Danes

Danes

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Danish people or Danes are the nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

 and ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 that is native to Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, and who speak Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

.

The first mention of Danes within the Danish territory is on the Jelling Rune Stone which mentions how Harald Bluetooth converted the Danes to Christianity in the 10th century. Denmark has been continuously inhabited since this period and although much cultural and ethnic influence and immigration from all over the world has entered Denmark since then, Danes tend to see themselves as ethnic descendents of the early Danes mentioned in the sources.

Since the formulation of a Danish national identity in the 19th century the defining criteria for being Danish has been speaking the Danish language and identifying with Denmark as a homeland. Danish national identity was built on a basis of peasant culture and Lutheran theology
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

, theologian N. F. S. Grundtvig and his popular movement played a prominent part in the process.

Today the main criterion for being considered a Dane is having Danish citizenship, although also people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity, living outside of Denmark such as emigrants, descendants of emigrants or members of the Danish ethnic minority in Southern Schleswig
Danish minority of Southern Schleswig
The Danish ethnic minority in Southern Schleswig, Germany, has existed by this name since 1920, when the Schleswig Plebiscite split German-ruled Schleswig into two parts: Northern Schleswig, with a Danish majority and a German minority was united with Denmark, while Southern Schleswig remained a...

, can be considered Danes under a wider definition taking into consideration cultural self-identification.

Origins



The first mentions of "Danes" are recorded in the mid 6th century by historians Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

  and Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

 (danī), who both refer to a tribe
East Germanic tribes
The Germanic tribes referred to as East Germanic constitute a wave of migrants who may have moved from Scandinavia into the area between the Oder and Vistula rivers between the years 600 and 300 BC. Later they went to the south...

 related to the Suetidi and which inhabited the peninsula of Jutland
Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

, the province of Scania
Scania
Scania is the southernmost of the 25 traditional non-administrative provinces of Sweden, constituting a peninsula on the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula, and some adjacent islands. The modern administrative subdivision Skåne County is almost, but not totally, congruent with the...

 and the isles in between. Frankish annalists of the 8th century often refer to Danish kings. The Bobbio Orosius
Bobbio Orosius
The Bobbio Orosius is an early 7th century Insular manuscript of the Chronicon of Paulus Orosius. The manuscript has 48 folios and measures 210 by 150 mm. It is thought to have been produced at the scriptorium of Bobbio Abbey.It contains the earliest surviving carpet page in Insular art. The...

 distinguishes between South Danes inhabiting Jutland and North Danes inhabiting the isles and the province of Scania.

The first mention of Danes within the Danish territory is on the Jelling Rune Stone which mentions how Harald Bluetooth converted the Danes to Christianity in the 10th century. Between c. 960 and the early 980s, Harald Bluetooth
Harald I of Denmark
Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson was the son of King Gorm the Old and of Thyra Dannebod. He died in 985 or 986 having ruled as King of Denmark from around 958 and King of Norway for a few years probably around 970...

 established a kingdom in the lands of the Danes which stretched from Jutland to Skåne. Around the same time, he received a visit from a German missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 who, according to legend, survived an ordeal by fire
Trial by ordeal
Trial by ordeal is a judicial practice by which the guilt or innocence of the accused is determined by subjecting them to an unpleasant, usually dangerous experience...

, which convinced Harold to convert to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

.

In the following years saw the Danish Viking expansion
Viking expansion
The Vikings sailed most of the North Atlantic, reaching south to North Africa and east to Russia, Constantinople and the Middle East, as looters, traders, colonists, and mercenaries...

, which incorporated Norway and Northern England into the Danish kingdom. After the death of Canute the Great in 1035, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 broke away from Danish control and Denmark fell into disarray for some time. Vikings from Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 raided Denmark sporadically. Canute's nephew Sweyn Estridson
Sweyn II of Denmark
Sweyn II Estridsson Ulfsson was the King of Denmark from 1047 to 1074. He was the son of Ulf Jarl and Estrid Svendsdatter. He was married three times, and fathered 20 children or more, including the five future kings Harald III Hen, Canute IV the Saint, Oluf I Hunger, Eric I Evergood and Niels...

 (1020–74) re-established strong royal Danish authority and built a good relationship with the archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 of Bremen
Archbishopric of Bremen
The Archdiocese of Bremen was a historical Roman Catholic diocese and formed from 1180 to 1648 an ecclesiastical state , named Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen within the Holy Roman Empire...

 — at that time the Archbishop of all of Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

.

The Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, which originated in the German lands in the early 16th century from the ideas of Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 (1483–1546), had a considerable impact on Denmark. The Danish Reformation started in the mid-1520s. Some Danes wanted access to the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 in their own language. In 1524 Hans Mikkelsen and Christiern Pedersen
Christiern Pedersen
Christiern Pedersen was a canon, humanist scholar, writer, printer and publisher.-Education:Christiern Pedersen was born in Helsingør, Denmark. He was schooled in Roskilde and studied from 1496 at the University of Greifswald...

 translated the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 into Danish; it became an instant best-seller. Those who had traveled to Wittenberg
Wittenberg
Wittenberg, officially Lutherstadt Wittenberg, is a city in Germany in the Bundesland Saxony-Anhalt, on the river Elbe. It has a population of about 50,000....

 in Saxony and come under the influence of the teachings of Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 and his associates included Hans Tausen
Hans Tausen
Hans Tausen , the protagonist of the Danish Reformation, was born at Birkende on Funen in 1494 and died in Ribe in 1561.- Life :...

, a Danish monk in the Order of St John Hospitallers
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

. The Dano-Norwegian Kingdom grew wealthy during the 16th century, largely because of the increased traffic through the Øresund, which Danes could tax because Denmark controlled both sides of the Sound. After a failed war with Sweden the Treaty of Copenhagen, removed the areas of Bahusia and Terra Scania from Danish control. Thus establishing the boundaries between Norway, Denmark, and Sweden that still exist today. In the centuries after this loss of territory the populations of Scania and Bahusia who had previously been considered Danes came to be fully considered Swedes
Swedes
Swedes are a Scandinavian nation and ethnic group native to Sweden, mostly inhabiting Sweden and the other Nordic countries, with descendants living in a number of countries.-Etymology:...

. Later in the early 19th century Denmark suffered a defeat in the Napoleonic wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 Denmark lost control over Norway and Territories in what is now Northern Germany. The political and economic defeat ironically sparked what is known as the Danish golden age in which a Danish national identity first came to be fully formed.The Danish liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and national
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 movements gained momentum in the 1830s, and after the European revolutions of 1848 Denmark became a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 on June 5, 1849. The growing bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 had demanded a share in government, and in an attempt to avert the sort of bloody revolution occurring elsewhere in Europe, Frederick VII
Frederick VII of Denmark
Frederick VII was a King of Denmark. He reigned from 1848 until his death. He was the last Danish monarch of the older Royal branch of the House of Oldenburg and also the last king of Denmark to rule as an absolute monarch...

 gave in to the demands of the citizens. A new constitution emerged, separating the powers
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

 and granting the franchise
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 to all adult males, as well as freedom of the press, religion, and association. The king became head of the executive branch.

Danishness


Danishness (danskhed) is the concept on which contemporary Danish national and ethnic identity is based. It is a set of values formed through the historic trajectory of the formation of the Danish nation. The ideology of Danishness emphasises the notion of historical connection between the population and the territory of Denmark and the relation between the 1000-year old Danish monarchy and the modern Danish state, the 19th century national romantic idea of "the people" (folk), a view of Danish society as homogeneous and socially egalitarian as well as strong cultural ties to other Scandinavian nations.

Importantly, since its formulation Danish identity has not been linked to a particular racial or biological heritage, as many other ethno-national identities have. Grundtvig for example emphasised the Danish language and the emotional relation to and identification with the nation of Denmark as the defining criteria of Danishness. This cultural definition of ethnicity has been suggested to be one of the reasons that Denmark was able to integrate their earliest ethnic minorities of Jewish and Polish origins into the Danish ethnic group. Jewishness for example was not seen as being incompatible with a Danish ethnic identity as long as the most important cultural practices and ideologies were shared. This inclusive ethnicity has in turn has been described as the background for the relative lack of virulent anti-semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 in Denmark and the rescue of the Danish Jews
Rescue of the Danish Jews
The rescue of the Danish Jews occurred during Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark during World War II. On October 1st 1943 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered Danish Jews to be arrested and deported...



This ideology of Danishness has been politically important in the formulation of Danish political relations with the EU, which has been met with considerable resistance in the Danish population, and in recent reactions in the Danish public to the increasing influence of immigration.

Demography



According to the Danish statistics institute, approximately five million people of Danish origin live in Denmark today. In this context "Danish origin" is defined as being born to parents who are Danish citizens, and the number is arrived at by subtracting from the total population (5,564,249) those who are born abroad to non-citizens who are themselves born abroad (called immigrants), and those who are born in Denmark to parents who are either immigrants or who have foreign citizenship.

Danish citizenship is granted to anyone who has one parent of Danish citizenship, whether the child is born in or outside of Denmark. Citizens of Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 and the Faroe islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

 are considered Danish citizens for all purposes. Those who do not achieve Danish citizenship by birth (or by Adoption) can only receive Danish citizenship through decree of law
Danish nationality law
Danish nationality law is ruled by the Constitutional act of Denmark and the Consolidated Act of Danish Nationality .Danish nationality can be acquired in one of the following ways:...

. Danish citizenship is automatically lost if one applies for foreign citizenship or when a 22 year old child of Danish citizens has never lived in Denmark and has not formally applied for Danish citizenship.

