Denmark is a medium sized constitutional monarchy centered on the Jutland peninsula in Northern Europe. The portion known historically as Viken borders Hordaland, Svealand and Gothenland. Denmark itself has a detached portion known as Skane bordering Gothenland. To the south Denmark borders a variety of Holy Roman Empire member states, namely: Fryslân, Münster-Westphalia, Wildeshausen, Hoya, Bremen, Verden, Lüneburg, Brandenburg, and Güstrow. The volatile Pomeranian region to the South East has a border with Poland-Lithuania and Gothenlandic Pomerelia.
The Head of State is King Christopher X.
It uses the Danish Krone (DKK).
The official languages are Danish, German, Pomersk and Ranish. However, Danish is given preference in all spheres.
Danish Vikings had been extremely active in Western Europe from the 8th century onward, raiding the more settled coastlines of England and the Low Countries. Eventually they formed both Normandy in Northern Francia and the Danelaw on the island of Britannia as well as proving a formidable foe to the Empire of Charlemagne and his successors.
United, and Christianised, by King Harold I Bluetooth, Denmark quickly took advantage of the fractured situation in Scandinavia, playing Denmark's rivals off against one another. Through shrewd and ruthless politicking he secured the crown of Viken and prevented the union of Gothenland and Svealand, cementing Danish supremacy.
Under the reigns of Sweyn I Forkbeard and Cnut II they extended their writ westward into the British Isles. There they arranged the division of England into Wessex and Anglia and ensured a dynasty of Danish kings in Anglia until 1610.
After Harthacnut's death in 1042 the kingdom of Denmark passed to Magnus of Hordaland but he died while planning an invasion of Anglia. Cnut II's sister Estrid seized the treasury in Odense with a cadre of loyal nobles and maneuvered her son Sweyn to the throne, founding a new, and above all, lasting dynasty in the process. The Estridsson family reinvigorated Denmark, and would soon have branches ruling over Viken (sometimes in union), Anglia and, briefly, Gothenland and Svealand.
During the 12th century Denmark secured an alliance with the Hohenstaufen Emperors and ventured south, repeatedly crusading in Pomerania. They briefly tolerated it as a vassal but increasing interference from the Holy Roman Empire and revolts against their presence led them to exile the native counts and take the region for the Danish crown. This put them in direct conflict with the Empire and the limits of Danish control often swept back and forth across the region. However, Danish kings were careful to only push during the Empire's frequent moments of internal squabbling. When the Empire, or at least Germany, was united; such as behind William of Holland in 1275, Denmark would quickly find itself on the back foot. Denmark was also careful to support the nascent Duchy of Sorbia as a bulwark between the German lands and those of the Baltic, and Poland as a potential balance to Germany. Crusades were undertaken in Estonia, often in direct competition to the German crusading orders and the mainland Duchy of Estonia was created in 1219.
While the desire to bring Pomerania firmly within its realm was a major policy plank, mostly Denmark's early history was taken up with a inordinate amount of interference in the affairs of its northern neighbours. It secured control of the Earldom of Lade in 1289 after the extinction of its ruling house and strong-armed through an agreement between Hordaland and Viken not to fight over it. Denmark virtually took over Lade's trade routes wholesale, reducing the earldom to poverty and seeding trouble for the future. The increasingly lucrative trade route to Vinland and Leifia was jealously guarded by Danish ships and non-Norse countries (at least those without special permission from Copenhagen) were virtually unheard of in the waters between the islands of Britannia and Vinland. Aware of their precarious grip on their lands both Vinland and Álengiamark made repeated oaths of fealty to the Danish kings from Sweyn Forkbeard onward.
Meanwhile, closer to home, Denmark repeatedly mediated on the successions in Hordaland, Gothenland and Svealand; the withdrawal of its tacit support for a claimant could effectively kill their campaign in its tracks. And it refused to interfere in the long split between Svealand and Finland, ensuring it could muscle in on the trade of the Eastern Baltic. While all this made perfect sense to the Danish kings and their advisers it founded various problems that would come to a disastrous head in the 16th century.
