Nation-Building and Nationalism in the Oldenburg Empire


Nation-Building and Nationalism in the Oldenburg Empire

In Stefan Berger and Alexei Miller (eds.), Nationalizing Empires, Budapest-New York: Central European University Press 2015, pp. 461-510


In the 19th century, Denmark, or rather the Oldenburg Monarchy changed from a middle sized composite state in northern Europe that for centuries had controlled most of the Baltic Sea and large parts of the North Atlantic Ocean to a small homogeneous nation-state. ‘Oldenburg Monarchy’ or ‘Oldenburg Empire’ is an unusual denomination for ‘Denmark’ or the ‘Danish monarchy. In the 18th and 19th century the most used concept was ‘Helstaten’ (in German ‘Gesamtstaat’). Yet it seems appropriate to name the state on a par with larger and better known empires such as the Habsburg and Romanov because of the composite and multilingual nature of the far stretched state that dominated the entrance to the Baltic Sea but also controlled almost half of Europe’s coastline towards the Atlantic Ocean. Despite some forerunners it is generally agreed that Denmark as a state dates back to the 10th century when it was recognized by the Papacy as a Christian monarchy on a par with Poland, Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia as a reaction to the Ottonian kings in Germany who aspired to unite all Christendom under their banner as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. The kings were recruited from a series of indigenous families, first of all the Valdemars in the High Middle Ages. After the extinction of this line the first king of the Oldenburg family from northern Germany was elected king of Denmark in 1448 under the name Christian 1. Oldenburg (in Plattdeutsch or Low German Ollnborg) is situated in today’s Federal Republic of Germany, divided between the present Bundesländer Rheinland-Westfalen and Niedersachsen. The first known count of Oldenburg was Elimar of Oldenburg (d. 1108). When the emperor Friedrich 1. (Barbarossa) dismembered the duchy of Saxony in 1180 the counts were elevated to the rank of dukes and thus joined the ranks of potential royalty. In the 13th century the duchy expanded at the cost of its Frisian neighbors to the north and west. In 1448 the young duke Christian was elected king of Denmark, based on his maternal descent from Danish kings. In 1450 Christian was elected king of Norway and in 1457 king of Sweden (due to the Kalmar Union of 1397 of all three Scandinavian kingdoms). In 1460 he was elected duke of Schleswig and count of Holstein after having handed over Oldenburg to his brother Gerhard in 1454.[1]


From the 19th century onwards this composite state is normally referred to as ‘Denmark’ but that does not correspond to historical truth, even though the whole of the state came to be governed from Copenhagen at the central waterway Øresund (the Sound) which was the maritime and economic center of the far stretched state and thus expressed the geopolitical logic of this Northern European state that controlled the entry to the Baltic Sea. Through a series of military defeats this state over a period of four hundred years was reduced to its present state as a small, nationally homogeneous country. But this state of affairs was anachronistically written back in history after the loss of Norway in the Napoleonic Wars in 1814 and the predominantly German speaking duchies of Schleswig and Holstein in 1864. So profound was the change ‘Denmark’ underwent in the 19th century that Danes and even the majority of Danish historians forgot about the multinational past and began to depict all of Danish history from the end of the Viking Age in the 11th century as the very epitome of a small state at the mercy of aggressive and treacherous neighbors, in particular a non-existing entity called “Germany” and neighboring Sweden.[2] In 1523, Sweden (with Finland) broke away from Danish domination. The Vasa dynasty subsequently succeeded in building a Swedish empire in northern Europe around the Baltic Sea between 1560 and 1720 at the expense of Denmark, Russia and Poland – in Swedish called “Stormaktstiden” or the “Swedish Imperial Experience”.[3] Although reduced in size after losses of a third of its territorial holdings to Sweden in 1658, the Oldenburg Monarchy in the 18 th century still ranked as a middle sized power with a fleet that controlled the wetern parts of the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean north of the British Isles between Norway, Iceland and Greenland as well as a small colonial empire. Yet this history, together with Danish participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, has been forgotten in today’s small state Denmark to the degree that Danes have convinced themselves and the rest of the world that Denmark always, apart from the Viking Age in the early Middle Ages, has been a small, peaceful and social democratic state exposed to threats from aggressive neighbors.


From a traditional point of view on Danish history, the title of this contribution thus seems a meaningless contradiction in terms. How can we talk of nation-building if the Danish nation-state already existed as a small homogenous nation in the Middle Ages? Nevertheless, the question is relevant as Danish historians recently have begun to admit. Two historians have used the title the “Rise and Decline of the Danish Empire” in a recent reinterpretation of Danish history from the Middle Ages until 1864.[4] In their understanding Denmark was an empire from the end of the Viking Age until 1864. I share this understanding of Denmark as a multinational state, although technically speaking Denmark never was an empire but a composite or conglomerate state held together by the king of Denmark who ruled the various parts in different capacities. It is this fact which justifies the denomination of “empire” for the entity often referred to as ‘Denmark’.


Until the loss of the Norwegian part of the realm in 1814, the name ‘Denmark’ or ‘Kron zu Dennemarck’ referred to a composite state, typical of the early modern European era of territorial states.[5] Today, to the extent this entity is remembered at all, it is called by such politically correct terms as “the Dual Monarchy of Denmark and Norway,” or “the Twin Kingdoms”. However, these polite terms are so imprecise as to be misleading as the king of Denmark ruled all his lands from Copenhagen, except for brief periods when a viceroy was appointed for Norway. As a consequence of the loss of the provinces of Skåne, Halland, Blekinge, Bohuslen, Herjedalen, and Gotland in 1658, the Danish king in 1660 became the absolute ruler of the kingdoms of Denmark and Norway and duke of parts of Schleswig and Holstein. Holstein belonged to the Holy Roman Empire (in Latin, Sacrum Imperium), which complicated the constitutional situation considerably. As duke of Holstein, the Danish king formally was subordinate to the Emperor, while he as duke in parts of Schleswig owed loyalty to himself as king of Denmark. The situation was further complicated by the fact that the aristocracy (Ritterschaft) of the two duchies, when electing Christian 1. as duke in 1460, had forced him to recognize that the two duchies should “always be ruled together” – in Low German “dat se bliven ewig tosamende ungedelt”.[6]


In addition to the four main realms, Denmark (which until 1658 included today’s southern Sweden), Norway, Schleswig and Holstein, the Oldenburg Empire comprised the North Atlantic territories Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Originally affiliated with Norway, these three provinces in the course of the 17th and 18th centuries gradually came to be directly ruled from Copenhagen. Finally, the Danish monarchy acquired a number of colonies in the West Indies (St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas), in West Africa (Christiansborg fortress in today’s Ghana), and in India (Frederiksnagore, today Serampore north of Calcutta, and Tranquebar in the south). By virtue of this colonial empire Denmark played a role, however small, in the Atlantic triangular trade between a European center, the slave-producing West Africa and the sugar-growing West Indies, plus a considerable role in the East Asian trade. The Oldenburg Monarchy ‘only’ ranked number seven in the ranks of those responsible for the Atlantic slave trade. According to the late historian Svend Erik Green Pedersen at least 85.000 Black slaves were exported on Danish (i.e. Danish, Norwegian and Schleswig-Holsteinian) ships from the Danish fort Christiansborg to the Danish West Indies between 1700 and 1792 when the slave trade (but not slavery as such) was abolished.[7] The multinational character of the realm is demonstrated in the fact that by the end of the 18th century the biggest cities of the composite state were Copenhagen in Denmark proper, Altona and Kiel in Holstein, Flensburg in Schleswig and Bergen in Norway, while the seaports of Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas and Frederiksnagore in India were second and sixth, respectively, as measured by trade volume.


Customs duties on maritime traffic to and from the Baltic through the Øresund contributed significantly to the relatively large revenue of the Monarchy. In general, the Oldenburg Empire owed no small part of its strong position to its location at the entrance to the Baltic. In 1420 Erik of Pommern built the fortress Kronborg at Elsinore (Helsingør) and one in Hälsingborg (Kärnan) on the other shore of the Sound in order to enforce the his command over the traffic. King Frederik 2. converted the grim fortress into a spectacular Renaissance castle, a castle which was sufficiently well-known in Europe to allow Shakespeare to use it as setting for his famous play Hamlet in 1601. For a while, the Oldenburg kings ruled over a loosely organized empire in Northern Europe, formalized in the Kalmar Union which lasted from 1397 to 1523. But even after the dissolution of the Kalmar Union in 1523 the Oldenburg Empire comprised many different provinces, although gradually ruled directly from Copenhagen. The quest for maritime control over the Baltic Sea, in Latin Dominium Maris Baltici, in competition with the more centralized Swedish Empire remained the principal theme of the history of Northern Europe.[8]


The multinational character of the state is further evidenced by the history of its universities. Normally, the university in Aarhus from 1928 is considered Denmark’s second. True, Copenhagen University is the oldest Danish university, established by Christian 1. in 1479. But the second was Kiel University, established in 1665, though its language of instruction was German and founded by Count Christian Albrecht of the House of Gottorp, who although he was a vassal of the Danish king simultaneously was his competitor and an ally of his Swedish enemy. In the 18th century the Gottorp parts of Schleswig and Holstein were incorporated into the Danish monarchy which meant that Kiel became a Danish university, although German speaking. The third university was inaugurated in Christiania (today’s Oslo) in 1811 just before the separation of Norway from Denmark; but it did begin its existence as a Danish institution.[9] The fourth university was established in Frederiksnagore (Serampore) in 1821 under the name “College for the Instruction of Asiatic and Other Youth in Eastern Literature and European Science”. Its aim was to educate Christian Indian youth in Sanskrit, other Asian languages and European science. Though the university was run in English by British Baptist missionaries, the charter (oktroy) was issued by king Frederik 6. and kept in the Danish National Archives in Copenhagen.[10] Even after the dissolution of the composite state in 1864, universities using other languages than Danish were founded in different parts of the surviving state, such as the university in Reykjavik (Háskolí Íslands) in 1911, Frodskapasetur Føroya in Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands in 1965 and the University of Greenland, Ilisimatusarfik, in Nuuk in 1983 after the establishment of home rule for Greenland in 1979.


A similar history could be written of the multinational Swedish (Vasa) Empire, beginning with the university in Uppsala 1477, Tartu (Dorpat), established by Gustav Adolf in 1632, Åbo Academy in 1640 and Greifswald University, founded in 1456 and Swedish from 1648 to 1815. Thus, the university in Lund from 1668, which is usually considered Sweden’s second, is actually the fifth in the line of Swedish universities. Incidentally, it was established with the explicit purpose of influencing the loyalty of the population by educating Swedish-oriented ministers to succeed the Danish priests after the conquest of the provinces that today constitute Southern Sweden. In the Catholic Middle Ages, Lund in Skåne (Scania) was the seat of the Danish arch bishop and the ideological center of the Danish kingdom. When in 1658 the Danish king was forced to cede Skåne, Halland, Blekinge, Bohuslen, Herjedalen and Gotland to Sweden, the Swedish state immediately established a new university as an alternative to the University of Copenhagen, which previously had been the natural center for the provinces. Øresund, the narrow strait between Denmark and the newly acquired territories Scania, Halland and Blekinge, became a divide to such an extent that only in the 1820s Swedes and Danes could legally cross the Sound. The political logic behind Lund University was to Swedenize the rural population of the conquered provinces, or at least to direct its loyalty away from the Danish crown. This policy was far more successful than in comparable European states such as Bohemia-Moravia or Alsace, even if today several modern historians rather think the policy ought to be understood as “Scania-nization” – i.e. neither Danish nor Swedish but Scanian – than “Swedenization”.[11]


The weakening of the Oldenburg Monarchy after the defeat in 1658 led to the introduction of absolutism in 1660 which implied an administrative reorganization or “modernization”. At the same time began a geopolitical reorientation towards Schleswig and Holstein in the south, which were now gradually incorporated into the core of the kingdom. This realignment was almost of the same magnitude as the simultaneous transformation of Sweden from an East-West to a North-South axis. The Oldenburg Monarchy was unsuccessful in its attempts to regain the provinces lost to Sweden in the two wars of revenge of 1675-79 and 1709-20. To a degree this loss was compensated through the annexation of the Gottorp parts of Schleswig in 1720 and Holstein in 1773. This incorporation, on the other hand, changed the composition of the empires’ population towards domination by German speakers, born within the state as well as outside its borders. In 1720 the Law of Succession of 1665 (Lex Regia) was extended to the whole of Schleswig. Administratively, however, Schleswig was to remain ruled together with the royal parts of Holstein, administered by the so-called Deutsche Kanzlei (German Chancellery), which in 1523 had moved from Gottorp in Schleswig to Copenhagen at the accession of Frederik 1. In 1762, after a major military crisis with the Russian Empire, an agreement with the Gottorp heirs who had married into the Russian ruling dynasty was reached. According to this agreement the Danish king gained unchallenged possession of all of Holstein. The act of incorporation was put into effect in 1773. Thus, the foundations were laid for a great reform process in the various parts of the empire from 1784 to1814. These reforms were initiated primarily by representatives of the German speaking aristocratic elite within the composite state. This aristocratic elite, however, saw no reason to make any adjustments to the administrative division of the realm, so that the Danish speaking parts in Schleswig continued to be administered together with Holstein in German as promised in 1460.


Even after the loss of the eastern third of the realm in 1658 the composite state was geographically large. The Danish king ruled over lands stretching from the North Cape to Hamburg, a distance equal to that between Hamburg and Sicily, plus the sparsely populated islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. The military, technological, and political backbone of the empire was the fleet, manned to a large extent by fishermen from Norway. This fleet had been big enough to fight the Swedish rival in the Baltic and to protect the extensive possessions for more than 150 years. Even after 1660 the Danish fleet proved capable of inflicting massive losses on Sweden in the Scanian war of 1675-79. Only the superiority of the Swedish land forces and the Swedish success in the battle at Lund on December 3, 1676 enabled Sweden to safeguard the newly conquered territories of what since has been considered Southern Sweden.


As mentioned the Danish response to the defeats was the introduction of absolutism which resulted in a tightly organized state ready for war. The foundations were laid in the 1670s and 1680s, when the absolutist monarchy reformed itself on the pattern of the absolutist France under Louis 14.[12] The all-encompassing bodies of laws, Danske Lov of 1683 and Norske Lov of 1687, modernized, systematized and made uniform the many varying medieval provincial laws, introducing government according to modern European standards.[13] A new survey of the productivity of the arable land and other natural resources enabled the state to collect taxes on a more efficient basis than before. The central administration was rebuilt on the Swedish-European model of specialized colleges somewhat similar to today’s ministries. The administration of the army and navy was the first to be modernized. The next step was a change of the administration of finances which was taken care of in a Collegium made up of four nobles and four burghers. That the path to a government career in this way was opened to persons of non-noble birth was something quite new. The old regional administration of state territories in the Danish and German Chancelleries, respectively, was incorporated into the college system as “domestic” and “external” administration, and by the end of the 17th century the territorial state had gradually been replaced by a tax-based “Machtstaat”. The modernization implied a heavy influx of German speakers who came to dominate the Court and the central administration in Copenhagen. The Oldenburg Court in the 18th century on the one hand was heavily German in language and culture. On the other hand as the largest state in Northern Europe until the rise of Prussia it exercised a considerable cultural influence over Northern Europe, an influence that can be seen in the role of the Royal Academy of Arts from 1754. Many famous artists studied at this Academy before they went on to pursue their careers at smaller German courts while the Oldenburg Court also served as a channel for cultural impulses from France and Italy in Northern Europe.


The navy was still dominated by Norwegian and Danish speakers, with a core of officers and non-commissioned officers living in the main base of the fleet, Copenhagen. But the army was fundamentally changed as a result of the defeat of the traditional aristocratic army in the 17th century. It now mainly consisted of a standing, professional army, recruited among German speakers and stationed in Copenhagen and in the fortress of Rendsburg on the border between Schleswig and Holstein. The officers were primarily recruited among German speaking aristocrats from all over Europe and as a result the language of the army and the officers’ academy was German in most of the 18th century.[14] This resulted in a major change of the composition of the population in the capital Copenhagen which now was the by far largest city in the empire.



Language and National Identifications in Copenhagen before 1800

Copenhagen played a particular role in the nation building process in Denmark when the country changed character from a far-stretched, Danish-Norwegian-German-North Atlantic multinational composite state into a small, homogeneous national state. Copenhagen was the capital in the large multinational empire as well as in the subsequent mono-national state, but played different roles in the two. In the multinational empire before 1814 and even until the defeat by Prussia and Austria in 1864, Copenhagen was the administrative and military center of a centrally ruled absolutist state. Though it was by far the largest city in terms of population, other centers such as Bergen in Norway (until 1814), Altona, Kiel and Flensburg in Schleswig and Holstein (until 1864) and Charlotte Amalie in the Danish West Indies (Danish until 1917) rivaled the capital in importance as harbors and commercial centers.


