Denmark–Norway

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This article is about the former country. For modern bilateral relations, see Denmark–Norway relations.
Denmark–Norway
Danmark–Norge
Unitary personal union (1524–1536) and (1660–1814)
Dualistic unitary state (1536–1660)

1524–1814
 

Flag Royal Coat of arms
Map of Denmark–Norway, c. 1780
Capital Copenhagen
Languages Official use: Danish, German, Latin
Minority/regional use: Norwegian, IcelandicFaroese, Norn, Frisian, Greenlandic, Sami, Low German, Judaeo-Portuguese
Religion Lutheran
Government Elective monarchy (Denmark) 1524–1660, Absolute monarchy from 1660.
King
 •  1524–1533 Frederick I
 •  1588–1648 Christian IV
 •  1648–1670 Frederick III
 •  1808–1839a Frederick VI
Historical era Early modern Europe
 •  Gustav Vasa elected
    king of Sweden

June 6, 1523
 •  Kalmar Union collapsed 1524
 •  Danish rigsråd
    abolished

October 14, 1660
 •  Lex Regia confirms
    absolutism

November 14, 1665
 •  Treaty of Brömsebro August 13, 1645
 •  Treaty of Roskilde February 26, 1658
 •  Treaty of Kiel January 14, 1814
 •  Congress of Vienna Sept. 1814 – June 1815
Area
 •  1780b 487,476 km² (188,216 sq mi)
Population
 •  1645c est. 1,315,000 
 •  1801d est. 1,859,000 
Currency
Today part of

As territory

As colonies

  • a: Frederick VI was regent for his father, so ruled as de facto king from April 14, 1784; he continued to rule Denmark after the Treaty of Kiel until his death on December 3, 1839.
  • b: Denmark (43,094 km2 or 16,639 sq mi), Schleswig-Holstein (15,763 km2 or 6,086 sq mi), Norway (mainland: 324,220 km2 or 125,180 sq mi), Faroes (1,399 km2 or 540 sq mi), Iceland (103,000 km2 or 40,000 sq mi). (With Greenland: additional 2,175,600 km2 or 840,000 sq mi.)
  • c: Estimated 825,000 in Denmark, 440,000 in Norway and 50,000 in Iceland[1]
  • d: 929,000 in Denmark, 883,000 in Norway and 47,000 in Iceland[2]

Denmark–Norway (Danish and Norwegian: Danmark–Norge) was a political entity consisting of the united kingdoms of Denmark and Norway, including overseas Norwegian dependencies of Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands.

Norway was an influential kingdom of Europe until the mid-14th century when the Black Plague killed more than half the population, a worse case than the neighboring states of Sweden and Denmark. This forced Norway to be dependent upon Denmark in a personal union when Olaf of Denmark, who had inherited the kingdom of Denmark from his grandfather at the age of 5, inherited Norway on the death of his father Haakon IV of Norway. Olaf himself died young and his mother Margaret I of Denmark who had been his regent, took over the personal union, and later also formed the Kalmar Union with Sweden. Following the departure of Sweden from the Kalmar Union and its dissolution, in 1524 Denmark and Norway entered into a personal union under Danish hegemony, due to Norway's weakened position after the Plague. In 1536 the Kingdom of Norway was integrated into Denmark, and as a consequence its Council of the Realm was abolished. However, Norway continued to have separate institutions and its own laws. Much of the Norwegian population moved to find work in Copenhagen, attend the University, or join the Royal Fleet. The union's most important political institutions and monumental palaces were built in Denmark, strategically in order to restrain Norway from rising to great power as possessed during the Viking Age. Norway was re-established as a kingdom in 1660 after the introduction of absolutism.

The personal union of the two kingdoms lasted until 1814,[3][4] when the victorious powers of the Napoleonic wars forced the king of Denmark–Norway to cede Norway to Sweden; Norway however resisted the attempt, but was forced to accept another personal union with Sweden on relatively equal terms after a short war with no winner. The Dano-Norwegian union had a lasting impact on Norway which maintained its cultural ties with Denmark.

