Development of a Nation
How Denmark became Denmark,
and how the Danes became Danish.

Danes as a people, and the country of Denmark as a nation-state,
evolved and materialized into current form, in terms of ancestral
bloodlines, the Danish language, borders, culture, and even how they
received their name.

Ancestral Background
Development of Language
Formation of Borders
Etymology (How Name Received)

Distribution of Germanic peoples by 750 BC
in 2008

Ancestral Background:

  1. Germanic people from Scandinavia migrated to
    the European mainland between 850 and 650 BC. Another migration from
    Scandinavia would occur during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD (a
    break-off from the Swedes). This blend of original Germanic
    immigrants and Swede break-aways would form the basis of the Danish

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Development of

  1. Proto-Germanic (direct branch from
  2. Proto-Norse, a branch from Proto-Germanic,
    spoken in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark) in the 3rd
    – 7th centuries.
  3. Evolved into Old Norse, spoken in Scandinavia
    through 13th century.
  4. Old East Norse develops largely in Sweden and
    Denmark, while Old West Norse develops largely in Norway and
    Iceland. Danes and Swedes share common/similar language at this
  5. Even as Old Norse branches off from
    Proto-Norse, the Danish and Swedish languages begin diverging from
    one another in the 13th century, developing into the
    modern, distinct languages they are today. All Scandinavian
    languages (Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish) are mutually

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Formation of

  1. North Germanics settle Jutland (the peninsula
    comprising the majority of Denmark’s land mass) and the extensive
    network of islands to the east, between Jutland and Sweden. They
    develop a cohesive culture & language distinct from Swedes to the
    north, and Germanic peoples to the south. Plus, the peninsula serves
    as a natural geographically border. However, as far as organization,
    they are still a collection of separate tribes. Jutes and Angles
    from Jutland would leave to conquer Britain after the withdrawal of
    the Romans in the 5th century.
  2. The Viking Age begins around 600, resulting in
    a loose affiliation of Scandinavian peoples (Norwegians, Swedish,
    Danish), facilitated by common language, culture and lineage. These
    groups are still tribal, but the connection exists between those in
    modern Denmark (Jutland and islands in Danish Straits) and
    Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden).
  3. Danes successfully defend Jutland from
    Charlemagne Frankish armies, establishing a border at the Eider
    River in 811, dividing the regions later known as Schleswig (north)and
    Holstein (south). This river remained the border between the Danes
    and Germans for centuries.

    Europe 840 AD
  4. In 1027, Denmark and Saxony (Germanic duchy in
    the Holy Roman Empire) agree to re-establish Eider River as border.
  5. By 1219, Denmark conquered the northern portion of
    Estonia. In 1346, it sells these rebellious Estonian provinces (Harria,
    Vironia) to the Livonian Order.

  6. Northern Europe crusades
    The Duchy of Schleswig finds itself at odds
    with the Danish throne in the 13th century, operating
    somewhat independently, but still a fief to Denmark. As a result, it
    begins forging closer ties with the Germans in Holstein across the
    Eider River.
  7. Harold I of Denmark (Jutland) converts to
    Christianity, consolidating rule of Jutland for first time. It
    includes the northernmost portion of modern Germany. The Kingdom of
    Denmark is the first predecessor state to modern Denmark. Denmark
    also begins to conquer the islands that are part of modern Denmark.
    Most of these islands were added to the Kingdom of Denmark by the
    late 13th century, finalizing the Danish Straits portion
    (the islands) of modern Denmark.
  8. Queen Margaret of Denmark marries the King of
    Norway, joining the two kingdoms under personal union in 1380. The
    kingdoms were autonomous, but combined their respective foreign
    policies. Sweden was mired by civil war, and the nobles sided with
    Queen Margaret (King of Norway husband had since died), in joining
    Sweden to the personal union as well, forming a pan-Nordic kingdom.
    This was finalized as the Kalmar Union in 1397. Each kingdom was
    autonomous, but foreign policy was dictated by the monarch. Norway
    included Iceland and Greenland, and Sweden included western Finland.
    The union was dominated by Denmark.

