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Travel Guide 2   >   Europe   >   Denmark   >   History

   
 

Danish History


Denmark has been inhabited for a very long time. There is evidence of human habitation at least as long ago as 12500 BCE, and evidence of agriculture since 3900 BCE.

By the time of the Nordic Bronze Age (1800 BCE to 600 BCE), burial mounds began to appear in Denmark. Among the finds from this period are many lurs (a type of horn-like musical instrument), and the Trundholm sun chariot (Danish: Solvognen) - a bronze statue of a horse pulling a large bronze disc.

The Iron Age in Denmark is generally divided into three periods: the Pre-Roman Iron Age (approximately 500 BCE to 1 AD), the Roman Iron Age (approximately 1 AD to 400 AD), and the Germanic Iron Age (400 AD to 800 AD). Archaeological evidence shows that native people gradually migrated South, and the first Danish people came to Denmark during the Roman Iron Age (previously Jutland and many Danish islands had been inhabited by Jutes, who in turn later migrated to southern Britain).

During the 8th to 10th centuries, people from Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, and Norway) were known as the Vikings. During this period, Viking explorers sailing West reached Iceland, Greenland, and Canada ("Vinland"). Meanwhile, other groups of Vikings explorered, trade with, raided, and settled in many other parts of Europe, and beyond - including conquering parts of England ("Danelaw"), parts of Ireland, and parts of France (Normandy).

Vikings

The Danes were united and Christianized in about 965 by King Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson (c. 935 to c. 986; King of Denmark c. 958 to c. 986 ; King of Norway c. 970 to 986). Eventually, King Cnut the Great (c 985 to 1035) rules a North Sea empire that included Denmark, Norway, England, and even parts of Sweden. By the high and late Middle Ages, the Danish kingdom included not only Denmark itself, but also Skåneland (a region which is today the three southwestern provinces of Sweden), Danish Estonia, and the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein (most of which today fall within the German state of Schleswig-Holstein).

In 1397, Queen Margaret I became ruler of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden - a personal union, known as the Kalmar Union (Danish/Norwegian/DanishSwedish: Kalmarunionen). The next century plus of Scandinavian history is dominated by the history of the Kalmar Union, with Sweden repeatedly breaking away, and then being reconquered. The Kalmar Union effectively ended in 1523, when the Swedish King Gustav Vasa conquered Stockholm, although Denmark did launch to subsequent attempts, ultimately unsuccessfully, to regain control over Sweden - the Northern Seven Years War (1563 to 1570), and the Kalmar War (1611 to 1613).

Following the Kalmar War, King Christian IV of Denmark, using monies collected from a war indemnity paid by Sweden, built several new towns and cities. including Christiania (Oslo) in Norway after the original city of Olso burnt down, Christiansand (today Kristiansand in Norway), Christianstad (today Kristianstad in Sweden) Christianshavn (today a suburb of Copenhagen, and, as a planned rival to Hamburg, Lykstad (today Gl¨ckstadt in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany). Additionally, the Danish East India Company (Danish: Dansk Østindisk Kompagni) was founded, with the intention of establishing trade with India and colonizing Sri Lanka. Ultimately the Danish empire would ultimately consist of a number of small colonies and trading posts on the Indian coast (sold to Britain in 1839 to 1845), the Nicobar Islands (sold to Britain in 1868), a number of trading stations and forts in West Africa known as the "Danish Gold Coast" (sold to Britain in 1850), and the Danish West Indies (sold to the United States in 1917, and today known as the US Virgin Islands), as well Norway (lost to Sweden in 1814), Iceland (an independent ingdom in personal union with Denmark from 1918, and a fully independent republic from 1944), as well as the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Denmark itself.

Denmark had adopted Lutheranism in 1536. There was a brief civil war, the Count's Feud (Danish: : Grevens Fejde), that took place between 1534 and 1536, during this transition, which was to have important consequences later. During the war, Swedish troops were invited into Scania (the southernmost province of Skåneland) at the Danish King's invitation, to surpress his rebellious subjects. However, although the Swedes did hand back the territory to Denmark initially, this whetted Sweden's appetite to conquer the territory, and ultimately they would do so (in 1658).

