Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Denmark
Plate I. DENMARK. The kingdom of Denmark, once a considerable power in Europe, but now confined within very narrow limits, comprises the peninsula of Jutland on the European continent and a group of islands in the Baltic. It lies between 54° 34′ and 57° 44′ 52″ N. lat., and between 8° 4′ and 12° 34′ E. long., with the exception of the Island of Bornholm, which lies between 14° 42′ and 15° 10′ E. long. It is bounded N. by the Skagerrack; E. by the Cattegat, the Sound, and the Baltic; S. by the Baltic, the Little Belt, and the German duchy of Schleswig; and W. by the North Sea. Its area amounts to 14,553 English square miles. With the exception of Bornholm, which is situated considerably to the east between Pomerania and Sweden, the islands all lie close to one another, and form a cluster that almost closes the entrance to the Baltic. The largest island, and the nearest to Sweden, is Zealand, or Sjælland; the next in size, Funen, or Fyen, is divided from Jutland by only a minute channel; Lolland, Bornholm, Falster, Langeland, Möen, Samsö, Ærö, Læsö, Taasinge, Anholt, are, in order of their importance, the other noticeable islands.
Coast and Surface.—The coasts of Denmark is generally low and sandy; the whole western shore of Jutland is a succession of sand-ridges and shallow lagoons, very dangerous to shipping. Skagen, or the Scaw, a long, low, sandy point, stretches far into the northern sea, dividing the Skagerrack from the Cattegat. On the eastern side the coast is not so inhospitable; on the contrary there are several excellent havens, especially on the islands. Nowhere, however, is the coast very high, except at one or two points in Jutland, and at the eastern extremity of Möen, where limestone cliffs exist. The long fjords, or firths, into which the proximity of the islands divides the coast, form a distinguishing feature. There is little variety in the surface of Denmark. It is uniformly low, the highest point in the whole country, Himmelbjerget in Jutland, being only 550 feet 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 southeastern 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 gives place to a wide expanse of moorland, covered with heather, and ending at the sea in low, whitish-grey cliffs. There is a melancholy charm even about these monotonous tracts, and it cannot be said that Denmark is wanting in natural beauty, though of a quiet order. It is obvious that in such a country there can exist no rivers. The Gudenaa, the longest of the Danish streams, is little more than a brook. Nor are there any large lakes. Pieces of water of considerable size, however, are numerous; of these the largest are the Arresö and the Esromsö in Zealand, and the chain of lakes of various names near Silkeborg in Jutland. Many of these meres, overhung with thick beech-woods, are extremely beautiful.
The climate presents no remarkable features. The country lies at the division between Eastern and Western Europe, and partakes of the characteristics of both. Its climate differs from that of Scotland (which is in the same latitude) less in the nature of the seasons than in the rapidity of their transitions. The following are the mean annual temperature (Fahr.):—
Snow falls on an average on thirty days in the year, and westerly winds are more prevalent than easterly in the ratio of 16 to 10. Storms of wind and rain are exceedingly frequent, particularly in July and 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 miles inland.
The fauna of Denmark presents no peculiarity. The wild animals and birds are those of the rest of Central Europe. The larger quadrupeds are all extinct; even the red deer—which was formerly so abundant that in a single hunt in Jutland in August 1593 no less than 1600 head of deer were killed—is now only to be met with in preserves. In the kjökken-möddings and elsewhere, however, are found vestiges which prove that the urochs, the wild boar, the beaver, the bear, and the wolf have all existed since the arrival of man. The usual domestic animals are abundantly found in the Denmark of to-day, with the exception of the goat, which is very uncommon.
In her flora, Denmark presents greater variety than would have been anticipated from so low and monotonous a country. The ordinary forms of the north of Europe grow with great luxuriance 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 great variety of unusual 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 took a prominent place in clothing the Danish islands. The almost universal predominance of the beech dates from about two centuries ago. In the reign of Christian IV. the oak was still the characteristic Danish tree. No conifer grows in Denmark, except under careful
cultivation. 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.
Agriculture.—Denmark is pre-eminently a corn land, and the cereals grown are all the usual European varieties; in the light and sandy soils buckwheat takes the place of rye, wheat, barley, and oats. The potato is largely cultivated, as well as pease, clover, vetches, and turnips. The usual North European fruit-trees and bushes produce good crops, and even peaches and apricots ripen well in sheltered places. The nectarine, however, is not known as a hardy fruit. The produce of grass is not very large, the fertility of the ground tempting the farmers to use it all for grain. In relation to its size there is no country in Europe, except Belgium and England, that can compete with Denmark as a corn-producer. According to the official returns of 1871, there were in that year 11,367,310 acres under some sort of crop, fallow, or in grass, or about 65 per cent. of the total area of the country; 5,894,495 acres more were in woods and forests. The following table will fchow the distribution of the crops, in English statute acres:—
|Beans and pease||80,366|
|Carrots, turnips, cabbage, &c.||12,753|
|Rape and other oil seeds||3,937|
|Flax and hemp||17,686|
|Grass under rotation||307,460|
Of the actual production of the above crops no estimate has been furnished by the Statistical Bureau. The land in Denmark is minutely subdivided, owing partly to the state of the law, which interdicts the union of small farms, and encourages in various ways the parcelling out of landed property. The large estates of the nobles are generally in the hands of farmers; but the greater part of the land is possessed by the peasantry, who maintain an hereditary attachment to their ancestral farms. Below these are the small peasant estates (generally capable of supporting from 10 to 15 cows); there is also a class of cottar freeholders called junsters, with land sufficient to keep one or two cows. The most remarkable feature in the Danish husbandry is, that greater value is attached to the produce of the dairy than to that of the soil, and that much of the horse power is withdrawn from the fields and employed in the work of the dairy. Independently of the stock maintained in the large dairy farms, this branch of industry has given rise to a distinct class of men, hiring cows by the year. Notwithstanding the great extent of pasture, the country produces more grain than is required for its own consumption.
The mineral products of Denmark are too unimportant to require enumeration. It is one of the poorest countries of Europe in this particular. It is rich, however, in clays, while it should be stated that in the island of Bornholm there are quarries of freestone and marble. There is but little coal yet discovered in the country.
Manufactures are not carried on to any great extent. The most notable Danish manufacture is the fabrication of porcelain. The nucleus of this important 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. Originally the Copenhagen potters imitated the Dresden china made at Meissen, but they are now famous for very graceful designs of their own invention, and their porcelain has a distinct character of its own. The inventions of Thorwaldsen have been very largely repeated and imitated in this charming ware. Besides the royal works, there are private factories employing a large number of men. Terra cotta and faience are also manufactured in Copenhagen. The iron-works of Denmark have made very considerable progress since the separation of Norway, and they are largely supplied with raw material imported from England. There are many iron foundries around Copenhagen, and in that city there are small manufactories of locomotives, and of machinery of various kinds.
The woollen, linen, and cotton manufactures of Denmark are for the most part domestic, and carried on purely for local consumption. Linen is the principal article of domestic industry in Zealand. The woollen manufacture occupies about 2000 men. The sugar refineries, of which the largest are at Copenhagen, prepare most of the sugar required for domestic consumption. Cherry brandy is also prepared in that city, and largely exported. The making of paper and distillation are carried on at different parts of the country to some extent.
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. Within the present century, however, several commercial treaties were concluded between Denmark and the other powers of Europe, which made the Danish tariff more regular and liberal.
Of no less importance were the regulations made from time to time concerning the Sound toll, a question which in the 17th century led to many hostilities between Denmark, Sweden, and Holland. Having formerly possessed both sides of the entrance to the Baltic, the Danish Crown looked upon the Sound as exclusively her own, refusing to admit any foreign vessels without payment of a certain duty, and this right was never successfully contested by the other powers. An exception, however, was made in favour of Sweden, and of late the toll has been entirely abolished.
The principal ports of Denmark are Copenhagen, Helsingör, Korsör, Aarhuus, Aalborg, and Frederikshavn.
The total value of the goods imported into Denmark in 1874 was £12,859,000; and of the goods exported, £9,574,000.
The following tables show the quantities of the principal articles imported and exported in the same year. We give them in the original figures, premising that a tönde of corn equals 3.8 imperial bushels, a tönde of coal 4.6775 bushels, and a pund 1.102 ℔ avoirdupois.
|Hides and skins, raw||5,837,858||”|
|Metals, iron wrought and unwrought||96,938,041||”|
|Oil, of all kinds||15,112,611||”|
|Oxen and Cows||66,986||head.|
|Bones, whole or ground||3,759,509||pund.|
|Hides and skins, undressed||4,568,111||”|
|Meat—ham and bacon||12,087,109||”|
The decimal system of coinage is in use in Denmark, the unit being the öre, 7½ of which are equivalent to an English penny; 100 öre make 1 krone, equal to about 1s. 1¼d. sterling.
