This is the fifth post from Roskilde Cathedral in Roskilde, Denmark, you can read the previous posts here:

Roskilde Cathedral – Royal Graves and UNESCO World Heritage

Roskilde Cathedral – The King’s Door

Roskilde Cathedral – the Nave

Roskilde Cathedral, King Pantsless


Towards the end of the 1600s Christian V decided to convert the high chancel into a royal burial place. Christian V and Frederick IV (Christian V’s son) are buried here with their queens in magnificent baroque, marble sarcophagi bearing portraits of the deceased.

Christian V (15 April 1646 – 25 August 1699) was king of Denmark and Norway from 1670 until his death in 1699.

Well-regarded by the common people, he was the first king anointed at Frederiksborg Castle chapel as absolute monarch by automatic hereditary succession, since the decree that institutionalized the supremacy of the Danish king. He fortified the absolutist system against the aristocracy by accelerating his father’s practice of allowing Holstein nobles and Danish commoners into state service.

On a trip abroad, he saw absolutism in its most splendid achievement at the young Louis XIV’s court, and heard about the theory of the divine right of kings. (A political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God. It is often expressed in the phrase “by the Grace of God”, attached to the titles of a reigning monarch. It implies that only God can judge an unjust king and that any attempt to depose, dethrone or restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act. Also referred to as divine right, or God’s mandate.)

Christian V introduced Danske Lov (the Danish Code) in 1683, 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.


One of the most visited tourist attractions in Copenhagen was built on Christian V’s orders; you can see pictures of Nyhavn by clicking the link:

Enjoying Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

Christian V had eight children by his wife and six by his Maîtresse-en-titre, Sophie Amalie Moth (1654–1719), whom he took up with when she was sixteen. Sophie was the daughter of his former tutor Poul Moth. Christian publicly introduced Sophie into court in 1672, a move which insulted his wife, and made her countess of Samsø on 31 December 1677.

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


 As we will get into shortly, his son also had an interesting, and somewhat complicated, love life. Frederick IV (11 October 1671 – 12 October 1730) was the king of Denmark and Norway from 1699 until his death. Frederick was the son of King Christian V of Denmark-Norway and his consort Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel.

Frederick was allowed to choose his future wife from a number of Protestant royal daughters in northern Germany. However, the pickings were slim, and on 5 December 1695 at Copenhagen Castle, he married Louise of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, herself a great-great-granddaughter of Frederick II of Denmark. The couple was crowned King and Queen of Denmark-Norway on 25 August 1699 in the Frederiksborg Chapel, where the Barock garden was originally created by the court gardener Johan Cornelius Krieger for King Frederick IV in the early 1720s. I have written about both Fredriksborg Castle and the Gardens in these posts (with lots of pictures):


Help! I’m locked in a beautiful castle!

Baroque Garden Much?

During Frederick’s rule Copenhagen was struck by two disasters: the plague of 1711, and the great fire of October 1728, which destroyed most of the medieval capital. Although the king had been persuaded by Ole Rømer to introduce the Gregorian calendar in Denmark-Norway in 1700, the astronomer’s observations and calculations were among the treasures lost to the fire.

For much of Frederick IV’s reign Denmark was engaged in the Great Northern War (1700–1721) against Sweden, and much of the king’s life was spent in strife with kinsmen. Two of his first cousins, Charles XII of Sweden and Frederick IV, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (the three men were the grandsons of Frederick III of Denmark), had waged war upon his father jointly.

Frederick was deemed a man of responsibility and industry — often regarded as the most intelligent of Denmark’s absolute monarchs. He seems to have mastered the art of remaining independent of his ministers. Lacking all interest in academic knowledge, he was nevertheless a patron of culture, especially in art and architecture. His main weaknesses were probably pleasure-seeking and womanizing (Cheating seems to have been normal for the Royals back then), which sometimes distracted him. He was the second to last Danish king who joined a morganatic marriage (the last was Frederick VII with Louise Rasmussen aka Countess Danner, his third wife. You can read about Frederick the VII’s rather scandalous first marriage in this post: Royal Shenanigans).

