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Frederick II of Denmark facts for kids

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Frederick II
1581 Frederik 2..jpg
Portrait by Hans Knieper or Melchior Lorck, 1581.
King of Denmark and Norway (more...)
Reign 1 January 1559 – 4 April 1588
Coronation 20 August 1559
Copenhagen Cathedral
Predecessor Christian III
Successor Christian IV
Born 1 July 1534
Haderslevhus Castle, Haderslev, Denmark
Died 4 April 1588(1588-04-04) (aged 53)
Antvorskov Castle, Zealand, Denmark
Burial 5 August 1588
Roskilde Cathedral, Zealand, Denmark
Elizabeth, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Anne, Queen of England and Scotland
Christian IV, King of Denmark and Norway
Ulrik, Prince-Bishop of Schwerin
Augusta, Duchess of Holstein-Gottorp
Hedwig, Electress of Saxony
John, Prince of Schleswig-Holstein
House Oldenburg
Father Christian III of Denmark
Mother Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg
Religion Lutheran

Frederick II (1 July 1534 – 4 April 1588) was King of Denmark and Norway and Duke of Schleswig and Holstein from 1559 until his death.

A member of the House of Oldenburg, Frederick began his personal rule in Denmark at the age of 24. He inherited a capable and strong kingdom, formed in large by his father after the civil war known as the Count's feud, after which Denmark saw a period of economic recovery and of a great increase in the centralised authority of the Crown.

Frederick was, especially in his youth and unlike his father, belligerent and adversarial, aroused by honor and national pride, and so he began his reign auspiciously with a campaign under the aged Johan Rantzau, which reconquered Dithmarschen. However, after miscalculating the cost of the Northern Seven Years' War, he pursued a more prudent foreign policy. The remainder of Frederick II's reign was a period of tranquillity, in which king and nobles prospered, and were Frederick instead focused more on hunting and feasting with his councillors as well as architecture and science. The period saw a great number of architectural constructions, including the royal castles of Kronborg at Elsinore and Frederikborg Castle at Hillerød.

Frederick has to a great extent been overshadowed by his popular, long-reigning son Christian IV, and often been portrayed with skepticism and resent, resulting in the prevailing portrait of Frederick as a man and as king: an unlettered, inebriated, brutish sot.

This portrayal is, however, inequitable and inaccurate, and recent studies reappraise and acknowledge him as highly intelligent; he craved the company of learned men, and in the correspondence and legislation he dictated to his secretaries he showed himself to be quick-witted and articulate. Frederick was also open and loyal, and had a knack for establishing close personal bonds with fellow princes and with those who served him.

Early years and education

Frederick was born on 1 July 1534 at Haderslevhus Castle, the son of Duke Christian of Schleswig and Holstein (later King Christian III of Denmark and Norway) and Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg, the daughter of Magnus I, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg. His mother was the sister of Catherine, the first wife of Gustav Vasa and the mother of Eric XIV, his future rival.

The Siege of Copenhagen 1535-1536 during the Count's Feud, a period of Danish instability that would shape Frederick's childhood.

At the time of Frederick's birth, a civil war of Denmark was coming to an end (just three days after Frederick's birth his father Christian became King of Denmark). The previous king, Frederick I, died on 10 April the year before, but the Danish Council of the Realm, which traditionally ruled the kingdom with the king, had not chosen a successor, and now Denmark had, for more than a year, functioned as an Aristocratic Republic. The father of the newborn Frederik, Christian, although eldest son of the late king, was not automatically King of Denmark, as the kingship in Denmark was not hereditary, but elective. Noblemen of the Council of the Realm could choose to pick another member of the royal family as king if they so decided.

Frederick I and his son Christian were staunch Protestants and adherents to the Lutheran cause, however, in the Council of the Realm, which consisted of many Catholic bishops as well as a number of powerful noblemen from the old nobility, there were a majority to support the established Catholic Church. After a period of interregnum and after subsequent risings in favour of the former King Christian II, a period known as the Count's Feud, Christian III finally became victorious, and was proclaimed King of a new Protestant Denmark.

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