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Schleswig and Holstein have at different times belonged in part or completely to either Denmark or Germany, or have been virtually independent of both nations. The exception is that Schleswig had never been part of Germany until the Second Schleswig War in Essentially, Schleswig was either integrated into Denmark or was a Danish fief, and Holstein was a German fief and once a sovereign state long ago. Both were for several centuries ruled by the kings of Denmark. In , all of Schleswig was united as a single duchy under the king of Denmark, and the great powers of Europe confirmed in an international treaty that all future kings of Denmark should automatically become dukes of Schleswig, and consequently Schleswig would always follow the same order of succession as the one chosen in the Kingdom of Denmark.
In the church, following the reformation, German was used in the southern part of Schleswig and Danish in the northern part. This would later prove decisive for shaping national sentiments in the population, as well as after when mandatory school education was introduced. The administration of both duchies was conducted in German, despite the fact that they were governed from Copenhagen from by the German Chancellary which was in renamed Schleswig-Holstein Chancellary. The German national awakening that followed the Napoleonic Wars gave rise to a strong popular movement in Holstein and Southern Schleswig for unification with a new Prussian -dominated Germany.
This development was paralleled by an equally strong Danish national awakening in Denmark and Northern Schleswig. This movement called for the complete reintegration of Schleswig into the Kingdom of Denmark and demanded an end to discrimination against Danes in Schleswig. The ensuing conflict is sometimes called the Schleswig-Holstein Question. In , King Frederick VII of Denmark declared that he would grant Denmark a liberal constitution and the immediate goal for the Danish national movement was to ensure that this constitution would not only give rights to all Danes, i.
Furthermore, they demanded protection for the Danish language in Schleswig the dominant language in almost a quarter of Schleswig had changed from Danish to German since the beginning of the 19th century. Representatives of German-minded Schleswig-Holsteiners demanded that Schleswig and Holstein be unified and allowed its own constitution and that Schleswig join Holstein as a member of the German Confederation.
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These demands were rejected by the Danish government in , and the Germans of Holstein and southern Schleswig rebelled. In , conflict broke out again when Frederick VII died without legitimate issue. The transmission of the duchy of Holstein to the head of the German-oriented branch of the Danish royal family, the House of Augustenborg , was more controversial. The separation of the two duchies was challenged by the Augustenborg heir, who claimed, as in , to be rightful heir of both Schleswig and Holstein.
The promulgation of a common constitution for Denmark and Schleswig in November prompted Otto von Bismarck to intervene and Prussia and Austria declared war on Denmark. This was the Second War of Schleswig , which ended in Danish defeat. Contrary to the hopes of German Schleswig-Holsteiners, the area did not gain its independence, but was annexed as a province of Prussia in Also following the Austro-Prussian War in , section five of the Peace of Prague stipulated that the people of Northern Schleswig would be consulted in a referendum on whether to remain under Prussian rule or return to Danish rule.
This condition, however, was never fulfilled by Prussia. During the decades of Prussian rule within the German Empire , authorities attempted a germanization policy in the northern part of Schleswig, which remained predominantly Danish.
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The period also meant increased industrialisation of Schleswig-Holstein and the use of Kiel and Flensburg as important Imperial German Navy locations. The northernmost part and west coast of the province saw a wave of emigration to America, while some Danes of North Schleswig emigrated to Denmark. Following the defeat of Germany in World War I , the Allied powers arranged a plebiscite in northern and central Schleswig. The plebiscite was conducted under the auspices of an international commission which designated two voting zones to cover the northern and south-central parts of Schleswig.
Steps were taken to also create a third zone covering a southern area, but zone III was cancelled again and never voted, as the Danish government asked the commission not to expand the plebiscite to this area.
On 15 June , Northern Schleswig officially returned to Danish rule. On 23 August , the military government abolished the province and reconstituted it as a separate Land. This was supported neither by the British occupation administration nor the Danish government.
Journal of English and Germanic Philology. Topographia Germaniae in German. Years in Germany —present. Pre Urban and rural districts in the state of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Retrieved from " https: Uses editors parameter CS1 maint: Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. This page was last edited on 29 July , at This war between Denmark on the one hand and the two duchies and Prussia on the other lasted three years — and only ended when the Great Powers pressured Prussia into accepting the London Convention of Under the terms of this peace agreement, the German Confederation returned the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein to Denmark.
