Christian IX of Denmark
|King of Denmark |
|Reign||15 November 1863 – 29 January 1906|
|Prime Ministers||See list|
|Born||Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck|
8 April 1818
Gottorf Castle, Schleswig, Duchy of Schleswig
|Died||29 January 1906 (aged 87)|
Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark
|Burial||15 February 1906|
(m. 1842; died 1898)
|Father||Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg|
|Mother||Princess Louise Caroline of Hesse-Kassel|
A younger son of Frederick William, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, Christian grew up in the Duchy of Schleswig as a prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, a junior branch of the House of Oldenburg which had ruled Denmark since 1448. Although having close family ties to the Danish royal family, he was originally not in the immediate line of succession to the Danish throne. Following the early death of the father in 1831, Christian grew up in Denmark and was educated at the Military Academy of Copenhagen. After unsuccessfully seeking the hand of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom in marriage, he married his double second cousin, Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel, in 1842.
In 1852, Christian was chosen as heir to the Danish monarchy in light of the expected extinction of the senior line of the House of Oldenburg. Upon the death of King Frederick VII of Denmark in 1863, Christian (who was Frederick's second cousin and husband of Frederick's paternal first cousin, Louise of Hesse-Kassel) acceded to the throne as the first Danish monarch of the House of Glücksburg.
The beginning of his reign was marked by the Danish defeat in the Second Schleswig War and the subsequent loss of the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg which made the king immensely unpopular. The following years of his reign were dominated by political disputes as Denmark had only become a constitutional monarchy in 1849 and the balance of power between the sovereign and parliament was still in dispute. In spite of his initial unpopularity and the many years of political strife, where the king was in conflict with large parts of the population, his popularity recovered towards the end of his reign, and he became a national icon due to the length of his reign and the high standards of personal morality with which he was identified.
Christian married his second cousin, Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel, in 1842. Their six children married into other royal families across Europe, earning him the sobriquet "the father-in-law of Europe". Among his descendants are Margrethe II of Denmark, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Philippe of Belgium, Harald V of Norway, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Constantine II of Greece, Queen Sofia of Spain, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Felipe VI of Spain, Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia and Michael I of Romania.
Birth and familyEdit
Christian IX was born on 8 April 1818 at the residence of his maternal grandparents, Gottorf Castle, near the town of Schleswig in the Duchy of Schleswig. Born as a prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, he was the fourth son of Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, and Princess Louise Caroline of Hesse-Kassel. He was named after his mother's cousin Prince Christian Frederick of Denmark, the later King Christian VIII, who was also his godfather.
Christian's father was the head of the ducal house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, a junior male branch of the House of Oldenburg. The family descended from King Christian III of Denmark's younger son, John the Younger, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg, whose grandson August Philipp acquired the manor of Haus Beck in Westphalia, after which the lineage was named Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck. Through his father, Christian was thus a direct male-line descendant of King Christian III of Denmark and an (albeit junior) agnatic descendant of Helvig of Schauenburg (countess of Oldenburg), mother of King Christian I of Denmark, who was the "Semi-Salic" heiress of her brother Adolf of Schauenburg, last Schauenburg duke of Schleswig and count of Holstein. As such, Christian was eligible to succeed in the twin duchies of Schleswig-Holstein, but not first in line.
Christian's mother was a daughter of Landgrave Charles of Hesse, an originally German prince, who, however, had grown up at the Danish court and had married King Frederick V of Denmark's youngest daughter, Princess Louise of Denmark. He had made a career in Denmark, where he was a Danish Field Marshal and Royal Governor of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Through his mother, Christian was thus a great-grandson of Frederick V, great-great-grandson of George II of Great Britain and a descendant of several other monarchs, but had no direct claim to any European throne.
Initially, the young prince grew up with his parents and many brothers and sisters at his maternal grandparents' residence at Gottorf Castle, the habitual seat of the royal governors of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. However, in 1824, the dowager duchess of Glücksburg, widow of Frederick Henry William, the last duke of the elder line of the house Schleswig-Holstein-Sønderborg-Glücksburg, who had himself died in 1779, died. Glücksburg Castle, located a little south of Flensburg Fjord, not far from city of Flensburg, was now empty, and on 6 June 1825, Duke Friedrich Wilhelm was appointed Duke of Glücksburg by his brother-in-law Frederick VI of Denmark. Duke Friedrich Wilhelm subsequently changed his title to Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and founded the younger Glücksburg line.
