History of Denmark
The earliest archaeological findings in Denmark date back to 130,000–110,000 BC in the Eem interglacial period. People have inhabited Denmark since about 12,500 BC and agriculture has been in evidence since 3,900 BC.
During the Pre-Roman Iron Age (500 BC – AD 1), native groups began migrating south, although the first Danish people came to the country between the Pre-Roman and the Germanic Iron Age
During the 8th–11th centuries, the Danes were known as Vikings, together with Norwegians, Swedes, Geats, and Goths. Viking explorers first discovered and settled Iceland in the 9th century, on their way toward the Faroe Islands.
The Danish Vikings were most active in the British Isles and Western Europe, and they raided, conquered and settled parts of England (their earliest settlements included sites in the Danelaw, Ireland, and Normandy).
In the early 8th century, Charlemagne's Christian empire had expanded to the southern border of the Danes, and Frankish sources provide the earliest historical evidence of the Danes.
In 815 AD, Emperor Louis the Pious attacked Jutland apparently in support of a contender to the throne, perhaps Harald Klak, but was turned back by the sons of Godfred, who most likely were the sons of the above mentioned Godfred. At the same time Saint Ansgar traveled to Hedeby and started the Catholic christianisation of Scandinavia.
The Danes were united and officially Christianised in 965 AD by Harald Blåtand, the story of which is recorded on the Jelling stones.
The son of Harald, Sweyn Forkbeard mounted a series of wars of conquest against England, which was completed by Svend's son Canute the Great by the middle of the 11th century. The reign of Canute the Great (Danish:Knud) represented the peak of the Danish Viking Age. King Knud's North Sea Empire included Denmark (1018), Norway (1028), England (1035), and held strong influence over the north-eastern coast of Germany.
The death of St Canute marks the end of the great Viking Age. Never again would massive flotillas of Scandinavians meet each year to ravage the rest of Christian Europe.
The 11th century featured the first of large stone buildings (mostly churches).
A high point was reached during the reign of Valdemar II, who led the formation of a Danish "Baltic Sea Empire", which by 1221 extended control from Estonia in the east to Norway in the north.
At the death of Frederick I, two claimants to the throne, one backed by Protestant Lũbeck and the other by Catholic nobles, caused a civil war known as the Count's Feud (Danish: Grevens Fejde). The massacre of Skipper Clement's peasant army at Aalborg brought an end of the war with the pro-Lutheran party firmly in charge. Denmark became officially Lutheran in 1536.
In the 1645 Treaty of Brømsebro, Denmark surrendered Halland, Gotland, the last parts of Danish Estonia, and several provinces in Norway. In 1657, King Frederick III declared war on Sweden and marched on Bremen-Verden. This led to a massive Danish defeat and the armies of King Charles X Gustav of Sweden conquered both Jutland, Funen, and much of Zealand before signing the Peace of Roskilde in February 1658 which gave Sweden control of Skåne, Blekinge, Trøndelag and the island of Bornholm.
Following the Great Northern War (1700–21), Denmark managed to restore control of the parts of Schleswig and Holstein ruled by the house of Holstein-Gottorp in 1721 and 1773, respectively. Denmark prospered greatly in the last decades of the 18th century due to its neutral status allowing it to trade with both sides in the many contemporary wars. In the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark originally tried to pursue a policy of neutrality to continue the lucrative trade with both France and the United Kingdom and joined the League of Armed Neutrality with Russian Empire, Sweden, and Kingdom of Prussia. The British considered this a hostile act and attacked Copenhagen in both 1801 and 1807, in one case carrying off the Danish fleet and burning large parts of the Danish capital. These events mark the end of the prosperous Florissant Age and resulted in the Dano-British Gunboat War. British control over the waterways between Denmark and Norway proved disastrous to the union's economy and in 1813, Denmark-Norway went bankrupt.
Denmark remained neutral in World War I.
Following Germany's invasion of Denmark on 9 April 1940, and after only two hours of military resistance the Danish government surrendered. Economic co-operation between Germany and Denmark continued until 1943, when the Danish government refused further co-operation and its navy sank most of its ships and sent as many of their officers as they could to Sweden
Despite its modest size, Denmark has been participating in major military and humanitarian operations, most notably the UN and NATO led operations on Cyprus and in Bosnia, Korea, Croatia, Kosovo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
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