Copenhagen was founded around 1200 in the High Middle Ages as part of the eastward expansion of the Danish kingdom in the Baltic region. Because of its position in the geographical center of the monarchy the town gradually became the administrative capital of all of the Oldenburg Empire, even though the king and his court still travelled among the king’s castles as an itinerant court until the end of the 16th century. Helsingør (Elsinore) and Copenhagen rose to economic centers of the Danish state with the introduction of customs on the international traffic through the Sound (Øresund) from 1400 (Øresundstold). This became even more the case when the administration of the customs duties was transferred to Copenhagen around 1500. In 1660, as a result of the defeat in the wars with Sweden over the hegemony in Northern Europe absolutism was introduced and the remaining parts of the state reorganized as a centralized and heavily militarized state with Copenhagen as the undisputed administrative and economic center of the manorialized agrarian economy.[15]


The Lutheran Reformation of 1536 marked the victory of the Schleswig-Holstein branch of the Oldenburg dynasty (Frederik 1. and his son Christian 3.) over a merchant backed, ‘Danish’ branch of the Oldenburg dynasty (Christian 2.) and his supporters in Copenhagen and Malmö on the opposite side of the Sound. This victory was symbolized in the move of the so-called German Chancellery (Tyske Kancelli) from Gottorp in Schleswig to the castle of Copenhagen in 1523 (Slotsholmen). From then on, the administration consisted of the so-called ‘Danish’ and ‘German’ Chancelleries which divided the administration of the monarchy between them. With the absolutist revolution of 1660 Copenhagen became the basis of a standing army of hired soldiers together with Rendsburg in Schleswig. Copenhagen was now situated on the easternmost rim of the state apart from the island of Bornholm which had stayed Danish after a successful uprising against Swedish occupation in 1659. Because of geography Copenhagen became the base of the navy which was a precondition for holding the far stretched lands of the multinational state together. The navy had to be based in Copenhagen in order to protect the exposed capital again the arch enemy Sweden and to control the main entrance to the Baltic Sea, Øresund. The primary sea route today, Storebælt (Great Belt), was only opened by the British fleet and mapped during the war 1807-14. This peripheral position was slightly inconvenient for the navy’s other role, to protect the sailing routes to and from Norway and the remote islands in the North Atlantic Ocean and help protect the merchant commerce which began to spread all over the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and even to the Indian Ocean and China.


Thus Copenhagen in the 18th century must be characterized as a military and naval fortress with an absolutist court of some standing – although of course provincial compared with Versailles and other major European courts – added on a small medieval town. The Royal Academy of Arts from 1754 played an important role in the training of artists, not only from the Scandinavian countries, but also from most of Northern Germany.[16] German in two versions, Low German (Plattdeutsch) and High German (Hochdeutsch) was spoken at the court and in the army, whereas Danish and Norwegian dominated in the navy’s quarters at Nyholm and Nyboder. For a period Dutch (Nederlands) was spoken by immigrant farmers on the island of Amager in the immediate vicinity of the town who had been invited to grow vegetables for the supply of the expanding court. This was the situation until the nationalist break-up of the state in the 19th century with the rise of competing national programs and identifications. Until the 1850s Copenhagen remained a cosmopolitan and multi-lingual town. According to Ole Feldbæk, in 1700 a quarter of the 100.000 inhabitants in Copenhagen were German speakers and Germans could make themselves understood even in the early 19th century as was enthusiastically reported by many German visitors.[17]


Furthermore the city was home to many Norwegian speakers and a few Icelanders and Faroese. These latter have left their imprint on today’s city in the form of the so-called “Faroese Ware House” (Færøske Pakhus) near the political center, Slotsholmen and Nordatlantens Brygge in Christianshavn on the other side of the inner harbor. The latter was a warehouse for the products from the North Atlantic dependencies built in 1766-67, now converted into a cultural center for Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands and seat of their political representations in Denmark. The Norwegians have only few left traces apart from their significant role in the common Danish-Norwegian literary heritage, as the written Norwegian language largely had become Danish by 1700 (except in south western parts of Norway). The founder of modern Danish as a literary language in the first half of the 18th century was a Norwegian from Bergen, Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754). He spoke with a heavy Norwegian accent and was once arrested on the return from a long travel in Europe accused of being a Swedish spy. Yet he never thought of changing his Norwegian pronunciation of the common language (and Latin neither). As professor at the university in Copenhagen he was a prolific writer, primarily on history and law. Today Holberg is primarily remembered because of the comedies in the style of Molière and Goldoni he wrote in the 1720s and 1740s and his essays in moral philosophy (Moralske Tanker and Epistler). Through his influential writings he helped change the grammar in Danish (and Norwegian) away from long sentences influenced by Latin and German into a style closer to English and French.[18]


In 1800 Copenhagen thus was a peculiar combination of a small medieval trading town as revealed by its name, Køpmanæhafn[19] and an absolutist administrative and military center. The court and the central administration long counted for the lion’s part of the city’s income whereas up to a third of the population was constituted of professional soldiers mostly recruited in German states. This did not even change fundamentally in the long period of explosive growth of the overseas trade in the last half of the 18th century which left its imprint on the city in the form of a number of impressive palaces built by successful merchants. The period is remembered in Danish as “Epoch of the flourishing trade” (den florisante handels epoke) and lasted to 1801 when Britain attacked Copenhagen.



National Identifications in the 18th Century

German speaking elites had played an important role in the Oldenburg Empire ever since the civil war and the Reformation in the 1530s when the Holstein nobility obtained dominant influence at the Danish court under Frederik 1. and his son Christian 2. Their influence diminished somewhat in the first half of the 17th century under Christian 4.’s long rule from1588 to 1648, but rose again after the losses of the eastern parts of Denmark, today’s southern Sweden, and the introduction of absolutism in 1660. A new nobility was created to serve the absolutist king, replacing the traditional nobility whose holdings had been spread all over the Nordic countries. These aristocrats where recruited among rich merchants who had financed the unsuccessful wars, but in particular among lesser nobles and university graduates from northern Germany. When the Scanian War 1675-79 ended without restitution of the lost lands in the east, the monarchy began to incorporate the two duchies Schleswig and Holstein and thus reorient the state towards the south, even though Danes and Norwegians still constituted the overwhelming majority of the population.


The Oldenburg Empire was multilingual. According to Ole Feldbæk’s account the Norwegians spoke a language fairly close to Danish and the language of the church, the schools, the administration and the courts of justice was Danish. The Same nomads in the far north spoke Lappish. On the Faroe Islands the small population had kept its Old Norse language, but Danish was preached in the church and used by the administration. The Icelanders used Old Icelandic which was (and still is) close to Old Norse in their daily life as well as in the church and in the administration. In Greenland, missionaries since 1721 preached to the Eskimos in their own language and translated the Gospel into what now came to be called Greenlandic. In the two duchies High and Low German dominated, especially in the towns and among Holstein’s German speaking nobility, even though the majority of the peasant population in northern Schleswig spoke Danish, albeit a particular dialect, sønderjysk (Low Danish), while German was used by the church, in the schools and by the administration. The population along the North Sea coast until today’s border spoke Frisian, a language related to both German and English. As long as language was not considered a vital component of identity, this multilingual situation did not cause any problems. On his birthday the king would receive congratulatory poems not only in Latin and French, but also in Danish, German, Icelandic and Lappish.[20]


As mentioned the reorientation of the Oldenburg Empire met with success in 1720 with the incorporation of the Gottorp parts of Schleswig and in 1773 of the Gottorp parts of Holstein. As Holstein in particular was economically and culturally more advanced than the rest of the state and both duchies held a much larger urban population, the reorientation of the state towards south meant a growing influence of German speakers in the rest of the state, Norway included. Furthermore, the crown encouraged the entry of German artists, administrators and skilled workers in order revive the country after the intellectual and economic devastations caused by the wars and occupation of foreign troops, allied as well as enemy, in the 17th century. Thus German speakers came to possess considerable influence in the Oldenburg Empire in the 18th and early 19th century. According to the calculations by the British historian William Carr, there were some 3.500 civil servants and 9.000 teachers and church officers in the two duchies Schleswig and Holstein.[21] Most teachers and lower officials in the county districts in Schleswig spoke Danish. But the most important officials, the Amtman and his assistants, the pastors and the officials and the intermediate authorities for Schleswig and Holstein in Glückstadt and in Gottorp (the town of Schleswig) were invariably German speakers, even in such Danish speaking counties as Aabenraa and Sønderborg. In Copenhagen around 1800, about 60 Germans from the duchies occupied key positions in the administration, especially in the so-called Deutsche Kanzlei which was responsible for the duchies and most of the foreign policy of the whole state. All in all between 400 and 450 German officials were employed in Copenhagen.[22] Such was the situation in the empire when an aristocratic – and primarily German speaking – elite in the late 17th century decided to reform the country in order to avoid the problems that were to explode in the French revolution a few years later.[23]



Enlightened Reforms from the Above and National Reactions

The relatively poor and sparsely populated Oldenburg Empire was characterized by a higher degree of militarization than the affluent and densely populated central European states.[24] It is, then, rather remarkable that the geographically far-flung and economically overburdened Oldenburg monarchy succeeded in modernizing itself through a kind of revolution from above at the end of the 17th century and once again in the late 18th century. The Oldenburg monarchy underwent a revolution akin to the French through a timely self-reformation in the years 1784-1814. In many respects this northern European monarchy personified the ideals of the enlightenment thinkers. Thus, from Venice to London the political system of the state was eagerly debated among political observers – though not always in flattering terms, as we know from Montesquieu’s criticism of absolutism in Denmark.[25]

Theoretically, the political system was the most autocratic in Europe, even formalized in a kind of absolute ‘constitution’ (Kongeloven or Lex Regia from 1665). But the political reality was far from despotic, a state the Norwegian historian Jens Arup Seip somewhat paradoxically has termed “absolutism informed by public opinion”.[26] This tradition of consulting public opinion is the main reason why the Danish monarchy succeeded in revolutionizing itself from above through a series of relatively continuous reforms of the agrarian system, civil rights, customs, trade, education, and emancipation of the Jews between 1784 and 1814.[27] In contrast, the French king lost legitimacy to the tax-granting assembly of the States General and thus unleashed an incontrollable democratic revolution, subsequently hailed by much of French history writing as the only meaning of history, despite the enormous cost and the brutal terror it also involved.[28]


Between 1770 and 1772 Johann Friedrich Struensee (1743-1781), a German-born physician of the absolutist king Christian 7., in vain tried to revolutionize the whole state of Denmark and Norway by introducing radical reforms from above of the types recommended by enlightened philosophers. Though having practiced in Altona (today a suburb to Hamburg), that is within the borders of the multinational Oldenburg Monarchy, most of his career had taken place outside Denmark and he was thus perceived a foreigner by the majority of population. His reforms quickly ran into disrepute when he was exposed as the British born Queen’s secret lover. When he was arrested and subsequently executed in February 1772, anti-German sentiments among the Danish-speaking middle classes who hoped to profit from the expulsion of the so-called “Germans” came to the fore. Struensee’s sixteen months in power thus marked a turning point in the relations between Danes and Germans. Before Struensee, Germans had been criticized because they were foreigners who occupied positions that rightfully were seen as belonging to Danish. After his aborted revolution they were criticized simply because they were Germans, i.e. not Danish.[29] The feelings of the time were summarized in the sentence “All our troubles are German”, which the poet Johannes Ewald (1737-1772) let one of his protagonists utter in the play “Harlekin Patriot eller Den uægte patriotisme” (Harlequin patriot or the false patriotism) in 1772.[30]


When the new government led by a commoner, a professor of history from Sorø Academy, Ove Høegh Guldberg (1731-1808), took over it immediately made it clear that it would tolerate no public debate which could lead to civil disturbances. Because of the informal restrictions of free speech it is difficult to analyze Danish attitudes towards Germans. Struensee had abolished censorship as part of his attempts to introduce enlightened reforms, but instead of producing positive ideas the new freedom of the press had unleashed an avalanche of pamphlets that in the end contributed to the downfall of the well-intended despot. The new government had learned the lesson and although it did not reintroduce censorship it let understand that further debates would harm the careers of the involved. Furthermore it launched a pronounced “national policy” in the interest of the Danish speaking middle class audience that contributed to the downfall of Struensee. In February the government let the king ordain that in the future the government should be composed of men “who knew the laws and institutions of the country”, that “the administration of Denmark and Norway should be conducted in Danish” and that “Danish should succeed German as the language of command in the army”. For the first time since 1660 the council of the king was now composed of men born within the realm, four Danes and a Holsteinian born in the king’s part of Holstein. An ordinance of 1775 decreed that “boys should be taught Danish in order to write it fluently and that they should be taught the history of their country and be imbued with love of the fatherland”.[31] On top of this, the government in 1776 passed a law reserving government jobs for those born inside the realm, the so-called “Indfødsret” (Law of Indigenous Rights). Such a law was unique in ancien régime Europe. The law was backed by a whole series of well meant – but futile as it turned out – attempts to build a common patriotic feeling in the whole of the realm in general and for the king in particular.[32] Examples of this ideological enterprise were the publication in 1776 of Peter Suhm’s “History of Denmark, Norway and Holstein” and Ove Malling’s “Lives of Eminent Danes, Norwegians and Holsteinians” in the tradition of Plutarch from 1777 and meant for teaching in the Grammar Schools (Latinskoler). Whether this program was an expression of Danish nationalism as claimed by Ole Feldbæk in a major investigation of Danish identity[33], though, is highly debatable. At a closer look, the program involved a deliberate attempt to install a kind of “patriotism from above” intended to unify the three peoples of the realm as demonstrated by Tine Damsholt in a convincing analysis of “love of the Fatherland” in this period.[34]


This attempt to roll back the enlightened reforms and substitute them with a “patriotic”, anti-“German” ideology for the whole composite state in its turn provoked a virtual revolution from above led by the young heir to throne, son of the insane king Christian 7., Crown Prince Frederik, who only in 1808, on the death of his father was crowned king Frederik 6. April 14, 1784 he carried out a peaceful coup d’Etat in alliance with a group of primarily German speaking aristocrats who had lost influence under the former “patriotic” regime from 1772 to1784. At the very first meeting of the royal council which he attended after having reached the age of sixteen he persuaded his father Christian to dismiss the prior cabinet and grant himself the reins of government. The former ministers were caught completely off guard and put up no resistance. The young prince was not well prepared for this task, but had the good luck of an extremely gifted group of advisers. They were headed by the minister of foreign affairs (the German Chancellery), count Andreas Peter Bernstorff (1735-97) and the minister of finance and trade, count Ernst Schimmelmann (1747-1831). Both men followed illustrious German born predecessors bearing the same family names, an uncle and a father respectively. They were joined by the influential aristocrat count Christian Ditlev Reventlow (1748-1827) who had influential relatives in Holstein and the Norwegian lawyer Christian Colbiørnsen (1749-1814).


With the exception of Colbiørnsen these were all noble landowners, among the biggest in the country. Yet they immediately set off to follow up earlier endeavors to reform the agriculture which had been discussed in learned journals from 1757 onwards. Andreas Peter Bernstorff, together with Christian Ditlev Reventlow from 1786 chaired the Great Land Commission with Colbiørnsen as secretary. The commission worked with unprecedented speed and immediately effectuated a series of measures which eventually were to grant the Danish peasant as much personal freedom as his English counterpart, but better protection against economic exploitation and thus laying the foundation for the social rise of the peasant farmers in the 19th century.[35] First, in 1786 and 1787, landlords were deprived of their right to impose degrading punishments on their tenants such as riding the “wooden horse”, and tenants were granted the right to economic compensation for improvements they had made if they were evicted from their plots. In 1788 the Danish equivalent of serfdom, the so-called “Stavnsbånd”, was abolished. Literally the “Stavnsbånd” means adscription. It was a peculiar form of servitude enforced by the state on the tenant peasants which had come into existence as late as 1733 in order to secure soldiers for the army. Serfdom in the East-Elbian sense never made it further north than Holstein, but the “Stavnsbånd” came close. It was to be terminated in stages which would leave all peasants completely free by 1800. But 1788 was from the beginning seen as the point of no return for the agrarian reforms in particular and the whole complex of reforms in general. Lately, the degree of servitude under the “Stavnsbånd” has been questioned by Danish historians, and the intention of the legislation seems primarily to have been to secure peasant recruits for the army which now again began to rely on adscription of peasants from the Danish core lands.[36] Yet, the abolition of the “Stavnsbånd” and the many other reforms then and later took on a symbolic importance which was to have an enormous political impact on all of the subsequent development of Danish society and the peculiar form nation building based on the production and political culture of the peasant farmers which came characterized the rump state after 1870.


