivered to the customs, where they were sold by public auction, the proceeds of which the importer received from the custom-houses after a deduction was made for the duty. To this restriction, as regards foreign intercourse, was added a no less injurious system of inland duties impeding the commerce of the different provinces with each other. The want of roads also, and many other disadvantages, tended to keep down the development of both commerce and industry. During the 19th century, however, several commercial treaties were concluded between Denmark and the other powers of Europe, which made the Danish tariff more regular and liberal.
The vexed question, of many centuries’ standing, concerning the claim of Denmark to levy dues on vessels passing through the Sound (q.v.), was settled by the abolition of the dues in 1857. The commerce of Denmark is mainly based on home production and home consumption, but a certain quantity of goods is imported with a view to re-exportation, for which the free port and bonded warehouses at Copenhagen give facilities. In modern times the value of Danish commerce greatly increased, being doubled in the last twenty years of the 19th century, and exceeding a total of fifty millions sterling. The value of export is exceeded as a whole by that of import in the proportion, roughly, of 1 to 1.35. By far the most important articles of export may be classified as articles of food of animal origin, a group which covers the vast export trade in the dairy produce, especially butter, for which Denmark is famous. The value of the butter for export reaches nearly 40% of the total value of Danish exports. A small proportion of the whole is imported chiefly from Russia (also Siberia) and Sweden and re-exported as of foreign origin. The production of margarine is large, but not much is exported, margarine being largely consumed in Denmark instead of butter, which is exported. Next to butter the most important article of Danish export is bacon, and huge quantities of eggs are also exported. Exports of less value, but worthy of special notice, are vegetables and wool, bones and tallow, also dairy machinery, and finally cement, the production of which is a growing industry. The classes of articles of food of animal origin, and living animals, are the only ones of which the exportation exceeds the importation; with regard to all other goods, the reverse is the case. In the second of these classes the most important export is home-bred horned cattle. The trade in live sheep and swine, which was formerly important, has mostly been converted into a dead-meat trade. A proportionally large importation of timber is caused by the scarcity of native timber suitable for building purposes, the plantations of firs and pines being insufficient to produce the quantity required, and the quality of the wood being inferior beyond the age of about forty years. The large importation of coal, minerals and metals, and goods made from them is likewise caused by the natural poverty of the country in these respects.
Denmark carries on its principal import trade with Germany, Great Britain and the United States of America, in this order, the proportions being about 30, 20 and 16% respectively of the total. Its principal export trade is with Great Britain, Germany and Sweden, the percentage of the whole being 60, 18 and 10. With Russia, Norway and France (in this order) general trade is less important, but still large. A considerable proportion of Denmark’s large commercial fleet is engaged in the carrying trade between foreign, especially British, ports.
Under a law of the 4th of May 1907 it was enacted that the metric system of weights and measures should come into official use in three years from that date, and into general use in five years.
Money and Banking.—The unit of the Danish monetary system, as of the Swedish and Norwegian, is the krone (crown), equal to 1s. 1⅓d., which is divided into 100 öre; consequently 7½ öre are equal to one penny. Since 1873 gold has been the standard, and gold pieces of 20 and 10 kroner are coined, but not often met with, as the public prefers bank-notes. The principal bank is the National Bank at Copenhagen, which is the only one authorized to issue notes. These are of the value of 10, 50, 100 and 500 kr. Next in importance are the Danske Landmands Bank, the Handels Bank and the Private Bank, all at Copenhagen. The provincial banks are very numerous; many of them are at the same time savings banks. Their rate of interest, with few exceptions, is 3½ to 4%. There exist, besides, in Denmark several mutual loan associations (Kreditforeninger), whose business is the granting of loans on mortgage. Registration of mortgages is compulsory in Denmark, and the system is extremely simple, a fact which has been of the greatest importance for the improvement of the country. There are comparatively large institutions for insurance of all kinds in Denmark. The largest office for life insurance is a state institution. By law of the 9th of April 1891 a system of old-age pensions was established for the benefit of persons over sixty years of age.
Government.—Denmark is a limited monarchy, according to the law of 1849, revised in 1866. The king shares his power with the parliament (Rigsdag), which consists of two chambers, the Landsthing and the Folkething, but the constitution contains no indication of any difference in their attributes. The Landsthing, or upper house, however, is evidently intended to form the conservative element in the constitutional machinery. While the 114 members of the Folkething (House of Commons) are elected for three years in the usual way by universal suffrage, 12 out of the 66 members of the Landsthing are life members nominated by the crown. The remaining 54 members of the Landsthing are returned for eight years according to a method of proportionate representation by a body of deputy electors. Of these deputies one-half are elected in the same way as members of the Folkething, without any property qualification for the voters; the other half of the deputy electors are chosen in the towns by those who during the last preceding year were assessed on a certain minimum of income, or paid at least a certain amount in rates and taxes. In the rural districts the deputy electors returned by election are supplemented by an equal number of those who have paid the highest amounts in taxes and county rates together. In this manner a representation is secured for fairly large minorities, and what is considered a fair share of influence on public affairs given to those who contribute the most to the needs of the state. The franchise is held by every male who has reached his thirtieth year, subject to independence of public charity and certain other circumstances. A candidate for either house of the Rigsdag must have passed the age of twenty-five. Members are paid ten kroner each day of the session and are allowed travelling expenses. The houses meet each year on the first Monday in October. The constitutional theory of the Folkething is that of one member for every 16,000 inhabitants. The Faeröe islands, which form an integral part of the kingdom of Denmark in the wider sense, are represented in the Danish parliament, but not the other dependencies of the Danish crown, namely Iceland, Greenland and the West Indian islands of St Thomas, St John and St Croix. The budget is considered by the Folkething at the beginning of each session. The revenue and expenditure average annually about £4,700,000. The principal items of revenue are customs and excise, land and house tax, stamps, railways, legal fees, the state lottery and death duties. A considerable reserve fund is maintained to meet emergencies. The public debt is about £13,500,000 and is divided into an internal debt, bearing interest generally at 3½%, and a foreign debt (the larger), with interest generally at 3%. The revenue and expenditure of the Faeröes are included in the budget for Denmark proper, but Iceland and the West Indies have their separate budgets. The Danish treasury receives nothing from these possessions; on the contrary, Iceland receives an annual grant, and the West Indian islands have been heavily subsidized by the Danish finances to assist the sugar industry. The administration of Greenland (q.v.) entails an annual loss which is posted on the budget of the ministry of finances. The state council (Statsraad) includes the presidency of the council and ministries of war, and marine, foreign affairs, the interior, justice, finance, public institution and ecclesiastical, agriculture and public works.
Local Government.—For administrative purposes the country is divided into eighteen counties (Amter, singular Amt), as follows. (1) Covering the islands of Zealand and lesser adjacent islands, Copenhagen, Frederiksborg, Holbaek, Sorö, Praestö. (2) Covering the islands of Laaland and Falster, Maribo. (3) Covering Fünen, Langeland and adjacent islets, Svendborg, Odense. (4) On the mainland, Hjörring, Aalborg, Thisted, Ringkjöbing, Viborg, Randers, Aarhus, Vejle, Ribe. (5) Bornholm. The principal civil officer in each of these is the Amtmand. Local affairs are managed by the Amstraad and Sogneraad, corresponding to the English county council and parish council. These institutions date from 1841, but they have undergone several modifications since. The members of these councils are elected on a system similar to that applied to the elections for the Landsthing. The same is the case with the provincial town councils. That of Copenhagen is elected by those who are rated on an income of at least 400 kroner (£22). The burgomasters are appointed by the crown, except at Copenhagen, where they are elected by the town council, subject to royal approbation. The financial position of the municipalities in Denmark is generally good. The ordinary budget of Copenhagen amounts to about £1,100,000 a year.
Justice.—For the administration of justice Denmark is divided into herreds or hundreds; as, however, they are mostly of small extent, several are generally served by one judge (herredsfoged); the townships are likewise separate jurisdictions, each with a byfoged. There are 126 such local judges, each of whom deals with all kinds of cases arising in his district, and is also at the head of the police. There are two intermediary Courts of Appeal (Overret), one in Copenhagen, another in Viborg; the Supreme Court of Appeal (Höjesteret) sits at Copenhagen. In the capital the different functions are more divided. There is also a Court of Commerce and Navigation, on which leading members of the trading community serve as assessors. In the country, Land Commissions similarly constituted deal with many questions affecting agricultural holdings. A peculiarity of the Danish system is that, with few exceptions, no civil cause can be brought before a court until an attempt has been made at effecting an amicable settlement. This is mostly done by so-called Committees of Conciliation, but in some cases by the court itself before commencing formal judicial proceedings. In this manner three-fifths of all the causes are settled, and many which remain unsettled are abandoned by the plaintiffs. Sanitary matters are under the control of a Board of Health. The whole country is divided into districts, in each of which a medical man is appointed with a salary, who is under the obligation to attend to poor sick and assist the authorities in medical matters, inquests, &c. The relief of the poor is well organized, mostly on the system of out-door relief. Many workhouses have been established for indigent persons capable of work. There are also many almshouses and similar institutions.
Army and Navy.—The active army consists of a life guard battalion and 10 infantry regiments of 3 battalions each, infantry, 5 cavalry regiments of 3 squadrons each, 12 field batteries (now re-armed with a Krupp Q.F. equipment), 3 battalions of fortress artillery and 6 companies of engineers, with in addition various local troops and details. The peace strength of permanent troops, without the annual contingent of recruits, is about 13,500 officers and men, the annual contingent of men trained two or three years with the colours about 22,500, and the annual contingent of special reservists (men trained for brief periods) about 17,000. Thus the number of men maintained under arms (without calling up the reserves) is as high as 75,000 during certain periods of the year and averages nearly 60,000. Reservists who have definitively left the colours are recalled for short refresher trainings, the number of men so trained in 1907 being about 80,000. The field army on a war footing, without depot troops, garrison troops and reservists, would be about 50,000 strong, but by constituting new cadres at the outbreak of war and calling up the reserves it could be more than doubled, and as a matter of fact nearly 120,000 men were with the colours in the manœuvre season in 1907. The term of service is eight years in the active army and its reserves and eight years in the second line. The armament of the infantry is the Krag-jorgensen of .314 in. calibre, model 1889, that of the field artillery a 7.5 cm. Krupp Q.F. equipment, model 1902. The navy consists of 6 small battleships, 3 coast defence armour-clads, 5 protected cruisers, 5 gun-boats, and 24 torpedo craft.
Religion.—The national or state church of Denmark is officially styled “Evangelically Reformed,” but is popularly described as Lutheran. The king must belong to it. There is complete religious toleration, but though most of the important Christian communities are represented their numbers are very small. The Mormon apostles for a considerable time made a special raid upon the Danish peasantry and a few hundreds profess this faith. There are seven dioceses, Fünen, Laaland and Falster, Aarhus, Aalborg, Viborg and Ribe, while the primate is the bishop of Zealand, and resides at Copenhagen, but his cathedral is at Roskilde. The bishops have no political function by reason of their office, although they may, and often do, take a prominent part in politics. The greater part of the pastorates comprise more than one parish. The benefices are almost without exception provided with good residences and glebes, and the tithes, &c., generally afford a comfortable income. The bishops have fixed salaries in lieu of tithes appropriated by the state.
Education and Arts.—The educational system of Denmark is maintained at a high standard. The instruction in primary schools is gratuitous. Every child is bound to attend the parish school at least from the seventh to the thirteenth year, unless the parents can prove that it receives suitable instruction in other ways. The schools are under the immediate control of school boards appointed by the parish councils, but of which the incumbent of the parish is ex-officio member; superior control is exercised by the Amtmand, the rural dean, and the bishop, under the Minister for church and education. Secondary public schools are provided in towns, in which moderate school fees are paid. There are also public grammar-schools. Nearly all schools are day-schools. There are only two public schools, which, though on a much smaller scale, resemble the great English schools, namely, those of Sorö and Herlufsholm, both founded by private munificence. Private schools are generally under a varying measure of public control. The university is at Copenhagen (q.v.). Amongst numerous other institutions for the furtherance of science and training of various kinds may be mentioned the large polytechnic schools; the high school for agriculture and veterinary art; the royal library; the royal society of sciences; the museum of northern antiquities; the society of northern antiquaries, &c. The art museums of Denmark are not considerable, except the museum of Thorvaldsen, at Copenhagen, but much is done to provide first-rate training in the fine arts and their application to industry through the Royal Academy of Arts, and its schools. Finally, it may be mentioned that a sum proportionately large is available from public funds and regular parliamentary grants for furthering science and arts by temporary subventions to students, authors, artists and others of insufficient means, in order to enable them to carry out particular works, to profit by foreign travel, &c. The principal scientific societies and institutions are detailed under Copenhagen. During the earlier part of the 19th century not a few men could be mentioned who enjoyed an exceptional reputation in various departments of science, and Danish scientists continue to contribute their full share to the advancement of knowledge. The society of sciences, that of northern antiquaries, the natural history and the botanical societies, &c., publish their transactions and proceedings, but the Naturhistorisk Tidsskrift, of which 14 volumes with 259 plates were published (1861-1884), and which was in the foremost rank in its department, ceased with the death in 1884 of the editor, the distinguished zoologist, I. C. Schiödte. Another extremely valuable publication of wide general interest, the Meddelelser om Grönland, is published by the commission for the exploration of Greenland. What may be called the modern “art” current, with its virtues and vices, is as strong in Denmark as in England. Danish sculpture will be always famous, if only through the name of Thorvaldsen. In architecture the prevailing fashion is a return to the style of the first half of the 17th century, called the Christian IV. style; but in this branch of art no marked excellence has been obtained.
Ancient.—Our earliest knowledge of Denmark is derived from Pliny, who speaks of three islands named “Skandiai,” a name which is also applied to Sweden. He says nothing about the inhabitants of these islands, but tells us more about the Jutish peninsula, or Cimbric Chersonese as he calls it. He places the Saxons on the neck, above them the Sigoulones, Sabaliggoi and Kobandoi, then the Chaloi, then above them the Phoundousioi, then the Charondes and finally the Kimbroi. He also mentions the three islands called Alokiai, at the northern end of the peninsula. This would point to the fact that the Limfjord was then open at both ends, and agree with Adam of Bremen (iv. 16), who also speaks of three islands called Wendila, Morse and Thud. The Cimbri and Charydes are mentioned in the Monumentum Ancyranum as sending embassies to Augustus in A.D. 5. The Promontorium Cimbrorum is spoken of in Pliny, who says that the Sinus Codanus lies between it and Mons Saevo. The latter place is probably to be found in the high-lying land on the N.E. coast of Germany, and the Sinus Codanus must be the S.W. corner of the Baltic, and not the whole sea. Pomponius Mela says that the Cimbri and Teutones dwelt on the Sinus Codanus, the latter also in Scandinavia (or Sweden). The Romans believed that these Cimbri and Teutones were the same as those who invaded Gaul and Italy at the end of the 2nd century B.C. The Cimbri may probably be traced in the province of Aalborg, formerly known as Himmerland; the Teutones, with less certainty, may be placed in Thyth or Thyland, north of the Limfjord. No further reference to these districts is found till towards the close of the migration period, about the beginning of the 6th century, when the Heruli (q.v.), a nation dwelling in or near the basin of the Elbe, were overthrown by the Langobardi. According to Procopius (Bellum Gothicum, ii. 15), a part of them made their way across the “desert of the Slavs,” through the lands of the Warni and the Danes to Thoule (i.e. Sweden). This is the first recorded use of the name “Danes.” It occurs again in Gregory of Tours (Historiae Francorum, iii. 3) in connexion with an irruption of a Götish (loosely called Danish) fleet into the Netherlands (c. 520). From this time the use of the name is fairly common. The heroic poetry of the Anglo-Saxons may carry the name further back, though probably it is not very ancient, at all events on the mainland.
