The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Christian (Danish kings)

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CHRISTIAN, the name of nine kings of Denmark. Since 1448 the Danish kings (with the single exception of John, 1481-1513) have upon their accession to the throne assumed alternately the names of Christian and Frederick. The following are the more important of them. I. Christian II., surnamed in his own country the Fiery, and in Sweden the Tyrant, son and successor of King John, born at Nyborg, July 2, 1481, died at Kallundborg, Jan. 24, 1559. His education was imperfect, and his habits became dissolute. At the age of 20 his father intrusted to him the repression of a rebellion in Norway, having previously placed him under the guidance of the bishop of Hammer. No sooner were they arrived in Norway than the prince destroyed the bishop's commission, and shut him up in a dungeon, where he soon died. Christian quelled the insurrection, nearly extirpated the Norwegian nobility, and carried fire and sword across the border into Sweden. During this expedition he met with the daughter of Sigbrit Willius, the hostess of a petty inn in Bergen. The daughter, known only as Dyveke, “Little Dove,” was of wonderful beauty, and became Christian's mistress. Upon the death of King John (1513), during whose reign the union of Calmar had been reëstablished, Christian was crowned at Copenhagen and at Opslo (now Christiania) in Norway. At the time of his father's coronation at Stockholm, Christian was recognized by the Swedes as successor to the Swedish throne; but in the mean time successful rebellion had again partly emancipated Sweden from the Danish yoke. Christian, being about to invade Sweden, married Isabella, sister of the emperor Charles V. of Germany; but he still retained his mistress Dyveke, whose mother, a woman of singular talents, had already achieved a complete ascendancy over his mind. He invested her with the administration of the customs revenue, and with the collection of the tolls at Elsinore. She diminished many duties and taxes in order to encourage exportation; and this measure, of serious injury to the Hanse towns, was the cause of their alliance at this juncture with Sweden. Sigbrit also brought about many restraints upon the nobles and clergy, especially in monopolies which they enjoyed. In the fourth year of Christian's reign Dyveke suddenly died, probably by poison. Suspicion fell first upon members of the senate, who aimed to rid themselves of the influence exercised against them by Sigbrit; but afterward upon a young Dane, Torben Oxe, the master of the royal household. The youth had fallen desperately in love with Dyveke, and the tragedy followed, brought on probably by the despair of the guilty couple. Sigbrit, whose influence had greatly increased, instigated the king to the most extreme cruelties. Meanwhile great preparation was made in Sweden to resist the Danish invasion. The Swedish administrator or regent, Sten Sturé, had appointed Gustavus Trollé to the archbishopric of Upsal. The new primate, still young, had completed his religious studies at Rome, and on his way home had met at Lübeck a confidential agent of Christian, who had little difficulty in obtaining a promise to support the pretensions of the king. Christian found means also to gain over to his cause, at least in appearance, the papal legate; but that personage disclosed to the regent the projects of Christian, as well as the treason of Trollé and of certain commanders of fortresses bribed by the Danes. The governors of the fortresses were arrested, and revealed the plot, which they said was directed by Trollé, who, disregarding a summons to appear before the diet, fortified himself in his castle. A Danish army, which had landed to relieve Trollé, was attacked by the regent and driven back. Sturé then forced the castle of the archbishop, compelled his abdication, sent him a prisoner to the monastery of Wodstena, and razed his castle to the ground. The pope placed Sweden under interdict. The regent and his followers were excommunicated, and condemned to pay to Trollé 100,000 ducats, and to rebuild his castle. The execution of the bull was intrusted to Christian, who besieged Stockholm with a powerful fleet and army, but was driven off by Sturé. Feigning a wish to treat, he obtained from the regent provisions for his fleet, and put in irons six Swedish nobles, among them Gustavus Vasa, who had been sent to him as hostages during the truce. These, he sent word to Sturé should be put to death unless Danish authority were immediately accepted. The Swedes made a sharp attack, but the wind setting fair, Christian weighed anchor and sailed with his prisoners to Copenhagen. Next year he seized a quantity of copper