Scandinavia; key historical events

Denmark, Faeroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland

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For main European events of World War Two see France-Germany

See also Russia for more events of Finland-Russia conflict 1939-40


Denmark  - see Appendix 1

Faeroe Islands – see Appendix 2

Greenland, Svalbard/Spitsbergen, Arctic – see Appendix 3

Iceland – see Appendix 4


Appendix 1 – Denmark

Growth of Copenhagen 1850 – 1992, click for 7  maps here.

14/2/2015, In scenes reminiscent of the Paris Charlie Hebdo shootings (7/1/2015) an Islamist terrorist, Omar el Hussein, 22, shot dead Finn Norgaard, a 55 year old film director, at a Free Speech meeting at a cafe in central Copenhagen, at 3.30pm Saturday.  The Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who portrayed the prophet Mohammed as a ‘mad dog’ in 2007, was belived to have been the main target; Hussein’s entry into the cafe was thwarted by a metal detector, prompting him to spray some 200 bullets from the entrance. Hussein then went to the Krystalgade synagogue and opened fire, killing the doorman Dan Uzan, 37, and wounding two police officers, at a Bat-Mitzvah, at 1am Sunday. Danish police identified the gunman and traced his address to an apartment in the Norrebro district; by then he was on his way to the synagogue. At 5am the next morning, 15 February, armed police shot Hussein at his apartment. Hussein had just been released from prison in Denmark two weeks earlier after serving a term for aggravated assault.

2000, Denmark in a referendum, rejected joining the Euro.

18/5/1993. The Danes voted yes to the Maastricht Treaty.

2/6/1992, Denmark, in a referendum, rejected the Maastricht Treaty.

1/5/1979, Denmark granted Greenland home rule.

2/10/1972. Denmark voted in a referendum to join the Common Market.

14/1/1972, In Denmark, Margrethe II (31) became Queen, succeeding her father King Frederick IX, who died aged 72.

1/5/1968. Legoland Family Park, the Danish toy maker’s answer to Disneyland, opened at Billund in Denmark.

25/4/1964, The head of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen Harbour was hacked off and stolen. The statue was in honour of the children’s’ author, Hans Christian Anderson.

1960, Denmark joined the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

5/6/1953, The Danish Parliament, or Riksdagen, was reformed. The upper chamber, or Landstinget, was abolished. The lower chamber, or Folketinget, now became the entire Parliament.

30/3/1953, Denmark adopted a new Constitution. The Upper House was abolished, and the voting age reduced to 23.

28/10/1950, General elction in Denmark. After the resignation of Hans Hedtoft, leader of the Liberal Agrarian Party, Erik Eriksen formed a coalition with the Conservatives.

20/4/1947, Christian X, King of Denmark, died aged 76. He was succeeded by his son Frederick IX, aged 48.

29/8/1943, The Nazis occupying Denmark dismissed the Danish Government, following extensive strike action and acts of sabotage against the Germans. In response the Danes formed the Frihedsrad (Free Council) in order to coordinate and escalate resistance activity. It commanded a Danish Resistance Army of some 43,000 men; several of its members held government positions in the post-war Danish Government from 1945.

16/4/1940, Margrethe, Queen of Denmark, was born.

24/4/1929, Denmark elected a socialist government.

11/4/1924, In Danish elections, Social Democrats formed a Government after winning 55 seats to the Liberals 44, Radicals with 20, and Conservatives with 28.

10/7/1920, After a referendum amongst the inhabitants, northern Schleswig was returned to Denmark from Germany.

10/2/1920, A plebiscite in northern Schleswig favoured integration with Denmark.

14/12/1916, A referendum in Denmark agreed by 64.3% for to 35.7% against to agree to the sale of the Danish West Indies to the US, for the sum of US$ 25 million. These islands became the US Virgin Islands; they were of strategic importance to the US now that the Panama Canal had opened. The islands were formally handed over on 1/4/1917, just before the US declared war on Germany.

14/6/1912, King Frederick VIII of Denmark died after a 6-year reign, aged 69. He was succeeded by his son, 41-year old Christian X, who reigned until 1947.