According to late Danish tradition Denmark now consisted of Vitheslaeth (i.e. Zealand, Möen, Falster and Laaland), Jutland (with Fyen) and Skaane. Jutland was acquired by Dan, the eponymous ancestor of the Danes. He also won Skaane, including the modern provinces of Halland, Kristianstad, Malmöhus and Blekinge, and these remained part of Denmark until the middle of the 17th century. These three divisions always remained more or less distinct, and the Danish kings had to be recognized at Lund, Ringsted and Viborg, but Zealand was from time immemorial the centre of government, and Lejre was the royal seat and national sanctuary. According to tradition this dates from the time of Skiöldr, the eponymous ancestor of the Danish royal family of Skiöldungar. He was a son of Othin and husband of the goddess Gefjon, who created Zealand. Anglo-Saxon tradition also speaks of Scyld (i.e. Skiöldr), who was regarded as the ancestor of both the Danish and English royal families, and it represented him as coming as a child of unknown origin in a rudderless boat. There can be little doubt that from a remote antiquity Zealand had been a religious sanctuary, and very probably the god Nerthus was worshipped here by the Angli and other tribes as described in Tacitus (Germania, c. 40). The Lejre sanctuary was still in existence in the time of Thietmar of Merseburg (i. 9), at the beginning of the 11th century.
In Scandinavian tradition the next great figure is Fróðe the peace-king, but it is not before the 5th century that we meet with the names of any kings which can be regarded as definitely historical. In Beowulf we hear of a Danish king Healfdene, who had three sons, Heorogar, Hrothgar and Halga. The hero Beowulf comes to the court of Hrothgar from the land of the Götar, where Hygelac is king. This Hygelac is undoubtedly to be identified with the Chochilaicus, king of the Danes (really Götar) who, as mentioned above, made a raid against the Franks c. 520. Beowulf himself won fame in this campaign, and by the aid of this definite chronological datum we can place the reign of Healfdene in the last half of the 5th century, and that of Hrothgar’s nephew Hrothwulf, son of Halga, about the middle of the 6th century. Hrothgar and Halga correspond to Saxo’s Hroar and Helgi, while Hrothwulf is the famous Rolvo or Hrólfr Kraki of Danish and Norse saga. There is probably some historical truth in the story that Heoroweard or Hiörvarðr was responsible for the death of Hrólfr Kraki. Possibly a still earlier king of Denmark was Sigarr or Sigehere, who has won lasting fame from the story of his daughter Signy and her lover Hagbarðr.
From the middle of the 6th to the beginning of the 8th century we know practically nothing of Danish history. There are numerous kings mentioned in Saxo, but it is impossible to identify them historically. We have mention at the beginning of the 8th century of a Danish king Ongendus (cf. O. E. Ongenþeow) who received a mission led by St Willibrord, and it was probably about this time that there flourished a family of whom tradition records a good deal. The founder of this line was Ivarr Viðfaðmi of Skaane, who became king of Sweden. His daughter Auðr married one Hroerekr and became the mother of Haraldr Hilditönn. The genealogy of Haraldr is given differently in Saxo, but there can be no doubt of his historical existence. In his time it is said that the land was divided into four kingdoms—Skaane, Zealand, Fyen and Jutland. After a reign of great splendour Haraldr met his death in the great battle of Bråvalla (Bravík in Östergötland), where he was opposed by his nephew Ring, king of Sweden.
The battle probably took place about the year 750. Fifty years later the Danes begin to be mentioned with comparative frequency in continental annals. From 777-798 we have mention of a certain Sigifridus as king of the Danes, and then in 804 his name is replaced by that of one Godefridus, This Godefridus is the Godefridus-Guthredus of Saxo, and is to be identified also with Guðröðr the Yngling, king in Vestfold in Norway. He came into conflict with Charlemagne, and was preparing a great expedition against him when he was killed by one of his own followers (c. 810). He was succeeded by his brother Hemmingus, but the latter died in 812 and there was a disputed succession. The two claimants were “Sigefridus nepos Godefridi regis” and “Anulo nepos Herioldi quondam regis” (i.e. probably Haraldr Hilditönn). A great battle took place in which both claimants were slain, but the party of Anulo (O.N. Áli) were victorious and appointed as kings Anulo’s brothers Herioldus and Reginfridus. They soon paid a visit to Vestfold, “the extreme district of their realm, whose peoples and chief men were refusing to be made subject to them,” and on their return had trouble with the sons of Godefridus. The latter expelled them from their kingdom, and in 814 Reginfridus fell in a vain attempt to regain it. Herioldus now received the support of the emperor, and after several unsuccessful attempts a compromise was effected in 819 when the parties agreed to share the realm. In 820 Herioldus was baptized at Mainz and received from the emperor a grant of Riustringen in N.E. Friesland. In 827 he was expelled from his kingdom, but St Anskar, who had been sent with Herioldus to preach Christianity, remained at his post. In 836 we find one Horic as king of the Danes; he was probably a son of Godefridus. During his reign there was trouble with the emperor as to the overlordship of Frisia. In the meantime Herioldus remained on friendly terms with Lothair and received a further grant of Walcheren and the neighbouring districts. In 850 Horic was attacked by his own nephews and compelled to share the kingdom with them, while in 852 Herioldus was charged with treachery and slain by the Franks. In 854 a revolution took place in Denmark itself. Horic’s nephew Godwin, returning from exile with a large following of Northmen, overthrew his uncle in a three days’ battle in which all members of the royal house except one boy are said to have perished. This boy now became king as “Horicus junior.” Of his reign we know practically nothing. The next kings mentioned are Sigafrid and Halfdane, who were sons of the great Viking leader Ragnarr Loðbrok. There is also mention of a third king named Godefridus. The exact chronology and relationship of these kings it is impossible to determine, but we know that Healfdene died in Scotland in 877, while Godefridus was treacherously slain by Henry of Saxony in 885. During these and the next few years there is mention of more than one king of the names Sigefridus and Godefridus: the most important event associated with their names is that two kings Sigefridus and Godefridus fell in the great battle on the Dyle in 891.
We now have the names of several kings, Heiligo, Olaph (of Swedish origin), and his sons Chnob and Gurth. Then come a Danish ruler Sigeric, followed by Hardegon, son of Swein, coming from Norway. At some date after 916 we find mention of one “Hardecnuth Urm” ruling among the Danes. Adam of Bremen, from whom these details come, was himself uncertain whether “so many kings or rather tyrants of the Danes ruled together or succeeded one another at short intervals.” Hardecnuth Urm is to be identified with the famous Gorm the old, who married Thyra Danmarkarbót: their son was Harold Bluetooth. (A. Mw.)
Medieval and Modern.—Danish history first becomes authentic at the beginning of the 9th century. The Danes, the southernmost branch of the Scandinavian family, referred to by Alfred (c. 890) as occupying Jutland, the islands and Scania, were, in 777, strong enough to defy the Frank empire by harbouring its fugitives. Five years later we find a Danish king, Sigfrid, among the princes who assembled at Lippe in 782 to make their submission to Charles the Great. About the same time Willibrord, from his see at Utrecht, made an unsuccessful attempt to convert the “wild Danes.” These three salient facts are practically the sum of our knowledge of early Danish history previous to the Viking period. That mysterious upheaval, most generally attributed to a love of adventure, stimulated by the pressure of over-population, began with the ravaging of Lindisfarne in 793, and virtually terminated with the establishment of Rollo in Normandy (911). There can be little doubt that the earlier of these expeditions were from Denmark, though the term Northmen was originally applied indiscriminately to all these terrible visitants from the unknown north. The rovers who first chastened and finally colonized southern England and Normandy were certainly Danes.
The Viking raids were one of the determining causes of the establishment of the feudal monarchies of western Europe, but the untameable freebooters were themselves finally Conversion of the Danes. subdued by the Church. At first sight it seems curious that Christianity should have been so slow to reach Denmark. But we must bear in mind that one very important consequence of the Viking raids was to annihilate the geographical remoteness which had hitherto separated Denmark from the Christian world. Previously to 793 there lay between Jutland and England a sea which no keel had traversed within the memory of man. The few and peaceful traders who explored those northern waters were careful never to lose sight of the Saxon, Frisian and Frankish shores during their passage. Nor was communication with the west by land any easier. For generations the obstinately heathen Saxons had lain, a compact and impenetrable mass, between Scandinavia and the Frank empire, nor were the measures adopted by Charles the Great for the conversion of the Saxons to the true faith very much to the liking of their warlike Danish neighbours on the other side. But by the time that Charles had succeeded in “converting” the Saxons, the Viking raids were already at their height, and though generally triumphant, necessity occasionally taught the Northmen the value of concessions. Thus it was the desire to secure his Jutish kingdom which induced Harold Klak, in 826, to sail up the Rhine to Ingelheim, and there accept baptism, with his wife, his son Godfred and 400 of his suite, acknowledging the emperor as his overlord, and taking back with him to Denmark the missionary monk Ansgar. Ansgar preached in Denmark from 826 to 861, but it was not till after the subsidence of the Viking raids that Adaldag, archbishop of Hamburg, could open a new and successful mission, which resulted in the erection of the bishoprics of Schleswig, Ribe and Aarhus (c. 948), though the real conversion of Denmark must be dated from the baptism of King Harold Bluetooth (960).
Meanwhile the Danish monarchy was attempting to aggrandize itself at the expense of the Germans, the Wends who then occupied the Baltic littoral as far as the Vistula, and Danish expansion. the other Scandinavian kingdoms. Harold Bluetooth (940-986) subdued German territory south of the Eider, extended the Danevirke, Denmark’s great line of defensive fortifications, to the south of Schleswig and planted the military colony of Julin or Jomsborg, at the mouth of the Oder. Part of Norway was first seized after the united Danes and Swedes had defeated and slain King Olaf Trygvessön at the battle of Svolde (1000); and between 1028 and 1035 Canute the Great added the whole kingdom to his own; but the union did not long survive him. Equally short-lived was the Danish dominion in England, which originated in a great Viking expedition of King Sweyn I.
The period between the death of Canute the Great and the accession of Valdemar I. was a troublous time for Denmark. The kingdom was harassed almost incessantly, and Consolidation of the kingdom under the Valdemars, 1157-1251. more than once partitioned, by pretenders to the throne, who did not scruple to invoke the interference of the neighbouring monarchs, and even of the heathen Wends, who established themselves for a time on the southern islands. Yet, throughout this chaos, one thing made for future stability, and that was the growth and consolidation of a national church, which culminated in the erection of the archbishopric of Lund (c. 1104) and the consequent ecclesiastical independence of Denmark. The third archbishop of Lund was Absalon (1128-1201), Denmark’s first great statesman, who so materially assisted Valdemar I. (1157-1182) and Canute VI. (1182-1202) to establish the dominion of Denmark over the Baltic, mainly at the expense of the Wends. The policy of Absalon was continued on a still vaster scale by Valdemar II. (1202-1241), at a time when the German kingdom was too weak and distracted to intervene to save its seaboard; but the treachery of a vassal and the loss of one great battle sufficed to plunge this unwieldy, unsubstantial empire in the dust. (See Valdemar I., II., and Absalon.)
Yet the age of the Valdemars was one of the most glorious in Danish history, and it is of political importance as marking a turning-point. Favourable circumstances had, from the first, given the Danes the lead in Scandinavia. They held the richest and therefore the most populous lands, and geographically they were nearer than their neighbours to western civilization. Under the Valdemars, however, the ancient patriarchal system was merging into a more complicated development, of separate estates. The monarchy, now dominant, and far wealthier than before, rested upon the support of the great nobles, many of whom held their lands by feudal tenure, and constituted the royal Raad, or council. The clergy, fortified by royal privileges, had also risen to influence; but celibacy and independence of the civil courts tended to make them more and more of a separate caste. Education was spreading. Numerous Danes, lay as well as clerical, regularly frequented the university of Paris. There were signs too of the rise of a vigorous middle class, due to the extraordinary development of the national resources (chiefly the herring fisheries, horse-breeding and cattle-rearing) and the foundation of gilds, the oldest of which, the Edslag of Schleswig, dates from the early 12th century. The bonder, or yeomen, were prosperous and independent, with well-defined rights. Danish territory extended over 60,000 sq. kilometres, or nearly double its present area; the population was about 700,000; and 160,000 men and 1400 ships were available for national defence.
On the death of Valdemar II. a period of disintegration ensued. Valdemar’s son, Eric Plovpenning, succeeded him as king; but his near kinsfolk also received huge appanages, and Period of disintegration. family discords led to civil wars. Throughout the 13th and part of the 14th century, the struggle raged between the Danish kings and the Schleswig dukes; and of six monarchs no fewer than three died violent deaths. Superadded to these troubles was a prolonged struggle for supremacy between the popes and the crown, and, still more serious, the beginning of a breach between the kings and nobles, which had important constitutional consequences. The prevalent disorder had led to general lawlessness, in consequence of which the royal authority had been widely extended; and a strong opposition gradually arose which protested against the abuses of this authority. In 1282 the nobles extorted from King Eric Glipping the first Haandfaestning, or charter, which recognized the Danehof, or national assembly, as a regular branch of the administration and gave guarantees against further usurpations. Christopher II. (1319-1331) was constrained to grant another charter considerably reducing the prerogative, increasing the privileges of the upper classes, and at the same time reducing the burden of taxation. But aristocratic licence proved as mischievous as royal incompetence; and on the death of Christopher II. the whole kingdom was on the verge of dissolution. Eastern Denmark was in the hands of one magnate; another magnate held Jutland and Fünen in pawn; the dukes of Schleswig were practically independent of the Danish crown; the Scandian provinces had (1332) surrendered themselves to Sweden.
It was reserved for another Valdemar (Valdemar IV., q.v.) to reunite and weld together the scattered members of his heritage. His long reign (1340-1375) resulted in the re-establishment Valdemar IV., 1340-1375. of Denmark as the great Baltic power. It is also a very interesting period of her social and constitutional development. This great ruler, who had to fight, year after year, against foreign and domestic foes, could, nevertheless, always find time to promote the internal prosperity of his much afflicted country. For the dissolution of Denmark, during the long anarchy, had been internal as well as external. The whole social fabric had been convulsed and transformed. The monarchy had been undermined. The privileged orders had aggrandized themselves at the expense of the community. The yeoman class had sunk into semi-serfdom. In a word, the natural cohesion of the Danish nation had been loosened and there was no security for law and justice. To make an end of this universal lawlessness Valdemar IV. was obliged, in the first place, to re-establish the royal authority by providing the crown with a regular and certain income. This he did by recovering the alienated royal demesnes in every direction, and from henceforth the annual landgilde, or rent, paid by the royal tenants, became the monarch’s principal source of revenue. Throughout his reign Valdemar laboured incessantly to acquire as much land as possible. Moreover, the old distinction between the king’s private estate and crown property henceforth ceases; all such property was henceforth regarded as the hereditary possession of the Danish crown.
