• Lotte Lorentzen Sørensen
4. term, History, Master (Master Programme)
The focus of this paper is a historiographical review of material published about Johann Friedrich Struensee based on selected historians. My interest in the subject was created by the blockbuster "A Royal Affair" from 2012, which is based on Struensee and his time at the Danish court the 1770s. In this Struensee is very positively portrayed, which made me wonder. Has Struensee always been seen equally positive by historians? He was, after all, executed for crime against the state majesty in April 1772? Thus, the purpose was to create an overview of the trends prevailing in the history of this area.
Six historians have been selected who represent different periods of time and reveals different attitudes towards Struensee and his fall. These are Jens Kragh Høst (1824), Christian Molbech (1852), Adam Fabricius (1873), Edvard Holm (1902), Svend Cedergreen Bech (1972) and Asser Amdisen (2002). Based on these historians, it becomes possible to comment on some general trends in the portrait of Struensee. First of all, all the historians can more or less be linked to either the perception of him as a self-indulgent soldier of fortune or tragic hero, misunderstood by his contemporaries. Proponents of the first view have a tendency to have a negative view of Struensee and the importance of his work. In contrast is the other perspective, in which he is often glorified and his work is considered as the first steps towards a more modern society.
The reasons for his eventual downfall shows some general patterns to which historians in a greater or lesser extent, agrees in. Thus all recognize that the public opposition was important. Through his reforms and fast rising in rank Struensee made enemies everywhere in society. In addition malicious rumors strengthened his unpopularity in society and put him in touch with a coup against the Danish monarchy. In addition to his unpopularity almost all historians finds his nationality problematic. It is in connection with his German ancestry and reluctance to learn the Danish language, traditions and customs. Thus grew discontent with him on this point. To this can the explicit fear that several interprets based on his actions in connection with the sailor riots, the party with "The Reconciliation Ox" and "The Christmas Eve Feud" be added. Finally, several points out that Struensee lacked the ability to be a statesman which his predecessor Bernstorff possessed.
In the review of the historians approach to Struensee it becomes possible to gain an insight into how they have seen him, and how their contemporary has affected how he was portrayed. As more sources are available and less consideration to one's own time has been necessary, a more varied picture of Struensee has emerged. Historians still have a tendency to lean towards one of the two conceptions of Struensee as either soldier of fortune or tragic hero, while they pretty much just develops on the reasons for his fall.
Publication date23 Jul 2014
Number of pages82


ID: 201754685