Denmark is the smallest and most southerly of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark controls the Skagerrak and Kattegat which separate the North Sea from the Baltic, a very strategic location which has played a major role in its history. Scandinavia was occupied by the northern Germanic tribes, largely unknown to the Romans. They thus appear in written histories later than the Western and Eastern tribes. The northern tribes first enter history with the Anglo-Saxon invasions of Britain. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes came from the Jutland Peninsula and the area ar the south of the Peninsula. The tribes again enter history with the Viking raids that began on northern England and eventually enveloped much of Europe. The great paradox of Danish history is that this democratic and peaceful country was once the terror of Europe.
During the 9th century the name Denmark (Danmark: "border district of the Danes") was first used.
The Vikings pillaged large coastal areas of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France. Soon their focus shifted from raiding to settlement. The Danes succeed in conquerung England. They also conqured large areas of the Baltic litoral. Denmark eventually ruled over much of Scandinavia as well as Iceland. Danish rule and their common Germanic origins means that Scandinvia has developed a common Nordic culture. Denmark located next to Germany was exposed to encroachment from the south. And ultimtely the country was unable to compete with its much larger southern nation. Denmark's last major role in European history was the support to the Protestant princes of Germany during the Reformation and the Thirty Years War. The shape of modern Denmark was formed at the Congress of Vienna. As Denmark had sided with Napoleon, Norway was given to Sweden and Pomerania to Prussia. Major contitutional reforms in the 19th century converted Demark into a parlimentary democracy. The country remained neutral in World War I (1914-18) and after the War began to build the modern welfare system (1933). The country attempted to remaun neutral in World war II, but was invaded and occupied by NAZI Germany (1940). It was liberated by the British at the end of the War (1945).
Denmark is the smallest and most southerly of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark controls the Skagerrak and Kattegat which separate the North Sea from the Baltic, a very strategic location which has played a major role in its history.
Neolithic sites have been found in Denmark, but litle is known about the origins of the first people who populated the Jutland Pennsula.
Scandinavia was occupied by the northern Germanic tribes, largely unknown to the Romans. They thus appar in written histories later than the Western and Eastern tribes.
The northern tribes first enter history with the Anglo-Saxon invasions of Britain. The Angles, Saxons, and Jures came from the Jutland Peninsula and the area atr the south of the Peninsula. Many historic accounts focus on the Goths and other Germanuc tribes over running the Wesern Empire. A more limited, but historically important Germanic invasion took place in the north, the invasion of Roman Britain. The invasions took place after the last Roman garison withdrew from Britain (407 AD) abd was largely accomplished by the time St Augustine arrived (end of the 6th century). The Germaniv invasions significantly changed the democraphic and ethnic pattern of Britain, especially what we now call England. The make up of the population, language, political structure, and other institutions were fundamentally changed. The Germanic invaders replaced the Romanized Celts who might be called the British. Historians have differed over the interactions between Germanic invaders and British. The disappearance of Latin and Celtic suggested that the Germanic invaders did not absorbe the Celts, but rather conducted a war of extinction. Modern DNA studies tends to confirm this. Not only did Germanic dialects (which evolved into Old English) replace Latin and Celtic, but loose knit and often feuding hereditary kingships replaced the more centrally governed system of provinces left by the Romans. [Myres] Urban life desintegrated and the Roman cities were largely abandoned. The problem for historians is that the victors were the Germanic tribes or Anglo-Saxons who were not literate at the time and thus there are no surviving contemprary written accounts. The earliest accounts of the conquest come several centuries later. Available sources suggest that the British (Roman-Celtic) authorities after the departure of the Legions had increasing duifficulty resisting the depredations of the northern tribes. They apparently hired a Germanic warlord and his men as mercenaries (mid-5th century). Relations soon desintegrated and the Germans not only revolted, but invited kinsmen to join them.
The tribes again enter history with the Viking raids that began on northern England and eventually enveloped much of Europe. The great paradox of Danish history is that this democratic and peaceful country was once the terror of Europe.
While the Vikings have not left written records, archeologists have found grave finds which provide a great deal of information about the Viking era. Vikings from Jutland actively participated in the explorations pf the North Sea and Atlantic.
