Juel, Jens

JUEL, JENS (1631-1700), Danish statesman, born on the 15th of July 1631, began his diplomatic career in the suite of Count Christian Rantzau, whom he accompanied to Vienna and Regensburg in 1652. In August 1657 Juel was accredited to the court of Poland, and though he failed to prevent King John Casimir from negotiating separately with Sweden he was made a privy councillor on his return home. But it was the reconciliation of Juel's uncle Hannibal Sehested with King Frederick III. which secured Juel's future. As Sehested's representative, he concluded the peace of Copenhagen with Charles X., and after the Danish revolution of 1660 was appointed Danish minister at Stockholm, where he remained for eight years. Subsequently the chancellor Griffenfeldt, who had become warmly attached to him, sent him in 1672, and again in 1674, as ambassador extraordinary to Sweden, ostensibly to bring about a closer union between the two northern kingdoms, but really to give time to consolidate Griffenfeldt's far-reaching system of alliances. Juel completely sympathized with Griffenfeldt's Scandinavian policy, which aimed at weakening Sweden sufficiently to re-establish something like an equilibrium between the two states. Like Griffenfeldt, Juel also feared, above all things, a Swedo-Danish war. After the unlucky Scanian War of 1675-79, Juel was one of the Danish plenipotentiaries who negotiated the peace of Lund. Even then he was for an alliance with Sweden " till we can do better." This policy he consistently followed, and was largely instrumental in bringing about the marriage of Charles XI. with Christian V.'s daughter Ulrica Leonora. But for the death of the like-minded Swedish statesman Johan Gyllenstjerna in June 1680, Juel's " Scandinavian " policy might have succeeded, to the infinite advantage of both kingdoms. He represented Denmark at the coronation of Charles XII. (December 1697), when he concluded a new treaty of alliance with Sweden. He died in 1700.

Juel, a man of very few words and a sworn enemy of phrasemaking, was perhaps the shrewdest and most cynical diplomatist of his day. His motto was: " We should wish for what we can get." Throughout life he regarded the political situation of Denmark with absolute pessimism. She was, he often said, the cat's-paw of the Great Powers. While Griffenfeldt would have obviated this danger by an elastic political system, adaptable to all circumstances, Juel preferred seizing whatever he could get in favourable conjunctures. In domestic affairs Juel was an adherent of the mercantile system, and laboured vigorously for the industrial development of Denmark and Norway. For an aristocrat of the old school he was liberally inclined, but only favoured petty reforms, especially in agriculture, while he regarded emancipation of the serfs as quite impracticable. Juel made no secret of his preference for absolutism, and was one of the few patricians who accepted the title of baron. He saw some military service during the Scanian War, distinguishing himself at the siege of Venersborg, and by his swift decision at the critical moment materially contributing to his brother Niels's naval victory in the Bay of Kjoge. To his great honour he remained faithful to Griffenfeldt after his fall, enabled his daughter to marry handsomely, and did his utmost, though in vain, to obtain the ex-chancellor's release from his dungeon.

See Carl Frederik Bricka, Dansk Uografisk lex., art. " Juel " (1887, etc.); Adolf Ditlev Jorgensen, P. Schumacher Griffenfeldt (1893- 1894). (R.N.B.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

About Maximapedia | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | GDPR