Christian VII (29 January 1749 – 13 March 1808) was a monarch of the House of Oldenburg who was King of Denmark–Norway and Duke of Schleswig and Holstein from 1766 until his death. For his motto he chose: "Gloria ex amore patriae" ("glory through love of the fatherland").
Christian VII's reign was marked by mental illness and for most of his reign Christian was only nominally king. His half-brother Frederick was designated as regent of Denmark in 1772. From 1784 until Christian VII's death in 1808, Christian's son, later Frederick VI, acted as unofficial regent.
|King of Denmark and Norway |
|Reign||14 January 1766 – 13 March 1808|
|Coronation||1 May 1767|
Christiansborg Palace Chapel
|Born||29 January 1749|
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen
|Died||13 March 1808 (aged 59)|
|Consort||Princess Caroline Matilda of Great Britain|
|Issue||Frederick VI of Denmark|
Louise Augusta, Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg
|Father||Frederick V of Denmark|
|Mother||Louise of Great Britain|
Christian was the son of King Frederick V and his first wife Louise of Great Britain. He was born in the Queen's Bedchamber at Christiansborg Palace, the royal residence in Copenhagen. He was baptized a few hours later the same day. His godparents were King Frederick V (his father), Queen Dowager Sophie Magdalene (his paternal grandmother), Princess Louise (his aunt) and Princess Charlotte Amalie (his grand-aunt).
A former heir to the throne, also named Christian, had died in infancy in 1747; therefore, hopes were high for the future of the new heir apparent. Christoph Willibald Gluck, then conductor of the royal opera troupe, composed the opera La Contesa dei Numi ("The Contention of the Gods"), in which the Olympian Gods gather at the banks of the Great Belt and discuss who in particular should protect the new prince. His mother Queen Louise died in 1751, two years after his birth. The following year his father married Juliane Marie of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.
Early historians state that he had a winning personality and considerable talent, but that he was poorly educated and systematically terrorized by a brutal tutor, Christian Ditlev Frederik Reventlow, the Count of Reventlow. He seems to have been intelligent and had periods of clarity, but suffered from severe emotional problems, possibly schizophrenia, as argued by Doctor Viggo Christiansen in Christian VII's mental illness (1906).
After a long period of infirmity, Frederick V died 14 January 1766, just 42 years old. Later the same day, Christian was proclaimed king from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace, weeks before his 17th birthday. Christian's reign was marked by mental illness which affected government decisions, and for most of his reign Christian was only nominally king. His court physicians were especially worried by his frequent masturbation. His royal advisers changed depending on who won power struggles around the throne. In the late 1760s, he came under the influence of his personal physician Johann Friedrich Struensee, who rose steadily in power. From 1770 to 1772, Struensee was de facto regent of the country, and introduced progressive reforms signed into law by Christian VII. Struensee was deposed by a coup in 1772 after which the country was ruled by Christian's stepmother, Juliane Marie of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, his half-brother Frederick and the Danish politician Ove Høegh-Guldberg. 
The young King was betrothed to his fifteen-year-old cousin Princess Caroline Matilda, King George III of Great Britain's sister, who was anxious about the marriage but not aware that the bridegroom was mentally ill. The dynastic marriage took place at Christiansborg Palace on 8 November 1766. After his marriage, he abandoned himself to the worst excesses, especially sexual promiscuity. In 1767, he entered into a relationship with the courtesan Støvlet-Cathrine. He ultimately sank into a condition of mental stupor. Symptoms during this time included paranoia, self-mutilation, and hallucinations.
The progressive and radical thinker Johann Friedrich Struensee, Christian's personal physician, became his advisor and rose steadily in power in the late 1760s to de facto regent of the country, where he introduced widespread progressive reforms. Struensee was a protégé of an Enlightenment circle of aristocrats that had been rejected by the court in Copenhagen. He was a skilled doctor, and having somewhat restored the king's health while visiting the Schleswig-Holstein area, he gained the king's affection. He was retained as travelling physician (Livmedikus hos Kong Christian VII) on 5 April 1768, and accompanied the entourage on the King’s foreign tour to Paris and London via Hannover from 6 May 1768 to 12 January 1769. He was given the title of State Councilor (etatsråd) on 12 May 1768, barely a week after leaving Altona. The neglected and lonely Caroline Matilda entered into an affair with Struensee.
