Schleswig and Holstein - and Holstein and Schleswig...and all that

pikeshot1600

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,967
The first awareness I had of the Schleswig-Holstein Question was the 1970 George MacDonald Fraser novel Royal Flash. I read that much later, and it was a swashbuckling, Prisoner of Zenda tale. It was fun and well told. It was even made into a movie with Malcolm McDowell and Oliver Reed. However, what do we know of the Schleswig-Holstein Question?

Schleswig-Holstein Question - Wikipedia

Lord Palmerston supposedly said "Only three people have understood the Schleswig-Holstein Question: Prince Albert who is dead; a German professor who went mad because of it, and myself, and I have forgotten what I knew." That may be apocryphal, but.....whatever.

As this issue concerning princelings, and nationalism of Germans and Danes, had an effect on German unification, what does anyone think of its importance? Was it a larger issue than is understood? Did it influence and contribute to the German Reich of 1871?

We have threads on German unification and on Otto von Bismarck, so this could be interesting.
 
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authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
Lord Palmerston supposedly said "Only three people have understood the Schleswig-Holstein Question: Prince Albert who is dead; a German professor who went mad because of it, and myself, and I have forgotten what I knew."
I'd forget that quote as the issue was not particularly complex, finding a political solution was complex.

Germany was not a single country at the time and consisted of many kingdoms, duchies, principalities etc whereas Denmark was a kingdom had a central parliament and had a structure like a modern nation state. The Duchy of Schleswig was a fief of the King of Denmark, but not part of the Kingdom of Denmark and so not part of the nation state. We have similar situation in many places today. For example The Queen of England holds the last remaining parts of the Duchy of Normandy, Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands as bailiwicks and Sark as a fief. They are not part of the UK. The 19th century was an age of nationalism and nationalists in Denmark agitated to incorporate the duchy into the kingdom. However, they also wanted to incorporate the Duchy of Holstein which had been a fief of the Holy Roman Empire since 811. It gained sovereignty in 1806 with the dissolution of the HRE and became part of the German Confederation in 811. As there were political moves to create a nation state of Germany, german nationalism was on a collision course with danish nationalism as both wanted to incorprate these 'in between territories'. Both had several reasons for making their claims, territories which belonged to the earlier royal houses, succession of inherited territories when there were no heirs, the languages spoken by the population etc. War broke out between Denmark and Prussia in 1848 as Denmark sought to incorporate the Duchies of Holstein and Schleswig into the Kingdom of Denmark. This resulted in the London Protocol which affirmed that the duchies were to remain as independent entities, and that Schleswig would have no greater constitutional affinity to Denmark than Holstein did. However, nationalists in the danish parliament managed to get their king to sign new constitutional changes. Denmark was a democracy whereas Schleswig and Holstein were absolutist, ruled by those who held the larger estates. Denmark was worried that the port of Kiel would fall into Prussian hands and the new constitution was to create a new parliament for both duchies. On of they key movers amongst the danish nationalists was Ditlev Monrad, the President of the Council of Ministers in Denmark, who appointed himself as Minister of Holstein in 1863. These steps were seen as a violition of the London Protocol and was the spark for the 2nd danish war in 1864. Ultimately it was a conflict between danish nationalism and prussian militarism.

Although at the time of reunification, the whole of the duchy of Schleswig was incorporated into Germany, it is now split with the northern part of the duchy in Denmark and the southern part in Germany. As a duchy, it was dissolved in 1866, 2 years after the war.

If you are interested, you might like the danish film 1864 which does have some of the danish politics behind the war and reading about Modryn and his nationalists would be informative.

 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,828
Afaik the trigger was that the status of duchies of Schleswig and Holstein as separate political entities, joined to the Danish kingdom, were guaranteed by treaty. The promulgation of a Danish constitution unilaterally rescinded that status in favour of directly incorporating them into Denmark proper.

The main character proposing this seems to have been the Danish PM, bishop Ditlev Gothard Monrad. The TV series "1864" is kind of over the top in some ways, but re the sheer buffoonery of Monrad it seems pretty spot on. (It doesn't actually follow subsequent events re the fall of Monrad's government in the wake of defeat in the war.)