Once a part of Harald Fairhair's united Norway, Viken split from its neighbours; Hordaland and Lade, decisively after Harold's death. Viken's crown, however, came with the title of 'High King of Norway' which made it a powerful draw for ambitious men. While both Hordaland and Viken indulged in ever increasingly violent succession struggles, Viken would soon fall under Danish influence. It was ruled by the Danish kings from 970 with gaps, until 1035.
Thereafter Magnus I briefly took his turn in ruling Denmark from Oslo but then Denmark reasserted itself. The Estridsson family would in time divide their realms between warring brothers and Viken became much more active in interfering in Svealand's struggles. However, it would soon be inherited by the House of Rugia.
The island of Rugia was Christianised by successive waves of Danish missionaries as part of Denmark's general policy of increasing control over Pomerania. It was seen as separate from the Pomeranian mainland however, and the freshly baptised principality eagerly married into the Scandinavian world. It received some settlement from Gothenland but otherwise the Ranish paid fealty to Denmark and were generally left to their own devices, avoiding the general movement of German settlers into the old pagan Slavic lands.
Faced with a yet another succession crisis in 1185, the lords of Viken chose Hildegard of Rugia as queen, picked mainly as they wished to have more freedom from over-mighty kings. This inaugurated a succession of rulers from the House of Rugia, whom generally left the Viken lords to do what they liked and lavished attention on their island principality, expanding it into the Pomeranian mainland. A cadet branch also ruled Svealand for a time. A growing trade between the Baltic and Britannia enriched Viken and fed into a rivalry with Denmark. Tensions came to a head with Denmark as Danish-Imperial relations threatened Pomerania and Rugia with it. Emperor William I besieged the island in 1275 but was driven away by the Gothenlandic navy. A year later Viken-Rugia invaded Denmark, protesting Denmark's failure in Pomerania and the Sound tolls that were harming Viken's trade, but they were soon reconciled.
The succession of the young Olaf III to the throne of Viken-Rugia would completely change Scandinavia. After securing his rule at home he launched a war against Svealand, claiming, as heir to Magnus III, that Carl I was usurping Olaf's rightful throne. By 1342 Olaf was installed as King of Svealand after Carl I's death and the defeat of all other claimants to the throne. From there Olaf would campaign against Novgorod, extending Svealand into Norrland, and extending Finland North and eastward. Ten years later he seized upon the continued in-fighting that followed Emperor Gunther's death to invade Germany and begin his candidacy for the Imperial throne, using Viken's considerable wealth and Svealand's latent military ability to further his aims. After two years of blistering campaigns he had secured a majority of the electors and began to direct Germany's power to the south to reclaim Italia and westward to shatter France. This coincided with a lull in Danish fortunes and effectively over-shadowed by their northern neighbor the Danish kings quietly shored up their own authority within their realms, reforming the nascent Riksdag, minting coinage and reinforcing feudal ties.
Though Olaf's son declined the Imperial throne, fearing that the campaign against France that Olaf had begun was close to over-reaching, Olaf's heirs would still shape Europe for centuries to come. His granddaughter Elizabeth of Viken married the heir of Denmark joining the lands of the House of Rugia with those of the House of Estridsson.
Signed in 1431, the Treaty of Kalmar dealt with the problem of Elizabeth and Eric VII's son Eric VIII's inheritance. It effectively created a 'Greater Denmark' whereby Copenhagen ruled not only the Danish, Ladish, Pomeranian and Estonian lands as it had previously done, but also the Viken, Rugian, Svealandic and Finnish lands. The full realm would be inherited by Eric on Elizabeth's death and was supported by both Hordaland and Gothenland, who essentially had little choice but to go along with it. In return for their support Denmark signed a defensive alliance with both promising its help against any enemy powers. The Kalmar Union was born and Denmark would prove to be its driving member.
