Carl of Denmark

Christian VIII of Denmark

Christian VIII (September 18, 1786January 20, 1848), king of Denmark 1839-48 and, as Christian Frederick, of Norway 1814, the eldest son of the 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. His unfortunate first marriage with his cousin Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was dissolved in 1810. She was a daughter of Friedrich Franz I, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Luise, Duchess of Saxe-Gotha. His only son from this marriage would become Frederick VII of Denmark.

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 February 16, 1814.

See article on Norway in 1814

This election was confirmed by a constitutional assembly convoked at Eidsvoll on April 10, and on May 17 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 refusing Christian's conditions, 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 August 14, 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 November 4 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, Caroline Amalia of Augustenburg (daughter of Louise Augusta 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. 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".

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 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 died of blood-poisoning in 1848 and was interred in Roskilde Cathedral.


After his son's death in 1863, his niece Louise of Hesse and his first cousin once removed, Christian IX of Denmark, 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 of Norway.


Christian's ancestors in three generations
Christian VIII of Denmark Father:
Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Denmark and Norway
Paternal Grandfather:
Frederick V of Denmark
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Christian VI of Denmark
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Sophia Magdalen of Brandenburg-Kulmbach
Paternal Grandmother:
Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Ferdinand Albert II, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Antoinette of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Sophia Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Maternal Grandfather:
Ludwig, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Christian Ludwig II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Gustave Karoline of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Maternal Grandmother:
Charlotte Sophie of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Francis Josias, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Anna Sophie of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt


Obituary (astronomy)

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