The Age of Enlightenment and Napoleonic Wars

History of Denmark between 1771 - 1814

New propriety and Enlightenment ideas became popular among the middle classes of Denmark, arousing increased interest in personal liberty. In the last 15 years of the 18th century the authorities relaxed the censorship which had existed since the beginning of the 17th century. At the same time, a sense of Danish nationalism began to develop. Hostility increased against Germans and Norwegians present at the royal court. Pride in the Danish language and culture increased, and eventually a law banned "foreigners" from holding posts in the government. Antagonism between Germans and Danes increased from the mid-18th century on.

In the 1770s, during the reign of the mentally unstable Christian VII (1766–1808), the queen's lover, a German doctor named Johann Friedrich Struensee, became the real ruler of the country. Filled with the ideas of the Enlightenment, he attempted a number of radical reforms including freedom of the press and religion. But it was short-lived. The landlords feared that the reforms were a threat to their power, while the commoners believed that religious freedom was an invitation to atheism. In 1772, Struensee was arrested, tried, and convicted of crimes against the majesty. Struensee was beheaded his remains were quartered and put on display on top of spikes on the commons west of Copenhagen. The next 12 years were a period of unmitigated reaction until a group of reformers gained power in 1784.

Denmark became the model of enlightened despotism, partially influenced by the ideas of the French Revolution. Denmark thus adopted liberalizing reforms in line with those of the French Revolution, with no direct contact. Danes were aware of French ideas and agreed with them, as it moved from Danish absolutism to a liberal constitutional system between 1750-1850. The change of government in 1784 was caused by a power vacuum created when King Christian VII took ill, and influence shifted to the crown prince (who later became King Frederick VI) and reform-oriented landowners. Between 1784 and 1815, the abolition of serfdom made the majority of the peasants into landowners. The government also introduced free trade and universal education. In contrast to France under the ancien regime, agricultural reform was intensified in Denmark, civil rights were extended to the peasants, the finances of the Danish state were healthy, and there were no external or internal crises. That is, reform was gradual and the regime itself carried out agrarian reforms that had the effect of weakening absolutism by creating a class of independent peasant freeholders. Much of the initiative came from well-organized liberals who directed political change in the first half of the 19th century.

Napoleonic Wars

Slaget på reden
The Battle of Copenhagen, 1801.

The long decades of peace came to an abrupt end during the Napoleonic Wars. Britain felt threatened by the Armed Neutrality Treaty of 1794, which originally involved Denmark and Sweden. The British fleet attacked Copenhagen in 1801, destroying much of Denmark's navy. Denmark nonetheless managed to remain largely uninvolved in the Napoleonic Wars until 1807. The British fleet bombarded Copenhagen again that year, causing considerable destruction to the city. They then captured the entire Danish fleet so that it could not be used by France to invade Britain (as the French had lost their own fleet at Trafalgar in 1805), leading to the Gunboat War (1807–1814). The confiscation of the Danish navy was widely criticised in Britain.

In 1809 Danish forces fighting on the French side participated in defeating the anti-Bonapartist German rebellion led by Ferdinand von Schill, at the Battle of Stralsund. By 1813, Denmark could no longer bear the war costs, and the state was bankrupt. When in the same year the Sixth Coalition isolated Denmark by clearing Northern Germany of French forces, Frederick VI had to make peace. Accordingly, the unfavourable Treaty of Kiel was concluded in January 1814 with Sweden and Great Britain, and another peace was signed with Russia in February.

The post-Napoleonic Congress of Vienna demanded the dissolution of the Dano-Norwegian union, and this was confirmed by the Treaty of Kiel in 1814. The treaty transferred Heligoland to Great Britain and Norway from the Danish to the Swedish crown, Denmark was to be satisfied with Swedish Pomerania.

Interestingly, this period also counts as "the Golden Age" of Danish intellectual history. A sign of renewed intellectual vigor was the introduction of compulsory schooling in 1814. Literature, painting, sculpture, and philosophy all experienced an unusually vibrant period. The stories of Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) became popular not only in Denmark, but all over Europe and in the United States. The ideas of the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) spread far beyond Denmark, influencing not only his own era, but proving instrumental in the development of new philosophical systems after him. The sculptures of Thorvaldsen (1770–1834) grace public buildings all over Denmark and other artists appreciated and copied his style. Grundtvig (1783–1872) tried to reinvigorate the Danish National Church and contributed to the hymns used by the church in Denmark.