In 1772, the king's marriage with Caroline Matilda was dissolved by divorce. Christian's marriage with Caroline Matilda produced two children: the future King Frederick VI and Princess Louise Auguste. However, it is widely believed that Louise was the daughter of Struensee—portrait comparisons tend to support this hypothesis. Struensee, who had enacted many modernising and emancipating reforms, was arrested and executed the same year. Christian signed Struensee's arrest and execution warrant under pressure from his stepmother, Queen Juliane Marie, who had led the movement to have the marriage ended. Caroline Matilda, retaining her title but not her children, eventually left Denmark, and passed her remaining days in exile at Celle Castle in her brother's German territory, the Electorate of Hanover. She died there of scarlet fever on 10 May 1775, at the age of 23. 
Christian was only nominally king from 1772 onward. Between 1772 and 1784, Denmark was ruled by his stepmother, the Queen Dowager Juliane Marie, his half-brother Frederick, and the Danish politician Ove Høegh-Guldberg. From 1784, his son Frederick VI ruled permanently as prince regent. This regency was marked by liberal and agricultural reforms, but also by the beginning of the disasters of the Napoleonic Wars.
Christian died at age 59 of a stroke on 13 March 1808 in Rendsburg, Schleswig. Although there were rumors that the stroke was caused by fright at the sight of Spanish auxiliary troops, which he took to be hostile, Ulrik Langen, in his biography of the king, did not indicate that there was any external cause. He was buried in Roskilde Cathedral and was succeeded by his son Frederick VI.
In 1769 Christian VII of Denmark invited the Hungarian astronomer Miksa Hell (Maximilian Hell) to Vardø. Hell observed the transit of Venus, and his calculations gave the most precise calculation of the Earth–Sun distance to that date (approx. 151 million kilometres). Hell's companion János Sajnovics explored the affinity among the languages of the Sami, Finnish, and Hungarian peoples (all members of the Finno-Ugric language family).
Christian VII, the story of his marriage, and his wife's affair with Struensee has featured in many artistic works:
The full title of Christian VII was: By the Grace of God, King of Denmark and Norway, the Wends, and the Goths, Duke of Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn, and Dithmarschen, Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst. Oldenburg was elevated to a duchy during his reign, and the style was changed accordingly: By the Grace of God, King of Denmark and Norway, the Wends, and the Goths, Duke of Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, and Oldenburg. This style was used until his son, Frederick VI, lost control over Norway by the 1814 Treaty of Kiel.
|Ancestors of Christian VII of Denmark|
Christian VIIBorn: 29 January 1749 Died: 13 March 1808
| Count of Oldenburg
| King of Denmark and Norway
Duke of Schleswig
| Duke of Holstein|
with Paul (1766–1773)
Events from the year 1766 in Denmark.A Royal Affair
A Royal Affair (Danish: En kongelig affære) is a 2012 historical drama film directed by Nikolaj Arcel, starring Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander and Mikkel Følsgaard. The story is set in the 18th century, at the court of the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark, and focuses on the romance between his wife, Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, and the royal physician Johann Friedrich Struensee.
The film received two Silver Bears at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards. It was also nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 70th Golden Globe Awards.Birgitte Sofie Gabel
Birgitte Sofie Gabel (1746–1769) was a Danish noble.
She was the daughter of Baron Verner Rosenkrantz and Else Margrete Sehested and married the courtier and noble Kristian Karl Gabel in 1762. She was known for her beauty and admired for her great intelligence and intellectual ability. The contemporary memoir writer count Rantzau-Ascheberg described her as a woman whose education and great scholarly knowledge could be compared to that of most men.
She was given the Ordre de l'Union Parfaite in 1764.
It was noted that Christian VII of Denmark found her attractive and attempted to seduce her. In 1767, the circle around Claude Louis, Comte de Saint-Germain, wished to make her the official mistress of the monarch in order to divert him from politics and take over the de facto power over the government themselves. The plan failed because Gabel did not wish to become the king's mistress, as she found him repulsive and was in love with Prince Charles of Hesse-Kassel. The same year, Støvlet-Cathrine became the king's official mistress, but was exiled the following year.
According to contemporary reports, Johann Friedrich Struensee attempted to make her the official royal mistress of the king in 1769, claiming that it would benefit the mentally ill king's health to have an intelligent woman as a lover, and the nation, as it would make the king more easy to control. Reportedly, it was also Struensee's plan to become the lover of Gabel and through her control the king politically. Gabel made an attempt to be more encouraging to the king's attraction for her than she had been before, but after observing that the king's health and behavior did not improve and would likely not improve if she became his lover, she refused to go through with it. During her brief relation with the king, she reportedly tried to influence him to get rid of his favorite Conrad Holck, whom she despised.She died in childbirth after having given birth to a dead daughter in mid-August 1769.Caroline Mathilde (ballet)
Caroline Mathilde is a two-act ballet to music by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Its original choreographer was Flemming Flindt in 1991.