The Agrarian reforms of 1784-88 and 1793-96 were followed by a thorough overhaul of the legal system in the spirit of the Italian legal theorist Cesare di Beccaria (1738-1794) bearing the unmistakable imprint of Christian Colbiørnsen. Legal processes were rationalized and prison conditions improved. A regular system of poor relief was instituted, financed by compulsory contributions from the peasants under the supervision of the priests in their capacity as local representatives of the state – the king was head of the church in this Lutheran country since the Reformation in 1536. The system worked relatively well until the middle of the 19th century when the peasant farmers as a result of the democratization took over local government themselves and subsequently cut down on poor relief. A liberal tariff abolishing many import prohibitions was introduced in 1797 and the corn trade was liberalized. In 1792 Ernst Schimmelmann took steps to end the slave trade in the Danish West Indies from 1803 as the first country in the world. However, he failed to abolish slavery itself on these islands because of intransigent resistance among the planters and fear of loss of revenue. He also presided over a commission which in 1789 proposed the introduction of universal free elementary schooling for all children between seven and fourteen, a measure to be enacted in the so-called Great School Law of 1814 in the midst of military defeat and economic catastrophe. Likewise the Jews were emancipated in 1798 with full rights to marry Christians and enter secondary schools.


The whole reform program was accomplished in an atmosphere of almost unlimited free debate as censorship was banned in the period between 1770 and 1799. In the wake of the coup of 1784 freedom of the press was encouraged and the abolishment of censorship was put into law in 1790. The agents of these reforms were some of the most influential nobles in the double monarchy. They did not act on an impulse of pure idealism, although the noble landowner Reventlow, for one, like the American republican Thomas Jefferson, left office poorer than he entered. They were sufficiently far-sighted to give up untenable political prerogatives of their class and gamble on future economic gains. The majority of the owners of large estates were to profit from this policy in the 19th century as the initiators were sufficiently well off to be able to risk the gamble. This was not the case for many of the smaller estate holders, especially in the peninsula of Jutland. In the summer of 1790, 103 of the greatest proprietors rebelled. Somewhat confusingly this rebellion took the form of a so called “Address of Confidence” to the Crown Prince at the occasion of his betrothal to a German Princess. The landowners protested against the newly proposed civil reforms and drew attention to the rising “insubordinance of the peasants encouraged by the French example”. The latter was the real meat. Noble anxiety over the rising expectations among the liberated peasants triggered off a reaction which has gone down in history under the name of the “Revolt of the Proprietors of Jutland”.[37] The outcome, however, was to contrast completely with the noble protest in France two years earlier.


The reform ministry reacted swiftly and with determination to the challenge. Christian Colbiørnsen, besides serving as secretary of the Great Agrarian Commission, 1788 had also been appointed Procurator General and legal Porte-Parole of the regime. In this capacity he published the address and a detailed refutation in October 1790. He stressed the privileges of the grand holders of estates and denounced the signatories and their motives publicly. This offence forced the main instigator of the protest, a German noble by the name of Lüttichau to sue Colbiørnsen privately in order to protect his honor. Thus, the ministry cleverly succeeded in maneuvering the revolt into the courtroom while mobilizing the predominantly non-noble “public opinion” of the capital to support its cause. Lüttichau was completely isolated as the signatories in the following months one by one withdrew their signatures or even denied that they ever signed. When the verdict in Colbiørnsen’s favor was pronounced 7 April 1791, Lüttichau was finished as was the Danish revolt of the nobles. He sold his manors and moved to Braunschweig in Germany while the reforms of the Oldenburg Empire continued as planned.


Even though the resistance against the reforms failed, the leading German speaking noble families, the Bernstorffs, the Schimmelmanns, the Reventlows an the prince regent’s brother-in-law, duke Friedrich Christian of Augustenborg (from the island Als in Schleswig) came under heavy attacks. In pamphlets they were accused of misleading the young prince regent, for conducting a policy harmful to “Danish” interests and for illicitly enriching themselves. The spiteful and even hateful anti-German tone which had characterized the opposition against Struensee now returned. And in 1789 the growing tension between Danes and Germans exploded into an open national confrontation, the so-called “German Feud” (Tyskerfejden) over the predominance of German speakers in public affairs. The origins of the public debate was rather insignificant, the premiere of an opera at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen March 31, 1789. The opera, Holger Danske, was built over a figure from ancient Danish mythology dating back to the medieval epic of Roland. The composer was German, F. L. Aemilius Kunzen, but the libretto was written by the Danish writer Jens Baggesen (1764-1824) who was a cosmopolitan European who wrote as well in German as in Danish (which is why only half of his writings are acknowledged as belonging to ‘Danish’ literature today). Beginning as a debate over opera and literature, the polemic quickly spilled over to national antagonisms and differences between everything German and Danish. The debate touched upon many of the themes that came to characterize the confrontations between Danes and Germans over the next seventy years, reflecting a Danish inferiority complex against the larger culture to the south.[38] This was bad enough, but when the minister of trade and finance, count Ernst Schimmelmann, let himself be provoked into taking up the challenge, the affair became politically important.


In an anonymous pamphlet he accused Danes of cultural mediocrity and of placing narrow personal interests before common humanity. Through his intervention the debate spilled over from aesthetics to politics and became potentially dangerous for the multinational state. In the subsequent heated debate resentment against the German speaking Holsteinians surfaced. Some Danish pamphleteers even went as far as suggesting that if Holsteinians should have any posts in the state it should be in Holstein, not in Denmark proper. And the national confrontation went both ways. The leading German participant, count Andreas Peter Bernstorff had already in 1776 been unwilling to see why his royal master should prefer lesser qualified servants simply because they were born in the state. Now in 1789-90 the German speaking elite saw the attacks on them as directed against both law and (enlightened) reason. It was unlawful because the criticism violated the Law of Indigenous Rights, and against reason because it was “neither expedient nor right that they should give up their superior language and culture in order to serve a king who was theirs as well as the Danes’ ”.[39] The debate eventually died out, overshadowed by the demonstrations of loyalty towards the young the crown prince at the occasion of his marriage. But the debate had revealed dangerous tensions and beginning national identifications that eventually broke through in the 1830s and split the Oldenburg Empire in two national groups who fought a civil war over the province of Schleswig.


Before that, however, the Empire had already lost a third of its territory and population as a result of defeat in the Napoleonic wars, where Frederik 6. allied himself with the losers after the British attack on Copenhagen in 1807. In order to keep his empire together and be able to supply Norway with grain from Jutland – the geopolitical raison d’être of the empire – he entered a coalition with Napoleon and thus prevented him from occupying Jutland. Frederik remained loyal to the bitter end and lost Norway to Sweden under a new – French – king, Carl 14. Johan, formerly known as Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, at the peace treaty in Kiel 1814. Before that, however, the Norwegians under the Danish viceroy, the later Christian 8., had proclaimed their independence and produced one of the most liberal constitutions since the American at Eidvoll in spring 1814. Only an armed intervention by the battle hardened Swedish army forced the Norwegians to relinquish independence and join into a union with Sweden. The Union was a union of two separate kingdoms, who only shared the king, foreign policy and a small common army while the Norwegians were able to keep their treasured free constitution.



Norway in the Oldenburg Empire

The deeper social, economic and national reasons for the separation of Norway from Denmark in 1814, after the Danish defeat in the Napoleonic wars, have only recently come into the focus of Scandinavian historians. Norwegian historians have mainly concentrated on the history of independent Norway in union with Sweden after 1814, whereas the majority of Danish historians have ignored the common history leading up to the separation altogether, until the publication in 1997-98 of a history of Norway and Denmark from 1380 to 1814 in four volumes. Especially the volume on the period 1720-1814 by Ole Feldbæk broke new territory in studying the Norwegian movement for a university in Christiania (Oslo).[40] Most recently a young Danish historian, Rasmus Glenthøj, has investigated the formulation of separate national programs among the bourgeois elites in the two countries between 1807 and 1830 and the development of an independent Norwegian national identity before and after the separation from Denmark in 1814 and the writing of the constitution in Eidsvoll the same year.[41] Much more research will see the light in 2014 as a series of conferences and research projects are planned to celebrate the bi-centennial of the Norwegian constitution. Glenthøj’s result is that some Norwegian merchants and civil servants had begun to cultivate a common Norse (Nordic) history as part of the Oldenburg patriotic supranational identity which they shared with their Danish – and to a degree Schleswig-Holsteinian – fellows since the introduction of the program of patriotism from above for the whole of the Empire. Whether this program could be reconciled with the broader patriotic ideology for the whole state was never put to test because of the isolation of Norway from Denmark during the war Great Britain and the sudden break in 1814 following the Swedish conquest of Norway. A small debate on differences between Danes and Norwegians and Danish so-called “exploitation” during the four hundred years of the Oldenburg Empire continued, but was soon overtaken by the confrontations with the king of Sweden within the union of the two kingdoms.[42]


The war with Great Britain 1807-14 caused an economic and political upheaval which opened for the formulation of new national ideas from France and the German states among the urban elites in Europe. In Norway this development looked back to the proud history of the country in the High Middle Ages when the Norwegian monarchy before the Black Death and the agrarian crisis of the Late Middle Ages was one of the strongest and most centralized states in Medieval Europe. Language, culture and history was studied in much detail in order to back up a national identification which could set Norway apart from Sweden with which it was joined in a personal union from 1814 to 1905 and from Denmark with whom it had shared ruling dynasty since 1380. Prior to 1814 the Danish elite had tended to downplay differences between Danish and Norwegian nationality in favor of a common Danish-Nordic identity which on the other hand often was contrasted with a concept of German culture – with or without Holstein and Schleswig – as witnessed in the heated debates in 1789-90.


Some Norwegian patriots, however, had already before 1807 come to believe that the close cultural community between Denmark and Norway would threaten a separate and ‘authentic’ Norwegian identity. According to Glenthøj, some members of the Norwegian elite who were trained at the university in Copenhagen developed a complex double concept of fatherland, distinguishing between the fatherland as their state, i.e. the Oldenburg Monarchy, and their “natural” fatherland or homeland, Norway. This led to a split in Norwegian nationalism between the “Danish-minded” who constructed their reborn Norwegian culture in the image of the former Danish-Norwegian state, culture and language, and the so-called “Swedish-minded” who tried to create a national culture in contrast to the former state, seeking their inspiration in a “true” and “independent” Norwegian past. The most striking example of this latter tendency was the writer Henrik Wergeland (1808-1845) who fought against what he called “Danomania”. Danish intellectuals actively fought against this attempt to separate Danish and Norwegian culture and history from each other, but often only succeeded in alienating Norwegians even more. This cultural war continued in the 19th century as a conflict over which language was the “real” Norwegian language. Norwegian nationalists attempted to create a “true” Norwegian language on the basis of dialects spoken in the isolated south Western parts of the country while the rest kept to their Danish inspired language. This struggle has not yet been resolved and has resulted in the existence of two official Norwegian languages today, the so-called bokmål which is close to Danish and spoken by more than 80 % and the so-called nynorsk (new Norwegian), which is preferred by 17 % as their written language.


Danes, on the other hand, did not seem to have the same need to distinguish between the concept of state and nation, at least not when confronted with Norwegians. Their fatherland (nation) and their state bore the same name, Denmark (which is why I have attempted to separate the two by introducing the denomination “Oldenburg Empire” in my analysis). In the confrontations with the German speakers in Denmark and Schleswig and Holstein the situation was different, though. This Danish double speak was brought out in the open in 1845 in an interesting booklet by a young Danish linguist and ethnologist Svend Grundtvig (1824-1883) son of the influential priest Nikolaj Severin Grundtvig on the linguistic situation in the Faroe Islands. In the booklet Dansken paa Færøern. Sidestykke til Tysken i Slesvig (“Danish in the Faroe Islands – a parallel to German in Schleswig”) Svend Grundtvig compared the oppressive role of Danish against the Faroese language (which was close to Old Norse) to German versus Danish in North Schleswig. His argument was that it was untenable to deplore the oppression of Danish in Schleswig by German and at the same time ignore the oppressive role of Danish in Faroe Islands. This book has been utterly ignored in Danish debates, but has played an important role in Faroese intellectual and political circles.[43]


The treaty of Kiel of 1814 separated two peoples who had shared history and state for more than 400 years. As a result the notion of a Danish national identity as different from the common Nordic identity was propagated under the heading of “Scandinavianism” and strengthened at the expense of the former state sponsored Helstats-patriotism. Both elites began to look back to different versions of the culture and history of the High Middle Ages. The elite in the young Norwegian nation-state displayed a strong need for national recognition by other states and thus embarked on an extensive construction of national symbols. In Denmark Frederik 6. did his best to make Danes ‘forget’ Norway. The reason was that the loss constituted a personal trauma for him, but also that a Norway with the most liberal constitution in Europe represented a fundamental challenge to his own absolutist rule. Among Danish intellectuals the loss of Norway led to a growing interest in the duchy of Schleswig which then became a battleground between Danish, German and regional identifications.[44] As a result Holstein came to be seen by Danes as a foreign element in the state instead of “Danish Holstein” which had been the dominant denomination for the two duchies in the 18th century. Until the rise of national tensions in the 1830s Holstein in the German literature was depicted as a ‘Nordic’ country because of its centuries old affiliation with the Danish kingdom, albeit German speaking.[45]



Intellectual preparations for the National Break-up of the Oldenburg Monarchy

Around 1800, the Danish king, despite the losses in the 17th century, still ruled over a vast, though thinly populated, realm, stretching from Greenland, Iceland and Norway to the suburbs of Hamburg, encompassing half of Europe’s Atlantic coastline. According to a reliable census of 1801, the total population of the kingdom was 2.5 million. Denmark and Norway had 1.8 million inhabitants, 51 % of which lived in Denmark proper; Schleswig and Holstein had 600,000 inhabitants, of which 54 % in Holstein; other German possessions counted for some 90,000 people and the North Atlantic islands some 50,000.[46] No reliable censuses for the colonies exist as their status was different. The loss of Norway in 1814 after the Danish defeat by the United Kingdom and Sweden in the Napoleonic wars completely altered the balance between the German and Nordic elements in the composite state. The number of German speakers rose from less than 20 % to 35 % and nationalist sentiments soon began to tear the state apart. In 1806, the Duchy of Holstein was annexed to Denmark as a consequence of the disintegration of the Holy Roman Empire. However, with the establishment of the German Confederation in 1815, Holstein was reestablished as an independent duchy, which implied that the Danish king participated in the German Federal Assembly in his capacity as Duke of Holstein. As was the case with the Habsburg Empire, the multinational state soon was to be torn apart by two antagonistic, national programs, a ‘Danish’ (either a Danish-Danish or a Scandinavianist, that is Danish-Swedish, variant[47]) and a ‘German’ (either a Schleswig-Holsteinian or a pan-German variant). The main proponents of these two programs were the academic elites in the two cities with a university, Copenhagen and Kiel.[48]


Until 1814 the three major linguistic and national groups in the multinational state had balanced each other. The influence of the economically more advanced German speaking parts was balanced by the much larger number of Danish and Norwegian speakers, roughly two thirds. Whether these three groups and the other small peoples such as the Icelanders and Faroese perceived of themselves as nations and not just people with different languages under the same ruler is debated among contemporary historians. As almost all intellectuals, primarily priests, had been trained at the University in Copenhagen they shared language and outlook on the world. It was only later in the 19th century that proper national identifications developed and national programs were drawn up by nationalized intellectuals. The only exception to this general lack of nationalist identifications was the antagonism between Danish and German speakers since 1814. The reason for that was primarily due to the influence of the rising German nationalism which was channeled into the Oldenburg Empire through the Kiel University in Holstein.


One of the results of the final settlement between the Romanov rulers and the Oldenburg Monarchy was the survival of the university in Kiel.[49] The exchange of property with the Russian rulers meant that Christian 7. obtained the Gottorp parts of Holstein in return for conceding Lauenburg-Delmenhorst. At the same time, he pledged not only to respect the privileges of the university but also to uphold the so-called ‘biennium’, i.e. the requirement that students from the Duchies had to study for two years in Kiel as a condition for jobs in Schleswig and Holstein.[50] This was a reversal of his grandfather’s policy from 1743. Thus, the university in Kiel was saved from closing due to lack of students which otherwise had been an imminent threat. This decision was to have far-reaching consequences for the relationship between Denmark and the Duchies. Interestingly, simultaneously with this concession to the regionalists in Schleswig and Holstein, a request to establish a university in Norway was dismissed by the king.[51] The 1773 agreement calmed the atmosphere in the Oldenburg monarchy – at least for a while. Now the state had two universities plus the aristocratic academy in Sorø which after a glorious opening soon fell behind. The universities in Copenhagen and Kiel witnessed very different developments even though both were given the task of training state officials, after the introduction of the earlier mentioned Law of Indigenous Rights in 1776 whereby positions within the state administration were reserved for residents born within the borders of the realm. As a result of this law, the crown could no longer import its officials from abroad as had been the case in past centuries, but had to train them itself. Copenhagen University was given a new charter in a great hurry, but nevertheless remained a rather mediocre institution, concentrating on administrative and theological studies during the revolutionary years in the 1790s and the Napoleonic Wars.


