The Fortifications

At all times a nation has had the need for the fortifications to protect its cities. Ramparts with wet or dry moats in front of them,  were found in the vicinity of all major medieval cities.

The principle was to block access to the city, and preferably so that the enemy could be bombarded while he tried to climb the moats and rampages. Meanwhile boiling oil or water was poured over the soldiers from the top of the palisades, while the attacker was trying to shoot over the walls with large stones and later artillery.

It was all about, that either the besieged city was destroyed or ran out of food, or the attacker also ran out of food or ammunition and went home.

A strong fortress was important, especially in earlier times, when it was quite clear, that if an army conquered the capitol – then they possessed the whole country.

The first Fortification

Copenhagen has been fortified since it was founded around 1100.

At first some palisades and later a tall city wall.

But not even a strong city wall was always enough. The wall around Copenhagen did not prevent the North German warlord Jaromar in taking the town in the year of 1259.

The Second Fortification

The Second Fortification was built from 1596 to 1617. It resisted a Swedish siege 1658 -1660.

Copenhagen needed to expand.

The next 200 years the city needed to grow. It was, however, prohibited to build in anything other than wooden houses outside the ramparts.  This made it possible to burn the buildings in case of an attack and not provide coverage for the advancing enemy.
For a long time, Tivoli was forced to live under these military building restrictions.

The city grew inwards and upwards as the number of inhabitants grew dramatically. The Health and sanitation were deeply dubious, the city was drowning in various waste. Because of this, there were  some serious epedemics.

The Third Fortification.

The fortifications from late 19´th, Century, was the 3rd fortification of Copenhagen.

The fortification had to be moved away from the capitol.

The modern rifled artillery could reach far, and a fortress should be located so far from the city, that it could not be reached by long-range artillery. At the same time, it should be as big an obstacle that it could not be to overcome without very significant losses.

The constructions of the fortifications led to a very aggressive argument in the public, the newspapers, the army and the parliament for several years. How should the Kingdom be defended, where and by the navy or the army. The final question was, if there was there any need for expensive fortifications.

The Constructions were Initiated witout approval.

Finally, in 1886, the constructions were initiated – without any approval from the parliament. This went on for eight years and was a real crisis for our new democracy from 1849.

Lets look at an argument for an officer
How some of the officers argued for the need of the fortifications, is very well described by a Danish colonel in a military article in 1906:

“Chieftains and negro kings can manage to make war, wandering from place to place. The administrations of civilized countries will soon halt, if the enemy becomes lords in the country. Therefore, at least the capitol, other important cities and parts of the country, must be fortified.”

The fortifications were placed where we know it today, 14 km from the center of Copenhagen.