History of Copenhagen


History of Copenhagen

The history of Copenhagen dates back to the first settlement at the site in the 11th century. From the middle of the 12th century it grew in importance after coming into the possession of the Bishop Absalon, and the city was fortified with a stone wall during the 13th century. The harbour and the excellent possibilities for herring fishery encouraged Copenhagen's growth until it became an important centre of commerce. It was repeatedly attacked by the Hanseatic League as the Germans took notice. In 1254, it received its charter as a city under Bishop Jakob Erlandsen.

The town was significantly expanded under Christian IV of Denmark after his coronation in 1596 by the addition of new city districts and modern fortifications with earthworks and bastions, and Christian IV commissioned German and Dutch architects and craftsmen to construct magnificent edifices designed to enhance his prestige. By the time of Christian IV's death in 1648, Copenhagen had become Denmark's principal fortification and naval port, and the town formed a framework for the administration of the Danish kingdom and as a centre of trade in Northern Europe.

During 1658-59 it withstood a severe siege by the Swedes under Charles X and successfully repelled a major assault. In 1728 and again in 1795, the city was ravaged large fires, which destroyed the majority of the medieval part of town, and in 1801 a British fleet under Admiral Parker fought a major battle, the Battle of Copenhagen, with the Danish navy in Copenhagen harbour. It was during this battle Lord Nelson famously "put the telescope to the blind eye" in order not to see Admiral Parker's signal to cease fire. When a British expeditionary force bombarded Copenhagen in 1807, to gain control of the Danish navy, the city suffered great damage and hundreds of people were killed. The reason why the devastation was so great was that Copenhagen relied on an old defence-line rendered virtually useless by the increase in shooting range available to the British. But not until the 1850s were the ramparts of the city opened to allow new housing to be built around the lakes which bordered the old defence system to the west. This dramatic increase of space was long overdue, not only because the old ramparts were out of date as a defence system, but also because of bad sanitation in the old city. Before the opening, Copenhagen Center was inhabited by approximately 125,000 people, peaking in the census of 1870 (140,000); today the figure is around 25,000. In 1901, Copenhagen expanded further, incorporating communities with 40,000 people, and in the process making Frederiksberg an enclave within Copenhagen.

Since the summer 2000, the cities of Copenhagen and Malmö have been connected by a toll bridge/tunnel (Oresund Bridge), which allows both rail and road passengers to cross. As a result, Copenhagen has become the centre of a larger metropolitan area which spans both nations. The construction of the bridge has led to a large number of changes to the public transportation system and the extensive redevelopment of Amager, south of the main city.

First settlements

Signs of human activity dating back to about 4000 BCE have been found, but there are no signs of permanent settlements from that time. [Skaarup; Jensen (2002), pp. 14–15.]

Archaeological excavations indicate that the first town date back to the 11th century and consisted of two settlements, one in the western part of the medieval city encircled by what is now the streets of Mikkel Bryggersgade, Vestergade, Gammeltorv/Nytorv and Løngangsstræde, which roughly corresponds to the coastline of the time,Skaarup (1999), pp. 76–77.] and another smaller settlement at what is now Kongens Nytorv. [Gautier; Skaarup; Gabrielsen; Kristiansen; Ejlersen, pp. 159–60.] [Gabrielsen, pp. 67–71.] The surrounding area consisted of moist beach meadows and signs of cattle grazing have been found. The city probably had a harbour located at present day Højbro Plads. [Skaarup (1999), p. 80.]

Absalon's town

In the 1100s Copenhagen assumed increasing importance and the town is reinforced with earthworks. The Roman Catholic Church erected cathedrals in Roskilde and in Lund (in what is now Sweden), which laid the basis for further development in those regional centres, and as Copenhagen was midway between the two cities, it was centrally located for traffic and trading.

The earliest written mention of the town date back to the 12th century, when Saxo Grammaticus in Gesta Danorum refers to it as "Portus Mercatorum", which translates to Merchants' Harbour or in Danish of that time "Købmannahavn".Skaarup; Jensen (2002), pp. 14–15] In a letter from 1186, Pope Urban III refers to the city as "Hafn", [Pope Urban III.] but this probably just a shortened version of the full name.

In around 1160 Valdemar I gave control of Copenhagen to Absalon, Bishop of Roskilde. Whereas other cities in the Danish realm were under the governance of the king, Copenhagen was given the Bishop of Roskilde as its lord and master.

In the years that followed, the town grew tenfold in size. Churches and abbeys were founded. Copenhagen's economy blossomed due to the income from an enormous herring fishery trade, which provided large parts of Roman Catholic Europe with salted herring for Lent.