The University in Kiel, on the other hand, thrived and gained a reputation for excellence within the German speaking parts of Europe. The number of students began to grow after 1768 as a result of the biennium, and in the 1770s the number of recently matriculated students stabilized between 50 and 60 contrary to the eight in 1767 when the university hit its lowest point. In the 1780s, Kiel became a cultural center with the establishment of the Monarchy’s first college of education for teachers in 1781 and a “Patriotic Circle” in 1786. The hiring of a range of highly qualified younger professors within a short time turned the University of Kiel into one of the most modern in the German speaking area, a position it managed to keep until late in the 19th century. The Chancellery for German Affairs in Copenhagen (Deutsche Kanzlei) which was responsible for the German foreign policy plus Schleswig and Holstein watched the young university closely. The same was the case among the politically and culturally conservative aristocracy in Holstein. After 1789, the nobles were wary of any signs of sympathy for the French revolution. When a professor and fervent admirer of the revolution, C. F. Cramer, in a public lecture praised one of the Girondists, Jérome Pétion (who later voted for the execution of Louis 16.) Cramer was not only fired, but exiled from Kiel. After the death of the moderate president of the Chancellery, Anders Peter Bernstorff, in 1797, controls were tightened further.[52] These attempts peaked in 1806 with the incorporation of Holstein into the Oldenburg Empire after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.


The incorporation of Holstein and the attempt to centralize the Oldenburg Empire failed as a result of the political turmoil in Europe in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. Historians in Denmark as well as Germany have pretty much agreed that this result was logical as well as beneficial. It became a dogma that multinational states were unviable and had to be divided into their respective national parts. And the dogma about “the right of a nation to self-determination”, still today remains a fundamental doctrine in spite of all the logical inconsistencies and political misfortunes it has led to. Yet it is still an open question whether the result was a foregone conclusion. It is correct that a similar reform in the multinational Habsburg Empire under Joseph 2. between 1780 and 1790 failed because it was perceived as a Germanization among the non-German speaking peoples of the Empire. Nevertheless the realm survived for a long time and even though many today regard the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire in 1918 as a necessity, the many shortcomings of the successor states have led to doubts.[53] Furthermore, for a while at least, a sense of “British” identity actually came into existence in Great Britain in the 18th and 19th century, an identification that still plays a role in the United Kingdom despite “devolution” and independence for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.[54] In Spain, too, a common Spanish identity undeniably developed after 1714, even though it still competes fervently with especially Catalan and Basque identities.[55] In this light, the attempts between 1776 and the 1850s to reach a federal status for Schleswig and maybe even Holstein within a multilinguistic, multinational Oldenburg Empire were perhaps not as hopeless as they may seem through today’s anachronistic hindsight.


The “Schleswig-Holstein question” played an important and instrumental role in Danish nation-building – not to speak of bringing the united Germany into existence.[56] Because of these political implications and because the university in Kiel, after a process of restructuring in the first decade of the 19th century, came to be considered one of the best universities in German speaking Europe, this university took the lead in the process of nationalization. Even though it was under Danish sovereignty, Kiel University was able to attract a surprising number of talented German scholars, especially historians. Among the best known were Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann (1785-1860), who taught in Kiel from 1812 to 1829 and Johann Gustav Droysen (1808-84), who taught in Kiel from 1840 to 1851. Furthermore the historians of Ancient Rome, Barthold Georg Niebuhr (1776-1831) and Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903), grew up in the Holstein and studied at Kiel University, even though its teaching apparently did not leave important impressions on neither.


One of the founders of modern critical historical research, the historian of Ancient Rome, Barthold Niebuhr (1776-1831), was a typical child of the Enlightenment in the pre-national Oldenburg Empire. Son of Danish civil servant and explorer of the Near Middle East, Carsten Niebuhr (1733-1815), he was born in Copenhagen but grew up in Meldorf in Dithmarschen in Holstein[57]. After wide ranging studies in Kiel he got a Danish scholarship to study in England and Scotland where he concentrated on agriculture and mathematics. In 1800 he entered the Danish civil service in Copenhagen and eventually rose to director of the Danish National Bank. While working at the Bank he published his first studies of Roman agriculture in 1803 and 1806. He continued his studies of Roman history in Berlin after at the age of 35 having joined the Prussian civil service allied with the reformers around Freiherr von Stein. Niebuhr represented the best of the pre-nationalist period, when the elites moved from one country to another, feeling at home wherever they felt useful. Contrary to other eminent historians from the same region, it is not possible to detect any anti-Danish feelings in his writings, nor was he engaged in the independence movement for Schleswig and Holstein.[58]


Mommsen and Droysen, on the contrary, were politically extremely active in the movement for an independent, i.e. German, Schleswig-Holstein state and wrote pamphlets against the Danish cause in favor of unification with a united and liberal Germany. Especially Theodor Mommsen – together with his contemporary Karl Marx and many other German republican liberals at the time – hated everything Danish. They saw Denmark as an autocratic and backward peasant state that impeded liberal progress and the unification of all German speakers. Never a man to waste his time, the ardent republican and anti-Dane, Mommsen, in his Berlin years, is reported to have answered the question of a Danish colleague, the Classical philologist and politician Johan Nicolai Madvig (1804-86) when he would finish the fourth volume of his famous Römische Geschichte on the period of Caesars, with the biting sentence: “Dass kann Jedermann schreiben, dass können Sie schreiben” (that everybody can do, even you). In 1847, just returned from research in Italy, Mommsen as a writer with a sharp pen joined the political battle with a series of articles in the Schleswig-Holsteinische Zeitung in order to further the case of a united Germany. This effort has earned him the characterization, “journalistischer Schlachtenbummler” (journalistic bully).[59]


The nine years older Johann Gustav Droysen was born in 1808, two years after Napoleon’s victory over Prussia at Jena. After being called to the chair of history in Kiel in 1840 from Berlin where he had specialized in Greek history and literature, he changed his area of research and teaching into contemporary German history. In 1842-43 he lectured on the era of the German wars of liberation in the early 19th century which he revised and published as a book in 1846. In the preface Droysen declared, “Our youth no longer believes in the deeds of prowess and the enthusiasm of that age. My object is to express and justify the love of and belief in the fatherland.”[60] In 1843, on the occasion of the thousand year jubilee of the treaty of Verdun in 843, Droysen gave a public lecture on the continuity of German history in general and Schleswig-Holstein’s German character in particular. Its effects can be compared to those of Dahlmann’s Waterloo lecture in 1814 (see later). When the Danish king tried to tighten the Danish hold on the duchies in the 1840s, Droysen issued a pamphlet urging the king not to sever the ties with Germany. In 1848 Droysen was elected member of the Parliament in Paulskirche in Frankfurt by the provisional government in Kiel. Here he proclaimed “that all Germans should rally round Prussia as the vacant place of the House of Hohenstaufen now with history’s right belonged to the Prussian House of Hohenzollern.”[61] As a determined supporter of Prussian ascendancy he was one of the first members to retire form the assembly after King Friedrich Wilhelm 4. did not accept the imperial crown in 1849.


In the following two years of civil war over Schleswig, Droysen continued to support the cause of the duchies. In 1850, with his colleague at Kiel University, the lawyer and politician Karl Samwer (1819-82), he published a history of the relations between Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein[62] seen from the point of view of the pretender to the throne as duke of Schleswig and Holstein, Die Herzogthümer Schleswig-Holstein und das Königreich Dänemark seit dem Jahre 1806. An English translation was published in London in the same year under the title The Policy of Denmark towards the Duchies of Schleswig-Holstein. The work was of great political importance and heavily persuaded the German public opinion of the rights of the duchies in their struggle with Denmark. Because of that the conservative Danish historian, Caspar Paludan-Müller (1805-82), later the same year published a refutation of Droysen and Samwer’s pamphlet in another pamphlet, Bidrag til en Kritik over Droysens og Samwers saakaldte aktmæssige Fremstilling af den danske Politik siden Aar 1806. Paludan tried to discard their arguments in favor of the claims of the family of Augustenburg (in Danish Augustenborg)[63] to rule in both Holstein and Schleswig. In 1851, when Holstein passed to Denmark, Droysen rightly feared for his position and prudently left Kiel for a chair in Jena.


In the narrower field of scholarly studies of the history of the two duchies, the legal historian Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann (1785-1860) was the most influential on the German side. Dahlmann was born in the then Swedish Wismar in 1785 and was a nephew of the legal historian and secretary of the Ritterschaft (Corporation) in Schleswig-Holstein, Frederik Christian Jensen. In 1802 he began to study philology in Copenhagen under the protection of the uncle. Later Dahlmann moved on to Halle and Wittenberg and eventually defended his thesis (Habilitation) in Copenhagen. Because of the family connection he was accepted as a Danish citizen even though he did not live up to the strict law of citizenship from 1776 which restricted citizenship to people born within the borders of the multinational Danish state. In 1812 he received a call to the chair in history at Kiel University where he stayed until 1829. His biography, thus, in many ways seems similar to that of Niebuhr, but in reality they represent two different eras, before and after the advent of nationalism.


As thrilled as Dahlmann was by the German successes in liberating the German states from Napoleon’s yoke, as bitterly disappointed he was over the economic bankruptcy and demise of the Oldenburg Empire in 1813 and 1814. Together with many other German intellectuals he wanted Schleswig and Holstein to join a new unified German state. In this situation he laid the scholarly ground for the Schleswig-Holstein movement with his studies of the Ribe Accord of 1460. According to this document, Christian 1., as a condition for his accession to the Danish throne, promised to rule the two duchies as one unit, “ewich tosamende ungedelt” as the document rendered the promise in Low German (Plattdeutsch). The document had already been published in 1797 by his predecessor as professor of history in Kiel, Dietrich Hermann Hegewisch (1746-1812, professor from 1780) and his uncle, the former mentioned F. C. Jensen. They were loyal supporters of the Danish monarchy and enemies of the rising German nationalism. They advocated the historical rights of the aristocracy in Schleswig and Holstein (in German Ritterschaft) and vehemently refused the incorporation of Schleswig and Holstein into the Danish state after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. Instead they wanted to uphold the multinational state with separate rights for its historical components while still recognizing the Danish king as their legitimate master. Before 1806 the document hardly played any role. After the incorporation and in particular in the discussions on how to share the economic burdens after the bankruptcy of the National Bank of Denmark in 1813, however, the document was instrumentalized as the legal basis for the demands of the aristocracy and liberals in both duchies as a forerunner of the Schleswig-Holstein movement of the 1830s.


In contrast to Dahlmann, his colleague at Kiel University and competitor for the job as secretary of the corporation of the Ritterschaft, the legal historian Niels Nicolai Falck (1784-1850), was a German speaking patriotic regionalist and supporter of the Danish multinational Monarchy, “Helstaten”. Falck was born in Schleswig as son of peasants in Emmerlev near Tønder (Tondern) north of the present border, and wanted to uphold the status quo of Schleswig and Holstein within the Danish realm. For Dahlmann, on the contrary, defense of the traditional “Landesrechte” of Schleswig and Holstein primarily served as a means to an end, namely German national unification. This he demonstrated in a series of well attended public lectures in 1814 and 1815 on the eve of Napoleon’s – and Denmark’s – defeat. Particularly a lecture he gave to mark the anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, “Rede zur Feier des Siegs vom 18ten Junius 1815; gehalten am 7ten Julius, im grossen academischen Hörsale, bei der durch die Kieler Universität angeordnete Feierlichkeit”. Interestingly, Dahlmann’s advocacy of German unification at first did not catch on at all among the students in Kiel. On the contrary they were reported to have reacted rather coldly to his proclamation of a united Germany.[64] . Dahlmann kept up his political activities for a time, publishing a journal called Kieler Nachrichten from 1815 to 1821 in collaboration with Falck. But he also succeeded in publishing solid historical research on Scandinavian and German history which has earned him a good name, even among Danish historians. Another result of Dahlmann’s work was that he helped popularize the idea of a particular democratic tradition among the peasants in Ditmarschen in the western parts of Holstein, a democratic tradition which he rightly blaimed the Oldenburg kings for having crushed.


In Göttingen, Dahlmann met the two linguists, Jakob Ludwig and Wilhlem Karl Grimm, who along with their many scholarly results played an ominous role as spokesmen for a pan-German reduction of the languages of their neighbors to the north and the east to mere dialects. In 1848 Jakob Grimm (1785-1863) claimed that the original language of the inhabitants of Jutland was German, and Schleswig thus ought to be united with Germany from purely linguistic and cultural reasons.[65] The only problem with this reasoning was that the majority of the population in North Schleswig spoke Danish and thought this was a different language from German, be that Hochdeutsch or Plattdeutsch. These claims by the brothers Grimm and others provoked responses from Danish historians who wanted to demonstrate the Danish character of Schleswig and Denmark in language and culture. The most influential was Haandbog i Fædrelandets Historie from 1840 by the historian Carl Ferdinand Allen (1811-71). In 1857-58 Allen published Det danske Sprogs Historie i Hertugdømmet Slesvig eller Sønderjylland in two massive volumes with an in-depth treatment of the languages in Schleswig from the oldest time until the present. A Danish nationalist, Allen was also an ardent Scandinavianist, and at the end of his life he published De tre nordiske Rigers Historie 1497-1536 of which he managed to finish the first five volumes covering the history of the Scandinavian kingdoms until 1527. When the civil war over the national affiliation of the two duchies erupted in the spring of 1848 the intellectual ground was thus well prepared by historians and propagandists on both sides.



Civil War over Schleswig 1848-1851

The largest town in Schleswig was Flensburg which played an important economic role in the entire realm. Together with Bergen in Norway and Altona in Holstein Flensburg was the largest commercial center outside Copenhagen and home to an important part of the Danish merchant fleet. Flensburg’s position in the so-called “triangular trade” between Europe, the West Coast of Africa and the West Indies explains why the production of rum played such an important role in Flensburg until recently – Hansen Rum for instance. Sugar was grown in the Danish Virgin Islands by slaves imported from the Danish colony Christiansborg in nowadays Ghana and ended up as rum, which was drunk in the shipyards of Flensburg by the Danish craftsmen and workers who built the ships that served the trading routes.


Besides its economic importance in the multinational Danish monarchy, Flensburg also played an important role in the economic and cultural life of the province of Schleswig. This may be difficult to understand today, where Flensburg has become just another sleepy German provincial town, albeit with a Danish flavor. But it is not long ago that the town was an active metropolis whose interests extended all over the globe. In the 1830s Flensburg was the economic center of a separate province within the Oldenburg Monarchy. In order to avoid the influence from the “unruly masses” of this large town, the Consultative Estates Assembly (“Stænderforsamling”) for the province of Schleswig which existed from 1834 to 1848 was convened in the much smaller and quieter town of Schleswig south of Flensburg.[66] Besides an upper class of merchants and officials, the majority of whom spoke German, Flensburg comprised a large Danish-speaking class of workers and craftsmen. Danish and German, or more accurately the South Jutland dialect (sønderjysk) and Low German (Plattdeutsch), co-existed, occasionally supplemented by Standard Danish and High German as the languages of the churches and the legal system.


In the western parts of Schleswig, furthermore, Frisian was spoken in the area between the Ejder and the present border just north of Niebüll and the North Sea islands. In the 1840s the Frisians sided with the German speakers, but in the wake of World War I the Frisians split into two groups, the larger one identifying itself as Germans with a regional culture (and coming dangerously close to Nazism), whereas the minority, the so-called “National Frisians” claimed to be a distinct national minority although cooperating with the Danish minority. Since 1945 the National Frisians have allied themselves with the Danish minority and run on the same political ticket of the political party of the Danish minority, SSW. Altona in Holstein, which today is a rather sleepy suburb to Hamburg, was one of the busiest economic centers in the state. It, too, owed its independence and affluence to the Oldenburg Empire (Helstaten). In Holstein the town was seen as “foreign” and too Danish, a fact which is still witnessed today in a row of impressive villas along the road along the Elbe, the Palmaille, drawn by the Danish neo-classical architect Christian Frederik Hansen (1756-1845) who served as chief Royal architect in Holstein 1784-1845 and set his imprint on the whole region. Apart from this effort Hansen is primarily known as the chief architect of Copenhagen from 1800 to his death in 1845. The capital Kiel was rather small and together with Itzehoe only grew rapidly in the last half of the 19th century as a result of the industrialization and militarization and the building of the North Sea Channel from Kiel to the Elbe in the united Germany 1887-1895.[67]


The Schleswig-Holstein program of the 1830s advocated by German intellectuals and aristocrats did not build on the Schleswigian regional identity of old. The Schleswig-Holstein movement rather represented a modern national-political program in competition with a Danish-national program that called for the incorporation of the whole of Schleswig as far as the river Ejder into a centralist Danish national state. As the Danish nationalist ideologist Orla Lehmann (1810-70) put it in the debates over a liberal constitution in 1838: “There are no regions in Denmark” (“I Danmark gives der ikke regioner”).[68] But a region or province was exactly what Schleswig had become since the Early Middle Ages. The Danish call for an incorporation of all of the province of Schleswig provoked a separatist reaction in Holstein in the 1830s and 1840s out of fear that the Danish state would “Danisize” the province. Because of that the majority moved from loyalty to the Danish king to separatism for Schleswig-Holstein. This change is witnessed in Itzehoer Wochenblatt according to Steen Bo Frandsen’s recent research.[69] In the long run, the old Schleswigian identity almost disappeared as a result of the civil war 1848-51 and the incorporation into Prussia in the united Germany after 1870.[70] The principal losers were the concept of a tolerant multi-nation Danish state, “Helstaten” and the idea of an independent Schleswig-Holstein. The two duchies of Schleswig and Holstein did remain “ungedeelt”, as assured by the Ribe Accord in 1460, but only as a rather neglected and militarized periphery within the new German Empire.