29/1/1906, Christian IX of Denmark died, aged 87. He was succeeded by his son, Frederick VIII, aged 62, who ruled until 1912.

28/3/1904, The British King and Queen visited Copenhagen.

7/4/1891, Ole Kirk Christiansen, Danish toymaker who invented Lego, was born.

26/9/1870, King Christian X of Denmark was born.

1866, The Danish Heathland Society was formed; its object was the reclamation for agriculture of Jutland’s heath and marsh lands. Drainage ditches were dug, the barren sandy heaths improved with clay, and new towns such as Herning constructed. Rows of trees were planted to provide shelter from North Sea storms.

30/10/1864. By the Peace of Vienna, Denmark gave up Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenberg.  These provinces came under Austrian and Prussian rule.

1/2/1864, Austrian and Prussian troops under the command of Friedrich von Wangle invaded Schleswig, Denmark. Although the British monarch, Queen Victoria, was pro-German, the British Prince Edward, the future King Edward VII – who had only months earlier married Alexandra of Denmark – was shocked; they supported Denmark. The Second Schleswig War began. This event ensured that under King Edward VII’s reign, British foreign policy was pro-Danish, anti-German, and Britain formed a triple entente with France and Russia against Germany.

16/1/1864, Denmark rejected an ultimatum, from Germany over the Danish province of Schleswig.

24/12/1863. Following the Danish annexation of the province of Schleswig on 30/3/1863, Saxon and Hanoverian forces moved into Holstein.

15/11/1863, Frederick VII, King of Denmark, died.

20/7/1863, Denmark, with no hope of intervention from England, sued for peace over the German attack on Schleswig.

26/8/1848. Denmark and Prussia signed a truce at Malmo. Both agreed to evacuate the disputed territory of Schleswig-Holstein.

20/1/1848, Christian VIII of Denmark died aged 50, after a reign of less than 9 years. He was succeeded by his 39-year-old son, Frederick VI, who ruled until 1863, and fought a war with Germany over Schleswig-Holstein.

1847, The Carlsberg brewery business began in Denmark when J C Jacobsen built a new brewery, and named it after his young son, Carl.

1/12/1844, Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII, was born, the eldest daughter of King Christian of Denmark.

15/8/1843, In Copenhagen, the Tivoli Gardens opened. They were laid out on part of the old defensive works.

3/12/1839, Frederick VI of Denmark died, aged 71. He was succeeded by his nephew, Christian VIII, aged 53.

17/5/1814, The independence of Norway (from Denmark) was proclaimed.

14/1/1814, Britain made peace with Denmark, restoring all territories except Heligoland.  The King of Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden.

21/6/1797, Andreas Bernstorff, Danish statesman, died (born in Hanover 28/8/1735).

18/2/1772, Johann Bernstorff, Danish statesman, died (born 13/5/1712).

14/1/1766, Christian VII (1749-1808) became King of Denmark.

6/4/1746, Christian VI of Denmark died aged 47. He was succeeded by his son, 23, Frederick V.

28/8/1735, Andreas Bernstorff, Danish statesman, was born in Hanover (died 21/6/1797).

12/10/1730, Frederick IV of Denmark died, the day after his 59th birthday, at Odense. He had reigned for 31 years, and lost some territory in Germany He was succeeded by his 31-year old son, Christian VI, who ruled until 1746.

20/10/1728, A major fire that destroyed a quarter of Copenhagen started. It burned until 23/10/1728.

13/5/1712, Johann Bernstorff, Danish statesman, was born (died 18/2/1772);

28/2/1710, Sweden defeated a force of 14,000 Danes at the Battle of Helsingborg.

14/7/1677, At the Battle of Landskrona, Sweden defeated Denmark.

31/5/1677, Danish ships defeated a Swedish naval force.

9/2/1670, Frederick III, King of Denmark, died.

1660, King Frederick III of Denmark promulgated a new Constitution, removing the priveliges of the nobility and creating an Absolute Monarchy.

12/2/1660, Charles X of Sweden died, aged37. He was succeeded by his 4-year old son, Charles XI. Also this day the Treaty of Copenhagen ended hostilities between Sweden and Denmark. The Danes ceded the province of Scania, southern tip of Scandinavia, to Sweden.

