Law and Reformation: The case of Denmark-Norway

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Morten Kjær


University of Southern Denmark


DKK 756,000




Monograph Fellowships


The monograph deals with the relationship between law and religion through the historic prism of the Reformation in Denmark-Norway. The Reformation had a huge impact of the legal system, including the regulation of marriage, poor relief and crimes such as sexual offences, witchcraft and blasphemy which were transferred from the catholic Church to the state. This development will be analysed in the monograph through the following research question: How did the centralised government in Denmark-Norway regulate the areas which were transferred from church to state after the Reformation?


The monograph covers an important time in Danish-Norwegian legal history with a lasting impact on the legal system, including the present constitutional law. It will contribute to our understanding of the impact of the Reformation on the Danish-Norwegian legal system and the relationship between law and religion. Furthermore, the monograph investigates the historic Denmark-Norway, which had a common legislator, central administration and similar supreme courts with overlapping members. Through this approach the monograph will help pave the way for future investigations in the common legal history og the twin monarchy.


The monograph relies on a legal historic method which emphasises the analysis of legislation, case law and administrative decisions to determine how the centralized government regulated 1) the relationship between state and church with special focus on constitutional law and church regulation: 2) marriage: 3) criminal law and 4) poor relief. The monograph starts with the Reformation in Denmark-Norway in 1536/37 and ends with the enactment of the National Law of Denmark and Norway in 1683 and 1687.

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