Why Did the Jutland Peninsula Develop a "Scandinavian" Culture?
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Author Topic: Why Did the Jutland Peninsula Develop a "Scandinavian" Culture?  (Read 1625 times)
RINO Tom
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« on: March 17, 2023, 01:47:00 PM »

Let's not get caught up too much on semantics here, but it seems fairly obvious that both ancient sources and modern researchers conclude that the Germanic tribes of modern-day Denmark and those of modern Northern Germany were extremely similar; both areas are very clearly defined as part of "Germania" by the Romans, genetic samples are very similar and no historian ever identifies any HUGE cultural differences between the tribes that would eventually emigrate to Britain from this area (Jutes in Northern Jutland, Angles in the middle/south and Saxons in Northern Germany).

Fast forward a while, and the Saxons of Northern Germany have a very clearly "German" identity, and the remaining peoples of modern Denmark are very clearly considered "Scandinavian," closer to Swedes and Norwegians than neighboring Germans.  Why was this the case?  As far as I can tell, there is no clear natural barrier in this area that would separate "Germans" from "Danes" and allow for such a separate path of ethnogenesis.  I have come across some things about the (ancient) "Danes" coming from the actual Scandinavian Peninsula itself and displacing the tribes that WERE in Jutland, but I have not found much more ... where were those tribes pushed to?  Did they move into modern Germany?

Appreciate any answers from those who know better.  This has always puzzled me why (specifically the Jutland portion of) Denmark developed closer cultural ties to Sweden than to Germany, when one would assume it was PART of whatever would become "Germany" from looking at a blank map without borders.  Surprisingly little information available on this topic online, so again - thanks in advance!
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2023, 03:22:14 PM »

As a general remark, the sea has in many times and places been less of a barrier than traveling over the land a comparable distance. Somewhere like a peninsula you'd expect to find a culture with an orientation toward the sea, facilitated by the refinement of boat/ship technology for fishing and trade.

But as to the specifics of the change between (in linguistic terms) West Germanic and North Germanic in Jutland over the course of the early medieval period, I'm not sure and have wondered that myself. Maybe there's some connection between Jutes & Angles migrating out to Britain and Danes migrating in?
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RINO Tom
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2023, 03:32:09 PM »

As a general remark, the sea has in many times and places been less of a barrier than traveling over the land a comparable distance. Somewhere like a peninsula you'd expect to find a culture with an orientation toward the sea, facilitated by the refinement of boat/ship technology for fishing and trade.

But as to the specifics of the change between (in linguistic terms) West Germanic and North Germanic in Jutland over the course of the early medieval period, I'm not sure and have wondered that myself. Maybe there's some connection between Jutes & Angles migrating out to Britain and Danes migrating in?

Yeah, I thought the last part was a likely candidate.  However, as someone whose ancestry is mainly from Northern Germany, I must say I have always been annoyed by how an Anglo-centric view of history acts like all of the Saxons just upped and left for Britain, haha.  So, since I am aware of the relatively massive population of Saxons who remained in Germany, I guess I assumed at least a significant portion of the other tribes remained in Jutland.  I'm sure that definitely played a role, though, good point.
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gerritcole
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2023, 05:47:45 PM »

the germans call/called the danish 'swamp germans' but also swedish/danihs/nowegian are more mutually intelligible than german and danish
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2023, 04:05:35 PM »

I don't think I entirely understand the question here. There are significant cultural similarities between North West Germany and Denmark in general and Jutland in particular. There are significant cultural similarities between the pair of them and England. It also happens that the political centre of Denmark eventually became Copenhagen (so open to Swedish influences and, of course, the function capital of both during the Kalmar Union period), that there were always other cultural influences in England, and that the political centre of German, though always mobile, was last in the North West of the country during the transition between the Early and High Middle Ages.
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RINO Tom
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2023, 12:37:49 PM »

I don't think I entirely understand the question here. There are significant cultural similarities between North West Germany and Denmark in general and Jutland in particular. There are significant cultural similarities between the pair of them and England. It also happens that the political centre of Denmark eventually became Copenhagen (so open to Swedish influences and, of course, the function capital of both during the Kalmar Union period), that there were always other cultural influences in England, and that the political centre of German, though always mobile, was last in the North West of the country during the transition between the Early and High Middle Ages.