Wags in Denmark referred to Monrad's government already before the war as "the Million", i.e. "a one followed by six zeros". Monrad seems to have pretty much welcomed a war, except when it all went wrong he personally went to pieces. Apparently he had a mental breakdown publicly, while meeting the Danish king. The story after which was that he spent the following couple of years as a "missionary in New Zealand" – except of course no one seems able to locate D.G. Mondrian anywhere NEAR New Zealand in those years...
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,214
Welsh Marches
The Danes should really have tried to negotiate a division of the territory along the language boundary at the London conference, but they seem to have been incapable of coherent action.
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
I found Ralph Bernal's (Osborne) explantion to the House of Commons in Hansard, 19 April 1864, about the events of 1852 - the London Protocol. Bernal was, at the time, MP for Middlesex and Secretary for the Admiralty.

"I would remind the House that in 1448 Christian I. of Oldenburg succeeded to the Danish throne, and was elected ruler of the Duchies of Sehleswig and Holstein in 1460. There was an old charter which he swore to maintain, and pledged himself that the two Duchies should remain for ever undivided. However people may dispute about the original title, all those who have studied this Question are agreed that the relations between Denmark and the Duchies were purely dynastic and of a personal character, much the same as the relations that formerly existed between this country and Hanover. It is necessary to remember that the local Governments of Schleswig and Holstein were conducted entirely apart from that of Denmark, and that since 1665 the succession to the Crown of Denmark was by females, but in the Duchies the succession was rigidly restricted to males. It is not necessary to go further into the ancient history of this Question, only always let the House bear in mind the nature of the succession. I will now take a skip from those almost antediluvian periods, and next will come to the year 1846. In that year Christian VIII. issued his famous letters patent. He, fearing the extinction of his dynasty, and dreading the separation of the Duchies from Denmark, issued letters patent which undertook to unite Denmark and the Duchies into one state, with a common constitution and a common succession. These unfortunate letters patent were the origin of all the subsequent conflicts of the unlucky Treaty of 1852, and of all the confusion that has since arisen. Upon these letters patent being issued, the Duchies appealed to the German Confederation, and some pressure having been applied, Christian VIII. recalled those letters patent, and not only recognized the rights to the succession of the Duchies, but—a most material point—he expressly recognized the union between Schleswig and Holstein. In the year 1846—let the House remember—he expressly recognized the union between Holstein and Schleswig. That state of thing endured for two years. In the year 1848 a democratic revolution broke out at Copenhagen, and the new King Frederick VII, who had succeeded to the throne of Denmark, was compelled to throw himself into the arms of what is called the Eider-Dane party, whose object was to let Holstein go, but to incorporate Schleswig into the Danish Kingdom. Thence arose the celebrated war of that year between Germany and Denmark. After a time Prussia, for whom I have nothing to say, but perhaps less for her conduct in 1848 than for that of 1864—Prussia interposed, and, after a conflict with Denmark, peace was established between those two Powers on the 2nd of July, 1850. But the Duchies, not being satisfied with the conduct of Prussia, and the engagements she had entered into affecting them, still held out, and at first with considerable success. But on the 25th of July, 1850, was fought the battle of Idstedt, in which the Danes routed the forces of the Duchies, and then Austria and Prussia stepped in, and they imposed a peace which was considered by the Duchies to be an ignominious peace. It is material to consider what were the terms of that peace. In the first place, Austria and Prussia took what was, in the eyes of the inhabitants of Schleswig-Holstein, the fatal step of giving up the political union of the Duchies—that political union which had been recognized for ages, and which had so recently as 1846 been explicitly guaranteed by Christian VIII. Denmark, on her side, gave up the incorporation of the Duchies, and gave solemn pledges never again to endeavour to incorporate Schleswig and Holstein with Denmark. She also guaranteed equal rights and protection to the German and Danish nationalities, and granted to the Duchies separate legislation for their internal affairs. Those terms were to be submitted for the approval of representatives of each separate community. Need I tell the House that they never were submitted to the representatives of the States of Schleswig and Holstein? Those, however, were the conditions of peace which were imposed upon the Duchies by Austria and Prussia."
 

