Christian V of Denmark

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Christian V
Jacob d'Agar crafted the official portrait of the king, who poses with his hand authoritatively placed on the marshal's baton, as a true absolute monarch, ca. 1685.
King of Denmark and Norway
Reign9 February 1670 – 25 August 1699
Coronation 7 June 1671
Frederiksborg Palace Chapel
Predecessor Frederick III
Successor Frederick IV
Born(1646-04-15)15 April 1646
Duborg Castle, Flensburg
Died25 August 1699(1699-08-25) (aged 53)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Spouse Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel
among others...
Frederick IV of Denmark
Prince Christian
Princess Sophia Hedwig
Prince Charles
Prince William
House Oldenburg
Father Frederick III of Denmark
Mother Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Religion Lutheran

Christian V (15 April 1646  25 August 1699) was king of Denmark and Norway from 1670 until his death in 1699.

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

Norway constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northwestern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.


Well-regarded by the common people, he was the first king anointed at Frederiksborg Castle chapel as absolute monarch since the decree that institutionalized the supremacy of the king in Denmark-Norway, he fortified the absolutist system against the aristocracy by accelerating his father's practice of allowing Holstein nobles but also Danish and Norwegian commoners into state service.

Frederiksborg Castle castle

Frederiksborg Castle is a palatial complex in Hillerød, Denmark. It was built as a royal residence for King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway in the early 17th century, replacing an older castle acquired by Frederick II and becoming the largest Renaissance residence in Scandinavia. Situated on three islets in the Slotssøen, it is adjoined by a large formal garden in the Baroque style.

As king he wanted to show his power as absolute monarch through architecture, and dreamed of a Danish Versailles. He was the first to use the 1671 Throne Chair of Denmark, partly made for this purpose. [1] His motto was: Pietate et Justitia (With piety and justice).

Palace of Versailles French palace on the outskirts of Paris

The Palace of Versailles was the principal royal residence of France from 1682, under Louis XIV, until the start of the French Revolution in 1789, under Louis XVI. It is located in the department of Yvelines, in the region of Île-de-France, about 20 kilometres southwest of the centre of Paris.

Throne Chair of Denmark

The Throne Chair of Denmark is the physical representation of the Throne of the Kingdom of Denmark and of the Throne of the Kingdom of Norway.


Early years

Christian V portrayed as the prince elect in the year 1650, in a painting by Karel van Mander Christian v of denmark child.jpg
Christian V portrayed as the prince elect in the year 1650, in a painting by Karel van Mander
The anointing of Christian V in the palace chapel of Frederiksborg Castle, 1671 Anointing og Christian V of Denmark 1671.jpg
The anointing of Christian V in the palace chapel of Frederiksborg Castle, 1671

Christian was elected successor to his father in June 1650. This was not a free choice, but de facto automatic hereditary succession. Escorted by his chamberlain Christoffer Parsberg, Christian went on a long trip abroad, to Holland, England, France, and home through Germany. On this trip, he saw absolutism in its most splendid achievement at the young Louis XIV's court, and heard about the theory of the divine right of kings. He returned to Denmark in August 1663. From 1664 he was allowed to attend proceedings of the State College. Hereditary succession was made official by Royal Law in 1665. Christian was hailed as heir in Copenhagen in August 1665, in Odense and Viborg in September, and in Christiania, Norway in July 1666. Only a short time before he became king, he was taken into the Council of the Realm and the Supreme Court. He became king upon his father's death on 9 February 1670, and was formally crowned in 1671. He was the first hereditary king of Denmark-Norway, and in honor of this, Denmark-Norway acquired costly new crown jewels and a magnificent new ceremonial sword.

Holland Region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands

Holland is a region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands. The name Holland is also frequently used informally to refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. This usage is commonly accepted in other countries, and sometimes employed by the Dutch themselves. However, some in the Netherlands, particularly those from regions outside Holland, may find it undesirable or misrepresentative to use the term for the whole country.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.


