Open main menu
This page has been validated.
278
CHRISTIAN VII.—IX.

Brunswick-Lüneburg, was born on the 15th of April 1646 at Flensberg, and ascended the throne on the 9th of February 1670. He was a weak despot with an exaggerated opinion of his dignity and his prerogatives. Almost his first act on ascending the throne was publicly to insult his consort, the amiable Charlotte Amelia of Hesse-Cassel, by introducing into court, as his officially recognized mistress, Amelia Moth, a girl of sixteen, the daughter of his former tutor, whom he made countess of Samsö. His personal courage and extreme affability made him highly popular among the lower orders, but he showed himself quite incapable of taking advantage permanently of the revival of the national energy, and the extraordinary overflow of native middle-class talent, which were the immediate consequences of the revolution of 1660. Under the guidance of his great chancellor Griffenfeldt, Denmark seemed for a brief period to have a chance of regaining her former position as a great power. But in sacrificing Griffenfeldt to the clamour of his adversaries, Christian did serious injury to the monarchy. He frittered away the resources of the kingdom in the unremunerative Swedish war of 1675–79, and did nothing for internal progress in the twenty years of peace which followed. He died in a hunting accident on the 25th of August 1699.

See Peter Edvard Holm, Danmarks indre Historie under Enevaelden (Copenhagen, 1881–1886); Adolf Ditleva Jörgensen, Peter Griffenfeldt (Copenhagen, 1893); Robert Nisbet Bain, Scandinavia cap. x., xi. (Cambridge, 1905).

CHRISTIAN VII. (1749–1808), king of Denmark and Norway, was the son of Frederick V., king of Denmark, and his first consort Louisa, daughter of George II. of Great Britain. He became king on his father’s death on the 14th of January 1766. All the earlier accounts agree that he had a winning personality and considerable talent, but he was badly educated, systematically terrorized by a brutal governor and hopelessly debauched by corrupt pages, and grew up a semi-idiot. After his marriage in 1766 with Caroline Matilda (1751–1775), daughter of Frederick, prince of Wales, he abandoned himself to the worst excesses. He ultimately sank into a condition of mental stupor, and became the obedient slave of the upstart Struensee (q.v.). After the fall of Struensee (the warrant for whose arrest he signed with indifference), for the last six-and-twenty years of his reign, he was only nominally king. He died on the 13th of March 1808. In 1772 the king’s marriage with Caroline Matilda, who had been seized and had confessed to criminal familiarity with Struensee, was dissolved, and the queen, retaining her title, passed her remaining days at Celle, where she died on the 11th of May 1775.

See E. S. F. Reverdil, Struensee et la cour de Copenhague, 1760–1772 (Paris, 1858); Danmarks Riges Historie, vol. v. (Copenhagen, 1897–1905); and for Caroline Matilda, Sir F. C. L. Wraxall, Life and Times of Queen Caroline Matilda (1864), and W. H. Wilkins, A Queen of Tears (1904).

CHRISTIAN VIII. (1786–1848), king of Denmark and Norway, the eldest son of the crown prince Frederick and Sophia Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was born on the 18th of September 1786 at Christiansborg castle. He inherited the talents of his highly gifted mother, and his amiability and handsome features made him very popular in Copenhagen. His unfortunate first marriage with his cousin Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was dissolved in 1810. In May 1813 he was sent as stadtholder to Norway to promote the loyalty of the Northmen to the dynasty, which had been very rudely shaken by the disastrous results of Frederick VI.’s adhesion to the falling fortunes of Napoleon. He did all he could personally to strengthen the bonds between the Norwegians and the royal house of Denmark, and though his endeavours were opposed by the so-called Swedish party, which desired a dynastic union with Sweden, he placed himself at the head of the Norwegian party of independence, and was elected regent of Norway by an assembly of notables on the 16th of February 1814. This election was confirmed by a Storthing held at Eidsvold on the 10th of April, and on the 17th of May Christian was elected king of Norway, despite the protests of the Swedish party. Christian next attempted to interest the great powers in his cause, but without success. On being summoned by the commissioners of the allied powers at Copenhagen to bring about a union between Norway and Sweden in accordance with the terms of the treaty of Kiel, and then return to Denmark, he replied that, as a constitutional king, he could do nothing without the consent of the Storthing, to the convocation of which a suspension of hostilities on the part of Sweden was the condition precedent. Sweden refusing Christian’s conditions, a short campaign ensued, in which Christian was easily worsted by the superior skill and forces of the Swedish crown prince (Bernadotte). The brief war was finally concluded by the convention of Moss on the 14th of August 1814 (see Norway: History). Henceforth Christian’s suspected democratic principles made him persona ingratissima at all the reactionary European courts, his own court included, and he and his second wife, Caroline Amelia of Augustenburg, whom he married in 1815, lived in comparative retirement as the leaders of the literary and scientific society of Copenhagen. It was not till 1831 that old King Frederick gave him a seat in the council of state. On the 13th of December 1839 he ascended the Danish throne as Christian VIII. The Liberal party had high hopes of “the giver of constitutions,” but he disappointed his admirers by steadily rejecting every Liberal project. Administrative reform was the only reform he would promise. He died of blood-poisoning on the 20th of January 1848.

See Just Matthias Thiele, Christian den Ottende (Copenhagen, 1848); Yngvar Nielsen, Bidrag til Norges Historie (Christiania, 1882–1886).


CHRISTIAN IX. (1818–1906), king of Denmark, was a younger son of William, duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (d. 1831), a direct descendant of the Danish king Christian III. by his wife Louise, a daughter of Charles, prince of Hesse-Cassel (d. 1836), and grand-daughter of King Frederick V. Born at Gottorp on the 8th of April 1818, Christian entered the army, and alone among the members of his family served with the Danish troops in Schleswig during the insurrection of 1848; but he was a personage of little importance until about 1852, ten years after his marriage with Louise (1817–1898), daughter of William, prince of Hesse-Cassel (d. 1867), and cousin of King Frederick VII. At this time it became imperative that satisfactory provision should be made for the succession to the Danish throne. The reigning king, Frederick VII., was childless, and the representatives of the great powers met in London and settled the crown on Prince Christian and his wife (May 1852), an arrangement which became part of the law of Denmark in 1853. The “protocol king,” as Christian was sometimes called, ascended the throne on Frederick’s death in November 1863, and was at once faced by formidable difficulties. Reluctantly he assented to the policy which led to war with the combined power of Austria and Prussia, and to the separation of the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg from Denmark (see Schleswig-Holstein Question). Within the narrowed limits of his kingdom Christian’s difficulties were more protracted and hardly less serious. During almost the whole of his reign the Danes were engaged in a political struggle between the “Right” and the “Left,” the party of order and the party of progress, the former being supported in general by the Landsting, and the latter by the Folketing. The king’s sympathies lay with the more conservative section of his subjects, and for many years he was successful in preventing the Radicals from coming into office. The march of events, however, was too strong for him, and in 1901 he assented in a dignified manner to the formation of a “cabinet of the Left” (see Denmark: History). In spite of these political disturbances Christian’s popularity with his people grew steadily, and was enhanced by the patriarchal and unique position which in his later years he occupied in Europe. With his wife, often called “the aunt of all Europe,” he was related to nearly all the European sovereigns. His eldest son Frederick had married a daughter of Charles XV. of Sweden; his second son George had been king of the Hellenes since 1863; and his youngest son Waldemar (b. 1858) was married to Marie d’Orléans, daughter of Robert, duc de Chartres. Of his three daughters, Alexandra married Edward VII. of Great Britain;