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Danish Monarchs 1448-1947

The direct lines of the ancient Danish dynasty became extinct with the death of Christoffer III in 1448. Duke Christian of Oldenborg was elected as his successor and became King of Denmark the same year under the name of Christian I. He belonged to one of the collateral branches of the original dynasty and founded the Royal House of Oldenborg, which reigned until 1863, when the last man on the throne from this family, Frederik VII, died without issue.

In accordance with the Act of Succession of 1853, the throne therefore went to his relative, Prince Christian of Glücksborg, who was descended in direct male line from the royal house. After the death of Frederik VII, he became King under the name of Christian IX, thus founding the current House of Glücksborg on the Danish throne.

Christian IXChristian IX was nicknamed ‘the father-in-law of Europe’, because his daughter Alexandra married Edward VII of England, his daughter Dagmar married Alexander III of Russia and yet another daughter, Thyra, married Duke Ernst August of Cumberland. In 1863, his son Vilhelm became King of the Hellenes under the name of George I, and in 1905 his grandson Carl became King of Norway under the name of Haakon VII. The Danish royal house was thus directly related to many of Europe’s reigning princely houses.

Christian IX’s son, Frederik VIII, was 63 years old when he finally succeeded to the throne in 1906. When he died in 1912, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Christian X, who reigned over Denmark through both World Wars.

He is remembered as the equestrian king for his ride across the old border into the recovered land after the reunion of North Schleswig with Denmark in 1920 and for his popular rides through the streets of Copenhagen in the first years of the German occupation of Denmark in 1940-1945, which made him a symbol of national unity.


Knud J. V. Jespersen, Professor, dr. phil.