Frederick I of Denmark

Frederick I
King of Denmark and Norway (more...)
Reign 1523 – 10 April 1533
Coronation 7 August 1524
Copenhagen Cathedral
Predecessor Christian II
Successor Christian III
Born (1471-10-07)7 October 1471
Died 10 April 1533(1533-04-10) (aged 61)
Gottorp castle
Burial Schleswig Cathedral
Spouse Anna of Brandenburg
Sophie of Pomerania
Issue Christian III of Denmark
Dorothea, Duchess of Prussia
John II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev
Elizabeth, Duchess of Mecklenburg
Adolf, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
Dorothea, Duchess of Mecklenburg
Frederick, Bishop of Hildesheim and Schleswig
House Oldenburg
Father Christian I of Denmark
Mother Dorothea of Brandenburg
Religion Roman Catholic

Frederick I (7 October 1471 – 10 April 1533) was the King of Denmark and Norway. His name is also spelled Friedrich in German, Frederik in Danish and Norwegian and Fredrik in Swedish. He was the penultimate Roman Catholic monarch to reign over Denmark, when subsequent monarchs embraced Lutheranism after the Protestant Reformation. As King of Norway, Frederick is most remarkable in never having visited the country and was never being crowned King of Norway. Therefore he was styled King of Denmark, the Vends and the Goths, elected King of Norway.[1][2]


Frederick was the younger son of the first Oldenburg King Christian I of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (1426–81) and of Dorothea of Brandenburg (1430–95). Soon after the death of his father, the underage Frederick was elected co-Duke of Schleswig and Holstein in 1482, the other co-duke being his elder brother, King John of Denmark. In 1490 at Frederick's majority, both duchies were divided between the brothers.[3]

In 1500 he had convinced his brother King John to conquer Dithmarschen. A great army was called from not only the duchies, but with additions from all of the Kalmar Union for which his brother briefly was king. In addition, numerous German mercenaries took part. The expedition failed miserably, however, in the Battle of Hemmingstedt, where one third of all knights of Schleswig and Holstein lost their lives. [4]


When his brother, King John died, a group of Jutish nobles had offered Frederick the throne as early as 1513, but he had declined, rightly believing that the majority of the Danish nobility would be loyal to his nephew prince Christian. In 1523 Christian II, 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, a castle and estate in the city of Schleswig. [5]

In 1524 and 1525 Frederick had to suppress revolts among the peasants in Jutland and Scania who demanded the restoration of Christian II. The high point of the rebellion came in 1525 when Søren Norby, the governor (statholder) of Gotland, invaded Blekinge in an attempt to restore Christian II to power. He raised 8000 men who besieged Kärnan (Helsingborgs slott), a castle in Helsingborg. Frederick's general, Johann Rantzau, moved his army to Scania and defeated the peasants soundly in April and May 1525.[6]

Gold coin or medal of Frederick I. Shows him together with Sophia on the obverse, and coat of arms on the reverse.

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 Roman Catholicism in Denmark. In that role, he asserted his right to select bishops for the Roman 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 Roman Catholics share the same churches and encouraged the first publication of the Holy Bible in the Danish language. In 1526, when Lutheran Reformer Hans Tausen was threatened with arrest and trial for heresy, Frederick appointed him his personal chaplain to give him immunity.[7]

Starting in 1527, Frederick authorized the closure of Franciscan houses and monasteries in 28 Danish cities. He used the popular anti-establishment feelings that ran against some persons of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and nobility of Denmark as well as keen propaganda to decrease the power of bishops and Roman Catholic nobles.[8]

During his reign, Frederick was skillful enough to prevent all-out warfare between Protestants and Roman Catholics. In 1532 he succeeded in capturing Christian II who had tried to make a political come-back in Norway. Frederick died on 10 April 1533 in Gottorp, at the age of 61, and was buried in Schleswig Cathedral. Upon Frederick's death, tensions between Roman Catholics and Protestants rose to a fever pitch which would result in the Count's Feud (Grevens Fejde).[9]

Family and children

On 10 April 1502 he married Anna of Brandenburg (1487–1514). The couple had two children:

  1. Christian III of Denmark (12 August 1503 – 1 January 1559)[10]
  2. Dorothea of Denmark (1 August 1504 – 11 April 1547),[11] 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, Frederick married Sophie of Pomerania (20 years old; 1498–1568), a daughter of Duke Bogislaw "the Great" of Pomerania. Sophie and Frederick had six children:

  1. Duke Hans the Elder of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev (28 June 1521 – 2 October 1580)[12]
  2. Elizabeth of Denmark, Duchess of Mecklenburg (14 October 1524 – 15 October 1586),[13] 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
  3. Duke Adolf of Holstein-Gottorp (25 January 1526 – 1 October 1586)[14]
  4. Anna (1527 – 4 June 1535)
  5. Dorothea (1528 – 11 November 1575),[15] 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).



  1. Frederik 1 (in Danish), DK: Gravsted.
  2. Frederik 1 – utdypning (Store norske leksikon)
  3. "Frederik I, Konge i Danmark og Norge", Salmonsens konversationsleksikon (in Danish), Runeberg.
  4. "Ditmarsken (Dithmarschen, »de tyske Marsklande«)". Salmonsens konversationsleksikon. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  5. "Kong Hans". Diplomatarium Norvegicum. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  6. "Frederik I, 1471–1533", Konge (Dansk biografisk Lexikon), Runeberg.
  7. "Hans Tausen". Den Store Danske. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  8. Krønike om Gråbrødrenes Udjagelse (in Danish).
  9. "Grevens Fejde". Salmonsens konversationsleksikon. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  10. "Christian 3". Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  11. "Dorothea, Hertuginde af Preussen, 1504-47". Dansk biografisk Lexikon. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  12. "Hertug Hans den ældre i Haderslev" (PDF). Historisk Tidsskrift. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  13. "Elisabeth, 1524-86, Hertuginde af Meklenborg". Dansk biografisk Lexikon. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  14. "Adolf I. (Herzog von Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf)". Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
  15. "Dorothea, Hertuginde af Meklenborg, 1528-75". Dansk biografisk Lexikon. Retrieved August 15, 2016.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Frederick I of Denmark.
Frederick I
Born: 7 October 1471 Died: 10 April 1533
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Christian II
King of Denmark
Succeeded by
Christian III
King of Norway
Preceded by
Christian I
Duke of Holstein and Schleswig
with John I (1490-1513)
Christian II (1513-1523)
Christian III (1523-1533)
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