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Schleswig-Holstein uprisings

J. Laurence Hare


The uprising in Schleswig-Holstein began as part of the wave of liberal revolutions sweeping across Europe in the spring of 1848. On March 18, the members of the region's two estate assemblies met in the city of Rendsburg to coordinate their protest against the Danish monarchy, which had ruled Schleswig-Holstein since the eighteenth century. Initially, these bourgeois revolutionaries joined the chorus of voices in Copenhagen calling for constitutional reform and an end to absolutism. Within days, however, a growing divide between German and Danish speakers sundered the unity of the protests and transformed the revolution into a struggle between competing nationalist visions. Although the revolt ultimately failed to change the political status of the duchies in the short term, it nevertheless brought into the center of European politics the so-called “Schleswig-Holstein Question,” which would play a key role in German unification and would shape the border region until the mid-twentieth century. The two duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, which lay at the base of the Jutland Peninsula, had long maintained a culturally mixed population, including a Danish-speaking majority in the northern duchy of Schleswig, a largely German-speaking population in Holstein, and pockets of Frisian and Low-German speakers. Since the fifteenth century, the kings of Denmark had advanced various dynastic ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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