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King Frederik IV of Denmark and Norway: Marriages, Mistresses and Bigamy

King Frederik IV of Denmark and Norway.

King Frederik IV of Denmark and Norway.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark

Frederik was the eldest son of King Christian V of Denmark and Norway and his wife, Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel. He was born and baptised in Copenhagen Castle on 11th October 1671. Named after his late grandfather, Frederik was immediately awarded the title of Crown Prince of Denmark.

Four of his six siblings survived into adulthood. The legitimate children had six half-siblings from their father's three-decades-long relationship with his mistress Sophie Amalie Moth. They were raised at court with the royal children.

Following tradition, Christian V looked to Germany for a suitable bride for his son and heir. Frederik travelled around the protestant courts, and he sought the advice of his aunt Anna Sophia, Electress of Saxony. She urged him to choose the attractive Louise of Mecklenburg-Gustrow. Frederik and Louise were both great-great-grandchildren of King Frederik II of Denmark and Norway (1534-1588).

Frederik IV's long suffering wife and queen Louise of Mecklenburg-Gustrow.

Frederik IV's long suffering wife and queen Louise of Mecklenburg-Gustrow.

Royal Marriage and Children

Frederik expected that Louise would quietly accept his extra-marital affairs but whether Louise was aware of this when the couple married on 5th December 1695 at Copenhagen Castle is unclear.

Their marriage produced five children, but sadly three of their four sons died in infancy. Of the two that survived, Christian became King Christian VI of Denmark and Norway in 1730. His sister Charlotte Amalie devoted herself to good deeds, and she was a potential match for France's King Louis XV and Britain's Prince Frederick of Wales, but she never married.

On 25th August 1699, Frederik and Louise became monarchs after Christian V suffered a fatal fall. Their coronation was held on 15th April 1700 in Frederiksborg Castle's opulent chapel.

Frederik IV's first bigamous marriage was to Elisabeth Helene von Vieregg.

Frederik IV's first bigamous marriage was to Elisabeth Helene von Vieregg.

Ladies-in-Waiting Elisabeth von Vieregg and Charlotte von Schindel

Being monarch and the strain of the Great Northern War (1700-1721) did not keep Frederik busy enough. In 1699 he began a relationship with his sister Sophia's lady-in-waiting Elisabeth Helene von Vieregg. In 1703 he bigamously married Elisabeth. Queen Louise was very much alive and jealous, and he hadn't divorced her. In 1704 Elisabeth died after giving birth to their son Frederik who sadly lived for just nine months.

To soothe his grief, the king pursued one of Elisabeth's former ladies-in-waiting Charlotte Helene von Schindel. By 1709 he was stating his intention to marry her. Numerous church officials urged the king to reconsider, pointing out that bigamy laws applied to kings and that his true wife was Louise.

They did not expressly forbid him to commit bigamy or polygamy because they'd not publicly decried his illegal union with Elisabeth. Frederik relented. By 1711 he had tired of Charlotte, and he found a new court distraction.

Anna Sophie von Reventlow was Frederik IV's 2nd bigamous wife until the queen died in 1721. Frederik then married her again and made her queen.

Anna Sophie von Reventlow was Frederik IV's 2nd bigamous wife until the queen died in 1721. Frederik then married her again and made her queen.

Count von Reventlow's Daughter Anna Sophie

Nineteen-year-old Anna Sophie von Reventlow was the daughter of Frederik's grand chancellor Count Conrad von Reventlow. The king fell in love with her soon after they met at a ball in summer 1711.

He was so in love that on 26th June 1712, he had Anna Sophie kidnapped from her parent's home at Clausholm Castle in East Jutland, and she was transported to Skandersborg Castle in Mid-Jutland where Frederik married her, of course bigamously.

Louise was horrified that she was again being humiliated by her lawful husband. Crown Prince Christian's relationship with his father suffered. Christian considered Anna Sophie an enemy of the family.

Louise died on 15th March 1721 in Copenhagen, and she was buried according to Danish royal tradition at Roskilde Cathedral on the island of Zealand. She was barely settled in her grave when on 4th April, King Frederik IV married Anna Sophie again, and he made her his queen. Her coronation was held the following month at Frederiksberg Castle.

The King Dies

This union brought six children; three prior to the legal wedding and three after it but none of them survived infancy. This series of tragedies was regarded as divine judgement by many.

In his final years, Frederik suffered from dropsy or edema. The king died the day after his 59th birthday, the 12th October 1730, at the Odense Palace on the island of Funen. He was buried next to Louise in Roskilde Cathedral.

His will, dated 1725, stipulated that Anna Sophie was to receive all the privileges of a queen dowager after his death. Christian signed this agreement in 1725, but he ignored it in 1730.

Clausholm Castle in Jutland became Anna Sophia's prison during her later life thanks to her stepson King Christian VI of Denmark and Norway.

Clausholm Castle in Jutland became Anna Sophia's prison during her later life thanks to her stepson King Christian VI of Denmark and Norway.

Queen Under House Arrest

Christian VI gave Anna Sophie an allowance and banished her to Clausholm Castle under house arrest for the rest of her life. She was allowed to be called queen, not Queen or Queen Dowager of Denmark and Norway. When she died in January 1743, the king consented to her burial at Roskilde Cathedral but only on the opposite side of the building to his parents. The three children she bore after her legal marriage were reburied adjacent to her.

King Christian VI kept a dull and pious court. His marriage to Sophia Magdalene of Brandenburg-Kulmbach resulted in three children, including the future King Frederik V of Denmark and Norway, who married King George II of Britain's daughter Louisa in 1743. Read more about their marriage here:

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Joanne Hayle