Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
276
CHRISTIAN III.—IV.

wreckers and “the evil and unchristian practice of selling peasants as if they were brute beasts”; the old trade gilds were retained, but the rules of admittance thereto made easier, and trade combinations of the richer burghers, to the detriment of the smaller tradesmen, were sternly forbidden. Unfortunately these reforms, excellent in themselves, suggested the standpoint not of an elected ruler, but of a monarch by right divine. Some of them were even in direct contravention of the charter; and the old Scandinavian spirit of independence was deeply wounded by the preference given to the Dutch. Sweden too was now in open revolt; and both Norway and Denmark were taxed to the uttermost to raise an army for the subjection of the sister kingdom. Foreign complications were now superadded to these domestic troubles. With the laudable object of releasing Danish trade from the grinding yoke of the Hansa, and making Copenhagen the great emporium of the north, Christian had arbitrarily raised the Sound tolls and seized a number of Dutch ships which presumed to evade the tax. Thus his relations with the Netherlands were strained, while with Lübeck and her allies he was openly at war. Finally Jutland rose against him, renounced its allegiance and offered the Danish crown to Duke Frederick of Holstein (January 20th, 1523). So overwhelming did Christian’s difficulties appear that he took ship to seek help abroad, and on May 1st landed at Veere in Zealand. Eight years later (October 24th, 1531) he attempted to recover his kingdoms, but a tempest scattered his fleet off the Norwegian coast, and on the 1st of July 1532, by the convention of Oslo, he surrendered to his rival, King Frederick, and for the next 27 years was kept in solitary confinement, first in the Blue Tower at Copenhagen and afterwards at the castle of Kabendborg. He died in January 1559.

See K.P. Arnoldson, Nordens enhet och Kristian II. (Stockholm, 1899); Paul Frederik Barfod, Danmarks Historie fra 1319 til 1536 (Copenhagen, 1885); Danmarks Riges Historie, vol. 3 (Copenhagen, 1897–1905); Robert Nisbet Bain, Scandinavia, chap 2 (Cambridge, 1905). (R. N. B.) 

CHRISTIAN III. (1503–1559), king of Denmark and Norway, was the son of Frederick I. of Denmark and his first consort, Anne of Brandenburg. His earliest teacher, Wolfgang von Utenhof, who came straight from Wittenberg, and the Lutheran Holsteiner Johann Rantzau, who became his tutor, were both able and zealous reformers. In 1521 Christian travelled in Germany, and was present at the diet of Worms, where Luther’s behaviour profoundly impressed him. On his return he found that his father had been elected king of Denmark in the place of Christian II., and the young prince’s first public service was the reduction of Copenhagen, which stood firm for the fugitive Christian II. He made no secret of his Lutheran views, and his outspokenness brought him into collision, not only with the Catholic Rigsraad, but also with his cautious and temporizing father. At his own court at Schleswig he did his best to introduce the Reformation, despite the opposition of the bishops. Both as stadtholder of the Duchies in 1526, and as viceroy of Norway in 1529, he displayed considerable administrative ability, though here too his religious intolerance greatly provoked the Catholic party. There was even some talk of passing him over in the succession to the throne, in favour of his half-brother Hans, who had been brought up in the old religion. On his father’s death Christian was proclaimed king at the local diet of Viborg, and took an active part in the “Grevens Fejde” or “Count’s War.”

The triumph of so fanatical a reformer as Christian brought about the fall of Catholicism, but the Catholics were still so strong in the council of state that Christian was forced to have recourse to a coup d’état, which he successfully accomplished by means of his German mercenaries (12th of August 1536), an absolutely inexcusable act of violence loudly blamed by Luther himself, and accompanied by the wholesale spoliation of the church. Christian’s finances were certainly readjusted thereby, but the ultimate gainers by the confiscation were the nobles, and both education and morality suffered grievously in consequence. The circumstances under which Christian III. ascended the throne naturally exposed Denmark to the danger of foreign domination. It was with the help of the gentry of the duchies that Christian had conquered Denmark. German and Holstein noblemen had led his armies and directed his diplomacy. Naturally, a mutual confidence between a king who had conquered his kingdom and a people who had stood in arms against him was not attainable immediately, and the first six years of Christian III.’s reign were marked by a contest between the Danish Rigsraad and the German counsellors, both of whom sought to rule “the pious king” exclusively. Though the Danish party won a signal victory at the outset, by obtaining the insertion in the charter of provisions stipulating that only native-born Danes should fill the highest dignities of the state, the king’s German counsellors continued paramount during the earlier years of his reign. The ultimate triumph of the Danish party dates from 1539, the dangers threatening Christian III. from the emperor Charles V. and other kinsmen of the imprisoned Christian II. convincing him of the absolute necessity of removing the last trace of discontent in the land by leaning exclusively on Danish magnates and soldiers. The complete identification of the Danish king with the Danish people was accomplished at the Herredag of Copenhagen, 1542, when the nobility of Denmark voted Christian a twentieth part of all their property to pay off his heavy debt to the Holsteiners and Germans.

The pivot of the foreign policy of Christian III. was his alliance with the German Evangelical princes, as a counterpoise to the persistent hostility of Charles V., who was determined to support the hereditary claims of his nieces, the daughters of Christian II., to the Scandinavian kingdoms. War was actually declared against Charles V. in 1542, and, though the German Protestant princes proved faithless allies, the closing of the Sound against Dutch shipping proved such an effective weapon in King Christian’s hand that the Netherlands compelled Charles V. to make peace with Denmark at the diet of Spires, the 23rd of May 1544. The foreign policy of Christian’s later days was regulated by the peace of Spires. He carefully avoided all foreign complications; refused to participate in the Schmalkaldic war of 1546; mediated between the emperor and Saxony after the fall of Maurice of Saxony at the battle of Sievershausen in 1553, and contributed essentially to the conclusion of peace. King Christian III. died on New Year’s Day 1559. Though not perhaps a great, he was, in the fullest sense of the word, a good ruler. A strong sense of duty, genuine piety, and a cautious but by no means pusillanimous common-sense coloured every action of his patient, laborious and eventful life. But the work he left behind him is the best proof of his statesmanship. He found Denmark in ruins; he left her stronger and wealthier than she had ever been before.

See Danmarks Riges Historie, vol. 3 (Copenhagen, 1897–1901); Huitfeld, King Christian III.’s Historie (Copenhagen, 1595); Bain, Scandinavia, cap. iv. v. (Cambridge, 1905). (R. N. B.) 

CHRISTIAN IV. (1577–1648), king of Denmark and Norway, the son of Frederick II., king of Denmark, and Sophia of Mecklenburg, was born at Fredriksborg castle in 1577, and succeeded to the throne on the death of his father (4th of April 1588), attaining his majority on the 17th of August 1596. On the 27th of November 1597 he married Anne Catherine, a daughter of Joachim Frederick, margrave of Brandenburg. The queen died fourteen years later, after bearing Christian six children. Four years after her death the king privately wedded a handsome young gentlewoman, Christina Munk, by whom he had twelve children,—a connexion which was to be disastrous to Denmark.

The young king’s court was one of the most joyous and magnificent in Europe; yet he found time for work of the most various description, including a series of domestic reforms (see Denmark: History). He also did very much for the national armaments. New fortresses were constructed under the direction of Dutch engineers. The Danish navy, which in 1596 consisted of but twenty-two vessels, in 1610 rose to sixty, some of them being built after Christian’s own designs. The formation of a national army was more difficult. Christian had to depend mainly upon hired troops, supported by native levies recruited for the most part from the peasantry on the crown domains. His first experiment with his newly organized army was successful. In