Behind the new earthworks

Copenhagen is located at the most important approach to the Baltic Sea and the rich North German trading towns of the Hanseatic League, providing Copenhagen with power and wealth, but also threatening its very existence. The city was fortified with a city wall of stone during the 13th century, [Kristiansen, pp. 159–60.] and from about 1290 until the middle of the 19th century all traffic entering and leaving Copenhagen had to pass through either one of Copenhagen's four town gates or the harbour. [Skaarup; Jensen (2002), p. 46] Although several Danish towns had ramparts at the time, the majority of them were earth ramparts possibly with palisades on top and a moat, and Copenhagen was the second Danish town after Kalundborg to be fortified with town wall and towers.Skaarup; Jensen (2002), pp. 30–31.] This is a strong indication that it was an important town at the time.

Time and again the town was besieged and laid waste by the Hanseatic League. At the same time the Danish king was also attempting to take Copenhagen back from the bishop. The crown succeeded in 1416, when Eric of Pomerania took over control of the town. Thenceforth Copenhagen belonged to the Danish Crown.

Despite centuries of power struggles and warring, the town grew increasingly rich. Copenhageners did a brisk trade with friend and foe alike. Foreign merchants came to the town. Craft guilds were established and in 1479 the University of Copenhagen was founded.

In 1581 Christopher Valkendorf supervised the largest expansion of the ramparts in the history of the city, as with the invention of cannons vastly more massive earth ramparts were required. [Skaarup; Jensen (2002), pp. 34–35]

Renaissance

By the time of Christian IV's coronation in 1596, Copenhagen had become rich and powerful. The new king decided to make the town the economic, military, religious, and cultural centre for the whole of the Nordic region. The king established the first trading companies with sole rights to trade with lands overseas. In order to restrict imports, factories were set up so that the country could manufacture as many goods as possible on its own.

Christian IV expanded Copenhagen by adding two new districts: Nyboder (New Booths) for the large numbers of navy personnel and the merchants' new district Christianshavn (Christian's Harbour), which is modelled after Amsterdam. A modern fortification with earthworks and bastions was built to surround the whole of the extended town.

Apart from the new earthworks Christian IV commissioned German and Dutch architects and craftsmen to construct magnificent edifices designed to enhance his prestige. To this very day those buildings make their mark on the cityscape of Copenhagen.

By the time of Christian IV's death in 1648, Copenhagen had become Denmark's principal fortification and naval port, and the town formed a framework for the administration of the Danish kingdom and as a centre of trade in Northern Europe.

During 1658–59 the city withstood a severe siege by the Swedes under Charles X Gustav.

The 1700s

In July 1700, Copenhagen underwent a bombardment from a British-Dutch-Swedish navy yet did not suffer much damage. From June 1711 to March 1712, it was haunted by the plague which killed about a third of the population.

At the fire of 1728 about a third of the city (the entire northern part), 1,600 houses and five churches burned down in the course of four days. Christian VI tore the old Copenhagen Castle down in 1731–32 to replace it with Christiansborg Palace, and during the reign of Frederick V Frederiksstaden, the most distinguished district of Copenhagen, with Amalienborg Palace at its center was developed.

Near the end of the 18th century the trade of Copenhagen and the wealth that followed reached its so far highest level. Although the fire of 1795 destroyed about a quarter of the city and rendered 3,500 homeless, [Raabyemagle, p. 16.] the damage was relatively quickly repaired and most of the city was rebuilt by the turn of the century. [Smidt, p. 43.]

The 1800s

April 2, 1801 saw the first battle of Copenhagen against a British fleet commanded by Admiral Sir Hyde Parker and Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson. When British land forces besieged Copenhagen in August 1807 and a British expeditionary force bombarded Copenhagen from September 2 to September 5, 1807, to prevent Denmark from surrendering its fleet to Napoleon, the city suffered great damage, about 300 houses were destroyed and 1600 people were killed. The reason why the devastation was so great was that Copenhagen relied on an old defence-line rendered virtually useless by the increase in shooting range available to the British.

The political after-effects of the conflict did even greater damage to the city and the nation, however. Had the previous 25 years had been a heyday for Copenhagen, the more the following 25 years became a period of poverty. Surprisingly science, literature and art blossomed. Following the July Revolution of 1830 the Danish liberal and national movement gained momentum, and after the European Revolutions of 1848 Denmark became a constitutional monarchy on June 5, 1849. On January 1, 1840, Copenhagen got a new municipal constitution which soon was expanded on March 4, 1857.

