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Christian I of Denmark: Wikis


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Christian I
King of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Wends and the Goths, Duke of Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn and Dithmarschen, Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst [1]
King of Norway
Reign 1450 – 21 May 1481
Coronation 2 August 1450, Trondheim
Predecessor Charles I
Successor Hans
King of Denmark
Reign 28 September 1448 – 21 May 1481
Coronation October 1449, Copenhagen
Predecessor Christopher of Bavaria
Successor Hans
King of Sweden
Reign 1457–1464
Predecessor Charles VIII
Successor Charles VIII
Spouse Dorothea of Brandenburg
Margaret, Queen of Scots
Frederick I
Father Dietrich of Oldenburg
Mother Helvig of Schauenburg
Born February 1426
Died 21 May 1481
Copenhagen Castle
Burial Roskilde Cathedral

Christian I (1426–1481), Danish monarch and union king of Denmark (1448–1481), Norway (1450–1481) and Sweden (1457–1464), 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. Also Duke of Schleswig and Holstein 1460–81.



He was born in February 1426 in Oldenburg. His father was Count Dietrich of Oldenburg (died 1440) whom he succeeded as Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst. His mother was his father's second wife, Hedwig of Schleswig and Holstein (Helvig of Schauenburg) (died 1436). Christian had two brothers, Count Moritz V of Delmenhorst (1428–1464) and Count Gerhard VI of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst (1430–1500), and one sister Adelheid.

Christian married Dorothea of Brandenburg (1430 – 25 November 1495), the widow of his predecessor King Christopher (of Bavaria) and thus dowager queen, on 28 October 1449 in Copenhagen. Dorothea and Christian had five children:

  1. Olaf (29 September 1450–1451)
  2. Knud (1451–1455)
  3. Hans (1455–1513), King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, Duke of Schleswig and Holstein
  4. Margarete of Denmark (1456–1486), 13 years old married to the 17 years old King James III of Scotland
  5. Frederick (1471–1533), Duke of Schleswig and Holstein, in Gottorp, later also King of Denmark and Norway

King of Denmark

King Christopher of Denmark, Sweden and Norway died in January 1448. His death resulted in the break-up of the union of the three kingdoms, as Denmark and Sweden went their separate ways. On 1 September 1448, count Christian of Oldenburg was elected to the vacant Danish throne, as king Christian I. He was a cognatic descendant of King Eric V of Denmark. The throne was first offered by the Statsraad to the most prominent feudal lord of Danish dominions, Duke Adolf VIII of Schleswig-Holstein, but (being relatively old and childless) he declined and recommended his nephew.

King of Sweden and Norway

Meanwhile, Sweden had on 20 June 1448 elected Charles Knutsson as king. Norway was now faced with the choice between a union with Sweden or Denmark, or electing a separate king. The latter option was quickly discarded, and a power-struggle ensued between the supporters of Christian of Denmark and Charles of Sweden. The Norwegian Council of the Realm was divided. In February 1449, a part of the Council declared in favour of Charles as king, but on 15 June the same year, a different group of councellors paid homage to Christian. On 20 November, Charles was crowned king of Norway in Trondheim. However, the Swedish nobility now took steps to avoid war with Denmark. In June 1450, the Swedish Council of the Realm forced Charles to renounce his claim on Norway to king Christian. The question of the Norwegian succession had thereby been decided between Denmark and Sweden, and the Norwegian Council was left with only one candidate for the throne. In the summer of 1450, Christian sailed to Norway with a large fleet, and on 2 August he was crowned king of Norway in Trondheim. On 29 August, a union treaty between Denmark and Norway was signed in Bergen. Norway had of old been a hereditary kingdom, but this had become less and less a reality, as at the last royal successions, hereditary claims had been bypassed for political reasons. It was now explicitly stated that Norway, as well as Denmark, was an elected kingdom. The treaty stipulated that Denmark and Norway should have the same king in perpetuity, and that he would be elected among the legitimate sons of the previous king, if such existed.

