History of Denmark

Discover the History of Denmark

Though no one knows how or when Denmark was founded, it is known that the area was first populated by Celts before it became home to the Scandinavians. The oldest known structure in the area - the Danevirke - dates back to about the 7th century. The oldest city in Denmark is Ribe which dates back to roughly 810. By the 11th century, the Danes joined the Norwegians and Swedes in attempts to colonize, raid and trade with other parts of Europe. Collectively, these groups became known as the Vikings and it is even believed that they may have reached America long before any other European explorers.

Over the years, Denmark has extended its rule over various parts of Europe. England, Ireland, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, France, Normandy, the Virgin Islands, Tranquebar, Northern Germany and parts of the Baltic coast have all experienced Danish rule at some time in their history. Scania, Blekinge and Halland were at one time considered a part of Denmark until they were lost to Sweden.

Denmark became a constitutional monarchy in 1849 after the Danish liberal movement and the European revolution. In 1864 Denmark was forced to cede Schleswig-Holstein to Prussia. The loss lead to the Danes adopting a policy of neutrality and allowed them to remain neutral during World War I. When the war ended the Versailles powers offered to return Schleswig and Holstein but Denmark feared that the Germans would try to reclaim the land at some later point. They decided that that the return of Schleswig be subjected to vote and they refused the return of Holstein. This resulted in the recovery of Northern Schleswig.

Though it maintained its neutrality in the Second World War, Germany chose to invade Denmark. This occurred on 9 April 1940. Though they were allowed to govern themselves initially, there was a strong military presence throughout the war. After the war, Denmark was permitted to become one of the founding members of NATO and later the joined the European Union.


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