Before and after 1864

Like many Scandi literature/TV/film fans, I’ve been watching the Danish series ‘1864’ and I realise to my shame that I know very little about Danish history. I know the Danes ruled much of England before the Norman Conquest, and I vaguely remember there was the Battle of Copenhagen during the Napoleonic wars… and I have a rather muddled memory of studying the Schleswig Holstein question which we briefly looked at for our O-level history… I’ve visited Iceland and read up on Icelandic history so I know that Iceland once ‘belonged’ to Denmark…

But how appalling it is  that I know so little about a European country I have visited! This shocking revelation was brought into focus by ‘1864’; in the first episode Danish soldiers return from war… what war? When was it? Who were they fighting? Did they win? In later episodes the country goes to war again…

I am going to remedy this deficit, I am going to read up on Danish history! So to begin with I have found out that the war in the first part of the TV series took place between 1848-1851 and was over the German duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg, and I’m now finding about the conflict in 1864 in which  the  Chancellor of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck, known as the Iron Chancellor,  declared war on Denmark on behalf of the German Confederation.

This is just a very superficial grasp of a tiny snapshot of time, a couple of decades in the history of Denmark… but I shall read on!


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