King Christian is often called the grandfather of Europe because of the number of his discendents who became monarchs. Christian was born in 1818. Christian's father was Duke Frederick William of Schleswig-Holstein (1785- ). His mother was Princess Louise Wilhelmina von Hessen-Cassel (1789- ). By his father, he was a direct descendant of King Christian III of Denmark and his mother was a granddaughter of King Frederik V. Prince Christian studied at the Militar Academy of Cophenagen and he entered the Danish army in 1837. That same year he persued the young Queen of Engalnd, Victoria, who had just acceded the throne. Victoria instead chose Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg. Christian mairred Princess Louise Wilhelmina of Hesse-Casselin 1842. Christian produced two kings and two queens. His son Frederick succeded him as King of Denmark in 1906 and William George became king of Greece. His daughter Alexandra married the Prince of Wales (future Edward VII) and became Queen of England. Dagmar became Tsarina In addition, his grandson Charles became King Haakon VII of Norway in 1905.
Both parents were related to the British Royal family since thier shared great grandmother, Mary of Hanover, the wife of the Landgrave, was daughter of King George II of Great Britain.
Christian's father was Duke Frederick William of Schleswig-Holstein (1785-1831). By his father, he was a direct descendant of King Christian III of Denmark.
Christian's mother mother was Princess Louise Caroline von Hessen-Cassel (1789- ). She was the daughter of Prince Frederick of Denmark (1753-1805). Pribce Frederick was the six son of King Federick, but the only child from his second marriage in 1752 to with Juliana Maria Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. She was was thus a granddaughter of King Frederik V.
Christian was an only child.
Christian was born in 1818.
Christian's father died when he was quite young. King Frederick VI looked after his upbringing.
Christian was raised in very frugal circumstances, but we have no information on his clothing at this time.
Christian had a very limited education. Prince Christian studied at the Militar Academy of Cophenagen. One contemporary observer, the French Ambassador to Denmark described him as having "... a mediocre mind and very little education". [Madol, p. 66.]
Christian entered the Danish army in 1837. He served with destinction in the military actions against Prussia in 1848. He had been the only member of his family to remain loyal to Denmark. (Remember that his father was the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, not the King of Denmark. After the War, he was awarded a capitancy in the Guards and expected to make his way by merit.
Christian in 1837 also persued the young Queen of Engalnd, Victoria, who had just acceded the British throne. When he first came to England in 1837, he had to get properly outfitted to appear in society. His limited education and coming from Copenhagen, a European backwater, caused him to be considered as to much of a "country bumkin" to be a considered a serious suitor to Victoria. No one in England took Christian very seriously. Denmark had ceased to be a significant player in Eropean affairs. He confided his hopes to a relative, the Duchess of Canbridge, the wife of Victoria's Uncle Adolphus. Victoria instead of course chose Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg. While Christian did not marry the young Victoria, an older Victoria without the moderating influence of Albert would play a very important role in the life of his daughter Alexandra.
Christian had to scale down his expectations. He mairred Princess Louise Wilhelmina of Hesse-Casselin 1842. She was niece of the Duchess of Cambridge. Princess Christian was very different from her husband. She was much more lively and forceful. From all accounts her husband and children were devoted to her. She suffered from otosclerosis, a hereditary form of deafness, which she passed on to
Aging King Christian VIII by 1847 was sure his only son Frederik, despite three marriages would not have a heir. He decided that at his sons's death that his niece Luise could rightfully claim the Danish throne. Actually the nearest relative was Frederick of Hesse-Cassle, but in the 1848-49 military operations with the Prussians over Holstein, he had expressed sympathies with the Germans and, as a result, not popular in Denmark. (Latter the Prussians returned the favor to Frederick-William by deposing him as Duke of Hesse-Cassle and annexing the Duchy after the Austro-Prussian War in 1866.) Princess Luise was barred by thge Salic law from ruling in the Duchhies, but not in Denmark itself. She would therefore transfer the crown to her husband, who would then become King of Denmark. Christian had great ambitions as a youth, even hoping to marry Princess Victoria and rise to the English throne. After marrying Luise, he became more realistic about his prospects. As his father was only the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein, he never thought that he could one day be King of Denmark. King Christian died in 1848 and his son succeded him as Frederik VII. Frederick through no lack of effort on his part, however, had no children. The London Protcol of 1852 ending the military action between Denmark and Prussia, recognized Christian as the legitimate heir. As a result, when Frederick died in 1863, Christian through his wife became King Christian IX.
