Frederik III was the King of Denmark-Norway from 1648; he was married to Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg in 1643 and father to Christian V. Frederik was a son of Christian IV and Anna Cathrine of Brandenburg, but he only became Successor to the Throne after the death of his brother, Christian, the Prince Elect, in 1647.
At his accession Frederik had to sign a strict charter that was intended to limit his powers. His position soon became stronger, not least because the powerful noblemen Hannibal Sehested and Corfitz Ulfeldt were removed from the Rigsråd (the Government). The disastrous wars with Sweden from 1657 to 1660 led to the loss of Scania, Halland and Blekinge. But the popularity of Frederik grew during the Siege of Copenhagen. While the nobility and the government fled, he stayed in the city with the legendary words: “I shall die in my nest”. He was, therefore, able to strengthen his position even further, and in 1660-1661 hereditary and absolutist monarchy was introduced in Denmark.
Frederik III was very interested in theology and the natural sciences. His large collection of books became the core of the Royal Library. Both he and the Queen were interested in French culture, and Rosenborg, which was the Royal family’s favorite residence in Copenhagen, was modernised in the French style.
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.
Bust of Frederik III
Wax bust of Frederik III. The cabinet of curiosities contained waxworks of several of the members of the royal family. The custom is also found in other royal courts. They were usually made after a life or death mask, but the king’s was modelled by Louis-Augustin le Clerc in Copenhagen in 1751, many years after the king’s death. The two sedan chair-like lockers were made by Dietrich Schäfer in 1751-52.