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The Kingdom of Denmark, usually called just Denmark, is a sovereign state in Scandinavia. This Nordic nation has 4,545 miles of coastline and is bordered by Norway to the northwest, Germany to the east, and Sweden to the northeast.

Denmark proper is made up of the peninsula, Jutland (sometimes called the Cibric Peninsula), and 443 named islands including the largest, Zealand, Funen, and North Jutlandic Island. Two autonomous constituent countries, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, are also components of the Kingdom of Denmark. Its capital is Copenhagen, and the official language is Danish. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, sometimes called the Church of Denmark, is the state-supported church, and approximately 76% of those living in Denmark are members of the Church of Denmark. It is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy.

From about the 8th to about the 11th century, Vikings both raided and colonized parts of Europe, changing the face of the continent. The Vikings were pagan Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian warriors. In the 10th century, Icelandic men joined in. While they were, by and large, farmers who lived by the orderliness of the law while they were ashore, they were marauding pirates while at sea. They were phenomenal ship builders as well as sailors and traveled literally everywhere in the world, establishing trade routes.

Viking women held an important position in society, being responsible for the farms and homes while their husbands were gone. They used bronze keys as a status symbol so important that many women were buried with their keys. They affixed their keys from a belt which adorned the waist. The area of responsibility was inside the home, while a man's were outside. She was expected to prepare the food including drying and smoking meat and fish, keep the house clean, understand and use medicinal herbs when needed, spinning yarn, and sewing and weaving for her family. She was also expected to tend to the children as well as the elderly. Married women remained to their biological families even after marriage, and if the marriage was not working out, either she or her husband could demand a divorce. The divorce laws were detailed and lengthy. Common causes of divorce included that a husband had not provided for the family, he had not been in bed with her in three years, that he had settled in a new country, or that he was violent. In fact, if a husband had beaten his wife three times, she was allowed under the law to leave him. In order for her to divorce him, she would stand at the front door and proclaim that she was divorced and then go to the couple's bed and do the same in front of witnesses. If he took her keys, she could divorce him immediately and keep their property.

In 965 AD, Denmark was formally christianized by Harald Bluetooth, son of Viking King Gorm the Old who was the first historically recognized ruler of Denmark. Bluetooth was covered to Christianity by a cleric who went by the name "Poppo." Bluetooth was, by then, King Harald, and he went about converting his subjects. Soon, Danes no longer believed in Thor and Odin and other Norse gods and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Once Denmark was christianized, Denmark became allied with the Holy Roman Empire.

The actual size of the Danish Kingdom under King Harald is not really known, but it is thought by historians that it included Jutland, the Danish Isles, what is today southern Sweden, Norway, and the Viking city of Hedeby.

In the early part of the 12th century, Denmark had become the seat of Scandinavia's independent church province, and shortly after that, Norway and Sweden established archbishoprics, freeing them from Danish rule. A series of violent civil wars plagued Denmark, until Valdemar I, called Valdemar the Great, wrested control of Denmark and reorganized and stabilized the nation. With the cooperation of his close advisor Axel who was the Danish archbishop and great statesman, he rebuilt Denmark.

In the early 16th century, Martin Luther and the Reformation became important and impacted Denmark mightily, and on October 30, 1536, Denmark officially became Lutheran. The government approved the Lutheran Ordinances, and their laws were changed to conform with them. It was then that the government designated the state church to be the Danish National Church. All of the country's bishops were imprisoned until they converted to Luther's reforms. They had to promise to support the reforms and to be married, which was forbidden while they were Catholic clergy. Once they were married, they got property and lived their lives out as rich landowners. But if they refused, they stayed in prison until they died. monks were kicked out of their abbeys and monasteries but nuns were allowed to live the rest of their lives in convents but got no government support, financially. The closed down churches, priories, cathedrals, and abbeys were given to nobles or sold.

 

 

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