Denmark

In Denmark, Chrisdtopher II was exiled and succeeded by his uncle, Frederick Duke of Schleswig Holstein in 1523. Before then, in 1520 there was a flurry for the reformation stemming from a Carmelite monk, Paul Elia, who had heard Luther`s doctrines and attempted some reform . He was followed by Petrus Parvus who had been attracted to Wittenburg by the fame of Luther and Melanchthon . Parvus was further influenced by the eloquent preaching of Nicholas Martin a pastor who preached in the Danish tongue in the cathedral of Hafnia (Copenhagen). In 1522 Christopher II had tried to make some reforms correcting some of the flagrant practices and requiring any disputes to be settled in Denmark , with no appeals to Rome. Despite his tyrannical leanings Christopher II had some good in him, and in 1524 while exiled in Flanders he had the New Testament translated into Danish and sent into his former kingdom.

The usual clamour arose from the Papists and representations were made to King Frederick and the popish nobles, while the availability of the Word in Danish began to spread. Among its proponents was  Georgius Johannis who returned from Wittenburg to his home in Viborg to spread the Reformed opinions, and was given the kings protection to open a Protestant school. He later became Bishop of Ottonburg in 1537. On to the scene then came Johannis Taussanus, born in 1494 of peasant stock in Fionia ( Jutland). He had been a monk of the Order of John the Baptist or Jerusalem Monks, in Zealand. His ability was recognised by the award of a bursary that enabled him to go to a school or university of his choice - any except Wittenburg. He chose Cologne where Luther`s works came to his notice and at great risk and cost (loss of his bursary) he went to Wittenberg. He returned to Denmark about 1521 having been given a degree of Doctor of Theology at the University of Rostock. He managed to conceal his Lutheranism from his colleagues until Easter 1524 when he preached against `good works`  and righteousness to justify salvation which gave the game away.

Taussanus was transferred to Viborg where a strict watch was kept on him, but he nevertheless spread the word to monks there. He was about to be sent away again when in 1526 Frederick decreed that no molestation should be made of teachers of the new doctrine. Thus he was freed to preach to the people of Viborg who gathered in great congregations to hear him. The Bishop of Viborg,  Georgius Friis,  tried to suppress Taussanus by force of arms but was resisted by the people and King Frederick ordered the bishop to desist. Bishop Friis then connived with other bishops to try and get either, or both, Doctors Eck  and Cochlaeus - the foremost Papist debaters of their day , to dispute with Taussanus, but they declined the invitation sent them on 14 June 1527.

In the meantime the preachers - Paul Elia, George Johannis (or Jani) Nicholas martin and Taussanus preached far and wide. Elia gathered his nerve together and obtained permission to preach publicly which he did while under the protection of Magnus Goyus, a Lutheran and Master of the King`s Horse. With murmurings in the street and some unrest King Fredrick summoned the Estates to meet at Odense (1527) and decreed that both religions would be tolerated  till a General Council had met. Other articles at the time provided that no one was to oppressed for their beliefs; monks and nuns were at liberty to leave  convents or to remain therein, to marry or remain single. Priests were allowed to marry; transfer of funds to Rome was prohibited, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction was confined to ecclesiastical matters.

A further and unusual change was the Danish regard for poetry and song. They more than any other country, brought the singing of hymns into use. Nicholas Martin began teaching in Malmo during 1527 where the people proposed the translation of canticles from Latin into Danish. Several hymns were translated from the German. They were assisted further by  Francis Wormord, Bishop of Lund, a former Carmelite monk who had translated the Psalms of David. Wormord`s book was published in 1528 and opened new vistas for worship in Denmark.

