Denmark; key historical events

Page last modified 16/7/2020


Home Page


See also Finland

See also Norway (Vikings)

See also Sweden


For main European events of World War Two see France-Germany


Growth of Copenhagen 1850 – 1992, click for 7  maps here.

14/2/2015, In scenes reminiscent of the Paris Charlie Hebdo shootings (7/1/2015) an Islamist terrorist, Omar el Hussein, 22, shot dead Finn Norgaard, a 55 year old film director, at a Free Speech meeting at a cafe in central Copenhagen, at 3.30pm Saturday.  The Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who portrayed the prophet Mohammed as a ‘mad dog’ in 2007, was belived to have been the main target; Hussein’s entry into the cafe was thwarted by a metal detector, prompting him to spray some 200 bullets from the entrance. Hussein then went to the Krystalgade synagogue and opened fire, killing the doorman Dan Uzan, 37, and wounding two police officers, at a Bat-Mitzvah, at 1am Sunday. Danish police identified the gunman and traced his address to an apartment in the Norrebro district; by then he was on his way to the synagogue. At 5am the next morning, 15 February, armed police shot Hussein at his apartment. Hussein had just been released from prison in Denmark two weeks earlier after serving a term for aggravated assault.

2000, Denmark in a referendum, rejected joining the Euro.

18/5/1993. The Danes voted yes to the Maastricht Treaty.

2/6/1992, Denmark, in a referendum, rejected the Maastricht Treaty.

1/5/1979, Denmark granted Greenland home rule.

2/10/1972. Denmark voted in a referendum to join the Common Market.

14/1/1972, In Denmark, Margrethe II (31) became Queen, succeeding her father King Frederick IX, who died aged 72.

1/5/1968. Legoland Family Park, the Danish toy maker’s answer to Disneyland, opened at Billund in Denmark.

25/4/1964, The head of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen Harbour was hacked off and stolen. The statue was in honour of the children’s’ author, Hans Christian Anderson.

1960, Denmark joined the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

5/6/1953, The Danish Parliament, or Riksdagen, was reformed. The upper chamber, or Landstinget, was abolished. The lower chamber, or Folketinget, now became the entire Parliament.

30/3/1953, Denmark adopted a new Constitution. The Upper House was abolished, and the voting age reduced to 23.

28/10/1950, General elction in Denmark. After the resignation of Hans Hedtoft, leader of the Liberal Agrarian Party, Erik Eriksen formed a coalition with the Conservatives.

20/4/1947, Christian X, King of Denmark, died aged 76. He was succeeded by his son Frederick IX, aged 48.

29/8/1943, The Nazis occupying Denmark dismissed the Danish Government, following extensive strike action and acts of sabotage against the Germans. In response the Danes formed the Frihedsrad (Free Council) in order to coordinate and escalate resistance activity. It commanded a Danish Resistance Army of some 43,000 men; several of its members held government positions in the post-war Danish Government from 1945.

16/4/1940, Margrethe, Queen of Denmark, was born.

24/4/1929, Denmark elected a socialist government.

11/4/1924, In Danish elections, Social Democrats formed a Government after winning 55 seats to the Liberals 44, Radicals with 20, and Conservatives with 28.

10/7/1920, After a referendum amongst the inhabitants, northern Schleswig was returned to Denmark from Germany.

10/2/1920, A plebiscite in northern Schleswig favoured integration with Denmark.

14/12/1916, A referendum in Denmark agreed by 64.3% for to 35.7% against to agree to the sale of the Danish West Indies to the US, for the sum of US$ 25 million. These islands became the US Virgin Islands; they were of strategic importance to the US now that the Panama Canal had opened. The islands were formally handed over on 1/4/1917, just before the US declared war on Germany.

14/6/1912, King Frederick VIII of Denmark died after a 6-year reign, aged 69. He was succeeded by his son, 41-year old Christian X, who reigned until 1947.

4/5/1907, Denmark made the use of the metric system of weights and measures compulsory, for official use by 1910 and for the general public by 1912.

29/1/1906, Christian IX of Denmark died, aged 87. He was succeeded by his son, Frederick VIII, aged 62, who ruled until 1912.

28/3/1904, The British King and Queen visited Copenhagen.