The national army was also re-established on its ancient footing. Not only were the magnates sharply reminded that they held their lands on military tenure, but the towns were also made to contribute both men and ships, and peasant levies, especially archers, were recruited from every parish. Everywhere indeed Valdemar intervened personally. The smallest detail was not beneath his notice. Thus he invented nets for catching wolves and built innumerable water-mills, “for he would not let the waters run into the sea before they had been of use to the community.” Under such a ruler law and order were speedily re-established. The popular tribunals regained their authority, and a supreme court of justice, Det Kongelige Retterting, presided over by Valdemar himself, not only punished the unruly and guarded the prerogatives of the crown, but also protected the weak and defenceless from the tyranny of the strong. Nor did Valdemar hesitate to meet his people in public and periodically render an account of his stewardship. He voluntarily resorted to the old practice of summoning national assemblies, the so-called Danehof. At the first of these assemblies held at Nyborg, Midsummer Day 1314, the bishops and councillors solemnly promised that the commonalty should enjoy all the ancient rights and privileges conceded to them by Valdemar II., and the wise provision that the Danehof should meet annually considerably strengthened its authority. The keystone to the whole constitutional system was “King Valdemar’s Charter” issued in May 1360 at the Rigsmöde, or parliament, held at Kalundborg in May 1360. This charter was practically an act of national pacification, the provisions of which king and people together undertook to enforce for the benefit of the commonweal.
The work of Valdemar was completed and consolidated by his illustrious daughter Margaret (1375-1412), whose crowning achievement was the Union of Kalmar (1397), whereby The Union of Kalmar, 1397. she sought to combine the three northern kingdoms into a single state dominated by Denmark. In any case Denmark was bound to be the only gainer by the Union. Her population was double that of the two other kingdoms combined, and neither Margaret nor her successors observed the stipulations that each country should retain its own laws and customs and be ruled by natives only. In both Norway and Sweden, therefore, the Union was highly unpopular. The Norwegian aristocracy was too weak, however, seriously to endanger the Union at any time, but Sweden was, from the first, decidedly hostile to Margaret’s whole policy. Nevertheless during her lifetime the system worked fairly well; but her pupil and successor, Eric of Pomerania, was unequal to the burden of empire and embroiled himself both with his neighbours and his subjects. The Hanseatic League, whose political ascendancy had been shaken by the Union, enraged by Eric’s efforts to bring in the Dutch as commercial rivals, as well as by the establishment of the Sound tolls, materially assisted the Holsteiners in their twenty-five years’ war with Denmark (1410-35), and Eric VII. himself was finally deposed (1439) in favour of his nephew, Christopher of Bavaria.
The deposition of Eric marks another turning-point in Danish history. It was the act not of the people but of the Rigsraad (Senate), which had inherited the authority of the Growth of the power of the nobles. ancient Danehof and, after the death of Margaret, grew steadily in power at the expense of the crown. As the government grew more and more aristocratic, the position of the peasantry steadily deteriorated. It is under Christopher that we first hear, for instance, of the Vornedskab, or patriarchal control of the landlords over their tenants, a system which degenerated into rank slavery. In Jutland, too, after the repression, in 1441, of a peasant rising, something very like serfdom was introduced.
On the death of Christopher III. without heirs, in 1448, the Rigsraad elected his distant cousin, Count Christian of Oldenburg, king; but Sweden preferred Karl Knutsson (Charles Break-up of the Union. “VIII.”), while Norway finally combined with Denmark, at the conference of Halmstad, in a double election which practically terminated the Union, though an agreement was come to that the survivor of the two kings should reign over all three kingdoms. Norway, subsequently, threw in her lot definitively with Denmark. Dissensions resulting in interminable civil wars had, even before the Union, exhausted the resources of the poorest of the three northern realms; and her ruin was completed by the ravages of the Black Death, which wiped out two-thirds of her population. Unfortunately, too, for Norway’s independence, the native gentry had gradually died out, and were succeeded by immigrant Danish fortune-hunters; native burgesses there were none, and the peasantry were mostly thralls; so that, excepting the clergy, there was no patriotic class to stand up for the national liberties.
Far otherwise was it in the wealthier kingdom of Sweden. Here the clergy and part of the nobility were favourable to the Union; but the vast majority of the people hated it as a foreign usurpation. Matters were still further complicated by the continual interference of the Hanseatic League; and Christian I. (1448-1481) and Hans (1481-1513), whose chief merit it is to have founded the Danish fleet, were, during the greater part of their reigns, only nominally kings of Sweden. Hans also received in fief the territory of Dietmarsch from the emperor, but, in attempting to subdue the hardy Dietmarschers, suffered a crushing defeat in which the national banner called “Danebrog” fell into the enemy’s hands (1500). Moreover, this defeat led to a successful rebellion in Sweden, and a long and ruinous war with Lübeck, terminated by the peace of Malmö, 1512. It was during this war that a strong Danish fleet dominated the Baltic for the first time since the age of the Valdemars.
On the succession of Hans’s son, Christian II. (1513-1523), Margaret’s splendid dream of a Scandinavian empire seemed, finally, about to be realized. The young king, a man Christian II., 1513-1523. of character and genius, had wide views and original ideas. Elected king of Denmark and Norway, he succeeded in subduing Sweden by force of arms; but he spoiled everything at the culmination of his triumph by the hideous crime and blunder known as the Stockholm massacre, which converted the politically divergent Swedish nation into the irreconcilable foe of the unional government (see Christian II.). Christian’s contempt of nationality in Sweden is the more remarkable as in Denmark proper he sided with the people against the aristocracy, to his own undoing in that age of privilege and prejudice. His intentions, as exhibited to his famous Landelove (National Code), were progressive and enlightened to an eminent degree; so much so, indeed, that they mystified the people as much as they alienated the patricians; but his actions were often of revolting brutality, and his whole career was vitiated by an incurable double-mindedness which provoked general distrust. Yet there is no doubt that Christian II. was a true patriot, whose ideal it was to weld the three northern kingdoms into a powerful state, independent of all foreign influences, especially of German influence as manifested in the commercial tyranny of the Hansa League. His utter failure was due, partly to the vices of an undisciplined temperament, and partly to the extraordinary difficulties of the most inscrutable period of European history, when the shrewdest heads were at fault and irreparable blunders belonged to the order of the day. That period was the period of the Reformation, which profoundly affected the politics of Scandinavia. Christian II. had always subordinated religion to politics, and was Papist or Lutheran according to circumstances. But, though he treated the Church more like a foe than a friend and was constantly at war with the Curia, he retained the Catholic form of church worship and never seems to have questioned the papal supremacy. On the flight of Christian II. and the election of his uncle, Frederick I. (1523-1533), Frederick I., 1523-1533. The Reformation. the Church resumed her jurisdiction and everything was placed on the old footing. The newly elected and still insecure German king at first remained neutral; but in the autumn of 1525 the current of Lutheranism began to run so strongly in Denmark as to threaten to whirl away every opposing obstacle. This novel and disturbing phenomenon was mainly due to the zeal and eloquence of the ex-monk Hans Tausen and his associates, or disciples, Peder Plad and Sadolin; and, in the autumn of 1526, Tausen was appointed one of the royal chaplains. The three ensuing years were especially favourable for the Reformation, as during that time the king had unlooked-for opportunities for filling the vacant episcopal sees with men after his own heart, and at heart he was a Lutheran. The reformation movement in Denmark was further promoted by Schleswig-Holstein influence. Frederick’s eldest son Duke Christian had, since 1527, resided at Haderslev, where he collected round him Lutheran teachers from Germany, and made his court the centre of the propaganda of the new doctrine. On the other hand, the Odense Recess of the 20th of August 1527, which put both confessions on a footing of equality, remained unrepealed; and so long as it remained in force, the spiritual jurisdiction of the bishops, and, consequently, their authority over the “free preachers” (whose ambition convulsed all the important towns of Denmark and aimed at forcibly expelling the Catholic priests from their churches) remained valid, to the great vexation of the reformers. The inevitable ecclesiastical crisis was still further postponed by the superior stress of two urgent political events—Christian II.’s invasion of Norway (1531) and the outbreak, in 1533, of The Count’s War, 1533-36. “Grevens fejde,” or “The Count’s War” (1534-36), the count in question being Christopher of Oldenburg, great-nephew of King Christian I., whom Lübeck and her allies, on the death of Frederick I., raised up against Frederick’s son Christian III. The Catholic party and the lower orders generally took the part of Count Christopher, who acted throughout as the nominee of the captive Christian II., while the Protestant party, aided by the Holstein dukes and Gustavus Vasa of Sweden, sided with Christian III. The war ended with the capture of Copenhagen by the forces of Christian III., on the 29th of July 1536, and the triumph of so devoted a Lutheran sealed the fate of the Roman Catholic Church in Denmark, though even now it was necessary for the victorious king to proceed against the bishops and their friends by a coup d’état, engineered by his German generals the Rantzaus. The Recess of 1536 enacted that the bishops should forfeit their temporal and spiritual authority, and that all their property should be transferred to the crown for the good of the commonwealth. In the following year a Church ordinance, based upon the canons of Luther, Melanchthon and Bugenhagen, was drawn up, submitted to Luther for his approval, and promulgated on the 2nd of September 1537. On the same day seven “superintendents,” including Tausen and Sadolin, all of whom had worked zealously for the cause of the Reformation, were consecrated in place of the dethroned bishops. The position of the superintendents and of the reformed church generally was consolidated by the Articles of Ribe in 1542, and the constitution of the Danish church has practically continued the same to the present day. But Catholicism could not wholly or immediately be dislodged by the teaching of Luther. It had struck deep roots into the habits and feelings of the people, and traces of its survival were distinguishable a whole century after the triumph of the Reformation. Catholicism lingered longest in the cathedral chapters. Here were to be found men of ability proof against the eloquence of Hans Tausen or Peder Plad and quite capable of controverting their theories—men like Povl Helgesen, for instance, indisputably the greatest Danish theologian of his day, a scholar whose voice was drowned amidst the clash of conflicting creeds.
Though the Reformation at first did comparatively little for education, and the whole spiritual life of Denmark was poor and feeble in consequence for at least a generation afterwards, Effects of the Reformation. the change of religion was of undeniable, if temporary, benefit to the state from the political point of view. The enormous increase of the royal revenue consequent upon the confiscation of the property of the Church could not fail to increase the financial stability of the monarchy. In particular the suppression of the monasteries benefited the crown in two ways. The old church had, indeed, frequently rendered the state considerable financial aid, but such voluntary assistance was, from the nature of the case, casual and arbitrary. Now, however, the state derived a fixed and certain revenue from the confiscated lands; and the possession of immense landed property at the same time enabled the crown advantageously to conduct the administration. The gross revenue of the state is estimated to have risen threefold. Before the Reformation the annual revenue from land averaged 400,000 bushels of corn; after the confiscations of Church property it averaged 1,200,000 bushels. The possession of a full purse materially assisted the Danish government in its domestic administration, which was indeed epoch-making. It enabled Christian III. to pay off his German mercenaries immediately after the religious coup d’état of 1536. It enabled him to prosecute shipbuilding with such energy that, by 1550, the royal fleet numbered at least thirty vessels, which were largely employed as a maritime police in the pirate-haunted Baltic and North Seas. It enabled him to create and remunerate adequately a capable official class, which proved its efficiency under the strictest supervision, and ultimately produced a whole series of great statesmen and admirals like Johan Friis, Peder Oxe, Herluf Trolle and Peder Skram. It is not too much to say that the increased revenue derived from the appropriation of Church property, intelligently applied, gave European influence of Denmark, 1544-1626. Denmark the hegemony of the North during the latter part of Christian III.’s reign, the whole reign of Frederick II. and the first twenty-five years of the reign of Christian IV., a period embracing, roughly speaking, eighty years (1544-1626). Within this period Denmark was indisputably the leading Scandinavian power. While Sweden, even after the advent of Gustavus Vasa, was still of but small account in Europe, Denmark easily held her own in Germany and elsewhere, even against Charles V., and was important enough, in 1553, to mediate a peace between the emperor and Saxony. Twice during this period Denmark and Sweden measured their strength in the open field, on the first occasion in the “Scandinavian Seven Years’ War” (1562-70), on the second in the “Kalmar War” (1611-13), and on both occasions Denmark prevailed, though the temporary advantage she gained was more than neutralized by the intense feeling of hostility which the unnatural wars, between the two kindred peoples of Scandinavia, left behind them. Still, the fact remains that, for a time, Denmark was one of the great powers of Europe. Frederick II., in his later years (1571-1588), aspired to the dominion of all the seas which washed the Scandinavian coasts, and before he died he was able to enforce the rule that all foreign ships should strike their topsails to Danish men-of-war as a token of his right to rule the northern seas. Favourable political circumstances also contributed to this general acknowledgment of Denmark’s maritime greatness. The power of the Hansa had gone; the Dutch were enfeebled by their contest with Spain; England’s sea-power was yet in the making; Spain, still the greatest of the maritime nations, was exhausting her resources in the vain effort to conquer the Dutch. Yet more even than to felicitous circumstances, Denmark owed her short-lived greatness to the great statesmen and administrators whom Frederick II. succeeded in gathering about him. Never before, since the age of Margaret, had Denmark been so well governed, never before had she possessed so many political celebrities nobly emulous for the common good.
Frederick II. was succeeded by his son Christian IV. (April 4, 1588), who attained his majority on the 17th of August 1596, at the age of nineteen. The realm which Christian IV. was Denmark at the accession of Christian IV., 1588. to govern had undergone great changes within the last two generations. Towards the south the boundaries of the Danish state remained unchanged. Levensaa and the Eider still separated Denmark from the Empire. Schleswig was recognized as a Danish fief, in contradistinction to Holstein, which owed vassalage to the Empire. The “kingdom” stretched as far as Kolding and Skedborg, where the “duchy” began; and this duchy since its amalgamation with Holstein by means of a common Landtag, and especially since the union of the dual duchy with the kingdom on almost equal terms in 1533, was, in most respects, a semi-independent state, Denmark, moreover, like Europe in general, was, politically, on the threshold of a transitional period. During the whole course of the 16th century the monarchical form of government was in every large country, with the single exception of Poland, rising on the ruins of feudalism. The great powers of the late 16th and early 17th centuries were to be the strong, highly centralized, hereditary monarchies, like France, Spain and Sweden. There seemed to be no reason why Denmark also should not become a powerful state under the guidance of a powerful monarchy, especially as the sister state of Sweden was developing into a great power under apparently identical conditions. Yet, while Sweden was surely ripening into the dominating power of northern Europe, Denmark had as surely entered upon a period of uninterrupted and apparently incurable decline. What was the cause of this anomaly? Something of course must be allowed for the superior and altogether extraordinary genius of the great princes of the house of Vasa; yet the causes of the decline of Denmark lay far deeper than this. They may roughly be summed up under two heads: the inherent weakness of an elective monarchy, and the absence of that public spirit which is based on the intimate alliance of ruler and ruled. Whilst Gustavus Vasa had leaned upon the Swedish peasantry, in other words upon the bulk of the Swedish nation, which was and continued to be an integral part of the Swedish body-politic, Christian III. on his accession had crushed the middle and lower classes in Denmark and reduced them to political insignificance. Yet it was not the king who benefited by this blunder. The Danish monarchy since the days of Margaret had continued to be purely elective; and a purely elective monarchy at that stage of the political development of Europe was a mischievous anomaly. It signified in the first place that the crown was not the highest power in the state, but was subject to the aristocratic Rigsraad, or council of state. The Rigsraad was the permanent owner of the realm and the crown-lands; the king was only their temporary administrator. If the king died before the election of his successor, the Rigsraad stepped into the king’s place. Moreover, an elective monarchy implied that, at every fresh succession, the king was liable to be bound by a new Haandfaestning, or charter. The election itself might, and did, become a mere formality; but the condition precedent of election, the acceptance of the charter, invariably limiting the royal authority, remained a reality. This period of aristocratic rule, which dates practically from the accession of Frederick I. (1523), and lasted for nearly a century and a half, is known in Danish history as Adelsvaelde, or rule of the nobles.
