The statue of Hans Tausen infront of Ribe Cathedral.
Hans Tausen (1494-1561)
Hans Tausen did not introduce the Reformation to Denmark single-handedly, but his great personality and his way of talking to people made him look like the Danish leader of the movement. He preached in Danish, which made his services very popular.
From Catholic to Protestant
Hans Tausen was born in Birkende on the island Fyn in 1494. He was early admitted to church schools and studied at different universities in Europe. He e. g. went to the university in Wittenberg in 1523-24. He went to lectures and gained access to Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) way of thinking. Hans Tausen studied under Luther himself and joined his movement immediately. When he returned to his church in Antvorskov with his new conviction, he was met with great resistance. Due to his Lutheran views, he was banished to a church in Viborg. He was not respected by the administration here either and the church prior, Peder, tried to convince him to return to the traditional lecture again. But Tausen was popular amongst the congregation and Peder was afraid to turn him in for being heretic. Instead, the bishop Jørgen Friis ended up banishing Tausen from preaching in all churches in Viborg.
King and church
The new Lutheran way of thinking resulted in a power struggle between the King and the church. King Frederik I (1471-1533) had during his first years of reign fought the Protestants, even though he agreed with them in many regards. Luther had the opinion that it was the King and not the Pope or the bishops that were in charge of the churches.
The common also expressed dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church. The mendicant friars were especially starting to become a menace to society. The friars begged for alms for the church and in order to be saved, the townsfolk bought letters of indulgence. The Protestant chuch was different. God alone decided who was saved and it was not possible to buy forgiveness with God.
Reformation in Denmark
Former King Christian II (1481-1559), had already joined the Protestants. He was banned by his uncle, King Frederik I in 1523, who was Catholic. Frederik I was worried that the Danes would demand Christian II back on the throne, so Frederik I took Hans Tausen under royal protection and made it legal to be a Protestant. When Frederik I died in 1533, Denmark was thrown into the Count's Feud, which was not only a feud between two lines of kings: the banned Christian II against Frederik I’s son, the later Christian III. They were cousins, but also official religious opponents. Christian III was Catholic at that time.
Hans Tausen continued to spread the word. In 1536, Reformation was officially implemented in Denmark. Christian III (1503-1559) arrested many of the Danish bishops and confiscated church possessions. The power of the church was weakened, and the the King got stronger.
Hans Tausen worked from 1538-1542 as a teacher for priests in Roskilde, and from 1542 until his death he was bishop in Ribe. Hans Tausen translated the Bible to Danish and wrote a published collection of lectures. He further wrote a few psalms, some of them still part of the psalm book and after 500 years still sung. One of them is ”Fra Himlen kom en engel klar” (From Heaven came an Angel clear), which is about the proclamation of the birth of Jesus and the power of faith.
Jens Aage Poulsen: Da djævlen slap løs, Hans Tausen og reformationen i Danmark 1520-1540, 1994.
Torben Svendrup: Hans Tausen, Den danske Luther, 1994.
Bramming, Torben: Fire store ripensere, 250 års national identitet i en vanddråbe, 2008.
The Great Danish Encyclopedia