9/4/1891, Denmark established a system of old age pensions, for those aged over 60.

7/4/1891, Ole Kirk Christiansen, Danish toymaker who invented Lego, was born.

1888, The new harbour at Esjberg was completed (work began 1886). From just 13 inhabitants in 1868, the town grew to a population of 13,355 in 1901. The harbour has become the principal port of export for Danish agricultural produce.

26/9/1870, King Christian X of Denmark was born.

1866, The Danish Heathland Society was formed; its object was the reclamation for agriculture of Jutland’s heath and marsh lands. Drainage ditches were dug, the barren sandy heaths improved with clay, and new towns such as Herning constructed. Rows of trees were planted to provide shelter from North Sea storms.

30/10/1864. By the Peace of Vienna, Denmark gave up Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenberg.  These provinces came under Austrian and Prussian rule.

1/2/1864, Austrian and Prussian troops under the command of Friedrich von Wangle invaded Schleswig, Denmark. Although the British monarch, Queen Victoria, was pro-German, the British Prince Edward, the future King Edward VII – who had only months earlier married Alexandra of Denmark – was shocked; they supported Denmark. The Second Schleswig War began. This event ensured that under King Edward VII’s reign, British foreign policy was pro-Danish, anti-German, and Britain formed a triple entente with France and Russia against Germany.

16/1/1864, Denmark rejected an ultimatum, from Germany over the Danish province of Schleswig.

24/12/1863. Following the Danish annexation of the province of Schleswig on 30/3/1863, Saxon and Hanoverian forces moved into Holstein.

15/11/1863, Frederick VII, King of Denmark, died.

20/7/1863, Denmark, with no hope of intervention from England, sued for peace over the German attack on Schleswig.

21/3/1855, Trade between the Faroe Islands and the rest of the world was opened to all. Until this date this trade had been a monopoly, first of a  merchant house in Copenhagen, then of the Danish Government.

25/7/1850, Battle of Idstedt; Denmark defeated Germany.

26/8/1848. Denmark and Prussia signed a truce at Malmo. Both agreed to evacuate the disputed territory of Schleswig-Holstein.

20/1/1848, Christian VIII of Denmark died aged 50, after a reign of less than 9 years. He was succeeded by his 39-year-old son, Frederick VI, who ruled until 1863, and fought a war with Germany over Schleswig-Holstein.

1847, The Carlsberg brewery business began in Denmark when J C Jacobsen built a new brewery, and named it after his young son, Carl.

1/12/1844, Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII, was born, the eldest daughter of King Christian of Denmark.

15/8/1843, In Copenhagen, the Tivoli Gardens opened. They were laid out on part of the old defensive works.

3/6/1843, Frederick VIII, King of Denmark, was born.

26/6/1842, Peter Brondsted, Danish archaeologist, died (born 17/11/1780).

3/12/1839, Frederick VI of Denmark died, aged 71. He was succeeded by his nephew, Christian VIII, aged 53.

1825, The North Sea broke through to the Lijmfjord in northern Denmark, making Thisted and Hjorking into an island.

17/5/1814, The independence of Norway (from Denmark) was proclaimed.

14/1/1814, Britain made peace with Denmark, restoring all territories except Heligoland.  The King of Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden.

21/6/1797, Andreas Bernstorff, Danish statesman, died (born in Hanover 28/8/1735).

17/11/1780, Peter Brondsted, Danish archaeologist, was born (died 26/6/1842).

18/2/1772, Johann Bernstorff, Danish statesman, died (born 13/5/1712).

14/1/1766, Christian VII (1749-1808) became King of Denmark.

7/6/1761, King Christian V of Denmark was anointed.

6/4/1746, Christian VI of Denmark died aged 47. He was succeeded by his son, 23, Frederick V.

28/8/1735, Andreas Bernstorff, Danish statesman, was born in Hanover (died 21/6/1797).

12/10/1730, Frederick IV of Denmark died, the day after his 59th birthday, at Odense. He had reigned for 31 years, and lost some territory in Germany He was succeeded by his 31-year old son, Christian VI, who ruled until 1746.

20/10/1728, A major fire that destroyed a quarter of Copenhagen started. It burned until 23/10/1728.