28/2/1648, Christian IV, King of Denmark, died. Born 1577, he ruled from 1588.

1645, Sweden acquired Gotland from Denmark.

24/8/1626, Battle of Lutter, Germany. The Danes were routed by the Hapsburgs.

18/3/1609, Frederick III, King of Denmark, born.

4/4/1588, Frederick II, King of Denmark, died, aged 53. He was succeeded by his 10-year old son, Christian IV(1577-1648).

13/12/1570, The Peace of Stettin ended the war between Sweden and Denmark, recognising Swedish independence.

30/5/1563, The Nordic Seven Years War began between Denmark and Sweden.

1/1/1559, Christian III, King of Denmark and Norway, died aged 55 after a reign of nearly 24 years. He was succeeded by his 24-year-old son as Frederick II, who reigned for 29 years.

1/7/1534, Frederick II, King of Denmark, was born.

1533, King Frederick I of Denmark died aged 62. He was succeeded as King of Denmark and Norway by his 30-tear-old son, who ruled as King Christian III until 1559.

6/6/1523, Gustavus Vasa, aged 27, was elected King of Sweden, and finally established full independence from Denmark. End of the Kalmar Union. This was confirmed by the Treaty of Malmo, 1524.

1513, King John I of Denmark (who was also King John II of Sweden, 1497-1501), died after a 32-year reign. He was succeeded by his 32-year-old son as King Christian II of Denmark and Norway, but Sweden refused to accept his rule.

21/5/1481, Christian I, King of Denmark and Norway, died (born 1426) and was succeeded by his son John (1481-1513).

1448, Christian I became the first Danish monarch of the Royal House of Oldenburg.

28/10/1412, Margaret, Queen of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, died.

20/6/1397. The Union of Kalmar united Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under one monarch. See 1380.

1380, Hakon, King of Norway, died. His surviving wife was Queen Margaret (born 1353, married 1363, and daughter of Waldemar III, King of Denmark). Her son Olaf died in 1387, which meant she became ruler of Denmark also. She defeated Albert, King of Sweden, thereby gaining that country too. Margaret then instituted the Union of Kalmar, 1397, to permanently unite these three countries. Margaret died in 1412.

1169, Absalom (Axel) (1128-1201) founded the fortress of Havn, now known as Copenhagen. He fought the Wends in 1169, capturing Rugen for Denmark. In 1184 he also captured Mecklenburg and Pomerania.

1047, Magnus I died after 12 years rule as King of Norway and five years as King of Denmark. He was succeeded I Norway by Harald Haadraade, 32, who ruled until 1066 as Harald II. In Denmark he was succeeded by Sweyn Estrithson, grandson of Sweyn Forkbeard, who ruled until 1075 as Sweyn II.

10161035, Under King Canute the Great, all of Scandinavia and England were united.

951, Earliest record of the Bishopric of Aarhus (Denmark).

850, Gorm the Elder united Jutland and the Danish Islands, and became King of Denmark.

768,The major Viking settlement of Hedeby was founded in Denmark.

517, The first documented Viking raid on Gaul. The Viking King Hygelac was killed and his fleet defeated.

500, Danes from Scania (southern Sweden) settled in Jutland (Denmark).

8,000 BCE, Start of hunter-gatherer peoples in Scandinavia, as the climate warmed.


Appendix 2 – Faeroe Islands

1972, The Faeroe Islands voted not to join the EC.

1948, Denmark granted Home Rule to the Faeroe Islands.

19401945, British troops occupied the Faeroe islands, to forestall any Nazi invasion during World War Two.

1397, The Faeroe Islands, as part of Norway, became united to Denmark under the Union of Kalmar. They remained Danish when Norway and Denmark separated in 1814.

1035, The Faeroe islands formally became part of Norway.

800, The Vikings began to settle in the Faeroe Islands.

700s, First settlement of the Faeroe Islands, by Irish monks.


Appendix 3 – Greenland, Svalbard/Spitsbergen, Arctic

21/6/2009, Greenland took steps towards further separation from Denmark; it took control of police, law enforcement, the legal system and natural resources.

25/11/2008, Greenland held a referendum on further autonomy from Denmark, with a result 75% in favour.