Denmark had made Copenhagen the capital of the union in order to strengthen Denmark, and weaken Norway. Upon dissolution of the union in 1814, Denmark held onto Norway's medieval colonies. Throughout its union with Sweden, Norway used the Danish written language which descended from Old East Norse instead of Classical Norwegian or Old West Norse. The legacy of the latter is present through the Icelandic Sagas as one of the classical European languages and literary works along with Latin and Ancient Greek. Old West Norse in a relatively well-preserved form is also the official language of the modern-day nations Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

The corresponding adjective and demonym is "Dano-Norwegian".

Usage and extent[edit]

The term "Kingdom of Denmark" or just "Denmark" is sometimes used to include both countries in the period, since the political and economic power emanated from the Danish capital, Copenhagen. That power developed during the union based on Danish noblemen and on wealthy Norwegians who attended the university, and were considered Danish because of their education and etiquette. These terms cover the "royal territories" of the Oldenburgs as it was in 1460, excluding the "ducal territories" of Schleswig and Holstein. The administration used two official languages, Danish and German, and for several centuries both a Danish and German Chancery existed.[5]

The term "Denmark–Norway" reflects the historical and legal roots of the union. It is adopted from the Oldenburg dynasty's official title. The kings always used the style "King of Denmark and Norway, the Wends and the Goths". Denmark and Norway, sometimes referred to as the "twin-realms" of Denmark–Norway, had separate legal codes and currencies, and mostly separate governing institutions. Following the introduction of absolutism in 1660, the centralisation of government meant a concentration of institutions in Copenhagen. Centralisation was supported in many parts of Norway, where the two-year attempt by Sweden to control Trøndelag resulted in massive losses and a catastrophic failure for the Swedes. This allowed Norway to further secure itself militarily for the future through closer ties with the capital Copenhagen. The term "Sweden–Finland" is sometimes, although with less justification, applied to the contemporary Swedish realm between 1521 and 1809. Finland was never a separate kingdom, and was completely integrated with Sweden, while Denmark was the dominant component in a personal union.

Colonies[edit]

Enlargeable map of Denmark–Norway and its possessions c. 1800

Throughout the time of Denmark–Norway, it continuously had possession over various overseas territories. At the earliest times this meant areas in Northern Europe and North America, for instance Estonia and the Norwegian possessions of Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

From the 17th century, the kingdom acquired colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and India.

India[edit]

Main article: Danish India

Denmark–Norway maintained numerous colonies from the 17th to 19th centuries over various parts around India. Colonies included the town of Tranquebar and Serampore. The last towns it had control over were sold to the United Kingdom in 1845. Rights in the Nicobar Islands were sold in 1869.

Caribbean[edit]

Main article: Danish West Indies

Centred on the Virgin Islands, Denmark–Norway established the Danish West Indies. This colony was one of the longest lived of Denmark, until it was sold to the United States in 1917. It became the U.S. Virgin Islands.

West Africa[edit]

Main article: Danish Gold Coast

In the Gold Coast region of West Africa, Denmark–Norway also over time had control over various colonies and forts. The last remaining forts were sold to the United Kingdom in 1850.

History[edit]

Origins of the Union[edit]

The Scandinavians were Christianized in the 10th–13th centuries, resulting in three consolidated kingdoms:

The three kingdoms then united in the Kalmar Union in 1397. Sweden broke out of this union and re-entered it several times, until 1521, when Sweden finally left the Union, leaving Denmark–Norway (including overseas possessions in the North Atlantic and the island of Saaremaa in modern Estonia).

Carta marina, an early map of the Nordic countries, made around end of Kalmar Union and start of Denmark–Norway

Northern Seven Years' War[edit]

The outbreak of the Northern Seven Years' War in 1563 is mainly attributed[by whom?] to Denmark's displeasure over the dismantling of the Kalmar Union in the 1520s. When the Danish king Christian III (reigned 1534–1559) included the traditionally Swedish insignia of three crowns into his own coat of arms, the Swedes interpreted this as a Danish claim over Sweden. In response Erik XIV of Sweden (reigned 1560–1568) added the insignia of Norway and Denmark to his own coat of arms.