Government.—In early times the government of Denmark was far from despotic; the succession to the Crown was even elective until the revolution of 1660. It then became entirely without constitutional check upon the will of the king. This singular change is to be explained by supposing, on the part of the nation, not so much an indifference to free institutions as a resentment of the overbearing conduct of the nobility, and a consciousness of the perpetual uncertainties of an elective Government. The court found it thus a matter of little difficulty to unite the clergy and commons against the aristocracy; and the power of the Crown has since continued without a parliament or any constitutional check. But when Frederick VII. came to the throne he promised to resign the nearly absolute power which had hitherto been connected with the Crown. Accordingly a charter was drawn up by an assembly elected for that purpose in 1849, and signed by the king in 1850, which acknowledged the principle of limited monarchy, the king sharing his power with a diet of two houses, both of which are elective. The first, called Folksthing, has the privilege of discussing the budget and other public questions; while the other is confined to the local affairs of the provinces. The liberty of religion and of the press, and the inviolability of person and property, were amply guaranteed by the new constitution. This great charter received a further revision on the 28th of July 1866, according to which the second chamber, called the Landsthing, consists of 66 members, 12 of whom are nominated for life by the king, and the others elected for 8 years—7 by the city of Copenhagen, 45 by the electoral districts of the towns and country, 1 by Bornholm, and 1 by the Faroe Islands. The Folksthing is composed of one representative for every 16,000 inhabitants, elected for three years. In 1875 it contained 102 members. The privy council consists of the king, the crown prince, and the ministers.
The financial state of the kingdom will best appear from the following net estimates contained in the budget for 1876-77, given in kroner (1s. 1¼d. sterling):
|Receipts from the Faroes||39,513|
|Receipts from the West Indies||25,000|
|Religion, education, &c.||932,698|
|Administration of Iceland||109,200|
The national debt amounted in 1875 to 100,805,939 kr. (£5,600,330).
Army and Navy.—The army is regulated according to the principles fixed by the law of the 6th of July 1867. Conscription is practised. The service begins at the age of twenty-two years, and continues eight years for the line and the reserve (first grade); the second grade goes on to the age of thirty-eight years. The following table shows the condition of the Danish army according to the latest statistics:—
|Regular Army||Army of Reserve|
|Officers.|| Rank and
|Officers.|| Rank and |
The staff of the army was composed, at the same time, of 25 commissioned and 37 non-commissioned officers. The navy of Denmark comprised, at the commencement of September 1875, 6 iron-clads, 12 unarmoured vessels, 7 gun-boats, and 5 paddle steamers,—the whole carrying a total of 286 guns. The navy is recruited by conscription from the coast population. It was manned in September 1875 by 911 men, and officered by 1 admiral, 15 commanders, and 81 captains and lieutenants. In March 1875 the mercantile fleet of Denmark comprised 2846 vessels, of an aggregate burden of 212,600 tons.
The fortifications of Copenhagen have within the last few years been entirely razed, but the city is still protected by some forts in the Sound. The castle of Kronborg, near Helsingör, interesting to Englishmen as the scene of Hamlet, is in good preservation, and well-manned. The port of Frederikshavn, in the extreme north of Jutland, is also strongly fortified.
Religion and Education.—The established religion of Denmark is the Lutheran, which was introduced as early as 1536, the church revenue being at that time seized and retained by the Crown. In no country of Europe was the Reformation introduced in a more bloodless and easy way than in Denmark. During the earliest Christian times the whole of Denmark was under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Hamburg. King Erik Eiegod, after a personal visit to the Pope, contrived to place his kingdom under a Scandinavian prelate and his own subject, the archbishop of Lund in Skaania, which then belonged to the Danish dominions. After the cession of Skaania to Sweden, Roeskilde became the metropolitan see. At present (1877) there are six bishops, besides the metropolitan, viz., the bishops of Funen, of Lolland and Falster, of Aarhuus, of Aalborg, of Viborg, and of Elbe. They have no political function by reason of their office, although they may, and often do, take a prominent part in politics. Dissent is comparatively unknown, or at least it has not yet become a serious danger to the national church. The Mormon apostles for a considerable time made a special raid upon the Danish peasantry, but the emigration to Great Salt Lake City is now but small. Roman Catholics were until lately hardly existent in Scandinavia, where their presence was not tolerated. The following statistics will show the proportion of religious bodies at the census of 1870:—Lutherans, 1,770,000; Jews, 4300; Baptists, 3200; Mormons, 2200; Roman Catholics, 1800; Irvingites, 350. Complete toleration is now enjoyed in Denmark.
The educational institutions of Denmark have reached a very high degree of perfection; indeed few countries, if any, can compete with Denmark in this respect. Most of the peculiar advantages in the Danish system seem to arise from this, that all schools, both grammar and other, have been put in a state of dependence on the university of Copenhagen, and under its control, while the university itself is particularly well managed. All educational institutions of the country are now managed by a royal college, consisting of three or four assessors and a president, called the royal commission for the university and grammar schools. This commission has no superior but the king, and reports to him directly. It appoints all professors in the university of Copenhagen, all rectors, co-rectors, and other teachers of grammar schools, and also promotes these functionaries from lower to higher grades. Education is compulsory. Poor parents pay a nominal sum weekly for the education of their children at the Government schools, so that almost all the lower class can read and write. Confirmation is also compulsory, and till that rite has been received, the youth of both sexes are in statu pupillari. Certificates of baptism, confirmation, and vaccination are indispensable before entering on service, apprenticeship, or matrimony.
Territorial divisions.—These consist of provinces, amts, and parishes. The provinces are seven, and correspond to the episcopal sees above mentioned. Of these provinces three are in the islands:—Zealand, which includes Bornholm and Möen; Lolland and Falster, comprising those two islands; and Funen, which also includes Langeland, Ærö, and Taasinge. Four provinces are on the mainland:—Aarhuus, occupying the south-east of Jutland; Aalborg, the north; Viborg, the centre; and Ribe, the south-west of the same. Each of these provinces is divided into several amts, answering very much to the English hundreds.
The only large city in Denmark is Copenhagen in Zealand, which was estimated in February 1876 to have a population of 199,000, and, with its suburbs, of 233,000. Thirteen other towns contain 5000 inhabitants and upwards—viz., Odense (Funen), 17,000; Aarhuus (Jutland), 15,000; Randers and Aalborg (Jutland), 12,000 each; Horsens (Jutland), 11,000; Helsingör (Zealand), 9000; Fredericia (Jutland), 7000; Viborg (Jutland), Svendborg (Funen), and Veile (Jutland), 6000 each; Rönne (Bornholm), Slagelse (Zealand), Kolding (Jutland), and Roeskilde (Zealand), 5000 each.
Communication both by land and water is well provided for in Denmark. A railway from the Schleswig frontier proceeds to Fredericia, from whence one branch passes to the extreme north of Jutland, another crosses the island of Funen from Middelfart to Nyborg. This is the direct route from Germany to Copenhagen. From Nyborg a packet crosses the Great Belt to Korsör, and thence another line runs through Zealand to Copenhagen. There is also a south Zealand line, from Roeskilde to Vordingborg, which is continued through the island of Falster, besides a short line in Lolland. The only canal is the Thyborön, a short canal which connects the Liim Fjord (the arm of the sea which penetrates so far into the north of Jutland) with the German Ocean. This is a natural canal, formed after the Agger channel (a passage opened by the storm of the 3d of February 1825) had become choked with sand. The canal can only be used by vessels of very small burden.
Dependencies.—The colonial possessions of Denmark are the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and the Danish West Indies. The Faroe Islands are an archipelago nearly midway between Shetland and Iceland. They are considered as an out-lying amt of the mother-country rather than as a colony. Seventeen of these islands are inhabited; the largest is Stromö, on the eastern shore of which is built the capital Thorshavn. The islands are governed by an amtmand.
Iceland is a large island at the north-western extremity of the map of Europe, just outside the Arctic Circle. Until lately it was considered as a colony of Denmark, and was subject to a tyrannous exercise of the laws of the mother country on the part of small officials. At the visit of Christian IX., however, in 1874, it received a constitution and an independent administration, which came into force in August of that year.
The possessions of Denmark in the West Indies consist of three islands lying to the east of Porto Rico. Of these St Croix is the largest, and St John the smallest, while the chief town and the residence of the governor are on St Thomas. A few years ago the last named island was offered to and very nearly purchased by the United States, but the proceedings fell through.
The whole peninsula or continent of Greenland is nominally in the possession of Denmark; but in point of fact her dominion there is limited to a few scattered trading stations along the western coast. It is divided into two provinces, north and south. Of these, the former contained, according to a census of 1874, 4095 native inhabitants, and the other 5512. The whole European population was only 236, the inhabitants of the entire colony thus numbering 9843.
