Portrait of Frederick II (1534-1588), King of Denmark and Norway, Duke of Holstein and Schleswig (1559-1588), 1584
Frederick II (Danish: Frederik; 1 July 1534 – 4 April 1588) was King of Denmark and Norway and Duke of Schleswig from 1559 until his death. Frederick II was the son of King Christian III of Denmark and Norway and Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg, the daughter of Magnus I, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg. He was hailed as successor to the throne of Denmark in 1542 and of Norway in 1548. Unlike his father, King Frederick II was strongly affected by military ideals. Already as a young man, he made friendships with German war princes. King Frederick II won his first victory with the conquest of Dithmarschen in Schleswig-Holstein under Johan Rantzau, during the summer of 1559. From his predecessor, he inherited the Livonian War. In 1560, he installed his younger brother, Magnus of Holstein (1540–1583), in the Bishopric of Ösel–Wiek. King Frederick II largely tried to avoid conflict in Livonia and consolidated amicable relations with Tsar Ivan IV of Russia in the 1562 Treaty of Mozhaysk. His brother Magnus was later made titular King of Livonia, as a vassal of Tsar Ivan IV. King Frederick's competition with Sweden for supremacy in the Baltic broke out into open warfare in 1563, the start of the Seven Years' War, the dominating conflict of his rule. He tried in vain to conquer Sweden, which was ruled by his cousin, King Eric XIV. It developed into an extremely expensive war of attrition in which the areas of Scania were ravaged by the Swedes, and Norway was almost lost. During this war, King Frederick II led his army personally on the battlefield, but without much result. The conflict damaged his relationship with his noble councillors; however, the later Sture Murders of 24 May 1567 by the insane King Eric XIV in Sweden, eventually helped stabilize the situation in Denmark. Subsequently, government finances were put in order and Denmark's economy improved. One of the chief expedients of the improved state of affairs was the raising of the Sound Dues. Peder Oxe, as lord treasurer, reduced the national debt considerably and redeemed portions of crown lands. King Frederick II stands as a typical renaissance ruler of Denmark. He was a lover of hunting, wine, women, and feasts. As a person, he was often described as hot-headed, vain, courageous, and ambitious.
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