Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg

Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg

Portrait by Jakob Binck
Queen consort of Denmark and Norway
Tenure 1534–1559
Coronation 12 August 1537
Copenhagen Cathedral
Born (1511-07-09)9 July 1511
Lauenburg Castle, Germany
Died 7 October 1571(1571-10-07) (aged 60)
Sønderborg Castle, Sønderborg, Denmark
Burial Roskilde Cathedral
Spouse Christian III of Denmark
Issue Anne, Electress of Saxony
Frederick II
Magnus, King of Livonia
John II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg
Dorothea, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg
House House of Ascania
Father Magnus I of Saxe-Lauenburg
Mother Catherine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
Religion Lutheranism

Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg (9 July 1511 – 7 October 1571), consort of Christian III from 1525 and Queen consort of Denmark and Norway. She was daughter of Duke Magnus I of Saxe-Lauenburg and Catherine, daughter of Henry IV, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Her sister Catherine was the first consort of Gustav I of Sweden.


Dorothea was raised in one of the first states in Germany were the reformation was proclaimed, and was affected from Lutheranism early in life. She was married to Christian on 29 October 1525 at Lauenburg Castle. They lived at their own courts in Haderslev and Törning. She became queen in 1533, though due to the Civil War (Count's Feud) that immediately followed her husband's accession to the throne, her coronation did not take place until 1537. In 1548, she accompanied her daughter Anna to her wedding in Saxony.

Queen Dorothea was interested in politics, and although it is unclear exactly how much influence she had, she is thought to have participated in appointing and dismissing officials. She was, however, prevented from taking a formal seat in the council. She never learned to speak Danish. Her control over her ladies-in-waiting was strict. In 1540, Birgitte Gøye was freed from her engagement with her assistance, which led to a law banning arranged engagements of minors. She was widowed in 1559.

As a widow, she lived in Kolding, and she visited her children in Germany regularly once a year. She exerted a stern discipline over her children even after they had become adults, and her acts as a guardian to them were described as strict and intense. She often protected the younger children from their reigning brother, and favoured her younger son. She is thought to have been behind the fact that her oldest son married late in his reign. She opposed the match between the king and Anne of Hardenberg.

Queen dowager Dorothea fell in love with her brother-in-law and neighbor, Duke John II of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev (1521–1580), during her marriage, and wished to marry him after her husband's death, in 1559. This was opposed by her son and by various theologists and ultimately prevented, but she worked hard to accomplish it. This began the breakdown of her relationship with her son, King Frederick, which had never been particularly close. Her relationship to her reigning son grew worse during the war of 1563–70, in which she disagreed, and when the King discovered, in 1567, that she had issued negotiations to arrange a marriage between her son Magnus, and a Princess Sophia of Sweden. This last made the king regard her almost a traitor, and he exiled her to Sønderborg Castle, where she spent the remainder of her life.


Christian and Dorothea had the following children:

Queen Dorothea is interred next to her husband in Roskilde Cathedral near Copenhagen.


Descent from Canute IV of Denmark

She was a direct descendant of Canute IV of Denmark and brought the line of his daughter Cæcilia Knudsdatter back into the Danish royal line.

  1. Canute IV of Denmark
  2. Cæcilia Knudsdatter
  3. Inger Eriksdatter
  4. Esbern Snare (Hvide)
  5. Ingeborg Esbernsdatter (Hvide)
  6. Ingeborg Pedersdatter
  7. Albert III, Count of Gleichen
  8. Christine of Gleichen
  9. Heinrich X, Count of Schwarzburg-Blankenburg
  10. Günther XXV, Count of Schwarzburg-Blankenburg in Sondershausen
  11. Günther XXIX, Count of Schwarzburg-Blankenburg
  12. Heinrich XXIV, Count of Schwarzburg-Blankenburg
  13. Anna of Schwarzburg-Blankenburg
  14. Elisabeth of Stolberg-Wernigerode
  15. Henry IV, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
  16. Catherine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
  17. Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg.
Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg
Born: 9 July 1511 Died: 7 October 1571
Royal titles
Preceded by
Sophie of Pomerania
Queen consort of Denmark
Queen consort of Norway

Succeeded by
Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow
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