Population.—There was a census of Denmark taken in 1870, according to which the population of the mother country was 1,784,741, of the Faroe Isles 9992, and of the other dependencies 117,409. On the 1st of February 1876 the following official estimate was made:—
|Provinces.||Area in English
|Zealand and Moen||2793||682,400|
|Lolland and Falster||640||93,100|
|Funen, Langeland, &c.||1302||248,400|
Denmark proper has 130 inhabitants to the English square mile. The density of population is much greater on the islands than in Jutland, Zealand having nearly 250 inhabitants to the square mile. The increase in the population of the towns has of late years been very rapid, and has much exceeded that of the country districts. Of the provincial towns, the most prosperous is Aarhuus, which, from being comparatively insignificant, has become the most important place in Jutland. The only exception to this rapid increase is in the case of the towns on the new German frontier, especially Fredericia and Ribe.
Emigration, which at one time was carried on to a considerable extent, has in recent years greatly diminished. Of the 2088 persons who left Denmark in 1875, 1678 emigrated to the United States of America, 329 to Australia, 47 to Canada, and 34 to other parts of America, including the Salt Lake City.
The Danes are a yellow-haired and blue-eyed Teutonic race, of middling stature, and still 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 their friendly neighbours the Swedes. The independent tenure of the land by a vast number of small farmers, bönder, who are their own masters, gives an air of carelessness, almost of truculence, to the well-to-do Danish peasant. He is thoroughly well satisfied with himself, takes an eager interest in current politics, and is generally a fairly-educated man of extreme democratic principles. The gaiety of the Danes is surprising; they have nothing of the stolidity of the Germans, or the severity of the Norwegians. 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, has intensified the national character; and there is now no portion of the Danish dominions, except perhaps in the West Indian islands, where a Scandinavian language is not spoken.
History.—The original form of the word Denmark is Danmörk, the march or border of the Danir; but whence the name Danir, or Danes, proceeded is undecided, and has given rise to endless antiquarian discussion. A traveller of the name of Pytheas, who lived more than three centuries before the Christian era, is the first to speak of a northern country, under the name of Thule, by which he is believed to have meant Jutland. At this time the inhabitants of Southern Scandinavia are supposed to have been Celts, and it was long after this that what Rask defined as the Sarmatic Invasion (the flooding of the north of Europe by emigrants from Asia) began to take place. These Goths, as they were called, came through Russia into Germany and Denmark, and passed on into Sweden across the Sound. It used to be supposed that they pushed before them the races of the Lapps and Finns, but the latest discoveries of archæology tend to prove that these latter came from Siberia over the north of the Gulf of Bothnia, and met the Goths a little outside the Arctic Circle. The gods anciently worshipped in Denmark were the Æsir, a family of heroic deities in which the characteristics of the leaders of the Sarmatic Invasion are probably enshrined. The language spoken by all the Northern Goths was originally, or very early, called the Dönsk tunga, or Danish tongue, which gave way in the 13th and 14th centuries, when the Danish supremacy was on the decline, to Norrœna Mál, or Norse speech. From the earliest historical accounts we possess it appears that Jutland was divided among a great number of petty chieftains, often at war with one another. These smaa-kongar, or “little kings,” as they were called, were, however, to some degree banded together, and entirely distinct from the eastern Danes of the islands. These also were ruled by a variety of chiefs, but they all recognized the supremacy of the king of Lejre, a city in Zealand somewhere near the present town of Roeskilde. Western Denmark was known to the Northmen as Red Gotland, and consisted of all the mainland north of the Elbe, that is, Holstein, Schleswig, and Jutland. Island Gotland consisted of the islands, and of the provinces of Skaania and Bleking, that is, all the south of Sweden. During the rule of the Valdemar kings, the old chronicler, Saxo Grammaticus, recorded in Latin an immense number of mythical and semi-mythical stories concerning the old history of Denmark, and his chronicle is a treasure-house of truth and falsehood. According to him, the country takes its name from a King Dan the Famous, who united the smaa-kongar under his sole rule and he was succeeded by a King Frode, with whom a golden age set in. The question of supremacy among the Scandinavian peoples was settled in favour of Sweden at the battle of Bravalla, which was fought, as is supposed, in the 8th century between Sigurd Ring, king of Sweden, and Harald Hildetaud, king of Denmark; with this battle the purely mythic age closes. In 823 the gospel was first preached in Denmark by some Frankish monks sent by the emperor Louis le Debonaire. Little was done in the way of actual conversion, but the road was opened for future missionaries. The famous Ansgarius failed to impress the Danes, though he was consoled by his brilliant success among the Swedes, The Christians, however, began by degrees to be tolerated. The first king of all Denmark was Gorm the Old, who flourished between 860 and 936. He was the son of a king of Lejre, and by great administrative and strategical skill managed to absorb into his hereditary dominions not only all that is now included in Denmark, but Suhleswig, Holstein, Skaania, and even some provinces in Norway. And besides gaining all this territory, he also pushed his conquests for a while as far as Smolensk and Kieff in Russia, as Aix-la-Chapelle in Germany, and as Sens in France, after besieging Paris.
At the period in question, or rather somewhat later, namely, about the early part of the 10th century, commences the authentic history of the country. As early as the 8th century the Danes were remarkable for their well-planned predatory expeditions by sea, as was proved by their repeated invasions of England, their occasional descents on Scotland, and their conquest of Normandy. To cross a sea of three or four hundred miles in breadth was a bold undertaking for men unacquainted with the use of the compass; but the number of islands in Denmark early accustomed the inhabitants to navigation, and gave them a practical dexterity in it.
The early establishment of the Danes in England, and the subsequent arrival of bodies of their countrymen, joined to the talents of two of their princes, Sweyn, or Svend, and Canute, enabled the latter to acquire the crown of England. Canute (or Knud) the Great completed the conquest begun by his father, and became king of England as well as of Denmark in the year 1018; he resided generally in the former country, and left the crown to his sons Harald and Harthaknud. On the death of the latter, without male heirs, the Danish dynasty in England came to a close in 1042.
The feudal system was introduced in the 12th century, which, as well as the 13th, was marked in Denmark by contentions between the sovereign and the barons. About the 13th century the population of the towns in Denmark, as in Germany, though still very small, became such as to entitle them to obtain from the Crown charters of incorporation, and an exemption from the control of the barons, in whom was vested almost the whole property of the land. A regular constitution began now to be formed in Denmark, and the towns sent deputies or representatives to the States, or Parliament, which, it was enacted, should meet once a year. It was also ordered that the laws should be uniform throughout the kingdom, and that no tax should be imposed without the authority of Parliament.
It is unnecessary to recapitulate the successive sovereigns of Denmark in the Middle Ages, of whom few were of distinguished ability. The names of most frequent occurrence among them in those early times were Knud, Valdemar, and Erik. Those of Christiern, or Christian, and Frederick were of later date. One of the most remarkable of the sovereigns in the Middle Ages was Valdemar II., who succeeded to the crown in 1202, and who was the most prosperous and afterwards the most unfortunate of Danish kings. He conquered Holstein and Pomerania, and in 1217 the emperor recognized his authority over a large part of the north of Germany,—all in fact north of the Elbe. Valdemar then pushed his forces into Norway and Sweden, but with less success; but in 1219 he set out on a vast crusade against the Pagans in Esthonia, the whole of which he overran, forcibly converting the inhabitants. It was in this war that Denmark commenced to use the Dannebrog, or national standard, a white cross on a blood-red field. On his return, in the midst of his magnificent success, a great calamity befell Valdemar; he was treacherously captured at Lyö in 1223 by the duke of Schwerin, and imprisoned for several years in a dungeon in Mecklenburg; but he finally escaped, and ruled until his death in 1241.
The chief mercantile intercourse of Denmark in those times was with Lübeck and the north-west of Germany. To the Baltic Lübeck was nearly what Venice was to the Mediterranean, the earliest commercial town of consequence. There was also some traffic from Denmark to the mouths of the Vistula,—the name of Dantzic, or Dansvik (Danish town or port), indicating that a Danish colony, aware of the advantages of the situation, had established itself there.
During the same period (the 14th century), the association of the Hanse Towns had acquired considerable strength, and asserted strenuously the freedom of commerce in the north of Europe. Denmark, commanding the entrance into the Baltic, was the power most interested in laying merchant vessels under a toll or regular contribution; and the result was repeated contentions, followed at times by open war, between the Danish Government and this powerful confederacy.
The most important event, however, in the history of Denmark, or indeed of Scandinavia, in the Middle Ages, was the conjunct submission of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway to one sovereign, by the compact or union of Calmar, in the year 1397. Valdemar III., king of Denmark, having died in the year 1378, left two daughters, of whom the second, Margaret, was married to Hakon VI., king of Norway. On the demise of her husband the government of Norway remained in her hands; and afterwards, on the death of her son, who had been declared king of Denmark, the States, or Parliament, of that country fixed this princess on the throne, on her consenting to extend and secure their rights and privileges. The States of Norway followed their example; so that Margaret, finding herself seated on the thrones of Denmark and Norway, directed her attention to that of Sweden, the succession to which would have fallen to her husband Hakon had he survived. The Swedes were divided into two parties—that of Margaret, and that of a duke of Mecklenburg. An appeal to arms took place, and the result was favourable to the cause of the queen, her competitor being defeated and made prisoner. In 1397 the States of the three kingdoms were convoked at Calmar, a town situated in the south of Sweden. There they concurred in passing the Act known as the Union of Calmar, by which the three kingdoms were henceforth to be under one sovereign, who should, however, be bound to govern each according to its respective laws and customs. To guard against their separation, it was enacted that, if a sovereign should leave several sons, one of them only should be the ruler of the three kingdoms, and in the event of the reigning king or queen dying without children, the senators and parliamentary deputies of the three kingdoms should jointly proceed to the election of another joint sovereign.