On the Danish side, a program for an ethnically and historically defined nation was formulated by the National Liberals in the 1830s under the leadership of a Danish politician who had spoken German in his home in Copenhagen in the 1820s, the earlier mentioned Orla Lehmann. The years between 1830 and 1848 saw the rise of modern political ideas in Denmark. As a result the peasant farmers began to organize after their own interests. According to the liberals, members of society ought to organize themselves on the basis of ideas and compete for political power in free elections – although the liberals meant that only those who “understood how to govern” should have the right to vote. Demands for a liberal constitution in the absolutist Danish monarchy were first formulated in minority circles of liberal academics in the first half of the 19th century, primarily among students and civil servants. In Denmark as well as Holstein, the move away from international or supranational liberalism to national liberalism occurred between 1836 and 1842. Until that point, the liberals in Copenhagen and Kiel had been allied in their resistance against the absolute monarchy, which continued to prevail even after the introduction of the consultative assemblies in 1830/34.[71] The bourgeoisie alone was so small in numbers that it was in no position to shake the absolutist regime. Had this not been apparent before, it certainly became so after the accession of Christian 8. to the throne in 1839. The liberals had high hopes in Christian 8. who had presided over the writing of the free constitution in Norway in 1814 before the forced union with Sweden. Much to their disappointment the liberals soon realized that the new king had absolutely no desire to limit his own powers and deliver himself into the hands of the increasingly nationalist liberals. His main intent was to preserve the composite Helstat and defend it against the rising nationalist antagonisms.


Under these circumstances, the two liberal reform groups in the capitals of Copenhagen and Kiel each established their own strategic alliances. In Denmark, the liberals allied themselves with the peasant farmers, an alliance which in 1846 led to the establishment of a political party, Bondevennerne (Friends of the Peasant). In Holstein and parts of Schleswig, a more informal alliance was established with the landed aristocracy that later developed into the Schleswig-Holsteinian movement. The confrontation of 1848 was not the only possible result of the national confrontations in Schleswig as it has been depicted in nationalist historiography from both sides. But neither of the two national liberal groups was able to gain power without a ‘national’ polarization over an abstract ideology that allowed them to mobilize allies among the other strata of the population. Thus nationalism came to tear apart the relatively well-functioning composite state, Helstaten or the Oldenburg Empire.


The nationalist radicalization of the language employed eventually led to rebellion and subsequent civil war in 1848. In Danish historiography the revolution is normally presented as a peaceful and consensual change from absolutism to democracy.[72] In fact, it was a bloody civil war over Schleswig, primarily fought in Jutland and at sea where the Danish fleet blockaded German harbors.[73] The proponents were two nationalist coalitions that both appealed to “the people”. In the first years of the conflict Prussia and other German states supported the Schleswig-Holstein rebels militarily and politically. Eventually, though, the European powers led by Russia, sided with the legitimate ruler, the king of Denmark, and restored status quo. After the Prussian forces were forced to withdraw, the Danish army won a narrow victory over the Schleswig-Holstein army led by German voluntaries at Isted near Schleswig on July 25, 1850. After the defeat of the rebels and the survival of the unstable bilingual Helstat the Danish administration took revenge and tried to roll back German language and culture in the disputed territories.[74] Neither this episode nor the Danish revenge over the Schleswig-Holstein liberals who were driven into exile in USA and the demise of the castle of Gottorp in Schleswig which was stripped of its paintings and sculptures (they can now be seen in the official Danish collections in the museums in Copenhagen) and turned into barracks for the Danish troops, has been treated by Danish historians.


Neither the Danish nor the German side wanted to give in, and after long and fruitless deliberations an intransigent Danish government in 1863 proclaimed the annexation of the whole of Schleswig. The international political climate and international agreements notwithstanding, the ruling National Liberals demanded a Danish nation state within the “historical” framework, that is all of Schleswig to the river Ejder, regardless of the opinion of the inhabitants. This move would have resulted in a large German-speaking minority within Denmark. After a crushing defeat of the Danish army at Dybbøl on April 18, 1864 and the subsequent occupation of all of Jutland, this unilateral act provided Bismarck’s Prussia and Austria with an opportunity to take all of Schleswig and Holstein. A narrow Danish victory at sea against an Austrian fleet at Helgoland – which the Austrians too remember as a victory with a Siegessäule in the Prater in Vienna – did not change the military outcome. Denmark lost two fifths of her most developed territory and a large group of Danes came to live as a Danish minority in North Schleswig.[75]


Stubborn and intransigent quibbling on the part of the Danish national liberal politicians and their misunderstanding of the international situation enabled Bismarck to establish a united Germany without Austria under Prussian dominance.[76] Denmark had gambled and lost all. The state survived as a sovereign nation state only by the skin of its teeth, primarily because its monarchy still was regarded as a legitimate part of European politics, combined with the interest of the great powers, first and foremost Russia and Britain, in maintaining a neutral power at the entrance to the Baltic. Had this not been the case, the country would have become either German or Swedish (the latter eventuality being termed Scandinavianism) or divided between the two powers. Today Danes have grown used to consider the small state of Denmark as both inevitable and positive. The reason for this was that new political movements exploited the exceptional situation with a sovereign state so weak that it opened the door for the political take over, first of the peasant farmers and later of the social democracy. That popular movements attempt to take power are not altogether unknown. But it is quite unprecedented that they were able to establish long lasting cultural, economic and eventually political hegemonies over a sovereign state. Immediately after the defeat in 1864, the demand for national, social and even physical integration of all people and districts was formulated in a popular slogan, “Outward losses must make up for by inward gains” (“Hvad udad tabes skal indad vindes”.[77] This laid the foundations for a consensual and relatively egalitarian Danish political culture, which is often portrayed as the opposite of the more authoritarian outcome in the victorious Germany, by self critical German historians referred to as the German Sonderweg. Such popular movements were not altogether uncommon in an international context, but it was quite unique for such movements to gain cultural, economic and eventually political hegemony over a sovereign state.[78]



The Peasant-Farmer Roots of Danish National Identity

Contrary to the situation in most other 19th century nation-states the very – small that is – size of the amputated Danish state allowed a numerous class of relatively well to do peasants turned independent farmers through the reforms of the late 18th century to take over, economically as well as politically. Not without opposition, but gradually throughout the latter part of the 19th century, the middle peasant farmers took over from the despairing ruling elites. These latter were recruited from the tiny urban bourgeoisie, the officials of the state trained at German style universities, inside the Monarchy as well as outside, and the manorial class. They had lost faith in the survival of the state after the debacle of 1864, followed by the subsequent establishment of a strong united Germany next door. Some even played with the thought of joining this neighboring state which already dominated the culture of the upper classes.


In this situation, however, an outburst of so-called “popular” energy proclaimed a strategy of “winning inwards what had been lost to the outside”. This bon mot was turned into a literal strategy of retrieving the lost agrarian lands of Western Jutland which had become deserted after the cutting of the forests in the 16th and 17th centuries. It also took the form of an opening up of the so-called “Dark Jutland” in an attempt to turn the economy of the peninsula of Jutland away from Hamburg and redirect it towards Copenhagen. This movement has provocatively been called “the Discovery of Jutland”[79], meaning the exploitation of Jutland by its capital Copenhagen which is situated on the far eastern rim of the country as a left over from the former empire, much like Vienna in present day Austria. This battle is not yet over as demonstrated in the heated controversies of whether first build a bridge between the islands Fyn and Sjælland or between Sweden and Copenhagen in the 1980s. The attempt to keep the Danish nation-state together and Jutland away from Hamburg won out as the former bridge was built first. However, it was decided on a very narrow margin.


What is more important, though, is the cultural, economic and political awakening of the middle peasants who became peasant farmers precisely during this period. The reason for their success lies in the relative weakness of the Danish bourgeoisie and the late industrialization. The industrial take-off only happened in the 1890s, and the final break-through as late as in the 1950s according to the dating by the economic historian Svend Åge Hansen in 1970.[80] Hansen’s definition of industry, though, is debatable as he follows the tradition of counting dairies and slaughterhouses as agriculture and not industry. This may have been correct in the early 19th century but misses the point later on in century and rather testifies to a particular Danish ideology than economic reality. The peasant farmers developed a consciousness of themselves as a class and understood themselves to be the real backbone of society. Their ideology supported free trade which is of no surprise as they were beginning to rely heavily on export of bacon and butter to the rapidly developing British market. This was the case to such a degree that Denmark, economically speaking, de facto became a part of the British Empire from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. What is more surprising is the fact that their ideology also contained strong libertarian elements because of their struggle with the existing urban and academic elites. The peasant movement won out basically because it succeeded in establishing an independent culture with educational institutions of its own. This again was possible because of the unique organizational device applied in the organization of the agrarian industries, the cooperative.


The basic agrarian production was still pretty much a typical individualistic production on independent farms, albeit of an average size somewhat larger than usual in a European context. However, the processing of these products into exportable products took place in local farm industries run on a cooperative basis. The cooperatives were run democratically on the basis of equality regardless of the initial investment. The cooperative movement formulated this in a slogan of votes being cast “by heads instead of heads of cattle” (i.e. one man, one vote). This pun (in Danish “hoveder” and “høveder”) is less true when one starts investigating the realities of the cooperatives.[81] Yet the myth stuck and produced a sense of community which through means of various political traditions has been transformed into a hegemony that has lasted so long that it has laid the ground for a national consensus. The libertarian values, though, were not originally meant to include the other segments of the population. The agrarian system was based on a crass exploitation of the agricultural laborers by the farmers. These were, together with the urban elites, often not even considered part of “the people” (“folket”) by the peasant-farmers. However, in an interesting and surprisingly original ideological maneuver, the rising Social Democracy adapted its ideology to the unique agrarian-industrial conditions in Denmark and developed a strategy very different from the Marxist orthodoxy of the German mother party. The Danish Social Democracy even agreed to the establishing of a class of very small farmers called “husmænd” (cottagers). Thus they fulfilled the expectations of their landless members among the agricultural workers but at the same time undermined the possibility of ever obtaining an absolute majority in the parliament as did their sister parties in Sweden and Norway.[82]


The Danish Social Democrats understood the importance of agriculture in the Danish rump state in their practical policies. They failed, however, to turn this understanding into coherent theory. At the level of doctrine the party stuck to the orthodox Marxist formulations in the 1913 program. These formulations reflected the international debates in the Second International rather than Danish reality and the practical policy of the party. The very fact that the program of 1913 remained unchanged until 1961 testifies to the lack of importance attributed to theory in this the most pragmatic of all reformist Socialist parties. The Danish Social Democracy never was strong on theory, but the labor movement, on the other hand, has produced an impressive number of capable administrators and politicians, at least until recently. The lack of explicit strategy enabled remnants of the libertarian peasant ideology to take root early on. The Social Democrats embarked upon a policy for all the classes, and not just for the working class, after World War I. This new policy was provoked by the chock of the outbreak of a war which the socialist parties proved unable to prevent through international cooperation. This testifies to the importance of the liberal-popular ideological hegemony dating back to the last third of the 19th century. It is also proof that the leaders realized that they would never gain power on their own. The farmers proper only constituted a fragment of the population as a whole, but small scale production permeated the whole society.


Originally the Danish social democrats followed the internationalist paroles of the international socialist movement, but as a result of their electoral success they had to adapt to the general anti-German feelings of the population. Socialists in all European states faced the dilemma of operating as followers of an international movement and ideology in nation states that underwent a rapid nationalization as a result of the new mass politics that followed the successful industrialization. In theory the Danish social democrats subscribed to the anti-militarist and internationalist paroles of the Second International after 1889 but in practical politics they turned out as national as the other socialist parties, only with a different social profile. In economic policy Social Democracy, as mentioned, took a more liberal course than other socialist parties out of respect for the agrarian character of the country, even in its most modern sectors of which a substantial part was organized in cooperatives. The Danish social democrats only organized as a party in 1870 after the devastating defeat of 1864. From the beginning it tried to distance itself as well from the conservative nationalism as well as from the more populist nationalism of the liberal representatives of the peasant farmers in the party, Venstre. This policy of distance turned out to be difficult as the social democrats entered an electoral alliance with Venstre from 1883 in order to oust the ruling conservative party from power. Furthermore, the conservatives had some success in appealing to the national sentiments of the urban workers and artisans.


In the 1870s the Danish Social Democracy, though not seeing itself as anti-national, recommended urban workers in Schleswig which after 1866 belonged of Prussia to vote for German socialist candidates instead of Danish candidates.[83] This recommendation was based on the principle of national self-determination which all socialist parties, at least in theory, subscribed to. The Danish Social Democracy, operating in a small country was one of the most ardent followers of the principles of internationalism and anti-militarism whereas it was more difficult for parties in larger and stronger states to persuade their voters of the value of abstaining from the use of force in international relations. This internationalist policy which implied acceptance of international borders meant that the Danish Social Democratic party abstained from organizing workers in Schleswig. With the consequence that the majority of workers in Flensburg in particular which underwent a rapid industrialization before 1912 joined the German socialists, from 1890 officially recognized as Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD. The result was that Flensburg changed from a Danish speaking majority in 1864 to a German majority in 1920.[84] On the other hand, the German Social Democracy condemned the official policy of Germanification 1897-1901 and cooperated with the Danish social democrats north of the border in the interest of internationalism and the policy of national self-determination. In the other towns in North Schleswig the outcome was different even though the Danish social democrats abstained from organizing the workers. Even though an influx of German civil servants and railway workers, a military presence in Sønderborg (Sonderburg) which was turned into a naval base and general Germanification of the urban middle classes resulted in German majorities at the referendum in 1920, most workers in North Schleswig preserved their Danish language and identification with Danish culture. And as the surrounding districts demonstrated an overwhelming Danish majority they all fell to Denmark as part of the first zone where national affiliation was determined en bloc at the referendum in 1920.


The national affiliation of Flensburg remained an open wound in Danish politics in the years after 1920. The Social Democracy suffered a split over the national question in Schleswig in 1920, albeit of minor importance.[85] Basically it stuck to its acceptance of the outcome of the referendum and even threatened to call a general strike when the king exersized his powers and appointed a new government when the social liberal government that had steared the country through World War I lost its majority. This led to the so-called Easter Crisis in 1920 which helped securing the principle of parliamentarism, i.e. that a government should command a majority in parliamentnet at.[86] Even though some workers has signed a petition ‘to get Flensburg back’ regardless of the convincing electoral result the party succeeded in holding its line together with social liberal allies and a few conservatives. The so-called ‘Flensburg question’ surfaced again in 1945-47 and helped bringing down a liberal-conservative government. The question was only settled in 1955 with the signing of the Bonn-Copenhagen agreements which were based on a mutual recognition of the individual’s right to national self-determination and protection of the national minorities on both side of the border. In German the principle behind the so-called “Schleswig model” is rendered as “Minderheit ist wer will”, i.e. only the individual has the right to declare his or her national affiliation and no authorities have any right to interfer with the decision of the individuals.[87]



Grundtvigism – National and Social Consensus in the left overs of the Oldenburg Empire

The main reason why a libertarian nationalist ideology ended up dominating a whole nation-state was the small size of this particular state. Danish historians and sociologists have eagerly discussed whether the peasant ideological hegemony resulted from a particular class structure dating back to the 1780s or even further back to the early sixteenth century, when the number of farms was frozen by law, or whether it was this ideology that created the particular class-structure of the Danish nineteenth century society. Put in such terms the discussion is almost impossible to solve as both of the protagonist’s positions reveal some part of the truth. A better explanation of the outcome is to stress the particular ideology of populism or “popular” (folkelighed) in Danish nationalism. This concept was first and most coherently formulated by the important but virtually untranslatable philosopher, historian, priest, and poet Nikolaj Frederik Grundtvig (1783-1872).


