La Petite Struensee: The Story of a Bastard Princess

Louise Augusta. 1784. Jens Juel.

Louise Augusta. 1784. Jens Juel.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll remember this face. This is Louise Augusta, daughter of queen Caroline Mathilde but not of king Christian VII. No, Louise Augusta (named for her maternal grandmother, Augusta, Princess of Wales but also for the king’s mother, queen Louise of England. Note that she was from England, but not of England. It gets confusing, I know.)

Since posting about her mother all that while ago, I keep getting people who find my blog after googling who this Louise Augusta was and I’ve mentioned her in passing before, in my post about Jens Juel and also in my post about the Danish crown jewels in which I mentioned her daughter, queen Caroline Amalie of Denmark.

But enough about posts of years past. I felt that it was time for Louise Augusta to be featured in a post of her own, and very overdue it is.

Louise Augusta, or la Petite Struensee as she was cruelly dubbed by the Danish court, because of her mother’s indiscreet affair with the royal physician, Johann Friederich Struensee, was born on the 7th of July, 1771. She was only roundabout a year old when her mother was forced to leave Denmark, and to give up her crown and children. Louise Augusta had been officially recognised by Christian as his daughter, but although no DNA test has been performed posthumously there is little doubt that Louise Augusta was not his biological child.

Louise Augusta, 1771 by H.P. Sturz. Part of the collections at Rosenborg Castle.

Louise Augusta, 1771 by H.P. Sturz. Part of the collections at Rosenborg Castle.

Louise Augusta, by W. Heuer, 1827. The Royal Library of Denmark.

Louise Augusta, by W. Heuer, 1827. The Royal Library of Denmark.

Louise Augusta and her brother, Frederik (later the VI of Denmark) were raised by the dowager queen Juliane Marie, in as formal and stilted a manner as one could expect from a royal court in the 18th century. The way they were raised was sure to have been a far cry from the free and untroubled childhood their mother famously wanted for them, and sought to implement as best she was able. Nonetheless, if any child suffered from it, it is more likely to be Frederik than Louise Augusta who grew up to never fall ill in body, but who’d inherited a smattering of the mental illnesses that had also plagued his father.

Frederik VI, probably Jens Juel.

Frederik VI, probably by Jens Juel.

Louise Augusta by all accounts grew up in much the same expectations as any other European princess of the time. Although, the source of her birth was well-known in the Danish court, and one assumes also abroad due to the nature of her mother’s disgraceful departure from the court, she was not discriminated against in her upbringining and all formal courtesy was extended to her by the court. I personally wonder whether Juliane Marie was all that fond of her, as she held an obvious hatred for Caroline Mathilde and Louise Augusta was a bastard child.

Louise Augusta and Frederik grew up close, probably by virtue of both feeling like outsiders in a court ruled by Juliane Marie and her conservative noblemen, and by virtue of their strange family history. They remained close throughout their childhood, adolence and adulthood. At one point, it is reported that Juliane Marie tried to seperate the two, by way of sending off Louise Augusta to be educated elsewhere, but Frederik, who had a famous temper, interfered and seems, trumped the dowager queen’s influence.

Both Louise Augusta and her brother grew up to feel a good deal of resentment at Juliane Marie, and this was only exacerbated as they grew old enough to learn, through court gossip, the true nature of their mother’s departure and in the case of Louise Augusta, the death of her true father. As Christian VII was, due to the nature of his mental illness, unable to parent the two, they both must have grown up feeling very much like orphans with only each other to cling to.

Princess Louise Augusta. 1780. Jens Juel.

Louise Augusta. 1780. Jens Juel.

As Louise Augusta, who was much less shy than her older brother and sweeter in temper too, grew older, she became the natural centre of the young people at court,  and the above portrait is an example of the ways she stirred up the older establishment at court. Out of France and due to the influence of Marie Antoinette the chemise a la reine had come. This style of dress was much softer and less formal than other dresses worn at court, and it was also worn without panniers (the wide hoops that hold out the dress at the hips) thought by some to be incredibly indecent. But Louise Augusta would be painted in this new style and upon the first unveiling of the portrait above, the older ladies of court, Juliane Marie amongst them nearly fainted. The shape of the princess’s legs could be spotted through the fabric of the gown! Either Juel would paint over a respectable amount of fabric to obscure this shape, or the portrait was scrapped. Louise Augusta bowed to their will and the portrait became as we know it now. I love it, personally, not least of all because of her victorious expression and proud posture.

When Louise Augusta turned 15 she had reached the marriagable age of the day for royal women, and by the urging of her brother she became engaged to the 23-year old duke Frederik Christian of Augustenborg. The two were married in 1786. Augustenborg today is about as far south you can get in Denmark before you’re in Germany, but back then the border was further south and the Northern German duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were also in Danish possession. All the same, Louise Augusta must have felt herself exiled, so far from Copenhagen, the court, where she had grown into a favourable position, and her brother, married to a man for whom she felt little.

The marriage was strategically and dynastically important, as it would merge the old line of the Oldenburgs (currently on the throne in Christian VII) and the new Augustenborg royal family. If Louise Augusta married Frederik Christian, it would solve any future issues over the throne and possibly even prevent civil war, should it have come to that.

