Christian IV’s robe
Christian 4th was wearing old, well-worn clothes on July 1, 1644 on board his ship The Trinity just before the battle of Kolberger Heath. At 67, he was an old man, and at war with Sweden. It is exceptional that the clothes he wore that day are preserved.
The King was badly injured when a Swedish cannonball hit a cannon on his ship which exploded. Not even the splendid robes from his own coronation almost 50 years before had been saved, but he made sure that this doublet was preserved: it was a symbolic documentation of his strength and courage. The doublet’s cut and signs of wear show that it was at least 10-20 years old when he last wore it. Under the doublet he wore one or more shirts, perhaps a kind of breastcloth to protect from the wind, and knee-length breeches and stockings. On his feet he had velvet mules, not shoes or boots as one might expect. He also wore a silk cap with lace, a lace collar and lace cuffs: even at war the King needed to be suitably dressed.
The doublet is made of a patterned black and purple velvet. A little animal hides in the pattern of small plants – a baby dragon or a seahorse? The doublet is buttoned down the front with small, handsewn buttons of gold thread. Narrow gold and silver braids are added at the seams for decoration. His white lace collar – called a falling band – and cuffs were loosely attached to his shirt, so they were easily removed for washing and starching.
Corfitz Ulfeldt married Christian IV’s daughter Leonora Christina in 1636. He became the governor of Copenhagen Castle in 1637, ‘rigshofmester’ (the highest standing civil servant) in 1643, and quickly became the privy council’s leading figure. His relationship with Christian IV soured towards the end of the king’s reign. The situation only got worse once Frederik III had ascended the throne, and in 1651 Ulfeldt fled together with Leonora Christina. He entered Swedish service and was one of the chief negotiators on the Swedish side in 1658, when Scania, Halland, and Blekinge were ceded to Sweden in the Treaty of Roskilde. Ulfeldt was arrested by the Swedes in 1659, accused of treason. He and Leonora Christina succeeded in fleeing back to Denmark, where they were held captive at Hammershus castle until the king released them on strict conditions. Ulfeldt soon went abroad again; he offered the Danish throne to the Elector of Brandenburg, and in 1663 he was accused of high treason. A doll of Corfitz was ‘executed’ and a monument of infamy erected in Copenhagen. He died on the run in a boat on the Rhine.