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The Art of Printing

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The art of printing had great significance to the political as well as the religious struggle during the 16th century. Christian II understood how to take advantage of the new medium of the time and was helped by many commoners, humanists and priests. Leaflets and books were produced and the bible translations had great significance.

Rebellion
In the time of Christian II (1513-1523) the royal power made an alliance with the lower classes. Christian II tried to oblige the peasants by introducing laws, which were to secure the freedom of movement of the peasants and stop the sale of peasants from estate to estate.
”From now on, peasants shall not be sold. Such an evil, unchristian custom, which have been used here in Zealand, Falster, Lolland and Mön, to sell and give away poor peasants and Christian people like any soulless cattle, shall after this day never happen again...”
But mostly it was the citizens of the Danish cities that were benefited. Christian´s love of the religious reformism and his will to strengthen the royal power were also contributing factors to the nobility rebellion, which led to the fall of the king in 1523. When Christian was dethroned in 1523 a civil war broke out in the country. Copenhagen and Malmo remained faithful to the king, but the Scanian nobility wanted the new king, Frederik I, who led a more pro-nobility policy.
After the king had been ousted there were problems with tax refusals in Zealand. In Scania a regular rebellion broke out in 1525, when the Scanians, led by the feudal overlord of Gotland, Sören Norrby paid tribute to Christian II. In this connection Christian II issued a proclamation to the Danish people, where he said that neither noble or spiritual gentlemen ”look upon a poor peasant as nothing more than a dog”.

Propaganda
Christian II met with Martin Luther in 1523 and almost immediately converted to the new Protestant doctrine. The reformation, with its idea of the bible as the only guiding principle increased the demand for bibles and other religious books. The perception of the reformation went hand in hand with demands for increased literacy and access to bibles in Danish translation.
Christian participated actively (from his exile) in the publishing of the first Danish translation of the New Testament. The former mayor of Malmo and the merchant Hans Mikkelsen aided him. Christian knew how to employ the new propaganda means of the time, the printed word. One example is a coloured propaganda script (from around 1530), where the king´s return is agitated.
The Bible
The Bible
Christian II
Christian II

The Humanist Christiern Pedersen
In 1529 a new version of the New Testament was published, this time vastly improved. The man responsible was Chrstiern Pedersen, former canon in Lund, who had participated in the Scanian rebellion on the side of Christian II. He had converted to the new doctrine in 1526 and joined the exiled king. Christiern Pedersen was born and raised in Elsinore and became one of the most prominent humanists of the time. He lived for a number of years in Paris, where he was behind the first printed edition of Saxo´s History of Denmark, Gesta Danorum, from the 13th century – an expression of the great interest of the time to revive the history of the past.
When he returned to Denmark in 1532 he was allowed to live in Malmo, where the reformation had been carried through in 1529. Here was very active and published a script ”Om barn at hålla til Skola och Studium”, where he advocated a new and more humane education. It was also his translation work, which was the foundation of the first collected Danish bible translation. It was published in 1550 as ”Christian II´s Danish Bible”.
Saxo
Saxo
C. Pedersens medical book
C. Pedersens medical book
Christian III´s bible
Christian III´s bible
The Grammar School in Ystad
The Grammar School in Ystad

©  Øresundstid 2009