Birthday: December 12, 1574
Nationality: British, Danish
Died At Age: 44
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Born Country: Denmark
Born in: Skanderborg, Denmark
Famous as: Queen of England
Empresses & Queens
Spouse/Ex-: James VI and I (m. 1589)
father: Frederick II of Denmark
mother: Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow
siblings: Christian IV of Denmark
children: Charles I, Elizabeth Stuart, Henry Frederick; Prince of Wales, Margaret Stuart, Mary Stuart (1605–1607), Robert Stuart; Duke of Kintyre and Lorne, Sophia Stuart
Died on: March 2, 1619
Who was Anne of Denmark?
Anne of Denmark was the queen consort of King James VI and I of Scotland and England. Born to Frederick II, the King of Denmark and Norway, she left her native soil after her proxy marriage at the age of fifteen. Three months later, she formally married the king and settled down in Scotland. Traditionally dismissed as a frivolous and self-indulgent queen, she is believed to have shown little interest outside of rich clothes, court balls, and masques, thus alienating her husband. However, many historians today refute such allegations. Instead, they praise her for her assertive independence, her patronage of art and culture, and also for her generosity and compassion. Although she had her differences with the king, who tried to keep their first born, Prince Henry, away from her influence, she was always a faithful wife who had a cordial relationship with her husband. At her death at the age of forty-four, the king wrote heart-touching poetry in her honor.
Childhood & Early Life
Queen Anne was born on 12 December 1574, at the Castle of Skanderborg in the Kingdom of Denmark. Her father, Frederick II, was the King of Denmark and Norway from 1559 to 1588. Her mother, Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, was known as one of the most learned queens of her time.
Born the second of her parents’ eight children, she had an elder sister named Elizabeth. Next to her was Christian IV, who later became the King of Denmark and Norway. Her other surviving siblings were Prince Ulrik, Princess Augusta, Princess Hedwig and Prince John. Another sibling, John Augusta, died in infancy.
Princess Anne spent the first few years of her life at Güstrow, Germany, where she was raised by her maternal grandparents. On her return home in 1579, she came in contact with the Danish court, known for its sophistication and splendor. Slowly, she began to develop a love for art.
Queen Sophie made sure that her children had an all-round education. Princess Anne learned German and Danish, and was taught to write in an italic hand. Later, she also learned English, Scottish, and French.
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Marriage & Coronation
On 20 August 1589, Anne was married by proxy to James VI of Scotland at Kronborg Castle, Denmark. George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal, represented the king. Ten days later, she set sail for Scotland, but was forced to take refuge in Oslo because of stormy weather.
James personally arrived in Oslo on 19 November 1589, to fetch his queen, formally marrying her on 23 November at Old Bishop's Palace in Oslo. Thereafter, they traveled to Denmark, reaching Edinburgh possibly on 1 May 1590.
On 17 May 1590, Anne was coroneted as the Queen of Scotland. Thereafter, she became busy setting up her household, showing little interest in anything other than rich clothes, court balls, and masques. Sometime now, she became interested in Catholic faith and might have secretly converted to Catholicism.
According to some historians, the queen’s frivolous disposition alienated her husband. However, according to some others, they enjoyed a good relationship. Letters that have survived show that the royal couple enjoyed some degree of intimate bonding, in spite of the king’s preference for male companions.
Birth of Prince Henry
Over a period of time, Queen Anne began to have some influence in the Scottish court. But when in February 1594, she gave birth to her first child, Henry Frederic, the distance between the royal couple became obvious. Her preference for Catholicism could be one reason for it.
James placed the young prince in the custody of Earl of Mar at Stirling Castle and appointed his former nurse, Helen Little, as the head of the nursery. Although the arrangements were made in accordance with royal Scottish tradition, his motive was to keep him out of his mother’s influence.
By end of 1594, Anne began an unsuccessful campaign for the custody of her child, resulting in public humiliation and even a miscarriage. Although they continued to cohabit after the incident, she began to spend much of her time at Dunfermline Palace.
In 1600, Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, Beatrix and Barbara Ruthven, were dismissed by the king because of their brothers’ conduct. Anne reacted by refusing to get out of bed or eat for two days, continuing to support them until 1603, when the king agreed to provide them with pensions.
In April 1603, when King James left for England to be coroneted as the King of England, Anne tried to get back the custody of her nine-year-old son, whom she had not seen for the last five years. However, she failed in her mission, which triggered another miscarriage.
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As she lay in bed, she received the king’s message, instructing her to join him in England. Anne wrote back, saying she would do so only if she got her son’s custody. Although the king was not pleased, he had to relent and the queen left for England with her son.
Queen of England
On July 24, 1603, James and Anne were coronated as the King and the Queen of England. Here, she established her household at Somerset House, which she renamed as Denmark House. The king, on the other hand, preferred to stay outside the capital. From 1607 onwards, they rarely lived together.
In London, the queen became more interested in art and culture and started befriending cultural patrons like Lucy Russell and Countess of Bedford. She also collected works of art as well as books and patronized artists like Inigo Jones, who designed Greenwich Palace for her.
She was a patron of court fashion and encouraged staging of masques, elevating the English masques to a higher level, performing with the ladies of the court in many of them. Concurrently, she also undertook her state duties, graciously entertaining ambassadors as well as foreign visitors.
At times, she intervened with her husband on behalf of people like Sir Walter Raleigh and Lady Anne Clifford. She was also instrumental to the removal of Robert Carr, whom her husband had entrusted with many political responsibilities. She also sought to obtain posts for Catholics in Protestant England.
Family & Personal Life
Queen Anne and King James had seven children, three among whom reached adulthood. Among them, the eldest child, Prince Henry Frederick (b. 1594) died of typhoid fever at the age of 18, leaving his mother inconsolable.
Their second surviving son, Prince Charles (b. 1601), inherited his father’s throne as Charles I and their daughter Princess Elizabeth (b. 1596) became the Electress of the Palatinate. Among those died in infancy were Princess Margaret (b. 1598), Prince Robert (b. 1602), Princess Mary (b. 1605) and Princess Sophia (b. 1606).
After the death of Prince Henry in 1612, Queen Anne began to lose interest in social affairs. By late 1617, her health began to fail and she died of dropsy on 2 March 1619. She was then forty-four years old.
On 13 May 1619, she was buried in King Henry's Chapel, Westminster Abbey. The king did not attend the funeral or visit her during her last illness. But after her death, he dedicated a heart-touching poem to her, thus showing his last respect.