Svealand, however, soon grew tired of rule from Copenhagen and would repeatedly rebel, as would Lade. As Denmark effectively bankrupted itself conducting the War of Anglian Succession (1493-1523) it could no longer suppress the rebellions, allowing first Lade in 1523 then eventually Svealand in 1554 to split away. The Svealandic split was delayed somewhat by infighting between the Svealandic nobility and military help on the Danish side from the newly freed Ladish lords.
With its 'Greater Denmark' dream essentially shattered Denmark turned instead to a new role: Protector of the Lutheran faith. Long at odds with the Empire over Pomerania and general church abuses it embraced Lutheranism by 1525 and was exporting it northward with gusto. Christopher II converted on his deathbed whilst his son Eric X allied Denmark and the Kalmar Union to the Lutheran German princes who formed the Schmalkaldic League. When the Catholic Emperor finally rallied his supporters to crack down on the League in 1544 Denmark came to its aid and distinguished itself on the battlefield whilst the Kalmar Union as a whole proved a firm ally to the beleaguered German princes, helping them cede away from the Catholic Empire.
The Second Schmalkaldic War was an equal success and had the fortunate effect of reconciling Denmark to freshly independent Svealand's new rulers. It also saw the creation of the Schmalkaldic Empire; a rival Protestant Empire to the Catholic one to the South. And at its head Cnut VII was elected Emperor, pulling Denmark and many of its Kalmar allies into the Empire with him.
Schmalkaldic Denmark and the Fifty Years War
With a new raft of territories to legislate for and negotiate with, the new Imperial court of Denmark largely left its crown territory to its own devices, fostering a light government that helped reduce rebellions and fostered a sense of membership to the Danish state. Estonia was allowed to form its own local government and its local branch of Estridsson Dukes became fully Estonian-ised. Though the sovereign princes that formed the German portion of the Schmalkaldic Empire urged a greater missionary effort to convert Catholic Europe, in the main Denmark respected the lines of confessional control, interfering only in the Baltic states of Prussia and Livonia. However, when Prague revolted, and directly appealed to the SE for help, Emperor Eric II (Eric XII) felt honour-bound to assist and so committed the Empire and the Kalmar Union to see the utterly devastating Fifty Years War to its conclusion.
A good start with the swift capture of Bohemia was slowly eroded away as Luxembourg and other anti-Kalmar powers slowly joined the war multiplying the fronts and destroying huge areas of central Germany and northern Italia in the process.
Protected by lines of fortresses built up over the centuries, Danish territory remained largely unsullied by enemy forces. However, it lacked good generals and it quickly lost the ability to properly defend its Schmalkaldic partners. As military disasters piled up during the late 1630s its breakaway Empire fell apart, ceasing to exist by 1639. However, it did secure the inheritance of Oldenburg as the orphaned Catherine of Oldenburg (also technically the rightful Queen of Bohemia) married Prince Christopher. This laid the foundations of Denmark's German territory.
The final years of the war saw the devastation of Pomerania as a Bavarian army, frustrated at not breaking Lubeck, spent five months pillaging without being challenged. The counter-attack, however, when it came, swept a huge Kalmar force through Pomerania, Sorbia, Bohemia and finally in November 1667, the conquest of Vienna. The Kalmar commanders were under no doubt that would not be able to hold the gains they had made but it forced Austria to the table and demands were not as harsh as could be expected.
The peace discussions to end the war were held in Munster. However, the treaty was signed in Copenhagen and it saw the old Schmalkaldic League rejoin the Empire. However, Denmark was awarded Bremen and Hamburg as compensation (not only for the loss of the Empire but as encouragement to renounce the Bohemian throne). A last minute offer for Denmark to join the Empire as a new electorate was rejected by a downright hostile Emperor. In response Denmark removed itself and all of its German territory from the Empire.