Again, the king was the ruler of the realm, but over a very large portion of it he had but a slight control. The crown-lands and most of the towns were under his immediate jurisdiction, but by the side of the crown-lands lay the estates of the nobility, which already comprised about one-half of the superficial area of Denmark, and were in many respects independent of the central government both as regards taxation and administration. In a word, the monarchy had to share its dominion with the nobility; and the Danish nobility in the 16th century was one of the most exclusive and selfish aristocracies in Europe, and already far advanced in decadence. Hermetically sealing itself from any intrusion from below, it deteriorated by close and constant intermarriage; and it was already, both morally and intellectually, below the level of the rest of the nation. Yet this very aristocracy, whose claim to consideration was based not upon its own achievements but upon the length of its pedigrees, insisted upon an amplification of its privileges which endangered the economical and political interests of the state and the nation. The time was close at hand when a Danish magnate was to demonstrate that he preferred the utter ruin of his country to any abatement of his own personal dignity.
All below the king and the nobility were generally classified together as “subjects.” Of these lower orders the clergy stood first in the social scale. As a spiritual estate, indeed, it had ceased to exist at the Reformation, though still represented in the Rigsdag or diet. Since then too it had become quite detached from the nobility, which ostentatiously despised the teaching profession. The clergy recruited themselves therefore from the class next below them, and looked more and more to the crown for help and protection as they drew apart from the gentry, who, moreover, as dispensers of patronage, lost no opportunity of appropriating church lands and cutting down tithes.
The burgesses had not yet recovered from the disaster of “Grevens fejde”; but while the towns had become more dependent on the central power, they had at the same time been released from their former vexatious subjection to the local magnates, and could make their voices heard in the Rigsdag, where they were still, though inadequately, represented. Within the Estate of Burgesses itself, too, a levelling process had begun. The old municipal patriciate, which used to form the connecting link between the bourgeoisie and the nobility, had disappeared, and a feeling of common civic fellowship had taken its place. All this tended to enlarge the political views of the burgesses, and was not without its influence on the future. Yet, after all, the prospects of the burgesses depended mainly on economic conditions; and in this respect there was a decided improvement, due to the increasing importance of money and commerce all over Europe, especially as the steady decline of the Hanse towns immediately benefited the trade of Denmark-Norway; Norway by this time being completely merged in the Danish state, and ruled from Copenhagen. There can, indeed, be no doubt that the Danish and Norwegian merchants at the end of the 16th century flourished exceedingly, despite the intrusion and competition of the Dutch and the dangers to neutral shipping arising from the frequent wars between England, Spain and the Netherlands.
At the bottom of the social ladder lay the peasants, whose condition had decidedly deteriorated. Only in one respect had they benefited by the peculiar conditions of the 16th century: the rise in the price of corn without any corresponding rise in the land-tax must have largely increased their material prosperity. Yet the number of peasant-proprietors had diminished, while the obligations of the peasantry generally had increased; and, still worse, their obligations were vexatiously indefinite, varying from year to year and even from month to month. They weighed especially heavily on the so-called Ugedasmaend, who were forced to work two or three days a week in the demesne lands. This increase of villenage morally depressed the peasantry, and widened still further the breach between the yeomanry and the gentry. Politically its consequences were disastrous. While in Sweden the free and energetic peasant was a salutary power in the state, which he served with both mind and plough, the Danish peasant was sinking to the level of a bondman. While the Swedish peasants were well represented in the Swedish Riksdag, whose proceedings they sometimes dominated, the Danish peasantry had no political rights or privileges whatever.
Such then, briefly, was the condition of things in Denmark when, in 1588, Christian IV. ascended the throne. Where so much was necessarily uncertain and fluctuating, there was Christian IV., 1588-1648. room for an almost infinite variety of development. Much depended on the character and personality of the young prince who had now taken into his hands the reins of government, and for half a century was to guide the destinies of the nation. In the beginning of his reign the hand of the young monarch, who was nothing if not energetic, made itself felt in every direction. The harbours of Copenhagen, Elsinore and other towns were enlarged; many decaying towns were abolished and many new ones built under more promising conditions, including Christiania, which was founded in August 1624, on the ruins of the ancient city of Oslo. Various attempts were also made to improve trade and industry by abolishing the still remaining privileges of the Hanseatic towns, by promoting a wholesale immigration of skilful and well-to-do Dutch traders and handicraftsmen into Denmark under most favourable conditions, by opening up the rich fisheries of the Arctic seas, and by establishing joint-stock chartered companies both in the East and the West Indies. Copenhagen especially benefited by Christian IV.’s commercial policy. He enlarged and embellished it, and provided it with new harbours and fortifications; in short, did his best to make it the worthy capital of a great empire. But it was in the foreign policy of the government that the royal influence was most perceptible. Unlike Sweden, Denmark had remained outside the great religious-political movements which were the outcome of the Catholic reaction; and the peculiarity of her position made her rather hostile than friendly to the other Protestant states. The possession of the Sound enabled her to close the Baltic against the Western powers; the possession of Norway carried along with it the control of the rich fisheries which were Danish monopolies, and therefore a source of irritation to England and Holland. Denmark, moreover, was above all things a Scandinavian power. While the territorial expansion of Sweden in the near future was a matter of necessity, Denmark had not only attained, but even exceeded, her natural limits. Aggrandizement southwards, at the expense of the German empire, was becoming every year more difficult; and in every other direction she had nothing more to gain. Nay, more, Denmark’s possession of the Scanian provinces deprived Sweden of her proper geographical frontiers. Clearly it was Denmark’s wisest policy to seek a close alliance with Sweden in their common interests, and after the conclusion of the “Kalmar War” the two countries did remain at peace for the next thirty-one years. But the antagonistic interests of the two countries in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War precipitated a fourth contest between them (1643-45), in which Denmark would have been utterly ruined but for the heroism of King Christian IV. and his command of the sea during the crisis of the struggle. Even so, First losses of territory. by the peace of Brömsebro (February 8, 1645) Denmark surrendered the islands of Oesel and Gotland and the provinces of Jemteland and Herjedal (in Norway) definitively, and Halland for thirty years. The freedom from the Sound tolls was by the same treaty also extended to Sweden’s Baltic provinces.
The peace of Brömsebro was the first of the long series of treaties, extending down to our own days, which mark the progressive shrinkage of Danish territory into an irreducible minimum. Sweden’s appropriation of Danish soil had begun, and at the same time Denmark’s power of resisting the encroachments of Sweden was correspondingly reduced. The Danish national debt, too, had risen enormously, while the sources of future income and consequent recuperation had diminished or disappeared. The Sound tolls, for instance, in consequence of the treaties of Brömsebro and Kristianopel (by the latter treaty very considerable concessions were made to the Dutch) had sunk from 400,000 to 140,000 rix-dollars. The political influence of the crown, moreover, had inevitably been weakened, and the conduct of foreign affairs passed from the hands of the king Frederick III., 1648-1670. into the hands of the Rigsraad. On the accession of Frederick III. (1648-1670) moreover, the already diminished royal prerogative was still further curtailed by the Haandfaestning, or charter, which he was compelled to sign. Fear and hatred of Sweden, and the never abandoned hope of recovering the lost provinces, animated king and people alike; but it was Denmark’s crowning misfortune that she possessed at this difficult crisis no statesman of the first rank, no one even approximately comparable with such competitors as Charles X. of Sweden or the “Great Elector” Frederick William of Brandenburg. From the very beginning of his reign Frederick III. was resolved upon a rupture at the first convenient opportunity, while the nation was, if possible, even more bellicose than the king. The apparently insuperable difficulties of Sweden in Poland was the feather that turned the scale; on the 1st of June 1657, Frederick III. signed the manifesto justifying a war which was never formally declared and brought Denmark to the very verge of ruin. The extraordinary details of this dramatic struggle will be found elsewhere (see Frederick III., king of Denmark, and Charles X., king of Sweden); Peace of Roskilde, 1658. suffice it to say that by the peace of Roskilde (February 26, 1658), Denmark consented to cede the three Scanian provinces, the island of Bornholm and the Norwegian provinces of Baahus and Trondhjem; to renounce all anti-Swedish alliances and to exempt all Swedish vessels, even when carrying foreign goods, from all tolls. These terrible losses were somewhat retrieved by the subsequent treaty of Copenhagen (May 27, 1660) concluded by the Swedish regency with Frederick III. after the failure of Charles X.’s second war against Denmark, a failure chiefly owing to the heroic defence of the Danish capital (1658-60). By this treaty Treaty of Copenhagen, 1660. Sweden gave back the province of Trondhjem and the isle of Bornholm and released Denmark from the most onerous of the obligations of the treaty of Roskilde. In fact the peace of Copenhagen came as a welcome break in an interminable series of disasters and humiliations. Anyhow, it confirmed the independence of the Danish state. On the other hand, if Denmark had emerged from the war with her honour and dignity unimpaired, she had at the same time tacitly surrendered the dominion of the North to her Scandinavian rival.
But the war just terminated had important political consequences, which were to culminate in one of the most curious and interesting revolutions of modern history. In the first Hereditary monarchy established, 1660. place, it marks the termination of the Adelsvaelde, or rule of the nobility. By their cowardice, incapacity, egotism and treachery during the crisis of the struggle, the Danish aristocracy had justly forfeited the respect of every other class of the community, and emerged from the war hopelessly discredited. On the other hand, Copenhagen, proudly conscious of her intrinsic importance and of her inestimable services to the country, whom she had saved from annihilation by her constancy, now openly claimed to have a voice in public affairs. Still higher had risen the influence of the crown. The courage and resource displayed by Frederick III. in the extremity of the national danger had won for “the least expansive of monarchs” an extraordinary popularity.
On the 10th of September 1660, the Rigsdag, which was to repair the ravages of the war and provide for the future, was opened with great ceremony in the Riddersaal of the castle of Copenhagen. The first bill laid before the Estates by the government was to impose an excise tax on the principal articles of consumption, together with subsidiary taxes on cattle, poultry, &c., in return for which the abolition of all the old direct taxes was promised. The nobility at first claimed exemption from taxation altogether, while the clergy and burgesses insisted upon an absolute equality of taxation. There were sharp encounters between the presidents of the contending orders, but the position of the Lower Estates was considerably prejudiced by the dissensions of its various sections. Thus the privileges of the bishops and of Copenhagen profoundly irritated the lower clergy and the unprivileged towns, and made a cordial understanding impossible, till Hans Svane, bishop of Copenhagen, and Hans Nansen the burgomaster, who now openly came forward as the leader of the reform movement, proposed that the privileges which divided the non-noble Estates should be abolished. In accordance with this proposal, the two Lower Estates, on the 16th of September, subscribed a memorandum addressed to the Rigsraad, declaring their willingness to renounce their privileges, provided the nobility did the same; which was tantamount to a declaration that the whole of the clergy and burgesses had made common cause against the nobility. The opposition so formed took the name of the “Conjoined Estates.” The presentation of the memorial provoked an outburst of indignation. But the nobility soon perceived the necessity of complete surrender. On the 30th of September the First Estate abandoned its former standpoint and renounced its privileges, with one unimportant reservation.
The struggle now seemed to be ended, and the financial question having also been settled, the king, had he been so minded, might have dismissed the Estates. But the still more important question of reform was now raised. On the 17th of September the burgesses introduced a bill proposing a new constitution, which was to include local self-government in the towns, the abolition of serfdom, and the formation of a national army. It fell to the ground for want of adequate support; but another proposition, the fruit of secret discussion between the king and his confederates, which placed all fiefs under the control of the crown as regards taxation, and provided for selling and letting them to the highest bidder, was accepted by the Estate of burgesses. The significance of this ordinance lay in the fact that it shattered the privileged position of the nobility, by abolishing the exclusive right to the possession of fiefs. What happened next is not quite clear. Our sources fail us, and we are at the mercy of doubtful rumours and more or less unreliable anecdotes. We have a vision of intrigues, mysterious conferences, threats and bribery, dimly discernible through a shifting mirage of tradition.
The first glint of light is a letter, dated the 23rd of September, from Frederick III. to Svane and Nansen, authorizing them to communicate the arrangements already made to reliable men, and act quickly, as “if the others gain time they may possibly gain more.” The first step was to make sure of the city train-bands: of the garrison of Copenhagen the king had no doubt. The headquarters of the conspirators was the bishop’s palace near Vor Frue church, between which and the court messages were passing continually, and where the document to be adopted by the Conjoined Estates took its final shape. On the 8th of October the two burgomasters, Hans Nansen and Kristoffer Hansen, proposed that the realm of Denmark should be made over to the king as a hereditary kingdom, without prejudice to the privileges of the Estates; whereupon they proceeded to Brewer’s Hall, and informed the Estate of burgesses there assembled of what had been done. A fiery oration from Nansen dissolved some feeble opposition; and simultaneously Bishop Svane carried the clergy along with him. The so-called “Instrument,” now signed by the Lower Estates, offered the realm to the king and his house as a hereditary monarchy, by way of thank-offering mainly for his courageous deliverance of the kingdom during the war; and the Rigsraad and the nobility were urged to notify the resolution to the king, and desire him to maintain each Estate in its due privileges, and to give a written counter-assurance that the revolution now to be effected was for the sole benefit of the state. Events now moved forward rapidly. On the 10th of October a deputation from the clergy and burgesses proceeded to the Council House where the Rigsraad were deliberating, to demand an answer to their propositions. After a tumultuous scene, the aristocratic Raad rejected the “Instrument” altogether, whereupon the deputies of the commons proceeded to the palace and were graciously received by the king, who promised them an answer next day. The same afternoon the guards in the streets and on the ramparts were doubled; on the following morning the gates of the city were closed, powder and bullets were distributed among the city train-bands, who were bidden to be in readiness when the alarm bell called them, and cavalry was massed on the environs of the city. The same afternoon the king sent a message to the Rigsraad urging them to declare their views quickly, as he could no longer hold himself responsible for what might happen. After a feeble attempt at a compromise the Raad gave way. On the 13th of October it signed a declaration to the effect that it associated itself still with the Lower Estates in the making over of the kingdom, as a hereditary monarchy, to his majesty and his heirs male and female. The same day the king received the official communication of this declaration and the congratulation of the burgomasters. Thus the ancient constitution was transformed; and Denmark became a monarchy hereditary in Frederick III. and his posterity.
