Yeah, I accidentally instagram all over my blog. Can you tell I loved The High Line?
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.
I could be wrong, but these look like diamonds, right?
The reason for my confusion is that this piece is named “the rosestone set” by DDKKS (The Danish Kings Chronological Collection in English) but as far as I can tell they’re simply diamonds cut into a shape resembling roses.
The jewels that would later be made into this set originally belonged to Christian VI’s younger sister Charlotte Amalie, but weren’t made into this piece until 1840 by the request of Caroline Amalie, queen of Christian VIII.
There is another important set of jewellery which also belonged to Charlotte Amalie, namely the large “gown pieces.” They aren’t a part of the official crown jewels, but I have seen Queen Margrethe wear them at several galas, so I’m including them.
The Danish crown jewels consist of four sets of jewels. Diadem, necklace, earrings. I’ll post them over the next couple of days, beginning today with the emerald set.
The history of the crown jewels begins with Queen Sophie Magdalene, wife of Christian VI. It was her decision that these jewels should always belong to the Danish Queen, and be inherited by no one person alone.
“There are, in this royal house, so few jewels and even fewer crown jewels.”
As fashion changed, so did the queens who wore them change these jewels and their current shape was determined by Caroline Amalie, wife of Christian VIII. The pieces can be taken apart and combined in several different ways.
Traditionally, the jewels have never left Denmark, and the Queen leaves them at home when she goes on state visits abroad. Officially, they belong to the state and are made available to the queen at galas etc.
The Danish crown jewels are the only in the world that are made available for public viewing, usually at Rosenborg Castle, when the queen is not making use of them.
Sophie Magdalene is also said to have refused to wear the queen’s crown as her husband’s father had crowned his noble mistress, Anna Sophie Reventlow, with it. She did not wish that a crown that had been “sullied” by a noblewoman should touch her royal head and had it melted down and reshaped. More on the crown regalia will follow later.
Sophie Magdalene and her husband, Christian VI, were devout pietists and banned music, dancing, the theatre and made it punishable to not attend church on sundays. When their son came to the throne, he promptly overturned all of these laws.
I’ve been absent from this blog for much too long. I’ve been away on my Erasmus-year, a study abroad program in the European Union. I live in Edinburgh now. I’ve been busy as all hell, with classes, new friends, a new city and about a million papers to write.
It’s the Advent season now. In Denmark we celebrate it, although I’m not sure that’s the correct term to describe what is theologically a season of sorrow. We assemble wreaths and plant candles in them, four for each Sunday of the Advent. When I was little my mother and I would sing a song as we lighted the candles, first one, then two, then three and finally all four. Each candle symbolised a good quality; hope, mercy, love and kindness.
This wreath carries on in the tradition of using purple in Advent decorations. Traditionally, purple has been the colour of Christian mourning, and the Advent season is one for mourning Jesus’ death. The days between Christmas Eve and Twelfth Night are the days to be happy and rejoice in. This meaning has nearly been lost but when advent wreaths where introduced to Denmark, from Germany (like the Christmas Tree), around the time of the First World War they were almost exclusively kept in purple. Nowadays, the most normal colours to decorate one’s wreath in are red and white (thanks, Coca-Cola).
This stamp from 1946, just after the end of the Second World War, depicts an Advent wreath hanging from the ceiling. I’ve previously posted about St. Lucia and how the celebrations surrounding this tradition uplifted the Danish nation in a time of war. The advent wreath is another symbol of the light shining in the darkness.
Around Christmas time most cities also undergo a makeover. These images are from Copenhagen.
(Can you tell I’m homesick?)
I wrote about St. Lucia and the strange case of a Catholic saint being celebrated in Protestant Scandinavia here. How sad that this is almost a year ago and still on my first page. I promise not to neglect my poor blog anymore.
That’s a bit about Christmas in Denmark. Maybe next time I update it will be about Christmas in Edinburgh?
Errr…. That is Vogue at Le Grand Trianon, the home of Louis XIV’s mistress, Francoise-Athénäis, the marquise of Montespan. It’s an impressive building with rooms kept completely in reds or yellows or reds which is enough to awe any visitor. But until October visitors are treated to another form of grandeur. At the Grand Trianon there is an exhibition called The 18th Century Back in Fashion which features pieces from the haute couture, but also ready-to-wear, collections of several modern/contemporary designers.
