Christian IV and Koldinghus

Christian IV is one of the best-known names in Danish history. His reign lasted from 1588 to 1648, and most people know that he was the one who built the Round Tower, Rosenborg Castle, Frederiksborg Castle and the Old Stock Exchange (Børsen) in Copenhagen. Many also know that he commissioned the powerful Giants’ Tower at Koldinghus.

There are many myths about Christian IV. One of them is that he had mistresses left and right. In fact, although he did have affairs with other women while he was living in an arranged marriage with Anne Catherine of Brandenburg, after her death, when he was free to choose for himself, he stayed on the straight and narrow. In 1615, he married the big love of his life, the noblewoman Kirsten Munk. Their marriage lasted until 1630, when they divorced after she had cheated on him. He spent the rest of his life with Vibeke Kruse, a lady-in-waiting from the royal court.

Christian IV lived at a time when Danish monarchs had not yet set up permanent residence in Copenhagen and northern Zealand. Koldinghus was one of the castles where he and his family sometimes lived or regularly stayed. When he was just six years old, he was sent to Koldinghus where he went to school, and when he married Anne Catherine of Brandenburg at the age of 20 years, the wedding was originally intended to be held here. Unfortunately, a fire made it necessary to move the wedding to Haderslevhus, but the restoration of Koldinghus was initiated immediately.

When it was completed, the King commissioned his master builder, the immigrant Hercules van Oberberg, to construct the big tower intended to mark Kolding as the site of the border between the kingdom of Denmark and the Duchy of Schleswig. The castle was embellished with painted and gilded sandstone portals around the doors to the newbuilt stair turrets, and the Stable Yard was fitted with low towers – all of it designed to highlight the King’s wealth and power.