Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter xiii: The manner of dispossessing, and restoring the Duke of Holstein Gottorp - An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor
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chapter xiii: The manner of dispossessing, and restoring the Duke of Holstein Gottorp - Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor 
An Account of Denmark, With Francogallia and Some Considerations for the Promoting of Agriculture and Employing the Poor, Edited and with an Introduction by Justin Champion (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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The manner of dispossessing, and restoring the Duke of Holstein Gottorp
The Affairs between the King and Duke being on the terms abovementioned, that is to say, Ambition and Reason of State guiding the Designs of one Party, Fear and Weakness of the other, Hatred and Distrust of both; there seemed to be wanting nothing but a fair Opportunity to put in practice what had been long projected by the Danes, which at length happened in the year 1675.
Among other Differences which remained to be adjusted between the King and Duke, the Succession to the Counties of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst was the greatest; this was at length left to the determination of the Imperial Court; but whilst it was under debate there, several meetings between the Ministers of Denmark and those of Gottorp were appointed, in order to an amicable composure of this and all other Quarrels; which Meetings were principally sought after by the King, with all the seeming desires of Amity, and Appearances of Friendship imaginable, the better to lull the Duke into Security, and a Persuasion of the Sincerity of his Intentions. Sometimes an Equivalent for the sole possession of those Counties was proposed and hearkened to, and the whole Matter seemed to want nothing but fair drawing up, and the Ratification. At other times fresh Disputes arose touching the Taxes of the Dukedoms of Sleswick and Holstein, whereof the King challenged the greater part to himself, in proportion to the share of Forces which he maintained for Defence of the Country. On the other side, the Duke insisted on it, that the Taxes ought equally to be divided; and if the King kept up more Troops than were necessary, that did not any way prejudice his right to an equal share of the Revenues, especially since the King’s undertakings were managed neither with any previous Communication with, or consent of the Duke; nor were agreed unto by the States of the Dukedom, both which by ancient Treaties ought to have been done. But this Ball was either kept up, or let fall, according to the Circumstances of Affairs abroad, which the Danes had a watchful Eye upon, at the same time that they treated with the Duke.
For the Swedes having taken the part of France against the Empire, were at this time engaged in a War with the Elector of Brandenburg. And the Danes who had long since resolved to break with Sweden, thought no time so proper as this to revenge their ancient Quarrel, and to regain their lost Provinces. But looking upon the Duke of Holstein as a Friend to Sweden, and a main Obstacle to their Intentions, they durst not march their Army out of the Country, till they had so ordered Matters as to apprehend no danger from him.
A deep Dissimulation was necessary to the carrying on this Design upon the Swedes and House of Gottorp; and was made use of with so much Address, that the Swedish Ambassador, who was then residing at Copenhagen, and negotiating a Marriage for the King his Master with the Daughter of Denmark, was caressed in an extraordinary manner, and treated with the greatest Demonstrations of Friendship possible: And at the same time the Prime Minister of Denmark wrote most obligingly to the Duke’s Resident then at Hamburg, That he was ready to meet him half way, and would join endeavours with him to adjust all Differences, and establish a firm Correspondence between their Masters, which he said he desired above all things. He added moreover, that when willing Minds met together about the Composure of Differences, a few hours would put an end to that which had been transacting many years; and therefore conjured him to meet him. The King also did often declare himself to this purpose to the Duke’s Ministers, That he would acknowledge, as a great Obligation conferred on him, the furthering an Accommodation between him and the Duke.