After Swedish king Erik introduced obstacles in an attempt to hinder trade with Russia, Lübeck and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth joined Denmark in a war alliance. Denmark then carried out some naval attacks on Sweden, which effectively started the war. After seven years of fighting, the conflict concluded in 1570 with a status quo ante bellum.

Kalmar War[edit]

Main article: Kalmar War
Christian IV of Denmark

Because of Denmark–Norway's dominion over the Baltic Sea (dominium maris baltici) and the North Sea, Sweden had the intention of avoiding paying Denmark's Sound Toll. Swedish king Charles IX's way of accomplishing this was to try to set up a new trade route through Lapland and northern Norway. In 1607 Charles IX declared himself "King of the Lapps in Nordland", and started collecting taxes in Norwegian territory.

Denmark and king Christian IV of Denmark protested against the Swedish actions, as they had no intentions of letting another independent trade route open, Christian IV also had an intent of forcing Sweden to rejoin its union with Denmark. In 1611 Denmark finally invaded Sweden with 6000 men and took the city of Kalmar. On January 20, 1613, the Treaty of Knäred was signed in which Norway's land route from Sweden was regained by incorporating Lapland into Norway, and Swedish payment of a high ransom of 1 million silver riksdaler for two fortresses which Denmark had taken in the war. However, Sweden achieved an exemption from the Sound Toll, which had only previously been secured by Britain and Holland.

Aftermath of the Älvsborg Ransom[edit]

The great ransom paid by Sweden (called the Älvsborg Ransom) was used by Christian IV, amongst many other things, to found the cities of Glückstadt, Christiania (refounded after a fire), Christianshave, Christianstad and Christianssand. He also founded the Danish East India Company which led to the establishment of numerous Danish colonies in India.

Thirty Years' War[edit]

Main article: Thirty Years' War

Not long after the Kalmar war, Denmark–Norway got involved in another greater war, in which they fought together with the mainly north German and other Protestant states against the Catholic states led by German Catholic League.

Christian IV sought to become the leader of the north German Lutheran states, however following the Battle of Lutter in 1626 Denmark met a crushing defeat. This led to most of the German Protestant states ceasing their support for Christian IV. After another defeat at the Battle of Wolgast and following the Treaty of Lübeck in 1629, which forbade Denmark from future intervening in German affairs, Denmark's participation in the war came to an end.

Torstenson War[edit]

Treaty of Brömsebro, 1645.
  Denmark–Norway
  Sweden
  The provinces of Jemtland, Herjedalen, Idre & Serna and the Baltic Sea islands of Gotland and Ösel, which were ceded to Sweden
  The province of Halland, ceded for 30 years.
Main article: Torstenson War

Sweden was very successful during the Thirty Years' War, while Denmark was a failure. Sweden saw an opportunity of a change of power in the region. Denmark–Norway had a threatening territory surrounding Sweden, and the Sound Dues were a continuing irritation for the Swedes. In 1643 the Swedish Privy Council determined Swedish territorial gain in an eventual war against Denmark–Norway to have good chances. Not long after this, Sweden invaded Denmark–Norway.

Denmark was poorly prepared for the war, and Norway was reluctant to attack Sweden, which left the Swedes in a good position.

The war ended as foreseen with Swedish victory, and with the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645, Denmark–Norway had to cede some of their territories, including Norwegian territories Jemtland, Herjedalen and Idre & Serna, and the Danish Baltic Sea islands of Gotland and Ösel. The Thirty Years' War thus began the rise of Sweden as a great power, while it marked the start of decline for the Danish.

Treaty of Roskilde, 1658.
  Halland, occupied by Sweden for a 30-year period under the terms of the Peace of Brömsebro negotiated in 1645, was now ceded
  the Scanian lands and Båhus County were ceded
  Trøndelag and Bornholm provinces, which were ceded in 1658, but rebelled against Sweden and returned to Danish rule in 1660

Second Northern Wars[edit]

Main article: Northern Wars

The Dano-Swedish War (1657–1658), a part of the Second Northern War, was one of the most devastating wars for the Dano-Norwegian kingdom. After a huge loss in the war, Denmark–Norway was forced in the Treaty of Roskilde to give Sweden nearly half its territory. This included Norwegian province of Trøndelag and Båhuslen, all remaining Danish provinces on the Swedish mainland, and the island of Bornholm.

