Peder Schumacher Griffenfeld, Count

Griffenfeld, Peder Schumacher, Count (pāˈħər shōˈmäkhər, grĭfˈənfĕlt) [key], 1635–99, Danish politician. The son of a merchant, he became (1665) secretary to Frederick III. In 1665 Griffenfeld drew up the Kongelov [king's law], which established an absolute monarchy in Denmark. He delivered (1670) the document, which had been kept secret until Frederick's death, to Christian V. From 1671 to 1676, Griffenfeld dominated the government. In 1673 he was created count. He encouraged trade and industry and centralized the administration. His bourgeois origins and his support of absolutism antagonized the nobles, and his policy of peace, by which he hoped to restore Danish prestige, alienated the army. Denmark was drawn into war with Sweden (1675), and Griffenfeld's plans were overruled. On trivial evidence he was tried for treason and sentenced to death, but Christian commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.

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