    Europe 1500 AD
  9. By the 15th century, a German
    infusion into southern Schleswig (people and culture) transformed it
    into a largely German region, although still under Danish rule, but
    as a semi-independent fief rather than a sovereign state. As a
    result, Schleswig and Holstein were closely connected, culturally,
    politically, economically, as both were decidedly German.
  10. The Swedes grew unhappy with the
    Danish-dominated government, and the frequent wars they were dragged
    into, compelling them into an armed revolt. Independence of Sweden
    (and their territory in Finland) was achieved in 1523. Denmark and
    Norway remain under personal union, as the Kingdom of
  11. After Denmark-Norway was defeated by France in
    the Napoloenic Wars, it was forced to cede Norway to Sweden in 1814.
    However, Denmark kept Iceland and Greenland, as they were considered
    property of the monarch of Denmark-Norway. The monarch of the
    Denmark-dominated union had always been Danish.

  12. German Empire gains
    the Napoleonic Wars, nationalism throughout Europe ran high, and
    Denmark and Germany were not immune to this. With the dissolution of
    the German “Holy Roman Empire” in 1806, Denmark had been governing
    all of Schleswig and Holstein. With the formation of the German
    Confederation, this was found to be unacceptable by the German
    nation, as Holstein was included within it. The Danish King had
    become Duke of Holstein, therefore had a place within the German
    Confederation. But historically/culturally/economically, Schleswig
    and Holstein were bound. Therefore, Denmark attempted to bring all
    of Schleswig and Holstein under a more centralized Danish
    government, rather than remaining under a medieval relationship as a
    fief. When it was apparent that this was not feasible, it instead
    advocated that Schleswig, which had long been considered Danish,
    should be brought under the centralized Danish rule, separating it
    from Holstein. This was also unacceptable to the populace of
    southern Schleswig, which was mostly German, to the German
    inhabitants of Holstein, and to the Germans throughout Germany. This
    led to a Prussian-supported uprising in Schleswig. This became the
    First War of Schleswig, ending in a stalemate between Denmark and
    Prussia, returning circumstances to the status quo. In 1863, Denmark
    finally annexed Schleswig, prompting the German Confederation’s
    invasion in 1864. Prussia and Austria-led forces easily overwhelmed
    the Danes, conquering all of Schleswig and Holstein, ending the
    Second War of Schleswig with this new territory as part of German
  13. 1920 – Allies conduct a referendum in Northern
    Schleswig after WWI, finding the majority prefer to be annexed into
    Denmark, as opposed to remaining part of Germany. This moves the
    border south, increasing Danish territory, and permanently fixing
    the Danish/German border.
  14. While Denmark had been occupied throughout
    WWII, it lost its ability to administer to Iceland, enabling it to
    break off as an independent nation (Republic of Iceland) in 1944.

  15. Greenland remains a Danish possession, but begins to protest Danish
    rule, which is claimed to be carried out with the best interests of
    Denmark in mind, compromising the best interests of Greenland.
    Greenland achieves the status as a self-governing province of
    Denmark in 1979. – The World’s Largest Maps Store!

Etymology (How Name Received):

Believed to be derived from the word “Dani”, the name assigned to
Scandinavian people by Greeks and Romans. “Mark” could be from a German
word meaning “threshing floor”, in reference to the flatness of the land
in Jutland.


Danish culture has developed along
neo-liberal lines, where freedom of opinion, amicability and equality
are valued above all else. This has fostered a reliance on government to
protect and propel Danish culture. For example, the arts receive an
unusually high ratio of government funding, enabling artists to focus on
their craft, and ensuring the production of artistic output,
irregardless of free market forces.

Denmark in 2008:

Strong, advanced
economy with high living standards. Net exporter of food & energy (oil &
natural gas), well-positioned for modern challenges of food and energy
shortages. Welfare state.
Government: Constitutional monarchy (democracy with monarch still
in place)
Religion: State religion is Danish National Church (Evangelical
Lutheran), which is partially supported by public funds. The monarchs
must be members. Clergy also perform certain government tasks, such as
caretaking for cemeteries and record keeping. 95% belong to DNC (less
than 5% active), 3% other Christian, 2% Muslim. Survey: 31% believe in
God, 49% some other form of intelligent design, 19% atheist/agnostic.
Highly secular country, although most are members of the state-sponsored
Church due to history. There is no financial incentive to belong, nor
penalty in not belonging.
Demographics: 91% Danish, remainder from other Europe, South
Asia, Middle East.
Foreign Policy: UN, NATO, not active in U.S.-led campaigns in
Iraq, Afghanistan.
Population: 5,484,723 (2008)

Formation of Nations (All European Nations)

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