But although hereditary sovereignty had been introduced, the laws of the land had not been abolished. The monarch was specifically now a sovereign overlord, but he had not been absolved from his obligations towards his subjects. Hereditary sovereignty per se was not held to signify unlimited dominion, still less absolutism. On the contrary, the magnificent gift of the Danish nation to Frederick III. was made under express conditions. The “Instrument” drawn up by the Lower Estates implied the retention of all their rights; and the king, in accepting the gift of a hereditary crown, did not repudiate the implied inviolability of the privileges of the donors. Unfortunately everything had been left so vague, that it was an easy matter for ultra-royalists like Svane and Nansen to ignore the privileges of the Estates, and even the Estates themselves.
On the 14th of October a committee was summoned to the palace to organize the new government. The discussion turned mainly upon two points, (1) whether a new oath of homage should be taken to the king, and (2) what was to be done with the Haandfaestning or royal charter. The first point was speedily decided in the affirmative, and, as to the second, it was ultimately decided that the king should be released from his oath and the charter returned to him; but a rider was added suggesting that he should, at the same time, promulgate a Recess providing for his own and his people’s welfare. Thus Frederick III. was not left absolutely his own master; for the provision regarding a Recess, or new constitution, showed plainly enough that such a constitution was expected, and, once granted, would of course have limited the royal power.
It now only remained to execute the resolutions of the committee. On the 17th of October the charter, which the king had sworn to observe twelve years before, was solemnly handed back to him at the palace, Frederick III. thereupon promising to rule as a Christian king to the satisfaction of all the Estates of the realm. On the following day the king, seated on the topmost step of a lofty tribune surmounted by a baldaquin, erected in the midst of the principal square of Copenhagen, received the public homage of his subjects of all ranks, in the presence of an immense concourse, on which occasion he again promised to rule “as a Christian hereditary king and gracious master,” and, “as soon as possible, to prepare and set up” such a constitution as should secure to his subjects a Christian and indulgent sway. The ceremony concluded with a grand banquet at the palace. After dinner the queen and the clergy withdrew; but the king remained. An incident now occurred which made a strong impression on all present. With a brimming beaker in his hand, Frederick III. went up to Hans Nansen, drank with him and drew him aside. They communed together in a low voice for some time, till the burgomaster, succumbing to the influence of his potations, fumbled his way to his carriage with the assistance of some of his civic colleagues. Whether Nansen, intoxicated by wine and the royal favour, consented on this occasion to sacrifice the privileges of his order and his city, it is impossible to say; but it is significant that, from henceforth, we hear no more of the Recess which the more liberal of the leaders of the lower orders had hoped for when they released Frederick III. from the obligations of the charter.
We can follow pretty plainly the stages of the progress from a limited to an absolute monarchy. By an act dated the 10th of January 1661, entitled “Instrument, or pragmatic Establishment of absolute rule. sanction,” of the king’s hereditary right to the kingdoms of Denmark and Norway, it was declared that all the prerogatives of majesty, and “all regalia as an absolute sovereign lord,” had been made over to the king. Yet, even after the issue of the “Instrument,” there was nothing, strictly speaking, to prevent Frederick III. from voluntarily conceding to his subjects some share in the administration. Unfortunately the king was bent upon still further emphasizing the plenitude of his power. At Copenhagen his advisers were busy framing drafts of a Lex Regia Perpetua; and the one which finally won the royal favour was the famous Kongelov, or “King’s Law.”
This document was in every way unique. In the first place it is remarkable for its literary excellence. Compared with the barbarous macaronic jargon of the contemporary official language it shines forth as a masterpiece of pure, pithy and original Danish. Still more remarkable are the tone and tenor of this royal law. The Kongelov has the highly dubious honour of being the one written law in the civilized world which fearlessly carries out absolutism to the last consequences. The monarchy is declared to owe its origin to the surrender of the supreme authority by the Estates to the king. The maintenance of the indivisibility of the realm and of the Christian faith according to the Augsburg Confession, and the observance of the Kongelov itself, are now the sole obligations binding upon the king. The supreme spiritual authority also is now claimed; and it is expressly stated that it becomes none to crown him; the moment he ascends the throne, crown and sceptre belong to him of right. Moreover, par. 26 declares guilty of lèse-majesté whomsoever shall in any way usurp or infringe the king’s absolute authority. In the following reign the ultra-royalists went further still. In their eyes the king was not merely autocratic, but sacrosanct. Thus before the anointing of Christian V. on the 7th of June 1671, a ceremony by way of symbolizing the new autocrat’s humble submission to the Almighty, the officiating bishop of Zealand delivered an oration in which he declared that the king was God’s immediate creation, His vicegerent on earth, and that it was the bounden duty of all good subjects to serve and honour the celestial majesty as represented by the king’s terrestrial majesty. The Kongelov is dated and subscribed the 14th of November 1665, but was kept a profound secret, only two initiated persons knowing of its existence until after the death of Frederick III., one of them being Kristoffer Gabel, the king’s chief intermediary during the revolution, and the other the author and custodian of the Kongelov, Secretary Peder Schumacher, better known as Griffenfeldt. It is significant that both these confidential agents were plebeians.
The revolution of 1660 was certainly beneficial to Norway. With the disappearance of the Rigsraad, which, as representing the Danish crown, had hitherto exercised sovereignty Effects of the revolution of 1660. over both kingdoms, Norway ceased to be a subject principality. The sovereign hereditary king stood in exactly the same relations to both kingdoms; and thus, constitutionally, Norway was placed on an equality with Denmark, united with but not subordinate to it. It is clear that the majority of the Norwegian people hoped that the revolution would give them an administration independent of the Danish government; but these expectations were not realised. Till the cessation of the Union in 1814, Copenhagen continued to be the headquarters of the Norwegian administration; both kingdoms had common departments of state; and the common chancery continued to be called the Danish chancery. On the other hand the condition of Norway was now greatly improved. In January 1661 a land commission was appointed to investigate the financial and economical conditions of the kingdoms; the fiefs were transformed into counties; the nobles were deprived of their immunity from taxation; and in July 1662 the Norwegian towns received special privileges, including the monopoly of the lucrative timber trade.
The Enevaelde, or absolute monarchy, also distinctly benefited the whole Danish state by materially increasing its reserve of native talent. Its immediate consequence was to throw open every state appointment to the middle classes; and the middle classes of that period, with very few exceptions, monopolized the intellect and the energy of the nation. New blood of the best quality nourished and stimulated the whole body politic. Expansion and progress were the watchwords at home, and abroad Christian V., 1670-1699. it seemed as if Denmark were about to regain her former position as a great power. This was especially the case during the brief but brilliant administration of Chancellor Griffenfeldt. Then, if ever, Denmark had the chance of playing once more a leading part in international politics. But Griffenfeldt’s difficulties, always serious, were increased by the instability of the European situation, depending as it did on the ambition of Louis XIV. Resolved to conquer the Netherlands, the French king proceeded, first of all, to isolate her by dissolving the Triple Alliance. (See Sweden and Griffenfeldt.) In April 1672 a treaty was concluded between France and Sweden, on condition that France should not include Denmark in her system of alliances without the consent of Sweden. This treaty showed that Sweden weighed more in the French balances than Denmark. In June 1672 a French army invaded the Netherlands; whereupon the elector of Brandenburg contracted an alliance with the emperor Leopold, to which Denmark was invited to accede; almost simultaneously the States-General began to negotiate for a renewal of the recently expired Dano-Dutch alliance.
In these circumstances it was as difficult for Denmark to remain neutral as it was dangerous for her to make a choice. An alliance with France would subordinate her to Denmark in the Great Northern War. Sweden; an alliance with the Netherlands would expose her to an attack from Sweden. The Franco-Swedish alliance left Griffenfeldt no choice but to accede to the opposite league, for he saw at once that the ruin of the Netherlands would disturb the balance of power in the north by giving an undue preponderance to England and Sweden. But Denmark’s experience of Dutch promises in the past was not reassuring; so, while negotiating at the Hague for a renewal of the Dutch alliance, he at the same time felt his way at Stockholm towards a commercial treaty with Sweden. His Swedish mission proved abortive, but, as he had anticipated, it effectually accelerated the negotiations at the Hague, and frightened the Dutch into unwonted liberality. In May 1673 a treaty of alliance was signed by the ambassador of the States-General at Copenhagen, whereby the Netherlands pledged themselves to pay Denmark large subsidies in return for the services of 10,000 men and twenty warships, which were to be held in readiness in case the United Provinces were attacked by another enemy besides France. Thus, very dexterously, Griffenfeldt had succeeded in gaining his subsidies without sacrificing his neutrality.
His next move was to attempt to detach Sweden from France; but, Sweden showing not the slightest inclination for a rapprochement, Denmark was compelled to accede to the anti-French league, which she did by the treaty of Copenhagen, of January 1674, thereby engaging to place an army of 20,000 in the field when required; but here again Griffenfeldt safeguarded himself to some extent by stipulating that this provision was not to be operative till the allies were attacked by a fresh enemy. When, in December 1674, a Swedish army invaded Prussian Pomerania, Denmark was bound to intervene as a belligerent, but Griffenfeldt endeavoured to postpone this intervention as long as possible; and Sweden’s anxiety to avoid hostilities with her southern neighbour materially assisted him to postpone the evil day. He only wanted to gain time, and he gained it. To the last he endeavoured to avoid a rupture with France even if he broke with Sweden; but he could not restrain for ever the foolish impetuosity of his own sovereign, Christian V., and his fall in the beginning of 1676 not only, as he had foreseen, involved Denmark in an unprofitable war, but, as his friend and disciple, Jens Juel, well observed, relegated her henceforth to the humiliating position of an international catspaw. Thus at the peace of Fontainebleau (September 2, 1679) Denmark, which had borne the brunt of the struggle in the Baltic, was compelled by the inexorable French king to make full restitution to Sweden, the treaty between the two northern powers being signed at Lund on the 26th of September. Freely had she spent her blood and her treasure, only to emerge from the five years’ contest exhausted and empty-handed.
By the peace of Fontainebleau Denmark had been sacrificed to the interests of France and Sweden; forty-one years later she was sacrificed to the interests of Hanover and Prussia by the peace of Copenhagen (1720), which ended the Northern War so far as the German powers were concerned. But it would not have terminated advantageously for them at all, had not the powerful and highly efficient Danish fleet effectually prevented the Swedish government from succouring its distressed German provinces, and finally swept the Swedish fleets out of the northern waters. Yet all the compensation Denmark received for her inestimable services during a whole decade was 600,000 rix-dollars! The bishoprics of Bremen and Verden, the province of Farther Pomerania and the isle of Rügen which her armies had actually conquered, and which had been guaranteed to her by a whole catena of treaties, went partly to the upstart electorate of Hanover and partly to the upstart kingdom of Prussia, both of which states had been of no political importance whatever at the beginning of the war of spoliation by which they were, ultimately, to profit so largely and so cheaply.
The last ten years of the reign of Christian V.’s successor, Frederick IV. (1699-1730), were devoted to the nursing and development of the resources of the country, which had Frederick IV., 1699-1730. suffered only less severely than Sweden from the effects of the Great Northern War. The court, seriously pious, did much for education. A wise economy also contributed to reduce the national debt within manageable limits, and in the welfare of the peasantry Frederick IV. took a deep interest. In 1722 serfdom was abolished in the case of all peasants in the royal estates born after his accession.
The first act of Frederick’s successor, Christian VI. (1730-1746), was to abolish the national militia, which had been an intolerable burden upon the peasantry; yet the more pressing Christian VI., 1730-1746. agrarian difficulties were not thereby surmounted, as had been hoped. The price of corn continued to fall; the migration of the peasantry assumed alarming proportions; and at last, “to preserve the land” as well as to increase the defensive capacity of the country, the national militia was re-established by the decree of the 4th of February 1733, which at the same time bound to the soil all peasants between the age of nine and forty. Reactionary as the measure was it enabled the agricultural interest, on which the prosperity of Denmark mainly depended, to tide over one of the most dangerous crises in its history; but certainly the position of the Danish peasantry was never worse than during the reign of the religious and benevolent Christian VI.
Under the peaceful reign of Christian’s son and successor, Frederick V. (1746-1766), still more was done for commerce, industry and agriculture. To promote Denmark’s Frederick V., 1746-1766. carrying trade, treaties were made with the Barbary States, Genoa and Naples; and the East Indian Trading Company flourished exceedingly. On the other hand the condition of the peasantry was even worse under Frederick V. than it had been under Christian VI., the Stavnsbaand, or regulation which bound all males to the soil, being made operative from the age of four. Yet signs of a coming amelioration were not wanting. The theory of the physiocrats now found powerful advocates in Denmark; and after 1755, when the press censorship was abolished so far as regarded political economy and agriculture, a thorough discussion of the whole agrarian question became possible. A commission appointed in 1757 worked zealously for the repeal of many agricultural abuses; and several great landed proprietors introduced hereditary leaseholds, and abolished the servile tenure.
Foreign affairs during the reigns of Frederick V. and Christian VI. were left in the capable hands of J. H. E. Bernstorff, who aimed at steering clear of all foreign complications and preserving inviolable the neutrality of Denmark. This he succeeded in doing, in spite of the Seven Years’ War and of the difficulties attending the thorny Gottorp question in which Sweden and Russia were equally interested. The same policy was victoriously pursued by his nephew and pupil Andreas Bernstorff, an even greater man than the elder Bernstorff, who controlled the foreign policy of Denmark from 1773 to 1778, and again from Christian VII., 1766-1808. 1784 till his death in 1797. The period of the younger Bernstorff synchronizes with the greater part of the long reign of Christian VII. (1766-1808), one of the most eventful periods of modern Danish history. The king himself was indeed a semi-idiot, scarce responsible for his actions, yet his was the era of such striking personalities as the brilliant charlatan Struensee, the great philanthropist and reformer C. D. F. Reventlow, the ultra-conservative Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, whose mission it was to repair the damage done by Struensee, and that generation of alert and progressive spirits which surrounded the young crown prince Frederick, whose first act, on taking his seat in the council of state, at the age of sixteen, on the 4th of April 1784, was to dismiss Guldberg.
A fresh and fruitful period of reform now began, lasting till nearly the end of the century, and interrupted only by the brief but costly war with Sweden in 1788. The emancipation of the peasantry was now the burning question of the day, and the whole matter was thoroughly ventilated. Bernstorff and the crown prince were the most zealous advocates of the peasantry in the council of state; but the honour of bringing the whole peasant question within the range of practical politics undoubtedly belongs to C. D. F. Reventlow (q.v.). Nor was the reforming principle limited to the abolition of serfdom. In 1788 the corn trade was declared free; the Jews received civil rights; and the negro slave trade was forbidden. In 1796 a special ordinance reformed the whole system of judicial procedure, making it cheaper and more expeditious; while the toll ordinance of the 1st of February 1797 still further extended the principle of free trade. Moreover, until two years after Bernstorff’s death in 1797, the Danish press enjoyed a larger freedom of speech than the press of any other absolute monarchy in Europe, so much so that at last Denmark became suspected of favouring Jacobin views. But in September 1799 under strong pressure from the Russian emperor Paul, the Danish government forbade anonymity, and introduced a limited censorship.
It was Denmark’s obsequiousness to Russia which led to the first of her unfortunate collisions with Great Britain. In 1800 the Danish government was persuaded by the tsar Denmark and Great Britain in the Napoleonic Wars. to accede to the second Armed Neutrality League, which Russia had just concluded with Prussia and Sweden. Great Britain retaliated by laying an embargo on the vessels of the three neutral powers, and by sending a considerable fleet to the Baltic under the command of Parker and Nelson. Surprised and unprepared though they were, the Danes, nevertheless, on the 2nd of April 1801, offered a gallant resistance; but their fleet was destroyed, their capital bombarded, and, abandoned by Russia, they were compelled to submit to a disadvantageous peace.