I guess I also don't really know how to rephrase it, haha.  I am not doubting that Danes and Northwest Germans have similarities (as nearly all bordering ethnic groups do), but the fact is they both trace their ethnic/linguistic ancestry back to groups that diverged quite a long time ago (North Germanic and West Germanic tribes).  I guess it has never made sense to me that (A) "Denmark" developed a North Germanic language rather than a West Germanic one and/or (B) why Jutland itself developed as part of what would become "Denmark" rather than what would become "Germany."  To simplify or phrase another way, why did Denmark develop a culture such that the detached Justland Peninsula would today be considered part of "Scandinavia" despite not being on the Scandinavian Peninsula and functionally/physically just an extension of the land of Northern Germany.  To me it seems akin to (from a strictly geographical comparison, as I know the histories are obviously not comparable) Long Island developing a culture closer to Rhode Island/Connecticut than to Brooklyn.
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ingemann
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2023, 05:51:25 PM »

Because the Danes conquered it, and especially the coastline of along the Kattegat was settled by Danes. If the Saxon and Franks had taken control over it, it would likely speak some version of West Germanic. It should also be said while the people of the Jutish peninsula of the time spoken West Germanic dialects, the distinction between North and West Germanic were still pretty minor at this point in time, and itís impossible to find genetic difference Low Germans and Danes at this point in time, showing two population without any admixture barriers (the Swedes and Norwegians on the other had grown slightly distinct thanks to geographic barriers between them and the Danes, so gene flow was primarily from Denmark to the other Scandinavian countries). It should be said by modern day Low Germans and Danes have grown into two distinct population because of political and linguistic barriers between the two populations, caused by language drift and the establishment of the East Frankish Kingdom (which resulted in increased admixture between High and Low German.

If the Danes had also conquered Saxony, we would likely have seen a similar Scandinavianization of Saxon. While a Frankish conquest of Denmark, would likely have made Danes into a West Germanic people or even Germans.
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RINO Tom
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2023, 05:48:41 PM »

^ Awesome, thank you!  In reading up (very casually) on the history of the Danes (the tribe) or Denmark, it is surprisingly difficult to get that information, at least clearly enough to understand it as a novice.
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Buffalo Mayor Young Kim
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« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2023, 02:49:55 PM »

I don't think I entirely understand the question here. There are significant cultural similarities between North West Germany and Denmark in general and Jutland in particular. There are significant cultural similarities between the pair of them and England. It also happens that the political centre of Denmark eventually became Copenhagen (so open to Swedish influences and, of course, the function capital of both during the Kalmar Union period), that there were always other cultural influences in England, and that the political centre of German, though always mobile, was last in the North West of the country during the transition between the Early and High Middle Ages.

I guess I also don't really know how to rephrase it, haha.  I am not doubting that Danes and Northwest Germans have similarities (as nearly all bordering ethnic groups do), but the fact is they both trace their ethnic/linguistic ancestry back to groups that diverged quite a long time ago (North Germanic and West Germanic tribes).  I guess it has never made sense to me that (A) "Denmark" developed a North Germanic language rather than a West Germanic one and/or (B) why Jutland itself developed as part of what would become "Denmark" rather than what would become "Germany."  To simplify or phrase another way, why did Denmark develop a culture such that the detached Justland Peninsula would today be considered part of "Scandinavia" despite not being on the Scandinavian Peninsula and functionally/physically just an extension of the land of Northern Germany.  To me it seems akin to (from a strictly geographical comparison, as I know the histories are obviously not comparable) Long Island developing a culture closer to Rhode Island/Connecticut than to Brooklyn.
Because Copenhagen is more accessible to Jutland than any major German cultural center,
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RINO Tom
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« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2023, 03:32:11 PM »

I don't think I entirely understand the question here. There are significant cultural similarities between North West Germany and Denmark in general and Jutland in particular. There are significant cultural similarities between the pair of them and England. It also happens that the political centre of Denmark eventually became Copenhagen (so open to Swedish influences and, of course, the function capital of both during the Kalmar Union period), that there were always other cultural influences in England, and that the political centre of German, though always mobile, was last in the North West of the country during the transition between the Early and High Middle Ages.

