Throne Chair of Denmark

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The Throne Chair today.
The Throne Chair and King Frederick VI.
By Wilhelm Bendz (1830)

The Throne Chair of Denmark (Danish and Norwegian: Danmarks tronstol; also: salvingsstol, kroningsstol) is the physical representation of the Throne of the Kingdom of Denmark (since 1671) and of the Throne of the Kingdom of Norway (between 1671 and 1814).

According to legend, the Throne Chair is made of the horn of unicorns. In reality, it is made from Norwegian narwhal tusks. It is guarded by three silver lions.

Equipped with several Biblical references, the Throne Chair reflects the religious fundamentalism that dominated public life in the century when it was created. It is even a central symbol of the absolute monarchy in the Twin Kingdoms.

The Throne Chair is located in the Castle of Rosenborg in Copenhagen.


The Throne Chair and the silver lions at the 1841 coronation of King Christian VIII, by Joseph-Désiré Court (1841)

Throne Chair[edit]

Following the 1660 introduction of absolute monarchy in Denmark and Norway, King Frederick III (r. 1648–1670) ordered a throne chair to be created. The Throne Chair was made between 1662 and 1671 by Bendix Grodtschilling.[1] During the reign of King Christian V (r. 1670–1699), gilt figures were added to the chair.

Both the Throne Chair and the silver lions were inspired by the Biblical Throne of King Solomon, which was guarded by twelve lions. In the 1st Book of Kings 10, it says:

18 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the finest gold. 19 There were six steps to the throne, and the top of the throne was round behind; and there were arms on either side by the place of the seat, and two lions standing beside the arms. 20 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps; there was not the like made in any kingdom.

The Throne Chair's references to the Bible must be seen and understood in a wider context, i.e. the 17th century Bible fundamentalism, rooted in Martin Luther's sola scriptura doctrine. The chair reflected the fundamental religious views of contemporary kings, who sought to transform Denmark and Norway into God's kingdom on Earth. The 1687 Norwegian Code was partly based on Mosaic law,[2] and earlier in this century, the same books had been used to justify, among others, the 1617 sorcery decree (Exodus 22:18: 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live'), a decree on sodomy (Leviticus 20:15: 'And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death; and ye shall slay the beast'),[2] and a 1610 decree defining sexual relations between first cousins as incest (whereas previously, it had only been 'forbidden').[3]

The Throne Chair was used at coronations between 1671 and 1840.[1] When absolute monarchy was replaced by constitutional monarchy in 1849, kings were no longer crowned or anointed, wherefore the Throne Chair lost its practical function.

Even though Norway was formally an independent realm with its own throne, Denmark's Throne Chair was de facto also Norway's until 1814.


The Throne Chair is guarded by three lions of silver. They have the same size as natural lions, and each has the weight of 130 kilos. Their eyes, their mane, and their rump are covered with pure gold. They were made between 1665 and 1670 by Ferdinand Kübich.[4]

On 20 November 1905, when delegates of the Norwegian parliament entered the Christian VII Palace in Copenhagen in order to offer Prince Carl Norway's Throne, they were met—and stopped—by the lions. This historic moment has been immortalised by photographer Kjeld Elfelt. Based on Elfelt's photograph, painter Paul Fischer made a famous painting. Several versions of this painting have existed, and one is included in the art collections in the Castle of Oslo.

The silver lions are still in use outside Rosenborg, mainly when protecting the castrum doloris of Kings.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Danish Royal Collections: Coronation chair, King
  2. ^ a b Sødal, Terje: Til Skræk og Exempel Page 96. ISBN 978-82-92712-17-7
  3. ^ Sødal, Terje: Til Skræk og Exempel Page 114. ISBN 978-82-92712-17-7
  4. ^ a b The Danish Royal Collections: Silver lions