Such were the precautions taken by Margaret, who has been called the Semiramis of the North, in order to banish war and political dissensions from Scandinavia. For a time they were successful, and peace and concord were maintained during the lifetime of the queen and her two successors. But the union, as regarded the Swedes, was far from being cordial; they submitted reluctantly to a foreign family, and considered themselves as obliged to act in subserviency to the political views of Denmark. At last the severity, or rather the cruelty, of one of the Danish kings, Christian II., and the appearance of an able assertor of Swedish independence in Gustavus Vasa, led to an insurrection, which, beginning in the northern province of Dalecarlia, extended throughout Sweden, and led to a definitive separation of the two crowns in the year 1523.
In 1490 the reigning king of Denmark made a commercial treaty with Henry VII. of England, by which the English engaged to pay the Sound dues on all vessels entering or returning from the Baltic; and in return they were allowed to have mercantile consuls in the chief sea ports of Denmark and Norway. By this time the extension of trade had given rise in Denmark, as in England, to a middle class, among whom the sovereign found in each country the means of balancing the political weight of the nobility; hence a grant was made by the kings of Denmark of various privileges to traders, and of relief from a number of local imposts on the transit of merchandise.
The rude habits of the age were strongly marked by the difficulty which the Danish Government found in putting a stop to the practice of plundering merchantmen shipwrecked on the coast. The practice was to collect in the vicinity of a wreck such a number of the inhabitants as to prevent the master or mariners from opposing the seizure of the merchandise. Even bishops residing on the coast, though humane in their treatment of the crews, did not scruple to aid in taking forcible possession of the cargo; and it is a remarkable fact, that a law passed by the king, about the year 1521, for the prevention of these practices, was abrogated and publicly burned at the instance of the barons and clergy a few years after, when a new sovereign had succeeded to the crown.
The doctrines of the Reformation found their way into Denmark at an early date. Frederick I., who began to reign in 1525, and had formerly been duke of Holstein, in that year embraced the Protestant religion. The inhabitants of Denmark being divided between the Catholics and Protestants, Frederick began by an edict for tolerating both religions. An assembly of the States, or Parliament, next passed a solemn Act for the free preaching of the Protestant faith, and for allowing ecclesiastics of any class to marry and reside in any part of the kingdom. The consequence of this was a reduction of the number of the inmates of abbeys, monasteries, and convents, along with the general diffusion of the Lutheran faith throughout the kingdom. This rapid progress enabled the succeeding sovereign Christian III., to act like Henry VIII. of England, by annexing the church-lands to the Crown, and strengthening the power of the sovereign at the expense of that of the clergy.
The great religious war which broke out in 1618 for the first time fixed the attention of Europe on Denmark. The victories of the imperial general Tilly, and of Maximilian of Bavaria, over the Protestants, appeared to make the Emperor Ferdinand, who was the head of the Catholic party, complete master of Germany, when Christian IV. of Denmark, encouraged by England and France, determined to take up the Protestant cause as a principal in the general contest. But being weakly supported by his allies, the Danish king, after one year's campaign, was obliged to flee before the victorious army of Wallenstein (1626), and to sue for peace, which was concluded at Lübeck in 1629. By the stipulations of this peace Denmark bound itself never to interfere in the affairs of Germany, and was besides compelled to acknowledge Wallenstein as duke of Mecklenburg. This peace would have been still more humiliating for Denmark, if France, already influenced by the counsels of Richelieu, had not interposed its efforts on behalf of the vanquished. The emperor now thought of nothing less than the entire subjection of Germany to his will. A new adversary, however, arose in Gustavus Adolphus the king of Sweden. The short and glorious career of this king will be found described in its proper place. But this much must be here observed, that despite the fall of Adolphus in the battle of Lützen in 1632, the power of Sweden was becoming continually more considerable, and consequently an object of real envy to all its neighbours, but especially to Denmark. Thus it happened that besides the general religious war, repeated hostilities were being carried on between Sweden and Denmark separately.
The first contest lasted from 1637 to 1645, and the treaty concluded in the latter year proved rather a truce than a peace. The Danish Government formed an alliance with Holland, and aided that republic in its sanguinary contest in 1652 with England, then under the authority of Cromwell. The king of Sweden at that time was Charles Gustavus, a prince in the vigour of life, and actuated by all the ambition and enterprise of the house of Vasa. He had carried his military operations into Poland, which then, as at other times, seemed to invite the presence of foreigners by its internal dissensions. But on learning the hostile disposition of the Danish Government, Charles withdrew his troops from Poland, entered Holstein, and overran the whole province. As soon as the winter had advanced, and it had become practicable to cross on the ice the arms of the sea separating the Danish islands from the mainland, the Swedish army traversed in that manner the Little Belt, took Odense, the capital of the island of Funen, and even invested Copenhagen. That capital was not without a military force, but its walls were weak, nor was it adequately supplied with provisions or military stores. On this occasion the Danes, with their king Frederick III. at their head, displayed great firmness, and resisted the efforts of the Swedes, until, under the mediation of the English envoy at the court of Copenhagen, hostilities were suspended, and a treaty signed. This treaty, however, was only partly carried into execution. Dissatisfied at the delay which took place, Charles Gustavus made a second attempt on Copenhagen in the autumn of 1658; but he found it impracticable to prevent the introduction of supplies into the city by sea, as the Dutch now came to the assistance of their Danish allies. Still the Swedes persisted in the siege, and in the depth of winter (in February 1659) made an attempt to take Copenhagen by storm. The attacks were made on three points; each was headed by an able commander, but all were unsuccessful, and the siege was necessarily converted into a blockade. Soon afterwards the king of Sweden died, and the sanguinary contest was brought to a close by the treaty of Copenhagen in 1660. This peace ceded to the Swedish Crown Skaania, Aland, several places on the island of Rügen, and a free passage through the Sound.
In the following year, 1660, the vicissitudes of war were succeeded by a remarkable revolution in domestic politics. The reigning king of Denmark had gained great popularity, as well by his spirit and firmness in the field, as by resisting the claims made by the nobility to the disadvantage of the other orders of the state. He was thus assured of the support of the middle classes in any attempt to reduce the power of the nobility. On the assembling of the States, or Parliament, the representatives of the different towns were found sufficiently strong, when united with the clergy and strengthened by the power of the Crown, to outweigh the influence of the nobility, and the court determined to act with vigour in extending its prerogative. The political contest began about the crown lands, which had hitherto been let to nobles only, and at very low rents. It was proposed and carried in the Parliament, that men of any class or station might henceforth be candidates for them, and that they should be let to the highest bidder. The next proposition of the clergy and commons was, that the crown, hitherto in some degree elective, should be so no longer, but should devolve, as a matter of right, on the lawful heir, whether male or female. Henceforth, in Denmark, whatever power could be shown to have belonged to any ruler in any country, was now forthwith to be understood as belonging to the king.
This remarkable change in the form of the government is to be explained chiefly by the repugnance of the people of Denmark to the ascendency of the nobility. The French Revolution proceeded from causes somewhat similar; but in Denmark the control possessed by the privileged class was not tempered, as in France, by civilized and refined habits. The direct authority of the nobles was also greater, for they possessed the power of life and death over their vassals. Frederick lived ten years after this singular revolution,—a period which enabled him to consolidate it, and to reinstate in peace the trade and finances of his country.
His successor, led away by the ardour of youth, abandoned the pacific policy of his father, and ventured to make war against Sweden. He relied on the aid of the elector of Brandenburg, commonly called the Great Elector, the possession of so extensive a country as Prussia placing him quite at the head of the princes of the empire. Swedish Pomerania was chosen as the scene of operations, from being open to attack by the Prussians. The Swedes were overmatched in force, but being well commanded, they made a firm and spirited resistance. By sea the Danes had the advantage, having the aid of a Dutch squadron commanded by Van Tromp. This enabled them to convey an invading force to Skaania, or Scania, the southern and most fertile province of Sweden. Here the forces of the Swedes were brought to bear against their opponents, with the advantage of vicinity to their supplies. The result was that the Danes were obliged to retreat from Skaania, and, after several alternations of success, peace was signed between the two kingdoms in 1679, the year after the treaty of Nimeguen had suspended the war in the central part of Europe. As usual, after much bloodshed and many vicissitudes of fortune, the adverse states were placed by the treaty in nearly the same situation as at the commencement of the war; but hopes of peace for the future were justified by the marriage of the young king of Sweden, Charles XI., with a princess of Denmark.
