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The estates, representing leading social groups, initially comprised only clergy and nobility for many years but were later joined by merchants. However, peasants, who constituted a large part of the population, were excluded from representation in the Assembly of the Estates of the Realm for over two centuries.
When the estates assembled in 1660, King Frederik III, threatened by war, wanted to introduce hereditary succession to the throne to gain decisive power. The nobles were against this but the clergy and ordinary people supported the king, which meant that the estates lost their influence and an absolute monarchy with hereditary succession was introduced that would last for nearly 200 years until 1834 when King Frederik VI reintroduced the Assembly of the Estates of the Realm.
Re-establishing the assemblies was not done to provide the people with any real authority, but to appease critical European voices against the autocratic regime in Denmark. At this point, large landowners were also allowed to be members of the Assembly of the Estates of the Realm, but this meant that only 3% of the population was represented; peasants were also admitted at this time. The king still retained power, but now the estates had the opportunity to present proposals to the king. In order to prevent the estates from gaining too much influence, assemblies were held in four different parts of the country, with Roskilde providing the meeting place for the islands of Denmark.
Hear the podcast about the palace in English here.
Möchten Sie den Podcast über das Herrenhaus auf deutsch hören, drücken Sie bitte hier.