3rd Kalmar Union
Denmark struggled with the loss of the Empire and the re-focus of the court to the crown territories caused great upheaval as grip was re-tightened on previously loose government. There were various rebellions, Pomerania felt particularly aggrieved and on top of the general destruction the long war had caused had left it poor and depopulated. A suspiciously well provisioned Catholic peasant army marauded Northern Germany and the Low Countries for several years before finally being destroyed by Luxembourg and Kalmar in 1687 at the Battle of Unna. Eventually in Denmark accused Wessex of funding revolt and declared war. The Kalmar-Wessex War (1689-1701) showed the systemic frailty of the Kalmar Union; Anglia had to be bullied into the war and the two Norwegian states barely lifted a finger. Vinland and Álengiamark meanwhile were much more interested in minor squabbles in Leifia and ignored Danish calls for assistance. Though Denmark would eventually prove victorious, it was not an overwhelming victory and it led many observers to call the 3rd Kalmar Union the 'Rump Union'.
Failure during the war against Wessex started a clamour for a more absolutist approach to government. Harald V was neither energetic or ruthless enough to really grasp power as some of his nobles and advisors wished. However, his son Christopher V was. Dashing and handsome, he dissolved the Riksdag the day after his coronation and by 1725 Denmark was firmly in his grip. Stripping out old laws and tax exemptions, alongside virtually returning the peasantry to serfdom, Christopher mobilised the Danish state in a way none of his predecessors had dreamt of. However, he also made various powerful enemies and by 1728 several were in open revolt. The Danish Civil War saw Christopher and his loyal nobles in Scania fighting his cousin Duke Christopher of Holstein who had support from Jutland. Dying suddenly in 1730 Christopher was succeeded by his brother Eric XIII who attempted to keep the momentum going. He was far less successful and the destruction of his fleet at Lyø in 1731 ensured his defeat. The civil war ended with Duke Christopher being crowned by the Bishop of Lund. He restored the Riksdag but did not relinquish all of the power or overturn all of the reforms that his cousin had made.
As Svealand found itself on the rise during the Great Baltic War Denmark had trouble rousing its fellow Kalmar states into action. While Anglia was broadly sympathetic, others resented Denmark's power and broadly welcomed a potential balance from Svealand. Before Denmark could declare war, however, Svealand attacked first and destroyed the joint Kalmar navy at harbour in 1768 and invaded Estonia. However, Svealand soon overstretched its resources invading Poland, and by Autumn 1771 Danish armies were in control of Stockholm and diplomats were busy massaging the deposed Queen Louise's return to the throne.
4th Kalmar Union
The war did not end there, however. Novgorod continued its campaigns in Estonia and Finland and to protect the unsteady new regime in Stockholm Denmark continued the war under the Kalmar banner, forcing Novgorod into peace negotiations and safeguarding Svealand's territory. The day after the Treaty of Lubeck Svealand officially rejoined the Kalmar Union and soon a new Union was proclaimed, one that did not revolve solely around Danish interests. In fact it was more benevolent toward its partners and willing to give way for the greater good such as in the Treaty of Rae which gave independence to Estonia.
The 1800s saw it move decisively into Africa and India, and its trading fort holdings multiplied. As discovery and trading opportunities continued eastward into the Roasjoinn, it followed, occupying a section of the Australian continent and several chains of Polynesian islands.
Becoming slightly conservative in the early 1800s Denmark was at the forefront of opposing the rise of Hispania as a united state. Alongside its Kalmar and Imperial partners it provided a constant thorn in del Olmo's side gaining much respect for its eventual trapping and destruction of his Grand Army in the marshes of Prussia. However, this soon dissipated and it had to fight hard against the Empire to retain a hold on ever rebellious Pomerania. The First Imperial-Kalmar War (1842-1850) had its roots in Pomerania's refusal to give up various Imperial rights. Austria-Bohemia led a coalition to wrest Pomerania from Denmark's grasp but swift help from Kalmar allowed it to defeat then push Austria right back to Prague. The Second Imperial-Kalmar War (1895-1896) stemmed from Kalmar's guarantee of Brandenburg. Though facing the combined weight of Austria and Luxembourg, Kalmar's forces, well-trained and operating on shorter supply lines, soon proved their match.