These hopes were realized during twenty years; and peace continued until 1699, when, Charles XI. having died, the reigning king of Denmark, Frederick V., was tempted by the youth of Charles XII. of Sweden to invade the dominions of his ally the duke of Holstein. Frederick was little aware of the spirit of his opponent, who became afterwards so well known in the wars of the north of Europe. Charles, determined to strike at once at his enemy's capital, lost no time in crossing the narrow sea between Sweden and Denmark, and in investing the city of Copenhagen. The inhabitants in alarm appealed to the humanity of the young monarch; and the result was the speedy conclusion of peace, with the payment of a sum of money to the Swedes. Taught by this lesson, the Danish Government remained neutral in the following years, when the course of events led Charles and his army into Poland and Saxony, where for a time success attended his arms. After the defeat of Charles at the battle of Pultowa, in the year 1709, and his subsequent flight into Turkey, the king of Denmark eagerly embraced the opportunity of renewing hostilities with Sweden, and invaded both Holstein in the south and the province of Skaania to the north. Skaania was badly provided with troops, but it had officers trained in one of the best military schools of the age, and a peasantry full of national antipathy to the Danes. The result was a spirited attack on the invading army, followed by its defeat and precipitate flight into Denmark. The war was then carried on with alternate success in different parts—in Pomerania, in Holstein, and in Norway; until at last the military career of Charles XII. came unexpectedly to a close in the end of 1718. Some time afterwards, negotiations were opened between Sweden and Denmark, under the mediation of England, and ended in 1720 in a definitive treaty of peace, concluded at Stockholm. It was then that Sweden lost all the advantages gained since the Peace of Westphalia, and that George I. of England, as elector of Hanover, Prussia, and Peter the Great shared with Denmark the spoil of Sweden. From that time no danger threatened Denmark from the side of its neighbour, though the cessation of the rivalry was more perceptible in the decline of Sweden than in the progress of Denmark. The Danish Government had now ample experience of the sacrifices attendant on war, and of the expediency, to a state of such limited power, of avoiding political collisions. It consequently adopted a peace policy, to which it has almost ever since endeavoured to adhere.
It was towards the middle of the 18th century that the family of Bernstorff became known in the councils of Denmark, the first minister of that name, a man of superior talent and information, having come forward at that time. By the prudence of the ministry, and the pacific disposition of the sovereign, Denmark was kept from taking part in the war begun in Germany in 1740, as well as in the more general contest begun in the same country in 1756.
Frederick V. of Denmark was twice married, and died in 1766, leaving a son by each wife. The crown devolved of course on the elder, his son by the first wife, who took the name of Christian VII. He was a weak prince, and listened too readily to the insinuations of his step-mother, whose secret wish was to secure the succession of the crown to her own son, and who did not scruple, with that view, to sow discord between Christian and his young consort, a princess of England, the youngest daughter of George II. The circumstances were these. A German adventurer named Struensee had ingratiated himself into the favour of Frederick V., the late king, and had found means to be appointed his prime minister a situation which he was ill qualified to fill. He continued to hold that office under Christian, and was introduced to the young queen as her husband's confidential minister. On this the queen dowager founded an intrigue, and succeeded in persuading the king that the queen, in concert with Struensee and his friend Count Brandt, had formed a project to set him aside, and to get herself declared regent of the kingdom. By working on the fears of this weak prince, the queen dowager prevailed on him to authorize the arrest of the queen and the two ministers. The latter were thrown into prison, and Struensee was accused of having abused his authority as minister, and of other criminal acts. As there was no proof of these acts, recourse was had to the barbarous alternative of torture, the dread of which led Struensee to declare, in the form of a confession, much to the injury of the young queen, which is now considered as unfounded. This, however, did not enable him to escape, for he and Count Brandt were both beheaded in April 1772; whilst the queen consort was, at the instance of the British Government, allowed to retire and to pass the remainder of her short life at Zell, in Hanover, repeatedly but fruitlessly demanding an open trial. This ill-fated princess died in her twenty-third year, without the satisfaction of knowing that the author of her misfortunes, the queen dowager, had lost her influence at the court of Denmark.
One of the principal political questions between Great Britain and Denmark occurred in 1780, during the war carried on by England against France, Spain, and the North American colonies. During that arduous contest, England, superior at sea, had no difficulty in obtaining, by her own merchantmen, a supply of hemp, cordage, and other naval stores from the Baltic, whilst France and Spain trusted to receiving such supplies by neutral vessels. But the English Government denied the right of neutrals to carry warlike stores; and the northern powers, headed by the ambitious Catherine of Russia, entered into a compact, called the Armed Neutrality, by which, without resorting to actual hostility, they sought to overawe England, and to continue the questionable traffic. Happily no bloodshed followed this diplomatic menace, and the question fell to the ground in 1782, on the negotiation for a general peace.
The king of Denmark, subject all along to imbecility, became after 1784 quite incapable of governing. His son, the crown prince, was therefore appointed regent, and soon passed several judicious enactments. The peasants living on the crown lands were gradually emancipated an example followed by a number of the nobility on their respective estates. In the abolition of the African slave trade Denmark had the honour of taking the lead among the Governments of Europe. The crown prince, guided by the counsels of Count Bernstorff, son of the minister already mentioned, long remained neutral in the political convulsion engendered by the French Revolution. He continued to adhere steadfastly to this plan until in 1801 the emperor Paul of Russia having, as in the case of the Armed Neutrality, formed a compact of the northern powers hostile to England, a British fleet was sent into the Baltic under the orders of Sir Hyde Parker, with Lord Nelson as his second in command.
It was this fleet which taught the Danes that their capital was not impregnable, and that the long line of men-of-war moored in front of the harbour was an insufficient defence against such enterprising opponents. The attack took place on 2d of April 1801; and the resistance of the Danes was spirited, but fruitless. The loss of the English in killed and wounded exceeded 1000 men, but that of their opponents was much greater, and most of their shipping was destroyed. Happily little injury was done to the capital. A cessation of hostilities took place forthwith, and was followed by a treaty of peace. The death of Paul, which occurred soon afterwards, dissolved the compact between the northern courts.
But no treaty of peace could be regarded as permanent during the ascendency of Napoleon. After defeating first Austria and then Prussia, that extraordinary man found means to obtain the confidence of the emperor Alexander of Russia, and in the autumn of 1807 threatened to make Denmark take part in the war against England. Although the Danish Government discovered no intention to violate its neutrality, the English ministers, eager to please the public by acting on a system of vigour, despatched to the Baltic both a fleet and an army, in order to compel the surrender of the Danish navy, upon condition of its being restored in the event of peace. To such a demand the crown prince gave an immediate negative, declaring that he was both able and willing to maintain his neutrality, and that his fleet could not be given up on any such condition. On this the English army landed near Copenhagen, laid siege to that city, and soon obliged the Government to purchase its safety by surrendering the whole of its naval force.
This act, the most questionable in point of justice of any committed by the British Government during the war, can hardly be defended on the score of policy. The resentment felt on the occasion by the emperor of Russia was so great as to deprive England during four arduous years of the benefit of his alliance; and the seizure of the Danish fleet so exasperated the crown prince and the nation at large, that they forthwith declared war against England, throwing themselves completely into the arms of France.
The hostilities between England and Denmark were carried on by sea, partly at the entrance of the Baltic, and partly on the coast of Norway. These consisted of a series of actions between single vessels or small detachments, in which the Danes fought always with spirit, and not unfrequently with success. In regard to trade, both nations suffered severely,—the British merchantmen in the Baltic being much annoyed by Danish cruisers, whilst the foreign trade of Denmark was in a manner suspended, through the naval superiority of England.
The situation of the two countries continued on the same footing during five years, when at last the overthrow of Bonaparte in Russia opened a hope of deliverance to those who were involuntarily his allies. The Danish Government would now gladly have made peace with England; but the latter, in order to secure the cordial co-operation of Russia and Sweden, had gone so far as to guarantee to these powers the cession of Norway on the part of Denmark. The Danes, ill prepared for so great a sacrifice, continued their connection with France during the eventful year 1813; but at the close of that campaign a superior force was directed by the allied sovereigns against Holstein, and the result was, first an armistice, and eventually a treaty of peace in January 1814. The terms of the peace were, that Denmark should cede Norway to Sweden, and that Sweden, in return, should give up Pomerania to Denmark. But Pomerania, being too distant to form a suitable appendage to the Danish territory, was exchanged for a sum of money and a small district in Lauenburg adjoining Holstein. On the part of England, the conquests made from Denmark in the East and West Indies were restored,—all, in short, that had been occupied by British troops, excepting Heligoland.