I raise my sons with rigor, that these may learn to obey, without, however, failing to make them available to the requirements and demands of the present.
However, Duke Friedrich Wilhelm died already at the age of just 46 on 17 February 1831 of a cold that had developed into pneumonia and, at the Duke's own discretion, scarlet fever, which had previously affected two of the his children. His death left the duchess widowed with ten children and without money.
Following the early death of the father, King Frederick VI, together with Prince William of Hesse-Philippstal-Barchfeld, became legal guardians of Prince Christian and his nine siblings. That same year, Christian wanted to be educated as a naval officer, but Frederick VI agreed with his mother that he would be sent to Copenhagen to receive an army officer training. Subsequently, the year after his father's death, the 14-year-old Christian moved to Copenhagen in order to be educated at the Land Cadet Academy, where he stayed at the house of Colonel Linde, the head of the Land Cadet Academy. He received private lessons at the academy and was rarely with the other cadets. On the other hand, the sonless royal couple took good care of the boy, as Queen Marie was his mother's sister and Frederick VI his mother's cousin. Also, in 1838, Christian's eldest brother, Duke Karl of Glücksborg, married the king and queen's youngest daughter, Princess Vilhelmine Marie, which further strengthened the bonds between them.
In 1835, Prince Christian was confirmed in the Garrison Church in Copenhagen. The following year, after completing his military education, he was appointed rittmeister at the Royal Horse Guards and was then housed in the Royal Horse Guards Barracks by Frederiksholms Kanal in central Copenhagen. There he lived until Frederick VI in 1839 granted him a home in the Yellow Palace, an 18th-century town house at 18 Amaliegade, immediately adjacent to the Amalienborg Palace complex, the principal residence of the Danish royal family in the district of Frederiksstaden in central Copenhagen, where he came to live until 1865.
From 1839 to 1841, he studied constitutional law and history with his half-cousin Prince Frederick William of Hesse-Kassel at the University of Bonn in Germany. There he received the news of the death of Frederick VI in December 1839. During the holidays he went on various excursions in Germany and also traveled to Venice. In 1841 he returned to Copenhagen. On the way home, he paid a visit to the court in Berlin, where he rejected an otherwise flattering offer from King Frederick William IV of Prussia to join the Prussian army.
Becoming the heir-presumptiveEdit
As a young man, in 1838, Prince Christian, representing King Frederick VI, attended the coronation of Queen Victoria at Westminster Abbey. During his stay in London, he unsuccessfully sought the hand of the young British queen in marriage. Even though she chose to follow her family's wishes and preferred to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the young queen had a good impression of her third cousin Prince Christian, who 25 years later would become father-in-law to her eldest son, the Prince of Wales.
Instead, Prince Christian married Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel on 26 May 1842 in Frederick VIII's Palace at Amalienborg. She was the daughter of Prince William of Hesse-Kassel, who was a Danish general and the governor of Copenhagen. Prince William was married to King Christian VIII of Denmark's sister Princess Charlotte of Denmark, and Louise was thus the new king's niece and was closely related to the royal family. As Prince Christian himself she was a great-granddaughter of both King Frederick V of Denmark and Landgrave Frederick II of Hesse-Kassel, and thus his double second cousin. She was a wise and energetic woman who exercised a strong influence over her husband.
After the wedding, the couple moved into the Yellow Palace, where their first five children were born between 1843 and 1853: Prince Frederick in 1843, Princess Alexandra in 1844, Prince William in 1845, Princess Dagmar in 1847 and Princess Thyra in 1853. The family was still quite unknown and lived a relatively modest life by royal standards.
