Denmark in the 19th Century Part II

By | December 18, 2021

Thus, on the death of Frederick VI in 1839, the Danish monarchy found itself in the midst of conflicts: internal political conflict between liberal tendencies and absolutism, and national conflict between Danes and Germans. The accession to the throne of Frederick VI’s cousin, C ristiano VIII (1839-48), was welcomed with great hopes by the liberals, who had grown in number and authority. And while the middle class and the students lined up around the flag of freedom, the peasants demanded the abolition of the rent system: a particularly strong movement in Zealand, which forced the government to prohibit peasants from holding meetings without police permission.. This only brought the peasants together more closely; and on May 5, 1846, the Society of Friends of the Peasants (Bondevennernes Selskab) in order to ask for compulsory general conscription and the transition from the rental system to individual property. In the same year, the friends of the peasants united with the liberals, to obtain a free government. Another movement, which arose around 1840 and promoted by the student youth – Scandinavianism – aimed at a closer union between the three northern countries. The king, who had somewhat disappointed the hopes of the liberals, tried in various ways to meet the needs of the new times: increasing municipal autonomy, making public the state budgets, drawing up a project for general conscription, etc. But he did not intend to grant a liberal government. Meanwhile, a strong nationalist movement arose in the duchies. The king tried to make the residents of Schleswig and Holstein loyal subjects of the kingdom; but when the Danish liberals presented, through the Assembly of States, an interpellation to the government on its ideas regarding the succession in the duchies, they had as an answer the “open letter of 1846”, in which it was declared that Schleswig had to follow the succession of the kingdom and a decision has not yet been made about certain parts of the Holstein. This letter caused a great stir in the duchies. All the princes protested, with the exception of Prince Christian of Glücksburg. In 1848, the excitement was further increased by the revolutions that broke out in the Germanic states; and at the meeting held on March 18 in Rendsborg, a deputation was sent from Schleswig-Holstein to Copenhagen, to ask for a liberal government, unique for the two duchies. The answer was that Schleswig would have a government in common with the kingdom and Holstein a government of its own: but before the answer came, a provisional government was established in Schleswig on 23 March. Prussia immediately took the side of the rioters. On 23 April 1848, the Danish army suffered a serious defeat near Schleswig; in April 1849, two Danish warships were blown up and Fredericia was besieged, until, with a sortie from the square, the Danes won a brilliant victory on 5 July. Following the intervention of the Russians and the English, Prussia desisted from the war; and on July 2, 1850, peace was concluded in Berlin, in which both sides reserved their rights. Thus the Danish army was able to inflict a crushing defeat at Isted on 25 July 1850 on the alone Schleswig-Holstein rebels. Denmark again took possession of Schleswig, while German troops occupied Holstein. The rioters army was disbanded. For Denmark 2011, please check

In Denmark, however, many changes had meanwhile taken place; and the representatives of the city of Copenhagen asked on behalf of the people on March 21 for a free constitution. The new King Frederick VII (1848-53) promised, appointed a ministry, the so-called Ministry of March, and convened an assembly of representatives, elected by universal suffrage by all illibetta and economically independent men over the age of 30, because draw up a liberal constitution. The result was the constitution of June 5, 1849. For it, two chambers were established: the Landsting and the Folketing., whose members were elected by universal suffrage, in Folketing with direct elections, in Landsting with indirect elections. Even in economic life, liberal ideas triumphed with the law of 1857, which abolished any obligation of workers: and this according to the constitution, which established that all restrictions on the exercise of any industry were removed from the law, unless it was a matter of of the public good.

In foreign policy, the London Protocol of 1850 made the great powers and Sweden-Norway recognize the integrity of the Danish monarchy; the Treaty of London of 1852 established that Prince Christian was to be heir to the entire Danish monarchy; and the negotiations of 1851-52 between Denmark and Prussia ensured the latter that Schleswig would not be united to the kingdom more closely than Holstein. The customs duty on the Sund landscape was abolished in 1857, after a compensation of about 70 million crowns, which was to be paid by all nations that had merchant fleets and which put the country’s finances in order.

New political conflicts between conservatives and liberals arose following the draft of a constitution for common affairs to the whole state, including Schleswig and Holstein, having to serve the constitution of June 1849 only for the particular affairs of the kingdom of Denmark. The conservative ministry of AS Ørsted tried to introduce the new constitution without the cooperation of the Rigsraad where the liberal tendency predominated. But this resulted in the electoral defeat (December 1854) and the resignation of the ministry, replaced by the PG Bang ministry, which on 2 October 1855 presented a constitution, with a Rigsraad divided into Folketing and Landsting, whose members were elected by methods very conservative. The Rigsraad was responsible for the affairs common to the whole state (Schleswig and Holstein included) while the Rigsdag was for only the particular affairs of the real kingdom of Denmark. Schleswig and Holstein each obtained an assembly of states for their own questions. This complicated and hardly manageable constitution soon aroused opposition in Schleswig-Holstein; the representatives of the two duchies abstained from the sessions of the Rigsraad and took their complaints to the Germanic powers. So in 1858 the constitution was canceled for the Holstein. the representatives of the two duchies abstained from the sessions of the Rigsraad and took their complaints to the Germanic powers. So in 1858 the constitution was canceled for the Holstein. the representatives of the two duchies abstained from the sessions of the Rigsraad and took their complaints to the Germanic powers. So in 1858 the constitution was canceled for the Holstein.

London Protocol of 1850