During the 9th century the name Denmark (Danmark: "border district of the Danes") was first used.
The Vikings pillaged large coastal areas of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France. Soon their focus shifted from raiding to settlement. Danish Vikings conquered northern and eastern England (878). Such was the impact of Jutland Vikings that Vikings were referred to as the Danes in England. They also conqured large areas of the Baltic litoral. Denmark eventually ruled over much of Scandinavia as well as Iceland. Danish rule and their common Germanic origins means that Scandinvia has developed a common Nordic culture. Christianity was intridiced in modern Denmark (826) and gradually spread.
King Canute (1014-35) managed to unite an expansive kingdom that included present-day Denmark, much of England, Norway, southern Sweden, and parts of Finland. Christianity which was introduced earlier became widely adopted during Canute's reign. Canute's kingdom, however, did not survive his death.
King Waldemar II (1202-41) expanded the Jutland provinces of Canute;s successors. He conquered provinces to the south (Schleswig-Holstein, Pomerania, and Mecklenburg) as well as Estonia in the eastern Baltic. This made Denmark and important power in northern Europe. The nobles contested the power of the monarchy which reupted into a civil war. King Christopher II (1320-32) had to make major concessions to the nobles and clergy. He also had to contend with the German merchants who organized the Hanseatic Leauge. Waldemar IV (1340-75) managed to restore royal authority. His daughter Margaret I (1387-1412) created the Kalmar Union uniting Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and parts of Finland. The modern Danish monarchy, the house of Oldenburg, was established on the throne in the person of Christian I (1448). Sweden and Finland revolted (1520) and managed to secede from the Kalmar Union (1523). The rest of Union continued until with Napoleon's defeat in 1814.
Norway became a part of the Danish Kingdom (1380). This meant that Iceland also became a Danish possession. Martin Luthur posted his 95 Thesis (1519). Denmark quickly adopted Protestantism--Luthernism. The Danish kings supported the north German princes who also adopted Protestantism against the Counter Reformation. Thus Iceland and Norway also adopted Luthernism.
Denmark set up a trading company was set up in Copenhagen which restricted trade to commerce with Denmark (1602). This caused a widespread economic depression on Iceland. Pirates furthur impaired trade (17th-18th centuries). The island was devestated by volcanic erruptions (1783). Large numbers of Icelanders were killed. The eruptions were so massive that they had a major impact on European weather for several years. Some historians suggest that the resulting crop failures were a factor in the French Revolution (1789). Iceland cotinued as a backwater of the Danish kingdom. The Danish Government did not permit Icelanders to resum foreign trade until (1854).
Denmark's last major role in European history was the support to the Protestant princes of Germany during the Thirty Years War. The Protestant Reformation quickly soread to Denmark where witthout the intervention of the Emperor, it quickly became established. This occiured during the reign of King Christian III (1534-59). Christian established a national Lutheran church. King Christian IV intervened in the German Thirty Years' War (1618-48), championing the Protestant princes.
Denmark was challenged by growing Swedish power in the Baltic. In a series of wars, some territory was lost. Much of the lost territiry was regained in the Great Northern War (1700-21).
Following the Great Northrn War, the 18th century was generally a peaceful period. Tgere were a series of domestic reforms that brought Denmark into the modern era, The Danes abolished serfdom and instituted land reform.
Denmark located next to Germany was exposed to encroachment from the south. And ultimtely the country was unable to compete with its much larger southern nation.
Denmark allied with Napoleon after the British attacks Copenhagen (1801 and 1807). The Grand Alliance As a result, Denmark lost territory at the Congress of Vienna (1815). The shape of modern Denmark was formed at the Congress of Vienna. As Denmark had sided with Napoleon, Norway was tranferred to Sweden, Pomerania to Prussia, and Helgoland to England.
Christian VIII's reign brought prosperity to Denmark. The issue of Danish rule in the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein, with a large German population, became a prominent issue in 1846. Revolution swept Europe in 1848. Events in Denmarl, however, were different. A Prussian-inspired revolt in Schleswig-Holstein proved indecisive. King Frederick VII (1848-63) responding to demands for liberal reform, approved a new constitution which instituted a representative parlimentarian system (1849).
