Christian IX of Denmark

Christian IX of Denmark
Christian IX of Denmark
Danish Royalty
House of Oldenburg (Glücksburg branch)

Christian IX
   Crown Prince Frederik
   Princess Alexandra
   Prince Vilhelm
   Princess Dagmar
   Princess Thyra
   Prince Valdemar
Frederick VIII
   Crown Prince Christian
   Prince Carl
   Princess Louise
   Prince Harald
   Princess Ingeborg
   Princess Thyra
   Prince Gustav
   Princess Dagmar
Christian X
   Crown Prince Frederik
   Prince Knud
Frederick IX
   Crown Princess Margrethe
   Princess Benedikte
   Princess Anne-Marie
Margrethe II
   Crown Prince Frederik
   Prince Joachim
   Prince Christian
   Prince Nikolai
   Prince Felix

Christian IX of Denmark (April 8, 1818January 29, 1906) was King of Denmark from November 15, 1863 to January 29, 1906.

He was born in Gottorp the fourth son of Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and Louise Caroline, Princess of Hesse. Through his mother, Christian was a great-grandson of Frederik V of Denmark, great-great-grandson of George II of Great Britain and descendant of several other monarchs, but had no direct claim to any European throne.

Through his father, Christian was member of a junior male branch of the royal Danish clan of Oldenburg and was (albeit a junior) agnatic descendant of Helwig of Schauenburg (countess of Oldenburg), mother of the first king Christian of Denmark, who was the "Semi-Salic" heiress of his 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 the line.

He grew up in Denmark and was educated in the Military Academy of Copenhagen.

As a young man, he unsuccessfully sought the hand of Queen Victoria in marriage. In 1842 he married Louise of Hesse-Kassel, a niece of Christian VIII.

In 1847, he was, under the blessing from the great powers of Europe, chosen as heir presumptive to the Danish throne by Christian VIII, as the future Frederik VII seemed incapable of fathering children. A justification for this choice of heir was through Christian's wife Louise of Hesse-Kassel. (She was, as a great-niece of Christian VII, a closer heir to the throne than her husband.)

Therefore, he succeeded Frederik VII to the throne on November 15, 1863. Christian was immediately plunged into a crisis over the possession and status of Schleswig and Holstein, two provinces to Denmark's south when, under pressure, he signed the November Constitution, a treaty that made Schleswig part of Denmark. This resulted in a brief war between Denmark and a Prussian/Austrian alliance in 1864. This Second war of Schleswig's outcome was unfavorable to Denmark and led to the incorporation of Schleswig into Prussia in 1865. Holstein was likewise incorporated into Prussia in 1865, following further battle between Austria and Prussia.

How Christian became the heir

Because of Salic Law, the succession after childless Frederick was a question very thorny to arrange, and it did not go smoothly, but caused a war. Nationalism pursuing towards independence in the German-speaking parts of Schleswig-Holstein caused that no solution to keep the Duchies together with Denmark was satisfactory to them and to certain elements in Germany. The duchies were inherited after the salic law among descendants of Helwig of Schauenburg, senior of which after Frederick VII was Frederick, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1829-1880) (the future father-in-law of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany), who in 1863 proclaimed himself as Frederick VIII of Schleswig-Holstein. This Friedrich von Augustenburg had become the symbol of the nationalist German independence-movement in Schleswig-Holstein, after his father in exchange for money had renounced his claims as first in line to inherit the twin-duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, following the London protocol of May 8th, 1852, which concluded the First war of Schleswig. Because of his father's renunciation, Frederick was regarded not eligible to succeed by many, such as the Danish-minded.

Denmark was also under Salic Law, but only among descendants of Frederick III of Denmark (who was the first hereditary monarch of Denmark - before him the kingdom was officially elective). Agnatic descendance of Frederick III went extinct when Frederick VII died, and at that point, the succession law promulgated by Frederick III provided a Semi-Salic succession. There were however several alternative ways to interpret to whom the crown passes then, since the provision was not entirely clear on whether it be the closest female relative or what and who to inherit. The question was solved by an election and a separate law to confirm the new successor.