It is generally argued that Christian V's personal courage and affability made him popular among the common people, but his image was marred by his unsuccessful attempt to regain Scania for Denmark in the Scanian War. The war exhausted Denmark's economic resources without securing any gains. [2] Part of Christian's appeal to the common people may be explained by the fact that he allowed Danish and Norwegian commoners into state service, but his attempts to curtail the influence of the nobility also meant continuing his father's drive toward absolutism. [2] [3] To accommodate non-aristocrats into state service, he created the new noble ranks of count and baron. One of the commoners elevated in this way by the king was Peder Schumacher, named Count Griffenfeld by Christian V in 1670 and high councillor of Denmark in 1674. [2] Griffenfeld, a skilled statesman, better understood the precarious situation Denmark-Norway placed itself by attacking Sweden at a time when the country was allied with France, the major European power of the era. As Griffenfeld predicted, Sweden's stronger ally France was the party that dictated the peace with Denmark's ally Holland, and in spite of Danish victory at sea in the battles against Sweden in 1675–1679 during the Scanian War, Danish hopes for border changes on the Scandinavian Peninsula between the two countries were dashed. The results of the war efforts proved politically and financially unremunerative for Denmark-Norway. The damage to the Danish-Norwegian economy was extensive. At this point, Christian V no longer had his most experienced foreign relations counsel around to repair the political damage — in 1676 he had been persuaded to sacrifice Griffenfeld as a traitor, and to the clamour of his adversaries, Griffenfeld was imprisoned for the remainder of his life. [4]


Skåneland or Skånelandene (Danish) is a region on the southern Scandinavian peninsula. It includes the Swedish provinces of Blekinge, Halland and Scania. The Danish island of Bornholm is sometimes also included. Skåneland has no official recognition or function and the term is not in common usage. Equivalent terms in English and Latin are "the Scanian provinces" and "Terrae Scaniae" respectively. The term is mostly used in historical contexts and not in daily speech. In Danish, Skånelandene is used more often. The terms have no political implications as the region is not a geopolitical entity but a cultural region, without officially established political borders.

Scanian War part of the Northern Wars involving the union of Denmark-Norway, Brandenburg and Sweden

The Scanian War was a part of the Northern Wars involving the union of Denmark–Norway, Brandenburg and Sweden. It was fought from 1675 to 1679 mainly on Scanian soil, in the former Danish provinces along the border with Sweden and in Northern Germany. While the latter battles are regarded as a theater of the Scanian war in English, Danish and Swedish historiography, they are seen as a separate war in German historiography, called the Swedish-Brandenburgian War.

Absolute monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch holds supreme authority and where that authority is not restricted by any written laws, legislature, or customs. These are often hereditary monarchies. In contrast, in constitutional monarchies, the head of state's authority derives from and is legally bounded or restricted by a constitution or legislature.

King Christian V's rifle made by Trondheim's weapon-maker Lars Berg. Kong Christian Vs gevaer laget av vapensmed Lars Berg i Trondhjem (2722665340).jpg
King Christian V's rifle made by Trondheim's weapon-maker Lars Berg.

After the Scanian War, his sister, Princess Ulrike Eleonora of Denmark, married the Swedish king Charles XI, whose mother was a stout supporter of the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. In spite of the family ties, war between the brothers-in-law was close again in 1689, when Charles XI nearly provoked confrontation with Denmark-Norway by his support of the exiled Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp in his claims to Holstein-Gottorp in Schleswig-Holstein. [5]

Duke of Holstein-Gottorp

Holstein-Gottorp or Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp is the historiographical name, as well as contemporary shorthand name, for the parts of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, also known as Ducal Holstein, that were ruled by the dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp. Other parts of the duchies were ruled by the kings of Denmark.

Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp

Christian Albert was a duke of Holstein-Gottorp and bishop of Lübeck.

Like Charles XI of Sweden, who had never been outside Sweden, Christian V spoke only German and Danish and was therefore often considered poorly educated due to his inability to communicate with visiting foreign diplomats. [5] Christian V was also often considered dependent on his councillors by contemporary sources. The Danish monarch did nothing to dispel this notion. In his memoirs, he listed "hunting, love-making, war and maritime affairs" as his main interests in life. [4]

