Christian VII of Denmark

Christian VII of Denmark
Christian VII
This picture of Christian VII was painted by the Danish painter, Peder Als, around the date of his coronation. The king is standing with the sceptre and the cape, the crown, and the ampulla can be seen on his left. Those treasures can be seen on display at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen.
King of Denmark and Norway
Reign 14 January 1766 – 13 March 1808
Predecessor Frederick V
Successor Frederick VI
Consort Caroline Matilda of Wales
Frederick VI of Denmark
Louise Auguste, Duchess of Augustenborg
House Oldenburg
Father Frederick V of Denmark
Mother Louise of Great Britain
Born 29 January 1749(1749-01-29)
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen
Died 13 March 1808(1808-03-13) (aged 59)
Burial Roskilde Cathedral
Religion Lutheranism
Danish Royalty
House of Oldenburg
Main Line
Royal Arms of Norway & Denmark (1699-1819).svg
Christian VII
   Frederick VI
   Louise Auguste, Duchess of Augustenborg

Christian VII (29 January 1749 – 13 March 1808) was King of Denmark and Norway, and Duke of Schleswig and Holstein from 1766 until his death. He was the son of Danish King Frederick V and of his first consort Louisa, daughter of Britain's George II.


King of Denmark

Portrait of Christian attributed to Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland
Christian VII attributed to Nicolai Abildgaard
Royal Monogram

He became king on his father’s death on 14 January 1766, weeks before his 17th birthday. All the earlier accounts agree that he had a winning personality and considerable talent, but he was badly educated, systematically terrorized by a brutal governor, Detlev Count Reventlow, and hopelessly debauched by corrupt pages, and while he seems to have been intelligent and certainly had periods of clarity, Christian suffered from severe mental problems, possibly schizophrenia.

After his marriage at Christiansborg Palace on 8 November 1766 to his cousin Princess Caroline Matilda (known in Denmark as Queen Caroline Mathilde), a sister of Great Britain's King George III, he abandoned himself to the worst excesses, especially debauchery. In 1767, he entered in to a relationship with the courtesan Støvlet-Cathrine‎. He publicly declared that he could not love Caroline Mathilde, because it was "unfashionable to love one's wife". He ultimately sank into a condition of mental stupor. Symptoms during this time included paranoia, self-mutilation and hallucinations. He became submissive to the progressive and radical thinker, his personal doctor Johann Friedrich Struensee, who rose steadily in power in the late 1760s. The neglected and lonely Caroline Mathilde drifted into an affair with Struensee.

In 1772, the king’s marriage with Caroline Mathilde was dissolved by divorce. Struensee was, following a deluge of modernising and emancipating reforms, arrested and executed in that same year. Christian signed Struensee's arrest warrant with indifference, and under pressure from his stepmother, Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, who had led the movement to have the marriage dissolved. Caroline Mathilde, retaining her title but not her children, eventually left Denmark in exile and passed her remaining days in at Celle Castle in her brother's German territory, the Electorate of Hanover. She died of scarlet fever there on 11 May 1775, at the age of 23.

The marriage had produced two children, the future Frederick VI and Princess Louise Auguste. However, it is widely believed that Louise was the daughter of Struensee - portrait comparisons have supported this.

Christian was only nominally king from 1772 onwards. From 1772 to 1784, Denmark was ruled by Christian's stepmother Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, his physically disabled half-brother Frederick and the Danish politician Ove Høegh-Guldberg. From 1784 onwards, his son Frederick VI ruled permanently as a prince regent. This regency was marked by liberal and agricultural reforms but also by the beginning disasters of the Napoleonic Wars.

Christan VII is resting in the west chamber of Roskilde Cathedral.

Christian died in 1808 at Rendsburg, Schleswig — not of fright, as some have suggested, but from a brain aneurysm. He was 59 and was buried at Roskilde Cathedral.

Contribution to science

In 1769 Christian VII of Denmark invited the Hungarian astronomer Miksa Hell (Maximilian Hell) to Vardø. He observed the transit of Venus, and his calculations gave the most precise calculation of the Earth-Sun distance so far (approx. 151 million kilometres). His companion János Sajnovics explored the affinity among the languages of the Sami, Finn and Hungarian peoples.[1][2][3]

Popular culture

He was a major character in the 1935 British film The Dictator where he was played by Emlyn Williams. The film depicts his relationship with Caroline Mathilde, who is played by Madeleine Carroll.

  • He is also one of the main characters in The visit of the royal physician (Livläkarens besök), a 1999 novel by Per Olov Enquist.


External links


  1. ^ Kragh, Helge (2008). The Moon that Wasn't: The Saga of Venus' Spurious Satellite. Springer. pp. 199. ISBN 3764389087, 9783764389086.
  2. ^ Jacek Juliusz Jadacki, Witold Strawiński, Jerzy Pelc. In the World of Signs: Essays in Honour of Professor Jerzy Pelc, Rodopi: 1998, p. 459. ISBN 9042003898, 9789042003897
  3. ^ Mikko Korhonen. Finno-Ugrian Language Studies in Finland, 1828-1918, Societas Scientiarum Fennica, 1986. p. 226. ISBN 9516531350, 9789516531352
Christian VII
Born: 29 January 1749 Died: 13 March 1808
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick V
Count of Oldenburg
Succeeded by
King of Denmark and Norway
Duke of Schleswig

Succeeded by
Frederick VI
Preceded by
Frederick V
and Paul
Duke of Holstein
with Paul (1766-1773)

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