Duke Frederik Christian, 1790s. Anton Graff. From the collections at Frederiksborg Castle.

Duke Frederik Christian, 1790s. Anton Graff. From the collections at Frederiksborg Castle.

The marriage between Louise Augusta and Frederik Christian was unevenly matched from the beginning. Louise Augusta had grown into her role as the female centre of the Copenhagen court and enjoyed such trivial pursuits as dancing and merrymaking with her friends, apparently possessing no deep interest for anything serious. Rather, she was full of joy at life and a natural extrovert, blessed with the ability to make those around her love her.

Frederik Christian by contrast was a small man and deeply interested in philosophy and pedagogy, shutting himself away to study for hours at a time, leaving his wife to amuse herself. He had ambitions to become involved in the politics of the new governmental coalition forming around his brother-in-law Frederik. Louise Augusta cared for few things less than she did for politics, although she must be said to have lived politics her whole life.

Perhaps coming to a marital compromise, the couple would summer at the duke’s castle in Augustenborg, where they invited the artists of the day, and winter in Copenhagen, where they would spend their time with the aristocratic centre of power.

by Jens Juel, 1790s. Private collection.

by Jens Juel, 1790s. Private collection.

by Jens Juel, ca. 1800. In a private collection.

When the French Revolution broke loose in 1789, Louise Augusta initally bid it welcome and as one of few aristocrats in Europe remained in sympathetic faith with the French until long into the Terror, which put her at a decidedly un-English perspective. If you’ve ever read “Desirée” by Anne-Marie Selinko you might recall a scene in which Desirée and Jean-Baptiste are travelling to Sweden to take up the Swedish throne. They are invited to dine at the king of Denmark’s palace (by then Frederik, Louise’s brother had become king) and they end up discussing the war in Europe. At the end of the discussion (which I can’t quote here because my books are all packed away) Desirée concludes that Frederik’s pre-French sentiments have less to do with politics and more to do with his anger at his English mother.

I’m not certain I agree with the viewpoint, but I find it very interesting, that Louise Augusta and Frederik should feel so betrayed by their mother’s passing they would carry it with them all their lives, basing political opinion on it.

Louise Augusta and Frederik Christian remained childless for ten years, but finally in 1796 Louise Augusta gave birth to her daughter Caroline Amalie, defiantly named for her disgraced mother. Two and four years later, Louise Augusta had sons, Christian August and Frederik Emil August. The gossips of the day attributed the fatherhood of the children to doctor Carl Ferdinand Saudacini, in a cruel play on Louise Augusta’s own paternity, but it is not known whether it is true. He had been asked to cure Louise Augusta’s infertility and though I shudder at the thought of the fertility treatmeants of the late 18th century, he certainly suceeded whether by personal involvement or through more natural causes.

Louise Augusta and duke Frederik were more attentive parents than Juliane Marie ever was to Louise and her brother. Especially Frederik offered up much of his time to their care and took personal care that their education was up to par.

Unknown artist, after the style of Jens Juel. ca 1790.

Unknown artist, after the style of Jens Juel. ca 1790.

As the years progressed, and Louise Augusta’s brother became king, the distance between the two brothers-in-law increased as they grew to disagree about many political issues, especially the question concerning the German duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Frederik Christian forced Louise Augusta to give up her winter home in Copenhagen as Louise Augusta consequently took her brother’s side in their quarrels, even acting as his spy against her husband. In 1810 Louise Augusta began working to stop her husband in his bid to become king of Sweden (as I let slip above it later went to French general Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte) again at the urging of her brother. This was too much to take for Frederik Christian who in return sought ought to change his testament so that Louise Augusta would find her powers of the futures of their children mightily increased. Caroline Amalie remained on the side of her mother, eventually going on to become queen of Denmark (though not through a marriage with any child of her uncle, but her uncle’s cousin, later Christian VIII). Louise Augusta’s sons, however, grew apart from her. The elder, Christian August, became the key player in the Question of Schleswig-Holstein. In the words of Lord Palmerston, a contemporary English diplomat:

Only three people…have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business—the Prince Consort, who is dead—a German professor, who has gone mad—and I, who have forgotten all about it.

I don’t care either, nor do I understand it so I won’t be summarising it here.

Louise Augusta in Turkish dress, by Jens Juel. 1780s.

Louise Augusta in Turkish dress, by Jens Juel. 1780s.

However, Frederik Christian’s triumph over Louise Augusta was short-lived, as he went on to die in 1814 whereafter Louise Augusta took over the running of Augustenborg as well as the education of their children. In 1820, as he reached his maturity, Christian August inherited the title of Duke and the estate at Augustenborg and ran it for his mother. Louise Augusta, who knew that her younger son would be left basically destitute due to the inheritance laws of the day, had managed to scrape enough money together to, in 1832, buy the estate of Nør for her younger son. Her daughter, as I have mentioned, was taken care of by marrying the next king of Denmark.

In her old age, Louise Augusta took up residence in the dowager estate at Augustenborg, where she kept a loud and eccentric mini-court, where both the artists of her youth and younger ones welcome.

