As we continue our journey through Roskilde Cathedral, we arrive at a fine example of neo-classicism in Frederick V’s Chapel. The chapel was designed by the architect C.F. Harsdorff, who drew inspiration from Paris and Rome. The building was started in 1774 and completed in 1825. The chapel was built to house five sarcophagi, but as the smaller fabric covered coffins grew in popularity, the chapel houses many more tombs than originally foreseen.
Let’s head over to the most impressive of the sarcophagi, Frederick V’s marble sarcophagus with an urn on top and two grieving women (symbolizing Denmark and Norway) on each side. The full name of this sovereign 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. Impressive title, eh? Frederick V (born on 31 March 1723) was king of Denmark-Norway and Duke of Schleswig-Holstein from 1746 until his death. He was the son of Christian VI and Sophia Magdalene of Brandenburg-Kulmbach. Christian VI and Sophia Magdalene were deeply devoted to Pietism, and Frederick was given a strict religious upbringing. Although not unfamiliar with religious sentiments, Frederick grew into a hedonist who enjoyed the pleasures of life, especially wine and women.
It is claimed that Frederik V as crown prince was included in the Copenhagen Masonic Lodge St. Martin, in June 1744, although Frederick never published his membership of the lodge. His father, Christian VI, was violently opposed to the Masons. However, as an active Freemason, Frederick V set up on 24 June 1749 the first Masonic lodge in Norway.
Frederick’s propensity for debauchery accelerated his marriage negotiations. He was married on 11 December 1743 to Princess Louise of Great Britain, the youngest surviving daughter of King George II and Caroline of Ansbach. The marriage was proposed by Great Britain as they wished to make an alliance with Denmark. Frederick’s father, King Christian VI, hoped the marriage would lead to British support for his or his son’s claim to the throne of Sweden, and on a more personal level, there were hopes that marriage would calm the partying Crown Prince down.
At least during the first years, the marriage was described as happy. Frederick was comfortable with her, and Louise looked the other way from Frederick’s vices. They had five children, one of whom did not survive infancy. Louise quickly made herself popular in the Danish court and in Denmark generally. The royal Danish court at the time spoke mostly German, so Louise’s efforts to learn Danish were well appreciated.
On 6 August 1746 – Frederick’s father (King Christian VI) died at Hirschholm Palace (demolished in the early 1800s), on the day before the Royal Couple’s silver marriage festivities, and Frederick and Louise immediately ascended Denmark-Norway’s throne.
As an absolute ruler, Frederick in reality did not participate much in stately affairs. Frederick had fallen for the drink, and most his rule was dominated by very able ministers. The ministers marked his reign by the progress of commerce and industry. They also avoided involving Denmark in the European wars of his time.
While pregnant with her sixth child, Louise died due to complications from a miscarriage on 19 December 1751, predeceasing her husband by fourteen years. She passed away the day after her 27th birthday.
One of Fredericks ministers, Count Moltke, arranged a new marriage for the King (only 6 months after Louise had passed) to Frederick the Great of Prussia’s sister-in-law Duchess Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, in an attempt to stabilize the King’s behavior. The marriage was frowned upon by the people who saw it as too early for the King remarry. The king was initially unwilling to remarry, unless it was with an English princess, which was not available at the time.
Juliana Maria and her sense of rigid etiquette did not really appeal to the King’s taste, and she was never popular with the court. I guess Louise’s shoes were just too big to fill, despite Juliana Maria’s efforts to learn Danish.
As a queen, Juliana Maria lived a quiet and subdued life and had nothing to do with the affairs of state whatsoever. Her brother-in-law, Frederick the Great, had encouraged her marriage and expected her to act as his agent in Denmark and help him to remove certain counts and ministers from their positions, but she never participated in any such thing.
In 1760 Frederick broke his leg in a drunken accident, which greatly weakened him. The king died at the age of forty-two, in 1766, after a twenty-year reign. He had been a pleasant change compared to the pious Christian VI’s autocracy, and when Frederick died he was mourned by all. His last words were reportedly:
“It is a great consolation to me in my last hour that I have never willfully offended anyone, and that there is not a drop of blood on my hands.”
King Frederick V is interred in Roskilde Cathedral next to Queen Louise, and their son Christian VII became King.
This was not the end for Juliana Maria, though, and in my next post from Roskilde Cathedral, you will hear more about the crazy King Christian VII, The Queen-Dowager Juliana Maria and her son hereditary prince Frederick. Feel free to have a sneak peek in this post: Royal Shenanigans
The previous posts in this series can be found here: