Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel
|Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel|
|Queen consort of Denmark and Norway|
|Tenure||9 February 1670 – 25 August 1699|
|Born||27 April 1650|
|Died||27 March 1714 (aged 63)|
|Spouse||Christian V of Denmark|
|Frederick IV of Denmark|
Princess Sophia Hedwig
|Father||William VI, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel|
|Mother||Hedwig Sophia of Brandenburg|
Charlotte Amalie was raised in the Reformed faith. She was well educated in French, Italian, geography, and philosophy. French was to be her preferred written language, while she spoke German with her more intimate friends. Her mother was a religiously a strict adherent of the Reformed church, and politically oriented toward Brandenburg, both views which was to be shared by her daughter.
On 15 June 1667 in Nykøbing Slot, Charlotte Amalie married the Crown Prince Christian of Denmark. The marriage was arranged by Queen Sophie Amalie of Denmark, who desired a daughter-in-law that she could control and expected this to be the case for a princess of Hesse elevated to the status of queen, and a member of the reformed church, who would be religiously isolated in Lutheran Denmark. Christian was sent to meet her in Hesse already in 1665, but the negotiations was drawn out because of religious concerns. In the marriage contract, she was not required to convert and secured the right to keep her faith after her wedding to Christian, who as ruler of Denmark would become the head of the state Lutheran Church, a term which was contested and met some resistance before it was accepted. She did keep her faith after wedding.
Charlotte Amalie was appreciated for learning the Danish language, which was not a given thing for a queen consort in that era and which she mastered prior to becoming queen, and it was said of her that she:
- "...willingly and completely love not only our people but also our language, that she has learned to speak to our people before even ascending the throne, while bringing shame on those, who has been eating our bread for thirty years and not bothered to learn even thirty Danish words."
Charlotte Amalie became queen of Denmark upon the accession of Christian to the throne in 1670. Her Reformed faith caused the Lutheran clergy to oppose her anointing as queen. She could not be anointed as a member of the Reformed faith because the ceremony would require a Lutheran communion, which she refused. As queen, she chose the motto L'homme propose, Dieu dispose.
King Christian V did not wish his wife to play a political role in government similar to his mothers during his father's reign, and further more disliked her Pro-Brandenburg sympathies, and therefore took care to remove Charlotte Amalie from exerting any influence in state affairs. She was nevertheless regarded as a potential power holder at court, and the French ambassador noted: "While the queen has little influence, the favorite ministers does fear her, as the know how much she despise them". Her main political enemies, after the fall of Peder Griffenfeld in 1676, was represented by her mother-in-law, who worked to maintain her political influence, as well as the Hahn party under the leadership of the courtier Vincens Hahn, who belonged to the circle around the royal mistress Sophie Amalie Moth. A spy, Justine Cathrine Rosenkrantz, was placed among her ladies-in-waiting by the Hahn party to ascertain that she did not involve herself in politics.
She made attempts to participate in political issues on her own, even if she could achieve little without the support of the king. During the Scanian War (1675-79), her husband allied with her uncle the Elector of Brandenburg against Sweden, and Charlotte Amalie actively worked to preserve the alliance and benefited Brandenburg interests in Denmark "also in occasions when this would not have been expected by a queen of Denmark". It is noted how she protected the Brandenburgian military Tromp and disfavored his Danish rival Niels Juel.
Christian V did allow her to play a political role in one issue, when she obtained a certain degree of religious freedom for the followers of her faith in Denmark. Charlotte Amalie was pious, but her view on religion was a Protestant ecumenical one; she corresponded with Protestants of different churches and expressed that she saw little difference between the Reformed church and the Lutheran faith, a view which was radical in Denmark at the time. She protected the members of the Reformed church in Denmark, and particularly the Huguenots where benefited by her protection. She was supported in her tolerance by business people who saw the need of the qualifications of the immigrants, while she was opposed by the conservative church, who regarded all non Lutherans as an affront to the king and God, a view which the king did lean somewhat towards himself. The law of 1685, in which immigrants of Protestant of churches where granted the privilege of a certain degree of freedom of religion, are attributed to the efforts of Charlotte Amalie. She was in effect the spokesperson of the foreign Protestant non-Lutherans, and supported the foundation of one French and one German Protestant church with her own funds; she continued to support these congregations, and also included them in her will.
Charlotte Amalie are described as a lively, smart and independent woman. The English ambassador Robert Molesworth, 1st Viscount Molesworth called her "A Princess worthy of being described with honor, even if she did not have such a high position. [...] very winning, lovable and unconstrained," while the French ambassador described her:
- "This lady has pale skin and brown hair. While not beautiful, nether is there anything ugly about her. She has a fine figure and a pleasant personality. She speaks quite good French, and her conversation shows that she has plenty of mind."
She was not a meek person, and made her pleasure and displeasure quite openly known, though her anger was also quickly subdued.
