Author of This Site
Prelude to the Wars
The Siege of
Second War 1864
The Siege of
The Attack on Dybboel
The Attack on the Als
Danish-Prussian Wars 1848-50 and 1864
The prelude to the second Danish-Prussian war
The Danish constitutional problem.
The London Protocol established the absolutism should be continued in the
duchies, although Denmark had a democratic constitution in 1848. The Common constitution for the Danish United
Monarchy (the Kingdom and the duchies) was supposed to ensure that the joint
government affairs could continue to
operate despite the different modes of government. But in 1858 did the German Federal
Constitution abolished the common
constitution for Holstein and Lauenburg because these two duchies were members of the German
federation. In the joint
Danish-Schleswig-Holstein Government (the Realm Council) there were conflicts between the democratic
Denmark who wanted reforms, and the nobles representatives of Holstein, who wanted a very conservative development.
The liberal forces in Denmark therefore considered it more and more
inevitable, that Holstein would be separated from Denmark.
Ultimately it was feared, that Holstein through its
role in the Realm Council led to German interference in not only Schleswig, but also in
Danish internal affairs.
The liberal movement in Holstein was in fact of the same
opinion, but they also wanted Schleswig to be detached, ending up with a
united Schleswig-Holstein in the German Confederation.
The November Constitution
The Danisk government adopted shortly before Frederick the seventh's death
in November 1863 the so called November Constitution.
This Constitution replaced the former Common Constitution as
it related to common affairs of Denmark and Schleswig, but not Holstein.
Schleswig was now supposed to have its own
Schleswig local government (Landtag), while Denmark continued with its own parliament.
In that way it
should be possible to govern without the Holstein representatives in the Realm Counsil, who were the reason that the Danish
government was partly paralyzed. This immediately solved a constitutional problem, but broke the rules of the
London Protocol from 1852.
According to this, it was not possible to tie Schleswig closer to the kingdom than Holstein.
The National Tensions
The November Constitution aroused strong opposition among the German-minded
in not only the the duchies but throughout Germany.
The German-national opinion now sensed an opportunity for revenge
after the defeat in the first Danish Prussian War two years before.
In the German parliament in Frankfurt there was
arguments of liberating the duchies of dependence on Denmark and create a new
German state of them.
The German rebels dream of a independent Schleswig-Holstein state had
suffered defeat in the First War of 1848 to 1851. In
mood since then had been quiet, but angry and full of
In the 1850s the rules for the official use of
language had been completed for the Central Schleswig, which meant that
Danish should be
the language in the schools in the areas, where people mainly
spoke Danish. The language in the Churches alternated from time to time
while the judiciary and the administration was
bilingual. The northernmost part of Schleswig was still purely Danish language, and the
southernmost part remained purely
German language. The purpose was to halt the decline of the Danish language, but the reforms were
introduced by the
Danish Government without much debate. It caused many anger by many German-minded, as they for centuries had
to German as the dominant language. The German.minded saw the language-laws as a attempts of "Danisation" and
Prussia's ambitious Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck was not interested in
strengthening the liberal forces in the German league with
another state like an independent Schleswig-Holstein. He allied
therefore with Austria, officially to press Denmark to comply with the
London Agreements concerning the Duchies free position,
but in practice, he was hoping to conquer Schleswig and Holstein to Prussia,
as he later told in his memoirs.
Kaiser Wilhelm I
Otto von Bismarck
situation came to a head
In the next two
months secured the Prussian Chancellor Bismarck himself diplomatically that
they potential alliance partners in Denmark,
such as Sweden, Norway and England fell off. Denmark had
simultaneously violated the agreements from 1851- 52 on how it should
relate to the duchies which gave the legal option of
Despite massive pressure from friendly powers, and despite the fact that
Sweden rejected any plans for an alliance, Denmark did not
withdrew its Danish-Schleswig constitution.
This implied that the German forces threatened to occupy Schleswig as a
pledge, until the Constitution was given up and withdrawn. But
despite this and despite the fact that the Hanoverian and
Saxon troops actually already occupied Holstein and Lauenburg on December
23th, Denmark did not change its object.
16 January 16th Prussia and Austria gave Denmark an ultimatum to withdraw
the Constitution within 48 hours. It was actually quite
unrealistic, since the timetable could not be reached and no
attempt of an extension of time was accepted.
Prussian Ordre de
Bataille (Order of Battle) 1863/64