Why Did the Jutland Peninsula Develop a "Scandinavian" Culture? (user search)
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  Why Did the Jutland Peninsula Develop a "Scandinavian" Culture? (search mode)
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Author Topic: Why Did the Jutland Peninsula Develop a "Scandinavian" Culture?  (Read 2027 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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RINO Tom
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« Reply #1 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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RINO Tom
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« Reply #2 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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RINO Tom
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« Reply #3 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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RINO Tom
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« Reply #4 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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