23/2/1982. Greenland, a Danish territory, with home rule, voted to leave the EC. It departed in 1985.

1/5/1979, Denmark granted Greenland home rule.

1973, Greenland found itself taken into the EC, along with Denmark, despite voting not to join.

1953, A new Danish Constitution fully integrated Greenland with Denmark.

5/4/1933, The International Court at The Hague ruled that Greenland was a Danish possession, against Norway’s claim.

1929, Jan Mayen Island was formally incorporated into Norway.

16/6/1928, Arctic Norwegian explorer Roald Engelbregt Amundsen died in a plane crash whilst searching fro shipwreck victims.

1921, Norway established a weather station and radio transmitter on the uninhabited Jan Mayen Island.

1920, The Spitsbergen Treaty awarded soveriegnty of Svalbard to Norway, but allowed other signatories to exploit the coal deposits.

20/2/1920. Robert Peary, American Arctic explorer and first man to reach the North Pole in 1909, died in Washington DC.

6/4/1909.   Commander Peary of the USA became the first person to reach the North Pole, with a Black assistant, Matthew Henson, and four Eskimos.. It was his sixth attempt in 15 years.

6/12/1905, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen landed at Fort Egbert, Alaska, after a 2 ½ year exploration of America’s Arctic coast.

16/7/1905. Commander Peary of the USA set out on his second expedition to the North Pole.

11/7/1897, The Swedish balloonist S A Andree set off from Spitsbergen with two companions to fly over the North Pole. After a few days all contact with them was lost; their remains were discovered in 1930 on White Island.

3/11/1879, The Arctic explorer, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, was born.

1888, Fridjtof Nansen explored the interior of Greenland.

25/10/1888, Richard Byrd, US naval officer and polar explorer, was born in Winchester, Virginia. In 1926 he became the first person to fly over the North Pole.

10/10/1861, Fridjtof Nansen, Norwegian Polar explorer, was born near Oslo. He became the first person to cross Greenland overland in 1888.

6/5/1856, Robert Peary, American Arctic explorer, was born in Cresson Springs, Pennsylvania.

1/6/1831. Sir James Clark Ross located the Magnetic North Pole on his Arctic expedition with Admiral Parry.

1728, The Danish explorer Vitus Bering discovered the Diomede Islands, midway between Siberia and Alaska.

1721, A Norwegian ship calling at Greenland found no trace of the Norse colonists. They may have suffered disease or starvation, or migrated to America.

1611, Jan Mayen Land, between Spitsbergen and Iceland, was discovered by the Dutch explorer Jan Mayen.

1596, Svalbard (Spitsbergen) was (re-) discovered by the Dutch explorer Willem Barents, who sighted the islands whilst searching for the Northern Sea Route. By the 1600s the importance of the whaling industry in the region attracted claims from the British and Danish, as well as The Netherlands.

16/9/1408, The last recorded event in Norse history in Greenland; a wedding at Old Hvalsey church.

1397, Greenland found itself joined to Denmark when the Union of Kalmar united Norway (along with Greenland) to Denmark. When Norway separated from Denmark in 1814, Greenland remained as part of Denmark.

1262, Greenland formally became a Norwegian possession.

1194, Spitsbergen was first discovered by Norsemen.

986, Erik the Red was banished from Iceland, and sailed to Greenland where he founded a new Viking colony. The name ‘Greenland’ may have been chosen to attract new colonists to an inhospitable place where farming was only possible, with a short growing season, in the extreme south-west. The Vinking colony died out in the 1400s as climatic conditiins deteriorated.

982, Erik the Red set up a temporary Viking camp on Greenland, the first settlement by man there. This camp was replaced by a permanent colony in 986.


Appendix 4 – Iceland

2013, After new elections Iceland became cooler about joining the European Union, and formally withdrew its application in 2015.

16/7/2009, Iceland’s Parliament voted to begin negotiations to join the European Union. The country had a new leftist Government, following the near- collapse of the Icelandic banking system after the 2007 Credit Crunch.

1/2009, Johanna Sigurdardottir became Prime Minister of Iceland; she was Europe’s first openly lesbian head of state.