The same vain endeavour of Denmark to preserve her neutrality led to the second breach with England. After the peace of Tilsit there could be no further question of neutrality. Napoleon had determined that if Great Britain refused to accept Russia’s mediation, Denmark, Sweden and Portugal were to be forced to close their harbours to her ships and declare war against her. It was the intention of the Danish government to preserve its neutrality to the last, although, on the whole, it preferred an alliance with Great Britain to a league with Napoleon, and was even prepared for a breach with the French emperor if he pressed her too hardly. The army had therefore been assembled in Holstein, and the crown prince regent was with it. But the British government did not consider Denmark strong enough to resist France, and Canning had private trustworthy information of the designs of Napoleon, upon which he was bound to act. He sent accordingly a fleet, with 30,000 men on board, to the Sound to compel Denmark, by way of security for her future conduct, to unite her fleet with the British fleet. Denmark was offered an alliance, the complete restitution of her fleet after the war, a guarantee of all her possessions, compensation for all expenses, and even territorial aggrandizement.
Dictatorially presented as they were, these terms were liberal and even generous; and if a great statesman like Bernstorff had been at the head of affairs in Copenhagen, he would, no doubt, have accepted them, even if with a wry face. But the prince regent, if a good patriot, was a poor politician, and invincibly obstinate. When, therefore, in August 1807, Gambier arrived in the Sound, and the English plenipotentiary Francis James Jackson, not perhaps the most tactful person that could have been chosen, hastened to Kiel to place the British demands before the crown prince, Frederick not only refused to negotiate, but ordered the Copenhagen authorities to put the city in the best state of defence possible. Taking this to be tantamount to a declaration of war, on the 16th of August the British army landed at Vedbäck; and shortly afterwards the Danish capital was invested. Anything like an adequate defence was hopeless; Loss of Norway. Treaty of Kiel, 1814. a bombardment began which lasted from the 2nd of September till the 5th of September, and ended with the capitulation of the city and the surrender of the fleet intact, the prince regent having neglected to give orders for its destruction. After this Denmark, unwisely, but not unnaturally, threw herself into the arms of Napoleon and continued to be his faithful ally till the end of the war. She was punished for her obstinacy by being deprived of Norway, which she was compelled to surrender to Sweden by the terms of the treaty of Kiel (1814), on the 14th of January, receiving by way of compensation a sum of money and Swedish Pomerania, with Rügen, which were subsequently transferred to Prussia in exchange for the duchy of Lauenburg and 2,000,000 rix-dollars.
On the establishment of the German Confederation in 1815, Frederick VI. acceded thereto as duke of Holstein, but refused to allow Schleswig to enter it, on the ground that Schleswig was an integral part of the Danish realm.
The position of Denmark from 1815 to 1830 was one of great difficulty and distress. The loss of Norway necessitated considerable reductions of expenditure, but the economies Denmark after 1815. actually practised fell far short of the requirements of the diminished kingdom and its depleted exchequer; while the agricultural depression induced by the enormous fall in the price of corn all over Europe caused fresh demands upon the state, and added 10,000,000 rix-dollars to the national debt before 1835. The last two years of the reign of Frederick VI. (1838-1839) were also remarkable for the revival of political life, provincial consultative assemblies being established for Jutland, the Islands, Schleswig and Holstein, by the ordinance of the 28th of May 1831. But these consultative assemblies were regarded as insufficient by the Danish Liberals, and during the last years of Frederick VI. and the whole reign of his successor, Christian VIII. (1839-1848), the agitation for a free constitution, Constitutional agitation. Beginnings of the Schleswig-Holstein Question. both in Denmark and the duchies, continued to grow in strength, in spite of press prosecutions and other repressive measures. The rising national feeling in Germany also stimulated the separatist tendencies of the duchies; and “Schleswig-Holsteinism,” as it now began to be called, evoked in Denmark the counter-movement known as Eiderdansk-politik, i.e. the policy of extending Denmark to the Eider and obliterating German Schleswig, in order to save Schleswig from being absorbed by Germany. This division of national sentiment within the monarchy, complicated by the approaching extinction of the Oldenburg line of the house of Denmark, by which, in the normal course under the Salic law, the succession to Holstein would have passed away from the Danish crown, opened up the whole complicated Schleswig-Holstein Question with all its momentous consequences. (See Schleswig-Holstein Question.) Within the monarchy itself, during the following years, “Schleswig-Holsteinism” and “Eiderdanism” faced each other as rival, mutually exacerbating forces; and the efforts of succeeding governments to solve the insoluble problem broke down ever on the rock of nationalist passion and the interests of the German powers. The unionist Unionist Constitution of 1848, and war with Prussia. constitution, devised by Christian VIII., and promulgated by his successor, Frederick VII. (1848-1863), on the 28th of January 1848, led to the armed intervention of Prussia, at the instance of the new German parliament at Frankfort; and, though with the help of Russian and British diplomacy, the Danes were ultimately successful, they had to submit, in 1851, to the government of Holstein by an international commission consisting of three members, Prussian, Austrian and Danish respectively.
Denmark, meanwhile, had been engaged in providing herself with a parliament on modern lines. The constitutional rescript of the 28th of January 1848 had been withdrawn in favour of an electoral law for a national assembly, of whose 152 members 38 were to be nominated by the king and to form an Upper House (Landsting), while the remainder were to be elected by the people and to form a popular chamber (Folketing). The Bondevenlige, or philo-peasant party, which objected to the king’s right of nomination and preferred a one-chamber system, now separated from the National Liberals on this point. But the National Liberals triumphed at the general election; fear of reactionary tendencies finally induced the Radicals to accede to the wishes of the majority; and on the 5th of June 1849 the new constitution received the royal sanction.
At this stage Denmark’s foreign relations prejudicially affected her domestic politics. The Liberal Eiderdansk party was for dividing Schleswig into three distinct administrative Germany and the Danish duchies. belts, according as the various nationalities predominated (language rescripts of 1851), but German sentiment was opposed to any such settlement and, still worse, the great continental powers looked askance on the new Danish constitution as far too democratic. The substance of the notes embodying the exchange of views, in 1851 and 1852, between the German great powers and Denmark, was promulgated, on the 28th of January 1852, in the new constitutional decree which, together with the documents on which it was founded, was known Convention of 1852. as the Conventions of 1851 and 1852. Under this arrangement each part of the monarchy was to have local autonomy, with a common constitution for common affairs. Holstein was now restored to Denmark, and Prussia and Austria consented to take part in the conference of London, by which the integrity of Denmark was upheld, and the succession to the whole monarchy settled on Prince Christian, youngest son of Duke William of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, and husband of Louise of Hesse, the niece of King Christian VIII. The “legitimate” heir to the duchies, under the Salic law, Duke Christian of Sonderburg-Augustenburg, accepted the decision of the London conference in consideration of the purchase by the Danish government of his estates in Schleswig.
On the 2nd of October 1855 was promulgated the new common constitution, which for two years had been the occasion of a fierce contention between the Conservatives and the Constitution of 1855. Radicals. It proved no more final than its predecessors. The representatives of the duchies in the new common Rigsraad protested against it, as subversive of the Conventions of 1851 and 1852; and their attitude had the support of the German powers. In 1857, Carl Christian Hall (q.v.) became prime minister. After putting off the German powers by seven years of astute diplomacy, he realized the impossibility of carrying out the idea of a common constitution and, on the 30th of March 1862, a royal proclamation was issued detaching Holstein as far as possible from the common monarchy. Later in the year he Constitution of 1863 and accession of Christian IX. introduced into the Rigsraad a common constitution for Denmark and Schleswig, which was carried through and confirmed by the council of state on the 13th of November 1863. It had not, however, received the royal assent when the death of Frederick VII. brought the “Protocol King” Christian IX. to the throne. Placed between the necessity of offending his new subjects or embroiling himself with the German powers, Christian chose the remoter evil and, on the 18th of November, the new constitution became law. This once more opened up the whole question in an acute form. Frederick, son of Christian of Augustenburg, refusing to be bound by his father’s engagements, entered Holstein and, supported by the Estates and the German diet, proclaimed himself duke. The events that followed: the occupation of the Prusso-Danish War of 1864, and cession of the duchies. duchies by Austria and Prussia, the war of 1864, gallantly fought by the Danes against overwhelming odds, and the astute diplomacy by which Bismarck succeeded in ultimately gaining for Prussia the seaboard so essential for her maritime power, are dealt with elsewhere (see Schleswig-Holstein Question). For Denmark the question was settled when, by the peace of Vienna (October 30, 1864), the duchies were irretrievably lost to her. At the peace of Prague, which terminated the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Napoleon III. procured the insertion in the treaty of paragraph v., by which the northern districts of Schleswig were to be reunited to Denmark when the majority of the population by a free vote should so desire; but when Prussia at last thought fit to negotiate with Denmark on the subject, she laid down conditions which the Danish government could not accept. Finally, in 1878, by a separate agreement between Austria and Prussia, paragraph v. was rescinded.
The salient feature of Danish politics during subsequent years was the struggle between the two Tings, the Folketing or Lower House, and the Landsting, or Upper House of the Constitutional struggles in Denmark since 1866. Rigsdag. This contest began in 1872, when a combination of all the Radical parties, known as the “United Left,” passed a vote of want of confidence against the government and rejected the budget. Nevertheless, the ministry, supported by the Landsting, refused to resign; and the crisis became acute when, in 1875, J. B. Estrup became prime minister. Perceiving that the coming struggle would be essentially a financial one, he retained the ministry of finance in his own hands; and, strong in the support of the king, the Landsting, and a considerable minority in the country itself, he devoted himself to the double task of establishing the political parity of the Landsting with the Folketing and strengthening the national armaments, so that, in the event of a war between the European great powers, Denmark might be able to defend her neutrality.
The Left was willing to vote 30,000,000 crowns for extraordinary military expenses, exclusive of the fortifications of Copenhagen, on condition that the amount should be raised by a property and income tax; and, as the elections of 1875 had given them a majority of three-fourths in the popular chamber, they spoke with no uncertain voice. But the Upper House steadily supported Estrup, who was disinclined to accept any such compromise. As an agreement between the two houses on the budget proved impossible, a provisional financial decree was issued on the 12th of April 1877, which the Left stigmatized as a breach of the constitution. But the difficulties of the ministry were somewhat relieved by a split in the Radical party, still further accentuated by the elections of 1879, which enabled Estrup to carry through the army and navy defence bill and the new military penal code by leaning alternately upon one or the other of the divided Radical groups.
After the elections of 1881, which brought about the reamalgamation of the various Radical sections, the opposition presented a united front to the government, so that, from 1882 onwards, legislation was almost at a standstill. The elections of 1884 showed clearly that the nation was also now on the side of the Radicals, 83 out of the 102 members of the Folketing belonging to the opposition. Still Estrup remained at his post. He had underestimated the force of public opinion, but he was conscientiously convinced that a Conservative ministry was necessary to Denmark at this crisis. When therefore the Rigsdag rejected the budget, he advised the king to issue another provisional financial decree. Henceforth, so long as the Folketing refused to vote supplies, the ministry regularly adopted these makeshifts. In 1886 the Left, having no constitutional means of dismissing the Estrup ministry, resorted for the first time to negotiations; but it was not till the 1st of April 1894 that the majority of the Folketing could arrive at an agreement with the government and the Landsting as to a budget which should be retrospective and sanction the employment of the funds so irregularly obtained for military expenditure. The whole question of the provisional financial decrees was ultimately regularized by a special resolution of the Rigsdag; and the retirement of the Estrup ministry in August 1894 was the immediate result of the compromise.
In spite of the composition of 1894, the animosity between Folketing and Landsting continues to characterize Danish politics, and the situation has been complicated by the division of both Right and Left into widely divergent groups. The elections of 1895 resulted in an undeniable victory of the extreme Radicals; and the budget of 1895-1896 was passed only at the last moment by a compromise. The session of 1896-1897 was remarkable for a rapprochement between the ministry and the “Left Reform Party,” caused by the secessions of the “Young Right,” which led to an unprecedented event in Danish politics—the voting of the budget by the Radical Folketing and its rejection by the Conservative Landsting in May 1897; whereupon the ministry resigned in favour of the moderate Conservative Hörring cabinet, which induced the Upper House to pass the budget. The elections of 1898 were a fresh defeat for the Conservatives, and in the autumn session of the same year, the Folketing, by a crushing majority of Human Life, which came out together in 1514, shortly before his death. The popular Lucidarius also appeared in the vulgar tongue.
These few productions appeared along with innumerable works in Latin, and dimly heralded a Danish literature. It was the Reformation that first awoke the living spirit in the popular tongue. Christiern Pedersen (q.v.; 1480-1554) was the first man of letters produced in Denmark. He edited and published, at Paris in 1514, the Latin text of the old chronicler, Saxo Grammaticus; he worked up in their present form the beautiful half-mythical stories of Karl Magnus (Charlemagne) and Holger Danske (Ogier the Dane). He further translated the Psalms of David and the New Testament, printed in 1529, and finally—in conjunction with Bishop Peder Palladius—the Bible, which appeared in 1550. Hans Tausen, the bishop of Ribe (1494-1561), continued Pedersen’s work, but with far less literary talent. He may, however, be considered as the greatest orator and teacher of the Reformation movement. He wrote a number of popular hymns, partly original, partly translations; translated the Pentateuch from the Hebrew; and published (1536) a collection of sermons embodying the reformed doctrine and destined for the use of clergy and laity.
The Catholic party produced one controversialist of striking ability, Povel Helgesen (b. c. 1480), also known as Paulus Eliae. He had at first been inclined to the party of reform, but when Luther broke definitely with the papal authority he became a bitter opponent. His most important polemical work is an answer (1528) to twelve questions on the religious question propounded by Gustavus I. of Sweden. He is also supposed to be the author of the Skiby Chronicle, in which he does not confine himself to the duties of a mere annalist, but records his personal opinion of people and events. Vedel, by the edition of the Kjaempeviser which is mentioned above, gave an immense stimulus to the progress of literature. He published an excellent translation of Saxo Grammaticus in 1575. The first edition of a Danish Reineke Fuchs, by Herman Weigere, appeared at Lübeck in 1555, and the first authorized Psalter in 1559. Arild Huitfeld wrote Chronicle of the Kingdom of Denmark, printed in ten volumes, between 1595 and 1604.