belonging to the papal legate which was about to pass the strait at Elsinore. This, in addition to the payment by Charles V. of part of his sister's marriage portion, enabled him to resume his operations against the Swedes, and the expedition was embarked in January, 1520. At the first battle, fought at Bogesund, the Swedish regent fell mortally wounded. The Danes advanced by forced marches between the lakes Wenner and Wetter, and reached the forest of Tiwed, the ancient rampart of northern Sweden. Here the peasants made a desperate stand against the invaders, who however outflanked them, cut them to pieces, and gained the high road to the capital. A baronial diet, which had been convoked at Upsal, saw that resistance was hopeless, and entered into a convention with the Danes that Christian, on condition of a promise of general amnesty, should be crowned king of Sweden. Christian, who had remained at Copenhagen, signed the convention in that city on March 31, 1520. Stockholm and Calmar, the two great fortresses of Sweden, still held out against the invaders, and were defended each by a woman. The widow of the regent, Christina Gyllenstjerna, refused to accept the treaty, and aroused the burghers of Stockholm to a desperate resistance. Lübeck and Dantzic promised her assistance; and the peasants from the neighboring farms engaged to harass the enemy in the rear, but they had no leader. Christina held out for four months, when she was compelled to capitulate. Calmar shared the same fate, and in September Christian was everywhere acknowledged. He now resolved upon the extirpation of his enemies. As executor of the papal bull, he pretended that his promise of amnesty as king must not conflict with his duties as representative of the supreme pontiff. The coronation was solemnized in the presence of the Swedish nobles and clergy. Festivities followed during the next three days, when an assembly was held in the great hall of the palace. Christina was summoned to hear her husband denounced and reviled by the creatures of the king. His surviving adherents among the nobles were at once declared and condemned as heretics. The city gates were closed and guarded. Scaffolds and blocks arose during the night in the great square. The first head to fall was that of the venerable bishop of Strengnäs; immediately after him the bishop of Skara and 13 nobles, among whom was the father of Gustavus Vasa. For two days the butchery continued, and dead bodies lay in masses in the streets. The king at length permitted the corpses to be removed to an eminence outside of the city. Upon them he caused the remains of the regent and of his infant child to be flung; and then they were burned. The widows and daughters of the murdered men were abandoned to the soldiery. Christian travelled through the country, marking every stage of his journey with blood; whole families were extirpated. Gustavus Vasa had now escaped to Sweden, and, reaching the borders of Dalecarlia, had aroused the peasants of that province. He issued from the northern provinces at the head of 20,000 men, and went on from victory to victory. Christian summoned him, upon pain of the instant execution of his mother, who was imprisoned with his sisters at Copenhagen, to lay down his arms; he refused, and their death followed shortly afterward in their dungeon. Christian meanwhile, leaving the defence of Sweden to his generals, made a visit to his brother-in-law, the emperor Charles V., in the Netherlands, to solicit the arrears of his queen's dowry, and assistance in a quarrel with the duke of Holstein and the Hanse towns. He was received at Brussels with great magnificence, but obtained little or no satisfaction in his suit. His dominions now were everywhere distracted. Slaghöck, the king's confessor, had meanwhile been made archbishop of Lund; and there now arrived a papal nuncio demanding nation of the deaths of prelates and others in Sweden. The king accused his unhappy confessor as the cause of the executions. Slaghock was imprisoned, tortured, and burned at the stake, while the nuncio pronounced the king innocent of all sin. A second legate, however, insisted upon the deposition of Trollé. About the same period two legislative measures, wise in themselves, but which struck at the privileges of the aristocracy, precipitated the fall of Christian. He published a decree which forbade the sale of serfs. A second decree affected property in wrecks: everything cast on shore by the waves had at one time been royal property; but the barons had lately usurped this right, and now it was decreed that the waifs should be delivered to the king's bailiffs, to be by them returned to the shipwrecked mariners within the space of one year. Failing this, the property was to be sold, two thirds