So, you think you can't speak Danish? Well, perhaps you need to think again, at least if English is your native tongue.
Although you might not master the Danish language good enough for a conversation, a largeÂ group ofÂ every-day-wordsÂ you use in English actually has aÂ Danish, or rather Old NorseÂ origin; name of week days, maritime terms etc. You'll also find traces inÂ EnglishÂ place names (e.g. in endings such as -by, -thorpe, -gate, and -toft), and some of these place names even have a Scandinavian personal names as prefix, such as Grimsby, meaning Grim's village.
The oldest existing evidence of human habitation in Denmark is traces of reindeer hunters'' settlements. They settled on the Jutland Peninsula by the end of the last Ice Age c. 12500 BC, but it was not until the Stone Age, c. 4000 BC, that a peasant culture with organised farming communities emerged. In the Bronze Age (1800 BC) villages emerged and in the Iron Age (500 AD) regular towns.
During the 1700s, the Danish-Norwegian merchant fleet had become large and rather powerful, and in size only surpassed by the British fleet. Although Denmark tried to keep neutral in the wars subsequent to the French Revolution, Denmark was pulled into the growing conflict between the French-Russian alliance on one side and the English-Swedish alliance on the other. Denmark was not willing to give in to the English demands and kept on calling at ports in France and in French possessions. Twice this lead to an English attack, 1801 and 1807, and after the English shelling of Copenhagen in 1807â€”said to be the worlds first bombardment of civiliansâ€”almost the entire Danish-Norwegian fleet was sieged.