The Danish succession crisisEdit
In the 1840's it became increasingly clear that the Danish monarchy was facing a succession crisis. When Christian VIII succeeded his first cousin Frederick VI in 1839, the elder male line of the House of Oldenburg was obviously on the point of extinction, as the king's only son and heir Crown Prince Frederick seemed incapable of fathering children. Frederick VII's childlessness presented a thorny dilemma and the question of succession to the Danish throne proved complex, as the rules of succession in the different parts of the Danish monarchy united under the king's rule, the Kingdom of Denmark proper and the three duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Saxe-Lauenburg, not being the same, the possibility of a separation of the crown of Denmark from its duchies became probable. Denmark's adherence to the Salic Law and a burgeoning nationalism within the German-speaking parts of Schleswig-Holstein hindered all hopes of a peaceful solution. Proposed resolutions to keep the two Duchies together and part of Denmark proved unsatisfactory to both Danish and German interests.
While Denmark had adopted the Salic Law, this only affected the descendants of Frederick III of Denmark, who was the first hereditary monarch of Denmark (before him, the kingdom was officially elective). Agnatic descent from Frederick III would end with the death of the childless King Frederick VII and his equally childless uncle, Prince Ferdinand. At that point, the law of succession promulgated by Frederick III provided for a Semi-Salic succession. There were, however, several ways to interpret to whom the crown could pass, since the provision was not entirely clear as to whether a claimant to the throne could be the closest female relative or not.
As the nations of Europe looked on, the numerous descendants of Helvig of Schauenburg began to vie for the Danish throne. Frederick VII belonged to the senior branch of Helvig's descendants. In the event of extinction of the senior branch, the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg would become the most senior branch of the House of Oldenburg, but it did not descend from King Frederick III. However, in the duchies, Christian August II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg claimed the position of heir to the throne of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, being head of the house of Augustenburg, and thus became a symbol of the nationalist German independence movement in Schleswig-Holstein.
The closest female relatives of Frederick VII were his paternal aunt, Princess Louise Charlotte of Denmark, who had married a scion of the cadet branch of the House of Hesse, and her children. However, they were not agnatic descendants of the royal family, thus not eligible to succeed in Schleswig-Holstein.
The dynastic female heir reckoned most eligible according to the original law of primogeniture of Frederick III was Caroline of Denmark (1793–1881), the childless eldest daughter of the late king Frederick VI. Along with another childless daughter, Wilhelmine of Denmark (1808–1891), Duchess of Glücksburg; the next heir was Louise, sister of Frederick VI, who had married the Duke of Augustenburg. The chief heir to that line was the selfsame Frederick of Augustenburg, but his turn would have come only after the death of two childless princesses who were very much alive in 1863.
The House of Glücksburg also held a significant interest in the succession to the throne. A more junior branch of the royal clan, they were also descendants of Frederick III through the daughter of King Frederick V of Denmark. Lastly, there was yet a more junior agnatic branch that was eligible to succeed in Schleswig-Holstein. There was Christian himself and his three older brothers, the eldest of whom, Karl, was childless, but the others had produced children, and male children at that.
Prince Christian had been a foster "grandson" of the "grandchildless" royal couple Frederick VI and his Queen consort Marie (Marie Sophie Friederike of Hesse). Familiar with the royal court and the traditions of the recent monarchs, their young ward Prince Christian was a nephew of Queen Marie and a first cousin once removed of Frederick VI. He had been brought up as a Dane, having lived in Danish-speaking lands of the royal dynasty and not having become a German nationalist, which made him a relatively good candidate from the Danish point of view. As junior agnatic descendant, he was eligible to inherit Schleswig-Holstein, but was not the first in line. As a descendant of Frederick III, he was eligible to succeed in Denmark, although here too, he was not first-in-line.
Appointment as heir-presumptiveEdit
In 1851, the Russian emperor recommended that Prince Christian advance in the Danish succession. And in 1852, the thorny question of Denmark's succession was finally resolved by the London Protocol of 8 May 1852, signed by the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Prussia and Austria, and ratified by Denmark and Sweden. Christian was chosen as heir presumptive to the throne after Frederick VII and his uncle, and thus would be become king after the extinction of the most senior line to the Danish throne. A justification for this choice was his marriage to Louise of Hesse-Kassel, who as daughter of the closest female relative of Frederick VII was closely related to the royal family. Louise's mother and brother, and elder sister too, renounced their rights in favor of Louise and her husband. Prince Christian's wife was thereafter the closest female heiress of Frederick VII.
The decision was implemented by the Danish Law of Succession of 31 July 1853—more precisely, the Royal Ordinance settling the Succession to the Crown on Prince Christian of Glücksburg—which designated him as heir to the entire Danish monarchy following the extinction of the male line of Frederick III and granted him the title Prince of Denmark.
Succession and Second Schleswig WarEdit
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
Upon the death of Frederick VII on 15 November 1863, Christian succeeded to the throne as Christian IX.
Christian and Denmark was immediately plunged into a crisis over the possession and status of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Already in November 1863, Prince Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1829–1880) (the future father-in-law of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany) claimed the twin-duchies in succession after King Frederick VII and proclaimed himself Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein. Frederick of Augustenburg (as he was commonly known) had become the symbol of the nationalist German independence movement in Schleswig-Holstein after his father (in exchange for money) renounced his claims as heir to the throne of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. In view of the London protocol of 8 May 1852, which concluded the First War of Schleswig, and his father's concurrent renunciation to claims to the throne, Frederick's claim was not recognized by the parties to the protocol.
Under pressure, Christian signed the November Constitution, a treaty that made Schleswig part of Denmark. This resulted in the Second Schleswig War between Denmark and a Prussian/Austrian alliance in 1864. The Peace Conference broke up without having arrived at any conclusion; the outcome of the war was unfavorable to Denmark and led to the incorporation of Schleswig into Prussia in 1865. Holstein was likewise incorporated into Austria in 1865, then Prussia in 1866, following further conflict between Austria and Prussia.
Following the loss, Christian IX went behind the backs of the Danish government to contact the Prussians, offering that the whole of Denmark could join the German Confederation, if Denmark could stay united with Schleswig and Holstein. This proposal was rejected by Bismarck, who feared that the ethnic strife in Schleswig between Danes and Germans would then stay unresolved. Christian IX's negotiations were not publicly known until published in the 2010 book Dommedag Als by Tom Buk-Swienty, who had been given access to the royal archives by Queen Margrethe II.
The constitutional struggleEdit
The defeat of 1864 cast a shadow over Christian IX's rule for many years and his attitude to the Danish case—probably without reason—was claimed to be half-hearted. This unpopularity was worsened as he sought unsuccessfully to prevent the spread of democracy throughout Denmark by supporting the authoritarian and conservative prime minister Estrup, whose rule 1875–94 was by many seen as a semi-dictatorship. However, he signed a treaty in 1874 that allowed Iceland, then a Danish possession, to have its own constitution, albeit one under Danish rule. In 1901, he reluctantly asked Johan Henrik Deuntzer to form a government and this resulted in the formation of the Cabinet of Deuntzer. The cabinet consisted of members of the Venstre Reform Party and was the first Danish government not to include the conservative party Højre, even though Højre never had a majority of the seats in the Folketing. This was the beginning of the Danish tradition of parliamentarism and clearly bettered his reputation for his last years.
Another reform occurred in 1866, when the Danish constitution was revised so that Denmark's upper chamber would have more power than the lower. Social security also took a few steps forward during his reign. Old age pensions were introduced in 1891 and unemployment and family benefits were introduced in 1892.
Death and successionEdit
Queen Louise died on 29 September 1898 at Bernstorff Palace near Copenhagen. Christian died peacefully of old age, at 87, on 29 January 1906 at the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen after a reign of 42 years and 75 days. After lying in state at the chapel at Christiansborg Palace, he was interred beside Queen Louise in Christian IX's Chapel in Roskilde Cathedral, the traditional burial site for Danish monarchs since the 15th century.
Upon King Christian IX's death, Crown Prince Frederick ascended the throne as King Frederick VIII.
"Father-in-Law of Europe"Edit
Christian's family links with Europe's royal families earned him the sobriquet "the father-in-law of Europe". Four of Christian's children sat on the thrones (either as monarchs or as consorts) of Denmark, Greece, the United Kingdom and Russia. His youngest son, Valdemar, was on 10 November 1886 elected as new Prince of Bulgaria by The 3rd Grand National Assembly of Bulgaria but Christian IX refused to allow prince Valdemar to receive the election.
The great dynastic success of the six children was to a great extent not attributable to Christian himself, but the result of the ambitions of his wife Louise of Hesse-Kassel. An additional factor was that Denmark was not one of the Great Powers, so the other powers did not fear that the balance of power in Europe would be upset by a marriage of one of its royalty to another royal house.
