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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark




Factsheet Denmark
NOVEMBER 2003


HISTORY

In 1939, ...
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                                                 reduced by almost a third and the popula- ...
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The ceding of the duchies
In 1863, the Danish parliament passed                Historical S...
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History
Factsheet Denmark. Published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs              Translatio...
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  1. 1. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark Factsheet Denmark NOVEMBER 2003 HISTORY In 1939, a diplomat observer at the Bri- stated on his runic stone in Jelling, where tish legation in Copenhagen wrote in a the word Denmark appears for the first report on the Danes: ‘A few decades of time. The Jelling stones are often regarded material prosperity and the ministrations as Denmark’s birth certificate. of an over-paternal Government seem to have sapped the spirit of a Viking race Viking Age which can point to 1500 years of vigorous During the Viking Age, c. 800-1100, a and independent history’. strong royal power developed, as is The statement contains the official’s demonstrated for instance by several understanding of Denmark’s history and strategically placed circular fortresses of the Danes’ transformation from hardy, impressive size. free-born Vikings to a soft and docile The period was characterised by the breed. He also indicated why things had frequent Viking expeditions which led to The large Jelling stone set up by Harold I gone wrong: material wealth and an over- the conquest of England for a short peri- Bluetooth (d.987). The stone is decorated with protective Government. od in the 11th century and took the pil- an image of Christ, and the runic incription There is no reason to regard the state- laging Vikings as far away as Ireland, announces that it was Harold who united Den- mark inti one realm and made the Danes ment as anything other than a worried Northern France and Russia. Christians. In the foreground is the small Jelling diplomat’s hasty assessment, but he put The Vikings’ long boats brought rich stone set up by Gorm the Old in memory his finger on two characteristic features of booty back to their native country, but of the queen Thyra. Photo: Wedigo Ferchland. the Danish society in the first half of the the Danish Viking kings never managed 20th century, i.e. increasing affluence and to turn their conquests into a lasting the growth of the welfare state. empire. The murder of Canute IV the The Kalmar Union Holy in 1086 ended the strong royal The Black Death, around 1350, wiped Prehistory power, which had been one of the secrets out a large part of the Danish population, The oldest existing evidence of human behind the victorious Viking expeditions. which resulted in major economic and habitation in Denmark is traces of hunters’ social changes. settlements from the end of the last Ice Christianity The main political event of the period Age c. 12500 BC. Organised farming At the same time, Christianity reached was the establishment of the Kalmar Union communities did not appear until the Denmark. About 965, Harold I Bluetooth in 1397, combining Denmark, Norway Neolithic Age c. 3900 BC and villages are was baptised and the new faith soon estab- and Sweden in a personal union under the known from the centuries before Christ’s lished itself. The country got a clergy, who Danish Queen Margrete I. birth. Regular towns, such as Ribe, do not saw to the dissemination of Christianity. The union lasted until Sweden, led by appear until the Germanic Iron Age c. In the following centuries the Catholic Gustav I Vasa, broke away in 1523. Den- 400-750 AD. Church consolidated its influence; church- mark and Norway remained united until The unification of the country under a es were built, and the Danish farming 1814. Norway’s former North Atlantic central power began 700 AD. As the community, which now numbered c. possessions, Greenland, Iceland and the Frankish empire declined, a stable royal 700,000, organised itself according to Faroe Islands, remained part of the Da- power developed which, although it prob- Christian social standards. nish kingdom and still are, with the ably did not cover the entire Danish terri- It separated into a powerful clergy, exception of Iceland, which declared its tory, nonetheless managed to defend itself asecular nobility of great land-owners who independence in 1944. against enemy invasions from the south. also formed the core of the country’s The unification of the country was defence, an urban middle class which Rivalry with Sweden finally completed under the son of Gorm increased as the towns grew, and finally a The break with the Roman Catholic the Old, Harold I Bluetooth (d. 987), as large peasantry. Church in 1536, after three years of civil zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  2. 2. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com reduced by almost a third and the popula- the Liberal party (Venstre), which came tion declined from 800,000 to 600,000. into power in 1901. Denmark was helplessly caught in the Absolutism conflict between Napoleon and the rest of The catastrophe caused a political crisis Europe. For fear of the consequences, the which in 1660-1661 brought about a new Danish government refused to take sides form of government. By coup-like means, in the conflict, which led to English naval the old elective monarchy dominated by attacks on Copenhagen in 1801 and 1807 the aristocracy was replaced by a heredi- and seizure of the Danish fleet. At the tary monarchy. The new hereditary king, same time, the loss of Norway in 1814 Frederik III, and his successors gained meant that the former dual monarchy, absolute power. which geographically had stretched from The king’s unrestricted authority was the North Cape to the Elbe, was reduced subsequently codified in the Royal Law of to include only Denmark itself and the 1665, which in general remained in force German duchies. Permanent cedings of Danish territory from until the abolition of absolutism in 1848 the 17th to the 19th centuries. and the adoption of a democratic consti- Democracy and the Schleswig Issue Source: Danmarks Nationalleksikon. tution in 1849. In 1683, the Royal Law As the national movements developed, the was supplemented with a Statute Book duchies’ position within the monarchy war, changed the Danish Church into a applying to the entire country, King Chri- became a key issue until 1864. Almost a Lutheran princely church. Denmark thus stian V’s Danish Law. Insofar as the means third of the nation’s population was joined the Protestant side in the lengthy were available, Denmark was transformed German. religious wars which ravaged Europe until into a well-organised bureaucratic state Holstein and Lauenburg belonged to 1648. Internally, the new State Church under the paternal leadership of the the German Confederation, while Schles- became a tool for ideological and moral absolute monarch. wig was nationally divided. The crucial indoctrination of the population by the question of Schleswig’s affiliation became greatly strengthened central power. Agricultural Reforms and Wars acute in 1848 when the pro-German The period 1560-1720 was dominated with England Schleswig-Holsteiners demanded a liberal by the intensified rivalry with the neigh- The main achievement of absolutism was constitution and the incorporation of bouring Sweden for the position as the the extensive agricultural reforms of the Schleswig in the German Confederation. leading Baltic power. Denmark had hith- late 18th century. They were motivated Conversely, liberal circles in Copen- erto held this position, as was symbolically by the desire to make farm production hagen demanded a democratic constitu- reflected in the charging of Sound Dues, more efficient in order to derive maxi- tion for the monarchy and the inclusion which were not abandoned until 1857. mum profit from the 18th century pros- within it of Schleswig in it, which con- The rivalry triggered six wars between the perty. The reforms involved a shift from flicted with a long-standing promise that two nations (1563-1570, 1611-1613, ecological farming – i.e. farming on the duchies would never be separated. 1643-1645, 1657-1660, 1675-1679 and nature’s terms – to economic farming – This triggered a revolt in the duchies, 1709-1720). i.e. farming on the market’s terms. The and in Copenhagen led to Frederik VII After Denmark had been weakened by old open-field system was dissolved and declaring himself constitutional king, Christian IV’s unsuccessful intervention each farm was allotted a single parcel of thereby paving the way for a democratic in the Thirty Year War (1625-1629), the land. At the same time, the farms were constitution which was codified in The conflict developed into a struggle for sur- often moved onto the land itself, so that Constitution of the Kingdom of Denmark of vival on Denmark’s part, and for a while the ancient village community was also 5 June 1849. the country was on the point of becoming dissolved. The result was the Three Years’ War of part of a large Swedish Baltic empire. This The reforms created an entirely new 1848-1851, which ended with a Danish fate was only avoided because the Nether- class of independent farmers, who in the victory insofar as the duchies after great- lands and England intervened, but the following century became the driving power mediation remained part of the price was the ceding of all Scanian force behind the folk high schools and the Danish united monarchy. However, a sat- provinces east of the Oresund in 1658. co-operative movement. Politically, the isfactory solution to the basic contentious The total area of the kingdom was thus farmers united in the late 19th century in issue had not been achieved. 