1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Christian VIII.

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16649931911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 6 — Christian VIII.

CHRISTIAN VIII. (1786–1848), king of Denmark and Norway, the eldest son of the crown prince Frederick and Sophia Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was born on the 18th of September 1786 at Christiansborg castle. He inherited the talents of his highly gifted mother, and his amiability and handsome features made him very popular in Copenhagen. His unfortunate first marriage with his cousin Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was dissolved in 1810. In May 1813 he was sent as stadtholder to Norway to promote the loyalty of the Northmen to the dynasty, which had been very rudely shaken by the disastrous results of Frederick VI.’s adhesion to the falling fortunes of Napoleon. He did all he could personally to strengthen the bonds between the Norwegians and the royal house of Denmark, and though his endeavours were opposed by the so-called Swedish party, which desired a dynastic union with Sweden, he placed himself at the head of the Norwegian party of independence, and was elected regent of Norway by an assembly of notables on the 16th of February 1814. This election was confirmed by a Storthing held at Eidsvold on the 10th of April, and on the 17th of May Christian was elected king of Norway, despite the protests of the Swedish party. Christian next attempted to interest the great powers in his cause, but without success. On being summoned by the commissioners of the allied powers at Copenhagen to bring about a union between Norway and Sweden in accordance with the terms of the treaty of Kiel, and then return to Denmark, he replied that, as a constitutional king, he could do nothing without the consent of the Storthing, to the convocation of which a suspension of hostilities on the part of Sweden was the condition precedent. Sweden refusing Christian’s conditions, a short campaign ensued, in which Christian was easily worsted by the superior skill and forces of the Swedish crown prince (Bernadotte). The brief war was finally concluded by the convention of Moss on the 14th of August 1814 (see Norway: History). Henceforth Christian’s suspected democratic principles made him persona ingratissima at all the reactionary European courts, his own court included, and he and his second wife, Caroline Amelia of Augustenburg, whom he married in 1815, lived in comparative retirement as the leaders of the literary and scientific society of Copenhagen. It was not till 1831 that old King Frederick gave him a seat in the council of state. On the 13th of December 1839 he ascended the Danish throne as Christian VIII. The Liberal party had high hopes of “the giver of constitutions,” but he disappointed his admirers by steadily rejecting every Liberal project. Administrative reform was the only reform he would promise. He died of blood-poisoning on the 20th of January 1848.

See Just Matthias Thiele, Christian den Ottende (Copenhagen, 1848); Yngvar Nielsen, Bidrag til Norges Historie (Christiania, 1882–1886).