1. January 0890
The oldest mention of Denmark (Denemearc) as a designation for a geographically located kingdom is from approx. 890 and is found in two accounts of Alfred the Great, king of the southern English kingdom of Wessex. Here, the northern Norwegian chief Ottar described his sail southern Norway to Hedeby at the Danish southern border (today Germany), while the merchant Wulfstan reported his sail from Hedeby and east wards. The name Denmark actually means the Danes’ “field”, ie. the territory or country of the Danes, or the border area of the Danes.
The Jelling Stones
1. January 0950
Around the year 950, the king Gorm den Gamle (Gorm the Old) had a large stone placed in Jelling, commemorating his wife Thyra. This text (written with runes) is the oldest written Danish source to mention the name “Denmark”. Around the year 960-985 the king Harald Blåtand (Harold Bluetooth) had an even larger stone placed besides the first one, commemorating his father Gorm den Gamle and his mother Thyra, and declaring that he had conquered all of Denmark and Norway and Christened the Danes. Christianity thus became the official religion of Denmark, and one side of the stone has the oldest depiction of Christ in the nordic countries. The decoration on the stone is thought to have been painted in color originally, but no color remains to this day. The Jelling Stones (and other parts of the area – burial mounds and church) became part of the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.
Dannebrog falls from the sky
15. June 1219
On this day during the Battle of the Estonian castle, Lyndanise in present-day Tallinn, the Danes’ flag, Dannebrog fell from the sky, the myth says. To the legends about this battle also gradually came a story that as long as Archbishop Anders Sunesen stretched his arms towards the sky, the Danish forces were successful, but when he took his arms down, it went back for the Danes. In the left background of the picture are some monks who help the aged archbishop to keep his arms up so that the victory could be won. The castle fell to King Valdemar 2. Sejr (Valdemar the 2nd Victory) and his forces, which became the turning point in the Danish struggle for dominion in Estonia. The northern part of Estonia was a duchy under the Danish crown, until a later king, Valdemar 4. Atterdag (Valdemar the 4th Again a Day) sold the possession in 1346. Valdemar Day”, June 15, was first introduced as a flag day and national anniversary in 1913 and still is the day today.
2. September 1807
At the Peace of Tilsit in July 1807, France and Russia agreed to force the neutral states, including Denmark, to turn to England. When the English government became aware of this, a lightning attack was launched on Denmark with the intention of seizing the Danish navy. The superior English fleet began a blockade of Zealand on 2 August, and from 16 August an army of 30,000 war-weary troops was landed North and South of the city. Denmark declared war on England, but the invaders met no resistance, and soon Copenhagen with its obsolete fortifications was under siege. On September 2, the British launched a violent night bombardment of Copenhagen, and after three days of shelling, the commander of the capital capitulated and handed over the home part of the fleet and its materiel. Parts of the city’s southwestern quarter were burnt down, approx. 300 properties totally destroyed, and over 1500 damaged. The extent of the terrorist bombing’s human losses has been fraught with great uncertainty; according to tradition, lost approx. 1600 people were killed and an equal number were injured. Recent research indicates a lower number of killed, namely approx. 400.
Parish Register Ordinance
11. December 1812
A parish register officially called a ministerial register, is a register of ecclesiastical acts in the parish. Births, christenings, confirmations, marriages (and betrothals), deaths and funerals are registered. In some editions also accession and expunctions to and from the parish. The content has varied a lot over time. The very first parish registers were started in the 16th century. In 1645, the keeping of parish records was mandated by law. However, the law did not lay down any detailed rules on how the parish registers were to be kept. Therefore, the oldest parish registers up till around 1813 were quite different in form and content. By ordinance of December 11, 1812, it was decided that in future the parish registers should be kept in duplicate, the main ministerial register and the counter-ministerial registerAt the same time, it was decided that they should be kept in pre-printed protocols with special sections for christened, confirmed, marriages and deaths distributed by each sex.
5. January 1813
Ordinance on Change in the Monetary System of the Kingdoms of Denmark and Norway, as well as the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, known as the Money Reform or State Bankruptcy on 5 January 1813, was issued as a result of Denmark’s participation in the Napoleonic Wars. Military spending had grown sharply, while state revenues stagnated. Therefore, the state began to send more money into circulation, which led to very strong inflation and major economic problems. During 1812, the state was no longer able to pay its debts, so the state was virtually bankrupt.
The first Constitution
5. June 1849
On June 5, 1849, King Frederik VII signed Denmark’s first Constitution which replaced the Royal Law of 1665 and marked the transition from autocracy to constitutional monarchy and a more democratic form of government. The Constitution was at the time a major step towards more democracy and contained among other things the following key decisions: 1) The Parliament was to consist of two chambers, the Folketing and the Landsting. Only infamous men over 30 with their own household who did not receive or had not received poverty support had the right to vote for the two chambers, i.e. about 15% of Denmark’s population got access to vote in 1849. 2) Civil liberties: freedom of expression, press, association and assembly, inviolability of property rights and prohibition of arbitrary imprisonment. 3) The Evangelical Lutheran Church was the Danish National Church.
Prussia and Austria enter Schleswig
1. February 1864
Prussian and Austrian soldiers crossed the border into Schleswig at Ejderen, and Denmark was at war again. The day before field marshal von Wrangel handed over a declaration of war by letter to the Danish Chief General Christian de Meza.
The Retreat from Dannevirke
5. February 1864
Towards the afternoon of 5 February 1864, the Danish soldiers secretly and under cover of darkness began to escape the Danish fortress, Dannevirke, which politicians in Copenhagen unrealistically regarded as impregnable. But, as the military leaders knew, would not be able to withstand attacks from the superior enemy at all. The Danish army was on the run from the superior Prussian and Austrian troops, which the Danish General Staff, led by the eccentric and wise General Christian Julius de Meza, judged were encircling the Danish army. A 30-kilometer-long snake consisting of 40,000 Danish soldiers, hundreds of chariots, cannons and 10,000 horses moved from the national fortification Dannevirke near the city of Schleswig in the direction of Flensburg. Everything was heavy, dark and terrible this fateful afternoon, evening and night February 5, 1864: Biting wind and frost. An exhausted and demoralized army that had been fighting for days in the winter cold and lacked food, warmth and accommodation. Terrible roads, where carriages and men slipped, but at the same time you had to move forward quickly before the enemy discovered that the fortifications at Dannevirke had been evacuated.
My Danish Roots
1. April 2013