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.