Johann Friedrich Struensee

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Count Johann Friedrich Struensee (5 August 1737 - 28 April 1772) was a German doctor. He became royal physician to the schizophrenic King Christian VII of Denmark and a minister in the Danish government. He rose in power to a position of “de factoregent of the country, where he tried to carry out widespread reforms. His affair with Queen Caroline Matilda (“Caroline Mathilde”) caused scandal, especially after the birth of a daughter, Princess Louise Augusta, and was the catalyst for the intrigues and power play that caused his downfall and dramatic death. He died unmarried.


Upbringing and early career

Born at Halle an der Saale and baptized at Kirche St. Moritz on 7 August 1737, Struensee was the third child of six born to Pietist theologian and minister Adam Struensee (baptized in Neuruppin on 8 September 1708 - Rendsburg, 20 June 1791), Pfarrer ("curate") in Halle an der Saale in 1732, "Dr. theol. (h. c.) von Halle" ("Doctor of Theology from the University of Halle) in 1757, pastor in Altona between 1757 and 1760, "Kgl. Generalsuperintendant von Schleswig und Holstein" ("Royal general superintendent of Schleswig and Holstein") between 1760 and 1791, and his wife (m. Berleburg, 8 May 1732) Maria Dorothea Carl (Berleburg, 31 July 1716 - Schleswig, 31 December 1792), a respectable middle-class family that believed in religious tolerance. Three of the Struensee sons went to University, but none became theologians like their father; two of the daughters married ministers.

Johann Friedrich entered the University of Halle on August 5, 1752 at the age of fifteen where he studied Medicine, and graduated as a Doctor in Medicine ("Dr. Med.") on 12 December 1757. The university exposed him to Age of Enlightenment ideals, and social and political critique and reform. He supported these new ideas, becoming a proponent of atheism, the writings of Claude Adrien Helvétius, and other French materialists.[1]

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