In an agreement with Prussia under the London Protocol of , the Danish government in return undertook not to tie Schleswig more closely to Denmark than to the duchy of Holstein. In King Frederick VII of Denmark declared that he would grant Denmark a Liberal Constitution and the immediate goal for the Danish national movement was to secure that this Constitution would not only give rights to all Danes, that is, not only to the Kingdom of Denmark, but also to Danes and Germans living in Schleswig.
Furthermore, they demanded the protection of the Danish language in Schleswig since the dominating language in almost a quarter of Schleswig had changed from Danish to German since the beginning of the nineteenth century. Nationalist circles in Denmark advocated Danification of Schleswig but not of Holstein as Danish national culture had risen much in past decades. On April 12, the federal assembly recognised the provisional government of Schleswig and commissioned Prussia to enforce its decrees, General Wrangel was ordered to occupy Schleswig also.
The new provisional government accounted for the respect of the two major languages, neglecting Frisian, in Schleswig and appointed two Lutheran general superintendents one each for parishes of Danish and of German language Johannes Andreas Rehhoff and Nicolaus Johann Ernst Nielsen , respectively.
But the German movement and Prussia had reckoned without the European powers, which were united in opposing any dismemberment of Denmark. Even Austria, like Holstein a member state of the German Confederation, refused to assist in enforcing the German view. Swedish troops landed to assist the Danes; Nicholas I of Russia , speaking with authority as Head of the elder Gottorp line, pointed out to King Frederick William IV the risks of a collision; Great Britain, though the Danes rejected her mediation, threatened to send her fleet to assist in preserving the status quo.
Frederick William now ordered Wrangel to withdraw his troops from the duchies. The general refused to obey, pleading that he was under the command not of the king of Prussia but of the regent of the German Confederation, Archduke John of Austria , and proposed that, at least, any treaty concluded should be presented for ratification to the Frankfurt Parliament. This the Danes refused; and negotiations were broken off.
Prussia was now confronted on one side by the German unification movement urging her clamorously to action, on the other by the European powers threatening with one voice dire consequences should she persist. The Holstein estates appealed to the Frankfurt Parliament, which hotly took up their cause; but it was soon clear that the provisional government in Frankfurt of the to-be-unified Germany had no means of enforcing its views, and in the end the convention was ratified at Frankfurt.
The convention was only in the nature of a truce establishing a temporary modus vivendi , and the main issues, left unsettled, continued to be hotly debated. At a conference held in London in October, Denmark suggested an arrangement on the basis of a separation of Schleswig from Holstein, which was about to become a member of the eventually united Germany, Schleswig to have a separate constitution under the Danish crown. This was supported by Great Britain and Russia. On January 27, it was accepted by Prussia and the German Confederation.
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The negotiations broke down, however, on the refusal of Denmark to yield the principle of the indissoluble union with the Danish crown. The principles which Prussia was commissioned to enforce as the mandatory of the German Confederation were:. At this point the tsar intervened in favour of peace; and Prussia, conscious of her restored strength and weary of the intractable temper of the provisional Frankfurt government, determined to take matters into her own hands.
On July 10, another truce was signed. Schleswig, until the peace, was to be administered separately, under a mixed commission. Holstein was to be governed by a vicegerent of the German Confederation — an arrangement equally offensive to German and Danish sentiment. A settlement seemed as far off as ever. The Danes of Schleswig still clamoured for the principle of succession in the female line and union with Denmark, the Germans for that of succession in the male line and union with Holstein.
In the Constitution of Denmark was adopted. This complicated matters further, as many Danes wished for the new democratic constitution to apply for all Danes, including in the Danes in Schleswig. The constitutions of Holstein and Schleswig were dominated by the Estates system, giving more power to the most affluent members of society, with the result that both Schleswig and Holstein were politically dominated by a predominantly German class of landowners. Thus, two systems of government co-existed within the same state: The three units were governed by one cabinet, consisting of liberal ministers of Denmark who urged for economical and social reforms, and conservative ministers of the Holstein nobility who opposed political reform.
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This caused a deadlock for practical lawmaking. Moreover, Danish opponents of this so-called Unitary State Helstaten feared that Holstein's presence in the government and, at the same time, membership in the German Confederation would lead to increased German interference with Schleswig, or even into purely Danish affairs. In Copenhagen, the Palace and most of the administration supported a strict adherence to the status quo.
Same applied to foreign powers such as Great Britain, France and Russia, who would not accept a weakened Denmark in favour of the German states, nor acquisition of Holstein with its important naval harbour of Kiel and control of the entrance to the Baltic by Prussia. In April , in utter weariness Prussia proposed a definitive peace on the basis of the status quo ante bellum and the postponement of all questions as to mutual rights. To Palmerston the basis seemed meaningless, the proposed settlement to settle nothing.