There are few traces of dramatic effort in Denmark before the Reformation; and many of the plays of that period may be referred to the class of school comedies. Hans Sthen, a lyrical poet, wrote a morality entitled Kortvending (“Change of Fortune”), which is really a collection of monologues to be delivered by students. The anonymous Ludus de Sancto Kanuto (c. 1530) which in spite of its title, is written in Danish, is the earliest Danish national drama. The burlesque drama assigned to Christian Hansen, The Faithless Wife, is the only one of its kind that has survived. But the best of these old dramatic authors was a priest of Viborg, Justesen Ranch (1539-1607), who wrote Kong Salomons Hylding (“The Crowning of King Solomon”) (1585), Samsons Faengsel (“The Imprisonment of Samson”), which includes lyrical passages which have given it claims to be considered the first Danish opera, and a farce, Karrig Niding (“The Miserly Miscreant”). Beside these works Ranch wrote a famous moralizing poem, entitled “A new song, of the nature and song of certain birds, in which many vices are punished, and many virtues praised.” Peder Clausen (1545-1614), a Norwegian by birth and education, wrote a Description of Norway, as well as an admirable translation of Snorri Sturlason’s Heimskringla, published ten years after Clausen’s death. The father of Danish poetry, Anders Kristensen Arrebo (1587-1637), was bishop of Trondhjem, but was deprived of his see for immorality. He was a poet of considerable genius, which is most brilliantly shown in an imitation of Du Bartas’s Divine Semaine, the Hexaëmeron, a poem on the creation, in six books, which did not appear till 1661. He also made a translation of the Psalms.
He was followed by Anders Bording (1619-1677), a cheerful occasional versifier, and by Thöger Reenberg (1656-1742), a poet of somewhat higher gifts, who lived on into a later age. Among prose writers should be mentioned the grammarian Peder Syv, (1631-1702); Bishop Erik Pontoppidan (1616-1678), whose Grammatica Danica, published in 1668, is the first systematic analysis of the language; Birgitta Thott (1610-1662), a lady who translated Seneca (1658); and Leonora Christina Ulfeld, daughter of Christian IV., who has left a touching account of her long imprisonment in her Jammersminde. Ole Worm (1588-1654), a learned pedagogue and antiquarian, preserved in his Danicorum monumentorum libri sex (Copenhagen, 1643) the descriptions of many antiquities which have since perished or been lost.
In two spiritual poets the advancement of the literature of Denmark took a further step. Thomas Kingo (1634-1703) was the first who wrote Danish with perfect ease and grace. He was a Scot by descent, and retained the vital energy of his ancestors as a birthright. In 1677 he became bishop in Fünen, where he died in 1703. His Winter Psalter (1689), and the so-called Kingo’s Psalter (1699), contained brilliant examples of lyrical writing, and an employment of language at once original and national. Kingo had a charming fancy, a clear sense of form and great rapidity and variety of utterance. Some of his very best hymns are in the little volume he published in 1681, and hence the old period of semi-articulate Danish may be said to close with this eventful decade, which also witnessed the birth of Holberg. The other great hymn-writer was Hans Adolf Brorson (1694-1764), who published in 1740 a great psalm-book at the king’s command, in which he added his own to the best of Kingo’s. Both these men held high posts in the church, one being bishop of Fünen and the other of Ribe; but Brorson was much inferior to Kingo in genius. With these names the introductory period of Danish literature ends. The language was now formed, and was being employed for almost all the uses of science and philosophy.
Ludvig Holberg (q.v.; 1684-1754) may be called the founder of modern Danish literature. His various works still retain their freshness and vital attraction. As an historian his style was terse and brilliant, his spirit philosophical, and his data singularly accurate. He united two unusual gifts, being at the same time the most cultured man of his day, and also in the highest degree a practical person, who clearly perceived what would most rapidly educate and interest the uncultivated. In his thirty-three dramas, sparkling comedies in prose, more or less in imitation of Molière, he has left his most important positive legacy to literature. Nor in any series of comedies in existence is decency so rarely sacrificed to a desire for popularity or a false sense of wit.
Holberg founded no school of immediate imitators, but his stimulating influence was rapid and general. The university of Copenhagen, which had been destroyed by fire in 1728, was reopened in 1742, and under the auspices of the historian Hans Gram (1685-1748), who founded the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences, it inspired an active intellectual life. Gram laid the foundation of critical history in Denmark. He brought to bear on the subject a full knowledge of documents and sources. His best work lies in his annotated editions of the older chroniclers. In 1744 Jakob Langebek (1710-1775) founded the Society for the Improvement of the Danish Language, which opened the field of philology. He began the great collection of Scriptores rerum Danicarum medii aevi (9 vols., Copenhagen, 1772-1878). In jurisprudence Andreas Höier (1690-1739) represented the new impulse, and in zoology Erik Pontoppidan (q.v.), the younger. This last name represents a lifelong activity in many branches of literature. From Holberg’s college of Sorö, two learned professors, Jens Schelderup Sneedorff (1724-1764) and Jens Kraft (1720-1765), disseminated the seeds of a wider culture. All these men were aided by the generous and enlightened patronage of Frederick V. A little later on, the German poet Klopstock settled in Copenhagen, bringing with him the prestige of his great reputation, and he had a strong influence in Germanizing Denmark. He founded, however, the Society for the Fine Arts, and had it richly endowed. The first prize offered was won by Christian Braumann Tullin (1728-1765) for his beautiful poem of May-day. Tullin, a Norwegian by birth, represents the first accession of a study of external nature in Danish poetry; he was an ardent disciple of the English poet Thomson. Christian Falster (1690-1752) wrote satires of some merit, but most of his work is in Latin. The New Heroic Poems of Jörgen Sorterup are notable as imitations of the old folk-literature. Ambrosius Stub (1705-1758) was a lyrist of great sweetness, born before his due time, whose poems, not published till 1771, belong to a later age than their author.
The Lyrical Revival.—Between 1742 and 1749, that is to say, at the very climax of the personal activity of Holberg, several poets were born, who were destined to enrich the language with its first group of lyrical blossoms. Of these the two eldest, Wessel and Ewald, were men of extraordinary genius, and destined to fascinate the attention of posterity, not only by the brilliance of their productions, but by the suffering and brevity of their lives. Johannes Ewald (q.v.; 1743-1781) was not only the greatest Danish lyrist of the 18th century, but he had few rivals in the whole of Europe. As a dramatist, pure and simple, his bird-like instinct of song carried him too often into a sphere too exalted for the stage; but he has written nothing that is not stamped with the exquisite quality of distinction. Johan Herman Wessel (1742-1785) excited even greater hopes in his contemporaries, but left less that is immortal behind him. After the death of Holberg, the affectation of Gallicism had reappeared in Denmark; and the tragedies of Voltaire, with their stilted rhetoric, were the most popular dramas of the day. Johan Nordahl Brun (1745-1816), a young writer who did better things later on, gave the finishing touch to the exotic absurdity by bringing out a wretched piece called Zarina, which was hailed by the press as the first original Danish tragedy, although Ewald’s exquisite Rolf Krage, which truly merited that title, had appeared two years before. Wessel, who up to that time had only been known as the president of a club of wits, immediately wrote Love without Stockings (1772), in which a plot of the most abject triviality is worked out in strict accordance with the rules of French tragedy, and in most pompous and pathetic Alexandrines. The effect of this piece was magical; the Royal Theatre ejected its cuckoo-brood of French plays, and even the Italian opera. It was now essential that every performance should be national, and in the Danish language. To supply the place of the opera, native musicians, and especially J. P. E. Hartmann, set the dramas of Ewald and others, and thus the Danish school of music originated. Johan Nordahl Brun’s best work is to be found in his patriotic songs and his hymns. He became bishop of Bergen in 1803.
Of the other poets of the revival the most important were born in Norway. Nordahl Brun, Claus Frimann (1746-1829), Claus Fasting (1746-1791), who edited a brilliant aesthetic journal, The Critical Observer, Christian H. Pram (1756-1821), author of Staerkodder, a romantic epic, based on Scandinavian legend, and Edvard Storm (1749-1794), were associates and mainly fellow-students at Copenhagen, where they introduced a style peculiar to themselves, and distinct from that of the true Danes. Their lyrics celebrated the mountains and rivers of the magnificent country they had left; and, while introducing images and scenery unfamiliar to the inhabitants of monotonous Denmark, they enriched the language with new words and phrases. This group of writers is now claimed by the Norwegians as the founders of a Norwegian literature; but their true place is certainly among the Danes, to whom they primarily appealed. They added nothing to the development of the drama, except in the person of N. K. Bredal (1733-1778), who became director of the Royal Danish Theatre, and the writer of some mediocre plays.
To the same period belong a few prose writers of eminence. Werner Abrahamson (1744-1812) was the first aesthetic critic Denmark produced. Johan Clemens Tode (1736-1806) was eminent in many branches of science, but especially as a medical writer. Ove Mailing (1746-1829) was an untiring collector of historical data, which he annotated in a lively style. Two historians of more definite claim on our attention are Peter Frederik Suhm (1728-1798), whose History of Denmark (11 vols., Copenhagen, 1782-1812) contains a mass of original material, and Ove Guldberg (1731-1808). In theology Christian Bastholm (1740-1819) and Nicolai Edinger Balle (1744-1816), bishop of Zealand, a Norwegian by birth, demand a reference. But the only really great prose-writer of the period was the Norwegian, Niels Treschow (1751-1833), whose philosophical works are composed in an admirably lucid style, and are distinguished for their depth and originality.
The poetical revival sank in the next generation to a more mechanical level. The number of writers of some talent was very great, but genius was wanting. Two intimate friends, Jonas Rein (1760-1821) and Jens Zetlitz (1761-1821), attempted, with indifferent success, to continue the tradition of the Norwegian group. Thomas Thaarup (1749-1821) was a fluent and eloquent writer of occasional poems, and of homely dramatic idylls. The early death of Ole Samsöe (1759-1796) prevented the development of a dramatic talent that gave rare promise. But while poetry languished, prose, for the first time, began to flourish in Denmark. Knud Lyne Rahbek (1760-1830) was a pleasing novelist, a dramatist of some merit, a pathetic elegist, and a witty song-writer; he was also a man full of the literary instinct, and through a long life he never ceased to busy himself with editing the works of the older poets, and spreading among the people a knowledge of Danish literature through his magazine, Minerva, edited in conjunction with C. H. Pram. Peter Andreas Heiberg (1758-1841) was a political and aesthetic critic of note. He was exiled from Denmark in company with another sympathizer with the principles of the French Revolution, Malte Conrad Brunn (1775-1826), who settled in Paris, and attained a world-wide reputation as a geographer. O. C. Olufsen (1764-1827) was a writer on geography, zoology and political economy. Rasmus Nyerup (1759-1829) expended an immense energy in the compilation of admirable works on the history of language and literature. From 1778 to his death he exercised a great power in the statistical and critical departments of letters. The best historian of this period, however, was Engelstoft (1774-1850), and the most brilliant theologian Bishop Mynster (1775-1854). In the annals of modern science Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851) is a name universally honoured. He explained his inventions and described his discoveries in language so lucid and so characteristic that he claims an honoured place in the literature of the country of whose culture, in other branches, he is one of the most distinguished ornaments.
On the threshold of the romantic movement occurs the name of Jens Baggesen (q.v.; 1764-1826), a man of great genius, whose work was entirely independent of the influences around him. Jens Baggesen is the greatest comic poet that Denmark has produced; and as a satirist and witty lyrist he has no rival among the Danes. In his hands the difficulties of the language disappear; he performs with the utmost ease extraordinary tours de force of style. His astonishing talents were wasted on trifling themes and in a fruitless resistance to the modern spirit in literature.
Romanticism.—With the beginning of the 19th century the new light in philosophy and poetry, which radiated from Germany through all parts of Europe, found its way into Denmark also. In scarcely any country was the result so rapid or so brilliant. There arose in Denmark a school of poets who created for themselves a reputation in all parts of Europe, and would have done honour to any nation or any age. The splendid cultivation of metrical art threw other branches into the shade; and the epoch of which we are about to speak is eminent above all for mastery over verse. The swallow who heralded the summer was a German by birth, Adolph Wilhelm Schack von Staffeldt (1769-1826), who came over to Copenhagen from Pomerania, and prepared the way for the new movement. Since Ewald no one had written Danish lyrical verse so exquisitely as Schack von Staffeldt, and the depth and scientific precision of his thought won him a title which he has preserved, of being the first philosophic poet of Denmark. The writings of this man are the deepest and most serious which Denmark had produced, and at his best he yields to no one in choice and skilful use of expression. This sweet song of Schack von Staffeldt’s, however, was early silenced by the louder choir that one by one broke into music around him. It was Adam Gottlob Öhlenschläger (q.v.; 1779-1850), the greatest poet of Denmark, who was to bring about the new romantic movement. In 1802 he happened to meet the young Norwegian Henrik Steffens (1773-1845), who had just returned from a scientific tour in Germany, full of the doctrines of Schelling. Under the immediate direction of Steffens, Öhlenschläger began an entirely new poetic style, and destroyed all his earlier verses. A new epoch in the language began, and the rapidity and matchless facility of the new poetry was the wonder of Steffens himself. The old Scandinavian mythology lived in the hands of Öhlenschläger exactly as the classical Greek religion was born again in Keats. He aroused in his people the slumbering sense of their Scandinavian nationality.
The retirement of Öhlenschläger comparatively early in life, left the way open for the development of his younger contemporaries, among whom several had genius little inferior to his own. Steen Steensen Blicher (1782-1848) was a Jutlander, and preserved all through life the characteristics of his sterile and sombre fatherland. After a struggling youth of great poverty, he published, in 1807-1809, a translation of Ossian; in 1814 a volume of lyrical poems; and in 1817 he attracted considerable attention by his descriptive poem of The Tour in Jutland. His real genius, however, did not lie in the direction of verse; and his first signal success was with a story, A Village Sexton’s Diary, in 1824, which was rapidly followed by other tales, descriptive of village life in Jutland, for the next twelve years. These were collected in five volumes (1833-1836). His masterpiece is a collection of short stories, called The Spinning Room. He also produced many national lyrics of great beauty. But it was Blicher’s use of patois which delighted his countrymen with a sense of freshness and strength. They felt as though they heard Danish for the first time spoken in its fulness. The poet Aarestrup (in 1848) declared that Blicher had raised the Danish language to the dignity of Icelandic. Blicher is a stern realist, in many points akin to Crabbe, and takes a singular position among the romantic idealists of the period, being like them, however, in the love of precise and choice language, and hatred of the mere commonplaces of imaginative writing.
Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig (q.v.; 1783-1872), like Öhlenschläger, learned the principles of the German romanticism from the lips of Steffens. He adopted the idea of introducing the Old Scandinavian element into art, and even into life, still more earnestly than the older poet. Bernhard Severin Ingemann (q.v.; 1789-1862) contributed to Danish literature historical romances in the style of Sir Walter Scott. Johannes Carsten Hauch (q.v.; 1790-1872) first distinguished himself as a disciple of Öhlenschläger, and fought under him in the strife against the old school and Baggesen. But the master misunderstood the disciple; and the harsh repulse of Öhlenschläger silenced Hauch for many years. He possessed, however, a strong and fluent genius, which eventually made itself heard in a multitude of volumes, poems, dramas and novels. All that Hauch wrote is marked by great qualities, and by distinction; he had a native bias towards the mystical, which, however, he learned to keep in abeyance.
Johan Ludvig Heiberg (q.v.; 1791-1860) was a critic who ruled the world of Danish taste for many years. His mother, the Baroness Gyllembourg-Ehrensvärd (q.v.; 1773-1856), wrote a large number of anonymous novels. Her knowledge of life, her sparkling wit and her almost faultless style, make these short stories masterpieces of their kind.
Christian Hviid Bredahl (1784-1860) produced six volumes of Dramatic Scenes (1819-1833) which, in spite of their many brilliant qualities, were little appreciated at the time. Bredahl gave up literature in despair to become a peasant farmer, and died in poverty.
