Anne Sophie Reventlow

Anne Sophie Reventlow

Anne-Sophie, as queen, with the monogram of Frederick IV embroidered on her dress c. 1721.
Queen consort of Denmark and Norway
Tenure 4 April 1721 – 12 October 1730
Born 16 April 1693
Clausholm Castle
Died January 7, 1743(1743-01-07) (aged 49)
Burial Roskilde Cathedral
Spouse Frederick IV of Denmark and Norway
Issue Fredericka Sophie Reventlow
Fredericka Conradine Reventlow
Stillborn child
Princess Christiana Amalia
Prince Frederik Christian
Prince Charles
House Reventlow
Father Conrad, Count Reventlow
Mother Sophie Amalie Hahn
Religion Lutheranism

Anne Sophie Reventlow (Danish: Anna Sophie; 16 April 1693 – 7 January 1743) was Queen of Denmark and Norway from 1721 to 1730 as the second wife of Frederick IV of Denmark and Norway.

Early life

She was born a komtesse (countess) as the daughter of Conrad, Count Reventlow of Clausholm, who served Frederick IV as Grand Chancellor from 1699 until his death in 1708. About Anna Sophie's childhood nothing is known apart from the fact that her upbringing was educationally inadequate: Answered letters show that she made clumsy use of Danish, French and German. She was described as beautiful and lively, with "black, fiery eyes."

Pastel portrait of Anne Sophie in her youth.

Spouse by bigamy

In 1711 the King encountered Anne Sophie at a masquerade ball in Koldinghus, where the royal family resided that season. He wanted her to become his mistress, which her mother refused to allow. The king abducted her on 26 June 1712 from her parent's estate, Clausholm, with the apparent support of her half-sister Christine Sophie and her husband Count Ulrik Adolph Holstein of Holsteinborg (1664-1737). That same year the King took her to Skanderborg castle, where they were married morganatically in a wedding ceremony conducted by Thomas Clausen.

The king installed Reventlow in a house on Bag Børsen (present day Slotsholmsgade 8), close to Christiansborg Palace, in Copenhagen.[1] The King's consort was still alive. However, he had committed bigamy once before, with Elisabeth Helene von Vieregg. The church authorities had not forbidden the king to engage in polygamy, as there were doctrines based on the biblical polygamy of Hebrew patriarchs. She was made Duchess of Schleswig. In 1713, she was given Vallø as a fief. Her mother, however, demonstrated her dislike by not appearing at court until 1718. [2]


On 4 April 1721, soon after the death of Queen Louise, Frederick IV married Anne Sophie a second time. This time, the wedding was formal and conducted with grand ceremony. Nor was this marriage declared morganatic, although it was regarded as scandalous by the Danish nobility and foreign courts alike, marriages of rulers to subjects having come to be regarded as unequal.

The King had Anne Sophie crowned as queen at a hastily improvised ceremony at Frederiksberg Castle in May 1721. Afterwards, she presided at the King's entry into the capital. She was Denmark's first non-royal queen consort since Ulvhild Håkansdotter nearly 600 years earlier. Anne Sophie gave birth to six children, three born before the official marriage (so they used the surname Reventlow) and three born after the official marriage (who were styled as Princes of Denmark), but none of them survived infancy; this was seen by members of the clergy and nobility as divine punishment for the bigamy.[3]

Crown Prince Christian, who had been close to his mother, detested Anne Sophie. Her brother-in-law, Prince Charles, and sister-in-law, Princess Sophia Hedwig, withdrew from the court in Copenhagen to Vemmetofte in protest, although her stepdaughter Charlotte Amalie showed her kindness.[4] In 1725, the King made a will in which he ensured the rights of Anne Sophie after his death and made his son sign it.[5]

Queen Anne Sophie's relatives, members of the Reventlow and Holstein families — popularly known as the "Reventlow Gang" — were placed in high positions.[6] Her sister, the salonist Countess Christine Sophie Holstein, called "Madame Chancellor", exerted influence over affairs of state.[7] Anne was blamed for the nepotism, but it is not known whether she actually exercised political influence, or if it was the King who wished to consolidate her role at court by appointing those loyal to her to powerful positions.[8]

Her recommendation was important for anyone who sought the King's favour.[9] In 1725, rumors pointing out the queen for handing out offices lead to an investigation by the king which resulted in several office holders, notable her brother-in-law, being exiled from court.[10] Her personal guilt is uncertain, since Anne Sophie herself was not given any punishment and the documents of the investigation was destroyed.[11] Due to the generosity of her donations to widows and the poor, she came to be called "The Protector of the Poor".[12]


Anne Sophie Reventlow and King Frederick IV had six children:

Exiled widowhood

After Frederick IV's death in 1730, she 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".[16] 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.[17]



  1. "Ministeriebygningerne i Slotsholmsgade" (in Danish). Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  2. Dansk Biografisk Leksikon
  3. "Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon - Anna Sophie"
  4. "Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon"
  5. "Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon - Anna Sophie"
  6. "Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon"
  7. "Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon"
  8. "Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon - Anna Sophie"
  9. "Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon - Anna Sophie"
  10. Dansk Biografisk Leksikon
  11. Dansk Biografisk Leksikon
  12. "Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon - Anna Sophie"
  13. 1 2 "Reventlow Hertuginde af Slesvig" (in Danish). Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 "Kong Frederik 4 og Anna Sophie Reventlow" (in Danish). Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  15. "Anna Sophie Reventlow - Dronning af Danmark" (in Danish). Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  16. "Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon - Anna Sophie"
  17. Hvidt, Marie (2004). Frederik IV (in Danish). Copenhagen: G.E.C. Gads Forlag. p. 291.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anne Sophie Reventlow.


Danish royalty
Preceded by
Louise of Mecklenburg-Güstrow
Queen consort of Denmark and Norway
Succeeded by
Sophia Magdalene of Brandenburg-Kulmbach
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