Abdication, Battle of Hemmingstedt, Christian I of Denmark and Norway, Christian II of Norway, Gottorp, Hans of Denmark and Norway, House of Oldenburg, Kingdom of Denmark and Norway, Protestant and Catholic, Schleswig and Holstein
Frederik I (October 7, 1471 – April 10, 1533) was the King of Denmark and Norway. Frederik was the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over Denmark and Norway, when subsequent monarchs embraced Lutheranism after the Protestant Reformation. As King of Norway, Frederik is most remarkable in never having visited the country and was never crowned as such. Therefore, he was styled King of Denmark, the Vends and the Goths, elected King of Norway. Frederik’s reign began the enduring tradition of calling kings of Denmark alternatively by the names Christian and Frederick, which has continued up to the reign of the current monarch, Margrethe II.
Frederik was the younger son of the first Oldenburg King Christian I of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (1426–81) and of Dorothea of Brandenburg (1430–95). Soon after the death of his father, the underage Frederik was elected co-Duke of Schleswig and Holstein in 1482, the other co-duke being his elder brother, King Hans of Denmark. In 1490 at Frederik’s majority, both duchies were divided between the brothers.
In 1500 he had convinced his brother King Hans to conquer Dithmarschen. A great army was called from not only the duchies, but with additions from all of the Kalmar Union for which his brother briefly was king. In addition, numerous German mercenaries took part. The expedition failed miserably, however, in the Battle of Hemmingstedt, where one third of all knights of Schleswig and Holstein lost their lives.
When his brother, King Hans died, a group of Jutish nobles had offered Frederik the throne as early as 1513, but he had declined, rightly believing that the majority of the Danish nobility would be loyal to his nephew Christian II. In 1523, Christian was forced by disloyal nobles to abdicate, and Frederik took the throne. It is not certain that Frederik ever learned to speak Danish.
After becoming king, he continued spending most of his time at Gottorp, a castle and estate in the city of Schleswig.
In 1524 and 1525 Frederik had to suppress revolts among the peasants in Agder, Jutland and Scania who demanded the restoration of Christian II. The high point of the rebellion came in 1525 when Søren Norby, the governor (statholder) of Gotland, invaded Blekinge in an attempt to restore Christian II to power. He raised 8000 men who besieged Kärnan (Helsingborgs slott), a castle in Helsingborg. Frederik’s general, Johann Rantzau, moved his army to Scania and defeated the peasants soundly in April and May 1525.
Frederik played a central role in the spread of Lutheran teaching throughout Denmark. In his coronation charter, he was made the solemn protector (værner) of Roman Catholicism in Denmark. In that role, he asserted his right to select bishops for the Roman Catholic dioceses in the country. Christian II had been intolerant of Protestant teaching, but Frederik took a more opportunist approach. For example, he ordered that Lutherans and Roman Catholics share the same churches and encouraged the first publication of the Bible in the Danish language.
In 1526, when Lutheran Reformer Hans Tausen was threatened with arrest and trial for heresy, Frederik appointed him his personal chaplain to give him immunity.
Starting in 1527, Frederik authorized the closure of Franciscan houses and monasteries in 28 Danish cities. He used the popular anti-establishment feelings that ran against some persons of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and nobility of Denmark as well as keen propaganda to decrease the power of bishops and Roman Catholic nobles.
During his reign, Frederik was skillful enough to prevent all-out warfare between Protestants and Roman Catholics. In 1532 he succeeded in capturing Christian II who had tried to invade Norway, and to make himself king of the country.
Frederik died on April 10, 1533 in Gottorp, at the age of 61, and was buried in Schleswig Cathedral. Upon Frederik’s death, tensions between Roman Catholics and Protestants rose to a fever pitch which would result in the Count’s Feud (Grevens Fejde).
Family and children
On April 10, 1502, Frederik married Anna of Brandenburg (1487–1514), the daughter of Johann Cicero, Elector of Brandenburg and Margaret of Thuringia. The couple had two children:
Christian III, King of Denmark and Norway (August 12, 1503 – January 1, 1559)
Dorothea of Denmark (August 1, 1504 – April 11, 1547), married July 1, 1526 to Albert, Duke of Prussia.
Frederik’s wife Anna died on May 5, 1514, 26 years old. Four years later on October 9, 1518 at Kiel, Frederik married Sophie of Pomerania (20 years old; 1498–1568), a daughter of Bogislaw “the Great”, Duke of Pomerania. Sophie and Frederik had six children:
Hans II of Denmark, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev (June 28, 1521 – October 2, 1580)
Elizabeth of Denmark (October 14, 1524 – October 15 1586), married:
on August 26, 1543 to Magnus III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
on February 14, 1556 to Ulrich III, Duke of Mecklenburg-Güstrow.
Adolf of Denmark, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (January 25, 1526 – October 1, 1586)
Anna of Denmark (1527 – June 4, 1535)
Dorothea of Denmark (1528 – November 11, 1575), married on October 27, 1573 to Christopher, Duke of Mecklenburg-Gadebusch.
Frederik of Denmark (April 13, 1532 – October 27, 1556), Prince-Bishop of Hildesheim and Bishop of Schleswig.