Louise Augusta died today, the 13st of January, in 1843 and is buried at Augustenborg, far from her beloved brother and farther still from Copenhagen.

Her life story is featured in the novel Kærlighedsbarn (Love Child) by Maria Helleberg, a very good novel, indeed. It’s not published in English as far as I am able to tell, so I hope this blog post has served well instead!

by Anton Graff, 1791. Rosenborg Castle.

by Anton Graff, 1791. Rosenborg Castle.

A (short) resource on Caroline Mathilde; or Danish history, English books.

A while ago reader Allison posted a comment asking me if I could dig up some English books relating to Caroline Mathilde, as she’d recently seen the movie A Royal Affair. The director of the movie mentions that 19 or so books relate to the subject, and that’s certainly true… if you speak Danish. I know this also, because I’ve read the vast majority. My favourite book about Caroline Mathilde will always be “Princess of the Blood” by Bodil Steensen-Leth. It serves as a vague sort of inspiration for the film and I wish it had been translated into English because every historically inclined reader deserves to read this book

Sadly, the supply of English-language books about Caroline Mathilde (who was an English princess but seems mostly an aside in English history), Christian VII or Johann Friederich Struensee is very lacking.

In my searches I’ve only been able to find two, and poor Allison was already aware the one existed and probably would have little trouble finding the other. So much for asking your friendly neighbourhood history blogger for help! If only you’d asked me for books in Danish, because there’d be LOADS to highlight.

Here are a few English titles about poor Caroline Mathilde and I hope Allison finds that this post has helped her in some way.

THE VISIT OF THE ROYAL PHYSICIAN

The Visit of the Royal Physician by Per Olov Enquist.

The Visit of the Royal Physician by Per Olov Enquist.

This one was translated from Danish to English in 2003. I read it back when I was 15 and devouring everything related to Caroline Mathilde. Amazon gives it 4,4 stars and most of the reviews are glowing.

from Amazon

“It is the 1760s, the height of the Enlightenment. The young King of Denmark, Christian VII, is a half-wit. His queen, the English princess Caroline Mathilde, has fallen in love with his most trusted advisor, the court physician Struensee. Guldberg, a cold-blooded religious fanatic, is determined to annihilate the Enlightenment ideas Struensee is introducing to Denmark – whoever prevails in their bitter ideological battle will control not only the king but the nation state.

 Adultery, insanity, back-stabbing and blue blood… Enquist brilliantly recasts a dramatic era of Danish history, weaving a wide range of historical characters – Voltaire and Diderot, Catherine the Great and George III – into a tale of ruthless political ambition and personal betrayal.”

A ROYAL AFFAIR: George III and His Troublesome Siblings

A Royal Affair: George III and his troublesome siblings by Stella Tillyard

A Royal Affair: George III and his troublesome siblings by Stella Tillyard

I’ve not personally read this but I think it looks VERY exciting. It’s about all of George III’s siblings, but is centered around Caroline Mathilde, and as I know very little about the rest of her English family, my interest is definitely piqued.

from Amazon

The young George III was a poignant figure, humdrum on the surface yet turbulent beneath: hiding his own passions, he tried hard to be a father to his siblings and his nation. This intimate, fast-moving book tells their intertwined stories. His sisters were doomed to marry foreign princes and leave home forever; his brothers had no role and too much time on their hands – a recipe for disaster.

 At the heart of Tillyard’s story is Caroline Mathilde, who married the mad Christian of Denmark in her teens, but fell in love with the royal doctor Struensee: a terrible fate awaited them, despite George’s agonized negotiations. At the same time he faced his tumultuous American colonies. And at every step a feverish press pounced on the gossip, fostering a new national passion – a heated mix of celebrity and sex.

THE LOST QUEEN

The Lost Queen by Nora Lofts

The Lost Queen by Nora Lofts

You have to forgive me for including this ridiculously inaccurate cover because a) how could I not? and b) I literally can’t stop laughing at how trashy it is.

I have no idea what the book is like but based on this cover, I feel like I MUST READ IT.

from Amazon

‘Princesses are born to be exiled. What is the alternative? Spinsterhood? ‘Thus the future of Caroline Matilda, youngest sister of George III, was settled – exile to a foreign country, and marriage to a nearly insane Crown Prince of Denmark. Entreatingly prompted by a sense of foreboding, she begged that one of her sisters be sent in her place. But Caroline was the healthiest, the strongest of the English princesses, and as well as being exiled, princesses were meant to brood mares…Here is the life of Caroline Matilda set against the stark contrasts of 18th century Denmark; the cruelty, poverty and oppression of life under an absolute monarch sinking into madness; and the hatreds and court intrigues that swirled around the young English girl who was Queen of Denmark.

But let’s be real, we all decided to read it the moment we laid eyes on THAT COVER.

I’m afraid that’s all I could find for Allison. I do hope you got something out of it, and if anybody is interested in hearing about the multitude of Danish fiction about Caroline Mathilde, don’t hesitate to ask!

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November…

Elizabeth Stuart by Gerrit van Honthorst. National Portrait Gallery, London.

