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.
The status of the Duchies of Schleswig-Holstein were an issue between the Danish Crown and various German monarchs for centuries. Many European royals were the soverign of more than one kingdom or principality. Often these territorities were not united and were separated phyically and by different laws, customs, and even language. Such was the case of Schleswig-Holstein which in the 15th century had asked for the protection of the then powerful Danish Crown. Danish King Friedrich VII tried in 1848 to formally united the Duchies with Denmark which resulted in hostilities with Prussia, although the Prussians later abandoned the cause and Friederich did not persue his hope of formal union. Friedrich VII died in 1864. When Friedrich died, the personnell union of Schleswig-Holstein with the Danish crown had to end, because his successor Christian IX was not a direct descended and, as a result, not entitled to inherit the principalities of Schleswig-Holstein.
King Christian IX attempted to formally unite Schleswig-Holstein with the Danish Kingdom. Schleswig-Holstein had no military forces of its own. One wonders why the King would have attempted such a provocative step, knowing the propensity of neighboring Prussia to expand its territory. The King may have been willing to have attempted to uninte only Schleswig which was predominately Danish in language and culture and not Holstein which was predominately German. Unfortunately a decree daring back to 1481 declared that the two provinces had to remain united, "up ewig ungedeelt". It was not just Christian, the Danish people had seen their country decline from an important European power to almost a non-entity in Europeran affairs. The losess from the Napoleonic Wars were particularly grevious. The Danes were determined to resist the cession of any further territory.
Agitation for separatuon from Denmark grew, especially in Holstein and southern Schleswig. The Schleswig-Holstein Parliament deciced it wanted to formally separate all ties with the Danish Crown and asked the German Federation for assistance. The Federation was a loose association of the independent German states led by Prussia and Austria. Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who advised Wilhem IV/I, saw this as opportuniy to stengthen Prussia's position within the German Confederation.
The Prussians were not motivated primarily by Schleswig Holstein, largely agricultural duchies of minor significance. More importantly, Prince Otto von Bismarck
and King Wilhelm I saw an opportunity to expand Prussia's influence within the German Confederation. By the 1860s, it was clear that Germany would be unified,
but the basis of the future union was not yet determined.
With Austria as its ally, Prussia declared war on Denmark and an Austro-Prussian army quickly occupied the duchies. King Christian faced the two great German powers alone. Most of Europe agreed with Danish cause, but no other country wanted to risk war by interfering. d in his favour. The small Danish Army was defeated at the battle of Duppel. The entire Jutland penninsula was occupied by the combined German Army. The Germans imposed the humiliating Treaty of Vienna on Demmark in 1864. Both duchies as well as Gastien were ceded to the German Confederation and put under Prussian and Austrian administration. Schleswig was administers by Prussia and Hostein by Austria.
The Great Powers of Europe did not intervene in the Danish War beyond diplomatic representations. They do not seem to have been especially interested in a small, now unimportant country which was viewed as falling out of the mainstream of European affairs.
The Treaty of Gastein which ended the War placed Schleswig under Prussian and Holstein under Austrian administration within the the German Federation. Austria was not pleased with this compromise and prefered the suggestion of the Schleswig-Holstein Parliament which wanted Friedrich v. Augustenburg to become duke of an independant principality.
Although now a little known historical footnote, the consequences of the Danish War were incalcuable.
The Danish War was the first step in the organization 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. 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 end of World War I is now seen as the end of the German royal houses. In fact, the Danish War was to lead to the Austro Prussian or German Civil War after which Prussia annexed several neigboring states which insisted in remaining independent, ending the royal dynasties in Hannover, Hesse, and several smaller states.
Another important consequence of the War was impact on British opinion. Prussia up until the Danish war had been seen in Britain as a continental ally against their mortal
enemy--France. It was the Prussians under Blutcher that had come to Wellington's aid at Waterloo. Prince Albert had hoped
that Prussia would unite Germany under a democratic constitution. In support of that aimed, he had promoted the mairrage of
his beloved oldest daughter Vicky to Prince Frederick. Prussia's anti-democratic policies and the failure to support the British
and French in the Crimea had disturbed Albert. The action against Denmark had disturbed Queen Victoria and her daughter-in-law, Alix--Christain's daughter. Slowly British attitudes toward Prussia and Germany were changing.
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site royal pages:
[Main royal wars pages]
[Austria] [Belgium] [Denmark] [France] [German Empire] [German states]
[Italy] [Luxenburg] [Monaco] [Netherlands] [Norway] [Romania] [Russia]
[Spain] [United Kingdom]