This is the eight post from Roskilde Cathedral in Roskilde, Denmark – and the third post from the Chapel of the Magi; 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)

Roskilde Cathedral – Twise a Queen

Roskilde Cathedral – are they all called Dorothea?


King Christian III of Denmark and Norway and Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg oldest son (and Dorothea’s least favorite child), Frederick II (1 July 1534 – 4 April 1588) was King of Denmark and Norway and duke of Schleswig from 1559 until his death.

Frederick II depicts the typical renaissance ruler, strongly affected by military ideals (unlike his father). Shortly after his succession he won his first victory by the conquest of Dithmarschen in the summer of 1559.

From his predecessor and father, Christian III, he inherited the Livonian War,  (1558–1583). This war was fought for control of Old Livonia, in the territory of present-day Estonia and Latvia, when the Tsardom of Russia faced off against a varying coalition of Denmark–Norway, the Kingdom of Sweden, the Union of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland. Frederik installed his younger brother Magnus of Holstein, in the Bishopric of Ösel–Wiek, because he considered his younger brother as troublesome. Other than that, he largely tried to avoid conflict in Livonia and consolidated amicable relations to Ivan IV of Russia in the 1562 Treaty of Mozhaysk.

The Scandinavian Seven Years’ War from 1563 to 1570 was the dominating conflict of Frederick’s rule, in which he tried in vain to conquer Sweden, which was ruled by his cousin, the insane King Eric XIV. The war dragged on until it was ended by a status quo peace in the Treaty of Stettin (1570) that let Denmark save face but also showed the limits of Danish military power.

As a person Frederick was described as hot-headed, vain, courageous and ambitious. Frederick was also a major patron and close personal friend of the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe.

Frederik wanted to marry his mistress, Anne of Hardenberg, much to the dismay of both his mother and the Counsil, and he was finally persuaded not to. In his time as a bachelor he also wooed Queen Elizabeth I of England, an initiative which made him Knight of the Garter.

On 20 July 1572, Frederick married Sophia of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, a descendant of King John of Denmark, and also his own first cousin, through their grandfather, Frederick I, King of Denmark and Norway. They had eight children, and the oldest son (Christian IV) succeeded to the crown.

Frederik II was a lover of hunting, wine, women and feasts and at his death on 4 April 1588, it was a common opinion that he had jeopardized his health and drunk himself to death.


His wife is also a rather interesting character, Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow (4 September 1557 – 14 October 1631).

On July 20, 1572, thirty-seven year old Frederik II married his fourteen year old first cousin, Sophie. The King was barred from marrying his mistress Anne of Hardenberg, and the Council arranged the marriage with the young Sophie. They had wanted to him to marry for some time. The marriage was described as harmonious, despite the age difference between Sophie and Frederick, and his frequent indiscressions and heavy drinking.

Sophie showed a keen interest in science and visited the astronomer Tycho Brahe. She had a great love of knowledge. Later, she would be known as one of the most learned Queens of the time. She was also interested in the old songs of folklore. Queen Sophie had no political power during the lifetime of her spouse. When her underage son Christian IV became King in 1588, she had no place in the Regency Council.

The Dowager Queen Sophie  organised a grand funeral for her spouse, arranged for the dowries for her daughters and for her own allowance, all independently and against the will of the Council. She engaged in a power struggle with the Regents of Denmark and with the Council of State, came into conflict with the government, and was exiled her to the Palace of Nykøbing Slot on the island of Falster. In addition to studying chemistry, astronomy and other sciences, the Dowager Queen Sophie managed her estates in Lolland-Falster so well that her son could borrow money from her on several occasions for his wars. She also engaged in large-scale trade and in money-lending. Sophie died as the richest woman in Northern Europe at the age of seventy-four.


Here is a lil Trivia for ya:

A Danish noble and lady-in-waiting, Rigborg Brockenhuus (1579 – 1641), was the central figure in a famous sexual offence case in 1599. Rigborg  became maid of honor to the queen, Anne Catherine of Brandenburg in 1598 where she took up with the courtier Frederik Holgersen Rosenkrantz. – whom was already engaged to another woman, Christence Viffert. Rigborg gave birth to an illegitimate son, Holger, in 1599.

King Christian IV got mad and charged the couple with having broken the conduct of the royal court and the presence of the monarch, as well as the common law of seduction – an exceptional judgment against two nobles.

Rigborg was sentenced to life imprisonment in a room in her father’s castle, and her son Holger was turned over to the custody of his father’s family. The reason for me to include this lil bit of trivia in his post, is because the queen dowager Sophie helped having the sentence softened, in 1608 Sophie obtained permission for Rigborg to leave her room to attend church once a week.

Rosenkrantz was sentenced to lose his nobility and to have two fingers amputated. Through the intervention of astronomer Tycho Brahe, his sentence was later softened.

Now, here comes the bit that will earn you many points in your next Pub Quiz: Frederik Rosenkrantz, the father of Holger, was – along with his friend Knud Gyldenstierne – the inspiration for the two treacherous characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

There are more pictures from this beautiful church, and interesting stories of Danish Royals, so please check back later.

17 thoughts on “Roskilde Cathedral – The Renaissance Ruler

    1. Thank you for your kind comment. Glad you enjoy the Roskilde series. There is so much history gathered under one roof there that it is too good not to blog 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes I live in Denmark, and I absolutely love it here. It is similar enough to Norway (where I am from) to make it comfortable (culture and language is no struggle), and different enough to make it interesting and fun. 🙂

        I am very glad we moved here, although I am getting to the point where it is time to move on. I am wondering what is next for us. Britain was a favourite contender before the Brexit-vote. Now we just don’t know. And that is also a bit exciting in itself. All we know is that we will stay in Denmark til next summer.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Great. I got curious because I live in Denmark and I agree that it’s a lovable country. Well, coming from Norway, DK will be almost like home. Hope you choose right when you decide to leave Denmark. The best to you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe I will admit that I have never heard or used that word before (English is not my native tongue), and that is one of the things that makes writing in English so enjoyable for me – I learn so much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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