13/5/1712, Johann Bernstorff, Danish statesman, was born (died 18/2/1772);

28/2/1710, Sweden defeated a force of 14,000 Danes at the Battle of Helsingborg.

14/7/1677, At the Battle of Landskrona, Sweden defeated Denmark.

31/5/1677, Danish ships defeated a Swedish naval force.

1675, Denmark declared war on Sweden.

12/3/1699, Peder Griffenfeldt, Danish statesman, died (born 24/3/1635).

13/10/1673, Kristoffer Gabel, Danish statesman, died (born 6/1/1617).

9/2/1670, Frederick III, King of Denmark, died (acceded 1648).

1660, King Frederick III of Denmark promulgated a new Constitution, removing the priveliges of the nobility and creating an Absolute Monarchy.


Resumption of hostilities by Sweden

27/5/1660, The Treaty of Copenhagen. Denmark recovered some of its losses from the Peace of Roskilde (26/2/1658). Denmark recovered Trondheim and the island of Bornholm.

29/10/1658, King Charles X of Sweden was forced to abandon his siege of Copenhagen (see 17/7/1658) when the Dutch fleet came to Denmark’s aid defeated the Swedish navy.

17/7/1658, Despite the Peace of Roskilde (26/2/1658), and without a declaration of war, Charles X of Sweden suddenly began an invasion of Denmark, to try and eliminate an inconvenient neighbour once and for all. The Swedish army landed at Korsor, Zeeland, and Copenhagen was poorly defended. However the Danes rallied vigorously against the Swedish threat and by 1/9/1658 the defenders of Copenhagen numbered 7,000, up from 2,000 earlier. See 29/10/1658.

Resumption of hostilities by Sweden


Denmark-Sweden War

26/2/1658, The Peace of Roskilde, The Danes ceded the three provinces of Scania, the southern tip of Scandinavia, also the island of Bornholm, and Baahus and Trondheim in Norway, to Sweden. Denmark also promised not to make any anti-Swedish alliances and to exempt all Swedish vessels from tolls when passing through Danish waters out of the Baltic.See 27/5/1660.

1/1658, Swedish forces succeeded in crossing the frozen Belt, a move which Denmark had not anticipated (see 23/4/1657). Danish forces were overwhelmed, and King Frederick III at once sued for peace.

23/4/1657, The Danish Rigsraad approved a Danish attack on Sweden, believing the Swedes to be occupied with an invasion of Poland they had begun in 7/1654. However see 1/1658.

Denmark-Sweden War


6/7/1648, King Frederick III of Denmark was officially crowned, only after he had agreed to a diminution of Royal powers.

28/2/1648, Christian IV, King of Denmark, died. Born 1577, he ruled from 1588.

8/2/1645, By the Peace of Bromsebro, Sweden acquired Osel and Gotland from Denmark. Denmark also lost Jemteland and Herjedal in Norway.

1/10/1643, Frederick III, King of Denmark, married Sophia Amelia of Brunswick.

24/3/1635, Peder Griffenfeldt, Danish statesman, was born (died 12/3/1699).

24/8/1626, Battle of Lutter, Germany. The Danes were routed by the Hapsburgs.

6/1/1617, Kristoffer Gabel, Danish statesman, was born (died 13/10/1673).

18/3/1609, Frederick III, King of Denmark, born.

4/4/1588, Frederick II, King of Denmark, died, aged 53. He was succeeded by his 10-year old son, Christian IV(1577-1648).

20/7/1572, Frederick II, King of Denmark and Norway, married his cousin Sophuia of Mecklenburg.


Nordic Seven Years War, Denmark vs Sweden

13/12/1570, The Peace of Stettin ended the war between Sweden and Denmark, recognising Swedish independence. The Nordic War had been unpopular in Denmark, with the closure of The Sound (to blockade Sweden) proving exasperating for the maritime powers.

5/12/1570, Johan Friis, Danish statesman, died (born 1494).

30/5/1563, The Nordic Seven Years War began between Denmark and Sweden.

Nordic Seven Years War, Denmark vs Sweden

1/1/1559, Christian III, King of Denmark and Norway, died aged 55 after a reign of nearly 24 years. He was succeeded by his 24-year-old son as Frederick II, who reigned for 29 years.

