Introduction of Schleswig-Holstein
State in Germany, occupying the southern part of theJutland Peninsula, with the North Sea on the W, theBaltic Sea on the E, and Denmark on the N. Schleswig,the southern part, is a former duchy created in 1115as a hereditary fief held from the kings of Denmark;while Holstein became a county of the HolyRoman Empire in 1111. For more than six centuriesthe two territories had many different rulers and wereat different times combined or divided in variousways. After 1773 the kings of Denmark held bothduchies. They were full sovereigns of Schleswig and ruled Holstein as princes of the Holy Roman Empire.The Congress of Vienna in 1815 confirmed this statuswith the German Confederation, organized thatyear, which succeeded the extinct Holy RomanEmpire. The population of Schleswig-Holstein waspredominantly German, and growing nationalismmade a touchy issue of the relation of the region toDenmark. The Germans feared Schleswig would befully incorporated into Denmark.In 1848 Frederick VII of Denmark declared sucha complete union, and revolt broke out in both duchies.Led by Prussia, the German Confederation occupiedthe duchies in support of the revolutionaries. Anarmistice was arranged, but fighting resumed in 1849and ended inconclusively in 1850. The question of thesuccession to the rule of Schleswig-Holstein was thesubject of a conference in London in 1852 that resultedin a treaty guaranteeing the integrity of Denmark'sterritory; it also conferred the succession to the Danishthrone and both duchies on the Glucksburg branchof the Danish royal house. Denmark promised to keepthe duchies united and their status that of a personalunion through the Danish crown. In 1855, however,under Danish nationalist pressure, Frederick VIIdeclared that the Danish constitution applied to theduchies. The German Confederation protested, and the proclamation was withdrawn in 1858. In 1863,however, a common constitution for Denmark and Schleswig was signed by Frederick's successor, ChristianIX. The German diet objected, and in January1864 Prussia and Austria declared war on Denmark,which was quickly defeated. Austria favored recognizinga claim to the duchies by the duke of Augustenburg,but Prussia, under the leadership of Otto vonBismarck, was determined to annex the duchies.The Treaty of Gastein in 1865 placed Holsteinunder Austrian control and hand ed over Schleswig toPrussian administration. As Bismarck had hoped,this dual control caused friction that helped himmaneuver Austria into war in 1866. The Austro-Prussian War ended in seven weeks with victory forPrussia, and the two duchies were annexed to Prussia,along with the duchy of Lauenburg, whichbecame part of the province of Schleswig-Holstein.Following World War I a plebiscite was held in 1920in which the Danish majority of northern Schleswigvoted to join Denmark. The leading cities of Schleswig-Holstein are Flensburg; Kiel, the capital; LСЊbeck;and Schleswig, one of the oldest cities in Germany.