Frederik II and the Protestant Cause: Denmark's Role in the Wars of Religion, 1559-1596

Frederik II and the Protestant Cause: Denmark's Role in the Wars of Religion, 1559-1596

Frederik II and the Protestant Cause: Denmark's Role in the Wars of Religion, 1559-1596

Frederik II and the Protestant Cause: Denmark's Role in the Wars of Religion, 1559-1596

Synopsis

This book considers the role played by Denmark's King Frederik II (1559-88) in the international diplomacy of the age of religious wars. As Europe's leading Lutheran sovereign, Frederik commanded great influence; his conviction that an international Catholic conspiracy threatened to destroy Protestantism led him to work towards the creation of a Protestant alliance that included both Calvinist and Lutheran states.Lockhart examines the role of religion in Frederik's foreign policy, the motivations behind the king's alliance-building projects, and the reasons behind the ultimate failure of Frederik's policies.This volume will be of interest to students of early modern diplomacy, sixteenth-century Protestantism, and the Scandinavian monarchies in the early modern period.

Excerpt

Renaissance Denmark, which blossomed during the reign of Frederik II
and in the early years of Christian IV’s reign—therefore in the decades
around 1600—was a mighty kingdom with far-flung possessions, and
it would have seemed strange to Danes living at that time that they
belonged to a state that was in some way lesser than contemporary
England …

History, it is often suggested, is written by the winners. Yet losers also
write history; they just don’t get translated.

1588 was the year that the Armada menaced Denmark. The approach of the massive Spanish fleet, though perhaps the ‘worstkept secret in Europe’, caught Denmark unprepared and vulnerable. It had not been a good year for the guardian of the Sound. After a reign of nearly twenty-nine years, King Frederik II had died on 4 April 1588, leaving behind a central government with untried and unsteady leadership. It was the late king’s diplomatic legacy, however, that most troubled the aristocratic regency which ruled Denmark in the name of Frederik II’s son and successor, the boy-king Christian IV. Although there had not been so much as an exchange of harsh words between the Danish and Spanish crowns within recent memory, King Frederik had taken an unmistakeably pro-Dutch and pro-English stance since 1582 at the very latest, and had been foremost among those statesmen who called for Protestant solidarity against the pope and the Spaniard. Before reports of the Anglo-Spanish naval clashes in the Channel made their way to the Baltic, the regency government in Copenhagen received disturbing rumours of Spanish naval activity much closer to home. Dutch merchants sighted five Spanish warships off the Norwegian port of Trondheim; at least three, perhaps as many as five, Spanish ships had foundered on the Norwegian coast,

Hans Jensen, Myten om det “lille” Danmark. Træk af vor ydre og indre Historie (Copen
hagen, 1941), p. 13.

Robert I. Frost, The Northern Wars. War, State and Society in Northeastern Europe, 1558–
1721
(London, 2000), p. 14.

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