The Danish Peace Academy

Holger Terp: Danish Peace History

Working paper 1

Light in darkness

In 1095, Treuga Dei, the peace and truce of God was created for all Christians and some of the first peace groups like the English the Lollard’s and the French Poor men from Lyon appears35. The peace and truce of God was a part of an early Christian conflict resolution system.

During the synods of 1047 (Synodus Helenesis) and Narbonne 1054 the peace of God was expanded to include the clergy, monks, nuns, pilgrims, merchants, farmers, women, churches, monasteries etc. The peace of God meant, that violent conflicts had to cease from Wednesday night to Monday morning and also on holidays.

During the time of Queen Margrethe 1 (1353-1412), the Peace of God was developed into a complex Danish conflict preventing system of women peace; and also the peace of the king, the peace of houses, farms, fields, things and ships. The peace of women from 1396 meant, according to historian Erik Arup, that women should enjoy a particular peace ­ not be violated during times of war ­ with the offender being punished by death. This was way in advance of the addendum to the Geneva-protocol of 1977.

In Scandinavia there are two expressions for disarmament: “afrustning” which means complete disarmament and “nedrustning” which means partial disarmament. The following is the case of complete disarmament.

In 1631, King Christian IV commanded the rebuilding of the fortification of Ålborg by forced labour. Thus the construction of the fortification was slow. Nine year later the Kings Counsel granted two taxes more for the work. Too late. For the enemy a year later came to the town where the citizens opened the gate and asked the enemy colonel to show mercy. Shortly afterwards the fortification disappears so completely, that today there is no “trace left of it”36.

The war in 1658 went bad for the Danes. The Swedes conquered Jutland. Danes in Jutland were drafted by the Swedes, but deserted and only Danish officers were in place in the island Funen. The peasants of the small island were drafted, but deserted helped by the landowners because all the officers were Dutch, and the peasants did not want to learn that foreign language, tells the military historian Th. Thaulow37. Thus deserting from the draft and deserting from the war service was common in Denmark.

According to church historian Ludwig Helweg who preceded by two years Rødam’s biography of the first student rebellion with “the History of the Danish Church after the Reformation” from 1851, during 1658 the king did not hope in vain for support by the bourgeois and the academic in Copenhagen for the throne: “The students and the citizens competed to give the promise, to defend themselves until the uttermost. Then the powers were not used; but soon the opportunity to honour the promise came”.

While the enemy was at the gate of the city, the promise to the king was given again. The students armed. They totalled 600 in two companies. Everybody was ready for the defence of the city, but first they congregated in the churches where the priests admonished the great gathering to serious prayer and penance to turn the threatening wrath of God. While everybody did their duties the priests and the bishop were on the walls strengthening the terrified and weak-hearted”.

One student, Jesper Baltzarsen Könecken inspired by the Quaker views of the sermons of Niels Svendsen, recommended the citizens to lay down their arms in order to not be defiled with the blood of the enemy”. “But his voice”, wrote Helweg, “became silent in the common zeal”38.

Also in Norway, there was rebellion against the draft39. On April 28, 1663 the king ordered eight named persons who had rebelled against the draft and killed an officer to be sent to the military prison in Copenhagen to labour in iron.

During the Scania war 1675-1679 between Denmark and Sweden there were so many Danish draft absence cases and deserters, that they are described in the popular Politikens History of Denmark40. Even Swedes deserted from their war duties.

The Swedish priest Nicolaus Petri and the Danish priest Mikael Colding living across the border of Småland in Sweden made together with their vassals and parochial church councils a peasant peace treaty in spite of the newly declared war: “No one in their parishes should fall upon each other and with murder, plunder and fire inflict one another damage, but just as before stand by a common good neighbourhood. There had earlier been similar peace treaties in 1611 and 1644”41. The peasant peace treaty worked, until it was broken by the Danish guerrilla soldiers, called snaphaner, during the Swedish conquest of the Danish territory in Scania, Halland and Blekinge.


35 Hirst, Margaret E.: The Quakers in Peace and War. London, 1923.

History of the Christian Church, Volume IV: Mediaeval Christianity. A.D. 590-1073. ( the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College.

Goetz, Hans-Werner: Protection of the Church, Defence of the Law, and Reform: On the Purposes and Character of the Peace of God 989-1038. In: Peace of God, pp. 259-279.