Ludvig Adolf Bödtcher (1793-1874) wrote a single volume of lyrical poems, which he gradually enlarged in succeeding editions. He was a consummate artist in verse, and his impressions are given with the most delicate exactitude of phrase, and in a very fine strain of imagination. He was a quietist and an epicurean, and the closest parallel to Horner in the literature of the North. Most of Bödtcher’s poems deal with Italian life, which he learned to know thoroughly during a long residence in Rome. He was secretary to Thorwaldsen for a considerable time.
Christian Winther (q.v.; 1796-1876) made the island of Zealand his loving study, and that province of Denmark belongs to him no less thoroughly than the Cumberland lakes belong to Wordsworth. Between the latter poet and Winther there was much resemblance. He was, without compeer, the greatest pastoral lyrist of Denmark. His exquisite strains, in which pure imagination is blended with most accurate and realistic descriptions of scenery and rural life, have an extraordinary charm not easily described.
The youngest of the great poets born during the last twenty years of the 18th century was Henrik Hertz (q.v.; 1797-1870). As a satirist and comic poet he followed Baggesen, and in all branches of the poetic art stood a little aside out of the main current of romanticism. He introduced into the Danish literature of his time inestimable elements of lucidity and purity. In his best pieces Hertz is the most modern and most cosmopolitan of the Danish writers of his time.
It is noticeable that all the great poets of the romantic period lived to an advanced age. Their prolonged literary activity—for some of them, like Grundtvig, were busy to the last—had a slightly damping influence on their younger contemporaries, but certain names in the next generation have special prominence. Hans Christian Andersen (q.v.; 1805-1875) was the greatest of modern fabulists. In 1835 there appeared the first collection of his Fairy Tales, and won him a world-wide reputation. Almost every year from this time forward until near his death he published about Christmas time one or two of these unique stories, so delicate in their humour and pathos, and so masterly in their simplicity. Carl Christian Bagger (1807-1846) published volumes in 1834 and 1836 which gave promise of a great future,—a promise broken by his early death. Frederik Paludan-Müller (q.v.; 1809-1876) developed, as a poet, a magnificent career, which contrasted in its abundance with his solitary and silent life as a man. His mythological or pastoral dramas, his great satiric epos of Adam Homo (1841-1848), his comedies, his lyrics, and above all his noble philosophic tragedy of Kalanus, prove the immense breadth of his compass, and the inexhaustible riches of his imagination. C. L. Emil Aarestrup (1800-1856) published in 1838 a volume of vivid erotic poetry, but its quality was only appreciated after his death. Edvard Lembcke (1815-1897) made himself famous as the admirable translator of Shakespeare, but the incidents of 1864 produced from him some volumes of direct and manly patriotic verse.
The poets completely ruled the literature of Denmark during this period. There were, however, eminent men in other departments of letters, and especially in philology. Rasmus Christian Rask (1787-1832) was one of the most original and gifted linguists of his age. His grammars of Old Frisian, Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon were unapproached in his own time, and are still admirable. Niels Matthias Petersen (1791-1862), a disciple of Rask, was the author of an admirable History of Denmark in the Heathen Antiquity, and the translator of many of the sagas. Martin Frederik Arendt (1773-1823), the botanist and archaeologist, did much for the study of old Scandinavian records. Christian Molbech (1783-1857) was a laborious lexicographer, author of the first good Danish dictionary, published in 1833. In Joachim Frederik Schouw (1789-1852), Denmark produced a very eminent botanist, author of an exhaustive Geography of Plants. In later years he threw himself with zeal into politics. His botanical researches were carried on by Frederik Liebmann (1813-1856). The most famous zoologist contemporary with these men was Salomon Dreier (1813-1842).
The romanticists found their philosopher in a most remarkable man, Sören Aaby Kierkegaard (1813-1855), one of the most subtle thinkers of Scandinavia, and the author of some brilliant philosophical and polemical works. A learned philosophical writer, not to be compared, however, for genius or originality to Kierkegaard, was Frederik Christian Sibbern (1785-1872). He wrote a dissertation On Poetry and Art (3 vols., 1853-1869) and The Contents of a MS. from the Year 2135 (3 vols., 1858-1872).
Among novelists who were not also poets was Andreas Nikolai de Saint-Aubain (1798-1865), who, under the pseudonym of Carl Bernhard, wrote a series of charming romances. Mention must also be made of two dramatists, Peter Thun Feorsom (1777-1817), who produced an excellent translation of Shakespeare (1807-1816), and Thomas Overskou (1798-1873), author of a long series of successful comedies, and of a history of the Danish theatre (5 vols., Copenhagen, 1854-1864).
Other writers whose names connect the age of romanticism with a later period were Meyer Aron Goldschmidt (1819-1887), author of novels and tales; Herman Frederik Ewald (1821-1908), who wrote a long series of historical novels; Jens Christian Hostrup (1818-1892), a writer of exquisite comedies; and the miscellaneous writer Erik Bögh (1822-1899). In zoology, J. J. S. Steenstrup (1813-1898); in philology, J. N. Madvig (1804-1886) and his disciple V. Thomsen (b. 1842); in antiquarianism, C. J. Thomsen (1788-1865) and J. J. Asmussen Worsaae (1821-1885); and in philosophy, Rasmus Nielsen (1809-1884) and Hans Bröchner (1820-1875), deserve mention.
The development of imaginative literature in Denmark became very closely defined during the latter half of the 19th century. The romantic movement culminated in several poets of great eminence, whose deaths prepared the way for a new school. In 1874 Bödtcher passed away, in 1875 Hans Christian Andersen, in the last week of 1876 Winther, and the greatest of all, Frederik Paludan-Müller. The field was therefore left open to the successors of those idealists, and in 1877 the reaction began to be felt. The eminent critic, Dr Georg Brandes (q.v.), had long foreseen the decline of pure romanticism, and had advocated a more objective and more exact treatment of literary phenomena. Accordingly, as soon as all the great planets had disappeared, a new constellation was perceived to have risen, and all the stars in it had been lighted by the enthusiasm of Brandes. The new writers were what he called Naturalists, and their sympathies were with the latest forms of exotic, but particularly of French literature. Among these fresh forces three immediately took place as leaders—Jacobsen, Drachmann and Schandorph. In J. P. Jacobsen (q.v.; 1847-1885) Denmark was now taught to welcome the greatest artist in prose which she has ever possessed; his romance of Marie Grubbe led off the new school with a production of unexampled beauty. But Jacobsen died young, and the work was really carried out by his two companions. Holger Drachmann (q.v.; 1846-1908) began life as a marine painter; and a first little volume of poems, which he published in 1872, attracted slight attention. In 1877 he came forward again with one volume of verse, another of fiction, a third of travel; in each he displayed great vigour and freshness of touch, and he rose at one leap to the highest position among men of promise. Drachmann retained his place, without rival, as the leading imaginative writer in Denmark. For many years he made the aspects of life at sea his particular theme, and he contrived to rouse the patriotic enthusiasm of the Danish public as it had never been roused before. His various and unceasing productiveness, his freshness and vigour, and the inexhaustible richness of his lyric versatility, early brought Drachmann to the front and kept him there. Meanwhile prose imaginative literature was ably supported by Sophus Schandorph (1836-1901), who had been entirely out of sympathy with the idealists, and had taken no step while that school was in the ascendant. In 1876, in his fortieth year, he was encouraged by the change in taste to publish a volume of realistic stories, Country Life, and in 1878 a novel, Without a Centre. He has some relation with Guy de Maupassant as a close analyst of modern types of character, but he has more humour. He has been compared with such Dutch painters of low life as Teniers. His talent reached its height in the novel called Little Folk (1880), a most admirable study of lower middle-class life in Copenhagen. He was for a while, without doubt, the leading living novelist, and he went on producing works of great force, in which, however, a certain monotony is apparent. The three leaders had meanwhile been joined by certain younger men who took a prominent position. Among these Karl Gjellerup and Erik Skram were the earliest. Gjellerup (b. 1857), whose first works of importance date from 1878, was long uncertain as to the direction of his powers; he was poet, novelist, moralist and biologist in one; at length he settled down into line with the new realistic school, and produced in 1882 a satirical novel of manners which had a great success, The Disciple of the Teutons. Erik Skram (b. 1847) had in 1879 written a solitary novel, Gertrude Coldbjörnsen, which created a sensation, and was hailed by Brandes as exactly representing the “naturalism” which he desired to see encouraged; but Skram has written little else of importance. Other writers of reputation in the naturalistic school were Edvard Brandes (b. 1847), and Herman Bang (b. 1858). Peter Nansen (b. 1861) has come into wide notoriety as the author, in particularly beautiful Danish, of a series of stories of a pronouncedly sexual type, among which Maria (1894) has been the most successful. Meanwhile, several of the elder generation, unaffected by the movement of realism, continued to please the public. Three lyrical poets, H. V. Kaalund (1818-1885), Carl Ploug (1813-1894) and Christian Richardt (1831-1892), of very great talent, were not yet silent, and among the veteran novelists were still active H. F. Ewald and Thomas Lange (1829-1887). Ewald’s son Carl (1856-1908) achieved a great name as a novelist, but did his most characteristic work in a series of books for children, in which he used the fairy tale, in the manner of Hans Andersen, as a vehicle for satire and a theory of morals. During the whole of this period the most popular writer of Denmark was J. C. C. Brosböll (1816-1900), who wrote, under the pseudonym Carit Etlar, a vast number of tales. Another popular novelist was Vilhelm Bergsöe (b. 1835), author of In the Sabine Mountains (1871), and other romances. Sophus Bauditz (b. 1850) persevered in composing novels which attain a wide general popularity. Mention must be made also of the dramatist Christian Molbech (1821-1888).
Between 1885 and 1892 there was a transitional period in Danish literature. Up to that time all the leaders had been united in accepting the naturalistic formula, which was combined with an individualist and a radical tendency. In 1885, however, Drachmann, already the recognized first poet of the country, threw off his allegiance to Brandes, denounced the exotic tradition, declared himself a Conservative, and took up a national and patriotic attitude. He was joined a little later by Gjellerup, while Schandorph remained stanchly by the side of Brandes. The camp was thus divided. New writers began to make their appearance, and, while some of these were stanch to Brandes, others were inclined to hold rather with Drachmann. Of the authors who came forward during this period of transition, the strongest novelist proved to be Hendrik Pontoppidan (b. 1857). In some of his books he reminds the reader of Turgeniev. Pontoppidan published in 1898 the first volume of a great novel entitled Lykke-Per, the biography of a typical Jutlander named Per Sidenius, a work to be completed in eight volumes. From 1893 to 1909 no great features of a fresh kind revealed themselves. The Danish public, grown tired of realism, and satiated with pathological phenomena, returned to a fresh study of their own national characteristics. The cultivation of verse, which was greatly discouraged in the eighties, returned. Drachmann was supported by excellent younger poets of his school. J. J. Jörgensen (b. 1866), a Catholic decadent, was very prolific. Otto C. Fönss (b. 1853) published seven little volumes of graceful lyrical poems in praise of gardens and of farm-life. Andreas Dolleris (b. 1850), of Vejle, showed himself an occasional poet of merit. Alfred Ipsen (b. 1852) must also be mentioned as a poet and critic. Valdemar Rördam, whose The Danish Tongue was the lyrical success of 1901, may also be named. Some attempts were made to transplant the theories of the symbolists to Denmark, but without signal success. On the other hand, something of a revival of naturalism is to be observed in the powerful studies of low life admirably written by Karl Larsen (b. 1860).
The drama has long flourished in Denmark. The principal theatres are liberally open to fresh dramatic talent of every kind, and the great fondness of the Danes for this form of entertainment gives unusual scope for experiments in halls or private theatres; nothing is too eccentric to hope to obtain somewhere a fair hearing. Drachmann produced with very great success several romantic dramas founded on the national legends. Most of the novelists and poets already mentioned also essayed the stage, and to those names should be added these of Einar Christiansen (b. 1861), Ernst von der Recke (b. 1848), Oskar Benzon (b. 1856) and Gustav Wied (b. 1858).
In theology no names were as eminent as in the preceding generation, in which such writers as H. N. Clausen (1793–1877), and still more Hans Lassen Martensen (1808–1884), lifted the prestige of Danish divinity to a high point. But in history the Danes have been very active. Karl Ferdinand Allen (1811–1871) began a comprehensive history of the Scandinavian kingdoms (5 vols., 1864–1872). Jens Peter Trap (1810–1885) concluded his great statistical account of Denmark in 1879. The 16th century was made the subject of the investigations of Troels Lund (q.v.). About 1880 several of the younger historians formed the plan of combining to investigate and publish the sources of Danish history; in this the indefatigable Johannes Steenstrup (b. 1844) was prominent. The domestic history of the country began, about 1885, to occupy the attention of Edvard Holm (b. 1833), O. Nielsen and the veteran P. Frederik Barfod (1811–1896). The naval histories of G. Lütken attracted much notice. Besides the names already mentioned, A. D. Jörgensen (1840–1897), J. Fredericia (b. 1849), Christian Erslev (b. 1852) and Vilhelm Mollerup have all distinguished themselves in the excellent school of Danish historians. In 1896 an elaborate composite history of Denmark was undertaken by some leading historians (pub. 1897–1905). In philosophy nothing has recently been published of the highest value. Martensen’s Jakob Böhme (1881) belongs to an earlier period. H. Höffding (b. 1843) has been the most prominent contributor to psychology. His Problems of Philosophy and his Philosophy of Religion were translated into English in 1906. Alfred Lehmann (b. 1858) has, since 1896, attracted a great deal of attention by his sceptical investigation of psychical phenomena. F. Rönning has written on the history of thought in Denmark. In the criticism of art, Julius Lange (1838–1896), and later Karl Madsen, have done excellent service. In literary criticism Dr Georg Brandes is notable for the long period during which he remained predominant. His was a steady and stimulating presence, ever pointing to the best in art and thought, and his influence on his age was greater than that of any other Dane.
- It is true the university was established on the 9th of September 1537, but its influence was of very gradual growth and small at first.
- See Povel Eliesens danske Skrifter (Copenhagen, 1855, &c.), edited by C. E. Secher.
- See Monumenta historiae Danicae (ed. H. Rördam, vol. i., 1873).
- Ed. Sophus Birket Smith (Copenhagen, 1868), who also edited the comedies ascribed to Chr. Hansen as De tre aeldste danske Skuespil (1874), and the works of Ranch (1876).
- His works were edited by Gustav Storm (Christiania, 1877-1879).
- See Fr. W. Horn, Peder Syv (Copenhagen, 1878).
- See A. C. L. Heiberg, Thomas Kingo (Odense, 1852).
- His collected works were edited by Fr. Barford (Copenhagen, 5th ed., 1879).
- Wessel’s Digte (3rd ed., 1895) are edited by J. Levin, with a biographical introduction.
- A biography by his friend, K. L. Rahbek, is prefixed to a selection of his poetry (6 vols., 1824-1829).
- See F. L. Liebenberg, Schack Staffeldts samlede Digte (2 vols., Copenhagen, 1843), and Samlinger til Schack Staffeldts Levnet (4 vols., 1846-1851).]
- Blicher’s Tales were edited by P. Hansen (3 vols., Copenhagen, 1871), and his Poems in 1870.
- Edited (3 vols., 2nd ed., 1855, Copenhagen) by F. L. Liebenberg.