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1771 and 1814 in Denmark

Christiansfeld

Christiansfeld town was founded in 1773 by the Moravian Church and named after the Danish king Christian VII. Most of Christiansfeld was constructed in the years 1773-1800, following a strict city plan. To encourage construction, king Christian VII promised a ten-year tax holiday for the city and paid 10% of the construction costs of new houses. It was one of many towns in Schleswig officially designated a small market to ...
Founded: 1773 | Location: Christiansfeld, Denmark

Gammel Køgegård

Originally, Køge was located in the grounds of present day Gammel Køgegård. Remains of a church have been found in the orchard of the estate. When sedimentation made the beach and marshlands along the coast suitable for building, the settlement relocated to the bay and Old Køge shrank to a few scattered houses. Little is known about the earliest history of Gammel Køgegård. It was a ...
Founded: 1791 | Location: Køge, Denmark

Hindsgavl Castle

The history of Hindsgavl Castle dates back to the 12th century, and the name Hindsgavl was mentioned for the first time in the Danish register of manors and estates by King Valdemar II in 1231. Valdemar IV of Denmark besieged the castle with no luck in 1358. The current castle was built in the late 18th century. Today Hindsgavl is a conference center.
Founded: 18th century | Location: Middelfart, Denmark

Trekroner Fortress

Trekroner Søfort (Three Crowns Sea Fortress) is a sea fortress at the entrance to the Copenhagen harbour. From 1713 until after World War I, Trekroner Fort was part of the fortifications of Copenhagen. The original location of Trekroner Fort was a few hundred meters north of the current one. In 1713, three old line ships were sunk to form the basis for a battery. One of the ships was called Trekroner, and she gave her n ...
Founded: 1787 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Hald Manor

The first known reference to Hald is from 1328 when it was owned by Rigsmarsk Ludvig Albertsen Eberstein. Then known as Brattingsborg, was located to the east of the current main building. Niels Bugge acquired Hald in 1346 and built a new main building where he took up residence. He was active in the uprising against King Valdemar IV and was later killed on the way back from failed peace negotiations at Slagelse. Bugge&qu ...
Founded: 1798 | Location: Viborg, Denmark

Sandbjerg Manor

The history of the Sandbjerg Estate goes back to the beginning of the 16th century. In 1564 the estate became the property of Duke Hans the Younger (1545-1622), when his brother Frederik II transferred ownership of a third of the royal duchies to him - an area which included Ærø, Als, and Sundeved in the Duchy of Schleswig. The Duke left his mark on the landscape, commissioning the building of a dam -which e ...
Founded: 1783 | Location: Sønderborg, Denmark

Corselitze Manor

Corselitze, or Korselitse, derives from Wendish and means "settlement of Chotel"s heirs". The estate shares much of its early history with the island of Falster. Like most of the island, it belonged to the Crown in the 13th century and is mentioned in King Valdemar II"s Danish Census Book which dates from about 1231. In 1354 Corselitze was acquired by Jens Falster, a member of the local nobility, and i ...
Founded: 1775-1777 | Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark

Jomfruens Egede Manor

Jomfruens Egede manor house owes its current appearance to Sophie Amalie Moth who in the late 18th century altered it with the assistance of Caspar Frederik Harsdorff and Joseph Christian Lillie. The National Museum of Denmark has described it as possibly the finest example from the period. Jomfruens Egede traces its history back to 1346 when it was owned by Uffe Pedersen Neb, a loyal supporter of King Valdemar IV, and k ...
Founded: 1790s | Location: Faxe, Denmark

Arresødal

Arresødal was created as a manor in 1773 by Major General Johan Frederik Classen. He ordered the building of the main house in 1786-1788. Upon his death, Classen bequeathed Arresødal to Prince Charles of Hesse-Kassel, who owned the property until Crown Prince Frederik (later King Frederick VI of Denmark) bought the property in 1804. The main building was rebuilt in 1908-1909 and partly in 2004. Two other bui ...
Founded: 1786-1788 | Location: Frederiksværk, Denmark

Næsseslottet Manor

Næsseslottet is an 18th-century country house and previously a royal farm known as Dronningegård. Dronninggård was built in 1661 to manage the Crown"s extensive holdings of farm land in the area. The farm belonged to the powerful Queen Sophie Amalie until her death in 1714, hence the name which translates as Queen"s House. After that, the property was sold and changed hands several times but ev ...
Founded: 1783 | Location: Holte, Denmark

Søholt Manor

Søholt estate was first time mentioned in 1389. The current main building dates from 1804 and it was restored in 1853. The pavilion from 1822 has been survived.
Founded: 1804 | Location: Maribo, Denmark

Aldershvile Palace Ruins

Aldershvile Palace was a castle palace built in 1782 by Johan Theodor Holm de Holmskiold. Soon after it was confiscated due debts and given to Count Ribbing, who was escaped from Sweden after the murder of King Gustaf III. In 1909 the palace burnt down and it was not rebuilt again.
Founded: 1782 | Location: Bagsværd, Denmark

Eriksholm Castle

The history of the Eriksholm estate dates back to 1400 but today"s house was built in 1788. It was designed by Caspar Frederik Harsdorff, the leading Danish architect of the time. In the 1400s it was owned by Peder Jensen and known as Vinderup. It was crown land from 1536 to 1556 and again from 1573 to 1585. In the year 1600 Eriksholm was acquired by Erik Madsen Vasspyd who constructed a new main building and named ...
Founded: 1788 | Location: Vipperød, Denmark

