- History of Schleswig-Holstein
The Jutland Peninsula is a long peninsula in
Northern Europe, and the current Schleswig-Holsteinis its southern part. Schleswigis also called South Jutland. The old Scandinavian sagas, perhaps dating back to the times of the Anglesand Jutesgive the impression that Jutland has been divided into a northern and a southern part with the border running along the KongeåRiver.Taking into account both archeological findings and Roman sources, however, one could conclude that the Jutesinhabited both the Kongeå region and the more northern part of the peninsula, while the Angleslived approximately where the towns Haithabuand Schleswig later would emerge (originally centered in the southeast of Schleswig in Angeln), the Saxons(earlier known apparently as the Reudingi) originally centered in Western Holstein (known historically as "Northalbingia") and Slavic peoplesin Eastern Holstein. The Danessettled in the early Viking ages in Northern and Central Schleswig and the Northern Frisiansafter approximately 900 in Western Schleswig.
The pattern of populated and unpopulated areas was relatively constant through
Bronze Ageand Iron Age.
After the Dark Ages migrations
After many Angles emigrated to the British Islands in the 5th century, the land of the Angles came in closer contact with the Danish islands — plausibly by partly immigration/occupation by the Danes. Later also the contacts increased between the Danes and the people on the northern half of the
Judging by today's placenames, then the southern linguistic border of the
Danish languageseems to have been (starting at the west) up the Treeneriver, along the Danevirke(also known as Danewerk), then cutting across from the Schleiestuary to Eckernförde, and leaving the Schwansenpeninsula, while the West coast of Schleswig had been the area of the Frisian language.
After the Slavic migrations, the eastern area of modern Holstein was inhabited by Slavic
Polabs, namely their subgroups Wagriens (Vagri) and Obotrites(Obotritae).
Charlemagneextended his realm in the late 8th century, he met a united Danish army which successfully defended " Danevirke", a fortified defensive barrier across the south of the territory western of the Schlei. A border was established at the Eider River in 811.
This strength was enabled by three factors:
* the fishing,
* the good soil giving good pasture and harvests
* in particular the tax and customs revenues from the market in
Haithabu, where all trade between the Baltic Seaand Western Europe passed.
Danevirkewas built immediately south of the road where boats or goods had to be hauled for approximately 5 kilometers between a Baltic Sea bay and the small river " Rheider Au" (Danish, "Rejde Å") connected to the North Sea. There on the narrowest part of southern Jutland was established the important transit market "(Haithabu", also known as "Hedeby)", which was protected by the "Danevirke" fortification. Hedeby is located close to what is now the City of Schleswig.
The wealth of Schleswig, as reflected by impressive archeological finds on the site today, and the taxes from the Haithabu market, was enticing. A separate kingdom of Haithabu was established around year 900 by the
Vikingchieftain Olaf from Svealand. Olaf's son and successor Gnupa was however killed in battle against the Danish king, and his kingdom vanished.
The southern border was then adjusted back and forth a few times. For instance, the German Emperor Otto II occupied the region between the River Eider and the Schlei in the years 974-983, called Mark of Schleswig, and stimulating German
colonization. Later Haithabu was burned by Swedes, and first under the reign of King Sweyn Forkbeard "(Svend Tveskæg)" (986- 1014) the situation was stabilized, although raids against Haithabu would be repeated. Haithabu was once again and ultimately destroyed by fire in 1066. As Adam of Bremenreported in 1076, the Eider Riverwas the border between Denmark and the Saxon territories.
From the time Danes came to Schleswig from today’s eastern part of Denmark and Germans colonised Schleswig migrating from Holstein, the country north of the Elbe had been the battleground of
Danes and Germans, as well as certain Slavic people. Danish scholars point to the existence of Danish placenames north for Eider and Danevirke as evidence that at least the most of Schleswig was at one time Danish; German scholars claim it, on the other hand, as essentially Germanic, due to the fact that Schleswig ever since had become an autonomous entity and a duchy since it has been populated and been dominated from the South. The Duchy of Schleswig, or South Jutland("Sønderjylland"), had been a Danish fief, though having been more or less independent from the Kingdom of Denmark during the centuries, similarly to Holstein, that had been from the first a fief of the Germano-Roman Empire, originating in the small area of Nordalbingia, in today western Holstein, inhabited then mostly by Saxons, but in 13th century expanded to the present Holstein, after winning local Danish overlord. Throughout the Middle Ages, Schleswig was a source of rivalry between Denmark and the nobility of the German duchy of Holstein. The Danish position can be exemplified with an inscription on a stone in the walls of the town of Rendsburg(Danish: "Rendsborg") located on the border between Schleswig and Holstein: "Eidora Terminus Imperii Romani" ("The River Eider is the Border of the Holy Roman Empire"). A number of German nobles sought to challenge this.
The controversy in the 19th century raged round the ancient indissoluble union of the two duchies, and the inferences to be drawn from it; the Danish National Liberals claimed Schleswig as an integral part of the Danish kingdom; the Germans claimed Holstein as a part of Germany and Schleswig also. The history of the relations of Schleswig and Holstein thus became of importance in the practical political question.
The area of Schleswig (South Jutland) was first inhabited by the mingled West Germanic tribes
Cimbri, Anglesand Jutes, later also by the North Germanic Danes and West Germanic Frisians. Holstein was inhabited mainly by the West Germanic Saxons, aside Wends(such as Obotrites) and other Slavic peoples in the East. The Saxons were the last of their nation to submit to Charlemagne (804), who put their country under Frankish counts, the limits of the Empire being pushed in 810 as far as the Schlei in Schleswig. In 811 the river Eiderwas declared as borderline between the Frankish Empireand Denmark. Then began the secular struggle between the Danish kings and the German emperors, and in 934 the German king Henry I established the Mark of Schleswig (Limes Danarum) between the Eider and the Schlei as an outpost of Germany against the Danes.
South of this raged the contest between Germans and Slavs. The latter, conquered and Christianized, rose in revolt in 983, after the death of the
emperor Otto II, and for a while reverted to paganism and independence. The Saxon dukes, however, continued to rule central Holstein, and when Lothair of Supplinburgbecame duke of Saxony(1106), on the extinction of the Billung line, he invested Adolf I of Schauenburgwith the countship of Holstein.
The Earl ("jarl")
Knud Lavard(Eng. Canute Lavard)(killed 1131), son of a Danish king, became Dukeof Jutland or Southern Jutland. His son ascended the Danish throne, and the main branch continued as Kings, whereas a cadet branch descended from Abel of Denmarkreceived Southern Jutland (Slesvig) as their appanage. During the rule of the dynasty Southern Jutland functioned as the Duchywhich provided for the expenses of Royal Princes. Rivalry of royal succession and particularly the tendency of autonomy led to longlasting feuds between the Dukes of Schleswig and the Kings of Denmark 1253–1325.
At that time, Germany expanded also northwards and had set up the
Schauenburgfamily as counts of Holstein, under German suzerainty, first located in Nordalbingia, the Saxon part of the region, in what now is western Holstein. Knud Lavard had also gained awhile parts of Holstein, and thereby came in conflict with Count Adolf (Schauenburg) in the German part of Holstein, as they both were very keen on expanding their influence and pacifying the Wagriantribe (see: Wends). Count Adolf succeeded and established the County of Holstein (1143) with about the borders it has had since then. Holstein was Christianized, lots of the Wagrians were killed and the land was inhabited by settlers from Westphalia, Frieslandand Holland. Soon the towns of Holstein, as Lübeckand Hamburg, became serious trade competitors on the Baltic Sea.
Adolf I's son,
Adolf II of Schauenburg(1128–1164), succeeded in re-conquering the Slavonic Wagriand founded the city and see of Lübeckto hold them in check. Adolf III of Schauenburg(d. 1225), his successor, received Dithmarschenin fee from the emperor Frederick I, but in 1203 the fortunes of war compelled him to surrender Holstein to Valdemar II of Denmarkwho mandated Albert of Orlamünde, the cession being confirmed in a Golden bull by the emperor Frederick II in 1214 and the pope in 1217, thus provoking the German nobles in Holstein. Valdemar appointed his lieutenant in Holstein.
In 1223, King Valdemar and his eldest son were abducted by count
Henry I of Schwerin(also known as "Heinrich der Schwarze"), and held captive in Castle Dannenbergfor several years. Count Henry demanded that Valdemar should surrender the land conquered in Holstein 20 years ago and become a vassal of the Holy Roman Emperorwho in fact tried to intervene and arrange the release of Valdemar. Danish envoys refused these terms and Denmark declared war. The war ended in defeat of the troops under the command of Albert of Orlamünde at Mölln in 1225, and Valdemar was forced to surrender his conquests as the price of his own release and take an oath not to seek revenge.