I was doing some reading about the Gunpowder, Treason and Plot thingie when I came across this lady. I read that she was Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James VI of Scotland and I of England and our very own Anne of Denmark and naturally my interest was spiked.

Elizabeth was born on the 19th of August 1596, the second child of James and Anne at Falkland Palace in Fife, Scotland and was six years old when her father took the English throne.

Elizabeth in 1606, by Robert Peake the Elder. Metropolitan Museum of Art

She comes into the Gunpowder, Treason and Plot by being Guy Fawkes’ intended Catholic monarch. It was his plan to kidnap her in 1605, when she was nine, and, after assassinating her father to put her on the throne. Happily, Guy Fawkes was apprehended before he could murder her father and Elizabeth remained a princess, not to follow in her aunt’s footsteps as a reigning queen of England.
Elizabeth was married on Valentine’s Day 1613 to Frederick V, the Elector of the Palatinate in Germany. They were married at the palace of Whitehall and John Donne, the famous 17th century poet, wrote a poem to celebrate the event “Epithalamion, or Marriage Song on the Lady Elizabeth, and Count Palatine being married on St. Valentines Day.”

Frederick led the coalition of Protestant princes at Holy Roman Emperor’s court and marrying Elizabeth would have tightened his ties to his fellow protestants at the court. Despite the business-like affair of their marriage, the two were believed to be genuinely in love with each other and Frederick even created an English wing in his palace at Heidelberg to make his wife comfortable.

Elizabeth is also sometimes called The Winter Queen, the cause being her husband’s short reign as king of Bohemia. Frederick was offered the Bohemian crown in 1619 and both him and Elizabeth were crowned in November 1619. However, Ferdinand II, the Holy Roman Emperor, had a birthright to the throne and did not let them reign long. He forced the couple into exile by 1920, where Elizabeth came to be known as the Winter Queen.

In 1648 her son, Charles I, won back the Electorate of the Palatinate and after the Restoration of the English and Scottish Monarchs, it was also possible for Elizabeth to travel to England to visit her nephew, Charles II.

It is also through Elizabeth’s line the Hanoverian royal house of Britain, which ended in 1901 with Queen Victoria, is descended. Her daughter, Sophia of Hanover, had become the nearest Protestant to the English and Irish crown and under the Act of Settlement (1701) the royal crown was bestowed on her and her issue.

And this particular blog owner, will never cease to be amazed at how interconnected the royal houses of Europe really are. I hope all of my readers in England are having a great Bonfire Night!

Elizabeth as a widow, by Gerard van Honthorst. National Gallery of London.

 

 

Visiting the Gateway to America

1900s photograph of immigrants looking at Manhattan from Ellis Island

 

I’ve just been to New York City – for the first time in my life! The trip was great despite overwhelming heat and humidity which was taxing for my Scandinavian constitution, and despite Manhattan being almost too big to take in during my stay of a mere 14 days.

Being the historically inclined nerd that I am, I knew I had to visit Ellis Island, America’s once-upon-a-time gateway. The trip took most of our day, but in my opinion was well worth it. Since Ellis Island is, well, an island, you sail from Battery Park on the same ferry that takes you to the Statue of Liberty, should you be so inclined. The musem is technically free, but you pay for admission to the ferry and there is no other way of getting to the islands.

Ellis Island, for those who may not know, was where all 3rd class passengers, immigrants to the USA, must dock before being given admittance to the USA. If they made it through they would become citizens of America but this was not always a given. In any case, it is a fascinating piece of history.

Once you arrive at the Battery Park you may be overwhelmed by the size of the queue. It is huge. We were told there would be an hour wait to get on the ferry, which almost disheartened several of my family members who unlike me are not that interested in history, but once we actually got in the queue it only took about half an hour. You’re in a line overlooking the New York harbour and you’ve got a view of Lady Liberty and the small islands, so it isn’t that bad, in my opinion. Just don’t be an idiot and forget sunscreen like yours truly.

There is an inside airport style security check and once you’re through, you get on the ferry. They run every 15 minutes and there are several so don’t worry about missing one. Your ticket is good for the whole day, so you don’t have to worry about rushing through the museum to reach a ferry back. We didn’t get them online because we didn’t have a printer but they have some sort of time/queue-saving feature if you do that which could be worth looking into if you’re not up for queueing. I’m sure it could be much worse than 30 minutes.

This statue commemorates the unknown millions who perished upon the sea, on commercial and civilian vessels, since the inception of the USA.

 

As you can see we had great weather for the ferry trip. Again, remember to wear sunscreen. I had a mean sunburn by the time we went home, mostly from sitting on the ferry deck on the trip out. The ferry docks at Liberty Island where you can choose to get off, but we stayed on the boat and went from there to Ellis Island.

The ferry docks by the main entrance to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. It’s a peculiar red and white building, and to me it doesn’t look very austere and foreboding, but I imagine that 3rd class immigrants docking at the same site would experience the sight very differently from me. Of course, my future life doesn’t hinge on whether or not I make it through the building, about which, more later.

Photo from http://www.ellisisland.org/photoalbums/ellis_island_album212.asp as I didn’t take any of the outside of the building.