After the Congress of Vienna, by which the extent of the Danish monarchy was considerably reduced, the court of Copenhagen was from time to time disquieted by a spirit of discontent manifesting itself in the duchies, and especially in that of Holstein, the outbreak of which in 1848 threatened the monarchy with complete dissolution. A short recapitulation of the relation of the different parts of the kingdom to each other will furnish a key to the better comprehension of these internal troubles. When Christian I. of the house of Oldenburg ascended the throne of Denmark in 1448, he was at the same time elected duke of Schleswig and Holstein, while his younger brother received Oldenburg and Delmenhorst. In 1544 the older branch was again divided into two lines, that of the royal house of Denmark, and that of the dukes of Holstein-Gottorp. Several collateral branches arose afterwards, of which those that survived were—the Augustenburg and Glücksburg branches belonging to the royal line, and the ducal Holstein-Gottorp branch, the head of which was Peter III. of Russia. In 1762 Peter threatened Denmark with a war, the avowed object of which was the recovery of Schleswig, which had been expressly guaranteed to the Danish Crown by England and France at the Peace of Stockholm (1720). His sudden dethronement, however, prevented him from putting this design into execution. The empress Catharine agreed to an accommodation, which was signed at Copenhagen in 1764, and subsequently confirmed by the emperor Paul, 1773, by which the ducal part of Schleswig was ceded to the Crown of Denmark. The czar abandoned also his part of Holstein in exchange for Oldenburg and Delmonhorst, which he transferred to the younger branch of the Gottorp family. According to the scheme of Germanic organization adopted by the Congress of Vienna, the king of Denmark was declared member of the Germanic body on account of Holstein and Lauenburg, invested with three votes in the General Assembly, and had a place, the tenth in rank, in the ordinary diet.
After the restoration of peace in 1815, the states of the duchy of Holstein, never so cordially blended with Denmark as those of Sohleswig, began to show their discontent at the continued non-convocation of their own assemblies despite the assurances of Frederick VI. The preparation of a new constitution for the whole kingdom was the main pretext by which the court evaded the claims of the petitioners, who met, however, with no better success from the German diet, before which they brought their complaints in 1822. After the stirring year of 1830, the movement in the duchies, soon to degenerate into a mutual animosity between the Danish and German population, became more general. The scheme of the court to meet their demands by the establishment of separate deliberative assemblies for each of the provinces failed to satisfy the Holsteiners, who continually urged the revival of their long-neglected local laws and privileges. Nor were matters changed at the accession in 1838 of Christian VIII., a prince noted for his popular sympathies and liberal principles. The feeling of national animosity was greatly increased by the issue of certain orders for Schleswig, which tended to encourage the culture of the Danish language to the prejudice of the German. The elements of a revolution being thus in readiness waited only for some impulse to break forth into action. Christian died in the very beginning of 1848, before the outbreak of the French revolution in February, and left his throne to his son Frederick VII., who had scarcely received the royal unction when half of his subjects rose in rebellion against him.
In March 1848 Prince Frederick of Augustenburg, having gained over the garrison of Rendsburg, put himself at the head of a provisional Government proclaimed at Kiel. A Danish army, marching into Schleswig, easily reduced the duchy as far as the banks of the Eider; but, in the meantime, the new national assembly of Germany resolved upon the incorporation of Schleswig; and the king of Prussia followed up their resolution by sending an army into the duchies under the command of General Wrangel. The Prussian general, after driving the Danes from Schleswig, marched into Jutland; but on the 26th of August an armistice was signed at Malmoe, and an agreement come to by which the government of the duchies was intrusted to a commission of five members—two nominated by Prussia, two by Denmark, and the fifth by the common consent of the four, Denmark being also promised an indemnification for the requisitions made in Jutland.
After the expiry of the armistice, the war was renewed with the aid of Prussian troops and other troops of the confederacy (from March to July 1849), when Prussia signed a second armistice for six months. The duchies now continued to increase their own troops, being determined to carry on the war at their own charge without the aid of Prussia, whose policy they stigmatized as inconsistent and treacherous. The chief command of the Schleswig Holstein army was intrusted to General Willisen, a scientific and able soldier; but henceforth the Danes had little to fear, especially as the cry of German unity brought but an insignificant number of volunteers to the camp of the Holsteiners. The last victory of the Danes, under generals Krogh and Schlepegrell, was at the battle of Idsted (July 23). Near this small village, protected by lakes and bogs, Willisen lay encamped with his centre, his right wing at Wedelspung, extending along the Lake Langsö, his left spreading along the Arnholtz lake. The Danes, approach ing on the high road from Flensburg to Schleswig, attacked the enemy on all sides; and, after having been repeatedly repulsed, they succeeded in driving the Schleswig-Holsteiners from all their positions. The forces engaged on each side were about 30,000; the number of killed and wounded on both sides was upwards of 7000.
After the victory of Idsted, the Danes could hardly expect to meet with any serious resistance, and the confidence of the court of Copenhagen was further increased by the peace which was concluded with Prussia (July 1850), by which the latter abandoned the duchies to their own fate, and soon afterwards aided in their subjection. The sole question of importance which now awaited its solution was the order of succession, which the European powers thought to be of such importance as to delay its final settlement till 1852.
The extinction of the male line in King Frederick was an event foreseen by the king, the people, and the foreign powers. After protracted negotiations between the different courts, the representatives of England, France, Austria, Russia, Prussia, and Sweden, a treaty relative to the succession was signed in London, May 8, 1852. According to this protocol, in case of default of male issue in the direct line of Frederick VII., the crown was to pass to Prince Christian of Glücksburg, and his wife the Princess Louisa of Hesse, who, through her mother, Princess Charlotte of Denmark, was the niece of King Christian VIII.
The treaty of London did not fulfil the expectations of the signitaries as to a settlement of the agitation in the duchies. The duke of Augustenburg had accepted the pardon held out to him on condition that his family resigned all claim to the sovereignty of the duchies, but he continued to stir up foreign nations about his rights, and when he died his son Frederick maintained the family pretensions. At last, in the autumn of 1863, Frederick VII. died very suddenly at the castle of Glücksburg, in Schleswig, the seat of his appointed successor. As soon as the ministry in Copenhagen received news of his death, Prince Christian of Glücksburg was proclaimed king as Christian IX., and the young duke of Augustenburg appeared in Schleswig, assuming the title of Frederick VIII. The claims of the pretender were supported by Prussia, Austria, and other German states, and before the year was out Generals Gablenz and Wrangel occupied the duchies in command of Austrian and Prussian troops. The attitude of Germany was in the highest degree peremptory, and Denmark was called upon to give up Schleswig-Holstein to military occupation by Prussia and Austria until the claims of the duke of Augustenburg were settled. In its dilemma the Danish Government applied to England and to France, and receiving from these powers what it rightly or wrongly considered as encouragement, it declared war with Germany in the early part of 1864. The Danes sent their general, De Meza, with 40,000 men to defend the Dannewerk, the ancient line of defences stretching right across the peninsula from the North Sea to the Baltic. The movements of General De Meza were not, however, successful; the Dannewerk, popularly supposed to be impregnable, was first outflanked and then stormed, and the Danish army fell back on the heights of Dybbol, near Flensborg, which was strongly fortified, and took up a position behind it, across the Little Belt, in the island of Alsen. This defeat caused almost a panic in the country, and, finding that England and France had no intention of aiding them, the Danes felt the danger of annihilation close upon them. The courage of the little nation, however, was heroic, and they made a splendid stand against their countless opponents. General Gerlach was sent to replace the unlucky De Meza; the heights of Dybbol were harder to take than the Germans had supposed, but they fell at last, and with them the strong position of Sonderburg, in the island of Alsen. The Germans pushed northwards until they overran every part of the mainland, as far as the extreme north of Jutland. It seemed as though Denmark must cease to exist among the nations of Europe; but the Danes at last gave way, and were content to accept the terms of the Peace of Vienna, in October 1864, by which Christian IX. renounced all claim to Lauenburg, Holstein, and Schleswig, and agreed to have no voice in the final disposal of those provinces.
For the next two years Europe waited to see Prussia restore North Schleswig and Alsen, in which Danish is the popular language, and which Austria had demanded should be restored to Denmark in case the inhabitants should express that as their wish by a plebiscite. When the war broke out between Austria and Prussia in 1866, and resulted in the humiliation of Austria, the chances of restoration passed away; and the duchies have remained an integral part of Prussia. Notwithstanding her dismemberment, Denmark has prospered to an astonishing degree, and her material fortunes have been constantly in the ascendant. Her only trouble within the last decade has arisen from the dissensions in the two houses of assembly, and in the spread of dangerous communistic opinions.
The following is a list of the monarchs of Denmark since the unification of the kingdom under Gorm the Old, with the dates of their accession:
|Gorm the Old, circa||860|
|Knud the Great||1018|
|Subject to Norway.|
|Magnus the Good||1042|
|The House of Estridsen.|
|Knud the Saint||1080|
|Erik the Lamb||1137|
|Knud V. and Svend III.||1147|
|Denmark and Norway.|
|Erik of Pomerania||1412|
|The House of Oldenburg.|
|House of Glücksburg.|
The present language of Denmark is derived directly from the same source as that of Sweden, and the parent of both is the old Scandinavian, or Icelandic. In Iceland this original tongue, with some modifications, has remained in use, and until about 1100 it was the literary language of the whole of Scandinavia. The influence of Low German first, and High German afterwards, has had the effect of drawing modern Danish constantly further from this early type. The difference began to show itself in the 12th century. Rask, and after him Petersen, have distinguished four periods in the development of the language. The first, which has been called Oldest Danish, dating from about 1100 and 1250, shows a slightly changed character, mainly depending on the system of inflections. In the second period, that of Old Danish, bringing us down to 1400, the change of the system of vowels begins to be settled, and masculine and feminine are mingled in a common gender. An indefinite article has been formed, and in the conjugation of the verb a great simplicity sets in. In the third period, 1400-1530, the influence of German upon the language is supreme, and culminates in the Reformation. The fourth period, from 1530 to about 1680, completes the work of development, and leaves the language as we at present find it.
