Jens Juel (diplomat)

Jens Juel (diplomat)

Jens Juel (15 July 1631 - May 23 1700), was a Danish diplomat.

He began his diplomatic career in the suite of Count Christian Rantzau, whom he accompanied to Vienna and Regensburg in 1652. In August 1657 Juel was accredited to the court of Poland, and though he failed to prevent King John Casimir from negotiating separately with Sweden he was made a privy councillor on his return home.

But it was the reconciliation of Juel's uncle Hannibal Sehested with King Frederick III which secured Juel's future. As Sehested's representative, he concluded the peace of Copenhagen with Charles X, and after the Danish revolution of 1660 was appointed Danish minister at Stockholm, where he remained for eight years. Subsequently the chancellor Peder Griffenfeld, who had become warmly attached to him, sent him in 1672, and again in 1674, as ambassador extraordinary to Sweden, ostensibly to bring about a closer union between the two northern kingdoms, but really to give time to consolidate Griffenfeld's far-reaching system of alliances.

Juel completely sympathized with Griffenfeld's Scandinavian policy, which aimed at weakening Sweden sufficiently to re-establish something like an equilibrium between the two states. Like Griffenfeld, Juel also feared, above all things, a Swedo-Danish war. After the unlucky Scanian War of 1675-79, Juel was one of the Danish plenipotentiaries who negotiated the peace of Lund. Even then he was for an alliance with Sweden "till we can do better". This policy he consistently followed, and was largely instrumental in bringing about the marriage of Charles XI to Christian V's daughter Ulrike Eleonora. But for the death of the like-minded Swedish statesman Johan Gyllenstierna in June 1680, Juel's Scandinavian policy might have succeeded, to the infinite advantage of both kingdoms. He represented Denmark at the coronation of Charles XII (December 1697), when he concluded a new treaty of alliance with Sweden. He died in 1700.

Juel, a man of very few words and a sworn enemy of phrasemaking, was perhaps the shrewdest and most cynical diplomat of his day. His motto was: We should wish for what we can get. Throughout life he regarded the political situation of Denmark with absolute pessimism. She was, he often said, the cats-paw of the Great Powers. While Griffenfeld would have obviated this danger by an elastic political system, adaptable to all circumstances, Juel preferred seizing whatever he could get in favorable conjunctures. In domestic affairs Juel was at adherent of the mercantile system, and labored vigorously for the industrial development of Denmark and Norway. For an aristocrat of the old school he was liberally inclined, but only favored petty reforms, especially in agriculture, while he regarded emancipation of the serfs as quite impracticable. Juel made no secret of his preference for absolutism, and was one of the few patricians who accepted the title of baron. He saw some military service during the Scanian War, distinguishing himself at the siege of Vänersborg, and by his swift decision at the critical moment materially contributing to his brother Niels Juel's naval victory in the Bay of Kjoge. To his great honor he remained faithful to Griffenfeldt after his fall, enabled his daughter to marry handsomely, and did his utmost, though in vain, to obtain the ex-chancellor's release from his dungeon.


* Carl Frederik Bricka, "Dansk biografisk leksikon", art. Juel (1887, &c.)
* Adolf Ditlev Jørgensen, "P. Schumacher Griffenfeldt" (1893-1894)

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