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Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Cassel (April 27, 1650 – March 17, 1714) was queen-consort of Denmark and Norway by marriage to King Christian V.


Early years

Charlotte Amalie was born in Cassel, Hesse, of the Holy Roman Empire. Her parents were Landgrave Wilhelm VI of Hesse-Cassel and his consort Hedwig Sophia of Brandenburg.

Charlotte Amalie was raised in the Reformed faith. She was well educated in French, Italian, geography, and philosophy. French was to be her preferred written language, while she spoke German with her more intimate friends. Her mother was a religiously strict adherent of the Reformed Church, and politically oriented toward Brandenburg, both views which were to be shared by her daughter.

On June 15, 1667 in Nykøbing Slot, Charlotte Amalie married Crown Prince Christian of Denmark. The marriage was arranged by Queen Sophie Amalie of Denmark, (Born Princess Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg, the daughter of Georg, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Anne Eleonore of Hesse-Darmstadt). She desired a daughter-in-law that she could control and expected this to be the case for a princess of Hesse elevated to the status of queen, and a member of the reformed church, who would be religiously isolated in Lutheran Denmark.

Christian was sent to meet her in Hesse already in 1665, but the negotiations were drawn out because of religious concerns. In the marriage contract, she was not required to convert and she secured the right to keep her faith after her wedding to Christian, who as ruler of Denmark would become the head of the state Lutheran Church, a term which was contested and met some resistance before it was accepted. She did keep her faith after wedding.

Charlotte Amalie became queen of Denmark upon the accession of Christian to the throne in 1670. Her Reformed faith caused the Lutheran clergy to oppose her anointing as queen. She could not be anointed as a member of the Reformed faith because the ceremony would require a Lutheran communion, which she refused. As queen, she chose the motto L’homme propose, Dieu dispose.

King Christian V did not wish his wife to play a political role in government similar to his mothers during his father’s reign, and further more disliked her Pro-Brandenburg sympathies, and therefore took care to remove Charlotte Amalie from exerting any influence in state affairs. She was nevertheless regarded as a potential power holder at court.

Christian V, King of Denmark and Norway

The relationship between Charlotte Amalie and Christian V are described as a mutually respectful friendship, and while not a love affair, they enjoyed each others company and seemingly coexisted harmoniously. In 1672, the king entered in to a permanent love affair to Sophie Amalie Moth, who after the fall of Peder Griffenfeld four years later was made the official mistress in Denmark, a public adultery which caused an embarrassing situation for Charlotte Amalie.

Nevertheless, “no mistress could deprive her of her position as queen, and she understood to defend it”; Charlotte Amalie made the most of her position as queen, both in public representational life as well as in her private interaction with the king. It is noted how she was always at the king’s side, making use of her rank as queen and accompanying him on journeys, hunting and in warfare, and how she could play cards with him late in to the evenings, developing a comfortable and respectful relationship.

Reportedly, she grieved over her son’s bigamy, but there is no record of her having expressed any criticism of it to him. She is known as the protector of the famous Marie Grubbe after Grubbe’s divorce and remarriage to her lover, which had made her an outcast. Charlotte Amelie gave refuge to the couple on her own domains.

Charlotte Amalie died of scarlet fever on March 27, 1714 in Charlottenborg, “heartily grieved by many”. She was buried in Roskilde Cathedral.