It was not till the fourth of these periods set in that literature began to be generally practised in the vernacular in Denmark. The oldest laws which are still preserved are written in Danish of the second period. A single work detains us in the 13th century, a treatise on medicine by Henrik Harpestring, who died in 1244. The first royal edict written in Danish is dated 1386; and the Act of Union at Calmar, written in 1397, is the most important piece of the vernacular of the 14th century. Between 1300 and 1500, however, it is supposed that the Kjœmpeviser, or Danish ballads, a large collection of about 500 epical and lyrical poems, were originally composed, and these form the most precious legacy of the Middle Ages, whether judged historically or poetically. We know nothing of the authors of these poems, which treat of the heroic adventures of the great warriors and lovely ladies of the chivalric age in strains of artless but often exquisite beauty. The language in which we receive these ballads, however, is as late as the 16th or even the 17th century, but it is believed that they have become gradually modernized in the course of oral tradition. The first attempt to collect the ballads was made in 1591 by A. G. Vedel, who published 100 of them. Peder Syv printed 100 more in 1695 In 1812-14 an elaborate collection in five volumes appeared, edited by Abrahamson, Nyerup, and Rahbek. Finally, Svend Grundtvig has lately been at work on an exhaustive edition, of which six thick volumes have appeared.
In 1490, the first printing press was set up at Copenhagen, by Gottfried of Ghemen, who had brought it from Westphalia; and five years later the first Danish book was printed. This was the famous Riimkrönike, a history of Denmark in rhymed Danish verse, attributed to Niels, a monk of the monastery of Sorö. It extends to the death of Christian I., in 1481, which may be supposed to be approximately the date of the poem. In 1479 the university of Copenhagen had been founded. In 1506 the same Gottfried of Ghemen published a famous collection of proverbs, attributed to Peder Lolle. Mikkel, priest of St Alban's Church in Odense, wrote three sacred poems, The Rose-Garland of Maiden Mary, The Creation, and Human Life, which came out together in 1514, shortly before his death. 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. Christian Pedersen (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 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 Paladius—the Bible, which appeared in 1550. Hans Tausen, the bishop of Ribe (1494-1561), continued Pedersen s work, but with far less talent. But Vedel (1542-1616), whose edition of the Kjœmpeviser we have already considered, 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 Reinecke Fuchs appeared in 1555, and the first authorized Psalter in 1559. Arild Hvitfeld founded the practice of history by his Chronicle of the Kingdom of Denmark, printed in 10 vols. between 1595 and 1604. Hieronymus Ranch, who died in 1607, wrote some biblical tragedies, and is the first original Danish dramatist. Peder Claussen (1545-1623), a Norwegian by birth and education, wrote a Description of Norway, as well as an admirable translation of Snorre Sturlesen's Heimskringla, published ten years after Claussen's death. The father of Danish poetry, Anders 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 Hexaemeron, a poem on the creation, in six books, which did not appear till 1641. He was followed by Anders Bording (1619-1677), a cheerful occasional versifier, and by Töger Reenberg (1656-1742), a poet of somewhat higher gifts, who lived on into a later age. Among prose writers should be mentioned Peder Syv (1631-1702); Bishop Erik Pontoppidan (1616-1678), whose Grammatica Danica, published in 1668, is the first systematic analysis of the language; and Brigitta Thott, a lady who translated Seneca and Epictetus.
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 Scotch by descent, and retained the vital energy of his ancestors as a birthright. 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 Adol 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 Funen and the other of Ribe; but Brorson was much inferior to Kingo in genius. With those 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.
Holberg.—Ludvig Holberg was born at Bergen, in Norway, in 1684. He commenced his literary career in 1711 by writing A History of the World, which attracted notice from its style, rather than its matter, and gained him a professorial chair at the university of Copenhagen. In 1719 he published his inimitable serio-comic epic of Peder Paars, under the pseudonym of Hans Mikkelsen. In 1721 the first Danish play-house was opened in Copenhagen, and in four years Holberg wrote for it his first 29 comedies. He may be said to have founded the Danish literature; and his various works have still the same freshness and vital attraction that they had a century and a half ago. 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 33 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. After the great conflagration, the university of Copenhagen was reopened in 1742, and under the auspices of the historian Gram, who founded the Society of Sciences, it recommended an active intellectual life. In 1744 Langebek founded the Society for the Improvement of the Danish Language, which opened the field of philology. In jurisprudence Andreas Höier represented the new impulse, and in zoology Erik Pontoppidan, the younger. This last name represents a life-long activity in many branches of literature. From Holberg's college of Sorö, two learned professors, Sneedorff and Kraft, 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 C. B. 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. Ambrosius Stub (1707-1758) was a lyrist of great sweetness, born before his due time, whose poems, not published till 1782, 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, eight 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. Joannes Ewald (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. In The Fishers, which contains the Danish national song, Kong Kristian stod, the lyrical element is most full and charming; in Rolf Krage, and Haider's Death, Ewald was the first to foresee the revival of a taste for Scandinavian history and mythology; The Brutal Clappers, a polemical drama, shows that he also possessed a keen sense of humour. 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. 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, 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 Hartmann, set the dramas of Ewald and others, and thus the Danish school of music originated. Of the other poets of the revival the most important were born in Norway. Nordahl Brun, Claus Frimann (1746-1829), Claus Fasting (1746-1791), C. H. Pram (1756-1821), 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 the monotonous Denmark, they enriched the language with new words and phrases. This group of writers are 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 Malling (1748-1829) 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 (1728-98) and Ove Guldberg (1731-1808). In theology Bastholm (1740-1819) and Balle (1744-1816) 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 sunk 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, Rein (1760-1821) and 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. 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. Peter Andreas Heiberg (1758-1841) is best known as the husband and the father of two of the greatest Danish writers, but he was himself a political and aesthetic critic of note. He was exiled from Denmark in company with Malte Conrad Brun (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 Nyrup (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.
We pause on the threshold of the romantic movement to record the name of a man of great genius, whose work was entirely independent of the influences around him. Jens Baggesen (1764-1826) is the greatest comic poet that Denmark has produced. As a dramatist he failed; as a philosophic and critical writer he has not retained the attention he once commanded; but 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 Schack-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-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 has produced, and at his best he yields to no one in choice and skilful use of expression. This sweet song of Schack-Steffeldt's, however, was early silenced by the louder choir that one by one broke into music around him. It was Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger (1779-1850), the greatest poet of Denmark, who was to bring about the new romantic movement. Oehlenschläger had already written a great many verses in the old semi-didactic, semi-rhetorical style, when 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, Oehlenschläger commenced 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 Oehlenschläger exactly as the classical Greek religion was born again in Keats. After twelve years of ceaseless labour, and the creation of a whole library of great works, the vigour of Oehlenschläger somewhat suddenly waned, and he lived for nearly forty years longer, completely superseded by younger men, and producing few and mainly inferior works. Since and except Holberg no author has possessed so great an influence on Danish letters as Oehlenschläger. He aroused in his people the slumbering sense of their Scandinavian nationality.
The retirement of Oehlenschläger 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 at length, in 1814, published 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 volume of stories in 1824, which were rapidly followed by others for the next twelve years. 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 (1783-1872), like Oehlenschläger, 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. There was scarcely any branch of letters in which Grundtvig did not distinguish himself; he was equally influential as a politician, a theologian, a poet, and a social economist.
Bernhard Severin Ingemann (1789-1862) was a man in every way unlike the last-mentioned poet. A mild, idyllic mind, delicately appreciative of the gentler manifestations of nature, and shrinking from violent expression of any sort, distinguished the amiable Ingemann. His greatest contributions to Danish literature are the historical romances which he published in middle life, strongly under the influence of the novels of Sir Walter Scott. Several of these, particularly Valdemar Seier and Prince Otto of Denmark, have enjoyed and still enjoy a boundless popularity. He is remarkable as the first importer into Scandinavia of the historical novel, since very generally cultivated.
Johannes Carsten Hauch (1790-1872) first distinguished himself as a disciple of Oehlenschläger, and fought under him in the strife against the old school and Baggesen. But the master misunderstood the disciple; and the harsh repulse of Oehlenschläger 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 (1791-1860) as a critic ruled the world of Danish taste for many years, and his lyrical and dramatic works were signally successful. He had the genius of good taste, and his witty and delicate productions stand almost unique in the literature of his country.
