Frederick I of Denmark
Frederick I of Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

and Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 (7 October 1471 – 10 April 1533) was the King of Denmark and Norway. The name is also spelled Friedrich in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Frederik in Danish
Danish language
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in the country of Denmark. It is also spoken by 50,000 Germans of Danish ethnicity in the northern parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where it holds the status of minority language...

, and Fredrik in Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

 and Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

. He was the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over Denmark, when subsequent monarchs embraced Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 after the Reformation.


Frederick was the son of the first Oldenburg King Christian I of Denmark
Christian I of Denmark
Christian I was a Danish monarch, king of Denmark , Norway and Sweden , under the Kalmar Union. In Sweden his short tenure as monarch was preceded by regents, Jöns Bengtsson Oxenstierna and Erik Axelsson Tott and succeeded by regent Kettil Karlsson Vasa...

, Norway and Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 (1426–81) and of Dorothea of Brandenburg
Dorothea of Brandenburg
Dorothea of Brandenburg was the consort of Christopher of Bavaria and Christian I of Denmark. She was queen of Denmark , Norway and Sweden two times each...

 (1430–95). The underage Frederick was elected co-Duke of Schleswig
Schleswig or South Jutland is a region covering the area about 60 km north and 70 km south of the border between Germany and Denmark; the territory has been divided between the two countries since 1920, with Northern Schleswig in Denmark and Southern Schleswig in Germany...

 and Holstein
Holstein is the region between the rivers Elbe and Eider. It is part of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state of Germany....

 in 1482, soon after the death of his father, the other co-duke being his elder brother by ten years, King John of Denmark. At Frederick's majority, in 1490, both duchies were divided between the brothers.

In 1500 he had convinced his brother and co-duke to conquer Dithmarschen
Dithmarschen is a district in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Nordfriesland, Schleswig-Flensburg, Rendsburg-Eckernförde, and Steinburg, by the state of Lower Saxony , and by the North Sea.-Geography:The district is located on the North Sea...

, and a great army was called from not only the duchies, but with additions from all of the Kalmar Union
Kalmar Union
The Kalmar Union is a historiographical term meaning a series of personal unions that united the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway , and Sweden under a single monarch, though intermittently and with a population...

 for which his brother briefly was king. In addition, numerous German mercenaries
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

 took part. The expedition failed miserably, however, in the Battle of Hemmingstedt
Battle of Hemmingstedt
The Battle of Hemmingstedt took place on February 17, 1500 south of the village of Hemmingstedt, near the present village of Epenwöhrden, in the western part of present-day Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. It was an attempt by Duke Friedrich and Duke Johann to subdue the peasantry of Dithmarschen,...

, where one third of all knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

s of Schleswig and Holstein lost their lives.


A group of Jutish nobles had offered Frederick the throne as early as 1513, when his brother, King John, died, but he had declined, rightly believing that the majority of the Danish nobility would be loyal to prince Christian.

In 1523 his nephew Christian II
Christian II of Denmark
Christian II was King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden , during the Kalmar Union.-Background:...

, the King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, was forced by disloyal nobles to abdicate, and Frederick took the throne as King Frederick I. It is not certain that Frederick ever learned to speak Danish. After becoming king, he continued spending most of his time at Gottorp
Gottorf Castle is a castle and estate in the city of Schleswig, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is the ancestral home of the Holstein-Gottorp branch of the House of Oldenburg...

, a castle and estate in the city of Schleswig
Schleswig or South Jutland is a region covering the area about 60 km north and 70 km south of the border between Germany and Denmark; the territory has been divided between the two countries since 1920, with Northern Schleswig in Denmark and Southern Schleswig in Germany...


In 1524 and 1525 Frederick had to suppress revolts among the peasants in Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

 and Scania
Scania is the southernmost of the 25 traditional non-administrative provinces of Sweden, constituting a peninsula on the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula, and some adjacent islands. The modern administrative subdivision Skåne County is almost, but not totally, congruent with the...

 who demanded the restoration of Christian II. The high point of the rebellion came in 1525 when Søren Norby, the governor (statholder) of Gotland
Gotland is a county, province, municipality and diocese of Sweden; it is Sweden's largest island and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. At 3,140 square kilometers in area, the region makes up less than one percent of Sweden's total land area...

, invaded Blekinge
' is one of the traditional provinces of Sweden , situated in the south of the country. It borders Småland, Scania and the Baltic Sea.The name "Blekinge" comes from the adjective bleke, which corresponds to the nautical term for "dead calm"....

 in an attempt to restore Christian II to power. He raised 8000 men who besieged Kärnan
Kärnan is a medieval tower in Helsingborg, Scania, in southern Sweden. It is the only part remaining of a larger Danish fortress which, along with the fortress Kronborg on the opposite of Oresund, controlled the entranceway to the Baltic Sea.-History:...

 (Helsingborgs slott), a castle in Helsingborg
Helsingborg is a city and the seat of Helsingborg Municipality, Skåne County, Sweden with 97,122 inhabitants in 2010. Helsingborg is the centre of an area in the Øresund region of about 320,000 inhabitants in north-west Scania, and is Sweden's closest point to Denmark, with the Danish city...

. Frederick's general, Johann Rantzau, moved his army to Scania
Scania is the southernmost of the 25 traditional non-administrative provinces of Sweden, constituting a peninsula on the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula, and some adjacent islands. The modern administrative subdivision Skåne County is almost, but not totally, congruent with the...

 and defeated the peasants soundly in April and May of 1525. After the Battle at Lund, rebels fled into the cathedral and Rantzau's soldiers dragged 60 men from the church and executed them on the spot. Approximately 3,000 rebels died before the uprising ended.