The relationship between Charlotte Amalie and Christian V are described as a mutually respectful friendship, and while not a love affair, they enjoyed each others company and seemingly coexisted harmoniously. In 1672, the king entered in to a permanent love affair to Sophie Amalie Moth, who after the fall of Peder Griffenfeld four years later was made the official mistress in Denmark, a public adultery which caused an embarrassing situation for Charlotte Amalie. Nevertheless, "no mistress could deprive her of her position as queen, and she understood to defend it"; Charlotte Amalie made the most of her position as queen, both in public representational life as well as in her private interaction with the king. It is noted how she was always at the king's side, making use of her rank as queen and accompanying him on journeys, hunting and in warfare, and how she could play cards with him late in to the evenings, developing a comfortable and respectful relationship. She was present during the Siege of Wismar, riding by the side of the king "dressed as an amazon", and accompanied the king to Sweden during the Scanian War.
Despite her pious mind, Charlotte Amalie enjoyed the frequent courtly parties, balls, masquerades and representation which court life demanded, and once brushed away religious scruples once voiced by her sister-in-law Ulrika Eleonora as nonsense.  She also arranged private parties herself, such as when she spontaneously organized a ball for her court dwarf Frøken Elsebe. Described as charming and entertaining in social life, she had many friends, such as Juliane Elisabeth von Wallenstein, Dorothea Justina Haxthausen and, particularly, her favorite lady-in-waiting and Huguenot relative princess Charlotte Amélie de la Trémoille.
Charlotte Amalie are also described as a devoted and considered mother and grandmother who was close to her family. However, she did not have a good relationship with her mother-in-law, who wished to keep her precedence and position as first lady of the court despite being a queen dowager. Further more, she supported the release of the imprisoned Leonora Christina Ulfeldt, which also caused tensions with her mother-in-law. Charlotte Amalie, as well as her mother, unsuccessfully requested the release of Leonora Christine, and are known to have sent her gifts to ease her imprisonment.
Charlotte Amalie was described as a popular queen, and according to English ambassador Molesworth:
- "Her great excellence assures her of the hearts of her subjects, even though she does not share their religion. [...] she is an safe haven for the suffering destitute, who are never disappointed when appealing to her."
In 1699, Charlotte Amalie was widowed. As a queen dowager, she did not threaten the position of her daughter-in-law at court as her mother-in-law had done, but kept a separate court and resided in Charlottenborg during the winter and Nykøbing Slot in summer. She also made several journeys, particularly to Germany. She spent 1711-13 in Oldenborg. Her winter residence Charlottenborg Palace on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen, which is named after her, has housed the Royal Danish Academy of Art since 1754.
Charlotte Amalie gained great popularity from defending Copenhagen when King Charles XII of Sweden invaded Zealand in 1700. During this incident, she strengthened the resolve of the people of the capital by speaking to them, convinced the commandant of the city to give the people access to the canons, and organised the defense of the capital. On 13 July 1700, she wrote to Dorothea Justina Haxthausen : "I have the pleasure - or if you wish, the opposite - of seeing the fleets of four potentates outside my window. I hope they will disperse without bloodshed", when the Danish fleet was attacked by the Swedish, English and Dutch fleet, followed by the landing of the enemy at Humlebæk. The capital was unprepared for attack, the king was absent in the Duchies and the city commander Schack could not handle the situation. Charlotte Amalie spoke to the garrison and successfully asked them to protect the capital out of loyalty, while she would herself stay and die with them if need be. She also persuaded the commandant to give the people access to the weaponry to defend the capital. For this act, she was hailed as a heroine.
Charlotte Amalie owned several estates around the country and she administered them skillfully. She owned the estates Frederiksdal, Bagsværd, Gentofte Gaard, Vendsyssel Børglum Kloster, Dronninglund, Dronninggaard, Stevns Herred, Frøslev Gods and Vemmetofte Gods, and was actively involved in the management. She also founded factories in some of her estates, such as a playing cards factory and a paper mill.
Reportedly, she grieved over her son's bigamy, but there is no record of her having expressed any criticism of it to him. She is known as the protector of the famous Marie Grubbe after Grubbe's divorce and remarriage to her lover, which had made her an outcast. Charlotte Amelie gave refuge to the couple on her own domains.
She was buried in Roskilde Cathedral.
|Frederick IV||11 October 1671||12 October 1730|
|Christian Vilhelm||1 December 1672||25 January 1673|
|Christian||25 March 1675||27 June 1695|
|Sophie Hedevig||28 August 1677||13 March 1735|
|Christiane Charlotte||18 January 1679||24 August 1689|
|Charles||26 October 1680||8 June 1729|
|Daughter||17 July 1683||17 July 1683|
|Vilhelm||21 February 1687||23 November 1705|
- Danske dronniger; fortaellinger og karakteristikker af Ellen Jorgensen og Johanne Skovgaard, Kobenhavn H. Hagerup, 1910
- (in Danish) Article in the Dansk biografisk Lexikon
- (in Danish) Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon kvinfo.dk
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel.|
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