Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, Christian VII of Denmark, Denmark, Frederik VI of Denmark, Friedrich Christian II of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg, Johann Friedrich Struensee
Friedrich Christian II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (September 28, 1765 – June 14, 1814) was a Danish prince and feudal magnate. He held the island of Als and some other castles (such as Sonderborg) in Schleswig.
Friedrich Christian II was born the eldest son of Friedrich Christian I, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1721–1794), by his wife and cousin Princess Charlotte of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Plön (1744–1770). Until his father’s death, he was styled “Hereditary Prince of Augustenborg”.
He was a prince with an exceptionally high level of Danish blood in his ancestry: his maternal grandmother, paternal grandmother, and paternal great-grandmother having been born, respectively, Countess of Reventlow, Countess of Danneskiold-Samsøe, and Countess of Ahlefeldt-Langeland.
Friedrich Christian II was closely related to all important families of the Danish high nobility of the time. The negative side was that his ancestry was rather too much “comital” and too little royal. Instead of including royal princesses and duchesses of small and large German states, as was customary with the Oldenburg royal family, their marriage connections had been mostly with the nobility (chiefly of Denmark).
Thus, although they were undoubtedly the senior cadet line of the royal house of Denmark (Oldenburg), the family was regarded as a bit lower than the Ebenbürtige which the rulers of small Germany principalities thought to be the standard.
By marriage, however, Friedrich Christian II drew closer to his cousins, the Danish royal family. In 1786, the twenty-year-old hereditary prince married his distant cousin, the fourteen-year-old Louise Auguste of Denmark and Norway (1771–1843), purported daughter of Christian VII of Denmark by his wife, the late Queen Caroline Mathilde. Louise Auguste’s father, the king, was a man with mental disabilities and, throughout his reign, effective control was in the hands of other people (ranging from his step-mother to his wife to his half-brother to various courtiers).
The king’s mental condition, and his unharmonious relationship with his wife, gave rise to speculation that Louise had been sired by someone other than him, and rumour awarded fatherhood to Johann Friedrich Struensee, the king’s court physician and de facto regent of the country at the time of Louise’s birth. Indeed, she was at times referred to as la petite Struensee.
The truth of the matter cannot be definitely ascertained.
The story of antecedents of the prince’s marriage goes as follows: In February 1779, the nation’s foremost statesman, Chief Minister Count Andreas Peter Bernstorff, hatched an ingenious plan for the young princess, something that often has been customary with a royal child suspected of not being sired by its nominal father but in its mother’s illicit liaison: to marry such a child to another member of the royal house.
Since a male child of hers could inherit the throne some day, it would be advantageous to arrange a marriage early, and to marry the “half-royal” back into the extended royal house, to the Hereditary Prince of Augustenborg.
This plan had the positive effect of more closely connecting the Danish royal house’s two lines, the ruling House of Oldenborg and the cadet House of Augustenborg, thus not only discouraging any breakup of the kingdom but also forestalling the possibility of a foreigner gaining influence into Danish affairs through marriage with her. This would certainly happen, for instance, if Louise were to marry her closer relations, the Swedish royals.
The danger of Louise Auguste marrying into the Swedish royal house (the latter danger was rather low, however: at that time, there were Swedish princes only twenty years or more her senior, and her first cousin, the future King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden, had just been born when she already was seven).
Binding agreements were made as early as in 1780, when Friedrich Christian was 15 and Louise was only 9 years old. Five years later, in the spring of 1785, the young Friedrich Christian came to Copenhagen. The engagement was announced then, and a year later, on May 27, 1786, the wedding was celebrated at Christiansborg Palace.
The couple lived at the Castle for many years until the Christiansborg Palace fire of 1794 and the death of his father, the Duke of Augustenborg Friedrich Christian I, at which point the prince inherited the estate and the duchy. After 1794, the couple lived during the summer on the island of Als and at Gråsten.
The couple had three children:
- Caroline Amalie (born September 28, 1796, at Copenhagen; died March 9, 1881), married 1815 Prince Christian Friedrich of Denmark (died 1848), the future Christian VIII of Denmark and earlier, 1814, briefly proclaimed king of Norway before the Swedish conquest; became Queen of Denmark; she died childless in 1881, then the Queen Dowager of Denmark.
- Christian August II (born July 19, 1798, at Copenhagen; died March 11, 1869), the Duke of Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg who was to become a pivotal figure in the Question of Schleswig-Holstein in the 1850s and 1860s; so as not to offend Danish national feelings, he was married in 1820 to a Danish relative, Countess of Danneskjold-Samsoe (Lovisa-Sophie Danneskjold-Samsøe, 1797–1867), a kinswoman of the kings of Denmark, belonging to a bastard branch of House of Oldenburg; Duke Christian sold his rights to the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein to Denmark in aftermath of Treaty of London but later renounced his rights to the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein in favor of his son Friedrich August; he was the brother-in-law of King Christian VIII of Denmark, nephew of Frederik VI of Denmark, and father of, amongst others, Friedrich August (Friedrich Christian August), Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (born 1829 at Augustenborg, he was nephew of the Danish king himself, after whose death in 1863 he claimed to succeed as Duke of Schleswig-Holstein; died in 1880, living one surviving son and a number of daughters).
- Frederick Emil August (born August 23, 1800, at Kiel; died July 2, 1865, at Beirut), the “Prince” of Nør (Noer); he was married in 1829 to Countess Henriette Danneskjold-Samsøe (1806–1858), a Danish noblewoman belonging to a bastard branch of the House of Oldenburg; in 1864, he was created Prinz von Noer (“Prince of Noer”); he was father of:
- Friedrich Christian Charles August (born at Gottorp in 1830; died at Noer in 1881), who married Carmelita Eisenblat; and
- Luise Karoline Henriette Auguste, Graefin von Noer (born at Schleswig in 1836; died in 1866), who married Michael Vlangali-Handjeri.
Over the years, conflict arose between Duke Friedrich Christian II and Louise Auguste’s brother, King Frederik VI of Denmark, especially over the relationship of the double-duchies of Schleswig-Holstein and the Duke’s own small appanage around Sonderborg on the one hand and the Danish monarchy on the other. His wife remained loyal to the Danish royal house throughout these differences. The marriage eventually fell into acrimony and reproach, and Frederick Christian tried to legally limit Louise Auguste’s influence over their children’s futures.
In 1810, Frederik Christian’s younger brother Charles August was chosen by the estates of the Swedish realm as that nation’s crown prince, to succeed the elderly and childless King Carl XIII. Following Charles August’s death in May 1810, Frederik Christian himself was the leading candidate to become the new heir to the Swedish throne. On August 8, 1810 he was elected crown prince by the estates. His election however, was reconsidered and withdrawn two weeks later and Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, Marshal of France and Prince of Ponte Corvo, was elected instead.
Frederik Christian II died on June 14, 1814. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Christian August II, then but sixteen years old. Louise Auguste took control of the Augustenborg estates and the children’s upbringing. The estates were turned over to the son and heir on his return from an extended foreign tour in 1820.