Nobility and King

Theme

The age of the nobility

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The period between the Reformation in 1536 and the introduction of absolute monarchy in 1660 is known as the the age of the nobility. After the Reformation had done away with the Church as a power player and an independent institution, the nobility became the most important of the king's supporters. On the economic front, the Reformation meant the transfer of the Catholic Church's property to the king and the nobility.

In October 1536, King Christian III (1534-59) introduced the Reformation in Denmark. He was in close contact with Martin Luther and the other German reformers, and in order to help establish a new church, the king asked Luther's close friend, Johann Bugenhagen, to come to Denmark. In 1537, Christian issued the Lutheran Ordinance, establishing the Danish Lutheran Church with the king as its head.

A more powerful state
The Lutheran Reformation had a number of important effects on Danish society. During the Middle Ages, three important aspects of society – social services, education and marriage – were church matters. After the Reformation, they came to be regulated by the state, allowing it to exercise much greater power over the country than before. By taking over the Church, the king assumed responsibility for ensuring that Danes lived as good, informed Christians. What Christian III began was intensified by his successors, not least…

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