Valdemar was released from captivity in 1226 and appealed to
Pope Honorius IIIto have his oath repealed, a request the Pope granted. In 1226, Valdemar attacked the nobles of Holstein, and initially, had success.
July 22, 1227the two armies clashed at Bornhövedin Holstein in the Battle of Bornhöved. The battle ended in a decisive victory for Adolf IV of Holstein. During the battle the troops from Dithmarschen abandoned the Danish army and joined Adolf’s army. In the following peace, Valdemar II relinquished his conquests in Holstein for good and Holstein was permanently secured to the house of Schauenburg.
King Valdemar II, who had retained the former German Mark north of the Eider, in 1232 erected Schleswig as a duchy for his second son, Abel. Holstein on the other hand, after the death of Adolf IV in 1261, was split up into several countships by his sons and grandsons: the lines of Kiel, Plön, Schauenburg-Pinneberg and Rendsburg.
The connection between Schleswig and Holstein became closer during the 14th century as the ruling class and accompanying colonists intensely populated the Duchy Schleswig. Local lords of Schleswig had already early paid attention to keep Schleswig independent from the Kingdom of Denmark and to strengthen ties to the German Holstein. This tradition of autonomy showed itself in future politics for centuries to come.
The rivalry, sometimes leading into war between the kings of Denmark and the Abelian dukes of Schleswig was expensive, and Denmark had to finance it through extensive loans. The Dukes of Schleswig were allied with the Counts of Holstein, who happened to become the main creditors of the Danish Crown, too, in the reign of the utterly incompetent king
Christopher II of Denmark.
On the death of King Valdemar's descendant Duke Eric in 1319,
Christopher II of Denmarkattempted to seize the Duchy of Schleswig, the heir of which Valdemar III was a minor; but Valdemar's guardian and uncle, Gerhard III of Holstein-Rendsburg(1304 - 1340), surnamed the Great and a notable warrior, drove back the Danes and, Christopher having been expelled, succeeded in procuring the election of Valdemar to the Danish throne, while Gerhard himself obtained the Duchy of Schleswig. King Valdemar was regarded as a usurper by most Danish nobles as he had been forced by the Schleswig-Holstein nobility to sign the " Constitutio Valdemaria" ( June 7, 1326) promising that "The Duchy of Schleswig and the Kingdom of Denmark must never be united under the same ruler". Schleswig was consequently granted to Count Gerhard, being the leader of one of the three lines of the Schauenburg dynasty. The constitution can be seen as a first precursor to the Treaty of Ribe and similarly laying down the principle of separation between the Duchy of Schleswig and the Kingdom of Denmark and indeed uniting Schleswig and Holstein for the first time.
In 1330, Christopher II was restored to his throne and
Valdemar III of Denmarkabdicated his untenable kingship and returned to his former position as Duke of Schleswig which he held as Valdemar V of Schleswig. As compensation, Gerhard was awarded the island of Funenas a fief instead. In 1331 war broke out between Gerhard and King Christopher II, ending in Danish defeat. The peace terms were extremely harsh. King Christopher was only left in effective control of the small island of Langelandand faced the impossible task of raising 100,000 silver marks to redeem his country. Denmark had effectively been dissolved and was left without a king between 1332 and 1340. Gerhard, however, was assassinated in 1340 by a Dane.
In 1340, King
Valdemar IV of Denmarkbegan his more than twenty year long quest to reclaim his kingdom. While succeeding in regaining control of Zealand, Funen, Jutland, and Scania he, however, failed to obtain control of Schleswig, and its ducal line managed to continue its virtual independence.
This was the time when almost all of Denmark came under the supremacy of the Counts of Holstein, who possessed different parts of Denmark as pawns for their credits. King Valdemar IV (Atterdag) started to regain the kingdom part by part, and married his rival's sister Hedvig of Schleswig, the only daughter of Duke
Eric II of Schleswig. Duke Valdemar of Slesvig's son, Henrik, was in 1364 nominally entfeoffed with the Duchy, although he never reached to regain more than the northernmost parts as he couldn't raise the necessary funds to repay the loans. With him, the Abelian line went extinct. The true holder of the lands was count of Holstein, but Henry's feudal heirs were his first cousin Margaret of Denmark, queen of several Scandinavian realms, and Albert of Mecklenburg, son of Margaret's elder sister Ingeborg of Denmark.
In 1372, Valdemar Atterdag turned his attention to Schleswig and conquered
Gramin 1372 and Flensburgin 1373. Southern parts of Schleswig had been mortgaged to several German nobles by Duke Henry of Schleswig(d 1375, a son of the former king Valdemar III of Denmark), the last duke of that line. The childless, elderly Henry transferred his rights to his kinsman and brother-in-law King Valdemar IV in 1373. The German nobles, however, refused to allow the king to repay the mortgage and redeem the area in question.
In 1374, Valdemar bought large tracts of land in the province and was on the verge of starting a campaign to conquer the rest when he died on
October 24, 1374and shortly hereon Duke Henrik died in 1375. It was then when the male lines both in the kingdom and the duchy became extinct, that the counts of Holstein seized on Schleswig, assuming at the same time the style of lords of Jutland. The nobles quickly took action and managed to regain more control of the Duchy which they emphasised to be independent of the Danish Crown.
In 1386, Queen
Margaret I of Denmark, younger daughter of Valdemar IV of Denmark and Helvig of Schleswig, granted Schleswig as a hereditary fief under the Danish crown to Count Gerhard VI of Holstein-Rendsburg, grandson of Gerhard III of Rendsburg, provided that he swore allegiance to her son King Oluf, although Schleswig actually still was hold autonomously by the Count of Holstein. Gerhard - after the extinction of the line of Kiel and Holstein (1390) – finally obtained the whole of the countship of Holstein in 1403, but not the small Schauenburg territories in Lower Saxony. With this merging of power begins the history of the union of Schleswig and Holstein.
Gerhard VI died in 1404, and soon afterwards war broke out between his sons and
Eric of Pomerania, Margaret's successor on the throne of Denmark, who claimed South Jutland as an integral part of the Danish monarchy, a claim formally recognized by the emperor Sigismund in 1424, it was not till 1440that the struggle ended with the investiture of Count Adolf VIII, Gerhard's son, with the hereditary duchy of Schleswig by Christopher III of Denmark.
In 1409, King
Eric VII of Denmark(Eric of Pomerania) forced the German nobles to surrender Flensburgto him. War broke out in 1410, and Eric conquered Als and Ærø. In 1411, the nobles retook Flensburg, but in 1412 both sides agreed to a count of Mecklenburg to settle the dispute (Danish history claims his name was Ulrich of Mecklenburg). He awarded the city to Denmark, and Margaret I of Denmarktook possession of the city. In Flensburg she was struck by the plague and died shortly after. A new mediation attempt was undertaken in 1416 by the Hanseatic League. Both sides accepted, and Denmark pledged the city of Schleswig as security, and the Holsteiners the stronghold of Tönning. The mediation was unsuccessful. In 1421, the Holsteiners succeeded in regaining Haderslev, Schleswig and Tønder.
In 1422, Duke
Henry X of Silesia(also known as duke "Heinrich Rumpold"), envoy of the Holy Roman Emperor, was recognised by both sides as arbitrator. He died, however, on January 18, 1423before reaching a settlement. His master, Emperor Sigismund now wished to settle the issue, a decision strongly opposed by the nobles of Holstein. In 1424, Emperor Sigismund ruled, based on the fact that the people of Schleswig spoke Danish, followed Danish customs and considered themselves to be Danes, that the territory rightfully belonged to the King of Denmark. Count Henry of Holsteinprotested and refused to follow the verdict.
In 1425 war broke out again. In 1431, a group of pro-German burghers opened the gates of
Flensburgand a German army marched in. In 1432 peace was settled, and Eric recognised the conquests made by the German nobles.
In 1439, the new Danish king Christopher III (also known as Christopher of Bavaria) bought the loyalty of count
Adolf VIIIof Holstein by granting him the entire Duchy of Schleswig as a hereditary fief but under the Danish crown.
On I the death of Christopher eight years later, Adolph's influence secured the election of his nephew
Count Christian of Oldenburgto the vacant throne.