Charles Knutsson became increasingly unpopular as king of Sweden, and was driven into exile in 1457. Christian achieved his aim of being elected as king of Sweden, thus re-establishing the Kalmar Union. He received the power from temporary Swedish regents archbishop Jöns Bengtsson Oxenstierna and lord Erik Axelsson Tott. However, Sweden being volatile and split by factions (benefits of union being against nationalistic benefits), his reign there ended in 1464 when bishop Kettil Karlsson Vasa was installed as the next regent. Charles Knutsson was recalled as King of Sweden, although he was later exiled a second time, recalled again and died during his third term as king. Christian's final attempt at regaining Sweden ended in a total military failure at Brunkeberg (outside Stockholm) October 1471 where he was defeated by the Swedish regent Sten Sture the Elder who was supported by the Danish-Swedish nobleman's clan the Thott family. Christian maintained his claim to the Swedish kingdom up to his death in 1481.

Medal of Christian I of Denmark, made during his journey through Italy.

Duke & Count

In 1460 King Christian also became Duke of Schleswig and Count of Holstein (in 1474 Holstein was elevated to a Duchy by the Holy Roman Emperor). Christian inherited Schleswig-Holstein after a short "interregnum" as the eldest son of the sister of late Duke Adolf VIII, Duke of Schleswig (Southern Jutland) and Count of Holstein, of the Schauenburg fürst clan, who died 4 December 1459, without children. There would have been several genealogically senior claimants of Holstein, but Christian was nephew of the incumbent, the closest relative to that very branch which had lived longest and acquired most fiefs. Christian's succession was confirmed by the Estates (nobility and representatives) of these provinces in Ribe 5 March 1460.

Later Reign and Death

Christian's personal territory was at its largest in 1460–64, before the loss of Sweden. However, many parts of his realm wanted to govern themselves locally, and there were constant struggles. Denmark was his most important center of power.

King Christian died in Copenhagen on 21 May 1481, at the age of 55. He is interred at Roskilde Cathedral.

On pedigree

The dynasty he founded, the House of Oldenburg, has remained on the throne of Denmark until today (2009),[2] and was on the throne of Norway until 1814. Through his fourth and fifth children respectively, he was an ancestor to James VI, of Scotland and England, and his wife, Anne of Denmark. He is therefore an ancestor to the present-day British royal family, including Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Through his eldest surviving son, he is ancestor of Dukes of Lorraine (later Emperors of Austria) and also of Electors of Brandenburg-Prussia. Through his youngest son, he is ancestor of kings of Denmark, Greece, Norway, some kings of Sweden, as well as Tsars of Russia.

Through his great-great grandmother on his mothers side, Sofie of Mecklenburg-Werle, Christian I is related to, going 8 generations back, to Valdemar The Great and Matilda, daughter of King Henry II, great-grandson of William the Conqueror (12 generations back). Through Matilda, daughter of Henry II, Christian I is related to the ancient House of Wessex and King Alfred. For Henry I, Matilda's great-grandmother, was married to Editha, who was the a member of the ancient Wessex kings, through Saint Margaret of Scotland, who was also the granddaughter of Alfred, King of Wessex, 8 generations back. Christian's mother Hedwig of Schauenburg was a descendant, and in her issue the heiress-general, of Ingeborg of Mecklenburg (Countess consort of Holstein and Schauenburg), a daughter of Euphemia of Sweden (Duchess Consort of Mecklenburg), herself the only daughter of Ingeborg of Norway, Duchess Consort of Södermanland, who was the only legitimate daughter and sole surviving child of Haakon V of Norway and Euphemia of Rugen. Euphemia of Sweden herself was the sister of King Magnus IV of Sweden and Norway (King Magnus Eriksson) and daughter of Duke Eric of Södermanland, the second son of Magnus III of Sweden (King Magnus Ladislaus Birgersson). In addition to the families of Holstein, Lauenburg, Wolgast, and Mecklenburg, Christian of Oldenburg was one of the few surviving descendants of ancient Norwegian and Swedish kings.



Christian I
Born: February 1426 Died: 21 May 1481
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Christopher of Bavaria
King of Denmark
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Karl Knutsson
King of Norway
Title next held by
Preceded by
Jöns Bengtsson Oxenstierna
and Erik Axelsson Tott
as Regents of Sweden
King of Sweden
Succeeded by
Kettil Karlsson (Vasa)
as Regent of Sweden
Preceded by
Adolf VIII
Duke of Schleswig and Holstein
Succeeded by
Frederick I


  1. ^ Diplomatarium Norvegicum
  2. ^ Burke's Royal Families of the World ISBN 0 85011 023 8 p 60


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