Frederick played a central role in the spread of Lutheran teaching throughout Denmark. In his coronation charter he was made the solemn protector (værner) of the Catholic Church in Denmark
Roman Catholicism in Denmark
The Roman Catholic Church in Denmark is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome.The number of Catholics in Denmark, a predominantly Protestant country, comprises less than 1% of the population....

. In that role, he asserted his right to select bishops for the Catholic dioceses in the country. Christian II had been intolerant of Protestant teaching, but Frederick took a more opportunist approach. For example, he ordered that Lutherans and Catholics were to share the same churches. He encouraged publication of the first Danish language Bible. When Hans Tausen
Hans Tausen
Hans Tausen , the protagonist of the Danish Reformation, was born at Birkende on Funen in 1494 and died in Ribe in 1561.- Life :...

 was threatened with arrest and trial for heresy, Frederick appointed him his personal chaplain
Traditionally, a chaplain is a minister in a specialized setting such as a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam or lay representative of a religion attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, prison, military unit, police department, university, or private chapel...

 to give him immunity in 1526. Starting in 1527, Frederick authorized the closure of Franciscan houses
A priory is a house of men or women under religious vows that is headed by a prior or prioress. Priories may be houses of mendicant friars or religious sisters , or monasteries of monks or nuns .The Benedictines and their offshoots , the Premonstratensians, and the...

 and monasteries in 28 Danish cities. In some cases, he offered small sums of money to the displaced monks. He used the popular anti-establishment feelings that ran against some persons of the Catholic hierarchy and the Catholic nobility of Denmark as well as keen propaganda to decrease the power of bishops and Catholic nobles. He was skillful enough to prevent all-out warfare between Protestants and Catholics.

In 1532 he succeeded in capturing Christian II who had tried to make a political come-back in Norway. Tensions between Catholics and Protestants rose to a fever pitch which resulted in the Count's Feud
Count's Feud
The Count's Feud , also called the Count's War, was a civil war that raged in Denmark in 1534–36 and brought about the Reformation in Denmark...

 (Grevens Fejde) upon Frederick's death. As King of Norway, Frederick is most remarkable in never having visited the country. He was never crowned King of Norway, and therefore styled himself King of Denmark, the Vends and the Goths, elected King of Norway. Frederick died on 10 April 1533 in Gottorp, at the age of 61, and was buried in Schleswig Cathedral
Schleswig Cathedral
Schleswig Cathedral , officially the Cathedral of St. Peter at Schleswig , is the main church of Schleswig and was the cathedral of the Bishop of Schleswig until the diocese was dissolved in 1624...


Family and children

In 10 April 1502 he married Anna of Brandenburg
Anna of Brandenburg
Anna of Brandenburg was a German noblewoman.Anna was the daughter of Johann Cicero, Elector of Brandenburg and Margarethe of Saxony. She was born in Berlin, Brandenburg, and died in Kiel, Holstein.- Marriage :...

 (15 years old; the daughter of his mother's half-brother; 1487–1514). The couple had two children:
  1. Christian, the future duke and king
    Christian III of Denmark
    Christian III reigned as king of Denmark and Norway. He was the eldest son of King Frederick I and Anna of Brandenburg.-Childhood:...

     (12 August 1503 – 1 January 1559)
  2. Dorothea (1 August 1504 – 11 April 1547), married 1 July 1526 to Duke Albert of Prussia.

Frederick's wife Anna died on 5 May 1514, 26 years old.

Four years later,on 9 October 1518 at Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

, Frederick married Sophie of Pomerania
Sophie of Pomerania
Sophie of Pomerania was a Queen consort of Denmark and Norway as the spouse of King Frederick I of Denmark...

 (20 years old; 1498–1568), a daughter of Duke Bogislaw "the Great"
Bogislaw X, Duke of Pomerania
Bogislaw X of Pomerania, the Great, was Duke of Pomerania from 1474 until his death in 1523.Bogislaw was born in Rügenwalde into the House of Pomerania . His father was Eric II, Duke of Pomerania-Wolgast, his mother was the duchess Sophia of Pomerania, both distant relatives of the House of...

 of Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

. Sophie and Frederick had six children:
  1. Duke Hans the Elder of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev
    John II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev
    John the Elder was the only Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev. The predicate the Elder is sometimes used to distinguish him from his nephew John the Younger, who held Sønderborg from 1564 as a partitioned-off duke...

     (28 June 1521 – 2 October 1580)
  2. Elizabeth (14 October 1524 – 15 October 1586), married:
    1. on 26 August 1543 to Duke Magnus III of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
    2. on 14 February 1556 to Duke Ulrich III of Mecklenburg-Güstrow
      Ulrich III of Mecklenburg-Güstrow
      Ulrich, Duke of Mecklenburg was Duke of Mecklenburg from 1555-56 to 1603.-Early life:Ulrich was the third son of Duke Albrecht VII and Anna of Brandenburg. Ulrich was educated in the Bavarian court. Later, he studied theology and law in Ingolstadt...

  3. Duke Adolf of Holstein-Gottorp (25 January 1526 – 1 October 1586)
  4. Anna (1527 – 4 June 1535)
  5. Dorothea (1528 – 11 November 1575), married on 27 October 1573 to Duke Christof of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.
  6. Prince-Bishop Friedrich of Hildesheim and Bishop of Schleswig (13 April 1532 – 27 October 1556).


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