In 1448 Adolf, the Duke of Slesvig-Count of Holstein, who himself was one of the closest heirs to Scandinavian monarchies, was influential enough to get his nephew Count Christiern (Christian) of Oldenburg elected King of Denmark, and when the Duke had died and the Schauenburg dynasty in Holstein had thus went extinct, King
Christian I of Denmark(son of Hedwig, the sister of the late duke Adolf) was chosen Duke of Slesvig and Count of Holstein in 1460, which was the first succession of Holstein in female line. In the following period of a hundred years, the Duchy and County many times was divided between heirs.
On the death of Adolf in 1459 without issue, King Christian I, though he had been forced to swear to the
Constitutio Valdemariana, succeeded in asserting his claim to Schleswig in right of his mother, Adolf's sister. Instead of incorporating South Jutland with the Danish kingdom, however, he preferred to take advantage of the feeling of the estates in Schleswig and Holstein in favour of union to secure both provinces. On Schleswig the Schauenburg counts had no claim; their election in Holstein would have separated the countries; and it was easy therefore for Christian to secure his election both as duke of Schleswig and count of Holstein ( March 5, 1460). Charter of The price he paid was a charter of privileges, issued first at Ribe and afterwards at Kiel, in which he promised to preserve the countries for ever as one and indivisible, indissoluble and conceded to the estates the right to refuse to elect union. Finally, in 1472 the emperor Frederick III confirmed 1472. Christian I's overlordship over Dithmarschen and erected Dithmarschen, Holstein, and Stormarninto the duchy of Holstein. The Holy Roman Emperorelevated Holstein as a Duchy.
In 1459, Adolf died without leaving an heir and no other count could produce claims to both the Duchy of Schleswig and the County of Holstein. The Danish King Christian I did however hold a claim to Schleswig, and the separation of Schleswig and Holstein would have meant economic ruin for many nobles of Holstein. Moreover, the German nobles failed to agree on which course to take. In 1460, King Christian called the nobility to
Ribe, and on March 2, 1460, the nobles agreed to elect him as successor of Count Adolf as the new count of Holstein, in order to prevent the separation of the two provinces. On March 5, Christian granted a coronation charter (or "Freiheitsbrief") which also repeated that Schleswig and Holstein must remain united "dat se bliven ewich tosamende ungedelt".
Treaty of Ribe( _da. Ribe-brevet, _de. Vertrag von Ripen) was a proclamation made by King Christian I of Denmarkto a number of German nobles enabling himself to become count of Holstein and regain the Danish duchy of Schleswig. The most famous line of the proclamation was that the Danish duchy of Schleswig and the German duchy of Holstein should now be (in original Middle Low German: "Up Ewig Ungedeelt", meaning: Forever Undivided). The proclamation was issued in 1460 and established that the King of Denmark should also be duke of Schleswig and count of Holstein. Another clause gave the nobility the right to revolt should the king break the agreement (a usual feature of medieval coronation charters). Regarding Holstein, the arrangement was pretty straightforward, the King of Denmark became count of Holstein but was not allowed to annex the county to Denmark proper. Regarding Schleswig the arrangement seems at first rather odd, since Schleswig was a fief under the Danish crown, thus making the Danish king his own vassal. However, the German nobles saw this arrangement as a guarantee against too strong Danish domination and as a guarantee against a partition of Holstein between Danish nobles. The most important consequence of this agreement was the exclusion of Schleswig in subsequent Danish laws (although the medieval Danish Code of Jutland(in Danish: "Jyske Lov") was maintained as the legal code of the duchy of Schleswig. Another important development was the gradual introduction of German administrators in the duchy of Schleswig leading to a gradual Germanification of the southern part of the province. This process was greatly increased following the Reformation, when German liturgy was introduced in churches in the southern half of Schleswig (although the vernacular of more than half of this area was Danish. The Germanification did not catch wind, however, before the end of the eighteenth century.
By this action, King Christian managed to gain control of the German province of Holstein, but the price was a permanent link between two provinces, one Danish and one German.
Schleswig-Holstein soon got a better educational system some centuries before Denmark proper and Norway. The German nobility in Schleswig andf Holstein was already a numerous range of people, and education added plenty of people to administrative officials pool of the kings. In 16th and 17th centuries particularly, educated Schleswig-Holsteiners were recruited to government positions in Norway (where they supplanted indigeneous lower
Norwegian nobilityfrom its public positions, being a cause of them developing more like odalbondeclass than privileged) and also in Denmark, where very many government officials came from German stock (but the Danish nobilitywas not suppressed, they ather immersed most successful of the newcomers into their ranks). This feature of Schleswig-Holstein being an utilized source of bureaucrats was a reason of Denmark's governmental half-Germanization in the subsequent centuries before 19th century romantics.
Early modern age
16th and 17th centuries
On the death of King Frederick I (1523–1533), under whom the Reformation had been introduced into the duchies, occurred the first of several partitions of the inheritance of the house which the rights of overlordship in the various towns and territories of Schleswig were divided between them; the estates, however, remained undivided, and the king and duke ruled the country alternately. To make confusion worse, Frederick II in 1582 ceded certain lands in
Haderslevto his brother John (Hans), who founded the line of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg (Danish: "Slesvig-Holsten-Sønderborg"), and John's grandsons again partitioned this appanage, Ernest Günther (1609–1689), founding the line of Schleswig-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (Danish: "Slesvig-Holsten-Augustenborg"), and August Philip (1612–1675) that of Schleswig-Beck-Glucksburg (known since 1825 as Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg). However, these were always under the King as Duke, and never directly under the Emperor (if they ever held lands in Holstein).
Meanwhile the Gottorp dukes were making themselves a great position in Europe. Frederick III, duke from 1616 to 1659, established the principle of
primogeniturefor his line, and the full sovereignty of his Schleswig dominions was secured to him by his son-in-law Charles X of Swedenby the convention of Copenhagen ( May 12, 1658) and to his son Christian Albert (d. 1694) by the treaty of Oliva, though it was not till after years of warfare that Denmark admitted the claim by the convention of Altona ( June 30, 1689). Christian Albert's son Frederick IV (d. 1702) was again attacked by Denmark, but had a powerful champion in Charles XII of Sweden, who secured his rights by the treaty of Travendal in 1700. Frederick was killed at the Battle of Kliszówin 1702, and his brother Christian August acted as regent for his son Charles Frederick until 1718. In 1713 the regent broke the stipulated neutrality of the duchy in favour of Sweden and Frederick IV of Denmarkseized the excuse to expel the duke by force of arms. Holstein was restored to him by the peace of Frederiksborg in 1720, but in the following year king Frederick IV was recognized as sovereign of Schleswig by the estates and by the princes of the Augustenburg and Glucksburg lines.
From the end of the 16th century the Duchies were split in only two parts: one held by the King of Denmark, and the other held by the
Duke of Holstein-Gottorp.
30-years' Warthe relations between the Duke and the King worsened. Finally in 1658, after the Danes had invaded Swedish territories south of Hamburg, the Duke cooperated with the Swedes in their counter-attack which almost eradicated the Danish Kingdom. The peace treaty stipulated that the Duke of Holstein-Gottorpno longer was a vassal of the Danish Crown in Schleswig.
As Sweden in 1721 had lost its strength, Denmark could again subjugate the entire Slesvig to the Danish realm; Holstein-Gottorps lost their lands in Schleswig, but continued as independent Dukes in their portion of Holstein. The prior royal and ducal regions of Schleswig were united under the king. The Duke remained Duke of Holstein-Gottorp under the German Emperor until 1773 when (almost) all of Holstein was gained by the King of Denmark by treaty from
Paul I of Russia, the heir of Holstein-Gottorp. The Danish king ( Christian VII) had been a German Duke of Holstein, and now received all Holstein, but that formally under the Empire.
Peter as duke of Gottorp, Adolf Frederick, bishop of
Lübeck, son of Christian August, acted as regent until 1745; in 1751 he became king of Sweden. But the duchies' rulers of Russia had no interest in maintaining their part 1767, of Holstein and their confused and disputed common rights in Jutland, and in 1767 the empress Catherine II resigned them, by the treaty of Copenhagen, in the name of her son Paul, who confirmed this action on coming of age in 1773. Oldenburg and Delmenhorst, surrendered by the Danish king in compensation, were handed over to Frederick August, bishop of Lübeck, the second son of Christian August, who thus founded the younger line of the house of Gottorp. Schleswig and Holstein were thus once more united under the Danish king.
In the 1760s the duchies' rulers of Russia had no interest in maintaining their part of Holstein and their confused and disputed common rights in Jutland, and in 1767 the empress Catherine II resigned them in the name of her son Paul by the treaty of Copenhagen, Paul confirmed this action on coming of age in 1773. Oldenburg and Delmenhorst, which had been surrendered by the Danish king in compensation, were handed over to Frederick August, bishop of Lübeck, who thus founded the younger line of the house of Gottorp. Schleswig and Holstein were thus once more united under the Danish king.