5/2007, The Iceland Movement, an ecological, Green, Party chaired by Omar, first contested elections. It got 3.3% of the vote, failing to achieve the 5% needed for representation in Parliament; however the Green agenda was becoming more prominent in Icelandic politics.

1885, Iceland declared itself a nuclear-free zone.

14/11/1985, Holmfriour Karlsdottir of Iceland, 22, was crowned the 35th Miss World.

1/6/1976. Britain and Iceland signed an agreement in Oslo to end the Cod War.  Up to 24 British trawlers would be permitted to fish within the 200-mile zone claimed by Iceland.

19/2/1976. Iceland broke off diplomatic relations with Britain after the two countries failed to reach agreement on fishing limits in the ‘Cod War’ dispute. Conflict began in 1958 when Iceland extended its territorial waters from 3 to 12 nautical miles; Britain finally recognised this limit in 1961. In 1972 Iceland claimed a further extension to 50 miles; Britain ignored this, and Icelandic gunboats sank two British trawlers. In January 1976 an Icelandic gunboat rammed the Royal Navy frigate Andromeda, which had been protecting British fishing boats.

10/12/1975, The first shots were fired in the Cod War between Britain and Iceland.

24/10/1975, Women in Iceland staged a one-day general strike.

For events of Cod War see also Great Britain 1970s

15/10/1975, Iceland unilaterally extended its fishing grounds to 200 miles, leading to a resumption of the Cod War with Britain.

25/7/1974, The International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled that Britain was not bound to observe Iceland’s unilateral extension of its fishing rights from 12 to 50 miles in 1972.

8/11/1973, The Cod War between Britain and Iceland ended.

7/9/1973, Iceland threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Britain over the fishing dispute.

24/5/1973, The Cod War continued between Britain and Iceland. In Reykjavik several hundred protesters, in a crowd of several thousand, threw stones, eggs, and paint at the British Embassy. Reykjavik’s 150 police officers were hopelessly outnumbered.

25/10/1972, Iceland boycotted British goods as part of the Cod War.

1/9/1972, Iceland extended its fishing limit from 12 to 50 miles.

27/2/1961, Britain and Iceland settled their fishing dispute. British ships would no longer fish within 12 miles of the Icelandic coast.

10/12/1959, US troops began to leave Iceland.

6/5/1959, The UK protested to Iceland about violence in the Cod War. Icelandic gunboats had fired live ammunition at British trawlers. Iceland said they were just warning shots, but one only missed a trawler by three metres.

1/9/1958, British trawlers defied the Icelandic 12-mile fishing limit, which came into force this day.

1/6/1958, Iceland extended its fishing limits to 12 miles.

1951, The US built an air base at Keflavik, despite strong local opposition.

17/6/1944, Iceland became an independent republic. The 25-year Union with Denmark had expired, see 1/12/1918.

1940-1944, Iceland was occupied by US and British troops, as a precuation against Nazi occupation during World War Two.

13/12/1922, Hannes Hafstein, Prime Minister of Iceland, died.

1/12/1918, Denmark granted independence to Iceland; a 25-year union with Denmark was instituted.

1915, Iceland instituted universal suffrage.

1914, Iceland became autonomous.

13/5/1894, Asgeir Asgeirsson, President of Iceland, was born.

1874, Iceland achieved limited self-rule.

1800, The Althing (Icelandic Parliament), which had lost influence under Danish rule, ceased to exist. It was reconstituted in 1843.

1627, Reykjavik, Iceland, was attacked by pirates.

1380, Iceland came under Danish rule, as Norway united with Denmark.

1262, Icelandic chieftains accepted rule by Norway.

1000, Iceland’s Althing chose to adopt Christianity over Odin-worship.

939, Major volcanic eruption in Iceland, affected climate and crops worldwide.

928, The Althing, the Icelandic Parliament, was founded at Thingvellir. It is the world’s oldest Parliament.

874, Norse settlement of Iceland began. Ingolfur Arnason brought in the first settlers.

866, Floki Vilgeroarson, Norseman, made an early expedition to Iceland, and named it ‘Ice-Island’ due to the quantity of ice in its fjords.


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