01-DSCN0247Without divorcing his first queen, Louise, in 1703 he married Elisabeth Helene von Vieregg (d.1704). After the death of Elisabeth, he entered a romance with her lady-in-waiting Charlotte Helene von Schindel, though he later lost interest in her. Frederick fell in love with the 19-year-old Countess Anne Sophie Reventlow whom he carried off from her home, after the refusal of her mother to turn her younger daughter into a royal mistress, and a secret marriage was held at Skanderborg on 26 June 1712. At that time he accorded her the title “Duchess of Schleswig” (derived from one of his own subsidiary titles). Three weeks after Queen Louise’s death in Copenhagen on 4 April 1721, he legalized his relationship with Anna Sophie by a new marriage, this time exalting her queen (the only wife of an hereditary Danish king to bear that title who was not a princess by birth), it was undoubtedly a relief to get out of a relationship they both saw as sin. Of the nine children born to him of these three wives, only two of them survived to adulthood: the future Christian VI and Princess Charlotte-Amalia, both from the first marriage. All the children considered bastards, did not survive more than a year, and was regarded as a punishment of divine providence by the nobility and clergy.


Frederick’s relationship with Anna Sophie after 1721 was exceedingly happy. However, during the king’s last years he fell afflicted with weak health suffering from dropsy (Edema) and the consequences of an accident in an explosion in a cannon foundry in Copenhagen. He also had private sorrows that inclined him toward Pietism. That form of faith would rise to prevalence during the reign of his son. On his last years, Frederick IV asked the loyalty of his son in order to protect Queen Anna Sophie. He was buried in Roskilde Cathedral, the mausoleum of Danish royals.

After Frederick IV’s death in 1730, Queen Anna Sophie was expelled from Copenhagen to her birthplace, Clausholm Castle near Randers in Jutland. She was styled “Queen Anne Sophie”, not “Queen Anne Sophie of Denmark and Norway” or “Queen Dowager“. She spent the rest of her life in religious seclusion, under virtual house arrest on her estate, which the king did not allow her to leave without his express permission. Upon her death, King Christian VI allowed for public mourning and arranged to have her buried in Roskilde Cathedral, although to keep her from being buried with his father in the retroquire, he purchased the Trolle family chapel in the west end of the cathedral, and arranged for her and her children to be buried there.


On the four pillars surrounding the chancel are frescoes depicting Harold Bluetooth, King Canute’s sister Estrid and her son Sweyn Estridsen, and Sweyns close friend bishop Vilhelm. All four died long before the cathedral was built but have been moved from from an earlier church, probably in the 1200s. The graves are located under the frescoes in niches hewn in the pillar and covered by stone slabs, except of Harold Bluetooth’s grave where both niche and stone cover are missing. The burial place of Harold Bluetooth is not known so the monument is possibly only a memorial tablet for “the founder of the cathedral” as he is called in the inscription.


In front of the four marble sarcophagi is a monument to Duke Christopher, brother of Margrethe I (you can read her very fascinating story here: Roskilde Cathedral, King Pantsless), who died in 1363. The small knight and the coat-of-arms are made of alabaster, and the gemstones are now of colored glass. In 1878 the figure was reassembled and placed in its current position. Until then it had been kept in several pieces in a wooden chest, as it was destroyed during the Reformation. The sarcophagus is empty as the prince is probably buried beneath the church floor.


Under the chansel is the Royal Children’s Crypt which was dug in 1690 and named acording to its use. Today the crypt contains coffins moved from Ove Skade’s crypt in 1975.

Check back later for more royal history and pictures from this beautiful church.


20 thoughts on “Roskilde Cathedral – The Chancel (and a brief history of two womanizing kings)

    1. Thank you so much! The photos could have been of better quality, but I was learning the cam on my new mobilephone. But the motifs are stunning. There are some really beautiful art in that church.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Så kjekt å høre! Jeg står på farten til en ny reise akkurat nå, men vel tilbake skal jeg se inn på din blogg. Forfatterfrue høres interessant ut for meg som liker å lese 🙂 God helg!


  1. Oh my, you have opened and framed an amazing wealth of answers to some of my most pressing questions. We raised our family in a community of Danish immigrants (U.S.), and have sensed the undercurrents of the past without knowing them. If I’m reading correctly–that Denmark embodies a culture of gentle give-and-take–involving both piety and tolerance? Or how would the Danes describe it? Thank you so much. I can’t wait to read more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: GOOD LUCK

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