Today, most of Europe's reigning and ex-reigning royal families are direct descendants of Christian IX, and most current European monarchs are descended from him, including Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, King Philippe of Belgium, King Harald V of Norway, King Felipe VI of Spain and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. The consort Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and former consort Queen Sofía of Spain are also agnatic descendants of Christian IX, as is Constantine II, the former and last King of the Hellenes, and his consort the former Queen Anne-Marie. King Michael I of Romania and his wife Queen Anne of Romania were also descendants of Christian IX.
King Christian IX Land in Greenland is named after him.
National orders and decorations
- Grand Cross of the Dannebrog, 28 June 1840; Grand Commander in Diamonds, 15 November 1863
- Knight of the Elephant, 22 June 1843
- Cross of Honour of the Order of the Dannebrog
Foreign orders and decorations
- Ascanian duchies: Grand Cross of Albert the Bear, 18 January 1854
- Austria-Hungary: Grand Cross of St. Stephen, 1867
- Bavaria: Knight of St. Hubert, 1888
- Belgium: Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold, 10 September 1862
- Brazil: Grand Cross of the Order of Pedro I
- Ernestine duchies: Grand Cross of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order, October 1838
- France: Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
- Greece: Grand Cross of the Redeemer
- Hawaii: Grand Cross of the Order of Kamehameha I
- Hesse-Darmstadt: Grand Cross of the Ludwig Order, 1 October 1863
- Hesse-Kassel: Grand Cross of the Golden Lion, 22 September 1842
- Italy: Knight of the Annunciation, 9 November 1864
- Japan: Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum, 24 September 1886
- Mecklenburg: Grand Cross of the Wendish Crown, with Crown in Ore, 1872
- Mexico: Grand Cross of the Mexican Eagle, with Collar, 1865
- Monaco: Grand Cross of St. Charles
- Montenegro: Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Danilo I
- Nassau: Knight of the Gold Lion of Nassau, September 1859
- Netherlands: Grand Cross of the Netherlands Lion
- Ottoman Empire: Yüksek İmtiyaz Nişanı, in Diamonds, 1885
- Romania: Grand Cross of the Star of Romania
- Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: Grand Cross of the White Falcon, 1878
- Saxony: Knight of the Rue Crown, 1888
- Serbia: Grand Cross of the Cross of Takovo
- Siam: Grand Cross of the White Elephant
- Spain: Knight of the Golden Fleece, 22 March 1864
- Tunisia: Husainid Family Order, in Diamonds
- United Kingdom:
- Württemberg: Grand Cross of the Württemberg Crown, 1888
Honorary military appointments
|Frederick VIII of Denmark||3 June 1843||14 May 1912
|Princess Louise of Sweden (m. 1869)||Christian X of Denmark|
Haakon VII of Norway
Louise, Princess Frederick of Schaumburg-Lippe
Prince Harald of Denmark
Princess Ingeborg, Duchess of Västergötland
Princess Thyra of Denmark
Prince Gustav of Denmark
Princess Dagmar, Mrs. Castenskiold
|Princess Alexandra of Denmark||1 December 1844||20 November 1925
|Edward VII of the United Kingdom (m. 1863)||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
Maud, Queen of Norway
Prince Alexander John of Wales
|George I of Greece||24 December 1845||18 March 1913
|Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia (m. 1867)||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 (m. 1866)||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
Olga Alexandrovna, Duchess Peter Alexandrovich of Oldenburg
|Princess Thyra of Denmark||29 September 1853||26 February 1933
|Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover and Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale (m. 1878)||Marie Louise, Margravine of Baden|
George William, Hereditary Prince of Hanover
Alexandra, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Princess Olga of Hanover and Cumberland
Prince Christian of Hanover and Cumberland
Ernest Augustus, Prince of Hanover and Duke of Brunswick
|Prince Valdemar of Denmark||27 October 1858||14 January 1939
|Princess Marie of Orléans (m. 1885)||Prince Aage, Count of Rosenborg|
Prince Axel of Denmark
Prince Erik, Count of Rosenborg
Prince Viggo, Count of Rosenborg
Margaret, Princess René of Bourbon-Parma
|Ancestors of Christian IX of Denmark|
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|volume=has extra text (help)
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