King Christian IV also became involved in the Third Years War (1618 to 1648). During the war, King Christian IV tried to make Denmark leader of the Lutheran states in Germany, but suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Lutter (1626), and was forced to withdraw from the war. Denmark then suffered plague, and series of disastrous military defeats to Sweden - including the loss of Skåneland, Gotland (a Baltic Sea island), Bornholm (another Baltic island), and several provinces of Norway - and narrowly escaped losing its independence completely.

Denmark subsequently tried and failed to regain Skåneland in the Scanian War (1675 to 1679), but did manage to regain control parts of Schleswig and Holstein in southern Jutland as a result of the Great Northern War (1700 to 1721).

During the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark initially tried to pursue a policy of neutrality between Britain and France, and joined the League of Armed Neutrality alongside Russia, Sweden, and Prussia. The British however considered this to be a hostile act (as members of the League continued to trade with France), and attacked Copenhagen and the Danish fleet in 1801 and 1807.

Subsequently, the Denmark-Norway fought a naval war with the British ("The Gunboat War") from 1807 to 1814. As a result of this war, Denmark-Norway went bankrupt in 1813. At the subsequent Treaty of Kiel (1814), Denmark lost Norway to Sweden, and Heligoland (an island in the North Sea) to Britain.

Denmark became a constitutional monarchy in 1849, and as mentioned previously sold its colonies in Africa (the Danish Gold Coast) and India to Britain in the 1850s and 1868s. One traumatic event during this period, was the loss of Schleswig and Holstein in 1864, following war with Prussia and Austria in the Second War of Schleswig (Danish: 2. Slesvigske Krig; German: Deutsch-Dänischer Krieg). After the Second War of Schleswig, Denmark adopted a policy of neutrality. It was able to main its neutral status during World War 1.

After World War 1, Iceland was granted home rule, and became an independent kingdom in personal union with Denmark. Additionally, following a plebiscite, Northern Schleswig was regained by Denmark from Germany.

Immediately prior to World War II, Denmark was still neutral, and had in fact signed a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1939. Nevertheless, German troops invaded and occupied the country on April 9th 1940 after overcoming only minimal military resistance. Until 1943, the occupation was relatively lenient, and there was a degree of cooperation between the Danish government and the German occupiers. However there was an armed resistance movement from 1943 onwards, and additionally, thanks to the efforts of the Danish resistance, the vast majority of Danish Jews survived the war.

During World War II, Iceland severed links with Denmark, and Denmark was separated from the Faroe Islands and Greenland (occupied by the British and Americans). After the war, there was a period of constitutional reform - the Faroe Islands gained home rule in 1948 - Greenland became an integral part of Denmark in 1953, and gained home rule in 1979, but was awarded self determination in 2009.

Denmark also became a founder member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the United Nations, and NATO (abandoning its previous policy of neutrality). In 1973, after a referendum, Denmark joined the European Economic Community (today known as the European Union).

Below are some books about the history of Denmark:


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Books about Danish History


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How to Be Danish: A Journey to the Cultural Heart of Denmark

By Patrick Kingsley

Atria Books/Marble Arch Press
Released: February 4th, 2014
Hardcover (192 pages)

How to Be Danish: A Journey to the Cultural Heart of Denmark
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How to Be Danish: A Journey to the Cultural Heart of Denmark
  • Manufacturer: Atria Books/Marble Arch Press
  • Brand: Atria Books/Marble Arch Press
  • ISBN: 1476755485
  • EAN: 9781476755489
  • PartNumber: 9781476755489
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Edition: First Edition
  • Number of Pages: 192
  • Author: Patrick Kingsley
  • Publication Date: February 4th, 2014
  • Release Date: February 4th, 2014
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  • Size: 8.375 Inches by 5.5 Inches by 0.7 Inches
  • Weight: 0.6 Pounds
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Hitler's Savage Canary: A History of the Danish Resistance in World War II

By David Lampe

Arcade
Released: April 15th, 2014
Paperback (264 pages)

Hitler s Savage Canary: A History of the Danish Resistance in World War II
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Hitler's Savage Canary: A History of the Danish Resistance in World War II
  • Manufacturer: David Lampe
  • Brand: Arcade
  • ISBNs: 9781628723717, 1628723718
  • EAN: 9781628723717
  • PartNumber: maps
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Edition: Reprint
  • Number of Pages: 264
  • Author: David Lampe
  • Publication Date: April 15th, 2014
  • Release Date: April 15th, 2014
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  • Size: 9.0 Inches by 6.0 Inches by 1.0 Inches
  • Weight: 0.79586876582 Pounds
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Hygge: Discovering The Danish Art Of Happiness -- How To Live Cozily And Enjoy Life’s Simple Pleasures