On the abolition of the
Holy Roman Empirein 1806, Holstein was practically, though not formally, incorporated in Denmark. Under the administration of the Danish prime minister Count Bernstorff, himself from Schleswig, many reforms were carried out in the duchies, for example, abolition of torture and of serfdom; at the same time Danish laws and coinage were introduced, and Danish was made the official language for communication with Copenhagen. Since, however, the Danish court itself at the time was largely German in language and feeling, this produced no serious expressions of resentment.
The settlement of 1806 was reversed, and while Schleswig remained as before, Holstein and Lauenburg were included in the new
German Confederation. The opening up of the Schleswig-Holstein questionthus became sooner or later inevitable. The Germans of Holstein, influenced by the new national enthusiasm evoked by the War of Liberation, resented more than ever the attempts of the government of Copenhagen to treat them as part of the Danish monarchy and, encouraged by the sympathy of the Germans in Schleswig, early tried to reassert in the interests of Germanism the old principle of the unity of the duchies. The political atmosphere, however, had changed at Copenhagen also; and their demands were met by the Danes with a nationalist temper as intractable as their own. Affairs were ripe for a crisis, which the threatened failure of the common male heirs to the kingdom and the duchies precipitated.
Duchyof Schleswig was originally an integrated part of Denmark, but was in medieval times established as a fief under the Kingdom of Denmark, with the same relation to the Danish Crown as for example Brandenburg or Bavaria had to the German Emperor. Holstein has as a German fief been part of Germany, and was eventually established as a single united province. Schleswig and Holstein have at different times belonged in part or completely to either Denmark, Germany, or been virtually independent of both nations. The exception is that Schleswig had never been part of Germany before the Second War of Schleswigin 1864. For many centuries, the King of Denmark was both a Danish Duke of Schleswig and a German Duke of Holstein. The short version is: Schleswig was either integrated in Denmark or a Danish fief, and Holstein was a German fief. Both were for several centuries ruled by the Kings of Denmark. In 1721 all of Schleswig was united as a single Duchy under the King of Denmark, and the Great Powers of Europe confirmed in an international treaty that all future Kings of Denmark should automatically become Duke of Schleswig and Schleswig would consequently always follow the same line of succession as the one chosen in the Kingdom of Denmark.
The duchy of Schleswig was legally a Danish fief and not part of the Holy Roman Empire or, after 1815, of the German Confederation (German: "Deutscher Bund", Danish: "Tysk Forbund"), but the duchy of Holstein was a German fief and part of both the Empire and later the German Confederation of 1815–1866. It was one of the oddities of both the Holy Roman Empire and of the German Confederation that foreign heads of state could be and often were also members of the constitutional organs of the Empire and the Confederation if they held a territory that was part of the Empire or the Confederation. The King of Denmark had a seat in the organs of the German Confederation because he was also Duke of Holstein.
Schleswig-Holstein Questionwas the name given to the whole complex of diplomatic and other issues arising in the 19th century out of the relations of the two duchies, Schleswig and Holstein, to the Danish crown and the German Confederation on the other.
The Danish succession
When Christian VIII succeeded his first cousin Frederick VI in 1839 the elder male line of the house of Oldenburg was obviously on the point of extinction, the king's only son and heir having no children. Ever since 1834, when joint succession, consultative estates had been re-established for the duchies, the question of the succession had been debated in this assembly. To German opinion the solution seemed clear enough. The crown of Denmark could be inherited by female heirs (see
Louise of Hesse); in the duchy of Holstein the Salic lawhad never been repealed and, in the event of a failure of male heirs to Christian VIII, the succession would pass to the dukes of Augustenburg — although this was debatable as the dynasty itself had received Holstein by Christian I of Denmarkbeing the son of the "sister" of the last Schauenburg, Adolf VIII.
Danish opinion, on the other hand, clamoured for a royal pronouncement proclaiming the principle of the indivisibility of the monarchy and its transmission intact to a single heir, in accordance with the royal law. To this Christian VIII yielded so far as to issue in 1846 letters patent declaring that the royal law in the matter of the succession was in full force so far as Schleswig was concerned, in accordance with the letters patent of
August 22, 1721, the oath of fidelity of September 3, 1721, the guarantees given by France and Great Britain in the same year and the treaties of 1767 and 1773 with Russia. As to Holstein, he stated that certain circumstances prevented him from giving, in regard to some parts of the duchy, so clear a decision as in the case of Schleswig. The principle of the independence of Schleswig and of its union with Holstein were expressly reaffirmed. An appeal against this by the estates of Holstein to the German diet received no attention.
In 1806–1815 the government of Denmark had claimed Schleswig and Holstein to be parts of the monarchy of Denmark, which was not popular among the German population in Schleswig-Holstein, who had traditionally the large majority. However, this development sparked an German national awakening after the
Napoleonic wars and led to a strong popular movement in Holstein and Southern Schleswig for re-unification of Holstein and also Schleswig with a new Prussian-dominated Germany.
The childlessness of King
Frederick VII of Denmarkworked in favor of the Germans, as did the ancient Treaty of Ribe, which stipulated that the two duchies must never be separated. A counter-movement developed among the Danish population in northern Schleswig and (from 1838) in Denmark, where the Liberals insisted that Schleswig as a fief had belonged to Denmark for centuries and that the Eider River, the historic border between Schleswig and Holstein, should mark the frontier between Germany and Denmark. The Danish nationalists thus aspired to incorporate Schleswig into Denmark, in the process separating it from Holstein. The Germans conversely sought to confirm Schleswig's association with Holstein, in the process detaching Schleswig from Denmark and bringing it into the German Confederation.
The revolutions in 1848 all over Europe led in Schleswig and Holstein to a failed separatist rebellion (
First War of Schleswig), and nationalist circles in Denmark advocated danification of Southern Schleswig (but not of Holstein) as Danish national culture had risen much in past decades. This brought matters to a head.
January 28, Christian VIII issued a rescript proclaiming a new constitution which, while preserving the autonomy of the different parts of the country, incorporated them for common purposes in a single organization. The estates of the duchies replied by demanding the incorporation of Schleswig-Holstein, as a single constitutional state, in the German Confederation.
First War of Schleswig
In March 1848 these differences led to an open uprising by the German-minded Estate assemblies in the duchies in support of independence from Denmark and of close association with the
German Confederation. The military intervention of Prussia helped the rising: the Prussian army drove Denmark's troops from Schleswig and Holstein.
Frederick VII, who had succeeded his father at the end of January, declared (
March 4) that he had no right to deal in this way with Schleswig, and, yielding to the importunity of the Eider-Danish party, withdrew the rescript of January ( April 4) and announced to the people of Schleswig ( March 27) the promulgation of a liberal constitution under which the duchy, while preserving its local autonomy, would become an integral part of Denmark.
A Liberal constitution for Holstein was not seriously considered in
Copenhagensince it was a well-known fact that the German political elite of Holstein was far more conservative than the one in Copenhagen. This proved to be true, as the politicians of Holstein demanded that the Constitution of Denmark be scrapped, not only in Schleswig but also in Denmark, as well as demanding that Schleswig immediately follow Holstein and become a member of the German Confederation and eventually a part of the new united Germany.
The rebels established a provisional government at
Kiel; and the duke of Augustenburghad hurried to Berlin to secure the assistance of Prussia in asserting around 1848 his rights. This was at the very crisis of the revolution in Berlin, and the Prussian government saw in the proposed intervention in Denmark in a popular cause an excellent opportunity for restoring its damaged prestige. Prussian troops were accordingly marched into Holstein.
This war between Denmark one the one hand and the two duchies and Prussia on the other lasted three years (1848–1850) and only ended when the
Great Powers pressured Prussia into accepting the London Convention of 1852. Under the terms of this peace agreement, the German Confederation returned the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein to Denmark. In an agreement with Prussia under the London Protocol of 1852, the Danish government in return undertook not to tie Schleswig more closely to Denmark than to the duchy of Holstein.
In 1848 King Frederick VII of Denmark declared that he would grant Denmark a Liberal Constitution and the immediate goal for the Danish national movement was to secure that this Constitution would not only give rights to all Danes, that is, not only to the Kingdom of Denmark, but also to Danes (and Germans) living in Schleswig. Furthermore, they demanded the protection of the Danish language in Schleswig since the dominating language in almost a quarter of Schleswig had changed from Danish to German since the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Nationalist circles in Denmark advocated danification of Schleswig (but not of Holstein) as Danish national culture had risen much in past decades.
