Posts tagged ‘Denmark’

Iceland – Independence movement 1814–1918

Einar Jónsson's statue of Jón Sigurðsson in Re...

Einar Jónsson’s statue of Jón Sigurðsson in Reykjavík. Another casting exists in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1814, following the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark-Norway was broken up into two separate kingdoms via the Treaty of Kiel. Iceland, however, remained a Danish dependency. Throughout the 19th century, the country’s climate continued to worsen, resulting in mass emigration to the New World, particularly Manitoba in Canada. About 15,000 people out of a total population of 70,000 left.

However, a new national consciousness had arisen, inspired by romantic and nationalist ideas from mainland Europe. An Icelandic independence movement took shape in the 1850s under the leadership of Jón Sigurðsson, riding on the burgeoning Icelandic nationalism inspired by the Fjölnismenn and other Danish-educated Icelandic intellectuals. In 1874, Denmark granted Iceland a constitution and limited home rule, which was expanded in 1904.

Reformation and the Early Modern period

Michaelikirche Hamburg

Michaelikirche Hamburg (Photo credit: Matthew Black)

Around the middle of the 16th century, King Christian III of Denmark began to impose Lutheranism on all his subjects. Jón Arason, the last Catholic bishop of Hólar, was beheaded in 1550 along with two of his sons. The country subsequently became fully Lutheran. Lutheranism has since remained the dominant religion. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Denmark imposed harsh trade restrictions on Iceland, while pirates from several countries raided its coasts.[17][18] A great smallpox epidemic in the 18th century killed around a third of the population. In 1783 the Laki volcano erupted, with devastating effects. The years following the eruption, known as the Mist Hardships (Icelandic: Móðuharðindin), saw the death of over half of all livestock in the country, with ensuing famine in which around a quarter of the population died.

The Middle Ages

Iceland

Iceland (Photo credit: Raold Smeets)

The internal struggles and civil strife of the Sturlung Era led to the signing of the Old Covenant in 1262, which ended the Commonwealth and brought Iceland under the Norwegian crown. Possession of Iceland passed to Denmark-Norway around 1380, when the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark and Sweden were united in the Kalmar Union. In the ensuing centuries, Iceland became one of the poorest countries in Europe. Infertile soil, volcanic eruptions, and an unforgiving climate made for harsh life in a society where subsistence depended almost entirely on agriculture. The Black Death swept Iceland twice, first in 1402–04 and again in 1494–95,[15]. The former outbreak killed 50% to 60% of the population, and the latter 30% to 50%.