Danish diaspora



A minority of approx. 50,000 Danish-identifying German citizens live in Southern Schleswig
Southern Schleswig
Southern Schleswig denotes the southern half of the former Duchy of Schleswig on the Jutland Peninsula. The geographical area today covers the thirty or forty northernmost kilometers of Germany up to the Flensburg Fjord, where it borders on Denmark...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, a former Danish territory, forming around 10% of the local population. In Denmark, the latter group is often referred to as De danske syd for grænsen (Literally: The Danish south of the border), the Danish-minded ("De Dansksindede") or sydslesvigere (South Schleswigers).

Due to immigration there are considerable populations with Danish roots outside of Denmark in countries such as USA, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

. Some of these communities, such as Solvang, California
Solvang, California
Solvang is a city in Santa Barbara County, California, United States. It is one of the communities that make up the Santa Ynez Valley. The population was 5,245 at the 2010 census, down from 5,332 at the 2000 census...

, Racine, Wisconsin
Racine, Wisconsin
Racine is a city in and the county seat of Racine County, Wisconsin, United States. According to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the city had a population of 82,196...

 and Necochea
Necochea
Necochea is a port city in the southwest of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, located on the Atlantic coast, on the edge of the Quequén Grande river, from Buenos Aires City and southwest from Mar del Plata...

, Argentina maintain cultural ties to Denmark, but these populations are not considered to be Danes for official purposes by the Danish state, and heritage alone can not be used to claim Danish citizenship, as it can in some European nations.

The Danish nation in a political context


Det danske folk (The Danish people) as a concept, played an important role in 19th century ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism
Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism wherein the "nation" is defined in terms of ethnicity. Whatever specific ethnicity is involved, ethnic nationalism always includes some element of descent from previous generations and the implied claim of ethnic essentialism, i.e...

 and refers to self-identification rather than a legal status. Use of the term is most often restricted to a historical context; the historic German-Danish struggle regarding the status of the Duchy
Duchy
A duchy is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess.Some duchies were sovereign in areas that would become unified realms only during the Modern era . In contrast, others were subordinate districts of those kingdoms that unified either partially or completely during the Medieval era...

 of Schleswig
Schleswig
Schleswig or South Jutland is a region covering the area about 60 km north and 70 km south of the border between Germany and Denmark; the territory has been divided between the two countries since 1920, with Northern Schleswig in Denmark and Southern Schleswig in Germany...

 vis-à-vis a Danish nation-state
Nation-state
The nation state is a state that self-identifies as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation as a sovereign territorial unit. The state is a political and geopolitical entity; the nation is a cultural and/or ethnic entity...

. It describes people of Danish nationality
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

, both in Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and elsewhere. Most importantly, ethnic Danes in both Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 proper and the former Danish Duchy
Duchy
A duchy is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess.Some duchies were sovereign in areas that would become unified realms only during the Modern era . In contrast, others were subordinate districts of those kingdoms that unified either partially or completely during the Medieval era...

 of Schleswig
Schleswig
Schleswig or South Jutland is a region covering the area about 60 km north and 70 km south of the border between Germany and Denmark; the territory has been divided between the two countries since 1920, with Northern Schleswig in Denmark and Southern Schleswig in Germany...

. Excluded from this definition are people from the formerly Norwegian
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

 and Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

 as well as members of the German minority as well as members of other ethnic minorities.

The term should not be confused with the legal concept of nationality
Nationality
Nationality is membership of a nation or sovereign state, usually determined by their citizenship, but sometimes by ethnicity or place of residence, or based on their sense of national identity....

, danske statsborgere (Danish nationals) i.e. individuals holding Danish citizenship.

See also

  • List of Danes
  • List of Germanic peoples
  • Danish Americans
    Danish Americans
    Danish Americans are Americans of Danish descent. There are approximately 1,500,000 Americans of Danish origin or descent. Most Danish-Americans live in the Western United States or the Midwestern United States.-Population:...

  • Scylding
    Scylding
    Old English Scylding and Old Norse Skjöldung , meaning in both languages "People of Scyld/Skjöld" refers to members of a legendary royal family of Danes and sometimes to their people. The name is explained in many text by the descent of this family from an eponymous king Scyld/Skjöld...

  • Danelaw
    Danelaw
    The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

  • Viking Age
    Viking Age
    Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

  • Uí Ímair
    Uí Ímair
    The Uí Ímair , or Dynasty of Ivar, were an enormous royal and imperial Norse dynasty who ruled Northern England, the Irish Sea region and Kingdom of Dublin, and the western coast of Scotland, including the Hebrides, from the mid 9th century, losing control of the first in the mid 10th, but the rest...

  • Kingdom of York
  • Kingdom of Dublin
  • Culture of Denmark
    Culture of Denmark
    The culture of Denmark, while rich in the arts, has some general characteristics associated with Danish society and everyday culture. Modesty, punctuality but above all equality are important aspects of the Danish way of life...