Christian V of Denmark

Christian V
King of Denmark and Norway
Reign 1670–1699
Predecessor Frederick III
Successor Frederick IV
Spouse Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel
Frederick IV of Denmark
Princess Sophia Hedwig of Denmark
House House of Oldenburg
Father Frederick III of Denmark
Mother Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Born 15 April 1646(1646-04-15)
Duborg Castle, Flensburg
Died 25 August 1699(1699-08-25) (aged 53)
Burial Roskilde Cathedral
Religion Lutheranism

Christian V (15 April 1646 – August 25, 1699), was king of Denmark and Norway from 1670 to 1699. The son of Frederick III of Denmark and Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He married Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) on 14 May 1667 at Nykøbing, and ascended the throne on 9 February 1670.


It is generally argued that Christian V's personal courage and affability made him popular among the common people, but his image was marred by his unsuccessful attempt to regain Scania for Denmark in the Scanian War. The war exhausted Denmark's economic resources without creating any gains.

Part of his appeal to the common people may be explained by the fact that he allowed Danish commoners into state service, but his attempts to curtail the influence of the nobility also meant continuing his father's drive toward absolutism. To accommodate non-aristocrats into state service, he created the new noble ranks of count and baron. One of the commoners elevated in this way by the King was Peder Schumacher, named Count Griffenfeld by Christian V in 1670 and high councillor of Denmark in 1674.

Griffenfeldt, a skilled statesman, better understood the precarious situation Denmark placed itself in by attacking Sweden at a time when the country was allied with France, the major European power of the era. As Griffenfeldt had predicted, Sweden's stronger ally France was the party that dictated the peace with Denmark's ally Holland, and in spite of Danish victory at sea in the battles against Sweden in 1675–1679 during the Scanian War, Danish hopes for border changes on the Scandinavian Peninsula between the two countries were dashed. The results of the war efforts proved politically and financially unremunerative for Denmark. The damage to the Danish economy was extensive. At this point, Christian V no longer had his most experienced foreign relations counsel around to repair the political damage - in 1676 he had been persuaded to sacrifice Griffenfeldt as a traitor, and to the clamour of his adversaries, Griffenfeldt was imprisoned for the remainder of his life.

Christian V introduced Danske Lov (Danish Code) 1683 which was the first law code for all of Denmark. It was succeeded by the similar Norske Lov (Norwegian Code) of 1687. He also introduced the land register of 1688, which attempted to work out the land value of the united monarchy in order to create a more just taxation. During his reign, science had a golden age due to the work of the astronomer Ole Rømer, in spite of the king’s personal lack of scientific knowledge and interest.

Like Charles XI of Sweden, who had never been outside Sweden, Christian spoke German and Danish only and was therefore often considered unintelligent because he was unable to contribute when foreign diplomats visited, Christian V was also often considered poorly educated and dependent on his councillors by contemporary sources. The Danish monarch did nothing to dispel this notion. In his memoirs, he listed "hunting, love-making, war and maritime affairs" as his main interests in life.

He died from the after-effects of a hunting accident and was interred in Roskilde Cathedral.

Personal life and family

Portrait of Christian V in the old Russian reference book (1672)

Christian V had eight children by his wife and five by his mistress. He publicly introduced his sixteen-year-old mistress, Sophie Amalie Moth (1654–1719), into court in 1672, a move which insulted his wife. His mistress was the daughter of his former tutor (Paul Moth), and he made her countess of Samsø on 31 December 1677.


Name Birth Death
Frederick IV 2 October 1671 2 October 1730
Christian Vilhelm 1 December 1672 25 January 1673
Christian 25 March 1675 27 June 1695
Sophie Hedevig 28 August 1677 13 March 1735
Charles 26 October 1680 8 June 1729
Christiane Charlotte 17 July 1683 17 july 1683
Vilhelm 21 February 1687 23 November 1705

His children with his mistress, Sophie Amalie Moth;

Name Birth Death
Christiane Gyldenløve 1672 1689
Christian Gyldenløve 28 February 1674 16 July 1703
Sophie Christiane Gyldenløve 1675 18 August 1684
Anna Christiane Gyldenløve 1676 11 August 1689
Ulrik Christian Gyldenløve 24 June 1678 8 December 1719

After the Scanian War, his sister, Princess Ulrike Eleonora of Denmark married the Swedish king Charles XI, whose mother was a stout supporter of the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp. In spite of the family ties, war between the brothers-in-law was close again in 1689, when Charles XI nearly provoked confrontation with Denmark by his support of the exiled Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp in his claims to Holstein-Gottorp in Schleswig-Holstein.



Christian V
Born: 14 April 1646 Died: 25 August 1699
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick III
King of Denmark
Succeeded by
Frederick IV
King of Norway
Count of Oldenburg
as Christian VIII

Preceded by
Frederick III and his son-in-law
Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
(in condominial rule)
Duke of Holstein and Duke of Schleswig
condominial rule with his brother-in-law Christian Albert (till 1695) and thereafter with the latter's son Frederick IV, being also his nephew

Succeeded by
Frederick IV of Denmark and Norway and
Frederick IV, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
(in condominial rule)
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