Louise of Hesse-Kassel

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For other people called Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, see Princess Louise of Schleswig-Holstein.
Louise of Hesse-Kassel
Luisa wife of Ch9.jpg
Queen consort of Denmark
Tenure 15 November 1863 – 29 September 1898
Spouse Christian IX of Denmark
Issue Frederick VIII of Denmark
Alexandra, Queen of the United Kingdom
George I of Greece
Dagmar, Empress of Russia
Thyra, Crown Princess of Hanover
Prince Valdemar
House House of Hesse-Kassel
Father Prince William of Hesse
Mother Princess Charlotte of Denmark
Born (1817-09-07)7 September 1817
Kassel
Died 29 September 1898(1898-09-29) (aged 81)
Bernstorff Palace, Gentofte, Denmark
Burial Roskilde Cathedral
Signature

Louise of Hesse (German: Luise Wilhelmine Friederike Caroline Auguste Julie von Hessen-Kassel, Danish: Louise Wilhelmine Frederikke Caroline Auguste Julie) (7 September 1817 – 29 September 1898) was Queen of Denmark as the wife of King Christian IX of Denmark.[1]

Genealogy and connection to the Danish succession[edit]

Ancestry[edit]

Louise of Hesse was a descendant of an ancient German princely family, the Landgraves of Hesse, but lived in Denmark from the age of three and had Danish ancestry. In the political and dynastic conflicts that raged in Denmark during her lifetime she consistently found herself in opposition to German nationalism and protective of Danish interests mainly due to her upbringing and rank within the kingdom of Denmark.

She was a daughter of Prince William of Hesse and Charlotte of Denmark. Her mother, a princess of Denmark, saw her become the country's queen. As a niece of King Christian VIII, who ruled Denmark between 1839 and 1848, Louise was very close to the succession after several individuals of the royal house of Denmark who were elderly and childless. As children, her brother Frederik Wilhelm, her sisters and she were the closest relatives of King Christian VIII who were likely to produce heirs. It was easy to see that the agnatic succession from King Frederick III of Denmark would probably become extinct within a generation. Louise was one of the females descended from Frederick III of Denmark, and she enjoyed the remainder provisions of the succession (according to the Semi-Salic Law) in the event that his male line became extinct. She and her siblings were not agnatic descendants of the House of Oldenburg and the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein, thus ineligible to inherit the twin duchies, since there existed a number of agnatic lines eligible to inherit those territories.

Marriage to cousin[edit]

Royal Monogram

Louise was married at the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen on 26 May 1842 to her second cousin Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg. He was soon selected as hereditary prince of Denmark and later ascended the throne of Denmark as King Christian IX. The marriage greatly strengthed Christian's efforts to secure the Danish throne, since it joined two competing claimants whose children would have an enhanced connection to the ancient bloodlines of the Danish monarchy. Louise and Christian lived a quiet family life. Louise's mother and siblings renounced their rights to the Danish throne to her. Louise herself in turn renounced her rights to the throne to her spouse Christian. In 1852, this succession order was confirmed by the Nordic countries and foreign powers in London.

In 1847, Prince Christian was, with the approval of Europe's Great Powers, chosen as successor to the Danish throne by Christian VIII (who did not expect his only surviving son, the future Frederick VII, to father dynastic sons). This choice of heir was made more dynastically palatable by the fact that, thanks to the mass renunciations of the Hesses, Christian's wife Louise became the heiress eventual to the crown, meaning that the couple's children would be heirs to the throne both by right of international treaty and by compliance with the Lex Regia. This resolved the succession to the Danish crown, but not Denmark's claim on the twin duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. German Holstein's historic law of succession was Salic and could not so easily be reconciled with Christian's claim so long as the Augustenborgs survived and Prussia offered itself as the international champion of German nationalism. The result of this conflict was the Second War of Schleswig.

On 3 July 1853, King Frederick VII confirmed this succession. By that act, Louise and Christian became Crown Princess and Crown Prince of Denmark. Louise had a tense relationship with King Frederick VII, who contradicted the succession of her spouse, and whose marriage to the non-royal Louise Rasmussen she did not approve of. Therefore, the King and the Crown Prince couple did not see each other very often.

Queen of Denmark[edit]

On 15 November 1863, Louise and Christian became Queen and King of Denmark. The relationship between Louise and Christian seems to have been at least partially a marriage of love, and is described as happy: she supported him in his struggle to be acknowledged as heir to the throne of Denmark, and the couple became strongly attached to each other during the years of succession struggle. Her loyalty is said to have been of great importance to him, and Christian is described as dependent upon her intelligence, judgment and psychological strength, all of which were considered to be superior to his own. Their life style is described as simple and puritan, and as this suited the contemporary view of an exemplary family life, the royal family was regarded as a morally correct role model. Because of this, the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter Thyra in 1870 became a burden; Louise took control of the situation and hid it from public knowledge by sending Thyra to give birth abroad, keeping the whole affair a family secret.