The emperor Nicholas, openly disgusted with Frederick William's weak-kneed truckling to the Revolution, again intervened. To him the duke of Augustenburg was a rebel; Russia had guaranteed Schleswig to the Danish crown by the treaties of and ; as for Holstein, if the king of Denmark was unable to deal with the rebels there, he himself would intervene as he had done in Hungary.
The threat was reinforced by the menace of the European situation.
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Austria and Prussia were on the verge of war, The sole hope of preventing Russia from throwing her sword into the scale of Austria lay in settling the Schleswig-Holstein question as Russia desired. Frederick William's only alternative, an alliance with Louis Napoleon , who already dreamed of acquiring the Rhine frontier for France at the price of his aid in establishing German sea-power by the cession of the duchies, was abhorrent to him. A peace treaty was signed between Prussia and Denmark on July 2, Both parties reserved all their antecedent rights.
Denmark was satisfied, since the treaty empowered the King to restore his authority in Holstein as Duke with or without the consent of the German Confederation. Danish troops now marched in to coerce the refractory duchies; but while the fighting went on negotiations among the powers continued, and on August 2, Great Britain, France, Russia and Norway-Sweden signed a protocol, to which Austria subsequently adhered, approving the principle of restoring the integrity of the Danish monarchy.
The provisional Schleswig government was deposed, as were the Lutheran general superintendents, who were even exiled from the Oldenburg-ruled monarchies in Their position remained vacant with Superintendent Christoph Carl Julius Asschenfeldt officiating per pro.
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The Copenhagen government, which in May made an abortive attempt to come to an understanding with the inhabitants of the duchies by convening an assembly of notables at Flensburg , issued on December 6, a project for the future organisation of the monarchy on the basis of the equality of its constituent states, with a common ministry; and on January 28, a royal letter announced the institution of a unitary state which, while maintaining the fundamental constitution of Denmark, would increase the parliamentary powers of the estates of the two duchies.
This proclamation was approved by Prussia and Austria, and by the German Federal Assembly insofar as it affected Holstein and Lauenburg. The question of the succession was the next approached. Only the question of the Augustenburg succession made an agreement between the powers impossible, and on March 31, the duke of Augustenburg resigned his claim in return for a money payment.
Another factor which doomed Danish interests, was that not only was the power of German culture rising, but so were conflicts with German States in the south, namely Prussia and Austria. Schleswig and Holstein would, of course and inevitably, become the subject of a territorial dispute involving military encounters among the three states, Denmark, Prussia and Austria. Danish government found itself nervous as it became expected that Frederik VII would leave no son, and that upon his death, under Salic law , the possible Crown Princess would have no actual legal right to Schleswig and Holstein of course that was debatable, as the dynasty itself had received Holstein by Christian I being son of the sister of last Schauenburg count of Holstein, but Salic Law was convenient to German nationalists in this case, furthermore Schleswig was a fief to the kings of Denmark with the Danish Kings Law, Kongeloven.
Ethnic-Danish citizens of Schleswig South Jutland panicked over the possibility of being separated from their mother country , agitated against the German element, and demanded that Denmark declare Schleswig an integral part of Denmark, which outraged German nationalists. Holstein was part of the territory of the German Confederation , with which an annexation of whole Schleswig and Holstein to Denmark would have been incompatible. This gave a good pretext to Prussia to engage in war with Denmark in order to seize Schleswig and Holstein for itself, both by pleasing nationalists by 'liberating' Germans from Danish rule, and by implementing the law of the German Confederation.
On May 8, , this arrangement received international sanction by the protocol signed in London by the five great powers and Norway and Sweden. The protocol of London, while consecrating the principle of the integrity of Denmark, stipulated that the rights of the German Confederation in Holstein and Lauenburg should remain unaffected. It was, in fact, a compromise, and left the fundamental issues unsettled.
The German Federal Assembly had not been represented in London, and the terms of the protocol were regarded in German states as a humiliation. As for the Danes, they were far from being satisfied with the settlement, which they approved only insofar as it gave them a basis for a more vigorous prosecution of their unionist schemes. On February 15 and June 11, Frederick VII, after consulting the estates, promulgated special constitutions for Schleswig and Holstein respectively, under which the provincial assemblies received certain very limited powers.