I guess I also don't really know how to rephrase it, haha.  I am not doubting that Danes and Northwest Germans have similarities (as nearly all bordering ethnic groups do), but the fact is they both trace their ethnic/linguistic ancestry back to groups that diverged quite a long time ago (North Germanic and West Germanic tribes).  I guess it has never made sense to me that (A) "Denmark" developed a North Germanic language rather than a West Germanic one and/or (B) why Jutland itself developed as part of what would become "Denmark" rather than what would become "Germany."  To simplify or phrase another way, why did Denmark develop a culture such that the detached Justland Peninsula would today be considered part of "Scandinavia" despite not being on the Scandinavian Peninsula and functionally/physically just an extension of the land of Northern Germany.  To me it seems akin to (from a strictly geographical comparison, as I know the histories are obviously not comparable) Long Island developing a culture closer to Rhode Island/Connecticut than to Brooklyn.
Because Copenhagen is more accessible to Jutland than any major German cultural center,

I'm not really sure this is true in the time period where these cultural differences developed ... Copenhagen was founded in the Twelfth Century, per Wikipedia, and Jutland had already been a "Scandinavian" area for a while by then.

Again, the spirit of the question is why is there this hard cutoff between Saxons in Northern Germany and Danes in Denmark, with zero noticeable natural barriers?  It was answered pretty well in the previous posts, but to act like someone in Jutland in late Antiquity would naturally develop a culture more similar to an area that's almost in Sweden vs. one that is literal miles away in Northern Germany is just revisionism.
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2023, 06:50:00 PM »

It's important not to impose certain modern concepts about nation, culture and language onto the Early Modern Period: this was the classic error of 19th century academia.* As Tolkien famously argued almost seventy years ago, you're not dealing with sharp boundaries (whether political or cultural ones) but an endless landscape of marches and hinterlands; everything was so mixed into everything else in all possible senses that you simply cannot say that you have (in this instance) Lower Saxony here, Jutland there, Zealand here and (say) Northumbria there and that they were all entirely discrete regions the cultures of which can be easily distinguished. In an English context we don't know who on earth the Jutes actually were, if they really came from Jutland and quite how they were then integrated into the Saxon polities of Southern England. We also don't quite know how 'Saxon' the furthest West of those (i.e. Wessex) actually was. And so on and so forth.

*Well, one of them. One of the worst certainly.
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2023, 10:37:19 AM »

It should also be said while the people of the Jutish peninsula of the time spoken West Germanic dialects, the distinction between North and West Germanic were still pretty minor at this point in time, and itís impossible to find genetic difference Low Germans and Danes at this point in time, showing two population without any admixture barriers (the Swedes and Norwegians on the other had grown slightly distinct thanks to geographic barriers between them and the Danes, so gene flow was primarily from Denmark to the other Scandinavian countries).

Both of these being relevant points for English history in the same general period. Modern genetic surveys aren't quite as reliable as enthusiasts and boosters like to suggest but are still useful as indicators.* Except that in this one very famous case where indicators would be very useful, namely the extent of Norse settlement in the Danelaw, we don't have any meaningful ones as one group of settlers from mostly Jutland turn out to be functionally indistinguishable from another group only a few hundred years later. Meanwhile, while Old English had a West Germanic grammatical structure, Modern English has a North Germanic grammatical structure due to the influence of said Danish settlers and the later literary prominence of writers from Yorkshire and the East Midlands at critical stages in the evolution of the language, though, being a proudly illogical language, not many words of Norse origin outside of the various Yorkshire dialects. Point being that such a change could happen quite gradually almost without being noticed (unlike e.g. the massive influx of Norman French words after 1066) as the languages weren't so far removed at the time.