of the proceeds to go to the king, and the remainder to the church. One year after the sacrifice of Slaghock, Christian received mysteriously the first announcement of his impending fall. A glove containing a letter from a number of nobles and priests was left in his tent during the night. The king had taken the field against a Lübeck army invading Seeland and Scania. A vast conspiracy of Jutland clergy and nobles was now disclosed to him, and the letter contained their renunciation of allegiance, and announced that they were about to offer the crown to Frederick, duke of Holstein, who accepted the invitation. Christian sent an envoy to the rebellious barons, acknowledging his errors, and praying them to accept again their repentant sovereign. His offers were rejected, and he hurried to Copenhagen, and wandered about the streets, imploring the people to save him from his enemies. Seeland and Scania swore allegiance anew, and Christian might yet have saved his crown. But the weakness which he continued to exhibit cost him every trustworthy friend, and, collecting some 20 ships, he embarked with his family, carrying off the public records, the crown jewels, and all the treasures within his grasp. Sigbrit, who durst no longer show herself, was carried on board secretly in a clothes chest. The king, his wife, children, and a few faithful servants followed, and the fleet sailed from the harbor. This event, which occurred in April, 1523, ended for ever the famous Calmar union, after a period of 126 years. In Denmark the flight of Christian was a serious calamity to the people. His municipal regulations, due to the woman Sigbrit, no doubt were excellent and original. Advocates were admitted to courts to plead the cause of the accused, and to appeal from the tribunals to the crown. He reformed and regulated the customs tariff and taxes. He established inns and post offices for the first time in Denmark. The poor of Denmark deplored the loss of the king who is known in history as a remorseless tyrant. On quitting the harbor of Copenhagen, Christian's fleet was dispersed by a violent storm. After having been nearly wrecked upon the coast of Norway, he at length reached Antwerp in safety. He found means to invade Holstein with 10,000 men, but was again compelled to flee. In 1531 he sailed again at the head of 12,000 men; his fleet was dispersed, but he landed in Norway, where the new king of Denmark, Frederick, was hated. The Norwegian bishops and nobles declared for Christian, and on Nov. 30, 1531, he was solemnly acknowledged king. The common danger meanwhile brought about peace between Frederick and Gustavus Vasa. A treaty for mutual defence was concluded, and a Swedish army entered Norway. Christian's fate was soon decided. His ships were burned, his troops mutinied from hunger and want, and he was forced to surrender himself to the Danish admiral, stipulating for a safe conduct to Denmark, in order that he might confer personally with his uncle King Frederick. If no amicable compromise of their differences should be arrived at, it was understood that he should be free to quit the kingdom. Frederick was not permitted to ratify the agreement, but was compelled to declare that the admiral had exceeded his powers. So bitter was the hatred of the Danish nobles against their late king, that Frederick was obliged to give them a written assurance that Christian should be kept in perpetual imprisonment. The document containing the pledge was formally committed to the custody of eight barons; and the condemned king entered upon 27 years of retribution. He was first conveyed to the castle of Sonderburg, in the island of Alsen. Here he was placed in a vaulted apartment of which all the windows were walled up, one little aperture near the ceiling alone excepted for air and light, and through which to receive his food. In this dismal dungeon, with a Norwegian dwarf who was given him for a companion, he passed 17 years, the first 12 without any alleviation whatever of his misery. A stone table remains in the castle, around the edge of which is still shown a line of indentation, worn it is said by the hand of Christian, whose sole exercise and pastime in this narrow abode consisted in walking around the table, with his hand resting on it. Still another war was waged for his liberation, but without success. In 1544, at the intercession of the emperor his brother-in-law, the rigors of his imprisonment were somewhat mitigated; and at length, upon the renunciation of all his pretensions in 1549, he was removed to the castle of Kallundborg in Seeland, on the coast of the Great Belt, and made comfortable, with a fixed income, and with permission occasionally to hunt in the adjoining forest. But calamity had worked upon his mind, and attacks