On July 26, he published a common Danish constitution for the whole monarchy; it was little more unitary than a veiled absolutism. In the Lutheran church bodies of Schleswig and Holstein, until then led by general superintendents, until titled general provosts, were converted into Lutheran dioceses called Stift Schleswig Danish: Slesvig Stift and Stift Holstein Danish: Holsten Stift , each presided by a Lutheran bishop. On October 2, the common Danish constitution was superseded by a parliamentary constitution of a modified type.
The legality of this constitution was disputed by the two German great powers, on the ground that the estates of the duchies had not been consulted as promised in the royal letter of December 6, On February 11, the federal assembly of the German Confederation refused to admit its validity so far as Holstein and Lauenburg were concerned. In the early s the "Schleswig-Holstein Question" once more became the subject of lively international debate, but with the difference that support for the Danish position was in decline. The Crimean War had crippled the power of Russia , and France was prepared to renounce support for Danish interests in the duchies in exchange for compensations to herself elsewhere.
Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert had sympathy for the German position, but it was tempered by British ministers who saw the growth of German sea-power in the Baltic Sea as a danger to British naval supremacy, and consequently Great Britain sided with the Danes. To that was added a grievance about tolls charged on shipping passing through the Danish Straits to pass between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. To avoid that expense, Prussia planned the Kiel Canal , which could not be built as long as Denmark ruled Holstein.
The secessionist movement continued throughout the s and s, as proponents of German unification increasingly expressed the wish to include two Danish-ruled provinces Holstein and Schleswig in an eventual 'Greater Germany'. Holstein was completely German, while the situation in Schleswig was complex. It was linguistically mixed between German, Danish and North Frisian. The population was predominantly of Danish ethnicity, but many of them had switched to the German language since the 17th century. German culture dominated in clergy and nobility, whereas Danish had a lower social status.
For centuries, when the rule of the King was absolute, these conditions had created few tensions. When ideas of democracy spread and national currents emerged from ca. The medieval Treaty of Ribe had proclaimed that Schleswig and Holstein were indivisible, however in another context. As the events of threatened to politically divide the two duchies, Prussia was handed a good pretext to engage in war with Denmark to seize Schleswig-Holstein for itself, both by pleasing nationalists in "liberating" Germans from Danish rule, and by implementing the law of the German Confederation.
On July 29, , In response to the renewed Danish claim to Schleswig as integral Danish territory, the German Federal Assembly instructed by Bismarck threatened German federal intervention. Even this concession violated the principle of the indissoluble union of the duchies, but the German Federal Assembly, fully occupied at home, determined to refrain from further action till the Danish parliament should make another effort to pass a law or budget affecting the whole kingdom without consulting the estates of the duchies.
In July this happened, and in the spring of the estates were once more at open odds with the Danish government. The German Federal Assembly now prepared for armed intervention; but it was in no condition to carry out its threats, and Denmark decided, on the advice of Great Britain, to ignore it and open negotiations directly with Prussia and Austria as independent powers.
These demanded the restoration of the union between the duchies, a question beyond the competence of the Confederation. Denmark replied with a refusal to recognise the right of any foreign power to interfere in her relations with Schleswig; to which Austria, anxious to conciliate the smaller German princes, responded with a vigorous protest against Danish infringements of the compact of Lord John Russell now intervened, on behalf of Great Britain, with a proposal for a settlement of the whole question on the basis of the independence of the duchies under the Danish crown, with a decennial budget for common expenses to be agreed on by the four assemblies, and a supreme council of state consisting in relative proportion of Danes and Germans.
This was accepted by Russia and by the German great powers, and Denmark found herself isolated in Europe. The international situation, however, favoured a bold attitude, and she met the representations of the powers with a flat defiance. The retention of Schleswig as an integral part of the monarchy was to Denmark a matter of life and death; the German Confederation had made the terms of the protocol of , defining the intimate relations between the duchies, the excuse for unwarrantable interference in the internal affairs of the Denmark.
On March 30, , as a result of this, a royal compact's proclamation was published at Copenhagen repudiating the compacts of , and, by defining the separate position of Holstein in the Danish monarchy, negativing once for all the German claims upon Schleswig. As the heirless king Frederick VII grew older, Denmark's successive National-Liberal cabinets became increasingly focused on maintaining control of Schleswig following the king's future death.
Both duchies were ruled by the kings of Denmark and shared a long mutual history, but their association with Denmark was extremely complex. Holstein was a member of the German Confederation. Denmark, and Schleswig as it was a Danish fief , were outside the German Confederation. German nationalists claimed that the succession laws of the two duchies were different from the similar law in Denmark.
Danes, however, claimed that this only applied to Holstein, but that Schleswig was subject to the Danish law of succession. A further complication was a much-cited reference in the Treaty of Ribe stipulating that Schleswig and Holstein should "be together and forever unseparated".