Depressed by the defeat of Denmark by Great Britain in the war 1807-1814, the young priest Grundtvig took it upon himself to reestablish what he took to be the original “Nordic” or “Danish” mind. He translated the Icelandic Sagas, the 12th century historian Saxo Grammaticus, the Anglo Saxon poem Beowulf and many other sources of what he considered the true, but lost, core of “Danishness”. His sermons attracted large crowds of enthusiastic students. His address on The Light of the Holy Trinity, delivered in 1814 to a band of student volunteers willing to fight the English, inspired a whole generation of young followers, including the priest Jacob Christian Lindberg (1791-1857) who later organized the first Grundtvigian movement. When Grundtvig embarked upon a sharp polemic with his superiors in the church on matters of theology, he was banned from all public appearances and publishing. This drove him into what he called his “inner exile” in the 1830s. This inner exile, however, gave him time for reflection where he formulated a program for a revival of the stagnant official religion. When the ban was lifted in 1839 he burst out in a massive production of sermons, psalms, and songs, a literary legacy which at least until a generation ago was the core of the socialization of most Danes. Grundtvig then formulated an all-embracing view of nature, language, and history. In 1848, after the outbreak of the civil war over Schleswig, he produced a refined definition of national identity which helped set the tone for a nationalist identification less chauvinistic than most in the 19th century. As is sometimes the case with prolific writers, his most precise theoretical expressions were to be found in the restricted form of the verse: “People! What is a people? What does popular mean? Is it the nose or the mouth that gives it away? Is there a people hidden from the average eye in burial hills and behind bushes, in every body, big and boney? They belong to a people who think they do, those who can hear the Mother tongue, those who love the Fatherland. The rest are separated from the people, expel themselves, do not belong”.[88]


This definition, though produced in the heat of the battle with the German speaking rebels in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, resembles most of all the definition of national identity produced by in 1882 by the French thinker Ernest Renan in what has since become one of the standard texts on nationalism, Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? Originally Renan’s intention was “scientifically” to demonstrate the right of the French population in Alsace-Lorraine to its French nationality, even after the provinces had been signed over to Germany by the peace treaty in 1871. After their defeat in the French-German war, the French changed their minds as to whether nation should be defined in cultural or political terms. The same happened in Denmark after the defeat in 1864 which in 1867 was followed by the incorporation into Prussia of all of Schleswig. But Grundtvig anticipated this change of thinking – at least in some of his writings. Renan’s statement has since become the standard formulation of an anti-essentialist definition of national identity. This could be labeled a voluntarist-subjective definition as it stresses the importance of the expressed will of people. The rival definition in modern European thinking could be called the objective-culturalist definition. It dates back to the German thinker J. G. H. Herder and has permeated all thinking in the 19th and 20th centuries up until Fascism and Nazism.[89] It is surprising that the Danish thinker Grundtvig should present a democratic definition of nationality as early as 1848. No immediate military defeat had preceded it as was the case in France. Until 1870 French thinkers had defined nationality in terms no less essentialist than any German would after that date. On top of that it must be remembered that Grundtvig wrote these lines in a highly explosive political situation when a majority in the two predominantly German-speaking provinces of Schleswig and Holstein had seceded. Admittedly Grundtvig left those who opted for the German language to their own choice as non-Danes, which in his opinion was a most deplorable fate. But he left them the choice and would never dream of interfering with it.


Through a long and complicated history this understanding of national identity gradually became official Danish policy and has successfully been applied in the border region between Denmark and Germany after 1920 and in particular after 1955. There is much more to say about the thinking of Grundtvig and his influence on Danish political culture. The core of his thinking was the assumption that culture and identity are embedded in the unity of life and language. Although this kind of thinking invites the labeling of chauvinism, Grundtvig himself, like his opposite number Herder, did not assume a hierarchy of nationalities. Cultural diversity yes, cultural dominance no. Whether these assumptions are really viable need not concern us here. What does concern us, though, is the fact that his thinking caught on among a class of people in the small state left over from the wars of the middle of the century. It began with the students immediately after 1814. The break-through only happened around 1839 when different religious and political movements decided to transform his thinking into practice. First, it influenced the revivalist religious movements; later, more explicitly political movements; and eventually, his thinking came to serve as the foundation for independent economic and educational institutions. Grundtvig himself did not seek such popular support. He delivered his message either in writing or orally, and then stood aloof when others decided what to make out of it. This is why some of today’s guardians of the thoughts of Grundtvig speak of him as having been “taken prisoner by the Grundtvigian movement” when his message was transformed into an ideology by the name of “Grundtvigism”.


The revivalists came to Grundtvig of their own accord. The religious movements in Denmark of the first half of the 19th century resembled many other Pietist movements throughout Europe. Because of the negative attitude of the official Lutheran state church they chose to meet outside the churches, and were called “Forsamlingsbevægelsen” (the meeting movement). They were attracted by Grundtvig’s independent interpretation of the Lutheran heritage because he succeeded in giving an optimistic tone to the normally somewhat gloomy Pietism of German origins. In their struggles with the officials of the absolutist state these revivalists learned an organizational lesson which they would soon put to political use. The leaders of the peasant movement of the 1840s were recruited from their ranks. Initially, working under the tutelage of the liberal intellectuals, the peasant party gradually broke away from the National Liberals, as they called themselves. Soon, though, the various political factions of the peasant party began to establish independent institutions. They began with the church. With the transformation of the monarchy from an absolutist to a constitutional regime in 1849, the organization of the church had to be changed accordingly.


The result of these endeavors differed in important ways from the otherwise comparable situation in the Lutheran monarchies of Sweden and Norway. A state church with a proper constitution never came into existence, though it had been envisaged in the constitution of 1849. This was a result of the influence of Grundtvig and the revivalist movement. They wanted guarantees of religious freedom, so the church should be the creature of the state, or its agent of socialization, as it had been under absolutism. These guarantees they found best preserved in an anarchic state of church affairs.[90] In this way Denmark has acquired a most peculiar mixture of freedom and state control in religious matters. There is a minister of religious affairs called Minister of the “People’s Church” – a contradiction in terms that does not seem to bother Danes. He or she presides over church administration and the upkeep of church buildings. Most of this is financed by a separate tax. However, it is left to individual priests and their congregations to interpret the actual teachings of the church within a broad understanding of Christianity. Local councils elected every four years run these congregations. Still today the most influential groups in these councils are the vaguely fundamentalist Inner Mission in alliance with the Social Democrats. In spite of their differences they often collaborate in order to control the freedom of the academically educated priests. These latter are normally trained at the universities and represent an intellectually refined Lutheran theology which does not appeal to ordinary believers.


Yet almost 80 % of the apparently non-religious and secular Danish citizens belong to this church in the sense that they pay the taxes even if relatively few attend service except for Christmas, baptisms, burials, and weddings. Still, I think, the Lutheranism of the People’s Church plays an enormous and insufficiently recognized role in defining the political culture. In fact, we should probably talk of Lutheran or Protestant Democracy rather than Social Democracy when analyzing the social and political model advocated by Denmark in particular and the Nordic countries in general.[91] In the 1870s the ideological battle was carried into the educational field. The National Liberals who now sided whole-heartedly with the conservative owners of the manors in a party called “Højre” (the Right) wanted a comprehensive school system under the supervision of the state. This, the majority of the farmers’ party “Venstre” (the Left) resisted vehemently. They believed in the absolute freedom of education and attacked the “black” schools of learning where Latin was still taught. This they could do because the peasant movement from 1844 had established a network of “Folk High Schools” throughout the country. Over the years Grundtvig had produced a series of programs for a new and more democratic educational system. Like most of his other thoughts they did not constitute a coherent system. Rather, they can be seen as an appeal for a practical schooling in democracy. However, what these schools lack in coherent programs they make up for in flexibility. Today most of them are institutions of adult education, supplementing the formal educational system.


On top of this, the anti-institutional thinking of Grundtvig in the end permeated the Danish educational system to such a degree that even today there is no compulsory schooling, only compulsory learning. Whether one is educated in a state school or a so-called “free school” is a personal choice. Again, this might not sound terribly surprising for an American audience, but taken in the context of the highly centralized European states with a Lutheran heritage it is most surprising. What is more, these free schools helped produce what can best be termed an “alternative elite”. Until very recently there were two or maybe three different ways of recruiting the political, cultural, and business elites. The university system was one, the workers movement another at least until the democratization of the official educational system in the 1960s. Both are well-known in other countries. The third line of recruitment through the folk high schools, however, is (or rather was) a peculiarly Danish phenomenon. Grundtvig and his followers accomplished what amounts to a real cultural revolution. He hated the formal teachings of the official school system and favored free learning with an emphasis on story telling – “the living word” – and discussion among peers. This program gave rise to a system of free schools for the children, plus folk high schools and agrarian schools for the farmer sons and daughters in their late teens and early twenties.


It is difficult to estimate the importance of the Grundtvigian schools in precise quantitative terms, as their influence has been almost as great outside the schools as in them. There is no doubt, however, that the very fact of the existence of two competing elites has helped agrarian and libertarian values to make inroads into the mainstream of Danish political culture and thus has contributed heavily to defining “Danishness”.[92] The informal and anti-systematic character of the teachings of Grundtvig was the reason why they suited the peasant movement so well. His writings in prose and poetry provided inspiration without restricting innovation. It also helps explain why Grundtvig has never been a favorite of academics; his thinking does not amount to a coherent theoretical system. His enmity toward all systems let him even to deny that he himself was a “Grundtvigian” (much as Marx denied that he was a “Marxist”). “Grundtvigians” never used this term themselves but talked of “Friends” and organized “meetings of Friends”. This organizational informality turned out to be a major advantage, at least in the early stages of the movement, while later on it led to long series of splits and fractional fighting. Furthermore, it is the reason why the influence of this farmers’ ideology was able to cross the boundaries of the class it originally had served so well and was able to influence the worker’s movement in the Danish rump which became the quintessential ’small state’ because it survived its territorial losses and even succeeded in turning these defeats into a strength.[93]



Urbanization, Industrialization and Nationalization in the Nation Building Process in Denmark

As the class of peasant farmers gradually won political, cultural, and economic influence in the second half of the 19th century, this program prevailed as the backbone of a successful national democracy. In the 20th century this national democracy was transformed into a tightly knit social democracy as a result of the rise of the workers’ movement, organized in the Social Democratic party. This party rose to the position as the largest party already before World War I, primarily because of the industrialization of Copenhagen combined with a successful mobilization of the landless agrarian laborers. Because of the agrarian dominance the level of urbanization was relatively low apart from the capital of Copenhagen.[94] Copenhagen played an un-proportionally large role in the otherwise agrarian country because of its former role as center in a much larger multinational composite state. Copenhagen was much larger than all other towns in the realm and seat of the major merchant houses and overseas trading companies and in the 19th century home for a rapid industrialization which attracted a huge immigration from the rest of the country and southern Sweden. The importance of this unbalanced process of urbanization for the formation of national identity has not been addressed by Danish historians who have taken the imbalance between the capital and the rest of the country for ‘normal’. The contradictory role of a city that at the same time was a cosmopolitan and Baltic city and a national capital in a small state where the peasant farmers gradually established an economic, political and cultural hegemony, though, has left an important mark on the political culture which is still an important topic.


The end result of the ‘Danish’ political mobilization in the 1830s and 1840s and the narrow defeat of the Holsteinian rebellion in the civil war 1848-51 was what with a modern term might be labelled an ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Copenhagen of its German speaking population. This process has never been investigated in any detail as it was seen as the ‘natural’ outcome of the conflict by later Danish historians. That is why we do not know whether this ‘ethnic cleansing’ was the result of forced migration or a change of language and national affiliation. We only know that Copenhagen was nationally homogeneous at the onset of the war in 1863. As a result of the disastrous defeat in the war 1864 and the loss of almost two fifths of the population, Copenhagen although relatively small compared with other European capitals came to loom even larger in the tiny nation state that was left. Despite the city’s higher degree of linguistic homogeneity it must be remembered that Copenhagen still was the capital for the remnants of a North Atlantic empire, large in geography though small in inhabitants, comprising Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Furthermore, Copenhagen still was considered the cultural capital of Norway even though this nation politically was in union with Sweden. Thus, the city never was as nationally homogeneous as has been assumed by Danish historians. Even though the city in a European context must be considered a small city, even after the opening up of the medieval walls in 1857 and the expansion into the surroundings, politically and culturally Copenhagen was a large head on a small body, pretty much in the same situation as Vienna in the reduced Austria after 1918.


Copenhagen’s political and cultural dominance over the rest of the country was reinforced with the industrialization in the 19th and 20th centuries. The industrial revolution in the second part of the 19th century in Denmark to a large degree took place in Copenhagen combined with the small scale dairy industry in the agrarian sector outside the capital. The industrialization implied a huge in-migration of landless labourers from all over Denmark and from Southern Sweden – the provinces which has been lost in 1658-60 – the so-called “forgotten immigration” as it was called by the late economic historian Richard Willerslev.[95] At the same time Copenhagen developed into a trading and commercial center of the Baltic area because of its informal alliance with the Russian Empire that allowed a company like Store Nordiske Telegrafkompagni (Great Northern Telegraph Company) to establish telegraph lines through the huge Russian Empire all the way to China.[96] This expansion, combined with Denmark’s role as the prime exporter of agrarian products to Britain, allowed Copenhagen a much larger and more cosmopolitan status than the size of Denmark in itself would provide. In 1891-94 a duty free harbour (Frihavnen) was established to serve as trading hub for the international trade in the Baltic area. Thus the modernization of Denmark was the result of two different processes that at the time were as mutually antagonistic and exclusive. On the one hand the modernization of the agrarian sector primarily initiated by the cooperative movement and Grundtvigism which from the west in Jutland and stopped short of Copenhagen. On the other hand a more traditional modernization process spurred by the industries set up mainly in Copenhagen and the larger cities in combination with a number of successful transnational companies such as Østasiatisk Kompagni, ØK (East India Company), Store Nordiske Telegrafkompagni (Great Northern Telegraph Company) and Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab, DFDS (United Steamship Company) not to speak of the breweries Carlsberg and Tuborg (today merged into on large company, De Forenede Bryggerier, United Breweries). Unfortunately this double character of economic modernization Denmark has not been analysed in depth by Ivan Behrend in his otherwise brilliant analysis of the industrialization of Europe in the 19th century.[97]


Because of all these factors Copenhagen came to play a contradictory role in the development of Danish nationalism. On the one hand the city was the undisputed political, cultural and economic center after the victory of the anti-federalist and centralizing “National Liberals” in 1848-49 that led to the introduction of a free constitution. On the other hand the urban classes in Copenhagen joined hands with the manorial class in the party of the Right (Højre) in the political struggles with the representatives of the rising agrarian class of peasant farmers, the Left (Venstre) in the second half of the 19th century. The outcome of this struggle came to determine the political culture of the country. These urban classes primarily comprised civil servants and the many new craftsmen and independent businessmen in the upcoming urban trades after the introduction of free trade in 1857.[98] The capital thus was both the ultimate theater for the political struggle, the main seat for the newspapers that formed the national public sphere (in German Öffentlichkeit) and an active participant in politics with its own economic interests towards Hamburg and the Danish provincial towns. This is the background for the extreme centralization of the infrastructure, in particular railroads and steamship routes, that began with the founding of the united steamship company DFDS in 1866 by the most successful businessman of the period Carl Frederik Tietgen (1829-1901).[99] The intellectuals in the city thought themselves cosmopolitan and European as can be demonstrated by the example of the leading Danish and European intellectual Georg Brandes (1842-1927), whose self-proclaimed ‘Europeanness’ and cosmopolitanism in reality only amounted to an urban version of Danish small-state agrarian nationalism.[100]


Brandes was born in 1842 when the Danish-Schleswigian-Holsteinian-Icelandic multinational state approached its final demise in the civil war of 1848-51 and total defeat by the Prussian and Austrian armies in 1864. The latter event left an enormous impression on the young Brandes as it did on all his contemporaries. As earlier mentioned the small, rather provincial capital of Copenhagen between 1800 and 1850 was home for a surprisingly large group of artists, writers and philosophers, some of whom acquired world fame in their own time or later, first of all the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) and the natural scientist Hans Christian Ørsted (1777-1851) not to speak of a range of painters who have given rise to the denomination of the period as the “Golden Age” of Danish culture. According to the authoritative multi-volume biography of Georg Brandes by Jørgen Knudsen he saw himself as a Jew, a Dane and a European.[101] In this order, though the sequence today seems slightly politically incorrect. Knudsen demonstrates convincingly that Brandes’ Jewishness played an important though largely ignored role for him all is life. But in contrast to his two other identities, the national and the European, his Jewishness has not attracted much attention in the scholarly literature, though it was very much noticed at the time. Anti-Semitism probably was an important factor in his difficulties in obtaining a professorship at Copenhagen University even though the official reason was his lack of national credentials, his so-called ‘Europeanness’.