’Tis the Custom of the King of Denmark to make once a Year a Voyage into Holstein, where he assembles and takes a review of his Troops. This is done not only upon the score of Diversion, and to see that the Forces be in good Condition; but also to use the neighbouring Princes and Hamburgh to such a practice; that when they see it performed several years without any ill Consequence, or Attempts upon them, they may take the less Umbrage, and be less upon their Guard, whenever he should have any real Design. About this time the King was beginning such a Journey, in order to put his Projects in Execution; and to lull the Duke into a deeper Security, writes to him very kind Letters, desiring him not to be concerned at it, since he had no other end in it than formerly in the like Voyages, unless it were to put a final determination to all Differences between them to their mutual satisfaction. The Duke was so pleased by these Assurances under the King’s Hand, that he went in Person to meet his Majesty, accompanied by his Brother the Bishop of Lubeck, and many others of the Nobility; and afterwards treated him very splendidly at a House of his upon the Road near his Residence of Gottorp; the King then caressing him, and desiring him earnestly to come and see him at Rendsburg (a fortified Town about fourteen English miles from thence) near which the Rendezvous of the Troops was appointed. Towards the conclusion of this Feast several large Healths were drank to the future good Agreement, with so much appearing Sincerity, that the good Duke thought he had no reason to doubt the reality of it; but ordered his Chief Minister to wait upon the King and his Ministers at Rendsburg; where they so far accommodated all Matters, that the whole Affair was supposed near its Conclusion.
Upon this the Duke sends three of his chief Counsellors, impowered by a special Commission, to treat and conclude at Rendsburg; with whom three of the King’s Council met, and conferred. The business of the Conference was principally about the Exchange of other Lands for the Counties of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst; but in it the King’s Commissioners took occasion to renew the Debate about the division of the Taxes, whereof, as I have said before, the King challenged the greater part: This did a little surprize and displease the Duke’s Commissioners, who thought it foreign to the matter in hand, and would not hearken to Proposals of that nature.
At the very same time, and during this Conference, the King’s Prime Minister wrote to the Duke’s, That he thought it necessary for both Princes, that the Duke of Gottorp would please to come to Rendsburg to the King, who was ready to conclude a Treaty; because the Presence of so near a Relation would contribute more than any thing else to a Friendly Composure of all these matters. And the Duke, as well upon the account of the former Invitation, as upon this fresh one, withal to shew his forwardness towards a Peace, resolves upon the Visit; first sending a Gentleman to acquaint the King with his intention, and desiring his permission to come and wait upon him. The King’s Answer was, That he should be heartily welcome, and his Chief Minister also, whom he desired to bring along with him. Thus the Duke being fully persuaded that all was meant honourably, on the 25th of June began his Journey, accompanied by his Minister and other Nobility, and arrived at Rendsburg; where he was welcomed by a discharge of all the Cannon of that Fortress, and other demonstrations of Joy.
The next day, being the 26th of June 1675, a fatal one to that unfortunate Prince and his Family, an Express arrives with Letters of the great Defeat given the Swedes by the Brandenburgers at Fehr Berlin: this was what the Danes wished and waited for; but could scarce promise themselves it should succeed so fully according to their expectations, or nick the time so justly as it did. They thought Heaven it self concurred with their Intentions; and not to be wanting on their parts, immediately give orders to shut the Town Gates, to call a Council of War, to send their Soldiers up and down, and seize all the Duke’s Towns and Fortresses. These Orders were as suddenly executed: the Duke’s Troop of Guards were disarmed, himself confined a Prisoner to his Apartment; his Dinner, which he thought to have eaten with the King, was brought in to him by Officers and Soldiers, who watched him so narrowly that he could not stir; the poor Duke exclaiming in the mean while, and complaining that he was ill used; that he was a Sovereign Prince of the Empire, independent of any other Power; that he was a near Kinsman, a Brother-in-Law, nay, an invited Guest of the Kings; that all the Laws of Justice, of Blood, of Friendship and Hospitality were violated by this Action, wherein the King had broken his Parole, and the Sanctuary of his own House. But all this was in vain; the Duke had no Remedy prescribed to him, but Patience; the Blow which was begun, must be followed, and more Evils must succeed that which had already happened.
