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Absolute Monarchy in Later Eighteenth-Century Denmark: Centralized Reform, Public Expectations, and the Copenhagen Press

Thomas Munck
The Historical Journal
Vol. 41, No. 1 (Mar., 1998), pp. 201-224
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640150
Page Count: 24
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Absolute Monarchy in Later Eighteenth-Century Denmark: Centralized Reform, Public Expectations, and the Copenhagen Press
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Abstract

By the later eighteenth century, the Danish-Norwegian monarchy had a convincing track record for stability and the near-absence of domestic unrest. That stability, despite the wide-ranging claims of the Royal Law of 1665, depended less on force than on a consensus derived from religious unity, a traditionally approachable monarch, and a fairly accessible system of justice. But the crown also relied on a widespread loyalty which was bound to come under strain at the accession of the demented Christian VII in 1766. Despite the removal of censorship restrictions in 1770, however, a convincing public discussion of social and political issues was slow to emerge. Only after the resolution of the political crisis in 1784 did the government feel sufficiently secure not only to tolerate, but even to come to rely on, an unprecedented if moderate public debate. That debate, as reflected through samples of the Copenhagen press studied here, remained even in the 1790s largely supportive of the view that absolutism offered a viable way to lasting reform.

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