Battle of Copenhagen Day in Denmark Date in the current year: April 2, 2024

Battle of Copenhagen Day in Denmark There are several types of official flag flying days in Denmark: national holidays, religious holidays, birthdays in the royal family, and military flag flying days. The Battle of Copenhagen Day, observed on April 2 very year, is a military flag flying day.

The Battle of Copenhagen, also referred to as the First Battle of Copenhagen, was a naval battle between the fleets of the British Royal Navy and the Dano-Norwegian Navy, fought on April 2, 1801. It came about over British fears that the Second League of Armed Neutrality comprising Denmark, Sweden, Prussia, and Russia would ally itself with France.

The war between France and Britain began in 1792, resulting from the French Revolution. It complicated maritime trade between neutral states, as Britain would seize their merchant ships if it suspected they were doing trade with France.

In 1800, English ships captured the Danish frigate Freya, and Emperor Paul I of Russia invited Denmark, Sweden and Prussia to renew the policy of armed neutrality, which was first used during the American Revolutionary War to protect neutral shipping and isolate Britain (the First League of Armed Neutrality).

The British government saw this alliance as a threat to its interests, assembled a fleet, and sent Denmark an ultimatum demanding that it withdraw from the League. On March 19, 1801, the British fleet arrived in Skagen, where English diplomat Nicholas Vansittart informed them that Denmark had rejected the ultimatum.

It was obvious to the Admiralty that the issue had to be resolved by force, but members of the Royal Navy command couldn’t reach a consensus on how exactly to do that. Admiral Hyde Parker preferred a cautious approach and wanted to blockade the Baltic, whereas Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson wanted to fight the Russian fleet. In the end, Nelson persuaded Parker to attack the Danish fleet off Copenhagen.

In the morning of April 2, 1801, overwhelming British forces attacked Danish ships anchored in the harbor of Copenhagen and Danish coastal artillery. The British encountered heavy resistance, and the skirmish lasted for several hours. Finally, Admiral Parker signaled to retreat, but Nelson disobeyed the order and continued the battle.

The Battle of Copenhagen eventually ended late in the afternoon, resulting in heavy losses for Denmark: between 1,600 and 1,800 people were captured, killed or wounded, two ships sank, one exploded, and 12 were captured by the British (subsequently 11 of the captured ships were burned and the remaining one was sailed to England).

Several days later, Nelson secured a fourteen-week armistice to allow action against Russia, and the Second League of Armed Neutrality essentially collapsed. On October 23, 1801, Britain and Denmark signed the final peace agreement.

Although the Battle of Copenhagen resulted in a Danish defeat, its anniversary was declared a flag flying day to honor the memory of those who fell in this battle. Like the rest of military flag flying days in Denmark, it is a working day.

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