The future of this blog

I don’t know what to do with this blog at the moment. It seems that during a week like the last where I’ve managed to post every day, I get the least page views. On top of that I’m not keeping up with my writing and this blog was intended to serve as a scrapbook for information I needed in my writing.

The future of this blog looks uncertain  at best. I’m considering deleting, but then again, I’ve worked hard at these posts. I’m considering simply leaving it as it is, but that feels silly. Why have a blog if you’re not going to do anything about it?

So I’m giving this blog a month and if at the end of February I’ve made a decision I’ll let you know and then proceed to either delete it or leave it alone.

That’s really all.

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.

Child’s Pose

Duchess Sophia Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin

There’s something about this girl’s gown that seems off to me. Perhaps it’s the enormous bustle in an 18th century gown? I suppose it could be attributed to the angle, and perhaps it’s as wide as it is big but it looks odd. Maybe it’s just very, very fashion forward of Duchess Sophie’s mother to order a dress like this for her child.

This is, by the way, yet another Sophie/Sophia from Mecklenburg-Schwerin to marry a Danish prince or king. Mecklenburg, in northern Germany, is quite close to Scheswig-Holstein. These two duchies used to belong to Denmark until the war in 1864 and still has a sizeable Danish-speaking minority. My point is that Mecklenburg is so sufficiently close that the procuring of brides was no big matter. For some eery reason, nearly every Mecklenburg bride was called Sophie or Sophia.

Duchess Sophia with her brother Duke Friederich

This portrait of the princely children is quite sweet, though. I’m no art historian (English literature is where it’s at for me) but there’s a playfulness about it which is usually exempt from portraits of children (or for that matter adults) in the time. The siblings look very alike, especially their smiles and chins.

Sophia

The Crown Jewels: The Pearls and Rubies

Like the diamond piece, the pearls in this piece originally belonged to Princess Charlotte Amalie. In 1840 Christian VIII’s queen Caroline Amalie ordered the piece re-modelled and the rubies were added. This is the last of the crown jewel pieces still in use by the Danish queen.

Caroline Amalie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sønderborg-Augustenborg. 1830 by Aumont.

Caroline Amalie was married to Christian VIII, son of Juliane Marie’s son Prince Frederick. Since Frederick VI had no sons, Christian VIII was crowned upon his death.

In a twist of fate Caroline Amalie’s uncle was also Frederick VI. The mother of Caroline Amalie is Princess Louise Augusta, the daughter of Queen Caroline Mathilde. Louise Augusta’s story is an interesting one that I will post about at a later date.

Although the old king had accepted Louise Augusta as his legitimate child, rumours persist that Louise Augusta was actually fathered by Johann Struensee who once upon a time ruled in the king’s stead. Since these rumours were never confirmed, there was no hindrance for Caroline Amalie to become queen consort.

Caroline Amalie and Christian VIII were the last Danish monarchs to be crowned, and since their reign the Danish crowns (which I will post about later) have been safely packed away beneath Rosenborg Castle. Their sucessor, Frederik VII was the king who gave the Danes a democratic law and ended 400 years of supreme royal rule. In a way, this couple were the beginning of the end for the old monarchy. Soon, there would be no more supreme rule and soon the role of the monarch would constitutional one.

Caroline Amalie is also the queen that gave these four pieces their current shape, but the notion that parts of these pieces are from the 17th century is a sweet one.

It could be said that her nose is more Struensee than Christian VII but who can really say?