Although now a little known historical footnote, the consequences of the Danish War were incalcuable. It was the first step in the organizatin of a future Germany under the most miliataraistic and conservative state in the German Confederation. There were German states with more liberal, democratic institutions (Bavaria, Hanover, and others) and less belicose, militaristic outlooks. The Danish War was the first step in Prussia's absorbtion of some of the more liberal German states such as Hannover and Hesse and the end of their constitutional monarchies. If there had been a more democratic, less miliatristic approch taken to German unification, the history of the 20th century may have been quite different. The Danish War was also an important step in changing the British perception of Prussia and Germany from a potential ally against their historical enemy France to a dangerous enemy.Denmark was unable to fight a major European power like Prussia. Bismarck even managed to draw Austria into the war against Denmark. Denmark lost Schleswig-Holstein and Lauenburg. One unitended impact was to turn Princess of Wales Alexandra in Britain against the Germans. This was the beginning of a gradual change of attitude in Britain toward the Germans. The Danish War was Bismarck's first step in remaking Germany. It was soon followed by a war with Austria (1866) and than France (1870-71) which led to German unification.
Denmark prospered socially and economically in the 19th century despite the loss of territory to Prussia/Germany. After King Frederick VII authorized a representative system, the parliament instituted wide-ranging social and educational reforms.
Denmark managed to remain neutral duting World War I (1914-18). Germay when the War broke out did generally recognize Danish neutrality, except that they insisted the Danes lay mines in the Great Belt (August 1914). The Danes complied being unwilling to resist a German invasion. The British did not react militarily as they understood the Danish position and were not significantly affected by the action. The kings of the three Scandinavian countries met in Malmö to make a joint declaration of absolute neutrality (December 1914). The War created export markets for the Danes although the British naval blockade and the German U-boat campaignmade it difficult for Danish companies to obtain raw materials. As a result, the Danish Government had to ration some consumer goods. The Government also had to take a range of economic steps to deal with the adverse conditions created by the War. After the War, as a result of the Versailles Treaty (1919) and a Legue of Nations plebecite, North Schleswig returned to Denmark. This created the border with Germany that continues to this day.
The Danish Government begn extnsive social reforms (1933). This was the beginning of Denmark's modern welfare system.
Denmark which had been neutral in World War I attempted to maintain the same status when the NAZIs launched World War II with its invasion of Poland. Denmark along with the other Nordic countries, officially declared their neutrality. Germany nonetheless invaded Denmark (April 9,1940). Operation Weserübung targetted both Denmark and Norway. Denmark had virtually no army. After token resistance at the border, the Danes surrendered before noon. Within hours, Denmark was in NAZI hands. King Christian X decided to remain with his countrymen. The King advised the Danish people not to resist the Germans. The NAZIs allowed the Danish Government to continue to function under close supervision. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union (June 1941), a few Danes volunteered to fight with the Germans. The Resisance movement slowly grew in strength and begin to oppose the Germans through strikes and sabatoge (Spring 1943). Finally the exasperated NAZIs seized control of the Government (August 29, 1943). The Danish Resistance managed to save almost all the country's Jews from the NAZI Holocaust. Denmark along with Norway were the last NAZI-occupied countries to be liberated. Forces commanded by General Montgomery reached Denmark just as the NAZI's surrendered (May 1945).
The British occupied Iceland after the German invasion of Denmark to prevent the Germans from seizing it (1940). They were subseuently relieved by U.S. forcs. Icelandic bases were important in the Battle of the Atlantic. Iceland become fully independent during the War (1944). The Faeroe Islands were granted home rule (1948). Greenland became an integral part of Denmark under the new constitution (1953) and was granted home rule (1979).
Denmark joined the European Community (1973). The decesion was taken by Conservative premier, Poul Schluter, who led a series of minority governments beginning in 1982. The Danes were inotially sceptical about European integration., but by the 1990s were increasinkly committed to Europe. Danish voters, however, nitially rejected the European Community's treaty on European union (the Maastrict treaty), albeit by a slender minority (1992). Danish voters subsequently approvedcthe treaty(993). A center-left coalition, led by Social Democrat Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, pushed for treaty approval.
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