2 zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  3. 3. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com The ceding of the duchies In 1863, the Danish parliament passed Historical Survey the November Constitution which in prac- c. 12500 BC Immigration of the first hunters tice separated Holstein and Lauenburg 3900 BC Agriculture and animal husbandry from the kingdom while incorporating 400-700 Incipient urbanisation Schleswig. This was a clear infringement 866-867 Viking conquest of York of the great-power agreements. c.965 Introduction of Christianty As a result, the Prussian Chancellor 1015-1034 England under Danish rule Otto von Bismarck declared war on Den- 1397-1523 The Kalmar Union with Norway and Sweden mark on behalf of the German Confedera- 1479 Founding of Copenhagen University tion. The outcome was a humiliating 1536 The Reformation. Incorporation of Norway in Denmark Danish defeat in 1864 and the ceding of 1660-1661 Introduction of absolutism all three duchies. Thus, the nation had 1666 1917 Danish colonies in Caribbean once again lost almost a third of its total 1807 Bombing of Copenhagen by the English navy area and population. 1814 Norway’s departure from the Union At the same time, some 200,000 Da- 1848 Abolition of absolutism nes were left south of the new border. 1849 First liberal constitution, the June Constitution They did not return until after a plebiscite 1864 Loss of the German duchies in 1920. 1901 Introduction of cabinet responsibility 1914-1918 Danish neutrality during the First World War The Hope of Regeneration 1915 Constitutional reform, enfranchisement of women With the loss of the duchies, Denmark 1920 North-Schleswig vote in favor of re-union with Denmark had become smaller than ever. From this 1940-1945 German occupation nadir the work of national regeneration 1945 Founding membership of the UN started with the motto ‘outward losses 1949 Membership of NATO must be compensated by inward gains’. 1973 Membership of the EEC The reclamation of moorland gathered 1993 Membership of the EU momentum, and with the help of the co- operative movement a large-scale shift from the cultivation of plants to livestock farming took place. Neutrality and Occupation such a level that the policy of collaboration Industrialisation also accelerated, creat- In keeping with the careful policy of neu- collapsed in August 1943. ing a regular working class in the towns. In trality, with a German bias which resulted The government resigned and parlia- 1884, the first Social Democrats were elect- from the defeat in 1864, Denmark remained mentary life ceased to function. The fiction ed to the Danish parliament, the Folketing. neutral during World War I and Danish of a ‘peaceful occupation’ burst and the last The party’s number of seats subsequently trade and industry profited from the war- 18 months of the war were dominated by increased steadily at every election. time conditions. growing armed resistance to the Germans In 1905, The Social Liberal Party (Det In the hope of weathering the storm, and their increasingly brutal reprisals. Radikale Venstre) broke away from the the same line was taken when the sky By the end of the war, the resistance Liberal Party as an independent party began to cloud over again after Hitler movement numbered around 50,000 appealing especially to urban intellectuals seized power in Germany in 1933. members. and smallholders. This established the However, this time it did not work and party pattern which was to dominate Da- on 9 April 1940, German troops ‘peace- Alliance and Welfare nish politics until 1973. Its characteristic fully’ occupied Denmark. Despite its unclear position, Denmark feature was that no party could muster a The Social Democrat/Social Liberal had by the end of the war achieved de majority on its own, so that compromise government led by Thorvald Stauning facto recognition as an allied power, due became a basic condition of Danish poli- decided to give in and reluctantly began a to the activities of the resistance move- tics. collaboration with the occupying power. ment and it was therefore invited to The resultant consensus attitude is still Gradually, British-backed popular resist- become a founding member of the United a key element in Danish political culture. ance to the occupying power increased to Nations in 1945. zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/ 3