For the Duke being thus seized, his Ministers were presently sent for, and told, That now there was an end of all Treating, that the King was Master, and would act as such: To which purpose he would take possession of the Duke’s whole Country, and put Garrisons into all the strong Places which he thought proper to secure to himself, because he had an intention to lead his Army elsewhere against the Swedes; that the Inclinations of the House of Gottorp were always malevolent towards the King, and by him considered as such; however if the Duke would fairly and freely renounce his Right to the Lands in question, the King might, at the Duke’s request, be prevailed upon to give him an hundred and fifty thousand Rix Dollars at Copenhagen for it.
Notwithstanding the Extremity the Duke was reduced to, he could not be brought to consent to such a severe Condition; but offered, since Matters could be no better, that the King without prejudice to his Right, should have the Taxes so much contested, in the manner he desired; that his Majesty should put one half of the Garrison into the strong Town of Tonningen, provided that all therein did take the Oaths of Allegiance to both Princes, till such time as the Exigencies of Affairs would permit the entire Restoration of it to its former Master: That if the King would dispose of his Country solely, the Duke must yield to force, but hoped his Right should be reserved entire, and desired that his Residence and Habitation of Gottorp, which was neither by Nature nor Art strong enough to be formidable, might be left free to him: Lastly, That the King would grant him and his liberty to dispose of themselves as they thought fit.
The Danes Answer was, That these Offers and Demands were no other than Trifles; That the King would proceed to the Execution of his own Will and Pleasure by Force and Arms; that neither the Duke, nor any of his, should ever be restored to their Liberty till he had signed an Instrument there ready drawn up, to order the Commander of Tonningen to Surrender it to the King; which the Duke at last, through despair of his Life, was forced to consent to; and accordingly that Fortress, with all its Cannon and Stores, was delivered up to the Officer sent by the King for that purpose.
Things being brought to this pass, the Duke was removed to his own House at Gottorp. His Dutchess, who had been all this while at Copenhagen, and as it was thought consented to all the Injustices acted against her Husband and Family, was restored to him; but he was in effect a Prisoner still; for Guards were placed at all the Avenues, every day some new severe Conditions were proposed to him, and Articles offered him which he was forced to sign: one of which was a Renunciation of his Supream and Independent Right over the Dukedom of Sleswick. Being at last quite tired with so many Violences, not knowing where they might end, he began to think of his Escape: so that one day taking the Advantage of his Dutchesses being sent for again by her Mother, the Queen Dowager of Denmark, he pretended to accompany her part of the way; and by the means of some trusty Servants, had re-lays of Horses placed in convenient stations. After a few hours travelling with her, he took his leave of her, and pretending to hunt, set Spurs to his Horse, and rid away as fast as he could towards Hamburg.
The Allarm was presently given of the Duke’s flight, and many Horse-men were dispatched after him, which he being aware of, took not the direct Road, but went about by Kiel; so that, after a narrow escape, he arrived safely where he designed. This mightily vexed the King, who used all means to get him out of that City, because Hamburg being so populous a Town, the fame of the Barbarity exercised against him flew from thence all over Europe. But the Duke had been taught by former Misfortunes not to trust his Enemy; and as soon as he got to Hamburg, solemnly protested against the validity of all that he had been constrained to agree to, whilst he was in Durance; yet withal declared, That he was as ready as ever to come to an amicable Composure of Differences with the King, to prevent the ruin of his Subjects, and other Mischiefs; provided the King would redress some of the greatest Grievances. This Proposition was so little regarded, that instead of hearkening to it, the King ordered the Fortress of Toningen to be demolished, the Dukedom of Sleswick to be sequestred, the Magistrates and People to be absolved from their Allegiance to the Duke, and obliged to an Oath of Fidelity to the King; all the Revenues of the Duke to be brought into his Treasury; Garrisons to be continued in the Duke’s Forts and Mansion-house, and unless the Duke came to accept of the King’s terms in relation to that Fief, that it should for ever be annexed to the Crown of Denmark.
For the more speedy publication of these new Orders, Proclamations were made and affixed to that effect in all the Towns of the Dukedom. The Duke on his part publishing others in opposition to this Usurpation, together with a Solemn Protestation against all that had been done; concluding with a Command to the States of the Dukedom, and the rest of his Subjects, to continue firm in their Loyalty and Obedience to their Natural Prince.
