Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier
Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier


I 1790’erne så de danske myndigheder ofte paralleller mellem hjemlige folkelige uroligheder og den franske revolution. I historieskrivningen derimod tillægges tidens folkelige uro ingen revolutionær betydning med det argument, at der sjældent blev fremsat krav om forandringer af den bestående samfundsorden. I denne artikel modsiges dette standpunkt i en mikrohistorisk analyse af en konflikt fra 1790 mellem Sæbys byfoged og borgerskabet, som fremsatte krav om mere indflydelse og åbenhed i bystyrelsen.

English summary

The revolution in Saeby

In 1790, the citizens of the tiny town of Saeby in northern Jutland demanded a meeting at the Town Hall to confront the town bailiff about his abuse of power as chief of police, but the bailiff refused to obey any “self-made national assemblies”. In Denmark at the time, such examples of popular local unrest were often compared with the French Revolution. However, in later Danish historiography, these disturbances have been seen as “reactive” defences of traditional rights that do not carry the same historical significance as the bourgeois revolution in France, for example. Inspired by an interactional approach to popular unrest, this article argues that the Saeby citizens’ collective protest did indeed have some revolutionary traits: a micro-historical analysis of the conflict as a process shows that the unrest began as a reaction to enclosure and police reforms, and when the town bailiff was suspected of embezzlement, demands for democracy and more transparency grew. Descriptions of the bailiff’s rule as “despotic” show that the citizens of Saeby were inspired by contemporary ideals of democratic absolutism. Thus, the article concludes that popular local disturbances such as these should be seen as part of the revolutionary movement that was taking place elsewhere at that time.