Hagenskov Castle

Hagenskov Castle lies in the countryside a few kilometres to the east of Assens. It is a grade A listed building protected by law from substantial alteration. It was built in 1775 in a classical style by the design of architect G. E. Rosenborg. There had been a castle on this site for many centuries and remains of the medieval castle’s dungeons. In the 13th century a dispute with the King led to an archbishop being ...
Founded: 1775 | Location: Ebberup, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Celje Castle

Celje Castle was once the largest fortification on Slovenian territory. The first fortified building on the site (a Romanesque palace) was built in the first half of the 13th century by the Counts of Heunburg from Carinthia on the stony outcrop on the western side of the ridge where the castle stands. It had five sides, or four plus the southern side, which was a natural defence. The first written records of the castle date back to between 1125 and 1137; it was probably built by Count Gunter. In the western section of the castle, there was a building with several floors. Remains of the walls of this palatium have survived. In the eastern section, there was an enclosed courtyard with large water reservoirs. The eastern wall, which protects the castle from its most exposed side, was around three metres thicker than the rest of the curtain wall. The wall was topped with a parapet and protected walkway. This was typical of Ministerialis castles of the time.

Lords of Sanneck and Counts of Celje

The first castle was probably burned and destroyed in the fighting between the Lords of Sanneck and the Lords of Auffenstein. The gateway was later moved from the northern side by freemen loyal to the Lords of Sanneck. They gave the castle a new curtain wall and reinforced this with a tower on the northern side, which guarded the entrance to the inner ward, sometime before 1300. The new wall reached from a natural cliff in the east to the remains of the earlier wall in the northeast. The entrance was moved to the southern side, where it still is today.

In 1333, the castle came into the possession of the Lords of Sanneck, who from 1341 onward were the Counts of Celje. They set about transforming the fortress into a comfortable living quarter and their official residence. Around 1400, they added a four-storey tower which was later called Frederick’s tower. On the eastern side of the courtyard, there was a tall, three-story residential tower, which is the best preserved section of the castle among the Frederick’s tower. The main residential building, which also had rooms for women, stood however in the western section of the castle. This part of the castle ends at the narrow outer ward and is in a state of disrepair. On the southern side of the palatium, there was a tower, known as Andrew’s tower, after the chapel on the ground floor, which was dedicated to Saint Andrew. In the Middle Ages, the castle walls were impenetrable; an attacker would have had to rely on starving the defenders into submission, but a hidden passageway led from the castle to a nearby granary. The Counts of Celje stopped living in the castle in this period, but they stationed a castellan with an armed entourage here.

During an earthquake in 1348, part of the Romanesque palace and the rock on which it stood were destroyed. The ruined section was rebuilt and relocated towards the bailey. In the 15th century, the outer ward was extended on the eastern side of the ridge as far as the rocky outcrop. Here, the wall connected with a powerful, five-sided tower. In the second half of the 16th century, the castle was once again renovated. The walls in the inner and outer wards were made taller, and the bailey was renovated. The modern sections of the walls feature Renaissance-era balistraria.

Holy Roman Empire

The first imperial caretaker, Krištof pl. Ungnad, was named in 1461. Celje Castle was not only the most important castle in Slovenia, but in the entire eastern Alps. It covered an area of almost 5500 m². Several new techniques were employed in the castle’s architectural development, which were the model for other castles in the region under Celje’s influence.

The castle began to fall into disrepair shortly after losing its strategic importance. During the renovation of the lower castle in 1748, the castle’s tiled roof was removed. When Count Gaisruck bought the castle in 1755, he removed the roof truss as well. The best stones were then re-used in the construction of the Novo Celje Mansion between Petrovče and Žalec. From this time onward, it was no longer possible to live in the castle, and it slowly turned into a complete ruin. The last residents left the site in 1795. In 1803, the farmer Andrej Gorišek bought the castle and began to use the site as a quarry.

19th and 20th centuries

In 1846, the governor of the Styria, Count Wickenburg, bought the ruins and donated them to the Styrian estates. In 1871, interest in the ruins began to take hold and in 1882 the Celje museum society began efforts to restore the castle, which continue to this day. During the time of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the authorities in Maribor left control over the ruins to the local municipality, which made great contributions to the castle"s preservation. During World War II, the ruins were abandoned, but reconstruction efforts continued after the war. In the corners of the Friderikov stolp, cement blocks were used to replace missing stones. A proper parking lot was also created in front of the entrance to the castle. On the northern side, the wall was knocked through to create a new side entrance to meet a new route that had been built there.

21st century

Today Celje castle is a popular tourist attraction and several concerts and other events are held there annually.