Christian V introduced Danske Lov (the Danish Code) in 1683, the first law code for all of Denmark. [6] He also introduced the similar Norske Lov (Norwegian Code) of 1687 to replace Christian IVs Norwegian Code from 1604 in Norway. He also introduced the land register of 1688, which attempted to work out the land value of the united monarchy in order to create a more just taxation. During the reign of Christian V, Denmark’s trade in cattle that had declined due to catastrophic fires and wars has been restored, and livestock and crop exports have also surpassedFrederick III, with thousands of cattle entering and leaving Jutland through the Oxen Way. After entering and fattening in the Danish King’s German enclave County of Oldenburg,the castle reached the big market in Wedel. From there, cattle are resold to all parts of North Germany via Stade, Hamburg and Lübeck. As the population continues to soar at the end of the seventeenth century, demand for beef, grains and fish is increasing, both throughout North Germany and on the Baltic coast alone. In terms of the number of livestock shipped to the South, in 1680 each market had reached 40,000 cattle. Traditional export commodities, including fish and grains, have increased their exports since the beginning of the seventeenth century. The agricultural products exported by Denmark, especially cattle, have made a lot of money from Germany and the Netherlands for the Danish royal family, the aristocrats and the town residents.During his reign, science witnessed a golden age due to the work of the astronomer Ole Rømer in spite of the king's personal lack of scientific knowledge and interest.

He died from the after-effects of a hunting accident and was interred in Roskilde Cathedral. [4]


Christian V had eight children by his wife and six by his Maîtresse-en-titre, Sophie Amalie Moth (1654–1719), whom he took up with when she was sixteen. Sophie was the daughter of his former tutor Poul Moth. Christian publicly introduced Sophie into court in 1672, a move which insulted his wife, and made her countess of Samsø on 31 December 1677.

Christian V with his eldest son crown-prince Frederick (IV), and his other sons Christian and Charles Christian-5-with his children.jpg
Christian V with his eldest son crown-prince Frederick (IV), and his other sons Christian and Charles

Legitimate children by his queen Charlotte Amalie:

Frederick IV 2 October 167112 October 1730
Christian Vilhelm1 December 167225 January 1673
Christian 25 March 167527 June 1695
Sophie Hedevig 28 August 167713 March 1735
Christiane Charlotte18 January 167924 August 1689
Charles 26 October 16808 June 1729
Daughter17 July 168317 July 1683
Vilhelm 21 February 168723 November 1705

Illegitimate children by his mistress, Sophie Amalie Moth, Countess of Samsø:

Christiane Gyldenløve7 July 167212 September 1689
Christian Gyldenløve 28 February 167416 July 1703
Sophie Christiane Gyldenløve167518 August 1684
Anna Christiane Gyldenløve167611 August 1689
Ulrik Christian Gyldenløve 24 June 16788 December 1719
Daughter16828 July 1684

Titles, styles and arms

1670–1699His Majesty the King: By the Grace of God, King of Denmark and Norway, the Wends and the Goths, Duke of Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn and Dithmarschen, Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst.

Heraldry of Christian V of Denmark-Norway
Christian v crown.jpg
Royal Monogram of King Christian V of Denmark.svg
Royal Arms of King Frederick IV of Denmark and Norway.svg
Christian V's crown, produced in 1671Royal MonogramCoat of arms as King


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  1. Written by the Frederiksborg's historian staff on the official website of the institution.
  2. 1 2 3 "Christian V." (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 January 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  3. Jespersen, Knud J.V. The Introduction of Absolutism Archived 11 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine . Gyldendal Leksikon, quoted by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, on Denmark's official web site.
  4. 1 2 3 Nielsen, Kay Søren (1999). Christian V – Konge og sportsmand. The Royal Danish Arsenal Museum, Net Publications, 1999.
  5. 1 2 Upton, Anthony F. (1998). Charles XI and Swedish Absolutism, 1660–1697. Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN   0-521-57390-4.
  6. Jespersen, Knud J.V. Denmark as a Modern Bureaucracy Archived 11 August 2006 at the Wayback Machine . Gyldendal Leksikon, quoted by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, on Denmark's official web site.
Christian V
Born: 14 April 1646 Died: 25 August 1699
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick III
King of Denmark and Norway
Count of Oldenburg

Succeeded by
Frederick IV
Preceded by
Frederick III of Denmark
as co-ruler of Christian Albert of Gottorp
Duke of Holstein and Schleswig
with Christian Albert (1670–1695)
Frederick IV (1695–1699)
Succeeded by
Frederick IV of Denmark
as co-ruler of Frederick IV of Gottorp