Christian VIII of Denmark

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Christian VIII
Christian VIII (September 18, 1786January 20, 1848), king of Denmark 1839-48 and of Norway 1814-14, the eldest son of the hereditary prince Frederick of Denmark and Sophia Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was born in 1786 at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen. His paternal grandfather was the late king Frederick V of Denmark.

He inherited the talents of his highly gifted mother, and his amiability and handsome features made him very popular in Copenhagen. His unfortunate first marriage with his cousin Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was dissolved in 1810.

In May 1813, being the then heir presumptive of Denmark-Norway, he was sent as stadtholder to Norway to promote the loyalty of the Norwegians to the dynasty, which had been very rudely shaken by the disastrous results of Frederik VI's adhesion to the falling fortunes of Napoleon. He did all he could personally to strengthen the bonds between the Norwegians and the royal house of Denmark. Though his endeavours were opposed by the so-called Swedish party, which desired a dynastic union with Sweden, he placed himself at the head of the Norwegian party of independence after the treaty of Kiel had forced the king to cede Norway to the king of Sweden. He was elected regent of Norway by an assembly of notables on February 16, 1814.

See article on Norway in 1814

This election was confirmed by a constitutional assembly convoked at Eidsvold on April 10, and on May 17 the constitution was signed and Christian Frederik was unanimously elected king of Norway.

Christian next attempted to interest the great powers in Norway's cause, but without success. On being pressed by the commissioners of the allied powers to bring about a union between Norway and Sweden in accordance with the terms of the treaty of Kiel, and then return to Denmark, he replied that, as a constitutional king, he could do nothing without the consent of the parliament (Storting), which would not be convoked until a suspension of hostilities on the part of Sweden. Sweden refusing Christian's conditions, a short campaign ensued, in which the Norwegian army was easily defeated by the superior skill and forces of the Swedish crown prince Bernadotte. The brief war was finally concluded by the Convention of Moss on August 14, 1814. According to this treaty, king Christian Frederik transferred the executive power to the Storting, and then abdicated and returned to Denmark. The Storting in its turn adopted the constitutional amendments necessary to allow for a personal union with Sweden, and on November 4 elected Charles XIII, the king of Sweden as the new king of Norway.

Henceforth Christian's suspected democratic principles made him persona ingratissima at all the reactionary European courts, his own court included. He and his second wife, Caroline Amalia of Augustenburg (daughter of Louise Auguste of Denmark, only sister of Frederick VI), whom he married in 1815, lived in comparative retirement as leaders of the literary and scientific society of Copenhagen.

It was not until 1831 that old King Frederick gave him a seat in the council of state. On December 13, 1839 he ascended the Danish throne as Christian VIII. The Liberal party had high hopes of “the giver of constitutions,” but he disappointed his admirers by steadily rejecting every Liberal project. Administrative reform was the only reform he would promise.

Seeing that his only son, the future Frederick VII, is probably not going to beget heirs, he commenced arrangements to secure the succession in Denmark, which lead to the future Christian IX to be chosen as a hereditary prince in 1443/7.

He died of blood-poisoning in 1848.

After his son's death in 1863, his niece Louise of Hesse and his first cousin once removed, Christian IX, ascended the throne of Denmark, officially as Queen Consort and King Regnant (though they could very well have been reverse).

In 1905, 57 years after his demise, and 91 years after his struggle in support of independence and his own brief kingship in Norway, his great-grandnephew Prince Carl of Denmark was chosen to become the first king of independent Norway, and took the name Haakon VII.

He continued his predecessor's patronage of astronomy, awarding gold medals for the discovery of comets by telescope, and financially supporting Heinrich Christian Schumacher with his publication of the scientific journal Astronomische Nachrichten.


Obituary (astronomy)

  • MNRAS 8 (1848) 62 (http://adsabs.harvard.edu//full/seri/MNRAS/0008//0000062.000.html)


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