Just to follow up on my previous post about historical political mistakes: The regular reader of this blog, aka he-who-must-not-be-named, contacted me and suggested some further lowlights of Danish political history to complete the list. I’ve picked and chosen from the suggestions so without further ado:
The Updated List of Blunders, Mistakes and Glaringly Imcompetent Decisions in Danish Political History
- 1863: The National-Liberal government tries to annex Schleswig unilaterally. Denmark was thoroughly whacked by Prussia and lost Schleswig as well as Holstein and Lauenburg.*
- c. 1800-1814: Frederik 6 enters the Napoleonic wars. Denmarks loses its navy and Norway, state bankruptcy.
- 1657: Frederik 3 declares war on Sweden. Stupid idea when you do not have an army or a plan for the war. Denmark lost Skåne and Blekinge in the process.
- 1625: Christian 4 wants a piece of the action in the Thirty Years’ War. Bad decision – German armies occupied Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland as a result, Denmark lost Halland and the state’s finances took a hammering.
- Early 15th Century: Eric of Pomerania spent too much time fighting the Germans and put too little effort into controlling the Swedes. Sweden began to emerge as a regional power.
- 13th Century: Valdemar 2. (aka Valdemar Sejr)’s conquests around the Baltic may have looked impressive in the short run but in effect opened the way for German settlements around the southern and eastern Baltic region.
This only makes six big mistakes, but then Denmark is smaller than the UK or the US.
It seems obvious that neither the mid-17th nor the early 19th Centuries were particularly prosperous periods for the Danish state. Some other suggestions include: 1047 – Magnus the Good falls off his horse and dies with polical chaos as the consequence (I’m trying to figure out if this constitutes a mistake or just clumsiness), 1130 – Christmas celebrations in the Royal family including murders (my colleague Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard would without doubt be able to make a game-theoretical analysis of the rationality of entering a murderous feud in royal families).
*Some might argue that losing Flensborg was quite smart. After all, Flensborg is very convenient when people in Jutland want to shop for cheap beer and alcohol. The same goes for Fehmern.
PS: About 1940 – see my reply to the first comment to this post.