Portrait of Frederick VI (1768-1839), Crown Prince Regent of Denmark (kronprinsregent) from 1784 to 1808; King of Denmark, Duke of Holstein and Schleswig (1808-1839), King of Norway (1808-1814), Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg (1814-1839), 1831
Frederick VI (Danish and Norwegian: Frederik 6.; 28 January 1768 – 3 December 1839) was King of Denmark from 13 March 1808 to 3 December 1839 and King of Norway from 13 March 1808 to 7 February 1814, making him the last king of Denmark–Norway. From 1784 until his accession, he served as regent during his father's mental illness and was referred to as the "Crown Prince Regent" (kronprinsregent). For his motto he chose God and the just cause (Danish: Gud og den retfærdige sag) and since the time of his reign, succeeding Danish monarchs have also chosen mottos in the Danish language rather than the formerly customary Latin. Frederick was born at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen. Frederick belonged to the House of Oldenburg. His parents were King Christian VII and Caroline Matilda of Great Britain. He was born after 15 months of marriage, a day before his father's 19th birthday, when his mother was just 16. As the eldest son of the ruling king, he automatically became crown prince at birth. On 30 January of the same year, he was baptised at Christiansborg Palace by Ludvig Harboe, Bishop of Zealand. His godparents were King Christian VII (his father), the dowager queen Juliana Maria (his step-grandmother) and his half-uncle, Hereditary Prince Frederick (Arveprins Frederik). His father suffered from serious psychological problems, including suspected schizophrenia expressed by catatonic periods which resulted in the king ceding power to his doctor, Johann Friedrich Struensee. From 1770 to 1772, Struensee was de facto regent and lover of Caroline Matilda, Frederick's mother. Both were ideologically influenced by Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau. While Struensee was in power, young Frederick was raised at Hirschholm Palace following the educational approach advocated by Rousseau in his famous work Émile. Instead of receiving direct instruction, Frederick was expected to learn everything through his own efforts through playing with two commoner boys as per Struensee's instructions. On 8 January 1772, after the revolt against Struensee, Frederick's 18-year-old half-uncle Hereditary Prince Frederick was made regent. The real power, however, was held by Hereditary Prince Frederick's mother (Crown Prince Frederick's step-grandmother), Queen Dowager Juliana Maria, aided by Ove Høegh-Guldberg. Frederick was raised under the supervision of Margrethe Marie Thomasine Numsen. Finally, on 14 April 1784, the Crown Prince Frederick was declared of legal majority; he proceeded to seize and exercise the full powers of the regency, dismissing the ministers loyal to the Queen Dowager. It is said that during the coup, he engaged in a fistfight with his half-uncle over the regency. He continued as regent of Denmark under his father's name until the latter's death in 1808. During the regency, Frederick instituted widespread liberal reforms with the assistance of Chief Minister Andreas Peter Bernstorff, including the abolition of serfdom in 1788. Crises encountered during his reign include disagreement with the British over neutral shipping. This resulted in two British attacks on Copenhagen, the Battle of Copenhagen of 1801 and the Battle of Copenhagen of 1807. The conflict continued in the Gunboat War between Denmark-Norway and the United Kingdom, which lasted until the Treaty of Kiel in 1814. There was speculation that he was to marry a Prussian princess, a choice supported by his step-grandmother Juliana Maria and her brother-in-law Frederick the Great. To demonstrate his independence, however, he personally selected his first-cousin Marie Sophie of Hesse-Kassel, a member of a German family with close marriage links with the royal families of both Denmark and Great Britain. They married in Gottorp on 31 July 1790 and had eight children. Their eldest daughter, Princess Caroline married her father’s first cousin, Ferdinand, Hereditary Prince of Denmark. The youngest, Princess Wilhelmine, became the wife of the future Frederick VII of Denmark. None of Frederick VI's sons survived infancy and when he died, he was succeeded by his half-cousin Christian VIII of Denmark, the son of his half-uncle Prince Frederick.
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