Information about King Christian II of Denmark

King Christian II of Denmark (1 July 1481 - 25 January 1559)

Christian II was a Scandinavian monarch under the Kalmar Union. He reigned as King of Denmark and Norway from 1513 until 1523 and of Sweden from 1520 until 1521. From 1513 to 1523, he was concurrently Duke of Schleswig and Holstein in joint rule with his uncle Frederick.

Christian was the oldest son of King John and belonged to the House of Oldenburg. Denmark was then an elective monarchy in which the nobility elected the new king (from among the sons or close male relatives of the previous monarch), who had to share his power with them. He came into conflict with the Danish nobility when he was forced to sign a charter, more strict than any previous, to ensure his access to the throne. Through domestic reforms he later sought to set it aside. Internationally, he tried to maintain the Kalmar Union between the Scandinavian countries which brought him to war with Sweden, lasting between 1518 and 1523. Though he captured the country in 1520, his slaughter of leading Swedish nobility afterwards (known as the Stockholm Bloodbath) made him despised and after a short reign in Sweden, where to this day he is known as Christian the Tyrant (Kristian Tyrann), he was deposed in a rebellion led by the nobleman Gustav Vasa. His problems grew as he tried to limit the influence of foreign trading nations in Denmark. His reign in Denmark and Norway was cut short in 1523 when his uncle deposed him and took the thrones as Frederick I.

Christian was then exiled to the Netherlands, then ruled by his brother-in-law, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. After attempting to reclaim the thrones in 1531, he was arrested and held in captivity for the rest of his life first in Sønderborg Castle and afterwards at Kalundborg Castle. Supporters tried to restore him to power both during his exile and his imprisonment but they were defeated definitively in 1536.[citation needed]

In 1515, he married Isabella of Austria, granddaughter of the Holy Roman Emperor. However, he is most known for his relation with Dyveke Sigbritsdatter, a commonner of Dutch ancestry who became his mistress before his marriage and whose mother became his closest advisor. When Dyveke suddenly died in 1517, Christian had the nobleman Torben Oxe executed, on dubious ground, for having poisoned her. Dyveke’s mother would follow Christian in exile but his in-laws forced him to break their friendship. As a captive, he was treated well and as he grew older he was gradually given more freedom. He died aged 77, outliving not only his uncle but also his cousin, King Christian III. He was intelligent but irresolute (he could not decide between Protestantism and Catholicism for instance), which is also part of his legacy in fiction literature.

His wife was offered to return to Denmark while in exile but declined and died in 1526, after which her family took Christian's children from him. Christian tried to have his son John recognized as heir to the throne;[citation needed] however, this was denied and John died only a year later. His daughters, Dorothea and Christina, the only of his children to survive childhood, also made claims to the throne on behalf of themselves or their children but likewise in vain.

King Christian II of Denmark reigned in...
Reigned asIn CountryFromToCoins Issued
Christian 2. (King Christian II) Flag of Denmark Denmark 22 July 1513 20 January 1523
King Christian II Flag of Norway Norway 22 July 1513 20 January 1523
Kristian II (King Christian II) Flag of Sweden Sweden 1 November 1520 23 August 1523
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