King Christian IV


Grand buildings and broken dreams

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Christian IV (1577-1648) is probably the best known king in Danish history in part because he left behind a trail of spectacular buildings that include Frederiksborg Castle, Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange and the Round Tower. He also founded districts and towns like Christianshavn and Fredericia. Unfortunately, the final decades of his reign were marred by military defeat and economic ruin, and, as a consequence, the loss of Denmark’s status as a regional power.

Christian IV was an ambitious king. He dreamt of elevating Denmark to a regional power that would play a leading role in international affairs. When Christian was crowned in 1596 at the age of 19, he assumed the throne of a healthy and wealthy kingdom and lost no time setting about realising his dreams. Outside Hillerød, he built Frederiksborg Castle, a regal residence decorated by some of the most important European artisans of the day, and designed to compare with castles in other kingdoms.
Frederiksborg was also an estate, and the king the country’s largest landlord. But the money he earned from agriculture wasn’t enough to cover the kingdom’s expenses, and Christian tried his hand at turning Denmark into a trading nation. The fantastic fountain of Neptune in Frederiksborg’s outer courtyard depicts the king as the master of the seas, and the Baltic Sea as the source of the country’s wealth.

Beer, trade and spices
Denmark of …

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