But the King, who was resolved no longer to keep any Measures with him, nor to preserve that Country in any tolerable condition which he knew not how long he might enjoy, exacted vast Contributions from the poor Subjects, to the value of many Millions of Gold, and to the ruin of as flourishing a Province as any in the Circle of Lower Saxony; thereby disabling the Duke’s Subjects from contributing any thing towards the Subsistence of their Master; who continued all this while at Hamburg in a state little befitting his high Quality; whilst he sent his Son abroad to raise the Compassion, and implore the Assistance of all the Neighbouring German Princes; on which Errand I had the Fortune to meet him at the Courts of Hannover and Wolfenbuttel. He made also strong Application to the Crown of England, as Guarantee of the Northern Peace, and caused a full Representation of his disconsolate Condition to be printed in English, which contains at large most of the Particulars above-mentioned; but all in vain: the Duke continued a Sufferer notwithstanding his many Appeals to those who ought to have interested themselves in his behalf: until such time as the King of Sweden began in earnest to take his Cause in hand. This King having at last brought the Affairs of his own Kingdom into such a Posture as permitted him to resent the Injuries done to his near Relation, threatened the Dane with a War in case he delayed Restitution; and to this effect, in the Year 1689 set a Fleet to Sea, with intention to second his Threats by Blows; which he might the better then do, because the chief Support of the Danes in their Injustice, (the French King) was at that time attacked by the Forces of the Confederates; and England, by the Accession of his present Majesty to that Crown, was become a principal Party in so just a War. So that France was likely to have its Hands full at home. Besides, his Majesty of Great Britain being become Guarantee of the Northern Peace, thought himself obliged in honour to maintain it; and in order to that end, gave such Instructions to his Envoy Extraordinary, then going to the Danish Court, as might induce it to comply with Justice, and prevent that Effusion of Blood which was threatened. These Remonstrances had their due weight with the King of Denmark; who at last yielded to the necessity of his Circumstances, and to the Solicitations of the Elector of Brandenburg, who pressed among the rest the Restoration of the Duke, and had sent his Ministers to the Congress for the Accommodation, to propose a Project to that end; not so much out of kindness to the Family of Gottorp, as for fear the Swedish Arms should by any just occasion be brought over the Baltick; the event of which might be fatal to all the Neighbourhood, and to the Brandenburgers in particular. Thus the Danes, with reluctancy, consented at last to give up what they had unjustly detained above thirteen years from its right Owner, after having raised vast Sums of Money from the Country: for the Duke’s part of the Dutchy of Sleswick only, had about 28,000 Ploughs in it, each of which were taxed to pay four Crowns a Month: besides innumerable other Extortions, which filled the Purses of the Ministers of Denmark, who shared the Revenues among them. The Swedish and Danish Fleets had been about a Fortnight at Sea, but no Action had happened between them. After the Accommodation was published, and the Duke restored, (yet without any reparation of Damages past) the two Fleets returned to their several Ports, and the Duke to his Habitation of Gottorp, which he found in a desolate Condition, compared to what he left it in. The Dutch had a principal Hand in the Conclusion of this Agreement, by the means of Myn Heer Heemskirk their Minister; and his Majesty of Great Britain a large share of the Glory of redressing a Wrong, which through so many years possession pleaded a kind of Prescription to warrant it; the very first half year of his Reign vindicating the Honour of the Crown of England, which was engaged as Guarantee; and securing the Peace of the North, in order to the procuring the Assistance of one, or both of those Princes, towards the humbling the common Enemy. This he effectually did; for the Danes immediately afterwards, sent by Treaty seven thousand Soldiers, which are yet in his Majesty’s Pay; and the Swedes remain at liberty to continue such of their Troops in the Dutch Service as formerly were stipulated for, and which (had a War broken out) they might have been forced to recall.