Danish state

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Danish state at the end of the 18th century

The Danish state as a whole ( Danish helstaten ) existed from about 1773 until Denmark's defeat in the German-Danish War on October 30, 1864. The name "Gesamtstaat" refers to the character of a sovereign territory combined by personal union and elements of a common, institutionalized government includes a culturally, linguistically and / or denominationally diverse population. Danes , Norwegians , Sami , Icelanders , Faroese , Germans , North Frisians and Inuit ( Greenlanders ) lived in the entire Danish state between 1773 and 1864 . It was a multi-ethnic state .


Danish boundary stone from 1827 in what is now the Pinneberg district

The entire Danish state comprised - in some cases only temporarily - the following areas:

Norway had been linked with Denmark in a personal union since 1380 . As a result of the Peace of Kiel, Norway lost its holdings in the Faroe Islands , Iceland and Greenland to Denmark. As a result, these areas continued to belong to the entire Danish state.

The duchies were ruled as dukes by the Danish king; they were thus in a personal union with the actual Kingdom of Denmark. Under constitutional law, the Duchy of Holstein as a German fiefdom still belonged to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation , while the Duchy of Schleswig belonged to Denmark as a Danish imperial and royal fief . After the dissolution of the empire in 1806, the Danish king issued an incorporation patent that incorporated Holstein de jure into the Kingdom of Denmark. But just like an incorporation patent issued in 1713/21 for the Duchy of Schleswig, both incorporations remained factually ineffective, since all laws and customary rights were to remain valid for the time being, Schleswig and Holstein were still administered separately from the kingdom and the king on his titulatures as Duke of Schleswig and Holstein did not renounce. The only nominal incorporation was abolished in 1815 with the establishment of the German Confederation , when the German-speaking duchies of Holstein and Lauenburg became part of the successor organization to the old empire and the Danish king thus became German prince again in his capacity as Duke of Holstein. Schleswig with its Danish, Frisian and German-speaking population remained a Danish fiefdom under constitutional law and was accordingly not affiliated to the German Confederation. In Schleswig he was king and duke feudal lord and vassal in one person. Attempts on the German side to combine the Duchy of Schleswig, despite the Danish feudal sovereignty with Holstein, into a common state within the German Confederation, failed, as did attempts on the Danish side to bring Schleswig closer to Denmark under constitutional law , despite the indivisibility of the two duchies in the Treaty of Ripen tie. After the Schleswig-Holstein War (also known as the 1st Schleswig War), the London Protocol of 1852 , signed by the Allies, prohibited both the direct annexation of Schleswig to Denmark and the formation of a German Schleswig-Holstein state. The integrity of the entire Danish state was recorded as a “European necessity and permanent principle”.

The duchies of Schleswig (as a Danish imperial fief) as well as Holstein and Lauenburg (as a German imperial fief or from 1815 member states of the German Confederation).

Nevertheless, the London Protocol was broken with the adoption of the so-called November Constitution from 1863, which constitutionally bound Schleswig more closely to Denmark than Holstein. As early as 1858 the German Bundestag in Frankfurt had the previous state constitution for the area of ​​the Duchy of Holstein suspended. The German Confederation finally took the breach of the London Protocol as an occasion for a federal execution against the Duchy of Holstein in December 1863, which was finally followed in February 1864 by the German-Danish war between Prussia and Austria on the one hand and Denmark on the other the Danish state as a whole came to an end.

The small colonial property, scattered over three continents, was essentially acquired in the late 17th century. Mostly private or semi-state colonial societies opened up the areas which were then placed under the direct control of the crown in the course of the 18th century and thus became part of the state as a whole. The African and Indian colonies were sold to Great Britain in 1845/50, the Caribbean islands went to the USA in 1917 and now form the American Virgin Islands .


The parts of the empire were administered centrally in Copenhagen : on the one hand by the Danish chancellery in Danish for the Kingdom of Denmark and Norway, and on the other by the German and Schleswig-Holstein-Lauenburg chancellery in German for the duchies. Norway itself - apart from a mining administration and provisional authorities during the war from 1807 to 1814 - had no independent administration at a higher level. In Schleswig and Holstein, on the other hand, there were separate regional administrations in the form of the Gottorf Higher Court for Schleswig and the chancellery in Glückstadt for Holstein, which in 1832/34 even received a joint “Schleswig-Holstein” higher authority with a joint higher appeal court.


The military of the entire Danish state - the army and the navy - was one of the few institutions that were run uniformly throughout the state. However, there were some differences between the troops in Kgr. Denmark and the duchies and those in Kgr. Norway. Since standing units were set up around 1660, in addition to the usual recruited troops, among which many German mercenaries were to be found, there have also been "national" units made up of compulsory subjects. In Norway the latter were in the majority, in Denmark and the duchies not. The fortresses in Copenhagen , Nyborg , Fredericia , Rendsburg , Glückstadt , Akershus and Trondheim were important logistical centers of the military, but above all strategic points . The Danish fleet always had its main naval port in Christianshavn in Copenhagen; until 1813 there was also a small fleet station in Glückstadt. In addition to the regular army, so-called “citizen armaments” had existed in many cities throughout the state since the late 18th century, and in Copenhagen and Rendsburg they were also organized as artillery corps and fire departments. Until the end of the coalition wars, Germans (often from Hesse, Mecklenburg and other Protestant states) or German-speaking state subjects (Holstein, Schleswig, Lauenburg) were in the majority among the teams and NCOs as well as among the officers . Only in the navy did Danes and Norwegians dominate. With the introduction of general conscription in 1848/49 and the beginning of national thinking, this composition changed. From 1815 to - in fact - 1863, the Danish king, as Duke of Holstein and Lauenburg, was also federal prince in the German Confederation . Therefore, the entire state army had to provide a separate federal contingent for duchies ( Holstein-Lauenburg federal contingent ).