  4. 4. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com History Factsheet Denmark. Published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Translation: Siri Fischer Hansen. of Denmark. Design: Ole Jensen - ojdesign. Address: Asiatisk Plads 2, DK-1448 Copenhagen K, Denmark. Reproduction of the text, with or without Telephone: (+45) 3392 0000. Telefax: (+45) 3254 0533. acknowledgement, is permitted. E-mail: um@um.dk. Website: www.um.dk. Published November 2003. Editor: Flemming Axmark. ISBN 87-7964-579-8 Along with Norway, it joined NATO Liberal Party and The Conservative – the doctrinal influence of the Lutheran in 1949 and thus definitively abandoned People’s Party (Det Konservative Folkeparti). State Church, the uniformity of the broad the policy of neutrality which had been a The Danish People’s Pary and The population brought about by absolutism, key element in Denmark’s security policy Christian People’s Party form part of the the late industrialisation which did not cre- since 1864. non-Socialist Government’s parliamentary ate a large urban lower class until the 20th The Marshall Plan assistance from basis. century, and the inability of the political 1948 initiated a huge modernisation of parties to muster an absolute majority on Danish farming and from the mid 1950s Denmark and Europe their own, which has made compromise a industrialisation really took off. Alongside Denmark’s integration in Eu- condition of political life. In 1963, the value of industrial exports rope, its post-war economy has become Rather than merely weakness and pros- for the first time surpassed that of agricul- increasingly internationalised. The coun- perity – as suggested by the British diplo- ture. At the same time a comprehensive try did not participate in the negotiations mat in 1939 – it is historical experiences welfare programme was introduced, based which, in 1957-1959, led to the creation of this kind that have determined the on the principle of the right of all citizens of the European Economic Community development of the modern Danish to receive social benefits within the frame- (EEC), but in 1960 it instead joined the national character. work of the legislation. This created the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Knud J.V. Jespersen Danish tax-funded welfare model, charac- together with Great Britain, which was Professor, dr. phil. terised by a highly developed social safety the country’s main export market. net and a heavy burden of taxation. Denmark did not join the EEC until 1973, again with Great Britain. Since Political Upheaval then, the relationship with the EEC – However, the traditional party structure from 1993 the European Union (EU) – collapsed as a result of the incipient youth has been a burning domestic issue, divid- Further Information revolution of 1968 and growing resistance ing the population into two camps of NationalmiseetNybrogade 2 to heavy taxation. almost equal size. (The National Museum of Denmark) At the landslide election in 1973, elec- Thus, the 1992 referendum on the Ny Vestergade 10 toral support for the four traditional par- Maastricht Treaty concerning increased DK-1471 Copenhagen K (+45) 3313 4411 ties declined from around 84% to a mere integration produced a narrow majority www.natmus.dk 58% and a number of new protest parties for the opponents, and it took another natmus@natmus.dk – The Progress Party (Fremskridtspartiet), referendum before Denmark could join The Centre Party (Centrum-Demokrater- the Treaty after obtaining certain opt-out Tøjhusmuseet ne), and The Christian People’s Party clauses. (The Royal Arsenal Museum) Frederiksholms Kanal 29 (Kristeligt Folkeparti) – entered the parlia- Participation in the single European DK-1220 Copenhagen K mentary arena. currency, the euro, was rejected at a referen- (+45) 3311 6037 The general election in November dum in 2000. In this, as in other respects, www.thm.dk 2001 resulted in considerable shifts in the the Danes are reluctant Europeans. thm@thm.dk parliametary picture. For the first time Det Nationalhistoriske Museum since 1920, The Liberal Party won more The Historical Inheritance (The National History Museum) votes than The Social Democratic Party. Denmark’s current shape and extent is the Frederiksborg Slot At the same time The Danish People’s result of successive cedings of territory DK-3400 Hillerød Party (Dansk Folkeparti), which has immi- due to its exposed location by the access (+45) 4826 0439 grant policy as its main issue, registered a routes to the Baltic. Until recently, the www.frederiksborgmuseet.dk (Danish only) gain, while The Progress Party and The Danes were an exceptionally homogenous frederiksborgmuseet@frederiksborgmuseet.dk Centre Party dropped out of the Folketing people, which can be attributed to the altogether. gradual loss of marginal parts of the realm Frilandsmuseet The Social-Democrat/Social-Liberal in the course of time. (The Open Air Museum) Government resigned as a result of its However, the traditionally high degree Kongevejen 100 DK-2800 Kongens Lyngby defeat at the polls and was replaced by a of homogeneity and consensus in Danish (+45) 3313 4411 government led by Liberal leader Anders society is also closely connected with some www.frilandsmuseet.dk Fogh Rasmussen and consisting of The of the historical features mentioned above natmus@natmus.dk 4 zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/

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