As counter-evidence, and in favour of the Danish view, rulings of a Danish clerical court and a German Emperor, of and respectively, were produced. This decision was challenged by a rival pro-German branch of the Danish royal family, the House of Augustenburg Danish: Augustenborg who demanded, like in , the crowns of both Schleswig and Holstein. This happened at a particularly critical time as work on a new constitution for the joint affairs of Denmark and Schleswig had just been completed with the draft awaiting his signature.
In the Duchy of Lauenburg the personal union with Denmark ended and her estates elected a new dynasty in The new so-called November Constitution would not annex Schleswig to Denmark directly, but instead create a joint parliament with the medieval title Rigsraadet to govern the joint affairs of both Denmark and Schleswig. Both entities would maintain their individual parliaments as well.
A similar initiative, but also including Holstein, had been attempted in , but proved a failure because of the opposition of the people in Schleswig and their support in German states. The form of government shall be that of a constitutional monarchy. Royal authority shall be inherited. The law of succession is specified in the law of succession of July 31, applying for the entire Danish monarchy.
Denmark's new king, Christian IX , was in a position of extraordinary difficulty. The first sovereign act he was called upon to perform was to sign the new constitution. To sign was to violate the terms of the London Protocol which would probably lead to war. To refuse to sign was to place himself in antagonism to the united sentiment of his Danish subjects, which was the basis of his reign. He chose what seemed the lesser of two evils, and on November 18 signed the constitution.
The news was seen as a violation of the London Protocol , which prohibited such a change in the status quo. It was received in German states with manifestations of excitement and anger. Frederick, duke of Augustenburg, son of the prince who in had renounced the succession to the duchies, now claimed his rights on the ground that he had had no share in the renunciation.
In Holstein an agitation in his favour had begun from the first, and this was extended to Schleswig when the terms of the new Danish constitution became known. His claim was enthusiastically supported by the German princes and people, and in spite of the negative attitude of Austria and Prussia the federal assembly at the initiative of Otto von Bismarck decided to occupy Holstein pending the settlement of the decree of succession.
On December 24, , Saxon and Hanoverian troops marched into the German duchy of Holstein in the name of the German Confederation, and supported by their presence and by the loyalty of the Holsteiners the duke of Augustenburg assumed the government under the style of Duke Frederick VIII. It was clear to Bismarck that Austria and Prussia, as parties to the London Protocol of , must and uphold the succession as fixed by it, and that any action they might take in consequence of the violation of that compact by Denmark must be so correct as to deprive Europe of all excuse for interference.
The publication of the new constitution by Christian IX was in itself sufficient to justify them. As to the ultimate outcome of their effective intervention, that could be left to the future to decide. Austria had no clear views. King William wavered between his Prussian feeling and a sentimental sympathy with the duke of Augustenburg. Bismarck alone knew exactly what he wanted, and how to attain it. After Christian IX of Denmark merged Schleswig not Holstein into Denmark in following his accession to the Danish throne that year, Bismarck's diplomatic abilities finally convinced Austria to participate in the war, with the assent of the other European large powers and under the auspices of the German Confederation.
The protests of Great Britain and Russia against the action of the German federal assembly, together with the proposal of Count Beust , on behalf of Saxony, that Bavaria should bring forward in that assembly a formal motion for the recognition of Duke Frederick's claims, helped Bismarck to persuade Austria that immediate action must be taken. On December 28 a motion was introduced in the federal assembly by Austria and Prussia, calling on the Confederation to occupy Schleswig as a pledge for the observance by Denmark of the compacts of This implied the recognition of the rights of Christian IX, and was indignantly rejected; whereupon the federal assembly was informed that the Austrian and Prussian governments would act in the matter as independent European powers.
On January 16, the agreement between them was signed. An article drafted by Austria, intended to safeguard the settlement of , was replaced at Bismarck's instance by another which stated that the two powers would decide only in concert on the relations of the duchies, and that they would in no case determine the question of the succession save by mutual consent; and Bismarck issued an ultimatum to Denmark demanding that the November Constitution should be abolished within 48 hours.
This was rejected by the Danish government. The Austrian and Prussian forces crossed the Eider into Schleswig on February 1, , and war was inevitable. An invasion of Denmark itself had not been part of the original programme of the allies; but on February 18 some Prussian hussars , in the excitement of a cavalry skirmish, crossed the frontier and occupied the village of Kolding.
Bismarck determined to use this circumstance to revise the whole situation.