I thought I’d show off a couple of the gowns exhibited among the 56 pieces at the exhibition. The pieces can usually be found at the Museum Galliera. Apart from the modern gowns, authentic 18th century pieces can be seen, for comparison.
Seeing these amazing dresses etc. in the flesh, so to speak, in such an impressive place was definitely the highlight of our visit to Versailles.
The photos are taken by Julie Ansiau. I make no money from this, all rights reserved to Vogue and Julie Ansiau.
Pink taffeta by Doutzen Kroues, inspired by Fragonard. 2007.
Pale green tulle. 2011.
Bit big for a bedroom, mind.
This gown was created in relation to Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.
Amazingly over the top.
I mean, w-o-w.
I had to include this because of the gorgeous fabric used.
He was just a genius, wasn’t he?
Isn’t it amazing how the 18th century fashions were relevant in the 50s and continue to influence fashion until today?
Sometimes I think I missed my calling as a Goth. I could totally wear this.
I just love this one.
The entire slideshow can be seen here.
And just to finish, here’s a portrait of Madame de Montespan herself:
Today is the 13th of December, a day that throughout of Scandinavia and some of Northern Germany is celebrated as The Day of Saint Lucia.
The 13th of December was originally celebrated as a Catholic saint’s day day, so why does the Protestant North celebrate this day under the name of a Catholic Saint?
The Holy Saint Lucia is the patron saint of Syracuse in Italy whose saint’s day falls on the 13th of December. Lucia is thought to have lived during the rule of Diocletian, and it was at the hands of his officials that she faced a martyr’s death.
The reason that Lucia was painted carrying her eyes outside of their appointed place is that, according to myth, she desired to be a bride of Christ so ardently that she ripped out her eyes so that a man could never see their beauty and fall in love with him.
The story goes that her mother was sick, so the young girl travelled with her mother to the grave of holy Agatha to pray, and during her session of prayer, Lucia saw in a vision that she was to become the patron saint of Syracuse. Her mother became instantly well.
Upon her betterment Lucia’s mother made plans to wed Lucia to a Roman man who, to the Christian Lucia, was a heathen. She refused and refused and the Roman man then vengefully accused her of being a Christian to the officials. They gave her the choice of burning an offering to the Roman Emperor but Lucia said that she had no more to offer, she had offered it all up to God. It was instead decided to make Lucia the offer and burn her alive, but the men come to fetch her from her mother’s home, could not drag her from the doorstep to the pyre, not even when they used oxen. Lucia said to them that the Holy Spirit was protecting her and the Romans arranged for an executioner to come to her instead and she was killed in her mother’s home. She was martyred and later declared a saint by the church, patron saint of Syracuse and helper of the blind as she was also believed to have plucked out her own eyes, so that no man should see their beauty and fall thus in love.
But how did a Catholic saint’s day come to be celebrated in the Lutheran Scandinavia?
Accoir the Julian calender, the 13th of December is the shortest day of the year. (According to the Gregorian calender which we now use, it is the 21st of December that has that particular honour.)
The Swedish have celebrated the Lucia-night (Lusse-nat), from the 16th century onwards, especially in the Western part of the country. In the morninghours of the 13th all the young girls in the household rise early to wake up the rest of the household with coffee and saffron-buns in the pitch-black of the Scandinavian winter mornings. It developed to become a countrywide tradition and to this day every Swedish city elects a Lucia-bride who goes on to the capital, Stockholm, to perhaps become the country’s Lucia-bride. Amongst her prices is a trip to Syracuse.
In Denmark the first Lucia-procession was held during the Nazi occupation of the mid-forties, as a show of peaceful resistance and a reminder of hope. After the war, when candles became readily available again, the tradition spread to the entire country and since then every school and church has held Lucia processions. Amongst the girls a Lucia-bride is chosen and she wears a crown of candles, as well as a candle in her hands. After her come the bridesmaids, with candles in their hands. In the back of the procession walk the usually reluctant boys handing out peppernuts to the onlookers, and alongside the children is a teacher, or other grown-up, carrying a bucket of water in case the crown slips or a child is unobservant with his or her candle.
Everybody wears white gowns with a red ribbon tied around their waist. I’ve walked in four of five processions, since my first school was a Christian one. We had to do a procession in church, school and a retirement home.
I was never the bride. It hurts still 😉