The duchies of Schleswig-Holstein were located south of Denmark on the border with Prussia. These two ducies between the North and Baltic seas, jut out from Germany toward Scandinavia. They were fiefdoms if the Danish crown, but not part of the Danish Kingdom, enjoying some independence. The population of Schleswig was both Danish and German, while Holstein was German in language and culture. The two duchies, however, were considered inseparable. Prussian almost annexd them in 1848-49, but pulled back in the face of continued Danish resistance and the concern of the Great Powers.
The Duke of Augustemburg, the Duke of Schlewig-Holstein had a competing claim to the Danish crown. He was, like Christian, a direct descendant from Christian III. The Duke helped engineervan attemted Prussian take over of the Duchies in 1848-49 an hostilities broke out between Prussian and Debmark. Unfortunately for the enterprising Augustemburg, the Great Powers (England, Russia, France, and Sweden) advised King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia to retreat his troops from the duchies. While there was support for Prussia throughout Germany, the Prussian King signed an armisice with Denmark. The Duke of Augustemburg was obliged to flee. The Great Powers in 1852 signed the Treaty of London which guaranteed the integrity of Denmark. It also recognized Prince Christian as heir to the throne. Schleswig and Holstein were still being property of the Danish King but Denmark was to respect their autonomy by ageeing to make no further efforts to unite them with Denmark. The Duke of Augustemburg had died when war broke out again in 1864, but his son Frederik proclaimed himself Duke of Schleswig Holstein. He was inmediately supported by Prussian King Wilhelm I and Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The German citizens of Schleswing-Holstein strongly supported the Duke and the Prussians. Instead of restoring the Duke, however, the Duchies were eventually annexed by Prussia. Surprtisingly, the Prussian Crown Prince Wilhelm, deciced to marru the Duke's daughter Augusta Victoria. She came to be viewed as an icon of German motherhood. Interestingly, she came to hate the English as much as Christian's daughter Alix came to hate the Germans.
King Frederik died On November 15, 1863. Prince Christian acceeded to the throne as Christian IX.
King Christian only 3 days after becoming king signed a new constitution ratified by the Danish Parliament. The constitution had many democratic provisions, but many in Denmark wanted Schleswig Holstein to become part of the Kingdom. The new Constitution incorporated Schleswig into the Danish Kingdom. This violatied the Treaty of London had its inmediately consecuences. Th Duke of Augustemburg had died but his son Frederik proclaimed himself Duke of Schleswig Holstein. He was inmediately supported by Prussian King Wilhelm I and Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The citizens of Schleswing Holstein supported the Duke and the Prussians.
The Prussians were not motivated by Schleswig Holstein. King Wilhelm I and Bismarck actually saw the opportunity to annex the duches to Prussia. With Austria as its aly, Prussia declared war on Denmark and an Austro-Prussian army occupied the duchies. King Christian faced the two great German powers alone. Most of Europe agreed with Danish cause, but no other country wanted to risk war by interfering. d in his favour. The small Danish Army was defeated at the battle of Duppel. The entire Jutland penninsula was occupied by the combined German Army. The Germans imposed a peace treaty on Demmark in 1864. Both duchies were ceded to Prussia and Austria. Schleswig was annexed to Prussia and Hostein to Austria. The wily Bismarck in 1866 orcestrated a war with Austria in order. The defeat of Austria allowed Prussia to annex Holstein as well and made Prrussia the dominate state in Germany. The consequences for Prussia and Germany of the short war with Denmark were incalcuable far beyond the two duchies involoved.
King Christian is often called the grandfather of Europe because of the number of his discendents who became monarchs. Christian produced three kings and a queen. His son Frederick succeded him as King of Denmark in 1906 and his grandson Charles became King Haakon VII of Norway in 1905. William George became King of Greece in 1863. His daughter Alexandra mairred the Prince of Wales (future Edward VII) and became Queen of England. Dagmar mairred the Russian Tsar. Alix and Dagmar were especially close as children. It is one of the ironies of history that two princess from a family of very limited means married into two of the greast royal families of Europe.
