Frederick VI of Denmark History Facts, Children & Royal Affairs

Frederick VI of Denmark history
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Frederick VI of Denmark was an early 19th-century king of Denmark, ruling from 1808 to 1839. But even before coming to the throne, he had a great deal of regal experience.

He was also regent prior to that, as his father was mentally incapacitated. Dive right into the interesting history of King Frederick of Denmark right here.

About King Frederick VI Of Denmark

Frederick VI, born 1768, was originally Crown Prince Frederick, son of the then king Christian VII of Denmark. Frederick VI of Denmark

At the young age of 16, he became Prince Regent, taking over control of the throne and consolidating his power.

He was known for shaking up the establishment, making reforms, and liberating indentured servants. Eventually, he became Frederick VI King of Denmark and Norway.

A detailed look into the story of Frederick VIs Mother, Queen Caroline Matilda

On January 28, 1768, Carolina Mathilde, Queen to King Christian VII of Denmark and sixteen years of age, gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

The infant was christened Frederik VI in Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, the same place where he was born. His godparents were his father, Christian VII, his paternal step-grandmother, Dowager Empress Juliane Marie, and his half-uncle, Hereditary Prince Frederick.

Christiansborg Palace Opening hours and tickets

Frederick VI lived a princely life and was, in a manner of speaking, pivotal to the deepening of the relationship between his mother and the court physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee. Let’s find out just a little more about this interesting tale.

The Queen And The Doctor

In 1769, a smallpox epidemic broke out in Denmark and was slowly but surely crawling toward Copenhagen, where the royal family and their court resided.

At this period in time, smallpox inoculation was still considered to be a radical, experimental procedure that posed a great risk of failing.

Despite this, Carolina Mathilde pleaded with Struensee that he inoculate her son to save his life. The doctor complied, and after a harrowing night of uncertainty, the crown prince survived the inoculation. From there, the queen’s confidence in the doctor grew.

The Doctor in Charge

She began to confide more in Struensee and discussed Frederik’s growth intellectually with him.

The doctor also had a hand in how the young prince was raised, albeit a bit more heavy-handed than usual.

For Example – Struensee believed that cold was good for a child’s growth and thus ensured that the crown prince was always sparsely dressed through the savage winter season.

Bye Bye Doctor

Frederik VI took the throne after his step-uncle and reinstated many of the forward-thinking reforms the state council had abolished during Streunsee’s fall from power.

Frederick VI Of Denmark A Royal Affair

Has the above tale whet your appetite? Well, you can watch all about it in the award-winning Danish drama “a Royal Affair”.

It covers the story of the British Born Caroline Mathilde, then known as Her Royal Highness Princess Caroline Mathilde.

Statue of Caroline Matilda in Germany Celle

The drama follows her move to Denmark, where she has been betrothed to her cousin King Christian VII and documents her affair with Struensee during her unhappy marriage.

Eventually, the affair is uncovered, but not before she becomes pregnant with the doctor’s child. Riveting…

Frederick VI of Denmark’s father, Christian VII

The reason for Caroline Mathilde’s unhappiness was in part due to the illness of her husband, King Christian VII.

It is said he suffered from a schizophrenia-like illness that would leave him incapacitated for days at a time.

After his mother died, King Christian VII was missing a loving maternal figure, despite his father remarrying. He was neglected and forced to study in a rigid manner, eventually turning to alcohol and other uncouth acts to get by.

As his mental illness developed, he began to have longer periods where he could not function, and decisions were taken largely by his advisors, who would get him to unwittingly sign documentation. He died of a stroke at the age of 59.

Frederick VI of Denmark’s father Christian VII – Details of Illness

When he was a child, Christian VII was clever and talented, but once an adult, his illness began to take hold. Christian VII

When he was holding court sessions or meeting with his aides, he would often start off on a random and nonsensical trade!

When it was time for him to take the throne, he was married to Caroline Mathilda – his cousin – in a bid to tame his illness and give him some stability.

But the hallucinations, ramblings, and paranoid theories he developed about those around them just got worse. That’s when Dr Struensee came into the picture.

Frederick VI Of Denmark Enlightenment

Frederick VI of Denmark was a supporter of the Absolutist Enlightenment. It’s a pretty interesting concept that the King supported.

On the one hand, he encouraged certain freedoms, political participation, emancipation, and other liberal measures. But on the other hand, he still maintained central control, and any freedoms were given within accordance with his beliefs.

Eventually, such liberal measures such as freedom for serfs and wider education resulted in the rise of an educated and landowning class. This started the weakening of the absolutist state.

Frederick Vi may have been influenced by his exposure to Dr. Struensee, who also carried enlightenment beliefs.

Who Was Juliana Maria?

Frederick VI was not the only regent to take the reign during his father, King Christian VIIs spell on the throne. Juliana Maria portrait

Prior to him taking power, his uncle (confusingly known as Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Denmark) also served time as regent. Hereditary Prince Frederick benefitted from a strong Danish education, and it was his mother – Juliana Maria – who instigated this.

She became convinced he would make a great King, and so, when Christian VII was no longer able to govern, she stuck her own son in as regent.

However, it was Juliana Maria who was the brains behind the operation. She remained in that position until Frederick Hereditary Prince, was ousted by Crown Prince Frederick VI.

King Frederick VI Siblings

King Frederick had one – officially full- sibling, Princess Louise Augusta.

However, due to her mother’s affair with Dr. Struensee, it is widely thought that Louise Augusta was not actually the King's daughter…..scandal!

Frederick VI Of Denmark Children

King Frederick VI married Marie of Hesse-Kassel in 1790, and they had a total of 8 legitimate royal children, although only 2 survived past early infancy. Interestingly they continued to reuse the names of their previous children, which seemed to be fairly common at the time.

Christian, Marie Louise, Louise, Christian, Juliana Louise, and Frederikke Marie all died either within a few days or months of birth, although Marie Louise was almost a year old by the time she passed. The 2 surviving children were Caroline, born in 1793, and Vilhelmine Marie.

Both girls married but produced no heirs. Frederick VI, the King of Denmark also father to four illegitimate children via his mistress, 2 of these children produced descendants, later on, so Frederick VI carried his legacy on, albeit illegitimately.

However, even if some of these children were males, none of Frederick VIs sons could claim the throne.

Who Was Frederick Vi Of Denmark Successor?

So if Frederick Vi of Denmark only had 2 surviving legitimate children, and both were females and couldn’t inherit the throne, just who became his successor when Frederick VI died?

Well, the job fell to a half-cousin Christian who carried on the reign.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did Frederick VI of Denmark die?

Frederick VI of Denmark died aged 71 on the 3rd of December 1839.

What did Frederick VI of Denmark do?

Frederick VI of Denmark is known to have introduced numerous liberal reforms to the Danish system.

When did Frederick VI of Denmark rule?

Frederick VI ruled from 1808 to 1839, but he was also regent for over 2 decades before that.


Now you have extensive knowledge of one of Denmark’s Royal Family from centuries ago, it is time to head to Denmark and visit the present-day Royals, some of whom are known to cycle casually around the city! Get planning your trip by booking tickets online in advance for some of Copenhagen’s best attractions.

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