The closest female relatives of Frederick VII were the issue of his paternal aunt, Louise, who had married a cadet Landgrave of Hesse. However, they were not agnatic descendants of royal family and thus not eligible to succeed in Schleswig-Holstein.

The dynastic female heiress according to the original primogeniture from Frederick III was Caroline of Denmark (1793-1881), the childless elder daughter of late king Frederick VI, after whose childless sister Wilhelmine of Denmark (1808-1891), Duchess of Glucksburg and sister-in-law of Christian IX, the original primogeniture would have led to heirs of Louise, sister of Frederick VI, who had married the then duke of Augustenburg. The chief heir to that line was the selfsame Frederick of Augustenborg, but his turn would have come only after the death of two childless princesses who were very much alive in 1863.

Some rights belonged also to the line of Glucksburg, a more junior branch of the royal clan. They were also heirs of Frederick III, through their one ancestress who was daughter of King Frederick V of Denmark, and they were a more junior agnatic heirs eligible to succeed in Schleswig- Holstein. There were Christian himself and his two elder brothers, eldest of whom was childless, but the second had produced children, also male children.

Prince Christian had been a foster "grandson" of the sonless royal couple Frederick VI and his queen consort Marie (Marie Sophie Frederikke of Hesse), thus familiar with the royal court and the traditions of the recent monarchs. Their young ward, prince Christian was great-nephew of queen Marie, and descendant of a first cousin of Frederick VI. He was brought up as Danish, having lived in Danish-speaking lands of the royal dynasty, and was not attached to German nationalism. Although these did not mean anything legally, they made him a relatively good candidate from the Danish viewpoint. As junior agnatic descendant, he was eligible to inherit Schleswig-Holstein, but not the first in line. As descendant of Frederick III, he was eligible to succeed in Denmark, but not first in line, however that line was not very clear.

Christian married then princess Louise of Hesse, eldest daughter of the eldest son of the closest female relative of Frederick VII. Louise's father and brothers, princes of Hesse, renounced their rights in favor of Louise and her husband. Prince Christian's wife was now the closest female heiress of Frederick VII.

The thorny question of operation of Semi-Salic provision in succession of Denmark was at that point resolved by legislation through which Prince Christian of Glücksburg (1818-1906) was 1852 chosen to succeed the King Frederick VII in Denmark.


Styles of
King Christian IX of Denmark
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sire

When Frederick died in 1863, Christian took the throne as Christian IX.

In November 1863 Frederick of Augustenborg claimed the twin-duchies in succession after King Frederick VII of Denmark, who also was the Duke of Schleswig and Holstein, and who had died without a male heir.

1864 Prussia and Austria started the Second war of Schleswig which led to the Danish loss of both South Jutland and Holstein.

Europe's "Father in Law"

Christian and Louise gave birth to six, remarkably successful children:

The great dynastical success of the six children, was to a great extent not the favor of Christain IX himself, but due to Christian's wife Louise of Hesse-Kassel dynastical ambitions. Some have compared her dynastical capabilities with the ones of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

Christian's grandsons included Nicholas II of Russia, Constantine I of Greece, George V of the United Kingdom, Christian X of Denmark and Haakon VII of Norway. He was, in the last years of his life, named Europe's "father-in-law". Today, most of Europe's reigning and ex-reigning royal families are direct descendants of Christian IX.

Christian died peacefully of old age at 87 in Copenhagen and was buried in Roskilde Cathedral.


The defeat of 1864 cast a shadow of Christian IX's rule for many years also because 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 which allowed Iceland, then a Danish possession, to have its own constitution, albeit one that still had Denmark ruling Iceland. In 1901 he approved the establishment of a Danish parliament which would have power over absolutism which 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.

Preceded by:
Frederick VII
King of Denmark
15 November 186329 January 1906
Succeeded by:
Frederick VIII

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