April 12, 1848the diet recognized the provisional government of Schleswig and commissioned Prussia to enforce its decrees, General Wrangel was ordered to occupy Schleswig also. But the Germans had reckoned without the European powers, which were united in opposing any dismemberment of Denmark, even Austria refusing to assist in enforcing the German view. Swedish troops landed to assist the Danes; Nicholas I of Russia, speaking with authority as Head of the elder Gottorp line, pointed out to King Frederick William IV the risks of a collision; Great Britain, though the Danes rejected her mediation, threatened to send her fleet to assist in preserving the status quo. Frederick William new ordered Wrangel to withdraw his troops from the duchies; but the general refused to obey, on the plea that he was under the command not of the king of Prussia but of the regent of Germany, and proposed that, at least, any treaty concluded should be presented for ratification to the Frankfort government. This the Danes refused; and negotiations were broken off. Prussia was now confronted on the one side by the German nation urging her clamorously to action, on the other side by the European powers with one voice threatening the worst consequences should she persist.
August 26, 1848, after painful hesitation, Frederick William chose what seemed the lesser of two evils, and Prussia signed at Malmöa convention which yielded practically all the Danish demands. The Holstein estates appealed to the German parliament, which hotly took up their cause; but it was soon clear that the central government had no means of enforcing its views, and in the end the convention was ratified at Frankfurt.
The convention was only in the nature of a truce establishing a temporary "modus vivendi", and the main issues, left unsettled, continued to be hotly debated. At a conference held in London in October, Denmark suggested an arrangement on the basis of a separation of Schleswig from Holstein, which was about to become a member of the new German empire, Schleswig to have a separate constitution under the Danish crown. This was supported by Great Britain and Russia.
January 27, 1849it was accepted by Prussia and the German government. The negotiations broke down, however, on the refusal of Denmark to yield the principle of the indissoluble union with the Danish crown.
February 23the truce was at an end, and on April 3, the war was renewed.
The principles which Prussia was commissioned to enforce as the mandatory of Germany were:
#that they were independent states
#that their union was indissoluble
#that they were hereditary only in the male lineAt this point the
tsarintervened in favour of peace; and Prussia, conscious of her restored strength and weary of the intractable temper of the Frankfort government, determined to take matters into her own hands.
July 10, 1849another truce was signed; Schleswig, until the peace, was to be administered separately, under a mixed commission, Holstein was to be governed by a vicegerent of the German empirean arrangement equally offensive to German and Danish sentiment. A settlement seemed as far off as ever; the Danes still clamoured for the principle of succession in the female line and union with Denmark, the Germans for that of succession in the male line and union with Holstein.
In 1849 the Constitution of Denmark was adopted. This complicated matters further, as many Danes wished for the new democratic constitution to apply for all Danes, including in the Danes in Schleswig. The constitutions of Holstein and Schleswig were dominated by the Estates system, giving more power to the most affluent members of society, with the result that both Schleswig and Holstein were politically dominated by a predominantly German class of landowners. Thus more systems of government co-existed within the same state:
democracyin Denmark, and absolutismin Schleswig and Holstein. The three units were governed by one cabinet, consisting of liberal ministers of Denmark who urged for economical and social reforms, and conservative ministers of the Holstein nobility who opposed political reform. This caused a deadlock for practical lawmaking. Moreover, Danish opponents of this so-called Unitary State ("Helstaten") feared that Holstein's presence in the government and, at the same time, membership of the German Confederation would lead to increased German interference with Schleswig, or even into purely Danish affairs.
In Copenhagen, the Palace and most of the administration supported a strict adherence to the status quo. Same applied to foreign powers such as Great Britain, France and Russia, who would not accept a weakened Denmark in favour of Germany, nor that Prussia acquired Holstein with the important naval harbour of
Kielor controlled the entrance to the Baltic.
In April 1850, in utter weariness Prussia proposed a definitive peace on the basis of the "status quo ante bellum" and the postponement of all questions as to mutual rights. To Palmerston the basis seemed meaningless, the proposed settlement to settle nothing. The emperor Nicholas, openly disgusted with Frederick William's weak-kneed truckling to the Revolution, again intervened. To him the duke of Augustenburg was a rebel; Russia had guaranteed Schleswig to the Danish crown by the treaties of 1767 and 1773; as for Holstein, if the king of Denmark was unable to deal with the rebels there, he himself would intervene as he had done in Hungary. The threat was reinforced by the menace of the European situation. Austria and Prussia were on the verge of war, and the sole hope of preventing Russia from throwing her sword into the scale of Austria lay in settling the Schleswig-Holstein question in the sense desired by her. The only alternative, an alliance with the devil's nephew,
Louis Napoleon, who already dreamed of acquiring the Rhine frontier for France at the price of his aid in establishing German sea-power by the cession of the duchies, was abhorrent to Frederick William.
After the First War of Schleswig
July 2, 1850was signed at Berlina treaty of peace between Prussia and Denmark. Both parties 1850. reserved all their antecedent rights; but for Denmark it was enough, since it empowered the king-duke to restore his authority in Holstein with or without the consent of the German Confederation.
Danish troops now marched in to coerce the refractory duchies; but while the fighting went on negotiations among the powers continued, and on
August 2, 1850Great Britain, France, Russia and Norway-Swedensigned a protocol, to which Austria subsequently adhered, approving the principle of restoring the integrity of the Danish monarchy. The Copenhagen government. which in May 1851 made an abortive attempt to come to an understanding with the inhabitants of the duchies by convening an assembly of notables at Flensburg, issued on December 6, 1851a project for the future organization of the monarchy on the basis of the equality of its constituent states, with a common ministry; and on January 28, 1852a royal letter announced the institution of a unitary state which, while maintaining the fundamental constitution of Denmark, would increase the parliamentary powers of the estates of the two duchies. This proclamation was approved by Prussia and Austria, and by the German federal diet insofar as it affected Holstein and Lauenburg. The question of the succession was the next approached. Only the question of the Augustenburg succession made an agreement between the powers impossible, and on March 31, 1852the duke of Augustenburg resigned his claim in return for a money payment. Further adjustments followed.
Another factor which doomed Danish interests, was that not only was the power of German culture rising, but conflicts with German States in the south, namely Prussia and
Austria. Schleswig and Holstein would, of course and inevitable, become the subject of a territorial dispute involving military encounters among the three states, Denmark, Prussia and Austria.
Danish government found itself nervous as it became expected that Frederik VII would leave no son, and that upon his death, under
Salic law, the possible Crown Princess would have no actual legal right to Schleswig and Holstein (of course that was debatable, as the dynasty itself had received Holstein by Christian I being son of the sister of last Schauenburg count of Holstein, but Salic Law was convenient to German nationalists in this case, furthermore was Schleswig a fief to the kings of Denmark with the Danish Kings Law, Kongeloven). Ethnic-Danish citizens of Schleswig (South Jutland) panicked over the possibility of being separated from their mother country, agitated against the German element, and demanded that Denmark declare Schleswig, as an integral part of Denmark, which outraged German nationalists.
Holstein was part of the territory of the
German Confederation, with which an annexation of whole Schleswig and Holstein to Denmark would have been incompatible. This gave a good pretext to Prussia to engage in war with Denmark in order to seize Schleswig and Holstein for itself, both by pleasing nationalists by 'liberating' Germans from Danish rule, and by implementing the law of the German Confederation.
After the renunciation by the emperor of Russia and others of their eventual rights, Charlotte, landgravine of Hesse, sister of Christian VIII, and her son Prince Frederick transferred their rights to the latter's sister Louise, who in her turn transferred them to her husband Prince Christian of Glucksburg.
May 8, 1852, this arrangement received international sanction by the protocol signed in London by the five great powers and Norway and Sweden.
July 31, 1853, Frederick VII of Denmarkgave his assent to a law settling the crown on Prince Christian, prince of Denmark, and his heirs male. The protocol of London, while consecrating the principle of the integrity of Denmark, stipulated that the rights of the German Confederation in Holstein and Lauenburg should remain unaffected. It was, in fact, a compromise, and left the fundamental issues unsettled. The German federal diet had not been represented in London, and the terms of the protocol were regarded in Germany as a humiliation. As for the Danes, they were far from being satisfied with the settlement, which they approved only insofar as it gave them a basis for a more vigorous prosecution of their unionist schemes.
February 15and June 11, 1854Frederick VII, after consulting the estates, promulgated special constitutions for Schleswig and Holstein respectively, under which the provincial assemblies received certain very limited powers.
July 26, 1854he published a common Danish constitution for the whole monarchy; it was little more unitary than a veiled absolutism.