The four older children were born very close to each other. They were, as a result, became very close to each other. This was especially true of Alix, George, and Dagmar. Frederick the oldest appears to have been a bit aloof. We do know that Alix and Dagmar were especially close as children. The children lived a rough-and-tumble existence and loved to play practical jokes. They perhaps had less intrusive supervision than if their father had been able to employ a larger staff. There do not appear to have been serious quarles among the children. (Alexandrras future husband fought fiercely and often with his older sister.) In the rare squables, it was Dagmar that was usually the peace maker. The two youngest children were never as intimate with their older brothers and sisters because of the differences in ages. A biography of Alexandra, for example, mentions the younger siblings only in passing. In fact we know realtively little about the interactions and personalities of the children. Neither is there an appreciable photographic record to guide us. Photography was still quite new and expensive, especially in the 1840s. Given the family's limited financial curcumstances, little money was available for photographic portraits.
While education was not one of Christain's notable accomplishments, by all accounts he was a faithful husband and devoted farher. [Battiscombe, p. 4.]
Prince Christian Princess Luise did not have the wealth of some European royals. Alix's father while having the bluest of royal blood had no family inheritance and was not initially in line to inherit the Danish Crown. King Christian VIII allowed his relatives to live in the Yellow Palace at Amliegade street in Cophenagen. Despite its prestigious name, it was in fact a modest home. There they lived a very happy life centered around their close knit family, despite the lack of money. The family lived on his small incomne as an army officer. They could not afford many of the glamorous trimmings often associated with royals. Alexandra as a girl was raised in rather frugal circumstances in Copenhagen. They enjoyed rather a middle-class life. She and her sisters sewed many of their own clothes. Occasionally the princesses would wait on the table at hime and perform other household chores. It was a very happy family. Their first child, Frederik, arrived in 1843. They had a total of six children. Prince Christian devoted his life to the Army and his family. Unlike many royals, he was a family man for whom punctuality was a very important rule to follow. He liked to do gymnastics at home and he inculcated his children in this discipline. One constant visitor to the Christian's home was Hans Christian Andersen, who used to tell the children his faboulous fairy tales. The strained circumstances should not be overstated. The King made the Bernstorff, an 18th century hunting lodge, available to Christian and his family which spent much of the summer there. The grounds were a wonderful place for the children. They played there with their donkey and dogs.
The limited circumstances of Prince Christian meant that there were few of the luxuries afforded to the royal families of the great states of Europe. One of the results were that the children were not well educated, especilly the girls. There were no money for well qualified instructors and it was not yet well accepted that royal children should attend schools and compete with commoners. Their mother taught them music. Their father took an interest in their phyical education, especilly gymnastics. The children were apparently athletically inclined and enjoyed the their father's gymnastic exercizes. They also learned dancing and horsemanship. The children had English nurses and learned excellt English. The girls also laarned French and German. Considerable care was given to their religious instruction. Other than these accomplishments, there academic instruction was entirely inadequate. Alexandra's biographer writes, "Perhaps this mattered less because these wre not children with artistic or intelectual tastes but a healthy and happy gang of good-looking extroverts. They were well known for their rough-and-tumble humour and for their liking for practical jokes." [Battiscombe, p. 9.] Only princess Dagmar, among the girls, showed even the slightest interest in books.
Christian and Louise every 2 years took their children to Schloss Rumpenheim near Frankfurt. This was a large, white house located ion the Main River. It belonged to Louise's Hesse-Cassel relatives. The home was the residence of Princess Mary, a daughter of George II, agter her husband thecLandgrave of Hesse-Cassel for some reason converted to Roman Catholocism. Her son Frederick willed it to his children on the condition that a family gathering be held every 2 years. The children loved the experience and the cahnce to play with their cousins. It is said that Alex had her first run in with the Germans at one of these family gatherings. Alex and Dagmar had a played with a small German boy, the future Chancellor von Bülow. Years later he recalls being set upon by and scratched by the girls. [Battiscombe, p. 11.]
Battiscombe, Georgina. Queen Alexandra (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1969).
Madol, Hans. Christian IX (Collins, 1939).
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