The foundation of the welfare state
Autumn 1660 marks a turning point in the efforts to abolish absolute monarchy in Denmark. The event was an Assembly of the Estates of the Realm in Copenhagen. The nobility, the bourgeoisie and the clergy all took part; peasants were not invited. The assembly was called to rectify the kingdom’s financial situation after the Swedish Wars had left it in tatters. Non-noble Estates, not least the Copenhagen bourgeoisie, saw themselves as the heroes of the Swedish Wars, and the nobility as the goats. And for this reason, the meeting was held under a pall of mutual mistrust.
Common front against the nobility
During the meeting, the bourgeoisie, the clergy and royal cliques interested in undermining the nobility banded together to form a common front. The alliance proposed hereditary monarchy to replace the system of elected kings. With the military also supporting the proposal, the nobility had little choice but to accept. Representatives from the…