How A Danish Sailor Went From Explorer to Icelandic King
In 1799, Jørgen Jørgensen, the son of a prominent Danish watchmaker, did what many men in his day did and decided to seek out his fortunes at sea. Against the backdrop of the American and French revolutions, Jørgensen began serving as a sailor on various ships around the world. In 1800, he sailed to Australia where he picked up a job aboard the Lady Nelson. The Nelson was an armed survey craft with the mission of drawing a more accurate map of the Australian coast.
The Lady Nelson would become instrumental in the British exploration and claiming of the island of Tasmania. Jørgensen was a member of the party that allegedly founded the city of Hobart which is still the capital and most populated city in Tasmania. It seemed as though Jørgensen’s career as a prominent sailor was off to a good start.
After spending five years exploring Australia and sailing around the world the young man decided to return home to Denmark to catch up with his family and take a rest.
While he was home, the British fleet sailed into Copenhagen and bombarded the city with heavy cannons. The incident outraged the Danish who still claim that it was the first major terrorist attack in European history. Jørgensen watched as the ships he used to admire and serve on opened fire on his friends and family. The incident changed Jørgensen forever.
From British Sailor To Privateer
After the British attack on Copenhagen, Jørgensen signed up to command a Danish vessel, Admiral Juul. Admiral Juul was as large brig and the ship was given letters of marque that allowed it to legally attack British ships. Whether Jørgensen requested the letters of marque or not is unclear but his family was instrumental in the purchase and outfitting of the ship. What is clear is that Jørgensen still felt incensed against the British in the aftermath of the battle.
Less than a year after witnessing the Battle of Copenhagen, Jørgensen engaged in a battle with the…