*One fun thing is that we now know there was substantial cross-channel migration entirely unlinked to political drama throughout the period.
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Sol
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2023, 03:58:07 PM »

Meanwhile, while Old English had a West Germanic grammatical structure, Modern English has a North Germanic grammatical structure due to the influence of said Danish settlers

This is not precisely accurate; Old English did undergo dramatic restructuring as the result of Old Norse influence, but many of these changes were simplifications that took the language's grammar away from both languages; i.e. the loss of case and gender.

Of course it did also have a tremendous impact in making the language more like Old Norse in some ways of course, but I'm always hesitant to use turns of phrase like this because they imply that English isn't a West Germanic language, which of course it still is.

(Pedantry over, my apologies).
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Meclazine for Israel
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« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2023, 09:46:31 PM »

Because everyone near the Coast was overrun by the marauding Norwegian Vikings.
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ingemann
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« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2023, 05:38:26 PM »

It should also be said while the people of the Jutish peninsula of the time spoken West Germanic dialects, the distinction between North and West Germanic were still pretty minor at this point in time, and itís impossible to find genetic difference Low Germans and Danes at this point in time, showing two population without any admixture barriers (the Swedes and Norwegians on the other had grown slightly distinct thanks to geographic barriers between them and the Danes, so gene flow was primarily from Denmark to the other Scandinavian countries).

Both of these being relevant points for English history in the same general period. Modern genetic surveys aren't quite as reliable as enthusiasts and boosters like to suggest but are still useful as indicators.* Except that in this one very famous case where indicators would be very useful, namely the extent of Norse settlement in the Danelaw, we don't have any meaningful ones as one group of settlers from mostly Jutland turn out to be functionally indistinguishable from another group only a few hundred years later. Meanwhile, while Old English had a West Germanic grammatical structure, Modern English has a North Germanic grammatical structure due to the influence of said Danish settlers and the later literary prominence of writers from Yorkshire and the East Midlands at critical stages in the evolution of the language, though, being a proudly illogical language, not many words of Norse origin outside of the various Yorkshire dialects. Point being that such a change could happen quite gradually almost without being noticed (unlike e.g. the massive influx of Norman French words after 1066) as the languages weren't so far removed at the time.

*One fun thing is that we now know there was substantial cross-channel migration entirely unlinked to political drama throughout the period.

Thereís also the factor that genetic difference between West and East Danes are almost non-existing as a result of the high internal mobility in Denmark caused by the waterways and the fact that the Jutish population mainly lives on the east coast of the peninsula.
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ingemann
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« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2023, 05:46:10 PM »

It's important not to impose certain modern concepts about nation, culture and language onto the Early Modern Period: this was the classic error of 19th century academia.* As Tolkien famously argued almost seventy years ago, you're not dealing with sharp boundaries (whether political or cultural ones) but an endless landscape of marches and hinterlands; everything was so mixed into everything else in all possible senses that you simply cannot say that you have (in this instance) Lower Saxony here, Jutland there, Zealand here and (say) Northumbria there and that they were all entirely discrete regions the cultures of which can be easily distinguished. In an English context we don't know who on earth the Jutes actually were, if they really came from Jutland and quite how they were then integrated into the Saxon polities of Southern England. We also don't quite know how 'Saxon' the furthest West of those (i.e. Wessex) actually was. And so on and so forth.

*Well, one of them. One of the worst certainly.

