Johann Friedrich Struensee Legacy

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A willful manipulator of the throne or revolutionary thinker? The legacy of Johann Friedrich Struensee is left in history as a controversy. During the 1770's, Christian VII's reign in Denmark was underscored with the illness of the king, which gave way for a German doctor, Johann Friedrich Struensee, to rise to power and become a ruler. As the king’s doctor and confidant, Struensee essentially gained the persuasive power of a king and later accumulated all of the governmental power so he could rule. Inspired by ideas of the Enlightenment, Struensee tried to enact laws that reflected the social liberalism at the time period and attempt to create a society full of respect for human rights, the promotion of the arts, and gains of equality for …show more content…
Instead of trying to gain the favor of the other most powerful individuals in the country, Struensee ended up infuriating them by introducing laws that undermined their way of life. For example, Struensee introduced laws like the abolition of "undeserved" revenues for nobles, the abolition of the practice of preferring nobles for state offices, and the introduction of a tax on gambling and luxury horses to fund nursing of orphan children. (Dewey, 85) The laws introduced by Struensee were direct attacks on the aristocracy by demoting them from important positions, imposing higher taxes, and distributed the nobles’ wealth to the peasant class. This distribution of wealth, while it was helping the lower classes, it did not help Struensee gain favor with the wealthier classes of Denmark. One of the glaring problems in the reign of Struensee was his lack of support from the local population. He did not have a great rallying point around which he could gain favor, as many of the commoners still believed that Christian VII was controlling most of these actions. His biggest support base would have been amongst the peasants, but since they were unaware of Struensee’s achievements, he could not rely on their support to protect him. He made a fatal flaw in his reluctance to gain the nobles’ trust and did not influence them into his …show more content…
Struensee did little to integrate himself into the Danish culture of the time period, as he was more interested in making sweeping reforms than integrating himself within the nobility and society as a whole. Many of Struensee’s more liberalized views made him stand out in the deeply religious and socially conservative society, which meant that many of his ideas clashed with the Danish nationalists of the time period. According to Laursen (2000), “patriots and nationalists resented the fact that the German and French-speaking Struensee made no effort to learn Danish and did not disguise his contempt for their language”, which created a deep language barrier between Struensee and his constituents. He could not sufficiently rule over a country to which he had no ties, and Struensee made no considerate effort to learn any of the Danish language or customs. (Laursen, 192) By creating this language barrier and distancing himself from his constituents, Struensee essentially allowed for the struggle of national identity to overtake his regime. He did not account for

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