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
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 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.