Christian I of Denmark

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Christian I
Christian I of Denmark (14261481), Danish monarch and union king of Denmark (14481481), Norway (14501481) and Sweden (14571464), under the Kalmar Union. In Sweden his short tenure as monarch was preceded by viceroys (Regents), Jöns Bengtsson Oxenstierna and Erik Axelsson Tott and succeeded by viceroy (regent) Kettil Karlsson Vasa. Also Duke of Schleswig and Holstein 1460-81.

He was born in February 1426 in Oldenburg. His father was Count Dietrich of Oldenburg (died 1444) whom he succeeded as Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst. His mother was his father's second wife, Hedwig of Schleswig and Holstein (Helvig of Schauenburg) (died 1436). Christian had two brothers, Count Moritz V of Delmenhorst (1428 - 1464) and Count Gerhard VI of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst (1430 - 1500), and one sister Adelheid.

1448 Christian was elected to the vacant Danish throne, as a cognatic descendant of King Eric V of Denmark. The throne was firstly offered by the Statsraad to the most prominent feudal lord of Danish dominions, i.e Duke Adolf VIII of Schleswig-Holstein, but (relatively old and childless) he declined and recommended his nephew.

Christian I

From September 28, 1448
to May 21, 1481 in Denmark

From 1450
to May 21, 1481 in Norway

1457 - 1464 in Sweden

Coronation1449 in Denmark

1457 in Sweden

Royal HouseOldenburg
ConsortsDorothea of Brandenburg
PredecessorsChristopher of Bavaria in Denmark

Carl I in Norway

Regents Jöns Bengtsson Oxenstierna
and Erik Axelsson Tott in Sweden

SuccessorsJohn in Denmark and Norway

Regent Kettil Karlsson Vasa in Sweden

Date of Birth1426
Place of BirthOldenburg
Date of DeathMay 21, 1481
Place of DeathCopenhagen, Denmark

Christian soon also married Dorothea of Brandenburg (1430 - November 25 1495), the widow of his predecessor King Christopher (of Bavaria) and thus dowager queen, on October 28 1449 in Copenhagen. Dorothea and Christian had five children:

  1. Olaf (1450-1451)
  2. Knud (1451-1455)
  3. John (Kong Hans) (1455 - 1513), Duke of Schleswig and Holstein, King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden
  4. Margarete of Denmark (1456-1486), 13 years old married to the 17 years old King James III of Scotland
  5. Frederick (1471-1533), Duke of Schleswig and Holstein, in Gottorp, later also King of Denmark and Norway

After an intervening brief reign of another, in 1450 Christian was recognized also to succeed to the hereditary throne of Norway, as a cognatic descendant of King Haakon V of Norway. The throne had originally been left vacant at the death of Christian's predecessor in Denmark, king Christopher of Norway, and was briefly occupied in 1449 by the Swedish rival (who was not of blood of Norwegian kings), Charles Knutsson (Charles I of Norway) who however became deposed in Norway in 1450. (At the time, Norway was the only Scandinavian kingdom which was hereditary. However, beginning from the 14th century, it had become so weak that its hereditary succession tended to follow the monarch-elections in Denmark and Sweden.) Christian's mother Hedwig of Schauenburg (countess consort of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst) was a descendant, and in her issue the heiress-general, of Ingeborg of Mecklenburg (Countess consort of Holstein and Schauenburg), a daughter of Euphemia of Sweden and Norway (Duchess Albert of Mecklenburg), herself the only daughter of Ingeborg of Norway, Duchess Consort of Sudermannia, who was the only daughter and sole surviving child of Haakon V of Norway and Euphemia of Rugen.

His rival Charles Knutsson having as king of Sweden aroused certain antipathy and driven to exile, Christian finally was, under the idea of Kalmar Union, elected King of Sweden in 1457, receiving power from temporary Swedish regents archbishop Jöns Bengtsson Oxenstierna and lord Erik Axelsson Tott. However, Sweden being volatile and drawn asunder by factions (benefits of union being against nationalistic benefits), his reign there ended already in 1464 when bishop Kettil Karlsson Vasa was installed as the next regent. Sweden soon recalled Charles Knutsson to return to the kingship (but he was later exiled second time, then recalled and died during his third time as king). Until his death 1481, Christian demanded his Swedish kingdom to subjugate again under him.

(Christian's mother Hedwig of Schauenburg was a descendant, and in her issue the heiress-general, of Ingeborg of Mecklenburg, a daughter of Euphemia of Sweden (Duchess consort of Mecklenburg), and thus sister of King Albrecht of Sweden (Albert of Mecklenburg). Euphemia of Sweden herself was the sister of King Magnus II of Sweden (King Magnus Eriksson) and daughter of Duke Eric of Sudermannia, the second son of Magnus I of Sweden (King Magnus Ladislaus Birgersson). In addition to the families of Holstein, Lauenburg, Wolgast, and Mecklenburg, Christian of Oldenburg was one of the few surviving descendants of ancient Swedish kings.

In 1460 King Christian also became Duke of Schleswig and Count of Holstein (during his tenure, Holstein was 1474 elevated a Duchy by the Holy Roman Emperor). Christian inherited Schleswig-Holstein after a short "interregnum" as the eldest son of the sister of late Duke Adolf VIII, Duke of Schleswig (Southern Jutland) and Count of Holstein, of the Schauenburg fürst clan, who died 4 December 1459, without children. There would have been several genealogically senior claimants of Holstein, but Christian was nephew of the incumbent, the closest relative to that very branch which had lived longest and acquired most fiefs. Christian's succession was confirmed by the Estates (nobility and representatives) of these provinces in Ribe 5 March 1460.

Christian's personal territory was at its largest in 1460-64, before the loss of Sweden. However, many parts of his realm wanted to govern themselves locally, and there were constant struggles. Denmark was his most important center of power, and the hereditary Kingdom of Norway produced his heirs a bulwark which made other, elective monarchies to choose them, in order to preserve the union.

King Christian died in Copenhagen on May 21, 1481, at the age of 55. Through his fourth and fifth children respectively, he was an ancestor to James VI, of Scotland and England, and his wife, Anne of Denmark. He is therefore an ancestor to the present-day British royal family, including Elizabeth II, Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Through his eldest surviving son, he is ancestor of Dukes of Lorraine (later Emperors of Austria) and also of Electors of Brandenburg-Prussia. Through his youngest son, he is ancestor of kings of Denmark, Greece, Norway, some kings of Sweden, as well as Tsars of Russia.

Preceded by:
Christopher III
King of Denmark Succeeded by:
Carl I King of Norway

Jöns Oxenstierna and Erik Tott

King of Sweden Charles VIII
da:Christian 1.

de:Christian I. (Dänemark) fr:Christian I de Danemark nl:Christiaan I van Denemarken no:Christian I pl:Chrystian I Oldenburg sv:Kristian I fi:Kristian I


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