The entrance hall is very big and at first sight rather confusing. You’ll be offered audio guides which are well worth accepting. Back in the day this hall was both the entrance and exit hall for the immigrants arriving from overseas and hopefully, after they were cleared for entry, for a short ferry ride to the land of their dreams. The large hall is divided in two by a display of old suitcases. A guide told me the entrance hall had been laid out a bit like a ship, but I didn’t see it. On the other side of the display is a chronological exhibition called Journeys: The Peopling of America. This exhibition detailed the reasons why people left home and what happened once they arrived starting with the religious colonies and tying the immigrant history in to the immigrant present of the USA. For those of us who paid attention in history class there was little new to be found and I mostly spent my time “Scandinavia-spotting” that is looking for mentions of my countrymen who left for America. There were a couple mentions of Danish mormons but mostly it was the Swedes who left for America.

The exhibit also spoke about the displacement of the Native Americans in the wake of the European arrival. I snapped this picture of Quanah Parker, the last free Comanche chief, and one of his wives after his surrender. I was especially delighted to see this because only a few days before the visit I finished a book about Quanah’s mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, or Naduah as she was known among the Comanche. Please excuse the horrible quality of the photo.

The exhibition also had these little booths you could lean into. Once you did an audiotrack would play that only you could hear if you leaned in. These were all from diaries and notebooks and speeches and letters written by immigrants, or about immigrants from different periods in time. There was an excerpt from a Puritan woman’s account of crossing the Atlantic while “big with child”, a freed slave’s account of his time spent on the slaveship that brought him to America, an Indian chief’s exasperated account of his people being beat, an Irish child’s story of arriving as an indentured servant, an excerpt from an anti-Chinese and a pro-Chinese immigration speech and so on. This was by far the most interesting aspect of the Journeys: The Peopling of America exhibit because it was so personal. Once we were through this exhibit we went upstairs to the Ellis Island-specific exhibits.

The upstairs hall. My photo does not do it justice. It was so beautiful and I can’t even imagine the relief with which the immigrants must have received this sight.

 

The upstairs is mainly a big hall. When Ellis Island was in use, it was the waiting room which the immigrants would be ushered into upon arrival. Here they would wait for quick medical checks and hopefully they would be ushered through quickly. If you were unhealthy or deemed unfit for entry for other reasons, you might suffer detention on Ellis Island or even be sent home.

The Great Hall as it looked in 1907, courtesy of the National Parks Service. http://www.ellisisland.org/photoalbums/ellis_island_then.asp

 

As you can see above the waiting immigrants would be waiting in long queues until they finally could go up to the clerks at the front of the hall. The clerks would perform brief medical checks, like checking their eyes, whether they had any handicaps and for visible signs of mental illness. If you were suspected of having, say, a mental illness you would be marked with chalk on your clothes and brought into an adjacent, smaller room where you would be expected to assemble a puzzle so the clerks could determine whether you were mentally ill or not. If you had an eye illness that was feared, you might be detained or even sent back to where you came from.

Most of all, the early 20th century state wanted to make sure the immigrant in question would not become a burden of the state. You must be able to provide for yourself and not have to rely on charity for your keep. The most haunting story I heard was of an Italian woman who had arrived with her children and grandchildren, but because of an illness, had been sent back to Italy while the rest of the family was given admittance into the country. Her granddaughter, by the time she told this story (it was an audio-recording) was an old woman who was still torn up by the memory.

Clerks would also ask immigrants to read from a card in their native language, to make sure they were literate, or they would ask them how much money they had, to make sure they would not need to rely on charity to make their way in America. One woman, arriving from Hungary, explained how her mother, a woman in her 30s with several children, had been taken in to a small room and with her daughter acting as the translator, had been asked to put together 2 and 2. The clerk wanted to be certain she would not need help to maange her household. The woman explains how her mother, a housewife and mother of many years, had stared at the clerk in disbelief and then asked her daughter: “He asks me this, whether I know what 2 + 2 is?”

Ellis Island in the early 20th century.

On either side of the Great Hall there is a series of small rooms. In the one end, they lead you through the small rooms that were used for more private examinations, medical and otherwise. They lead you through all the eventualities that might happen to you at Ellis Island as an immigrant. Maybe you coasted right through and were able to meet up with your loved ones at the Kissing Gate downstairs. Maybe you were detained because of an illness, or maybe you had to pass tests designed to determine mental illnesses. Maybe you would be sent to the hospital. Maybe you would be sent back.

Ellis Island had everything. It had dining rooms, and one was kosher for the many Jewish immigrants. It had a hospital with children’s wards, maternity wards, mental illness wards, surgical wards. It employed several thousand people at its most busy and millions of immigrants came through.

This exhibition ended in the last stops for immigrants at Ellis Island. There was money to be exchanged. I indulged in a little Scandinavia-spotting with my sisters and we found these items.

That’s a Danish note from 1918. Today you would need six of these to buy a dollar, but I wonder what the exchange rate was like back then?

There was a cafe after you got through the interview rooms. At one point so many Scandinavian immigrants went through that the middle column is in Danish (possibly Swedish), flanked by Italian and German.