It tells the story of the eighteenth-century English princess Caroline Mathilde (sister of George III), who was sent to Denmark aged 15 to be married to the 17-year-old schizophrenic Danish King, Christian VII. The ballet portrays her unhappy marriage, the King's growing madness and her fatal love-affair with Struensee, the King's influential physician, which ultimately leads to their arrest, his execution and her exile at the age of 20, separated from her two young children.
As with Davies' earlier ballet, Salome, it was a commission by the Royal Danish Ballet. It was first performed on 14 March 1991 at the Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen. The orchestra was conducted by Markus Lehtinen.
Davies prepared two Concert Suites, each based on an act of the ballet.Fredensborg (slave ship)
The Fredensborg was a frigate built in Copenhagen in 1753. She was originally named Cron Prindz Christian after the crown prince, the future king Christian VII of Denmark and Norway, and was fitted out as a slave ship. Following an initially unsuccessful stint in the triangular trade, her operational area was limited to the Caribbean, where she sailed as a trader until 1756.
The ship was then purchased by another Danish company, which renamed her Fredensborg after Fort Fredensborg, one of the Dano-Norwegian trading stations on the Danish Gold Coast. Her owners put her under the command of Captain Espen Kiønigs.
She embarked from Copenhagen on 24 June 1767 and arrived off the West African coast on 1 October. A cargo of slaves was collected at Fort Christiansborg and Fort Fredensborg, and the ship set sail for the Danish West Indies on 21 April 1768. She arrived at St Croix on 9 July, where the cargo of slaves were unloaded. She had embarked 265 slaves, and she disembarked 235, for a loss rate of 11%. Of the crew of 40, 12 had died en-route. At some point Johan Frantzen Ferentz replaced Kiønigs as captain. She then sailed for home on 14 September.Heil dir im Siegerkranz
"Heil dir im Siegerkranz" (German for "Hail to Thee in the Victor's Crown", literally: "Hail to You in a Victor's Wreath") was the unofficial national anthem of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918.Before the foundation of the Empire, it had been the royal anthem of Prussia since 1795 and remained it after 1871. The melody of the hymn derived from the British anthem "God Save the King". For these reasons, the song failed to become popular within all of Germany. Not only did it fail to win the support of most German nationalists, it was never recognized by the southern German states, such as Bavaria or Württemberg. After World War I, the German Empire came to an end and "Das Lied der Deutschen" became the national anthem of the Weimar Republic.Heinrich Harries
Heinrich Harries (9 September 1762, Flensburg – 28 September 1802) was a German Protestant pastor from the Duchy of Schleswig, then under Danish sovereignty.
Harries wrote the lyrics for "Heil dir im Siegerkranz" for King Christian VII of Denmark in 1790; the song was later adapted to be the unofficial national anthem of the German Empire.
Harries was born in Flensburg and died in Brügge in Schleswig-Holstein.
His great-grandson was the German chemist Carl Harries.Johan Christian Schønheyder
Johan Christian Schønheyder (9 August 1742 – 14 April 1803) was a Danish-Norwegian priest. He was the bishop of the Diocese of Trondhjem from 1788 until 1803.He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1742 and died in 1803 in Trondheim, Norway. He graduated in theology from the University of Copenhagen in 1760, followed by studies in Germany from 1765 to 1768. He traveled with King Christian VII of Denmark as royal priest on a tour through Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom and France from May 1768 to January 1769. In 1769 he became the pastor of Christiansborg Palace in Denmark, and then in 1771 he became the vicar of Trinity Church in Copenhagen. He kept this position until 1782 when he became a dean and parish priest of the Church of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke) in Copenhagen at 40 years old. In 1788 he was appointed the bishop of the Diocese of Nidaros, which encompassed all of Northern Norway. He held this position until his death in 1803. He was the last Bishop over all of northern Norway, since the northernmost parts were separated to form a new diocese in 1804.Johann Friedrich Struensee
Johann Friedrich, Greve Struensee (5 August 1737 – 28 April 1772) was a German doctor. He became royal physician to the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark and a minister in the Danish government. He rose in power to a position of "de facto" regent of the country, where he tried to carry out widespread reforms. His affair with Queen Caroline Matilda ("Caroline Mathilde") caused a scandal, especially after the birth of a daughter, Princess Louise Augusta, and was the catalyst for the intrigues and power play that caused his downfall and dramatic death.King in Shadow
King in Shadow (German: Herrscher ohne Krone) is a 1957 Western German historical film drama film directed by Harald Braun and starring O.W. Fischer, Odile Versois and Horst Buchholz. The film portrays the interaction of Johann Friedrich Struensee a Doctor treating the mentally ill Christian VII of Denmark, and his English consort Caroline Matilda.