Roughly at the same time the ramparts of the city opened to allow new housing to be built around the lakes ("Søerne") which bordered the old defence system to the west. This dramatic increase of space was long overdue, not only because the old ramparts were out of date as a defence system, but also because of bad sanitation in the old city. And as the area within the ramparts had been almost constant since the reign of Christian IV, with the population quadrupled in number, the buildings had become taller and their residents were living in less space. By relaxing the demarcation line introduced because of the defences complete building freedom outside the lakes was introduced in 1852. This caused a considerable growth in Nørrebro, Vesterbro and Frederiksberg. A new neighbourhood arose in 1861–77 on the island of Gammelholm as Holmen naval base was moved to Nyholm, and large parts of Nyboder were changed into ordinary residences. In 1868 it was decided to remove the ramparts and from 1872 the old glacises were converted into residential areas. By the construction of Frihavn harbour in 1894 another neighbourhood was founded stretching towards Hellerup, and in 1900–01 the large developments of Brønshøj and Valby followed.

The Second War of Schleswig in 1864 (where Denmark lost a third of its area) was the primary reason the old ramparts were replaced by the Fortification of Copenhagen.

The 1900s

During World War II Copenhagen was occupied by German troops along with the rest of the country from April 9, 1940, until May 4, 1945. In August 1943, when the government's collaboration with the occupation forces collapsed, several ships were sunk in Copenhagen Harbour by the Royal Danish Navy to prevent them being used by the Germans. Operation Carthage (the bombardment of the Shellhouse, the headquarters of the Gestapo) took place on March 21, 1945, by British mosquito airplanes. During this attack the French School on Frederiksberg was bombed as well by mistake resulting in the death of many children.

The city has grown greatly since the war, in the seventies using the so-called five-finger-plan of commuter trainlines to surrounding towns and suburbs.

In 1992 construction on the Copenhagen Metro and in 1993 development of a new city area, the Ørestad, began on the island of Amager. The metro opened for traffic in 2002.

Since the summer 2000, the cities of Copenhagen and Malmö have been connected by a toll bridge, the Oresund Bridge, which allows both rail and road passengers to cross. It was inaugurated in July 2000 by Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Margrethe II of Denmark. As a result, Copenhagen has become the centre of a larger metropolitan area which spans both nations. The construction of the bridge has led to a large number of changes to the public transportation system and the extensive redevelopment of Amager, south of the main city. The bridge has not yet been as widely used by motorists as was originally hoped, likely due to the high road tolls, allegedly slowing the planned integration of the region. Train passengers, however, are plentiful and increasing in numbers. The lack of a commonly acceptable currency throughout the area is another hindrance to the integration of the region, even though a growing number of shops, restaurants etc, if not usually encouraged, accept payment with either nation's currency in the other country.

Notes

References

*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

External links

* [http://www.copenhagenet.dk/CPH-History.htm History og Copenhagen - Copenhagen-portal.dk]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Copenhagen Climate Council — Formation 2007 Type Global Climate Collaboration Legal status Foundation Headquarters Copenhagen, Denmark Region served …   Wikipedia

  • Copenhagen Towers — Founded August 20th, 1990 League Nationalligaen Stadium Gentofte Stadion Based in Gentofte, Denmark Team colors Purple and white …   Wikipedia

  • Copenhagen Zoo — Main entrance Date opened 1859 Location Copenhagen, Denmark Land area 11 hectares (27 acres) …   Wikipedia

  • Copenhagen Castle — painted in 1698 by unknown artist General information Town or city Copenhagen Country …   Wikipedia

  • Copenhagen — This article is about the city in Denmark. For other uses, see Copenhagen (disambiguation). Copenhagen København Clockwise: Slotsholmen island, Tivoli Gardens, City Hall Square and The Marble Church …   Wikipedia

  • Copenhagen Carnival — Dancers at Copenhagen Carnival 2009 Copenhagen Carnival is an annual carnival event taking place in Fælledparken and on the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark for three days (Friday Sunday) during the Whitsun Holiday. Over the years it has developed… …   Wikipedia

  • Copenhagen Fire of 1728 — Buildings which burned are shown in yellow on this map of Copenhagen in 1728 by Joachim Hassing. The Copenhagen Fire of 1728 was the largest fire in the history of Copenhagen, Denmark. It began on the evening of October 20, 1728, and continued to …   Wikipedia

  • Copenhagen December Riot — The Copenhagen December Riot took place on 16 December 2006 in the Copenhagen area of Nørrebro. The spark of the riot was the longstanding conflict over the fate of the alternative left wing social centre Ungdomshuset (The Youth House). The riot… …   Wikipedia

  • Copenhagen Fire of 1795 — The Copenhagen Fire of 1795 started Friday the June 5, around 3 p.m. at the Navy’s old base at Gammelholm in the fleets warehouse for coal and barrels. The fire spread, crossing over Holmens Canal to the quarter around Saint Nicholas Church and… …   Wikipedia

  • Copenhagen University Observatory — Københavns Universitet Astronomisk Observatorium (Copenhagen University Observatory) on Østervold is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by Copenhagen University (Københavns Universitet). It is located in Copenhagen, Denmark, and has… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.