Shaheen

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,566
Sweden
The whole Schleswig Holstein debacle had a serious negative impact on Pan-Scandinavism as well. Sweden-Norways lack of official participation in the war left Denmark alone despite talk of support for the Danes in case of a conflict. Half hearted attempts were made afterwards (Postal Union, Monetary Union etc) but no party was seriously interested in forming a political union anymore.
 
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pikeshot1600

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,967
The whole Schleswig Holstein debacle had a serious negative impact on Pan-Scandinavism as well. Sweden-Norways lack of official participation in the war left Denmark alone despite talk of support for the Danes in case of a conflict. Half hearted attempts were made afterwards (Postal Union, Monetary Union etc) but no party was seriously interested in forming a political union anymore.
The non-intervention of Sweden-Norway in the Schleswig-Holstein Question may have been an understanding that becoming involved served no vital interest of the kingdom, or of its two nations. There was no major public support for it.

Sweden had moved more toward a political position of neutrality since her involvement in the wars of the late 18th and early 19th century. The Swedish economy by the mid 19th century was becoming more sophisticated, leading to increased prosperity and the promise of more to come. Sweden's foreign policy seems to have become to let others fight over pre-modern dynastic and over fanatical nationalist issues, and Sweden would pick up some profitable pieces. That has remained Sweden's policy for about 200 years. It has worked pretty well.

(I don't think Swedish peace keeping and auxiliary involvement in 20th and 21st century military operations counts as a national vital interest - that has been a political interest. :))
 
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Shtajerc

Ad Honorem
Jul 2014
6,743
Lower Styria, Slovenia
It taught the Danes a lesson - when one of the big players decides to invade, they can't stop him anymore. The myth of the Danevirke was busted.

The 2nd Schleswig War was eventuelly also the last nail in the coffin of the cooperation between Austria and Prussia. Prussia refused the joint administration of the newly aquired territory with Austria, even though Austria helped Prussia in the war. It was left emptyhanded. This was one of the reasons for the Austro-Prussian war, which showed that the Austrian army is outdated and Austria has no place in leading the German states. So the 2nd Schleswig War paved the ground for Prussia to challenge Austria and brought is an important step closer to Bissmarks desired Lesser German Solution.

I don't know what to make of the Austrian navy and Tegetthoff of Heligoland though. Their performance wasn't impressive although they kind of lifted the Danish blockade ... It probably was good practise, which came in handy against the Italians in 1866 at Vis, where Tegetthoff did better.
 
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pikeshot1600

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,967
It taught the Danes a lesson - when one of the big players decides to invade, they can't stop him anymore. The myth of the Danevirke was busted.

The 2nd Schleswig War was eventuelly also the last nail in the coffin of the cooperation between Austria and Prussia. Prussia refused the joint administration of the newly aquired territory with Austria, even though Austria helped Prussia in the war. It was left emptyhanded. This was one of the reasons for the Austro-Prussian war, which showed that the Austrian army is outdated and Austria has no place in leading the German states. So the 2nd Schleswig War paved the ground for Prussia to challenge Austria and brought is an important step closer to Bissmarks desired Lesser German Solution.

I don't know what to make of the Austrian navy and Tegetthoff of Heligoland though. Their performance wasn't impressive although they kind of lifted the Danish blockade ... It probably was good practise, which came in handy against the Italians in 1866 at Vis, where Tegetthoff did better.
Prussia had need of the Austrian fleet during the Second Schleswig War. The Danish navy had essentially cut Prussia off from maritime trade and swept her merchantmen from the Baltic. In 1866 Prussia had what amounted to a coast defense fleet consisting of mostly obsolete ships. There were ironclads, but they were notorious for their mechanical problems. The naval force of Prussia was no match for the Danes at sea.

Even after the establishment of the Reich, the navy was under the command of army generals. There was no operational experience to speak of; no appreciable educational establishment; little infrastructure that could support a modern navy, and no naval doctrine other than to defend the coast. They couldn't even protect their own navigation in the Baltic.