Renæssanceforum 2 • 2006

Flemming Lundgreen-Nielsen
Poetry in Danish under Frederik II

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Late medieval Catholic poetry and Lutheran pamphlets had made up the bulk of the printed matter that was published in Denmark before 1559. Under Frederik II an artistically valuable secular Danish literature slowly came into being, written by parsons, historians and teachers. Generally combining respect for the culture of ancient Rome and Greece with an eagerness to further Lutheranism, they unfortunately lacked a contemporary poetical idiom and therefore stuck to traditional stylistic devices and old-fashioned medieval metres considered outdated abroad. Anders Sørensen Vedel's Danish translation of Saxo's Gesta Danorum (1575) featured prominently, as did his anthology of 100 medieval popular ballads (1591), commissioned by two consecutive chancellors and by the queen respectively.