Brandes himself did not see any problem the two identifications as Dane and as a European, neither in theory nor in practice. Through the influence and widespread reception of his writings in the dominant European languages Brandes acquired the status of the most respected and best known European intellectual since Voltaire. In his later years he alone constituted a European public sphere (Öffentlichkeit). Yet, this all European intellectual, well versed in most European languages, cherished his national identification as a Dane, at times even a nationalist Dane. Most of his life he was in strong opposition to the extremely conservative regime under the county squire Estrup who dominated Danish politics between 1870 and 1894. Nevertheless he took a strong stance in favor of the suppressed Danish minority in Prussian ruled Schleswig. In his farewell address when taking leave of Berlin in 1883 after a successful six years stay[102], he openly criticized the German suppression of his countrymen in this northernmost part of the newly united German empire. This intervention falls well in line with his later interventions on behalf of other suppressed nationalities such as the Poles in Russia, the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the Alsacians in Germany where he advocated the principle of national self-determination. These interventions were courageous as they ran against the dominating mood in the country whose reading audience he depended on the most for his international fame, Germany. But his political interventions were not anti-German which became obvious when he under World War I broke with his former ally, Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929), because he refused to place all blame for the war on Germany and upheld a neutral stance in a war which he right from the beginning saw as the catastrophe for Europe it was.[103]


That Georg Brandes was a European with a specific national background does not mark him out as anything particular. But we should go a step further in understanding the very “Danish” nature of this very epitome of a European intellectual who, regardless of all the languages he mastered, still only felt fully at home in Danish. As he put it in 1871 when his Italian friend Giuseppe Saredo tried to lure him to Italy with all the opportunities this step would open for a man of his abilities: “I love the Danish language much too much to ever leave it.” And as he wrote to his editor Henri Nathansen (1868-1944) in 1903: “The Danish language is my fatherland.”[104] The program for a romantically, ethnically and historically motivated definition of the nation was originally formulated by the National Liberals who predominantly were recruited among the administrative and commercial elites in Copenhagen. This concept, however, was out of tune with the political and social realities of the agrarian economy of the country, farmers as well as owners of manors. The clash between these forces came to dominate parliamentary politics from 1870 to 1901. This clash is best understood as a conflict between two variants of nationalism, an urban small-state nationalism primarily based in Copenhagen and an agrarian version expressing the rising self confidence among the peasant farmers. As the intellectual and administrative center Copenhagen was as well victim as prime mover in the nationalization process from 1830 to 1914.


Because of the industrialization of the country in last half of the 19th century almost a third of the Danish population lived in the greater Copenhagen area in the eastern part of the country around 1900. Even though the main economic development depending on refinement of agricultural products took place in the countryside outside Copenhagen, this urban milieu was the main center of the political and intellectual modernization of Denmark. In the parliamentary struggles of the 19th century the city was for a long time solidly in the hands of the conservative party, Højre.[105] The political majority in Copenhagen eventually changed because of the immigration of thousands of rural workers from all over Denmark and Southern Sweden in the wake of the industrial revolution.[106] But until the rise of the Social democracy in the 1880s and 1890s, many of the urban workers voted for Højre. Only when the Social Democrats after 1878 succeeded in organizing trade unions and later began to collaborate with Venstre in the elections, the political climate in the capital changed. This victory was possible because, contrary to the situation in many other capital cities, the percentage of workers who voted was almost the same as for other classes.[107] In 1903, the rapid increase in social democratic votes gave a social democrat the post as mayor for finances. In 1917 the Social Democracy obtained the majority and the position as Lord Mayor of the city, a post the party has held until today.



Legacy of the Oldenburg Empire – Populist and Democratic Nationalism in a Rump State

The notion of ‘Denmark’ is far from unequivocal. On one hand the name refers to a typical multinational empire, the Oldenburg Empire, which has played role in European politics for centuries. On the other hand, this very same name refers to an atypical homogeneous small nation-state. This duality is nicely reflected in the use of two national anthems. The first is Kong Christian (“King Christian”) written by Johannes Ewald in 1779. This martial song praises the warrior king who defeats the enemies of the country – and politely forgets how he lost everything in the end. The other song is Der er et yndigt land (“There is a lovely land”) written in 1819 by the romanticist poet Adam Oehlenschläger, praising the beauty of the friendly and peaceful country and its national inhabitants. This latter is the one sung at national football-games, regardless of the result. Denmark, Danes and ‘Danish’ national consensus are caught between competing and at times even antagonistic notions of Danishness. Both notions are legacies of the Oldenburg Empire, albeit at odds with each other. This duality also explains the all dominating role of the capital of Copenhagen in the economy as well in the political culture and why the country until recently understood itself as agrarian, albeit in a capitalist and industrialized way. All these contradictions stem from the complicated and misunderstood nation-building process in the remnants of the Oldenburg Empire in the 19th century.

[1] Steinwascher, Gerd. Die Oldenburger. Die Geschichte einer europäischen Dynastie (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer Verlag) 2011.

[2] Østergård, Uffe. “Schleswig and Holstein in Danish and German Historiography.” Tibor Frank and Frank Hadler eds. Disputed Territories and Shared Pasts. Overlapping National Histories in Modern Europe (Houndsmill: Palgrave Macmillan) 2011: 200-223 and Østergård, Uffe. “Fortidens nutid – dansk nationalisme og national identitet.” Bach, Erik e.a. eds. Her og nu! Fortidsforståelse i kunst, kultur og videnskab (Copenhagen: Carlsbergfondet) 2012: 22-39.

[3] Roberts, Michael. The Swedish Imperial Experience 1560-1718 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 1979.

[4] Bregnsbo, Michael and Jensen, Kurt Villads. Det danske imperium – storhed og fald (Copenhagen: Aschehoug) 2004.

[5] The concepts composite state’ and ‘conglomerate state’ have become accepted technical terms for the territorial states in early modern Europe. A definition is proposed by J. C. D. Clark. “Britain as a Composite State.” Østergård, Uffe ed. Britain – Nation, State, Decline, Culture and History 9-10 (1991), 55-85. The Swedish historian Harald Gustafsson has coined the concept ‘conglomerate state’, see Gustafsson, Harald. “Conglomerate State: A Perspective on State Formation in Early Modern Europe.” Scandinavian Journal of History 23: 3-4 (1998): 189-213.

[6] In an interesting article a German historian, Carsten Jahnke, has challenged this interpretation of the treaty and convincingly proven that the treaty was misinterpreted by the Schleswig-Holstein movement in the 19th century for political reasons Jahnke, Carsten. “dat se bliven ewig tosamende ungedelt”, Zeitschrift für die Geschichte Schleswig Holsteins 128 (2003): 45-59.

[7] Green-Pedersen, Svend Erik. “The Scope and Structure of the Danish Negro Slave Trade.” The Scandinavian Economic History Review XIX:2 (1971):149-197.

[8] Ahnlund, Nils. “Dominium Maris Baltici.”, Nils Ahnlund. Tradition och historia (Stcokholm: Almquist & Wicksell) 1956: 114-130.

[9] Østergård, Uffe. “For konge og fædreland. Universiteterne i den multinationale dansk-norsk-slesvigsk-holstenske Helstat.”, Rubicon 11:2 (2003): 17-41 and Østergård, Uffe. Universiteterne i den dansk-norsk-slesvigsk-holstenske Helstat. 2007.

[10] Østergård, Uffe. “College for the Instruction of Asian and Other Youth in Eastern Literature and European Science in Serampore.” George Oommen and Hans Raun Iversen (eds.), It began in Copenhagen. Junctions in 300 years of Indian-Danish Relations in Christian Mission (Delhi: Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge) 2005: 204-220.

[11] Sanders, Hanne. Efter Roskildefreden 1658. Skånelandskapen och Sverige i krig och fred (Göteborg: Makadams förlag) 2008.

[12] According to the research by Gunner Lind and others, the structural foundations for these legal innovations actually date back to the wars between 1614 and 1660, the Danish version of the European wide military-political revolution of the 17th century, see Lind, Hæren og magten i Danmark 1614-1662 (Odense: Odense University Press) 1994. Whether this is correct or not does not afflict the degree of modern centralization which characterized the Oldenborg Empire from the 1680s onwards.

[13] Horstbøll, Henrik and Østergård, Uffe. “Reform and Revolution – The French Revolution and the Case of Denmark.” Scandinavian Journal of History 15 (1990): 155-79.

[14] Petersen, Karsten Skjold. Geworbene krigskarle. Hvervede soldater i Danmark 1774-1803 (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanums Forlag) 2002.

[15] Bregnsbo, Michael. “Copenhagen – the capital of an empire.” Christensen, Søren Bitsch and Mikkelsen, Jørgen eds. Danish Towns During Absolutism. Urbanisation and Urban Life 1660-1814 (Aarhus: Center for Urban History) 2008: 133-152.

[16] An exhibition at Hamburger Kunsthalle and Thorvaldsen’s Museum in Copenhagen in 2000 pointed to this rather overlooked aspect of German-Danish cultural exchange, cf. Under samme himmel. Land og by i dansk og tysk kunst 1800-1850. (Copenhagen: Thorvaldsens Museum) 2000. One of the famous German artists who studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in Copenhagen was the Romanticist painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) from Geifswald who studied in Copenhagen from 1794 to 1798 under the sculptor Johannes Wiedewelt and the painter Nicolai Abildgaard before he left for Dresden, see in particular Kasper Monrad “København – Dresden tur/retur. Friedrich set med danske øjne.” Under samme himmel. (2000): 37-62.

[17] Feldbæk, Ole. “Clash of Culture in a Conglomerate State: Danes and Germans in 18th Century Denmark.“ C. V. Johansen et al. eds. Clashes of Culture (Odense: Odense University Press) 1992: 80-89 and Østergård, Uffe. “Seien Sie herzlich Willkommen in Kopenhagen. Deutsche Spuren in Kopenhagen”, Gesellschaft (2008).

[18] Hougaard, Jens. Ludvig Holberg. The Playwright and his Age up to 1730. (Odense: Odense University Press) 1993.

[19] Købmanahafn or just Hafn, in Latin Hafnia or Mercatorum portus (Saxo Grammaticus, Gesta Danorum around 1200) literally means the merchant’s harbor. The name first appeared in a letter from Pope Urban 3. in 1186 according to information in Olsen, Gunnar and Winding, Kjeld. Københavns historie (Copenhagen: J. H. Schultz Forlag) 1941.

[20] Feldbæk 1992: 81.

[21] Carr, William. Schleswig-Holstein 1815-48. A Study in National Conflict (Manchester: Manchester University Press) 1963:27.

[22] Paulsen, J. “Tyske embedsmænd i København i Tiden 1800-1840. En oversigt over deres Indflydelse paa Udviklingen af den nationale Modsætning indenfor den danske Helstat.” Sønderjyske Aarbøger (1936): 48.

[23] Østergård, Uffe. “Republican Revolution or Absolutist Reform?” G. M. Schwab and J. R. Jeanneney eds. The French Revolution of 1789 and Its Impact (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press) 1995: 227-56.

[24] Ladewig Petersen, Erling ed. Magtstaten i Norden i 1600-tallet og dens sociale konsekvenser (Odense: Odense Universitetsforlag) 1984.

[25] Venturi, Franco. The End of the Old Regime in Europe, 1768-1776. The First Crisis. (Princeton: Princeton University Press) 1989 and Østergård 1995.

[26] Seip, J. A. “Teorien om det opinionstyrte enevelde.” (Norwegian) Historisk Tidssktift 38 (1958): 397-463; reprint in Politisk ideologi. Tre lærestykker (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget) 1988: 13-66.

[27] Østergård 1995.

[28] Løfting, C., Horstbøll, H. and Østergård, U. “Les effets de la révolution française au Danemark”, in M. Vovelle ed. L’image de la révolution française vol. I (Oxford: Pergamon Press) 1989: 621-42.

[29] Feldbæk 1992: 87.

[30] Christiansen, N. F. “Danmark og Tyskland i det 19. århundrede.” K. K. Kristiansen and J. R. Rasmussen eds. Fjendebileder & fremmedhad (Copenhagen: FN-forbundet) 1988,:161-174.

[31] Feldbæk 1992: 88.

[32] Rasmussen, Jens Rahbek. “The Danish Monarchy as a Composite State.” N. A. Sørensen ed. European Identities, Cultural Diversity and Integration in Europe since 1700 (Odense: Odense University Press) 1995:28-29.

[33] Feldbæk, Ole ed. Dansk identitetshistorie vol. I-IV (Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzels Forlag) 1991-1992.

[34] Damsholt, Tine. Fædrelandskærlighed og borgerdyd (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanums Forlag) 2000.

[35] Bjørn, Claus. “The peasantry and agrarian reform in Denmark”, Scandinavian Economic History Review 25 (1977): 117-37.

[36] Jens Holmgaard. – uden at landet besværes. Studier over Frederik IV’s landmilits med henblik på spørgsmålet om bøndernes vilkår i øvrigt. Viborg: Udgiverselskabet ved Landsarkivet for Nørrejylland 1999.

[37] Bjørn, Claus. “Den jyske Proprietærfejde.” Historie XIII (1979): 1-70.

[38] Feldbæk, Ole and Winge, Vibeke. “Tyskerfejden 1789-1790. Den første nationale konfrontation.“ Feldbæk, Ole ed. Dansk identitetshistorie vol. II (Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzels Forlag) 1991: 9-109.

[39] Feldbæk 1992:91.

[40] Feldbæk, Ole. Nærhed og adskillelses 1720-1814. Danmark-Norge 1380-1814 vol. IV (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget) 1998.

[41] Glenthøj, Rasmus. Skilsmissen. Dansk og norsk identitet før og efter 1814 (Odense: Syddansk Universitetsforlag) 2012.

[42] Østergård, Uffe. “Union, Federation or “merely” European Cooperation: Norden as a Result of 1814.” Baltic World, (March 2013): 46-51.

[43] Although largely ignored in Denmark this pamphlet and political actions by Faroese representatives led to the resurrection of the Faroese language in the 1880s. Under the slogan: “Nú er tann stundin komin til hand” (Now is the time to act), the Faroese newspaper Dimmalætting December 22, 1888 informed its readers that on the afternoon of December 26, 1888 a public meeting would be held in the Parliament House (Tinghuset) in Tórshavn, the tiny capital of a far away North Atlantic periphery of the anyway very small Danish state. Topic of the meeting was to discuss ways “to defend Faroes’ language and the Faroes’ customs”. Despite weather so wet and windy that people from outside Tórshavn could not participate many came and thus originated the modern Faroese nation. Its program has proven successful in shaping an independent Faroese intellectual, political and economic life that after a protracted and somewhat tumultuous political and cultural struggle the Faroe Islands in 1948 acquired home rule within the loosely organized Danish realm. The extent of Faroese autonomy today is best demonstrated by the fact that the Faroese opted not to join the European Community together with the rest of Denmark in 1973 and still today does not belong to the European Union cf. Østergård, Uffe. “Der Aufbau einer fäöischen Identität. Nordisch, norwegisch, dänisch – oder färöisch?” and “Der Staat Dänemark – Territorium und Nation.” Tjaldur. Mitteilungsblatt des Deutsch-Färöischen Freundeskreises e.v. – Týskt-Føroyskt Vinafelag Nr. 33-34 (2005): 73-103 (English version

[44] Østergård 2011 (note 1).

[45] Frandsen, Steen Bo. Holsten i Helstaten. Hertugdømmet inden for og uden for de danske monarki i første halvdel af 1800-tallet (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press) 2008.

[46] Rasmussen, Jens Rahbek. “The Danish Monarchy as a Composite State.”, N. A. Sørensen ed. European Identities, Cultural Diversity and Integration in Europe since 1700 (Odense: Odense University Press): 1995: 25.

[47] This relationship and the interpretation of the political implications of Scandinavianism is described in Østergård, Uffe. “The Geopolitics of “Norden” – From Composite States to Nation States.” Øystein Sørensen and Bo Stråth eds. The Cultural Construction of Norden (Oslo: Scandinavian University Press) 1997: 25-71 and Østergård, Uffe. “Union, Federation or “merely” European Cooperation: Norden as a Result of 1814.” Baltic World (March 2013): 46-51.

[48] Frandsen 2008 and Hansen, Hans Schultz. “Nationalitetskamp og modernisering 1815-1918.” Sønderjyllands historie vol. 2 Efter 1815. (Aabenraa: Historisk samfund for Sønderjylland) 2009: 11-240.