2/9/1537, Protestant ‘superintendents’ were appointed in Denmark to replace the former Catholic Bishops (see 27/9/1536).

29/7/1536, End of the Count’s War in Denmark (began 1534). Count  Christopher of Oldenburg, great nephew of King Christian I, Catholic, contested with Frederick’s son, Christian III. The poorer people supported the Catholics. Forces loyal to Protestant Christian III, backed by the Holstein Dukes and Gustavus Vasa of Sweden, captured Copenhagen this day, This ensured the primacy of Lutheranism over Roman Catholicism in Denmark. The property of the Catholic Bishops was now confiscated by the Danish State.

1/7/1534, Frederick II, King of Denmark, was born.

1533, King Frederick I of Denmark died aged 62 (acceded 1523). He was succeeded as King of Denmark and Norway by his 30-tear-old son, who ruled as King Christian III until 1559.

1523, End of the reign of King Christian II (acceded 1513).

6/6/1523, Gustavus Vasa, aged 27, was elected King of Sweden, and finally established full independence from Denmark. End of the Kalmar Union. This was confirmed by the Treaty of Malmo, 1524.

1513, King John I of Denmark (who was also King John II of Sweden, 1497-1501), died after a 32-year reign. He founded the Danish Navy. He was succeeded by his 32-year-old son as King Christian II of Denmark and Norway, but Sweden refused to accept his rule.

21/5/1481, Christian I, King of Denmark and Norway, died (born 1426) and was succeeded by his son John (1481-1513).

1448, King Chirstopher III died without an heir. Christian I, a distant cousin of Christopher III, was elected King by the Rigsraad, and became the first Danish monarch of the Royal House of Oldenburg.

1439, King Eric VII was deposed, in favour of his nephew, Christopher of Bavaria.

28/10/1412, Margaret, Queen of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, died (acceded 1375).

20/6/1397. The Union of Kalmar united Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under one monarch. See 1380. However the Swedes and Norwegians disliked this Union, although the Swedish aristocracy and clergy were in favour of it. Denmark was seen to be dominant, although Sweden was the wealthier country. The Norwegians lacked the strength to resist, but the Swedes continued to agitate for independence from Denmark. See 6/6/1523.

1380, Hakon, King of Norway, died. His surviving wife was Queen Margaret (born 1353, married 1363, and daughter of Valdemar IV, King of Denmark). Her son Olaf died in 1387, which meant she became ruler of Denmark also. She defeated Albert, King of Sweden, thereby gaining that country too. Margaret then instituted the Union of Kalmar, 1397, to permanently unite these three countries. Margaret died in 1412.

24/10/1375, End of the reign of King Valdemar IV (acceded 26/6/1340).

26/6/1340, Accession of King Valdemar IV of Denmark.

1331, End of the reign of King Christopher II (acceded 1319).

1169, Absalom (Axel) (1128-1201) founded the fortress of Havn, now known as Copenhagen. He fought the Wends in 1169, capturing Rugen for Denmark. In 1184 he also captured Mecklenburg and Pomerania.

1047, Magnus I died after 12 years rule as King of Norway and five years as King of Denmark. He was succeeded I Norway by Harald Haadraade, 32, who ruled until 1066 as Harald II. In Denmark he was succeeded by Sweyn Estrithson, grandson of Sweyn Forkbeard, who ruled until 1075 as Sweyn II.

10161035, Under King Canute the Great, all of Scandinavia and England were united.

951, Earliest record of the Bishopric of Aarhus (Denmark).

850, Gorm the Elder united Jutland and the Danish Islands, and became King of Denmark.

Ca. 800, First settlement of the Faeroe Islands, by Grim Kamban. He left Norway to escape the tyranny of Harold Haarfager. There may have been already a small colony of Scottish and Irish monks at Sudero, which he dispersed.

768,The major Viking settlement of Hedeby was founded in Denmark.

517, The first documented Viking raid on Gaul. The Viking King Hygelac was killed and his fleet defeated.

500, Danes from Scania (southern Sweden) settled in Jutland (Denmark).

8,000 BCE, Start of hunter-gatherer peoples in Scandinavia, as the climate warmed.


Back to top