Christian V of Denmark

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Christian V (15 April 1646 – August 25, 1699), was king of Denmark and Norway from 1670 to 1699. The son of Frederick III of Denmark and Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He married Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) on 14 May 1667 at Nykøbing, and ascended the throne on 9 February 1670.

Contents

Reign

It is generally argued that Christian V's personal courage and affability made him popular among the common people, but his image was marred by his unsuccessful attempt to regain Scania for Denmark in the Scanian War. The war exhausted Denmark's economic resources without creating any gains.[1]

Part of his appeal to the common people may be explained by the fact that he allowed Danish commoners into state service, but his attempts to curtail the influence of the nobility also meant continuing his father's drive toward absolutism.[1][2] To accommodate non-aristocrats into state service, he created the new noble ranks of count and baron. One of the commoners elevated in this way by the King was Peder Schumacher, named Count Griffenfeld by Christian V in 1670 and high councillor of Denmark in 1674.[1]

Griffenfeldt, a skilled statesman, better understood the precarious situation Denmark placed itself in by attacking Sweden at a time when the country was allied with France, the major European power of the era. As Griffenfeldt had predicted, Sweden's stronger ally France was the party that dictated the peace with Denmark's ally Holland, and in spite of Danish victory at sea in the battles against Sweden in 1675–1679 during the Scanian War, Danish hopes for border changes on the Scandinavian Peninsula between the two countries were dashed. The results of the war efforts proved politically and financially unremunerative for Denmark. The damage to the Danish economy was extensive. At this point, Christian V no longer had his most experienced foreign relations counsel around to repair the political damage - in 1676 he had been persuaded to sacrifice Griffenfeldt as a traitor, and to the clamour of his adversaries, Griffenfeldt was imprisoned for the remainder of his life.[3]

Christian V introduced Danske Lov (Danish Code) 1683 which was the first law code for all of Denmark.[4] It was succeeded by the similar Norske Lov (Norwegian Code) of 1687. He also introduced the land register of 1688, which attempted to work out the land value of the united monarchy in order to create a more just taxation. During his reign, science had a golden age due to the work of the astronomer Ole Rømer, in spite of the king’s personal lack of scientific knowledge and interest.

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