Finn V. Nerland


government, war, independence, militia


In the revolutionary year of 1848, governments throughout Europe were being overthrown by popular risings demanding liberty and representationD. enmarkf aced a doublec risis. In Copenhagen,m ass meetings calledfo r an end to absolutisma nd a written constitution coveringb oth Denmark and Schleswig, the half-Danish, half-German duchy on the southern border.I n Schleswigi tself and neighboringH olstein,b oth ruled by Denmark since the middle ages, the German element demanded self-government and closert ies to Germany. By April of 1848, these irreconcilabled emands led to war, and Prussian troops crossed the border to aid the SchleswigHolsteiners. The war pitched Denmark, with some slight assistance from Sweden and Norway, against a Germany torn simultaneously by numerous internal revolutions. The Three Years War lasted until 1850, when intervention by the great powers forced German withdrawal and left Denmark free to crush the Schleswig-Holstein opposition at Isted. In 1864, a second war brokeo ut in Schleswig-Holsteina, nd this time, Prussian militaryf orce under ChancellorO tto von Bismarckt oret he duchiesa wayf rom Denmark. The Danes of northern Schleswig lived under Prussian rule for half a century. Following a plebiscite in 1920, after the end of World War I, the Danish- speaking northern part of Schleswig was restored to Denmark and became known as Senderjylland ("South Jutland"). Earlier, this region had been called Nordslesvig ("North Schleswig"). The article begins with the outbreako f war in 1848,w hen citizen-soldierso f Denmark's nationalm ilitia were being called to arms throughout the kingdom.