|House of Oldenburg Coat of Arms|
I have spent considerable time discussing extinct and dissolved dynasties but have not yet completed my survey of extant dynasties. There are primarily two remaining for Europe, and a few smaller singular ones as well. However, no other has been able to maintain such an expansionist vision as the House of Oldenburg.
|The Kalmar Union|
The Kalmar Union was in crisis in 1448. The precarious union of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway had never been strong and certainly was wavering when the former king, Christopher of Bavaria, died. His widow, the Dowager Queen Dorothea of Brandenburg, needed to keep the union together and the Danish courts turned to a distant descendant of a bygone king, Count Christian of Oldenburg, to reunify the three states. Sweden and Norway were caught unawares. Sweden elected its own king, Charles VIII, instead of returning to the union, while Norway was fought over by the two rivals. Norway first went to Sweden, but quickly an agreement was made that attached it to Denmark in perpetuity. At the same time, Christian I married Dorothea, solidifying his claim to the Danish throne. Political catastrophe befell Charles VIII and the Kalmar Union was reestablished under the rule of Christian I and the the House of Oldenburg. In 1460, Christian I added to his Oldenburg lands the duchy of Schleswig, in Denmark, and country of Holstein, in the Holy Roman Empire. Holstein was elevated to a duchy soon after, allowing Christian I to play in the realm of German politics.
Oldenburg power in Sweden declined steadily over the next 100 years until Christian II, in 1520, massacred 100 anti-Union protesters in the Stockhold Bloodbath. The subsequent withdrawl by Sweden from the Kalmar Union the next year was no surprise and the House of Vasa took power there for the next century or so. Norway suffered from the dissolution, and in 1536 was permanently made into a Danish province, with all its hereditary lands such as Greenland and Iceland being transferred to Danish control (Greenland remains a Danish possession today). Denmark then jumped headlong into the Reformation, with Frederick I declaring Denmark-Norway to be a Lutheran country in 1526. However, religious tolerance toward Catholics caused internal strife and external war. When Frederick I died, the Catholic members of the Danish courts refused to acknowledge Frederick's son, Christian III, as king. The Catholics raised up Count Christopher of Oldenburg, a distant cousin of Christian's, as a possible regent for Christian III, while other Catholics tried to return Christian II, who had been deposed in 1523, to the throne. All of it was for naught, though. Despite a thorough ravaging across his lands, Christian III survived it all, defeated all his enemies, and reestablished Danish control. Denmark has been Lutheran ever since.
|Christian IV, King of Denmark|
Frederick III and his successors entered into the age of absolutism as monarchs with a cause but no power to do anything about it. Twice they tried to go to war with Sweden again in hopes of reclaiming lost lands, and twice they failed to do so. Over the course of the 18th century, Denmark centralized around Copenhagen even while the Danish nobles stole power from the king. This all ended in 1807. The Napoleonic Wars had forced most of Europe to take sides, but Denmark was resolute on remaining neutral. Nonetheless, Britain feared that France would invade Denmark and take their ships, so Britain captured the majority of the Danish navy and added it into their own. Denmark stayed out of the war until it joined with France against the Sixth Coalition. It won some victories but lost the war and, in 1814, was forced to cede Norway to Sweden despite strong Norweigan resistance.
|Kingdom of Denmark-Norway|
|Queen Margarethe II of Denmark|
In Norway, despite Sweden's annexation of the state in 1814, the House of Oldenburg returned in 1905. Political unrest against the Swedes ended with Sweden renouncing their overlordship over Norway and Norway becoming an independent kingdom. The government rejected a republican government and instead elected Prince Charles of Denmark, second son of King Frederick VIII Denmark, as their new king. Charles took on the regnal name Haakon VII and led his country through a harsh neutrality during World War I. He attempted the same during World War II but was forced to flee in 1940 to London, where he set up his wartime headquarters to retake Norway.
|Harald V, King of Norway|