However, two years later, in 1660, there was a follow-up treaty, the Treaty of Copenhagen, which gave Trøndelag and Bornholm back to Denmark–Norway.

Royal Absolutist State[edit]

In the aftermath of Sweden's final secession from the Kalmar Union in 1521, civil war and Protestant Reformation followed in Denmark and Norway. When things had settled down, the Rigsraad (High Council) of Denmark became weakened, and was abolished in 1660[6] when Denmark–Norway became an absolutist state and Denmark a hereditary monarchy, as Norway had been since the Middle Ages. These changes were confirmed in the Lex Regia signed on 14 November 1665, stipulating that all power lay in the hands of the king, who was only responsible towards God.[7] The Norwegian Riksråd was assembled for the last time in 1537. Norway kept its separate laws and some institutions, such as a royal chancellor, and separate coinage and army.

Scanian War[edit]

Main article: Scanian War

Denmark had lost its provinces in Scania after the Treaty of Roskilde and was always eager to retrieve them, but as Sweden had grown into a great power it would not be an easy task. However, Christian V saw an opportunity when Sweden got involved in the Franco-Dutch War, and after some hesitation Denmark invaded Sweden in 1675.

Although the Danish assault began as a great success, the Swedes led by 19-year-old Charles XI counter-attacked and took back the land that was being occupied. The war was concluded with the French dictating peace, with no permanent gains or losses to either of the countries.

Napoleonic Wars and end of the Union[edit]

Main article: Napoleonic Wars
See also: Gunboat War
Battle between the frigate HMS Tartar and Norwegian gunboats near Bergen in 1808.

During the French Revolutionary Wars Denmark–Norway at first tried to stay neutral, so it could continue its trade with both France and the United Kingdom, but when it entered the League of Armed Neutrality, the British considered it a hostile action, and attacked Copenhagen in 1801 and again in 1807. In the 1807 attack on Copenhagen the British army confiscated the entire Dano-Norwegian navy on the grounds that Denmark–Norway was about to launch an attack on Britain. The Dano-Norwegian navy had been the only navy left in Europe able to challenge the British navy after the destruction of the Spanish–French navy in the Battle of Trafalgar. The Dano-Norwegian navy was however not prepared for any military operation and the British soldiers found the Dano-Norwegian navy still in dock after the winter season. The Dano-Norwegians were more concerned about preserving their continued neutrality and the entire Dano-Norwegian army was therefore gathered at Danevirke in the event of a French attack, leaving Copenhagen vulnerable to a British attack. The British attack on Danish neutrality effectively forced the Dano-Norwegians into an alliance with Napoleon, and Denmark–Norway allied itself with France.

Denmark–Norway was defeated and had to cede the territory of mainland Norway to the King of Sweden at the Treaty of Kiel. Norway's overseas possessions were kept by Denmark. But the Norwegians objected to the terms of this treaty, and a constitutional assembly declared Norwegian independence on 17 May 1814 and elected the Crown Prince Christian Frederik as king of independent Norway. Following a Swedish invasion, Norway was forced to accept a personal union between Sweden and Norway, but retained its liberal constitution and separate institutions, except for the foreign service. The union was dissolved in 1905.

Religion[edit]

Denmark–Norway was amongst the countries to follow Martin Luther after the Protestant Reformation, thus the official religion was established as Lutheran Protestantism throughout the entire life span of the kingdom.

There was however one other religious "reformation" in the kingdom during the rule of Christian VI, a follower of Pietism. The period from 1735 until his death in 1746 has been nicknamed "the State Pietism", as new laws and regulations were established in favor of Pietism. Though Pietism did not last for a substantial time, numerous new small pietistic resurrections occurred over the next 200 years. In the end, Pietism was never firmly established as a lasting religious grouping.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Coordinates: 55°40′N 12°34′E / 55.667°N 12.567°E / 55.667; 12.567