of despondency became of frequent occurrence. These were made violent by immoderate use of wine, and at Kallundborg his malady often assumed the character of insanity until he died. He had had three children. John, the eldest, was educated under Charles V., but died at Ratisbon on the day his father was imprisoned at Sonderburg. A daughter, Dorothea, was married to the elector palatine, Frederick II.; and Christina first to Francis Sforza, and subsequently to the duke of Lorraine. II. Christian IV., born in the palace of Fredriksborg, April 12, 1577, died in Copenhagen, Feb. 28, 1648. His father, Frederick II., died April 4, 1588. Under the direction of his mother, Sophia of Mecklenburg, and the senatorial council of noblemen, which latter usurped the regency during his minority, he became proficient in foreign languages and mathematics, and especially in naval sciences. After the declaration of his majority as duke in Schleswig-Holstein in 1593, and as king in Denmark and Norway in 1596, and his coronation in the latter year, he applied himself to the promotion of reforms in Norway, which country he had previously visited, and where he subsequently founded Christiania, the capital, and Christiansand. Russia and Sweden claiming sovereignty over the Norwegian portion of North Lapland, Christian made in 1599 a naval demonstration against the former power, and considerably increased his armaments. But peace was not disturbed till 1611, when Charles IX. of Sweden, who had arrogated to himself the title of king of Lapland, and who was jealous of the increasing power of Denmark on the Baltic, attempted to exclude the Danish shipping from the coasts of Livonia and Courland, fortified the town of Gothenburg, and perpetrated other acts of defiance which led Christian to engage in hostilities. He immediately occupied the island of Oland and the citadel of Calmar, whence the name war of Calmar; captured other Swedish strongholds, and destroyed Gothenburg. Gustavus Adolphus, who succeeded to the Swedish throne after the death of Charles IX. in 1611, concluded a treaty of peace with Christian at Siorod in 1613, through the mediation of James I. of England, who had married the princess Anne of Denmark, sister of Christian. By the terms of this treaty the Swedish sovereign relinquished the title of king of Lapland, recognized the freedom of navigation of the Baltic, and paid 1,000,000 rix dollars for regaining the territory taken by Christian, who waived the claims which he had occasionally asserted to the Swedish crown. Christian now devoted himself more than ever before to the arts of peace. He extended and embellished Copenhagen, reorganized the university, increased the number of churches and palaces, established an observatory, a botanical garden, a free school for poor students, gymnasia, and libraries, and founded an academy at Sorö for young noblemen, with eminent foreign professors, to check the practice of studying abroad. Displaying the same energy in promoting commerce and enterprise, he opened the trade with the East Indies, where the first Danish settlement at Tranquebar was founded by a trading company under his auspices. He stimulated geographical explorations by sending out a number of expeditions for the discovery of a passage between North America and Asia, which paved the way for Norwegian and Danish settlements in Greenland. Among the new towns founded by him was Glückstadt, as capital of Holstein, for the defence of the Elbe, whence arose the name of the Holstein-Glückstadt dynasty, to distinguish it from that of Holstein-Gottorp. As duke of Holstein, and to that extent a sovereign German prince, and owing to his high renown, he was selected in 1625, during the thirty years' war, as chief of the Protestant armies, and personally assumed command in the circle of Lower Saxony. He crossed the Elbe at Stade with 25,000 Danes, Germans, Scotch, and English, and was reenforced by 7,000 troops from the circle. He was defeated, Aug. 27, 1626, by the vastly superior forces of the Bavarian general Tilly at Lutter, near Wolfenbüttel, and was obliged to fall back on Stade, where he was joined by 6,000 British troops and by a small corps of French. But he was forced to retreat before Wallenstein, who had made a junction with Tilly; and the imperialists invaded Holstein and Jutland. The duke Frederick III. of Holstein-Gottorp, Christian's nephew and vassal, betrayed Denmark by making a separate treaty with Wallenstein in 1627, surrendering to him the national fortresses; while the foreign occupation created a spirit of discontent in the duchies, which became a source of disturbance and contention. Supported by Austrian and Spanish forces, Wallenstein occupied the ports of Rostock, Wismar, and other places on the Baltic; but