 

This 1913 Bible is in Danish and was presented to Danish immigrants by the American Bible Society. They distributed religious books in 53 different languages to the immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. You can’t see it, but the writing on the cover is in Danish which had me super excited. There’s nothing like seeing a little bit of your home in a faraway place!

 

There were many, many, many different religious societies in America at the time, and they all extended charity towards those of a similar religious persuasion when they arrived at Ellis Island. Jewish charities would sponsor Hebrew and Yiddish religious texts to the Eastern-European Jews when they arrived, and I believe it was also with the help of wealthy Jewish New Yorkers, Ellis Island had a kosher kitchen installed.. Mormon missionaries would sponsor Christmas gifts for Mormon converts. Catholic churches would collect clothes from their members and give them to the Catholic immigrants. With the state at this point very unwilling to provide charity for its citizens, the religous communities took it upon themselves to help where they could.

The grown woman was a “Picture Bride”, that is she arrived, single, at Ellis Island to be married upon arrival. I love the picture because of the JOY (yes, that is all-caps) on their faces. She doesn’t seem apprehensive or scared about her future, even if she doesn’t know her husband. She’s just happy about beginning a new life!

 

On one ship, over 1000 of these picture brides had taken passage. I took this picture because of their fabulous hats. Just because you’re in third class, doesn’t mean you can’t go all out.

 

Since single women were not allowed entry into America without a male relative, women who arrived as picture brides, would often be married on Ellis Island and then leave with their American husbands.

This 1922 photograph captures just such a wedding ceremony. It seems there is some apprehension here, at least on the part of the bride!

 

On the other side of the Great Hall there is another exhibtion. This one deals with the reactions both in in the US and overseas to the mass immigration that took place during Ellis Island’s years of operation. This was really interesting because it showed not only what happened to immigrants before and after immigration, but also official and societal reactions to their arrival, whether good or bad.

Commercial or propaganda?

 

My sister spotted some Danish passports. For all that it was mainly Swedes who left Scandinavia, we found more proof of Danish immigrants at Ellis Island.

 

Commercials advertising Minnesota in, you guessed it, Danish. (Also, Swedish, German and English). This would eventually be where most of the Scandinavian immigrants ended up so I guess they were effective.

 

Ah yes, immigration wasn’t all fun and games. This, of course, was in the good old days when you could be frank about hating people who weren’t exactly like you.

 

This extremely crass drawing, complete with every anti-semitic stereotype you can find, likens the Eastern-European Jewish mass immigration the US to the Exodus when Moses led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt. 

 

The good old days which weren’t so good if you weren’t white and rich.

I’m taking a break from the racist responses to immigration but believe me, I have more proof. And it ain’t pretty.

A Danish festival in Minnesota, 1926. Can you spot the flag?

 

 

 

Schools would hold classes at night for newly arrived immigrants, where they could learn English and American culture. Which brother here is fresh of the boat and which brother has been in America for a while?

 

This exhibition had much, much more to see. There was so many adverts for transatlantic cruises I couldn’t distinguish one from the other, there were walls covered in passports, and photographs taken in the homes of immigrants, as well as the many responses, good and bad, to their arrival. There was proof of people who flourished and people who, to put it mildly, didn’t. It was a really interesting testament to the immigrants who arrived during these years and probably my favourite part of all of Ellis Island.

There was also a nice referal to Angel Island, located in San Fransisco. This was where the Asian immigrants would arrive, and it served much the same function as Ellis Island did to the European immigrants in New York. If I’m ever in San Fransisco (I live in hope) I really want to visit!

Japanese women arrive at Angel Island sometime during the 1920s or 30s (guessing by the clothes the men are wearing).

 

Korean women in traditional dress at Angel Island.

Sorry about the reflection!

 

The vast majority of immigrants who came through Angel Island were Chinese. Other nationalities were processed quickly but it was common for the Chinese immigrants to be detained for weeks, if not months, before allowing them admission to the US. The Chinese were also the first specific nationality to be targeted by racist laws concerning their admission into the US by the US government.

That was my visit to Ellis Island! I’ve got a few more NYC centric posts planned. In the meantime, enjoy this picture I took over Iceland, with the sun rising, on my way home!

 

 

Vintage Cyclists from Copenhagen

I was looking through the lovely Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog because of a wee bout of homelessness. I found this post of vintage Copenhagen cyclists that I simply had to share. I love their amusement at the camera.

Bicycles have been a fixture of Copenhagen life since their invention in the 1900s.

Another anecdote from the life of Sara E: my grandfather used to cycle back and forth between the country of south Zealand (Sydsjælland) and North of Copenhagen as part of the Danish resistance movement.

Original post can be found here. 

The Crown Regalia: The Queen’s Crown

The smaller one is the queen's crown.

My first post on the crown regalia of Denmark focused on the two crowns utilised by Danish kings throughout the ages. Of them there are two. But there is only one female crown.

The queen’s crown dates back to 1731 and went through some pretty drastic re-modellings. When Frederick III had a crown ordered by his father, it is natural that Christian V should order one for his daughter-in-law, the wife of the absolute monarch, as well. We simply do not know what it looks like because of two women who should later come into contact with the royal crown

Frederick’s grandson, also called Frederick but the fourth of the kind, was married twice. Problem was, when he married for the second time, he was already married.

