One of the myths that people keep spreading about Denmark is that Denmark was ethnically, religiously and culturally homogenous from Viking times until the 1960s when gæstearbejdere and refugees showed up from other countries.
I am reading a book called Fremmede i Danmark (400 års fremmedpolitik): Foreigners in Denmark (400 years of foreigner policy) (ISBN: 87 7492 631 4) published in 1984 which is an academic takedown of this enduring fairy story. Not that anyone listens.
From the 1600s, while the slave trade was going strong, there were several African slaves in Denmark. The ban on slave trade in Denmark came in 1802, by which time, there were at least 50 black people living in Copenhagen.
You might think “ahh, well, the capital city of a country that has done particularly well out of the slave trade will have a few dozen black people, that’s sort of a given. But there weren’t any people of colour out in the provinces, that’s just silly.”
In Fredericia, where I live, the book gives an account of a man. I’ll type it out here. This extract is from “These wild fellows: Negros in Denmark until 1848” by Poul E. Olsen.
“Baptism of black pagans was often a festive occasion. On the 1st May 1767, a negro was baptised in Fredericia’s Michaelis church. The negro was bought in St. Croix by a Enevold Bang, who died on the return journey and left the negro to his brother, Lars Bang from Fredericia. The negro was, for preparation to the baptism, taught for two years partly at the school and partly by the parish priest. The week before the baptism, he was overheard by the dean of the city in the presence of all the city’s priests.
On the day of the baptism, he was led to the church by the parish priest and after more speeches and hymns than usual at a baptism, the negro, who had recanted his pagan faith, was named Christian Glücklich. For this special occasion, the Jyske Dragoon regiment oboists played in the church.
Christian Glücklich Bang later became a regimental timpanist for the Jyske Dragoon Recruited Regiment. In 1770, he married Apelone Corneliusdatter, with whom he had a couple of children who died in infancy. In 1772, the Jyske Dragoon Regiment moved from Fredericia to Randers and from then on there is no trace of Christian Glücklich.”
There’s some more detail from a magazine write up of a talk given in the 80s by Erik Housted. For example, he married Apelone after she became pregnant with their first son. And Lars Hansen Bang was in the Jyske Dragoon Regiment as quartermaster.
But I have so many questions about this man. Was he born on St. Croix? Was he a freedman when Lars Hansen Bang “received” him in his brother’s will? What was Apelone like? Was he treated like a normal person or an exotic curiosity by the people he knew the best? What happened to him in Randers? Did he feel bad about renouncing his faith or did he truly believe in Christianity? Did he have any more children? Was he happy?
I can’t find anything on him. Except this:-