History of territorial development

The Kingdom of Denmark

The Kingdom of Norway and the Beilande (Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands)

The duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg

The duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were split up into numerous parts around 1650, the largest parts being the royal and ducal (Gottorfer) parts.

The Treaty of Ripen from 1460 stipulated that the Danish king should also be Duke of Schleswig and Holstein. The king ruled the Danish fiefdom of Schleswig as both a liege lord and a vassal. In the German fiefdom of Holstein, however, he was subject to the Roman-German emperor as a vassal. Because it however 1490 and 1544 several times within the two duchies to land divisions (be mentioned especially the emergence of Gottorfer Dukes with shares in both duchies) came that was rounding the general government one of the largest policy objectives of the Danish kingdom during the 18th century. As long as this was not successful, the Danish monarchy is also referred to as a “conglomerate state”, which, unlike the general state, neither had a largely contiguous territory nor undivided sovereignty and a modern administration.

In order to get closer to this goal, the numerous Schleswig-Holstein dwarf duchies of the Sonderburger lines were no longer granted as new fiefs or withdrawn by inheritance contracts in the event of a lack of male heirs. The northern area of ​​the Principality of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf , the possessions in the Duchy of Schleswig, were annexed to the Empire as early as 1720 as a result of the Great Northern War , but in fact continued to be administered as an independent territory within the entire Danish state association. The southern possessions of Gottorf in Holstein were added by the Treaty of Tsarskoe Selo in 1773. Andreas Peter von Bernstorff had taken on an essential constructive role in the establishment of the entire state .

The county of Rantzau was also occupied after a family dispute there and then administered by Denmark from 1726.

The Duchy of Saxony-Lauenburg came to the state as a whole in 1814. Until then, it had changed hands several times during the Napoleonic Wars: Originally (from 1689) it belonged to Kurhannover , but was then temporarily Prussian and even Imperial French. The Congress of Vienna awarded the territory to Prussia , which in 1814/15 gave it to the entire Danish state in exchange for the former Swedish West Pomerania .

Historical classification

Share of the population

Historically, the entire Danish state can be classified in the epoch of enlightened absolutism and mercantilism . As early as 1660/65 the Danish king succeeded in anchoring absolutism in law through the so-called lex regia ( royal law). In the late 18th century, the system developed into an "opinion-driven absolutism" as the Norwegian historian Jens Aarup Seip described it: The king relied heavily on a narrow circle of advisors, who in turn had personal contacts and informal links through clubs, Reading societies and associations brought the opinion of the politically important bourgeoisie into the government. By around 1800 so many reforms were implemented in the state as a whole, such as the abolition of the bondage ( serfdom ) in the kingdom and the duchies in 1788/1805 .

The period between 1800 and 1815, when the entire state was involved in the Napoleonic wars, led to political and economic crises. Many political actors then increasingly hoped for answers to this from the establishment of a nation state. The incipient nationality conflicts between Germans and Danes in Schleswig or South Jutland in the early 19th century and ultimately the loss of Schleswig and Holstein in 1864 then marked the end of the state as a whole and the beginning of the modern nation state of Denmark and, after 1866, of Schleswig-Holstein as a Prussian province .

During the time of the entire state, the Eiderkanal (1777 to 1784), the Altona-Kieler Chaussee (1830–32) and the Kiel-Altona railway (1843/44) were built in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein . These infrastructural projects as well as numerous impulses for the development of early industrial structures characterize the Danish state as a prototype of a European state on the way to modernity .


See also

Web links

  • State as a whole. Society for Schleswig-Holstein History, accessed on October 25, 2010 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Robert Bohn: History of Schleswig-Holstein . Beck, Munich 2006, p. 52
  2. ^ Franklin Kopitzsch: 350 years of Altona. From the award of city rights to the New Center (1664–2014) . Ed .: Czech, Hans Jörg u. a. Sandstone, Dresden 2015, Altona. Epochs and facets of a city's history, p. 25 .
  3. Jann Markus Witt: Schleswig-Holstein from the origins to the present . Ed .: Jann Markus Witt, Heiko Vosgerau. Convent, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-934613-39-X , Peace, Prosperity and Reforms - The Duchies in the Danish State, p. 256 .
  4. ^ Frank Lubowitz, Heiko Vosgerau: Schleswig-Holstein from the origins to the present . Ed .: Jann Markus Witt, Heiko Vosgerau. Convent, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-934613-39-X , Between Denmark and Prussia - between nationalism and modernization: Schleswig-Holstein 1815-1920, p. 271 .