October 2, 1855it was superseded by a parliamentary constitution of a modified type. The legality of this constitution was disputed by the two German great powers, on the ground that the estates of the duchies had not been consulted as promised in the royal letter of December 6, 1851.
February 11, 1858the diet of the German Confederationrefused to admit its validity so far as Holstein and Lauenburg were concerned.
In the early 1860s the "Schleswig-Holstein Question" once more became the subject of lively international debate, but with the difference that support for the Danish position was in decline. The
Crimean Warhad crippled the power of Russia, and Francewas prepared to renounce support for Danish interests in the duchies in exchange for compensations to herself elsewhere. Queen Victoriaand the Prince Consort Albert had sympathy for the German position, but it was tempered by British ministers who saw the growth of German sea-power in the Baltic Sea as a danger to British naval supremacy, and consequently Great Britainsided with the Danes.
To that was added a grievance about tolls charged on shipping passing through the
Danish Straitsto pass between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. To avoid that expense, Prussia planned the Kiel Canal, which could not be built as long as Denmark ruled Holstein.
The secessionist movement continued throughout the 1850s and 1860s, as proponents of German unification increasingly expressed the wish to include two Danish-ruled provinces Holstein and Schleswig in a 'Greater Germany'. Holstein was completely German, while the situation in Schleswig was complex. It was linguistically mixed between German, Danish and North Frisian. The population was predominantly of Danish ethnicity, but many of them had switched to the German language since the 17th century. German culture dominated in clergy and nobility, whereas Danish had a lower social status. For centuries, when the rule of the King was absolute, these conditions had created few tensions. When ideas of democracy spread and national currents emerged from ca. 1820, some professed sympathy with German, others with Danish nationality.
Treaty of Ribehad proclaimed that Schleswig and Holstein were indivisible, however in another context. As the events of 1863 threatened to politically divide the two duchies, Prussia was handed a good pretext to engage in war with Denmark to seize Schleswig-Holstein for itself, both by pleasing nationalists in "liberating" Germans from Danish rule, and by implementing the law of the German Confederation.
November 6, 1853, Frederick VIIissued a proclamation abolishing the Danish constitutionso far as it affected Holstein and Lauenburg, while keeping it for Denmark and Schleswig.
Even this concession violated the principle of the indissoluble union of the duchies, but the German diet, fully occupied at home, determined to refrain from further action till the Danish parliament should make another effort to pass a law or budget affecting the whole kingdom without consulting the estates of the duchies.
In July 1860 this happened, and in the spring of 1861 the estates were once more at open odds with the Danish government. The German diet now prepared for armed intervention; but it was in no condition to carry out its threats, and Denmark decided, on the advice of Great Britain, to ignore it and open negotiations directly with Prussia and Austria as independent powers. These demanded the restoration of the union between the duchies, a question beyond the competence of the Confederation. Denmark replied with a refusal to recognize the right of any foreign power to interfere in her relations with Schleswig; to which Austria, anxious to conciliate the smaller German princes, responded with a vigorous protest against Danish infringements of the compact of 1852.
Lord John Russell now intervened, on behalf of Great Britain, with a proposal for a settlement of the whole question on the basis of the independence of the duchies under the Danish crown, with a decennial budget for common expenses to be agreed on by the four assemblies, and a supreme council of state consisting in relative proportion of Danes and Germans. This was accepted by Russia and by the German great powers, and Denmark found herself isolated in Europe. The international situation, however, favoured a bold attitude, and she met the representations of the powers with a flat defiance. The retention of Schleswig as an integral part of the monarchy was to Denmark a matter of life and death; the
German Confederationhad made the terms of the protocol of 1852, defining the intimate relations between the duchies, the excuse for unwarrantable interference in the internal affairs of the Denmark.
March 30, 1863, as a result of this, a royal compact's proclamation was published at Copenhagen repudiating the compacts of 1852, and, by defining the separate position of Holstein in the Danish monarchy, negativing once for all the claims of Germany upon Schleswig.
Three main movements had evolved, each with its goal:
*A German movement in the two duchies dreamt of an independent Schleswig-Holstein under a liberal constitution. First a
personal unionwith Denmark was outlined, as proposed by Uwe Jens Lornsenin 1830. Later, as it the succession problem appeared and the national sympathies of Danish royalty became evident, the Schleswig-Holstein movement called for an independent state ruled by the house of Augustenburg, a cadet branchof the Danish royal family. The movement largely ignored the fact that the northern half of Schleswig was predominantly Danish-minded.
*In Denmark, nationalists wished a "Denmark to the
Eider River", implying a reincorporation of Schleswig into Denmark and an end to the century-long German dominance in this region's politics. This scenario would mean a total exclusion of Holstein from the Danish monarchy, barring the conservative aristocracy of Holstein from Danish politics, thus easing liberal reforms. The Eider movement underestimated the German element of Southern Schleswig or thought they could be re-convinced of their Danish heritage.
*A less vociferous, but more influential stance was the keeping of the Danish unitary state as it was, one kingdom and two duchies. This would avoid any partition, but it would also not solve the ethnical controversy and the constitutional issues. Most Danish civil servants and the major powers of Russia, England and France supported this "status quo".
*A fourth scenario, that Schleswig and Holstein should both be incorporated into Prussia as a mere province, was hardly considered before or during the war of 1864. However, it was to be the outcome after the
Austro-Prussian Wartwo years later.
As the heir-less king Frederick VII grew older, Denmark's successive National-Liberal cabinets became increasingly focused on maintaining control of Schleswig following the king's future death.Both duchies were ruled by the kings of Denmark and shared a long mutual history, but their association with Denmark was extremely complex. Holstein was a German fief and a member of the German Confederation. Denmark, and Schleswig (as it was a Danish fief), were outside the German Confederation. German nationalists claimed that the succession laws of the two duchies were different from the similar law in Denmark. Danes, however, claimed that this only applied to Holstein, but that Schleswig was subject to the Danish law of succession. A further complication was a much-cited reference in the 1460
Treaty of Ribestipulating that Schleswig and Holstein should "be together and forever unseparated". As counter-evidence, and in favour of the Danish view, rulings of a Danish clerical court and a German Emperor, of 1424 and 1421 respectively, were produced.
In 1863 King Frederick VII of Denmark died leaving no heir. According to the line of succession of Denmark and Schleswig, the crowns of both Denmark and Schleswig would now pass to Duke Christian of Glücksburg (the future King Christian IX), the crown of Holstein was considered to be more problematic. This decision was challenged by a rival pro-German branch of the Danish royal family, the House of Augustenburg (Danish: Augustenborg) who demanded, like in 1848, the crowns of both Schleswig and Holstein. This happened at a particularly critical time as work on a new constitution for the joint affairs of Denmark and Schleswig had just been completed with the draft awaiting his signature.
The November Constitution
The new so-called November Constitution would not annex Schleswig to Denmark directly, but instead create a joint parliament (with the medieval title "
Rigsraadet") to govern the joint affairs of both Denmark and Schleswig. Both entities would maintain their individual parliaments as well. A similar initiative, but also including Holstein, had been attempted in 1855, but proved a failure because of the opposition of the people in Schleswig and their support in Germany.Fact|date=August 2007 Most importantly, Article I clarified the question of succession: "The form of government shall be that of a constitutional monarchy. Royal authority shall be inherited. The law of succession is specified in the law of succession of July 31, 1853applying for the entire Danish monarchy." [http://www.roennebech.dk/www_fredericiashistorie/html/fredericia/artikler/novemberforfatningen.html]
Denmark's new king, Christian IX, was in a position of extraordinary difficulty. The first sovereign act he was called upon to perform was to sign the new constitution. To sign was to violate the terms of the London Protocol which would probably lead to war. To refuse to sign was to place himself in antagonism to the united sentiment of his Danish subjects, which was the basis of his reign. He chose what seemed the lesser of two evils, and on
November 18signed the constitution.
The news was seen as a violation of the London Protocol, which prohibited such a change in the status quo. It was received in Germany with manifestations of excitement and anger. Frederick, duke of Augustenburg, son of the prince who in 1852 had renounced the succession to the duchies, now claimed his rights on the ground that he had had no share in the renunciation. In Holstein an agitation in his favor had begun from the first, and this was extended to Schleswig when the terms of the new Danish constitution became known. His claim was enthusiastically supported by the German princes and people, and in spite of the negative attitude of Austria and Prussia the federal diet at the initiative of
Otto von Bismarckdecided to occupy Holstein pending the settlement of the decree of succession.
econd War of Schleswig
December 24, 1863, Saxon and Hanoverian troops marched into the German duchy of Holstein in the name of the German Confederation, and supported by their presence and by the loyalty of the Holsteiners the duke of Augustenburg assumed the government under the style of Duke Frederick VIII.