Other than fighting small Leifian conflicts, and slowly reforming its government Denmark and Europe largely settled into a century of peace. The industrial revolution that had begun in its German lands spread Danish technology and thinking across Europe and the world. Danish itself became the second language of choice for both the Kalmar Union and Leifia.
In 2003 it invaded Portugal at the behest of its pro-monarchist government, barely holding back well supplied Republican forces. After small successes the situation has deteriorated and now the Kalmar Union and the official Portuguese government only control a strip of coastline from Lisbon to the Leonese border.
As well as defining its own role within the Kalmar Union it now has to deal with an increasingly volatile Pomerania, the ongoing stalemate in Portugal, and the expensive and suffocating arms race with Luxembourg and Mexica. Pessimists are quick to point out it can only lead toward one thing: another general war. At home the politicians are slowly rolling out a dedicated program of changes to Denmark's social care, aiming to rapidly improve education and healthcare and ease its population into the 21st century.
Denmark is governed by a bicameral Riksdag in Copenhagen. Elections are held every four years. The head of state is King Christopher X and the Prime Minister is Anders Søvndal.
Both Rugia and Pomerania are regions of the Holy Roman Empire meaning Denmark has seats in the Imperial Diet in Frankfurt. Both regions also have legal recourse to the Diet although only Pomerania uses it. All the German regions of Denmark were removed from the Empire following the Fifty Years War.
The Danish Kingdom was once divided into 5 separate entities; Denmark, Viken, Pomerania, Rugia and Lower Saxony, but these individual crowns were abolished after Estonia was granted independence and a new Act of Union was signed in 1846 (see Treaty of Rae). The old designations are still used but have no legal meaning (apart from in Pomerania). Also there are two Danish regions in the Antipodes, and one in the Taino Sea, that are administered separately.
Each county elects its own regional diet though they have very limited powers.
|Danish Taino Islands||Kristiansted||126,375|
Pomerania is run as a special region with its own Diet and governmental organisations. The county system is suspended there and it divides itself into 23 districts rather than the three official counties. The 'Pomeranian Question' is a defining issue of Danish politics and consumes much of the Riksdag's time and effort.
Pomerania sees itself as a conquered province rather than the other Danish lands which see themselves as inherited and therefore have more allegiance to the crown. Any Pomersk politicians that are seen as overtly pro-Danish have police protection as various Pomersk separatist groups have targeted them. Denmark has tried to give Pomerania limited autonomy in the past and has allowed it to remain within the sphere of the Holy Roman Empire. This is because it is an electorate (under the terms of the 1668 Treaty of Copenhagen) and gives Denmark certain leverage over the Empire and Emperor. However, this has often backfired; indeed it was one of the causes of the First Imperial-Kalmar War, as Pomersk groups can petition Frankfurt over any rulings from Copenhagen they dislike, and many leading Imperial members are calling for Pomerania's status to be normalised, either removing it from the Empire (which would enrage Pomersk groups) or granting it independence from Denmark and the Kalmar Union. Both options are unacceptable to Denmark.
Language is a very hot subject within the kingdom. The policy of Danish first, others second, means Danish is taught from an early point in school whereas the other official languages (even if they are the ones spoken locally) are only brought into the classroom after several years.
Danish is a Nordic language and is mutually intelligible to Götamål, Sveamål and Norwegian (and Icelandic, Faroese and Vinlandic to a lesser extent). It remains the chief language of the Kalmar Union.
German is the main language of the southern portion of Denmark. However, due to the 'Danish First' policy German is slowly being pushed out of business and government. Hamburg is expected to be a majority Danish speaking city by 2045.
Both Pomersk and Ranish are West Slavic languages related to Sorbian and Polish. After the massive devastation and depopulation of Pomerania during the Fifty Years War both languages declined in use. However, they have had a resurgence during the last century as both groups re-engage with their old cultures.