I find it l most likely that the Jutes was the population of North Jutland, we also know that traditional  Jutish and Angle-Danish dialects tend to have a similar grammatical structure to West Germanic. Jutland seems to have been the original homeland of West Germanic, while the Danish islands and southern Sweden was likely the homeland of North and East Germanics.
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Mr. Smith
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« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2023, 11:02:11 PM »

Let's not get caught up too much on semantics here, but it seems fairly obvious that both ancient sources and modern researchers conclude that the Germanic tribes of modern-day Denmark and those of modern Northern Germany were extremely similar; both areas are very clearly defined as part of "Germania" by the Romans, genetic samples are very similar and no historian ever identifies any HUGE cultural differences between the tribes that would eventually emigrate to Britain from this area (Jutes in Northern Jutland, Angles in the middle/south and Saxons in Northern Germany).

Fast forward a while, and the Saxons of Northern Germany have a very clearly "German" identity, and the remaining peoples of modern Denmark are very clearly considered "Scandinavian," closer to Swedes and Norwegians than neighboring Germans.  Why was this the case?  As far as I can tell, there is no clear natural barrier in this area that would separate "Germans" from "Danes" and allow for such a separate path of ethnogenesis.  I have come across some things about the (ancient) "Danes" coming from the actual Scandinavian Peninsula itself and displacing the tribes that WERE in Jutland, but I have not found much more ... where were those tribes pushed to?  Did they move into modern Germany?

Appreciate any answers from those who know better.  This has always puzzled me why (specifically the Jutland portion of) Denmark developed closer cultural ties to Sweden than to Germany, when one would assume it was PART of whatever would become "Germany" from looking at a blank map without borders.  Surprisingly little information available on this topic online, so again - thanks in advance!

 Danish has the same throat R as Standard German, Dutch, and French, rather than the trilled R of classic Northern English, Swedish, or Norwegian [or Icelandic ftm].

That reveals a bit of a connection right there.
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ingemann
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« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2023, 09:38:06 AM »

Let's not get caught up too much on semantics here, but it seems fairly obvious that both ancient sources and modern researchers conclude that the Germanic tribes of modern-day Denmark and those of modern Northern Germany were extremely similar; both areas are very clearly defined as part of "Germania" by the Romans, genetic samples are very similar and no historian ever identifies any HUGE cultural differences between the tribes that would eventually emigrate to Britain from this area (Jutes in Northern Jutland, Angles in the middle/south and Saxons in Northern Germany).

Fast forward a while, and the Saxons of Northern Germany have a very clearly "German" identity, and the remaining peoples of modern Denmark are very clearly considered "Scandinavian," closer to Swedes and Norwegians than neighboring Germans.  Why was this the case?  As far as I can tell, there is no clear natural barrier in this area that would separate "Germans" from "Danes" and allow for such a separate path of ethnogenesis.  I have come across some things about the (ancient) "Danes" coming from the actual Scandinavian Peninsula itself and displacing the tribes that WERE in Jutland, but I have not found much more ... where were those tribes pushed to?  Did they move into modern Germany?

Appreciate any answers from those who know better.  This has always puzzled me why (specifically the Jutland portion of) Denmark developed closer cultural ties to Sweden than to Germany, when one would assume it was PART of whatever would become "Germany" from looking at a blank map without borders.  Surprisingly little information available on this topic online, so again - thanks in advance!

 Danish has the same throat R as Standard German, Dutch, and French, rather than the trilled R of classic Northern English, Swedish, or Norwegian [or Icelandic ftm].

That reveals a bit of a connection right there.

Modern Standard Danish (rigsdansk meaning Realm Danish) developed from the dialect spoken in Copenhagen and MalmŲ at the time of the Reformation. While this dialect mainly build on Zealandic and to lesser extent Scanian, it was also heavy influenced by medieval Low German and Copenhagen even kept having a significant Low German minority until 1900*, it also saw a influx of Dutch immigrants and refugees in the 16th century. So the traits Danish share with German, Dutch and French and it doesnít share with Swedish and Norwegian are mostly a result of this influence.

*Copenhagen was 20-25% Low German until 1850 and it was only the large influx of rural Danes and Swedish immigrants in the period 1850-1900 which resulted in this group disappearing. You still see a lot of Danish old money having German surnames, through itís mostly a question of degree thereíre also plenty of German names among the other classes.
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