Bismarck and Holstein
It was clear to Bismarck that Austria and Prussia, as parties to the London-protocol of 1852, must and uphold the succession as fixed by it, and that any action they might take in consequence of the violation of that compact by Denmark must be so correct as to deprive Europe of all excuse for interference. The publication of the new constitution by Christian IX was in itself sufficient to justify the As to the ultimate outcome of their effective intervention, that could be left to the future to decide. Austria had no clear views. King William wavered between his Prussian feeling and a sentimental sympathy with the duke of Augustenburg. Bismarck alone knew exactly what he wanted, and how to attain it. "From the beginning", he said later ("Reflections", ii. 10), "I kept annexation steadily before my eyes."
After Christian IX of Denmark merged Schleswig (not Holstein) into Denmark in 1863 after his ascension to the Danish throne that year, Bismarck's diplomatic abilities finally convinced Austria to participate in the war, with the assent of the other European large powers and under the auspices of the German Confederation.
The protests of Great Britain and Russia against the action of the German diet, together with the proposal of Count Beust, on behalf of Saxony, that Bavaria should bring forward in that assembly a formal motion for the recognition of Duke Frederick's claims, helped Bismarck to persuade Austria that immediate action must be taken.
December 28a motion was introduced in the diet by Austria and Prussia, calling on the Confederation to occupy Schleswig as a pledge for the observance by Denmark of the compacts of 1852. This implied the recognition of the rights of Christian IX, and was indignantly rejected; whereupon the diet was informed that the Austrian and Prussian. governments would act in the matter as independent European powers.
January 16, 1864the agreement between them was signed. An article drafted by Austria, intended to safeguard the settlement of 1852, was replaced at Bismarck's instance by another which stated that the two powers would decide only in concert on the relations of the duchies, and that they would in no case determine the question of the succession save by mutual consent; and Bismarck issued an ultimatum to Denmark demanding that the November Constitution should be abolished within 48 hours. This was rejected by the Danish government.
The Austrian and Prussian forces crossed the Eider into Schleswig on
February 1, 1864, and war was inevitable.
An invasion of Denmark itself had not been part of the original programme of the allies; but on
February 18some Prussian hussars, in the excitement of a cavalry skirmish, crossed the frontier and occupied the village of Kolding. Bismarck determined to use this circumstance to revise the whole situation. He urged upon during the Austria the necessity for a strong policy, so as to settle once for all not only the question of the duchies but the wider question of the German Confederation; and Austria reluctantly consented to press the war.
March 11a fresh agreement was signed between the powers, under which the compacts of 1852 were declared to be no longer valid, and the position of the duchies within the Danish monarchy as a whole was to be made the subject of a friendly understanding.
Meanwhile, however, Lord John Russell on behalf of Great Britain, supported by Russia, France and Sweden, had intervened with a proposal that the whole question should once more be submitted to a European conference. The German powers agreed on condition that the compacts of 1852 (London-protocoll) should not be taken as a basis, and that the duchies should be bound to Denmark by a personal tie only. But the proceedings of the conference, which opened at London on
April 25, only revealed the inextricable tangle of the issues involved.
Beust, on behalf of the Confederation, demanded the recognition of the Augustenburg claimant; Austria leaned to a settlement on. the lines of that of 1852; Prussia, it was increasingly clear, aimed at the acquisition of the duchies. The first step towards the realization of this latter ambition was to secure the recognition of the absolute independence of the duchies, and this Austria could only oppose at the risk of forfeiting her whole influence in Germany. The two powers, then, agreed to demand the complete political independence of the duchies bound together by common institutions. The next move was uncertain. As to the question of annexation Prussia would leave that open, but made it clear that any settlement must involve the complete military subordination of Schleswig-Holstein to herself. This alarmed Austria, which had no wish to see a further extension of Prussia's already overgrown power, and she began to champion the claims of the duke of Augustenburg. This contingency, however, Bismarck had foreseen and himself offered to support the claims of the duke at the conference if he would undertake to subordinate himself in all naval and military matters to Prussia, surrender Kiel for the purposes of a Prussian war-harbour, give Prussia the control of the projected North Sea Canal, and enter the Prussian Customs Union. On this basis, with Austria's support, the whole matter might have been arranged without--as Beust pointed out ("Mem." 1. 272)
Austria, the other leading state of the German Confederation was reluctant to engage in a "war of liberation" because of its own problems with various nationalities. After
Christian IX of Denmarkmerged Schleswig and Holstein into Denmark in 1863 after his ascension to the Danish throne that year, Bismarck's diplomatic abilities finally convinced Austria to participate in the war, with the assent of the other European large powers and under the auspices of the German Confederation.
June 25the London conference broke up without having arrived at any conclusion. On the 24th, in view of the end of the truce, Austria and Prussia had arrived at a new agreement, the object of the war being now declared to be the complete separation of the duchies from Denmark. As the result of the short campaign that followed, the preliminaries of a treaty of peace were signed on August 1, the king of Denmark renouncing all his rights in the duchies in favour of the emperor of Austria and the king of Prussia.
Treaty of Vienna
The definitive treaty was signed at Vienna on
October 30, 1864. By Article XIX, a period of six years was allowed during which the inhabitants of the duchies might opt for Danish nationality and transfer themselves and their goods to Denmark; and the right of indigenacy was guaranteed to all, whether in the kingdom or the duchies, who enjoyed it at the time of the exchange of ratifications of the treaty.
Second War of Schleswigof 1864 was presented by invaders to be an implementation of the law of the Confederation ("Bundesexekution") in Germany. After the defeat in the Battle of Dybbøl, the Danes were unable to defend the borders of Schleswig, then had to retreat to Denmark proper, and finally were pushed out of the entire Jutlandpeninsula. Denmark capitulated and Prussia and Austria took over the administration of Schleswig and Holstein respectively under the Gastein Conventionof August 14, 1865.
The north border of Schleswig-Holstein as from 1864 to 1920 differs a little from the north border of the modern Danish county of
Sønderjylland: in the east Hejlsand the Skamlingsbankehill were not in Schleswig-Holstein but are now in Sønderjyllandcounty; in the west Hvidingand Rejsbywere in Schleswig-Holstein but are now in Ribe County.
After the Second War of Schleswig
It did not take long for disagreements between Prussia and Austria over both the administration and the future of the duchies to surface. Bismarck used these as a pretext to engineer what became the
Austro-Prussian Warof 1866. Austria's defeat at the Battle of Königgrätzwas followed by the dissolution of the German Confederationand Austria's withdrawal from Holstein, which, along with Schleswig, in turn was annexed by Prussia.
Following the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, section five of the Peace of Prague stated that the people on Northern Schleswig should be granted the right to a referendum on whether they would remain under Prussian rule or return to Danish rule. This promise was never fulfilled by Germany.
In any case, because of the mix of Danes and Germans who lived there and the various feudal obligations of the players, the Schleswig-Holstein Question problem was considered intractable by many. Lord Palmerston said of the issue that only three people understood the Schleswig-Holstein question: one was dead, the other had gone insane, and the third was himself, but he had forgotten it.
The Schleswig-Holstein Question from this time onward became merged in the larger question of the general relations of Austria and Prussia, and its later developments are a result of the war of 1866. It survived, however, as between Danes and Germans, though narrowed down to the question of the fate of the Danish population of the northern duchy. This question is of great interest to students of international law and as illustrating the practical problems involved in the assertion of the modern principle of nationality.
Austro-Prussian Warof 1866 Prussia took Holstein from Austria.
Danes under German rule
The position of the Danes in Schleswig after the cession was determined, so far as treaty rights are concerned, by two instruments: the Treaty of Vienna (
October 30, 1864) and the Peace of Prague ( August 23, 1866). Under Article XIX of the former treaty the Danish subjects domiciled in the ceded territories had the right, within six years of the exchange of ratifications, of opting for the Danish nationality and transferring themselves, their families and their personal property to Denmark, while keeping their landed property in the duchies. The last paragraph of the Article ran::"Le droit d'indigenat, tant dans le royaume de Danemark que dans les Duchés, est conserve a touts les individus qui le possèdent a l'époque de l'échange des ratifications du présent Traité".:("The right of an indigenous person, as well in the kingdom of Denmark as in the Duchies, is preserved for all individuals who have it at the time of the exchange of the ratifications of this Treaty."}
By Article V of the Peace of Prague, Schleswig was ceded by Austria to Prussia with the reservation that the populations of the North of Schleswig shall be again united with Denmark in the event of their expressing a desire so to be by a vote freely exercised. Taking advantage of the terms of these treaties, about 50,000 Danes from North Schleswig (out of a total population of some 150,000) opted for Denmark and were expelled across the frontier, pending the plebiscite which was to restore their country to them. But the
plebiscitenever came. Its inclusion in the treaty had been no more than a diplomatic device to save the face of the emperor Napoleon III; Prussia had from the first no intention of surrendering an inch of the territory that had been had conquered; the outcome of the Franco-German Warmade it unnecessary to even pretend that that the plebiscitemight occur; and by the Treaty of Viennaof October 11, 1878, the clause relating to the plebiscite was formally abrogated with the assent of Austria.