It was shot at the Bavaria Studios in Munich and on location in Hesse and Copenhagen. The film's sets were designed by the art director Walter Haag.Mathildeordenen
Mathildeordenen (The Order of Mathilde), was a Danish royal Order, created by the queen of Denmark, Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, after which it was named, on the birthday of the king, Christian VII of Denmark, 29 January 1771. It was no longer used after the banishment of its founder the year after.
The order was used to award members of the royal house, and a close circle around the royal couple and followers of the queen and her lover Johann Friedrich Struensee. Eleven of the twelve recipients were decorated on the birthday celebration of the monarch the same day the order was created. The exception was Louise von Plessen, who was awarded it in her absence, being in exile at Celle.
Caroline Matilda of Great Britain
Christian VII of Denmark
Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Denmark
Johann Friedrich Struensee
Peter Elias von Gähler
Christine Sophie von Gähler
Schack Carl Rantzau–Ascheberg
Amalie Sophie Holstein
Louise von PlessenOrder of Christian VII
The Order of Christian VII, also called "Tessera Concordiæ" was a Danish order of knighthood that flourished for some time during the 18th century.
The Danes call it "Christian VIIs Orden" or "Ordenen Tessera Concordiæ".
After the banishment of the adulterous Queen Caroline Mathilde on 17 January 1772 the Royal Danish Court needed a new decoration to replace the Mathilde-Order. King Christian VII of Denmark founded this order on the 21st. of Oktober 1774 as a new decoration that was solely meant for the Danish Royal Family. It was awarded to gentlemen and ladies. The men wore the insignia detached from a ribbon on the left side of the breast. The ladies wore the same insignia on a bow of the same ribbon on their left shoulder.
Painter Jens Juel made a portrait of Danish princess Princess Louise Auguste of Denmark in 1784, in which she wore the order of her presumed father Christian VII on a blue ribbon with three silver stripes, almost identical to the earlier Danish Ordre de l'Union Parfaite.
After the death of Queen-Dowager Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in 1796 the order fell into disuse.Silver Bear for Best Actor
The Silver Bear for Best Actor is the Berlin International Film Festival's award for achievement in performance by an actor.Støvlet-Cathrine
Anne Cathrine Benthagen known in history by her nickname Støvlet-Cathrine (b. Copenhagen, 1745 – d. Plön, Holstein, 1805) was a Danish prostitute, one of the best known courtesans in Copenhagen in the 1760s and the official royal mistress of King Christian VII of Denmark.The Dictator (1935 film)
The Dictator is a 1935 British historical drama film directed by Victor Saville and starring Clive Brook, Madeleine Carroll, Emlyn Williams and Helen Haye. The film depicts a dramatic episode in Danish history: the tumultuous relationship between King Christian VII of Denmark and his English consort Caroline Matilda in 18th century Copenhagen and the Queen's tragic affair with the royal physician and liberal reformer Johann Friedrich Struensee. The film is loosely based on real events.The Love of a Queen (1923 film)
The Love of a Queen (German: Die Liebe einer Königin) is a 1923 German silent historical drama film directed by Ludwig Wolff and starring Harry Liedtke, Henny Porten and Walter Janssen. It is based on the eighteenth century affair between the Danish Queen Caroline Matilda and the court physician Johann Friedrich Struensee.
The film's sets were designed by the art director Heinrich Beisenherz and Fritz Seyffert.The Visit of the Royal Physician
The Visit of the Royal Physician (Swedish: Livläkarens besök) is a 1999 novel by the Swedish writer Per Olov Enquist. It is known as The Royal Physician's Visit in the United States. Against the backdrop of political turbulence and the enlightenment in the second half of the 18th century, the narrative revolves around the court of the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark, and the romance between the king's physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee, and the queen, Caroline Mathilde. The novel won the August Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.The Visit of the Royal Physician (opera)
Livlægens Besøg (The Visit of the Royal Physician) is a 2009 Danish-language opera by Bo Holten based on the best-selling Swedish novel Livläkarens besök by Per Olov Enquist.Élie Salomon François Reverdil
Élie Salomon François Reverdil (1732–1808) was a Swiss scholar.Reverdil studied theology in Geneva, and was employed as a professor in mathematics at the academy of arts in Copenhagen in 1758. In 1760, he became a tutor to the future Christian VII of Denmark. When Christian became king in 1766, Reverdil was appointed reader and cabinet secretary. In 1767, he was exiled, likely because of the influence of the king's favorite Conrad Holck, and settled in Switzerland. In June 1771, Reverdil was recalled to Denmark by Struensee to become the companion and caretaker of the by now mentally ill king. He was exiled again after the fall of Struensee and returned to Switzerland.He published memoirs of his time at the Danish court.