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Article

Danish visions of the Scandinavian union (1809–1810): a genealogy of the rhetoric and pragmatics of justification

Although nation and empire – as well as the organicist and universalist visions mirroring them – are usually put in opposition to each other, this article argues that the two can create synergistic alliances. The attempt of the Danish dynastic union proposal to Sweden in 1810 sheds light on the repertoire of rhetoric and arguments the state could harness to substantiate its potential to rule over diverse populations. First, the paper demonstrates how the trope of Scandinavian kinship was formulated in the Danish public debate during the transitional period, or what Koselleck calls Sattelzeit. Then, the article shows how this language was embedded into power relations and configured to reinforce the imperial aspirations of the Nordic amalgamation, meaning the fusion of the Scandinavian nations. The core sources I consult are the pamphlets published to advertise union-building and the documents stored in the folders of the Royal Archive in Copenhagen (Rigsarkivet).