Frederick IV by Benoit le Coffre.

 

Frederick was married to Louise of Mecklenburg the 2nd of December 1596 in Copenhagen. They had 5 children, but only two survived to adulthood, Christian VI and Charlotte Amalie who provided the foundations of the crown jewels I previously covered.

Now, Frederick, being an absolute monarch fully believed that his power had been vested in him by God. As a supreme monarch he stood above everybody in the kingdom, nay, the world. The law did not apply to him. No judge had the right to judge him and no man could arrest him for disobeying the law of the land. Only God could judge him for his actions and that would never happen while Frederick was alive, so why worry while you were alive?

This belief served him well twice as he twice let himself be wed to noblewomen during his marriage to Louise. The first woman he wed was Elisabeth Helene von Vieregg whom he later “divorced.” The other was Anna Sophie Reventlow, whom he met and abducted, hardly against her will, at a ball given by her parents.-

While he kept his “marriage” to Elisabeth secret, he proudly declared himself married to Anna Sophie and Louise and her children had to suffer in this knowledge. Louise died about a year after her husband’s third wedding in march 1721.

Frederick wasted no time in assuring his Anna Sophie’s position at the court and had her crowned at their official wedding a day later. While all of this may sound cruel, I don’t think Frederick and Anna Sophie were naturally cruel people. I think Frederick had been forced into a loveless marriage for the sake of the country and when Anna Sophie came along his absolute rule allowed him to take advantage of a couple laws to be with her.

This is where the crown comes in.

By old Danish law the king of the land was not allowed to marry a noblewoman, so while a second marriage was fully permittable and encouraged, the trouble was that Anna Sophie belonged to an old Danish family that, sadly, was not princely. She could not marry a king when she had been borne of a countess. Frederick II, a distant ancestor, nearly abdicated his throne over not being able to marry his noblewoman, the woman he loved. The problem lay in an old fear that the family of the queen would gain too much influence over king’s policies.

Anna Sophie Reventlow

It was almost a bigger offense to the country that Frederick should crown his wife than it was that he married her in the first place. His son, later Christian VI, took massive offense at his father’s actions. When Frederick IV died, Christian VI promptly had Anna Sophie thrown out of the castle and banished her to her family’s seat where she lived out the rest of her days far away from the six little graves containing the remains of all her children with Frederick IV. She is said to have grown massively religious, believing that the death of her babies, was God’s punishment.

Sophie Magdalene, wife of Christian VI, by Lorentz Pasch the Younger

Sophie Magdalene had been married to Christian VI while he was still a crown prince and her resentment of Anna Sophie grew as she witnessed the hurt her husband bore over his father’s treatment of Anna Sophie.

When the old king died and it was time for Christian and Sophie Magdalene to be crowned, she plainly refused to touch the crown that had been sullied by the touch of a mere noblewoman. A similar but undocumented story surrounds the crown some years earlier when it was created for Frederick III’s wife. It is said that Crown Princess (at the time) Sophie Amalie’s rival, her husband’s half-sister, Leonora Christina, had visited the goldsmith where the crown was being created. She had asked to see the crown and dropped it. Of course, the queen’s circle insisted that she wilfully threw it across the floor to spite Sophie Amalie.

She had the old crown melted down and re-shaped. No-one knows what it looks like since no queen was ever painted wearing it. The new crown is the one you see above. It was finished in 1731 and was used for a 110 years until the end of absolute rule.

The king's and queen's crown, side by side. They are on display at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen.

The Crown Regalia: The King’s Crowns

Christian IV's crown. 1595-96.

For this series, I am going to look at the various Danish crown regalia. This first post will look at the king’s crowns (of which there are two). Then I’ll take a look at the queen’s crown, the sceptre and apple and other articles that once were used in coronations here.

There are two male crowns in the Danish collection. The first one, above, is from 1595 or 96 and was created to be worn by Christian IV at his coronation. It’s spiky and mostly made up of gold filigree, and reminds me of Scandinavian bridal crowns. It doesn’t look like the typical royal crown, and this is because it hearkens back to the late beginning of the Northern Renaissance still heavily influenced by Medieval style and outlook.

The Coronation of Christian IV in 1596 by Otto Bache. 1887.

This is an imagining of what Christian’s coronation process might have looked like. It’s from the late 19th century and there are a couple mistakes in it. Note especially the child in the foreground grabbing for coins wearing a decidedly non-Renaissance hat.

It is important to remark that this crown is from a time before supreme rule. Christian IV fathered Frederick III who looked to France, saw that supreme rule was good for the monarch, and decided to implement it to a country where the nobility traditionally had a high stake in who became the next king.

Prior to 1660-61 Danish kings were “chosen” by a body of noblemen. This came down to the firstborn son to be presented on a tour around the country and the noblement voting to “choose” him for their next king. Things really only got interestin when it came to this son’s ascendency to the throne. Then the noblemen would sit him down, write out a document of things he had to fulfill to keep in their good graces and giving them the power to force him to abdicate should he not. If he refused to sign, which I think hardly ever happened, it was on to the next son. The king ruled on the basis of this document which Frederick III felt was not in keeping with a modern world and a modern monarchy.