Christian inflicted severe losses on him at Stralsund, and forced him to raise the siege of that city. Peace was finally concluded at Lübeck in May, 1629, Denmark recovering Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland, but, with the exception of these territories, renouncing all interference in German affairs. Her allies, especially the dukes of Mecklenburg, were stripped of all their possessions; and except for the influence of France, Christian himself would have been doomed to great humiliations. Barely recovered from these calamities, but nothing daunted, Christian in 1630 chastised the citizens of Hamburg, who had disputed the Danish supremacy of the Elbe, by destroying 30 of their men-of-war, and imposing upon them the payment of dues for each vessel passing Glückstadt, and at a later period demanding an indemnity of nearly 300,000 rix dollars. The senate, consisting of the nobles, continued in the mean while to thwart the attempts of Christian to protect the national interests on the Baltic against encroachments by foreign powers. Sweden availed herself of this state of things to form a coalition with Holland against Denmark, and Christian made a secret alliance with the emperor Ferdinand III. against Sweden. At the instigation of the Swedish chancellor Oxenstiern, Holstein was invaded by Swedish forces in 1643, the duke of Holstein-Gottorp once more betraying his liege lord by placing the enemy in full possession of the territory. In a naval action off the island of Femern, near Kiel, known as the battle of Kolberg heath, Christian was severely wounded and lost an eye. His heroism, commemorated in a famous national ballad, greatly enhanced his personal popularity; but the war ended disastrously, chiefly owing to the opposition of the Danish senate to its continuation, and the king was reluctantly obliged to conclude the treaty of peace of Brömsebro (Aug. 13, 1645), ceding the Norwegian districts of Jemtland and Herjeland, the islands of Gothland and Ösel, and other territory to Sweden, including the occupation for 30 years of Halland, and releasing Sweden from the Sound and Belt dues, while these were at once reduced for the Dutch to the rate fixed at a later period for friendly maritime powers. In addition to these disasters, Christian was greatly annoyed by the conduct of the duke of Holstein-Gottorp; these dissensions paving the way for interminable future contests in regard to the interior and exterior relations of the duchies. These reverses preyed at length upon the king; and the premature death of his son Christian, the presumptive heir to the throne, was an additional source of sadness, and accelerated his own death. Of a majestic and noble presence, Christian had endeared himself to his subjects by his love of justice and humanity, by his efforts for intellectual and general improvement, and by his gallantry and indefatigable patriotic labors; and his portrait is still found in the dwellings of the peasants as well as of the higher classes. He was succeeded by his son Frederick III.—His queen, the princess Anne Catharine of Brandenburg, died in 1612; and in 1615 he contracted a morganatic marriage with the daughter of Munk, a Danish nobleman, whom he repudiated in 1630. She had borne him many daughters, who married noblemen and senators. Prominent among them, by her virtues and accomplishments, was Leonore Christina, countess of Schleswig-Holstein (born July 10, 1621, died about 1698). She married in 1636 Count Corfitz-Uhlfeld, the son of a Danish high chancellor. He became in 1643 major-domo, but after being suspected of conspiring against the life of the king, and incurring general odium, he left Denmark in disgrace. Intriguing in Sweden against his country, but distrusted, he fled to Flanders, where he continued to conspire against Denmark. He was sentenced to death in contumacy, July 24, 1663. He escaped to Basel, but was accidentally drowned while crossing the Rhine, Feb. 20, 1664. His wife repaired to England, where the government secretly surrendered her to Denmark, and she was imprisoned in Copenhagen more than 20 years. Her memoirs, partly autobiographical, revealing the injustice practised on her, and her sufferings, translated into English by F. E. Bennett, were published in London in 1873. III. Christian VII., born Jan. 29, 1749, died March 13, 1808. He was the son of Frederick V. and Louisa, daughter of George II. of England. He succeeded his father Jan. 13, 1766, and soon after married his cousin Caroline Matilda, sister of George III. of England. A year after his marriage he set out to travel abroad, leaving his young wife at home, and visited Holland, Germany, France, and England. In 1769 he returned to Denmark, and found the affairs of his kingdom deranged, the