By 1529 the Protestant religion was universally proclaimed and the Mass was abolished.Frederick ordered a  theology college to be established in Malmo that would provide ministers for the future; among the professors (called readers) was Nicholas Martin. Taussan continued his work and took great pains to ensure able preachers were sent to towns in need of a pastor. As to be expected the opposition of the Catholic bishops was vociferous and they again tried to raise the people against the heretical Lutheranism. Frederick now adopted an aggressive policy and in 1530 summoned all the bishops and prelates to a conference in Copenhagen. As was their practice the Papists again produced a long list of criticisms of Protestant beliefs rather than an explanation of their creed. The Protestants produced a paper containing forty three articles drawn from the Scriptures. As seems to have been the case throughout the Reformation it was another `no contest` with the Papists maintaining a trenchant dogma. Eventually they turned to bewailing that their bishops were debating with heretics and claiming they were intimidated by the presence of soldiers, such was their petty behaviour and desperation. As a result of the gathering and the pantomime that brought it to an end the people, the Estates and the King were very sympathetic to a Protestant declaration that Taussan and others produced. This was  twelve articles that demonstrated the neglect, corruption  and oppression of the Papal hierarchy. Frederick decreed toleration for both until a General Council met, but also moved to a closer association with the Protestant cause by Joining the Schmalkald League in 1532.

Murmurings continued and the Papists connived with Christian II to return to Denmark; but his fleet was destroyed in a storm and he was seized and imprisoned until Frederick died on 10 April 1533. This brought about more scheming to place John, the younger son of Frederick and a Catholic, on the throne. The elder brother became King Christopher III. The ambition of the Papists sought to attack Taussan in the Diet and obtained a sentence of silence and exile. On hearing of the trickery the citizens of Copenhagen stormed the Diet and demanded Taussans reinstatement and protection of Protestantism . The warmth of feeling convinced the Diet to retract and restore Taussan. But still the bishops continued to persecute Protestants in their sees, threatening excommunication, assemblies and schools were closed and Protestant teachers driven out. Fortunately the sword was not unsheathed almost entirely due to the strength of the people themselves who had a new maturity under Protestant teaching. They made the decision in the final analysis and Christopher was  elected to the throne in July 1534.

Christophers first task was to settle the kingdom and bring the bishops to heel. It was 1536 when he called a meeting of the estates  at Copenhagen and drew to their attention the calamities the bishops had brought on the country with their endless plotting. He laid a short decree before the Diet that : abolished the episcopate, the wealth of bishops should revert to the state; that government should only be in the hands of laymen; rule of the Church should be by a synod; religion should be Reformed; the rites of the Catholic Church should cease; all Catholics whould be instructed in the Reformed faith; that remaining eccesiastical property and revenues should be used to provide "superintendents", learned men, and  the foundation of colleges and universities. The proposals were adopted and  by the "Recess of Copenhagen",  as it was styled, the Reformed faith was publicly established. It was 1547 when the crowning achievement was the framing of a  constitution for the Protestant Church. A draft had been agreed with Martin Luther and the reformers at Wittenberg  shortly before his death. It  was finally subscribed by the King, two professors from each college, and all leading pastors - a Danish Covenant no less. This was followed by the induction of seven Protestant bishops, with apostolic laying on of hands given by Bugenhagen (Pomeranus) on 7 August 1547. In the same month the coronation of Christian III took place with  a simple Protestant rite and only the anointing retained.

Norway

Norway and distant Iceland were not excluded from the Reformation although Christopher III was at first rejected as King - due largely to agitation of the prelates. But settlement in Denmark and acceptance of Christopher soon spilled over into these far northern neighbours who followed suit. In 1537 the Archbishop of Drontheim fled to the Netherlands taking with him very considerable  treasures of the cathedral. This broke the resistance and soon Norway, too, was Reformed.

Iceland, the furthest possession of Denmark was the scene for entrenched resistance to attempts by Augmund, Bishop  of Skalholt, to bring reform in 1539. Broken by the resistance he retired. In 1540 Gisser Enerson was inducted to the vacant bishopric . He had been a student at Wittenberg and was well able to take on the stubborn papists. It was hard work but eventually, with ongoing support from Reformers in Denmark, the Icelandic peoples also adopted the Reformation doctrine  and constitution.

 

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