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This article investigates a part of the history of surveillance with a particular focus on surveillance strategies in late absolutist Denmark. It argues that for understanding the present perceptions of surveillance strategies surveillance has to be explored in different historical periods and cultures. From the perspective of information history the article understands surveillance as a strategy used by the information state and legitimized by either warfare or welfare. In the historical period of the Napoleonic wars the Danish absolutist government primarily focused on surveillance to control the population and less on surveillance for the benefit of the population.
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