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.