Denmark

THE DANISH PHILHELLENES

The participation of the Danes in the Greek War of Independence is indicative of the wide impact of philhellenism in European societies. Professors of classical studies and theology took leading action for the benefit of the Greek revolutionaries, a movement that found a warm response in the whole of Danish society. Several Danish volunteers left for Greece, especially during the first two years of the war.

Many were students, such as Henrik Nikolai Krøyer, who described the feelings and reasons that led him and many of his compatriots to make the dangerous journey to Greece: the feeling of a sort of impasse they experienced in their homeland and the desire to explore the world. Krøyer also reveals the important role of the press in strengthening the philhellenic current: the descriptions of the Greek-Turkish conflict in the newspapers fueled his pro-war sentiments and reminded him of the admiration he felt for the Greeks from his school years, as well as the importance of defending freedom and justice through the active support of the Greek cause.

The contribution of Danish volunteers was multifaceted. Friedel von Friedelsburg crisscrossed Greece with a portable lithographic press and created a great series of portraits of the protagonists of the Greek Revolution. Less fortunate was a young anonymous doctor, who came to Greece from Marseilles and died in Messolonghi before the battle of Peta in 1822, while several Danish Philhellenes perished during the Exodus.

• Picture: Portrait of Henrik Nikolai Krøyer (1868) – Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark)

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