Absolute Monarchy, Anne Catherine of Brandenburg, Christian IV of Denmark and Norway, Hans of Denmark, Hereditary Monarchy, King of Denmark and Norway and Duke of Schleswig and Holstein, Thirty Years War
Christian IV (April 12, 1577 – February 28, 1648) was King of Denmark and Norway and Duke of Schleswig and Holstein from 1588 to 1648. His reign of 59 years, 330 days is the longest of Danish monarchs, and of all Scandinavian monarchies. Christian IV was a member of the House of Oldenburg.
Christian was born at Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark on April 12, 1577 as the third child and eldest son of King Frederik II of Denmark–Norway and Sofie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the daughter of Duke Ulrich III of Mecklenburg-Güstrow and Princess Elizabeth of Denmark (a daughter of Frederik I and Sophie of Pomerania). Through her father, a grandson of Elizabeth of Denmark, she descended from King Hans of Denmark.
Christian IV was descended, through his mother’s side, from king Hans of Denmark, and was thus the first descendant of King Hans to assume the crown since the deposition of King Christian II.
At the time, Denmark was still an elective monarchy, so in spite of being the eldest son, Christian was not automatically heir to the throne. But Norway was an hereditary monarchy, and electing someone else would result in the end of the union of the crowns. However, in 1580, at the age of 3, his father had him elected Prince-Elect and successor to the throne of Denmark.
At the death of his father on April 4, 1588, Christian was 11 years old. He succeeded to the throne, as Christian IV but as he was still under-age a regency council was set up to serve as the trustees of the royal power while Christian was still growing up. His mother Queen Dowager Sophie, 30 years old, had wished to play a role in the government, but was denied by the Council.
Christian IV began his personal rule of Denmark in 1596 at the age of 19. He is remembered as one of the most popular, ambitious, and proactive Danish kings, having initiated many reforms and projects.
Christian met Anne Catherine of Brandenburg on his journey in Germany in 1595 and desired to marry her.
Anne Catherine parents were Joachim Friedrich Margrave of Brandenburg and his first wife Catherine of Brandenburg-Küstrin. In 1596, Anne Catherine and her parents were present at his coronation, and the next year, the marriage was arranged.
On November 30, 1597, Christian IV married Anne Catherine of Brandenburg. They had six children, among them Christian, the Prince-Elect, who died a year before his father, and Frederik III who introduced hereditary and absolute monarchy in Denmark. Her son, Ulrik, was murdered in 1633. Their two daughters, Sophia and Elisabeth, and the elder son, Frederik, died at a very young age.
Christian IV had obtained for his kingdom a level of stability and wealth that was virtually unmatched elsewhere in Europe. Denmark was funded by tolls on the Øresund and also by extensive war-reparations from Sweden.
Christian IV spent more time in the kingdom of Norway than any other Oldenburg monarch and no Oldenburg king made such a lasting impression on the Norwegian people. He visited the country a number of times and founded four cities.
Denmark’s intervention in the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) was aided by France and by Charles I of England, who agreed to help subsidise the war partly because Christian was the uncle of both the Stuart king and his sister Elizabeth of Bohemia through their mother, Anne of Denmark. Some 13,700 Scottish soldiers were to be sent as allies to help Christian IV under the command of General Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl of Nithsdale.
Denmark’s involvement in the Thirty Years’ War, devastated much of Germany, undermined the Danish economy, and cost Denmark some of its conquered territories. He rebuilt and renamed the Norwegian capital Oslo as Christiania after himself, a name used until 1925.
His personal obsession with witchcraft led to the public execution of some of his subjects during the Burning Times. He was responsible for several witch burnings, including 21 people in Iceland, and most notably the conviction and execution of Maren Spliid, who was victim of a witch hunt at Ribe and was burned at the Gallows Hill near Ribe on November 9, 1641.
On February 21, 1648, at his earnest request, he was carried in a litter from Frederiksborg to his beloved Copenhagen, where he died a week later. He was buried in Roskilde Cathedral. The chapel of Christian IV had been completed 6 years before the King died.