Adam Gottlob Moltke

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Adam Gottlob Moltke. Painting by Carl Gustaf Pilo.
Original located at the Danish Museum of National History, Frederiksborg Palace.

Count Adam Gottlob Moltke (10 November 1710 – 25 September 1792) was a Danish courtier, statesman and diplomat, and Favourite of Frederick V of Denmark. Moltke was born at Riesenhof in Mecklenburg.

Early life[edit]

Though of German origin, many of the Moltkes were at this time in the Danish service, which was considered a more important and promising opening for the young north German noblemen than the service of any of the native principalities. Through one of his uncles, young Moltke became a page at the Danish court, in which capacity he formed a lifelong friendship with the crown prince Frederick, later King Frederick V. His son, Joachim Godske Moltke, and his grandson, Adam Wilhelm Moltke, later served as Prime Minister of Denmark.[1]

Rise to power[edit]

Immediately after his accession, Frederick made Moltke Lord Chamberlain and showered him with honours: making him a privy councillor, a count and presenting him the estate of Bregentved, and other lands. As the companion of the king, Moltke's influence grew to the point that foreign diplomatists declared he could make and unmake ministers at will. Especially notable is Moltke's attitude towards the two distinguished statesmen who played the leading parts during the reign of Frederick, Johan Sigismund Schulin and The Elder Bernstorff. Schulin he revered, but Bernstorff irritated him with his affected airs of superiority. But though a Prussian intrigue was set up for the supersession of Bernstorff by Moltke, the latter, convinced that Bernstorff was the right man in the right place, supported him with unswerving loyalty. [1]

Moltke was less liberal in his views than many of his contemporaries. He looked askance at all projects for the emancipation of the serfs, but, as one of the largest landowners of Denmark, he did service to agriculture by lightening the burdens of the countrymen and introducing technical and scientific improvements, which also increased production. His greatest merit, however, was the guardianship he exercised over the king. [1]

On the death of Queen Louisa, the king would have married one of Moltke's daughters had he not peremptorily declined the dangerous honor. On the death of Frederick, who died in his arms (14 January 1766), Moltke's influence came to an end. The new king, Christian VII, could not endure him, and exclaimed, with reference to his lanky figure: "He's stork below and fox above". At that time Moltke was also unpopular, because he was, wrongly, suspected of enriching himself from the public purse.

In July 1766, Moltke was dismissed from all hos positions and retired to his estate at Bregentved. Later, through the interest of Russia, to whom he had always been sympathetic, he regained his seat in the council (February 8, 1768), but his renewed influence was to be brief. He was again dismissed without a pension, on the 10th of December 1770, for refusing to have anything to do with Struensee.

Moltke was the possessor of a large art collection which was displayed in his palace; this was later opened to the public. In 1885 a catalogue was published of the collection, which consisted mostly of Dutch masters.[2] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1764.[3] His memoirs, written in German and published in 1870 are of considerable historical importance.[1]

Adam Gottlob Moltke lived in retirement until his death on 25 September 1792.[1]

Honours[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Bain 1911.
  2. ^ Catalogue des tableaux de la collection du comte de Moltke, by Moltkeske malerisamling, Copenhagen, 1885
  3. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 

References[edit]

  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Moltke, Adam Gottlob, Count". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.  This work in turn cites:
    • H.H. Langhorn, Historische Nachricht über die danischen Moltkes (Kid, 1871).