This is the sixth 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

Roskilde Cathedral – The Chancel (and a brief history of two womanizing kings)


Chapel of the Magi, or Christian I’s chapel, was built in the second half of the 1400s by King Christian I (died 1841) as a sepulcher for himself, his queen Dorothea and their descendants. Christian I and Dorothea are buried in a small burial chamber under the floor.

Christian I (February 1426 – 21 May 1481) was a Scandinavian monarch under the Kalmar Union. He was King of Denmark (1448–1481), Norway (1450–1481) and Sweden (1457–1464).

A power vacuum arose following the childless death of King Christopher of Denmark, Sweden and Norway in 1448, and Sweden elected Charles VIII king with the intent to reestablish the union under a Swedish king. Charles was elected king of Norway in the following year, but the counts of Holstein were more influential than the Swedes and the Norwegians together, and made the Danish Privy Council appoint Christian as king. By his subsequent accession to the thrones of Norway (in 1450) and Sweden (in 1457), the Kalmar Union was restored for a short period.

Sweden broke away from the union in 1463, and Christian’s attempt at a reconquest resulted in his defeat to the Swedish regent Sten Sture the Elder at the Battle of Brunkeberg in 1471.

In 1474, Christian obtained permission from Pope Sixtus IV, to found the University of Copenhagen – which opened in 1479.


Dorothea of Brandenburg (1430/1431 – 10 November 1495) was the wife of Christopher of Bavaria and Christian I of Denmark. She was Queen of Denmark (1445–1448 and 1449–1481), Norway (1445–1448 and 1450–1481), and Sweden (1447–1448 and 1457–1464). She also served as regent in Denmark during the absences of her spouse.

On 12 September 1445, the young Dorothea married Christopher of Bavaria, King of Denmark from 1440 to 1448, Sweden from 1441 to 1448 and Norway from 1442 to 1448. The wedding was held in Copenhagen. She was crowned queen of the three kingdoms on 14 September 1445.

After Christopher’s death, Dorothea married the next elected king of Denmark, King Christian I, on 28 October 1449. In 1457, she became queen of Sweden for the second time, and was crowned in Uppsala Cathedral – thus making her Twise a Queen in the Kalmar Union.

Dorothea served as regent during the absence of her spouse, she wasn’t just arm candy. She was granted the slotsloven, which meant she had the right to command all the castles in Denmark. She was a powerful political figure due to her strong economic position, both with regard to her husband and her son. She even acquired fiefs from her husband when she lent him money he could not pay back. (I would have loved to witness such a display of girl power!)

Dorothea was described as cold, practical and frugal. As a widow, she stayed mainly at Kalundborg castle. She died on 25 November 1495, and is interred next to her second husband in Roskilde Cathedral.


The chapel is richly decorated with frescoes that are intended to emphasize the daily intercession that should be prayed for the souls of the royal family in all eternity. You have the Magi in front of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus on her lap, the Holy Family, the Crucifixion and the Day of Judgement depicted in the frescos.

 On the central pillar that carries the four vaults a row of markings indicate the height of royal visitors to the cathedral over the years. The base of the column is from the 1100s and features a hand-hewn Romanesque palmette frieze.

Christian I and Dorothea’s son King Hans and his son Christian II are buried in Odense. After the Reformation the tradition of royal burials in Roskilde Cathedral was resumed and the most magnificent sepulchers are those of Christian III (died 1559) and Frederik II (died 1588) – which you can read about in my next post from the Chapel of the Magi at Roskilde Cathedral.



12 thoughts on “Roskilde Cathedral – Twice a Queen

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