I nederlagets skygge: 1864 i dansk selvforståelse og historiebrug (1864-2014)

Name of applicant

Rasmus Glenthøj


University of Southern Denmark


DKK 4,377,000



Type of grant

Semper Ardens: Accelerate


Denmark's defeat in the Second Schleswig War in 1864 marks a watershed in Danish history as it turned the Danish Gesamtstaat into a nation-state. This national trauma is often used as a universal explanation for Danish identity, culture, and history and according to some scholars the year 1864 is Denmark's Stunde Null. Despite the consensus on the immense importance of the defeat on Danish history, however, there has been no thorough research to its effects. Therefore, it is the aim of this project to investigate the different narratives of the defeat, their roots, and their importance within Danish historiography, politics, art, and literature.


Recent research indicates that the defeat in 1864 has been central in the ideological struggle between the left and the right in Denmark for more than 150 years. The project will pursue this hypothesis to test it. If it is the case, the project will examine how and to which extent the different narratives of the defeat has affected Danish historiography, politics, identity, and culture. Moreover, the project can give us a knowledge of how developments within politics, art, and historiography have affected the different narratives of 1864, and how the defeat has been used as a rhetorical argument to support later day policies and agendas. In this manner, '1864' may serve as a case-study on how great national defeats may affect national historiographies, cultures, and politics.


A postdoctoral fellow will investigate the role of '1864' in Danish politics and the politics of history, while a PhD fellow will study '1864' in Danish historiography. The project's principle investigator will examine the Danish defeat in the Second Schleswig War in a comparative perspective, hereby, creating the preconditions for a future international research project on the importance of defeats to national identities in a European context. To reach its goals the project will collaborate with other projects and scholars. The projects reference group consists of experts from fields of research such as history, art history, literary history, and political science. The group will serve as sparring partner and as an internal peer review for the project and its members.

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