The mother of J. L. Heiberg, the Countess Gyllembourg (1773-1856), was the greatest authoress which Denmark has possessed. She wrote a large number of anonymous novels, which began to appear in 1828 in her son's journal, The Flying Post. Her knowledge of life, her sparkling wit, and her almost faultless style, make these short stories, the authorship of which remained unknown until her death, master-pieces of their kind.
Ludvig Adolf Bödtcher (1793-1874) wrote only one 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. Most of his poems deal with Italian life, which he learned to know thoroughly during a long residence in Rome. He was the secretary of Thorwaldsen for a considerable time.
Christian Winther (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 (1798-1870). He was the most tropical and splendid lyrist of the period, a sort of troubadour, with little of the Scandinavian element in his writing. It is true that in some of his dramas, particularly in Svend Dyring's House, 1837, the theme and plot were taken from Danish history, but the spirit of his poems was distinctly southern. 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. In his best pieces, at the same time, he 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. Of the ten writers last considered, five died at an age of more than eighty, and the briefest life lasted to the confines of seventy years. This prolonged literary activity—for some of them, like Grundtvig, were busy to the last—had a slightly damping influence on their younger contemporaries, and since their day fewer great names have arisen. Four poets of the next generation, however, deserve most honourable mention.
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), the greatest of modern fabulists, was born in very humble circumstances at Odense in Funen. His life was a struggle for existence, in the course of which he suddenly found himself famous. He attempted lyrical and dramatic poetry, novels, and travels, before he discovered the true bent of his genius. In all these branches of literature he escaped failure, but without attaining brilliant success. 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. He also wrote, later in life, some excellent novels, The Two Baronesses, Only a Player, and others; his early story of The Improvisatore, 1835, has also considerable charm. Andersen was an incessant wanderer over Europe, and the impressions of his travels form a series of interesting, if egotistical, memoirs.
Carl Christian Bagger (1807-1846) published volumes in 1831 and 1836 which gave promise of a great future,—a promise broken by his early death. Frederik Paludan-Müller (1809-1876) survived much longer, and slowly developed a magnificent poetical career. He is one of the greatest names of Danish literature. His mythological dramas, his great satiric epos of Adam Homo (1841-48), 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.
The poets completely ruled the literature of Denmark during this period. There were, however, some 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 Peterson (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. Christian Molbech (1783-1859) 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 (1785-1875).
Of novelists who were not also poets, only one was great enough to demand notice,—Andreas Nikolai de Saint-Aubain (1798-1865), who, under the pseudonym of Carl Bernhard, wrote a series of charming romances. We close our brief sketch of the romantic period with the mention of two dramatists, Peter Thun Foersom (1777-1817), who produced an excellent translation of Shakespeare, 1807-1816, and Thomas Overskou (1798-1873), author of a long series of successful comedies.
Latest Period.—Three living writers connect the age of romanticism with the literature of to-day. Parmo Carl Ploug (born 1813) is a vigorous politician and poet, violently Pan-Scandinavian, and editor of the newspaper Fædrelandet. Meyer Aron Goldschmidt (born 1818) the life-long opponent of Ploug in politics and journalism, is the author of some novels written in the purest Danish, and with great vivacity and art. Jens Christian Hostrup (born 1818) is by far the best of the younger dramatists, having produced between 1843 and 1855 a series of exquisite comedies, unrivalled in delicacy and wit.
Hans Vilhelm Kaalund (born 1818) is a lyrist of much sweetness and force. He has lately published a good tragedy, Fulvia. Erik Bögh (born 1822) is the author of inimitable songs, vaudevilles, and jeux d'esprit. Christian Richardt (born 1831) is the man of most decided genius among the younger poets. His four volumes of lyrical poems include some exquisite and many admirable pieces. Holgar Drachmann (born 1847) is a young poet, novelist, and painter of amazing fecundity, and great, though still uncertain, promise.
The greatest living Danish zoologist is Johannes Japetus Smith Steenstrup (born 1813). Jens Jakob Armussen Worsaae (born 1821) is an eminent antiquarian. Johan Nikolai Madvig (born 1804) is celebrated as a philologist, and particularly as one of the most eminent of modern Latinists. A young disciple of Madvig, Vilhelm Thomsen, has distinguished himself by his researches into the Sclavonic languages. Rasmus Nielsen (born 1809) and Hans Bröchner (born 1820) are the two most eminent philosophers who have proceeded from the school of Kierkegaard. In aesthetic criticism no recent writer has approached—in knowledge, catholicity, and eloquence—Georg Brandes (born 1842), who stands alone among the writers of his country as an advocate for the most liberal culture and the most advanced speculation.
Fine Arts.—Within the present century the fine arts have been successfully cultivated in Denmark. In painting there has been displayed of late years an increased power and variety. The father of Danish painting, Nikolaj Abildgaard (1744-1809), was a man of great but rhetorical talent, taught in the French school of his day. Jens Juel (1745-1802), a portrait-painter of the same age, is a great favourite among the Danes. It was, however, Eckersberg (1783-1853) who gave the first real stimulus to the art of the nation. He was the pupil, first of Abildgaard, afterwards of David in Paris. In a distant and imperfect way he may be said to hold a position analogous to that of Turner in England. The influence of this genius has not been entirely beneficial, and while the Danish painters reproduce what they see around them with photographic precision, they are singularly cold in colour and void of imagination. Marstrand (1810-1875) was by far the most richly-gifted of the pupils of Eckersberg; his best works are full of brilliant qualities, and would command admiration in any country. Sonne (born 1801) has made himself a name by painting a series of large canvases representing the victories of the Danish people in 1848, and their misfortunes in 1864. He has tenderness and a skill in composition that make up for the absence of greater gifts. Vermehren (born 1823) has shown an eminent talent in depicting the Danes in their country-life, at serious or mournful occasions; he carries stiffness and reserve to their greatest excess. Exner (born 1825) is far more genial and charming, a genre-painter of a high order, full of delicate fancy, and rejoicing in sunlight, humour, and soft gay colours. He has produced a large number of studies of the fast-disappearing habits and dresses peculiar to the peasants. Dalsgaard (born 1824) has followed the practice of Marstrand with originality and success. Skovgaard was the most eminent Danish landscape painter. Among the more recent artists the most powerful is Carl Bloch, who has produced some very brilliant work.
In sculpture the single name of Berthel Thorwaldsen (1770-1844) has raised Denmark to a great pre-eminence. As the opponent of the smooth and effeminate style of Canova, Thorwaldsen inaugurated a true revival of the masculine spirit of the ancients. He had an extraordinary fecundity, and conceived designs with such rapidity that he almost abandoned the use of the chisel in his later years. All the works he was able to leave he bequeathed to the Danish state. The Thorwaldsen Museum, in which these works were placed, is one of the greatest attractions of the capital, and is truly a national monument. Two disciples of Thorwaldsen's continued his tradition with ability, and one with a spark of his great genius. The few works completed during the short life of Bissen prove that he possessed very considerable force and imagination. Jerichas had a milder and more common-place talent.
In architecture the Danes have little to boast of. The most picturesque buildings in Copenhagen belong to the style of Christian IV., a sort of Tudor. One of the most important, the palace of Rosenberg, was actually designed by Inigo Jones. A few cathedral churches, as those of Ribe and Viborg, deserve attention. The country towns are poorly and monotonously built.
The Danes have a great delight in music. Their first great composer was Christoph Weyse (1774-1842), who represented in music the romanticism of Oehlenschläger in poetry and Steffens in philosophy. The comic operas of Weyse are especially admired. Frederick Kuhlau (1786-1832) was a talented and a hated rival of Weyse, who put to charming music a great many of Ochlenschläger's lyrical dramas. The two most eminent living Danish composers are Hartmann (born 1805), who is allied to the latest German school, and whom Wagner has warmly commended, and Gade (born 1817), the pupil and friend of Mendelssohn, whose concerted pieces are admired and performed in all parts of Europe. Heise is the best Danish song-writer, a most imaginative and delicate musician.
No good work exists on Danish literature. See, however, Nyrup, Den danske Digtekunsts Historie, 1800-1808, and Almindeligt Literaturlexikon, 1818-1820; Petersen, Literaturhistorie; Overskou, Den danske Skueplads, 1854; Brandes, Kritiker og Portraiter, 1870; Brandes, Danske Digtere, 1877.
On the fine arts the following works may be consulted:— Sammendrag of statistiske Oplysninger angaaende Kongeriget Danmark, Copenhagen, 1876; Trap (J. P.), Statistisk-topographisk Beskrivelse af Kongeriget Danmark, 4 vols., Copenhagen, 1857-63; Julius Lange, Nutids-Kunst, Copenhagen, 1873; Carl Thrane, Danske Komponisten, Copenhagen, 1875; E. C. Otté, Scandinavian History, London, 1874; N. M. Petersen, Danmarks Histoire i Hedenold, 3 vols., Copenhagen, 1854-55. (E. W. G.)