[49] Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel was founded in 1665 by the duke of Gottorp as part of his attempts to establish the small duchy as an independent state in alliance with Sweden. As this attempt failed with the defeat of Sweden by Russia in 1720, the Danish king was ‘returned to his rights’ in Schleswig and Holstein. One result of this was that the small German university became an institution for training civil servants to the German speaking parts of the multinational Danish Oldenburg monarchy, in other words a German language, “Danish” university between 1720 and 1848/64, cf. Feldbæk 1998 and Østergård 2003.

[50] Feldbæk 1998: 134.

[51] Feldbæk 1998.

[52] Feldbæk 1998: 259.

[53] Østergård, Uffe. Europas ansigter (Copenhagen: Rosinante) 1992: 213-268.

[54] Colley, Linda. Britons. Forging the Nation 1707-1837. (New Haven: Yale University Press) 1992.

[55] Er Spanien anderledes? Den Jyske Historiker 91-92 (2001).

[56] Østergård, Uffe. “Dänemark und Deutschland als europäische Nachbarn – Geschichte und Erinnerung.”, in Susanne Fabrin, Susanne and Müller-Wieferig, Matthias eds. 50 Jahre Goethe-Institut Dänemark. (Copenhagen: Goethe-Institut): 2011, 219-224.

[57] In medieval times the marshland villages of Dithmarschen in the western parts of Holstein enjoyed remarkable autonomy. In the 15th century they confederated in a peasants’ republic. Several times the kings of Denmark and the dukes in Holstein without success tried to subdue the independent peasant state. In 1500 the greatest of these battles took place at Hemmingstedt, where the outnumbered peasants defeated the army of Holstein and the Danish king. Only in 1559 the peasants were forced to give up their autonomy after the successful invasion of Count Johan Rantzau from Steinburg, one of the best strategists of the time. Since then the coat of arms of Dithmarschen has shown a warrior on horseback, representing a knight of Rantzau. This knight has been identified with St. Georg, the patron of Dithmarschen. The conquerors, King Frederik 2., Duke Adolf and Duke Johann 2., divided Dithmarschen into two parts: the south became a part of Holstein in personal union with Denmark while the north came into the possession of the other Duke of Holstein. From 1773 all of Holstein was united in personal union with Denmark and remained so until 1864, when Schleswig and Holstein were annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia as the Province of Schleswig-Holstein cf. Lange, Ulrich ed. Geschichte Schleswig-Holsteins. (Neumünster: Wachholtz Verlag) 1996.

[58] Christ, Karl. “Barthold Georg Niebuhr”, H. U. Wehler /ed.). Deutsche Historiker Vol. VI (Götingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) 1980: 23-36.

[59] Wucher, Albert. “Theodor Mommsen.” H.-U. Wehler Hrsg. Deutsche Historiker vol. IV (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) 1972: 18.

[60] Gooch, G. P. History and Historians in the Nineteenth Century (London: Longmans) 1952: 126.

[61] Gooch 1952: 126.

[62] In German literature, Schleswig-Holstein is traditionally spelled with a hyphen to indicate the unity of the two historic provinces since 1460, whereas the Danish usage is to treat the two entities as two, because of the different international legal status in relation to the Holy Roman Empire and Danish affiliation of Schleswig.

[63] Duke Christian Carl Frederik August of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1798-1869) is usually simply known by just his first name, Christian, Duke of Augustenburg. He claimed the inheritance of the provinces Schleswig and Holstein and held the fiefs Augustenborg and Sonderborg (hence his title). He was a prince of the House of Oldenburg and a cadet-line descendant of the Danish royal house. He was the eldest son and heir of Louise Augusta of Denmark and Frederik Christian 2, Duke of Augustenborg. As such, he was close to succeed in the Danish throne. He was the brother-in-law of King Christian 8. and nephew of Frederik 6. In 1848 a provisional government was established in Kiel under the Duke of Augustenborg, who secured help from the King of Prussia to assert his rights. However, European powers were united in opposing any dismemberment of Denmark. Emperor Nicholas 1. of Russia, who spoke with authority as head of the elder Holstein-Gottorp line, regarded the Duke of Augustenborg a rebel as Russia had guaranteed Schleswig to the Danish crown by the treaties of 1767 and 1773. A peace treaty between Prussia and Denmark was signed in Berlin July 2, 1850. Here both parties reserved all their antecedent rights. Denmark was satisfied that the treaty enabled the king-duke Frederik 7. to restore his authority in Holstein with or without the consent of the German Confederation. Augustenborg was ousted from power when the victorious Danish troops marched into the duchies in 1851. The question of the Augustenburg succession made an agreement between the big powers impossible, and on March 31, 1852 the duke of Augustenburg resigned his claim in return for a money payment. Duke Christian sold his rights to the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein to Denmark in aftermath of the Treaty of London, but later renounced his rights to the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein in favor of his son Frederik August. In 1864, his son Friedrich of Augustenborg proclaimed himself as Duke of Schleswig and Holstein, but to no avail.

[64] Hemstad, Ruth. Historie og nasjonal identitet. Kampem om fortiden i det dansk-tyske grenseland 1815-1840. (Oslo: Norges forskningsråd KULTs skriftserie nr. 57) 1996: 48-53.

[65] Adriansen, Inge. Fædrelandet, folkeminderne og modersmålet. Brug af folkeminder og folkesprog i nationale identitetsprocesser – især belyst ud fra striden mellem dansk og tysk i Sønderjylland (Sønderborg: Skrifter fra Museumsrådet for Sønderjyllands Amt) 1990.

[66] Jensen, Hans. De danske Stænderforsamlingers Historie 1830-1848 vol. I-II (Copenhagen: J. H. Schultz Forlag) 1931and 1934.

[67] The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal which connected the Baltic Sea and the North Sea was primarily built for strategic reasons. 1907-14 it was expanded in order to allow the passage of dreadnoughts from Kiel to Bremerhaven. In 1948 the name was changed to Nord-Ostsee-Kanal.

[68] Frandsen, Steen Bo. “Men gives der da Provindser i Danmark? Historie 19:1, (1991).

[69] Frandsen, Steen Bo, “Helstatens første opinionsavis: Theodor Olshausens Kieler Correspondenz-Blatt som forum for en liberal holstensk regionalisme (1830-1848).” Historie (2006:2): 283-317 and Frandsen, Steen Bo. Holsten i Helstaten. Hertugdømmet inden for og uden for det danske monarki i første halvdel af 1800-tallet. (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press) 2008.

[70] Jahnke, Carsten. “Die Borussifizierung des schleswig-holsteinischen Geschichtsbewusstseins, 1866-1889”, Zeitschrift für die Geschichte Schleswig Holsteins 130 (2005): 161-190.

[71] Jensen 1931-34.

[72] A critism of this traditional understanding is formulated by Bjørn, Claus. 1848. Borgerkrig og revolution (Copenhagen: Gyldendal) 1998.

[73] Østergård, Uffe. “1848 aus der Sicht von 1998. Der Bürgerkrieg im dänisch-deutschen Gesamtstaat 1848-50 unter der Perspektive des Bürgerkrieges in Ex-Jugoslawien.” W. Beutin, W. Hoppe und F. Kopitzsch Hrsg. Die deutsche Revolution von 1848/49 und Norddeutschland (Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang) 1999: 251-262

[74] Rerup, Lorenz. “The Danes in Schleswig from the National Awakening to 1933”, in Kappeler, A., Adanir, A. and O’Day, A. eds. Formation of National Elites (London: Hearst) 1992: 259-60.

[75] Fink, Troels. Geschichte des Schleswigschen Grenzlandes (Copenhagen: Munksgaard) 1958.

[76] Nielsen, Johannes. 1864 – Da Europa gik af lave (Odense: Odense Universitetsforlag) 1987.

[77] Østergård, Uffe. “The Danish Path to Modernity”, Thesis Eleven 77 (2004): 25-43.

[78] Østergård, Uffe. “Dänemark und Deutschland als europäische Nachbarn – Geschichte und Erinnerung.”, in Susanne Fabrin, Susanne and Müller-Wieferig, Matthias eds. 50 Jahre Goethe-Institut Dänemark. (Copenhagen: Goethe-Institut): 2011, 219-224.

[79] Frandsen, Steen Bo. “The Discovery of Jutland: The Existence of a Regional Dimension in Denmark.” N. A. Sørensen ed. European Identities, Cultural Diversity and Integration in Europe since 1700 (Odense: Odense University Press 1995):11-126 and Frandsen, Steen Bo. Opdagelsen af Jylland. Den regionale dimension i danmarkshistorien 1814-64 (Århus: Aarhus University Press) 1996.

[80] Hansen, Svend Åge. Early Industrialization in Denmark. (Copenhagen: Academic Press) 1970.

[81] Bjørn, Claus. “Dansk mejeribrug 1882-1914“, in Bjørn, Claus (ed.), Dansk mejeribrug 1882-2000 (Copenhagen: Landbohistorisk selskab) 1982.

[82] Østergård, Uffe. “Peasants and Danes.” Comparative Studies in Society and History (1992:1): 5-31; reprinted in G. Eley and G. Suny eds. Becoming National. A Reader (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 1996: 179-222.

[83] Christiansen, N. F. “Socialismen og fædrelandet. Arbejderbevægelsen mellem internationalisme og national stolthed 1871-1940.” Feldbæk, Ole red. Dansk identitetshistorie vol. 3 Folkets Danmark 1848-1940 (Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzels Forlag) 1992, 512-586. Federspiel, Søren. “Socialdemokratiet og de tyske partistridigheder. Det nordslesvigske spørgsmål og det danske socialdemokrati i 1970’ernes begyndelse, på baggrund af striden i den tyske arbejderbevægelse.” Årbog for arbejderbevægelsens historie 4 (1974): 147-163 and Federspiel, Søren. “Die dänische Arbeiterbewegung und der Internationalismus 1870-1900.” E. Krüger ed. Arbeiterbewegung in Nord- und Mitteleuropa zwischen nationaler Orientierung und Nationalismus, Schriftenreihe der Akademie Sankelmark Heft 30/31 (1976): 28-35.

[84] Callesen, Gerd. Die Schleswig-Frage in den Beziehungen zwischen dänischer und deutscher Sozialdemokratie von 1912 bis 1924 (Aabenraa) 1970. Hansen, Hans Schultz. Danskheden i Sydslesvig 1840-1918 som folkelig og national bevægelse. (Flensborg; Studieafdelingen ved Dansk Centralbibliotek i Sydslesvig) 1990 and Hansen, Hans Schultz. “Nationalitetskamp og modernisering 1815-1918”, Sønderjyllands historie vol. 2 Efter 1815. (Aabenraa: Historisk samfund for Sønderjylland) 2009: 11-240, in particular 193-204. Andersen, Dorrit. “Die dänische Arbeiterbewegung und die Schleswig-Frage in den Jahren 1900-1924”, E. Krüger ed. Arbeiterbewegung in Nord- und Mitteleuropa zwischen nationaler Orientierung und Nationalismus, Schriftenreihe der Akademie Sankelmark Heft 30/31 (1976): 52-60.

[85] Topholm, Jens. Emil Marott. Socialdemokrat med sociale og nationale særstandpunkter. (Aarhus: Universitetsforlaget i Aarhus) 1980.

[86] Christiansen 1992: 528-529.

[87] Kühl, Jørgen and Weller, Marc. eds. Minority Policy in Action: The Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations in a European Context 1955-2005 (Flensburg and Aabenraa: European Centre for Minority Issues and Department of Border Region Research, University of Southern Denmark) 2005 and Østergård, Uffe. “Danmark og mindretallene i teori og praksis.” Kühl, Jørgen ed. Mindretalspolitik (Copenhagen: DUPI) 1996: 44-106.

[88] N.F.S. Grundtvig Folkelighed written in 1848 in the midst of civil war over Schleswig by, my translation, u.ø.

[89] Østergård, Uffe. “Definitions of Nation in European Political Thought”, North Atlantic Studies 1:2, 1991: 51-56.

[90] Cf. Møller, Jes Fabricius and Østergård,Uffe. “Lutheran Orthodoxy and Anti-Catholicism in Denmark 1536-2011.” Jonas Harvard and Yvonne Werner eds. European Anti-Catholicism in a Comparative and Transnational Perspective, (Amsterdam: Rodopi Press) 2013:132-151.

[91] Østergård, Uffe. “Lutheranism, nationalism and the universal welfare state – National churches and national identity after the Reformation and the development of the welfare state in the Nordic nation states”, Katharina Kunter and Jens Holger Schiørring eds. Europäisches und Globales Christentum / European and Global Christianity. Herausforderungen und Transformationen im 20. Jahrhundert / Challenges and Transformations in the 20th Century, Arbeiten zur Kirchlichen Zeitgeschichte Reihe B Band 54 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) 2011: 78-101.

[92] Jenkins, Richard. Being Danish: Paradoxes of identity in everyday life. (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press) 2011 and Østergård, Uffe. “Danish National Identity: A Historical Account.” Martine Cardel Gertsen, Anne-Marie Søderberg and Mette Zølner eds. Global Collaboration: Intercultural Experiences and Learning. (Houndsmill: Palgrave Macmillan) 2012: 37-55.

[93] Østergård, Uffe. “Danish National Identity: Between Multinational Heritage and Small State Nationalism”, Hans Branner and Morten Kelstrup eds. Denmark’s Policy towards Europe after 1945: History, Theory and Options (Odense: Odense University Press) 2000: 139-184, 2. ed. 2003.

[94] In 1860 urban dwellers amounted to 24 % of the total population; in 1911 40 % according to Dybdahl, Vagn. De nye klasser 1870-1913 (Copenhagen: Politikens Forlag) 1965: 33.

[95] Willerslev, Richard. Den glemte indvandring (Copenhagen: Academic Press) 1983.

[96] The two dominating entrepreneurs of the second half of the 19th century who succeeded in transforming Copenhagen into a center of global business, C. F. Tietgen (1829-1901) and H. N. Andersen (1852-1937), are critically treated in formidable biographies by the business historian Lange, Ole. Finansmænd, stråmænd og mandariner. C. F. Tietgen, Privatbanken og Store Nordiske. Etablering 1868-76 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal) 1978; Lange, Ole. Partnere og Rivaler. C. F. Tietgen, Eastern Extension og Store Nordiske. Ekspansion i Kina 1880-86 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal) 1980; Lange, Ole. Den hvide Elefant. H. N. Andersens eventyr og ØK 1852-1914 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal) 1986; Lange. Ole. Stormogulen. C. F. Tietgen – en finansmand, hans imperium og hans tid 1829-1901 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal) 2006.

[97] Berend, Ivan. Nineteenth-Century Europe. Diversity and Industrialization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 2013.

[98] This alliance was investigated in 1969 by the business historian Vagn Dybdahl in an original analysis of the political organization and importance of the urban trades in Denmark in Partier og erhverv. Studier i partiorganisation og byerhvervenes politiske aktiviteter ca. 1880 – ca. 1913 vol. I-II (Århus: Universitetsforlaget) 1969. Before this he applied this perspective in a masterly overview in his contribution to a multi-volume history of Denmark in 1965 with the revealing title “The new classes”, Dybdahl, Vagn. De nye klasser 1870-1913. Danmarks historie vol. 12 (Copenhagen: Politikens Forlag) 1965. Unfortunately, very little of his path-breaking research into the urbanization processes is translated into English.

[99] Madsen, Hans Helge. Skæv og national. Dansk byplanlægning 1830 til 1938 (Copenhagen: Bogværket) 2009.

[100] Cf. Østergård, Uffe. “Georg Brandes e l’Europa di oggi.” Studi Nordici IX Pisa 2004: 35-41.

[101] Knudsen, Jørgen. Georg Brandes vol. 4 Magt og afmagt 1896-1914 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal) 1998:16 under the chapter heading “I am myself alone. Jøden, danskeren og europæeren” (the Jew, the Dane and the European).

[102] This stay among other publications resulted in the intense description of the new united Germany, Berlin som tysk Rigshovedstad. (Copenhagen: Gyldendal) 1885; German translation, Berlin als deutsche Reichshauptsstad: Erinnerungen aus den Jahren 1877-1883 (Berlin: Colloquium Verlag) 1989; cf. Knudsen, Jørgen. Georg Brandes.Vol. 2 I modsigelsernes tegn 1877-83. (Copenhagen: Gyldendal) 1988.

[103] Knudsen, Jørgen. Georg Brandes. Vol. 5 Uovervindelig taber 1914-27 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal) 2004: 127-175.

[104] Knudsen 1998: 34.

[105] The Right recruited its voters from the old urban middle classes but also from the urban craftsmen and even workers as witnessed in the name of its political organization, “Højres Arbejder- og Vælgerforening” from 1881 (Worker’s and Voter’s Association of the Right); between 10 and 40 % of the party’s voters were urban workers cf. Dybdahl 1965: 151-155 and Dybdahl 1969.

[106] Willerslev, Richard. Den glemte indvandring. Den svenske indvandring til Danmark 1850-1914 (Copenhagen: Academic Press) 1983.

[107] Dybdahl 1965: 226.