As queen, Louise lived a life isolated from the people and did not seek a relationship with or recognition from the public. She took no part in state affairs; her political interests focused on the arranged dynastic marriages of her children and were affected by her anti-German views. The high status marriages she arranged for her children secured the newly established Danish dynasty international status, connecting Denmark to Great Britain, Russia, Sweden and Greece. Known as "The Mother-in-law of Europe," her annual family gatherings at Bernstorff and Fredensborg attracted more attention every year and made her a popular symbol of family life. Significant events in her life included her wedding anniversary on 26 May 1867 (when she received great public praise), her birthday celebration of 1887, the wedding anniversary of 1892 and her 80th birthday in 1897.

Louise supported 26 different charity organizations. Among them were Vallø Kloster; Kronprinsesse Louises praktiske Tjenestepigeskole (The Servant Girl's School of Crown Princess Louise) and the Dronning Louises Børnehospital (Queen Louise's Children's Hospital). In 1857, she founded the Louisestiftelsen (Louise Foundation), an orphanage for girls with the purpose of raising them to a life of domestic servants, which illustrated her deeply conservative ideals. Her most known project, and one which she herself referred to as her most important, was the Diakonissestiftelsen (The Deaconess Foundation) in 1863, which introduced the Deaconess profession in Denmark. In 1891, she initiated the Foreningen til Oprettelse af Friskolebørneasyler i Kbh.s Arbejderkvarter (Foundation for the Establishment of Charter school's Asylums in the Labour Quarters of Copenhagen). She founded the Belønnings- og Forsørgelsesforeningen (The Reward- and Self-supporting Foundation) in 1881, supported domestic servants by providing financial aid to the ill, during unemployment and in retirement. Louise was deeply conservative, and her charitable work has been interpreted as a fear of socialism and the growing workers movement. She was interested in music and painting and acted as the patron of artists, such as Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann. Some of her own paintings were exhibited and given as gifts to members of other royal dynasties.

During her last years, she became deaf, and her needs were taken care of by two deaconesses from the Deaconess institution she founded. Louise was queen for 35 years, longer than any other Danish queen before her.

Children[edit]

Louise (centre) with her daughter Alexandra, Princess of Wales, and granddaughter Louise
The Empress of Russia, Queen Louise, the Queen of United Kingdom, the Crown Princess of Hannover

Louise had the following six children with Christian. Eventually, they had thirty-nine grandchildren.

Name Birth Death Spouse Children
Frederick VIII of Denmark 3 June 1843 14 May 1912 Princess Lovisa of Sweden Christian X of Denmark
Haakon VII of Norway
Princess Louise of Denmark
Prince Harald of Denmark
Princess Ingeborg, Duchess of Västergötland
Princess Thyra of Denmark
Prince Gustav of Denmark
Princess Dagmar of Denmark
Princess Alexandra of Denmark 1 December 1844 20 November 1925 Edward VII of the United Kingdom Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale
George V of the United Kingdom
Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife
Princess Victoria of the United Kingdom
Queen Maud of Norway
Prince Alexander John of Wales
George I of Greece 24 December 1845 18 March 1913 Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia Constantine I of Greece
Prince George of Greece and Denmark
Grand Duchess Alexandra Georgievna of Russia
Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark
Grand Duchess Maria Georgievna of Russia
Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark
Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark
Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark
Princess Dagmar of Denmark 26 November 1847 13 October 1928 Alexander III of Russia Nicholas II of Russia
Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich of Russia
Grand Duke George Alexandrovich of Russia
Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna of Russia
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia
Princess Thyra of Denmark 29 September 1853 26 February 1933 Crown Prince Ernest August of Hanover, 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale Grand Duchess Marie Louise of Baden
Prince George William of Hanover and Cumberland
Grand Duchess Alexandra of Mecklenburg-Scherwin
Princess Olga of Hanover and Cumberland
Prince Christian of Hanover and Cumberland
Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick
Prince Valdemar of Denmark 27 October 1858 14 January 1939 Princess Marie of Orléans Aage, Count of Rosenborg
Prince Axel of Denmark
Erik, Count of Rosenborg
Viggo, Count of Rosenborg
Princess Margaret of Denmark

The great dynastic success of Louise's six children was to a great extent a result of her own ambitions rather than the efforts of her husband, Christian IX. Some have compared her dynastic capabilities with those of Queen Victoria.

On her death in 1898, she was interred in Roskilde Cathedral near Copenhagen.

Ancestry[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A Royal Family by Anna Lerche and Marcus Mandal

External links[edit]

Louise of Hesse-Kassel
Cadet branch of the House of Hesse
Born: 7 September 1817 Died: 29 September 1898
Danish royalty
Vacant
Title last held by
Caroline Amalie of Augustenburg
Queen consort of Denmark
1863–1898
Vacant
Title next held by
Louise of Sweden