By Olivia Telford

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Released: July 24th, 2017
Paperback (113 pages)

Hygge: Discovering The Danish Art Of Happiness -- How To Live Cozily And Enjoy Life’s Simple Pleasures
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Hygge: Discovering The Danish Art Of Happiness -- How To Live Cozily And Enjoy Life’s Simple Pleasures
  • Manufacturer: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • ISBN: 1548283320
  • EAN: 9781548283322
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Number of Pages: 113
  • Author: Olivia Telford
  • Publication Date: July 24th, 2017
  • Release Date: July 24th, 2017
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  • Size: 8.5 Inches by 5.5 Inches by 0.26 Inches
  • Weight: 0.315 Pounds
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A History of Denmark (Macmillan Essential Histories)

By Knud J. V. Jespersen

Red Globe Press
Released: September 8th, 2018
Paperback (262 pages)

A History of Denmark (Macmillan Essential Histories)
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A History of Denmark (Macmillan Essential Histories)
  • Manufacturer: Red Globe Press
  • Brand: Red Globe Press
  • ISBNs: 1137611790, 9781137611796
  • EAN: 9781137611796
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Edition: 3rd ed. 2019
  • Number of Pages: 262
  • Author: Knud J. V. Jespersen
  • Publication Date: September 8th, 2018
  • Release Date: September 8th, 2018
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  • Size: 8.27 Inches by 5.83 Inches by 0.63 Inches
  • Weight: 0.80248263368 Pounds
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The Family Tree Scandinavian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway

By David A. Fryxell

Family Tree Books
Released: December 17th, 2019
Paperback (256 pages)

The Family Tree Scandinavian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway
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The Family Tree Scandinavian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway
  • Manufacturer: Family Tree Books
  • Brand: Family Tree Books
  • ISBN: 1440300755
  • UPC: 035313671258
  • EANs: 9781440300752, 0035313671258
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Format: Illustrated
  • Edition: Illustrated
  • Number of Pages: 256
  • Author: David A. Fryxell
  • Publication Date: December 17th, 2019
  • Release Date: December 17th, 2019
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  • Size: 9.11 Inches by 7.0 Inches by 0.67 Inches
  • Weight: 1.1 Pounds
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A History of Denmark

By Paulle Lauring

Host & Son
Hardcover (274 pages)

A History of Denmark
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A History of Denmark
  • Manufacturer: Host & Son
  • ISBN: 8714293064
  • EAN: 9788714293062
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  • Hardcover
  • Edition: 3rd Updated
  • Number of Pages: 274
  • Author: Paulle Lauring
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  • Weight: 1.3 Pounds
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Cook Yourself Happy: The Danish Way

By Caroline Fleming

Jacqui Small
Released: September 21st, 2017
Hardcover (256 pages)

Cook Yourself Happy: The Danish Way
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Cook Yourself Happy: The Danish Way
  • Manufacturer: Jacqui Small
  • Brand: Jacqui Small
  • ISBN: 1911127284
  • EAN: 9781911127284
  • PartNumber: MAN-FOX-U285-1911127284
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Number of Pages: 256
  • Author: Caroline Fleming
  • Publication Date: September 21st, 2017
  • Release Date: September 21st, 2017
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  • Size: 10.125 inches by 7.875 inches by 1.0 inches
  • Weight: 2.4 Pounds
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The Danish History, Books I-IX

By Saxo Grammaticus

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Released: November 29th, 2017
Paperback (152 pages)

The Danish History, Books I-IX
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The Danish History, Books I-IX
  • Manufacturer: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • ISBN: 198121707X
  • EAN: 9781981217076
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Number of Pages: 152
  • Author: Saxo Grammaticus
  • Publication Date: November 29th, 2017
  • Release Date: November 29th, 2017
Physical Description:
  • Size: 11.0 Inches by 8.5 Inches by 0.35 Inches
  • Weight: 0.81 Pounds
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