Christian VIII of Denmark

Christian VIII
King of Denmark
Reign 1839–1848
Predecessor Frederick VI
Successor Frederick VII
King of Norway
Reign 1814
Predecessor Frederick VI
Successor Charles II
Consort Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Caroline Amalie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderborg-Augustenburg
Prince Christian Frederik
Frederick VII
Full name
Christian Frederick
House Oldenburg
Father Hereditary Prince Frederick of Denmark and Norway
Mother Sophia Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Born 18 September 1786(1786-09-18)
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen
Died 20 January 1848(1848-01-20) (aged 61)
Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen
Burial Roskilde Cathedral
Religion Lutheranism
Danish Royalty
House of Oldenburg
Main Line
Danmarks rigsvåben 1819-1903.png
Christian VIII
   Prince Christian Frederick
   Frederick VII

Christian VIII (Christian Frederik) (18 September 1786 – 20 January 1848), king of Denmark 1839–48 and, as Christian Frederick, of Norway 1814, eldest son of Hereditary Prince Frederick of Denmark and Norway and Sophia Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was born in 1786 at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen. His paternal grandparents were the late king Frederick V of Denmark and his second wife Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.

He inherited the talents of his highly gifted mother, and his amiability and handsome features are said to have made him very popular in Copenhagen.

First marriage

His unfortunate first marriage at Ludwigslust on 21 June 1806 with his cousin Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (Ludwigslust, 4 December 1784 – Rome, 13 July 1840) was dissolved by divorce in 1810. She was a daughter of Friedrich Franz I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. His only surviving son from this marriage would become Frederick VII of Denmark. His first born son was Christian Frederik, who was born and died at Schloss Plön on 8 April 1807.

King of Norway

In May 1813, being the then heir presumptive of Denmark-Norway, he was sent as stattholder (the Danish King's highest representative in overseas territories) to Norway to promote the loyalty of the Norwegians to the dynasty, which had been very rudely shaken by the disastrous results of Frederick VI's adhesion to the falling fortunes of Napoleon I of France. 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 16 February 1814.

See article on Norway in 1814

This election was confirmed by the Norwegian Constituent Assembly convoked at Eidsvoll on 10 April, and on 17 May the constitution was signed and Christian was unanimously elected king of Norway, under the name Christian Frederick.

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 refused Christian's conditions and a short campaign ensued, in which the Norwegian army was defeated by the forces of the Swedish crown prince Charles John. The brief war was finally concluded by the Convention of Moss on 14 August 1814. According to this treaty, king Christian Frederick 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 4 November elected Charles XIII of Sweden as the new king of Norway.

King of Denmark

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, Princess Caroline Amalie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (Copenhagen, 28 June 1796 - Amalienborg Palace, 9 March 1881) (daughter of Louise Augusta of Denmark, only sister of Frederick VI), whom he married at Schloss Augustenburg on 22 May 1815, by whom he had no issue, lived in comparative retirement as leaders of the literary and scientific society of Copenhagen. She was the 290th Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa on 16 February 1834.

It was not until 1831 that old King Frederick gave him a seat in the council of state. On 13 December 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. In his attitude to the growing national unrest in the twin-duchies he often seemed hesitating and half-hearted which damaged his position, and not until 1846 did he clearly support the idea of Schleswig being a Danish area.

Some historians and biographers believe, however, that king Christian would have given Denmark a free constitution had he lived long enough, and his last words are sometimes (rather tragically) recorded as "I didn't make it". ("Jeg nåede det ikke.")

King Christian VIII 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.

Seeing that his only maritally born son, the future Frederick VII, was apparently unable to beget heirs, he commenced arrangements to secure the succession in Denmark, which led to the future Christian IX being chosen as a hereditary prince, officially by a new law enacted on 31 July 1853, after an international treaty made in London.

He was the 960th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Spain in 1840.

He died of blood poisoning in Amalienborg Palace in 1848 and was interred in Roskilde Cathedral.


He had ten children outside marriage. He carefully listed them and saw that they were treated well.

After his son Frederick VII died in 1863, his first cousin once removed, Christian IX of Denmark, ascended the throne of Denmark.

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 of Norway.



Christian VIII
Born: 18 September 1786 Died: 20 January 1848
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick VI
King of Norway
Succeeded by
Karl II
King of Denmark
Succeeded by
Frederick VII
Duke of Schleswig
Duke of Holstein
Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg
as Christian I



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