Meanwhile the Danish optants, disappointed of their hopes, had begun to stream back over the frontier into Schleswig. By doing so they lost, under the Danish law, their rights as Danish citizens, without acquiring those of Prussian subjects; and this disability was transmitted to their children. By Article XIX. of the Treaty of 1864, indeed, they should have been secured the rights of indigenacy, which, while falling short of complete citizenship, implied, according to Danish law, all the essential guarantees for civil liberty. But in German law the right of Indigenat is not clearly differentiated from the status of a subject; and the supreme court at Kiel decided in several cases that those who had opted for Danish nationality had forfeited their rights under the Indigenat paragraph of the Treaty of Vienna. There was thus created in the frontier districts a large and increasing class of people who dwelt in a sort of political limbo, having lost their Danish citizenship through ceasing to be domiciled in Denmark, and unable to acquire Prussian citizenship because they had failed to apply for it within the six years stipulated in the Treaty of 1864. Their exclusion from the rights of Prussian subjects was due, however, to causes other than the letter of the treaty.
The Danes, in spite of every discouragement, never ceased to strive for the preservation and extension of their national traditions and language; the Germans were equally bent on effectually absorbing these recalcitrant Teutons into the general life of the German empire; and to this end the uncertain status of the Danish optants was a useful means. Danish agitators of German nationality could not be touched so long as they were careful to keep within the limits of the law; pro-Danish newspapers owned and staffed by German subjects enjoyed immunity in accordance with the constitution, which guarantees the liberty of the press. The case of the optants was far other. These unfortunates, who numbered a large proportion of the population, were subject to domiciliary visits, and to arbitrary perquisitions, arrest and expulsion. When the pro-Danish newspapers, after the expulsion of several optant editors, were careful to appoint none but German subjects, the vengeance of the authorities fell upon optant type-setters, printers and printers devils. The Prussian police, indeed, developed an almost superhuman- capacity for detecting optants: and since these pariahs were mingled indistinguishably with the mass of the people, no household and no business was safe from official inquisition. One instance out of many may serve to illustrate the type of offence that served as excuse for this systematic official persecution. On
April 27, 1896the second volume for 1895 of the "Sønderjyske Aarboger" was confiscated for having used the historic term Sonderjylland (South Jutland) for Schleswig. To add to the misery, the Danish government refused to allow the Danish optants expelled by Prussia to settle in Denmark, though this rule was modified by the Danish Nationality Law of 1898 in favour of the children of optants born after the passing of the law. It was not till the signature of the treaty between Prussia and Denmark on January 11, 1907that these intolerable Treaty of conditions were ended. By this treaty the German January government undertook to allow all children born of Danish optants before the passing of the new Danish Nationality Law of 1898 to acquire Prussian nationality on the usual conditions and on their own application. This provision was not to affect the ordinary legal rights of expulsion as exercised by either power, but the Danish government undertook not to refuse to the children of Schleswig optants who should not seek to acquire or who could not legally acquire Prussian nationality permission to reside in Denmark. The provisions of the treaty apply not only to the children of Schleswig optants, but to their direct descendants in all decrees.
This adjustment, brought about by the friendly intercourse between the courts of Berlin and Copenhagen, seemed to close the last phase of the Schleswig question. Yet, so far from allaying, it apparently only served to embitter the inter-racial feud. The autochthonous Germans of the Northern Marches regarded the new treaty as a betrayal, and refused to give the kiss of peace to their hereditary enemies. For forty years Germanism, backed by all the weight of the empire and imposed with all the weapons of official persecution, had barely held its own in North Schleswig; despite an enormous emigration, in 1905 139,000 of the 148,000 inhabitants of North Schleswig spoke Danish, while of the German-speaking immigrants it was found that more than a third spoke Danish in the first generation, although from 1864 onward, German had gradually been substituted for Danish in the churches, the schools, and even in the playground. After 1888 German was the only language of instruction in schools in Schleswig. But the scattered outposts of Germanism could hardly be expected to acquiesce without a struggle in a situation that threatened them with social and economic extinction. Forty years of dominance, secured by official favour, had filled them with a double measure of aggressive pride of race, and the question of the rival nationalities in Schleswig, like that in Poland, remained a source of trouble and weakness within the frontiers of the German empire.
After World War I
After Germany had lost
World War I, in which Denmark had been neutral, the victors offered Denmark to redraw the border between Denmark and Germany. The sitting government of Carl Theodor Zahlechoose to hold the Schleswig Plebisciteto let the inhabitants of Schleswig decide which nation they, and the land they lived on, should belong to. King Christian X of Denmark, supported by various groups, was opposed to the division. Using a clause in the Danish constitution that the king appointed and dismissed the Danish cabinet, and using the justification that the he felt the Danish population was at odds with Zahle's politics, the king dismissed Zahle and asked Otto Liebeto form the Cabinet of Liebeto manage the country until a parliamentary election could be held and a new cabinet formed. Since Zahle's had support from a small majority in the Folketinghis Social Liberal Party and the allied Social Democrats felt that the king had effectively staged a state coupagainst the Danish democracy. A general strike was organized by Fagbevægelsento put pressure on the king and his allies. As Otto Liebe was unable to organize an election, M. P. Friisreplaced him after a week, and succeeded in holding the election, and as a result the Social Liberal Party lost half their electorial support and their rivals the Liberal Party (Denmark)were able to form the minority cabinet led by Niels Neergaard: the Cabinet of Neergaard II. The whole affair was called the Easter Crisis of 1920.
After World War I, Denmark reacquired part of that territory (
Northern Schleswig) after a referendum.
Following the defeat of Germany in World War I, the Allied powers arranged a referendum in Northern and Central Schleswig. In Northern Schleswig (
February 10, 1920) 75% voted for re-unification with Denmark and 25% voted for Germany. In Central Schleswig ( March 14, 1920) the results were reversed; 80% voted for Germany and just 20% for Denmark, primarily in Flensburg. While in Northern Schleswig some smaller regions (for example Tønder) had a clear majority of voters for Germany in Central Schleswig all regions voted for Germany (see Schleswig Plebiscites). No vote ever took place in the southern third of Schleswig, because the result for Germany was predictable. On June 15, 1920, Northern Schleswig officially returned to Danish rule. Germany continued to hold the whole of Holstein and the southern part of Schleswig, later becoming the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein. As a result of the plebiscite, the upper half of Schleswig joined Denmark, while the lower half stayed with Germany. The Danish-German border was the only one of the borders imposed on Germany following World War I which was never challenged by Hitler.
World War II
Second World War, after Nazi Germanyoccupied the whole of Denmark, there was agitation by local Nazi leaders in Schleswig-Holstein to restore the pre-World War I border and re-annex to Germany the areas granted to Denmark after the plebiscite — as the Nazis did in Alsace-Lorraineat the same period. However, Hitlervetoed any such step, out of a general Nazi policy at the time to base the occupation of Denmark on a kind of accommodation with the Danish Government, and avoid outright confrontations with the Danes.
After World War II
After Germany had lost
World War IIthere again was a possibility that Denmark could reacquire some of its lost territory in Schleswig. Though no territorial changes came of it, it had the effect that Prime Minister Knud Kristensenwas forced to resign after a vote of no confidencebecause the Folketing did not support his enthusiasm for incorporating Southern Schleswig into Denmark.
Although there was, as a result, a
Danish minority in Southern Schleswigand a German minority in Northern Schleswig, the minorities were granted rights to practice their language and culture, to such a degree that the division and minorities as of 2007are not a political issue between Denmark and Germany.
List of rulers of Schleswig-Holstein
German exonyms for places in Denmark
* Danish exonyms for places in Germany
* [http://home.student.uu.se/o/orma1967/Kartor/Danmark/schleswig-holstein.htm Historical Atlas of Schleswig-Holstein]
* [http://www.rostra.dk/slesvig/ Searchable dictionary of German and Danish and Frisian forms of Schleswig placenames]
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