Landes, Richard: Peace of God : A Bibliography on the Peace and Truce of God. In: The Peace of God : Social Violence and Religious Response in France around the Year 1000 / Richard Landes ; Thomas Head. Eds. - Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press, 1992. The bibliography is online.

Less Favored – More Favored: Queenship and the Special Case of Margrete of Denmark, 1353-1412.
By Grethe Jacobsen Part of / Teil von: Less Favored – More Favored: Proceedings from a Conference on Gender in European Legal History, 12th – 19th Centuries, September 2004 = Benachteiligt – begünstigt: Tagungsbericht einer Konferenz über Geschlecht in der Europäischen Rechtsgeschichte, 12. – 19. Jahrhundert, September 2004. Edited by/herausgegeben von: GRETHE JACOBSEN, HELLE VOGT, INGER DÜBECK, HEIDE WUNDER. Copenhagen, The Royal Library, 2005.

Kluckhohn, August: Geschicte des Gottesfriedens. Leipzig, 1857. p. 52.

36 Flindt, H. E.: Byens veto mod at befæstes. In: Det ny Aarhundrede, 1905 p. 341.

Jørgensen, Chr.: Det underjordiske Aalborg. Indhold: Udgravninger i 1934 på Bispegårdens grund ; Et nyt fund, der fortæller om Aalborgs befæstning ; Det store gennembrud ved anlægget af det nye Vesterbro 1930-31 ; Hvor lå Aalborg Gråbrødrekloster? ; Aalborgs befæstning og Skipper Klemens nederlag ; Aalborgs ældste havn, byens hoved In: Fra Himmerland og Kjær Herred. 1934, pp. 262-315.

Stenholm, J.P.: Skipper Klement og Aalborg Slot : Om Skipper Clement, slaget ved Svenstrup og det gamle Aalborghus Slot. In: Fra Himmerland og Kjær Herred. pp. 131-147, 1918.

Aalborgs historie. - [Ålborg] : Aalborg kommune, 1987-1992. - 5 Vols. Vol. 2 : Aalborg under krise og højkonjunktur fra 1534 til 1680 / Lars Tvede-Jensen, Gert Poulsen, 1988.

37 Thaulow, Th.: Den danske soldat gennem tiderne. 1946 p. 65. See also the learned thesis of Aage Fasmer Blomberg: Fyns vilkår under svenskekrigene 1957-1650. Odense University Press, 1973.

38 Helweg, Ludwig: Den danske kirkes Historie efter Reformationen, Vol. 1, 1851 pp. 390-391. See also: Nyerup, Rasmus: Efterretninger om Kong Frederik den Tredje og de mærkværdigste i Danmarks og Norge under hans Regjering indtrufne Begivenheder. Printed in Thieles Bogtrykkeri, 1817. - 456 pp.

Weibull, Carl Gustav: Freden i Roskilde den 26 februari 1658. - Stockholm : Gothia, 1958. - 206 pp.

39 Kongelig ordre 'til Norges Kansler Ove Bjelke, at 8 navngivne Personer, som "formedest Rebellion i Udskrivningen, og Drab begaaet paa Lieutenant Wilhelm", vare dømte i Kongens Naade og Unaade, skulde fremdeles ned til Bremerholm for at arbejde i Jern'. Nyerup, Rasmus: Efterretninger om Kong Frederik den Tredje og de mærkværdigste i Danmarks og Norge under hans Regjering indtrufne Begivenheder p. 377.

40 Politikens Danmarkshistorie, 1964. Vol. 8 pp. 202-204.

41 Åberg, Alf: Striden om Skåne 1997 p. 25.

Hammerich, Fr.: Christiern II. i Sverrig og Carl X. Gustav i Danmark p. 143.

Helwg, Ludweg: Den danske kirkes Historie efter Reformationen. Vol. 1. 1951 pp. 388-389.

Venge, Mikael: Bondefred og Grænsefred. In: Historisk tidsskrift, 1980:1 pp. 40-63 and p. 57.

Check: Frederik II.s aabne Brev til Bønderne og Almuen i Småland vedr. Krigen mellem Danmark og Sverige. Hans Zimmermann, 1564.


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