Christian, Prince-Elect of Denmark

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Prince Elect of Denmark and Norway
Spouse Magdalene Sibylle of Saxony
House House of Oldenburg
Father Christian IV of Denmark
Mother Anne Catherine of Brandenburg
Born (1603-04-10)10 April 1603
Copenhagen Castle
Died 2 June 1647(1647-06-02) (aged 44)
Gorbitz Castle
Burial Roskilde Cathedral (1655)
Religion Lutheranism

Christian (10 April 1603 – 2 June 1647) was the Prince Elect of Denmark between 1610 and his death.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Copenhagen Castle as a son of Christian IV (1577–1648) and Anne Catherine of Brandenburg (1575–1612). He was the couple's oldest living son, an older brother Frederick having died in 1599, less than a year old. As such his father saw him as the preferable heir to the throne.[1] Denmark was an elective monarchy, where the power of election was held by the Danish Privy Council. However, during his own lifetime the King would choose an heir and have him hailed as such, strongly influencing the council's choice.[2] In 1608 the Privy Council and representatives of the Estates supported the King in naming Christian as heir apparent. He was publicly hailed in 1610, both in Denmark and Norway.[1]

The Tugtmester, responsible for the prince's education, was Niels Jørgensen Æryleus from 1610 to 1617, then Jesper Brochmand from 1617 to 1620. Christian Friis til Kragerup was the Hofmester from 1615 to 1616, leading the principal court, and Christian Thomesen Sehested from 1616.[1]

Career and marriage[edit]

In 1625, Denmark ventured into the Thirty Years' War. The Danish Intervention saw the war entering its second main phase, after the end of the Bohemian Revolt.[3] With King Christian IV commanding on the battlefield, prince Christian was installed as acting head of government. Christian held this post to 1627, but not without entering the battlefield in the meantime. He was even hit by two gunshots in November 1626. In 1627 he was sent to Holstein near the frontier, where he took seat in Segeberg. He later retreated when enemy troops overran South Denmark and Jutland, as the Danish Intervention failed. During this process he even broke a leg after a fall from a wagon.[1] In 1626, his relationship with the noble Anne Lykke caused a conflict with his father and the council of state when his father arrested Lykke because of her influence on him and tried to have her charged with sorcery.

In 1628, Christian received the feudum of Malmöhus. In January 1632 he was appointed Governor-General of the Danish parts of Schleswig and Holstein. He also received Laaland and Falster. In 1633 he was engaged to Magdalene Sibylle, daughter of Elector John George I of Saxony; the marriage had been discussed as early as 1630. The wedding took place on 5 October 1634 in Copenhagen among great festivities. The marriage was childless, and they resided at Nykøbing Castle in Falster. Christian was not much involved on the political scene in this phase of his life, partly to his own dismay, but he did act as head of government in 1644, when the King was absent due to the Torstenson War. In the autumn of 1644, Prince Christian had a stay in the fortified Malmø, but Swedish forces threatened the city, and Christian retreated, first to Copenhagen due to illness, then to Falster.[1]

Later life and legacy[edit]

Christian gained a reputation as lazy and as a drinker.[4] He was heavily indebted; despite his father's attempts to pay some of Christian's debts, he still owed more than 215,000 rigsdaler in 1647. Among others, he took a loan from the Duke of Gottorp in 1646 in order to finance a stay in a Bohemian spa. He left Nykøbing for Bohemia on 8 May 1647. He reached Dresden on 28 May, and continued on 1 June. Not long after leaving he was struck by a fit of illness. He was brought to a castle in Gorbitz near Dresden, where he died on the next day. He was buried on 8 November 1647 in the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen. In 1655, his remains were moved to the tombs at Roskilde Cathedral.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f Fridericia, J. A. (1889). "Christian, udvalgt prins". In Bricka, Carl Frederik. Dansk biografisk lexikon (in Danish) 3. Copenhagen: Gyldendalske Boghandels Forlag. pp. 526–529. Retrieved 17 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Dyrvik, Ståle (1999). Norsk historie 1625–1814. Volume three of Norsk historie (in Norwegian). Oslo: Samlaget. p. 29. ISBN 978-82-521-5546-4. 
  3. ^ Palmer, R. R.; Colton, Joel; Kramer, Lloyd (2007). A History of the Modern World (10th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill. pp. 137–138. ISBN 978-0-07-310748-6. 
  4. ^ Christian the Prince Elect

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