finances low, and commerce failing; but, incapable of attention to business, he abandoned the direction of his government to unworthy favorites. At first he appeared desirous of confiding chiefly in his late father's minister Bernstorff, whom he raised to the dignity of count. A young noble named Holcke at this time, however, enjoyed the greatest share of his confidence, together with a physician, Struensee, who had accompanied him in his travels. The queen, regarding Holcke as her enemy, encouraged Struensee to supplant him in the royal confidence. By his aid the queen succeeded in recovering her husband's favor, and at length procured the banishment from court of Holcke and his equally obnoxious sister. Meantime the queen dowager, stepmother of the king (Juliana Maria, daughter of the duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel), had begun to intrigue in behalf of the interests of her son, the king's half brother; and upon the birth of a crown prince (afterward Frederick VI.) the breach between the queen and her stepmother was hopelessly widened. The king gave daily proof of increasing folly and unworthiness. Bernstorff was dismissed; the council of state, the last surviving check upon the royal authority, was suppressed; and Struensee, possessing a greater ascendancy over the king than any preceding favorite, ruled Denmark with an iron hand. He was ennobled, and empowered to issue his master's verbal orders in writing without the royal signature. Many of his measures were wise and just, but his power was at length exercised imprudently. The nobles were already exasperated by his decrees against their privileges; and a law ordaining the liberty of the press, by which he hoped to gain greater popularity, had a contrary effect, as his enemies thus obtained means of exposing and vilifying his ambitious proceedings. On Jan. 16, 1772, the machinations of the queen dowager were crowned with success. Struensee and the queen were arrested on a warrant forced from the king for a pretended conspiracy, the former beheaded, and the latter sent into exile. (See Caroline Matilda.) The queen dowager now governed the kingdom for many years in the name of the king, whose mind sunk beneath these alarms and agitations. Disease brought on by intemperate indulgences had early undermined his mental health, and his further reign was but nominal. In 1784 his son Frederick, supported by the nobles, succceeded in subverting the power of the queen dowager, and became in fact sole regent of Denmark. In 1807, on the bombardment of Copenhagen by Lord Cathcart, Christian VII. was conveyed to Rendsburg in Holstein, where he died. IV. Christian VIII., nephew of the preceding, born Sept. 18, 1786, died Jan. 20, 1848. He was governor of Norway when the treaty of peace of Kiel, ceding that country to Sweden, was repudiated by the Norwegians (Jan. 28, 1814). Christian came forward as the champion of the national independence, assembled an army of 12,000 men, convened a diet at Eidswold (April 10, 1814), where a constitution was signed (May 17), and was proclaimed king of Norway under the title of Christian I. (May 29). But, unable to maintain his position against the claims of Sweden, which were supported by the allied powers of Europe, he was compelled to conclude a truce at Moss (Aug. 14), and to relinquish the Norwegian crown (Oct. 10). He now devoted himself to artistic and scientific researches, and in 1832 he was elected president of the Copenhagen academy of fine arts. On the death of Frederick VI. (Dec. 3, 1839), he ascended the Danish throne, and was crowned under the name of Christian VIII. (June 30, 1840). The Danish liberals, who had already yearned for reforms under Frederick VI., now became clamorous and demanded a liberal constitution and the settlement of the Schleswig-Holstein question. The king, although at first reluctant to yield, eventually issued a letter (July 8, 1846) in which he declared Schleswig and part of Holstein indissolubly united with Denmark. The serious complications, however, which arose out of this question, could not be settled by the king, who died shortly before the outbreak of the revolution of February, 1848, and was succeeded on the throne by Frederick VII., who died in 1863, and was succeeded by Christian IX., son of Frederick, duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glückstadt, born April 8, 1818. The second son of Christian IX. was made king of Greece in 1863 as George I. His daughter Alexandra became in the same year the wife of the prince of Wales. Her sister Dagmar was betrothed to the crown prince of Russia, who died in 1865; and in 1866 she married his brother Alexander, the present crown prince. Another daughter, Thyra,was betrothed in 1873 to Prince Arthur of England.