Christian VI of Denmark

Christian VI of Denmark
Christian VI
King of Denmark and Norway
Reign 1730–1746
Predecessor Frederick IV
Successor Frederick V
Spouse Sophia Magdalen of Brandenburg-Kulmbach
Frederick V of Denmark
Louise, Duchess of Saxe-Hildburghausen
House House of Oldenburg
Father Frederick IV of Denmark
Mother Louise of Mecklenburg-Güstrow
Born 30 November 1699(1699-11-30)
Copenhagen Castle
Died 6 August 1746(1746-08-06) (aged 46)
Hirschholm Palace
Burial Roskilde Cathedral
Religion Lutheranism

Christian VI (30 November 1699 – 6 August 1746) was King of Denmark and Norway from 1730 to 1746.

He was the son of Frederick IV and Louise of Mecklenburg-Güstrow. He married Sophia Magdalen of Brandenburg-Kulmbach and fathered Frederick V.

The reign and personality of Christian VI

Engraving portraying Christian VI
King Christian VI is hailed by Denmark and Norway. Drawing for a large oil painting that burned in 1794 with Christiansborg Palace.

To posterity Christian VI is known first of all as a religious ruler. He was deeply devoted to pietism, and during his entire reign he tried to impart these teachings to his subjects. This religious pressure, along with his personal lack of charm, made him one of the most unpopular of Denmark's absolutist kings. Later historians have tried to vary this picture; they have stressed that he was not quite so intolerant as had been said and that he was an industrious and scrupulous bureaucrat. The negative impression, however, has lasted over the years.

His central domestic act was the introduction of the so-called adscription of 1733 (in Danish, stavnsbånd), a law that forced peasants to remain in their home regions, and by which the peasantry was subject to both the local nobility and the army. Though the idea behind this law was probably to secure a constant number of peasant soldiers, it later was widely regarded as the ultimate subjugation of the Danish peasantry. Therefore, this act, too, damaged Christian VI's reputation. The act was abolished in 1788.

The pietist views of King Christian of course influenced much of his ecclesiastical polity. On the surface the king was victorious, but both parsons and many common people secretly resisted the king's influence, so, after his death, pietism lost its official support. This did not mean that it was without effect. It influenced much of the poetry of the age, among others, that of the great hymn writer Hans Adolph Brorson. Another lasting result of the king’s efforts was the introduction of confirmation in 1736.

In addition to pietism and adscription, there were numerous "building activities" connected to Christian VI, and he was probably the greatest Danish builder of the 18th century. His queen also made a notable effort. Among their works are Christiansborg Palace (built 1732–42, burned 1794, rebuilt), Hirschholm Palace in North Zealand in current day Hørsholm municipality (built 1737–39, demolished 1812) and the Eremitage (built 1734–36, still standing). These expensive buildings were erected with the purpose of representing the power and wealth of the Danish realm, but they also became an economic burden on the subjects.

Christian's foreign policy was a peaceful one, and Denmark kept strictly neutral. In both trade and commerce, it was an age of advancement; some new companies and banks were founded.

Personally, Christian VI was a puritan of simple habits, and a man with a tendency to shun human society. From his youth, he was sickly; and several diseases led to his early death.

On his death in 1746, Christian VI was interred in Roskilde Cathedral. The neoclassical memorial designed and produced by sculptor Johannes Wiedewelt was commissioned by the king's widowed wife. The marble monument was completed in 1768 but not installed at Roskilde Cathedral until 1777. The monument includes a sarcophagus and two female figures, "Sorgen" ("Sorrow") and "Berømmelsen" ("Fame"). This was the first neoclassical sarcophagus in Denmark and is considered to mark the start of neoclassicism in Denmark.

Christian VI's sarcophagus in Roskilde Cathedral.


Christian VI
Born: 30 November 1699 Died: 6 August 1746
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick IV
King of Denmark and Norway
Duke of Schleswig
Count of Oldenburg

Succeeded by
Frederick V
Preceded by
Frederick IV and
Charles Frederick
Duke of Holstein
with Charles Frederick (1730-1739)
Charles Peter Ulrich (1739-1746)
Succeeded by
Frederick V and
Charles Peter Ulrich

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