Frederik II’s robe

There aren’t many portraits showing how Frederik 2nd dressed, and unfortunately none of his clothes exist today. This bronze portrait shows the King’s formidable bearing, even though he is not wearing a magnificent suit of armor, fur-lined coat or a coat studded with jewels. He is dressed simply and plainly, and since he himself ordered this portrait, he probably also determined that this was how he wanted to be seen – like a strong king. At that time, strong kings looked like fierce knights in armor. The only soft feature is his ruff. In the 1500’s men’s collars went from a little ruffle on the shirt’s neck to be their most impressive fashionable accessory. Around 1600 its swirling layers came right up to the chin and all the way out onto the shoulders. Its edges could be embroidered or decorated with lace and pearls. Both men and women wore these impressive ruffs.

After the ruff went out of fashion, it has only survived as part of the clerical dress of the Danish Lutheran church. From 1639 ministers were ordered to wear the ruff so they could be distinguished from others.