The crown of Christian V. In the background the queen's crown.

 

Now this crown is the crown of a supreme monarch and the sort of thing you think of when you think “crown.” The crown was ordered in secret by Christian V’s father, Frederick III, who didn’t feel that his father’s crown was an appropriate symbol for a supreme monarch. It was intended for his son, not himself, and was used for the first time at his coronation.

The crown was made 1670-71 by royal goldsmith, Paul Kurtz, in Copenhagen. It was made closed to distinguish it from Christian IV’s crown, the symbol of an elected king and to resemble Louis XIV of France’s crown. Two large sapphires sit in the circlet of the crown. The large blue one seen in the picture is supposed to sit over the forehead of the wearer.

Christian V by Abraham Wuchters.

Frederick III by Wolfgang Holmbach. 1880.

 

Next part in the series on the crown regalia is the queen’s crown and why there is only one.

 

Jens Juel

Self Portrait at the Easel, 1766

I’ve featured a few of Jens Juel’s (pronounced with soft js, “Yens Yuel” for reference) paintings on this here blog before. Juel is generally thought of as one of the most famous artists from Denmark of all time. His specialty was portraits.

Juel received his education from the Royal Danish Academy of Art at 20 years old. When he had finished his education he, like many other, if not all, Danish artists at the time went to Rome for eight years to study the art in the Eternal City. A veritable community of Danish artists was formed here. Returning to Denmark these artists brought with them new styles and methods to the delight of polite society.

He also stayed in Paris and Genève before returning home to Denmark in 1780 and gradually became the go-to painter for high society. Royalty and nobility, and everybody else who could call themselves members of high society sat for him. He was also chosen for several prestigious positions at the Academy of Art.

The Artist and his Wife, Rosine (née Dørschell). 1791.

Rosine and Jens had several children. Two of their daughters went on to marry artist C.W. Eckersberg, presumably not at the same time.

Princess Louise Augusta. 1780. This is one of the first portraits of the period that feature a woman in style of the French revolutionaries. When the portrait was first presented to the court, the outline of Louise Augusta's legs could be seen and Juel was promptly told to paint them over.

Frederick, who later became Frederick VI of Denmark, brother of Louise Augusta.

Louise Augusta. 1784.

I think these two portraits must have been ordered together. They were sent to the English court (their mother, Caroline Mathilde, being an English princess) and when I last visited Holyrood Castle they were hanging there. I asked a curator about it and since some other paintings had been taken down and sent to London for an exhibition these two were sent to Edinburgh to be hung.

Sophie Marie of Hessel-Kassel, Queen of Denmark. She was married to Frederick VI. 1790. Apparently her title before she was married was "Her Serene Highness" which is pretty cool.

Madame de Pragins-. 1779

Noblewoman With her Son. 1799-1800.

Caroline Mathilde, mother of Frederick and Louise Augusta.

Niels Ryberg with his son Johan Christian and daugjhter-in-law Engelke, née Falbe. 1796-97.

Christian VII of Denmark. Father of Frederick VI and Louise Augusta. 1789.

Augusta Louise of Stolberg-Stolberg, friend of Goethe and wife of a Danish minister.. 1780.

Bolette Marie Lindencrone. 1786.

Chamberlain Johan Frederik Lindencrone, husband of Bolette Marie. 1787.

Eleonora Hennings, 1780s, wife of a Danish minister.

I love Juel’s style.

I love the fashion from the period during which he was active, and I love studying the features of family members he painted.

 

Concerning Government

I'll stop posting the Coat of Arms someday, but today is not that day.

I run this here blog, which focuses largely on royalty, royal life and other things connected to royal life in Denmark.

Wait, does that mean I’m a monarchist? I hope I don’t contradict myself when I say no, no, no. I’m interested in the history of monarchy and especially in the history of people affected by monarchy and double especially by the women marrying into the next-highest post in the land. I believe that to form an image of these women, especially the ones I some day fantasize writing about (we can all dream, eh) it is immensely useful to understand their time and the mode of life they married into.

To understand, or to begin to understand, women like Caroline Mathilde, Leonora Christina, Sophie Magdalene and many, many more one must form an overview of the symbols they surrounded themselves by, the politics their husbands defined (or helped to define), the bad times and the good times they lived through, the religion they practised.

There are periods of time that interest me more than others. I’m not particularly interested in the Middle Ages when it comes to the monarchy. I’m in love with the Northern Renaissance and the Reformation. I love the 18th century queens, if for nothing else, then their fashion. Yes, my love for history was kindled by historical fashion. I’ll write about these things, because, well, I like doing so.

But the modern state of Danish (now constitutional) monarchy holds little interest to me. I’ll watch a good wedding or baptism, because of the pretty, pretty jewels and clothes, but I would never, ever want them to be any more than figureheads. I’m not really conflicted about their livestyle being largely supported by taxes, I understand the historical basis of it and I think it would be hard to change. In any case, I like having a monarchy because they remind me of the long line of monarchs going back in history and I like being reminded of the ways in which country and culture was shaped. I’ll take democracy over monarchy as a basis for government any day of the week, though.