He inherited the talents of his highly gifted mother, and his amiability and handsome features made him very popular in Copenhagen. His unfortunate first marriage with his cousin Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was dissolved in 1810.
In May 1813 he was sent as stadtholder to Norway to promote the loyalty of the Northmen to the dynasty, which had been very rudely shaken by the disastrous results of Frederik VI's adhesion to the falling fortunes of Napoleon. He did all he could personally to strengthen the bonds between the Norwegians and the royal house of Denmark. Though his endeavours were opposed by the so-called Swedish party, which desired a dynastic union with Sweden, he placed himself at the head of the Norwegian party of independence, and was elected regent of Norway by an assembly of notables on February 16, 1814.
This election was confirmed by a Storthing held at Eidsvold on April 10, and on May 17 Christian was elected king of Norway, despite the protests of the Swedish party.
Christian next attempted to interest the great powers in his cause. but without success. On being summoned by the commissioners of the allied powers at Copenhagen to bring about a union between Norway and Sweden in accordance with the terms of the treaty of Kiel, and then return to Denmark, he replied that, as a constitutional king, he could do nothing without the consent of the Storthing, to the convocation of which a suspension of hostilities on the part of Sweden was the condition precedent. Sweden refusing Christian’s conditions, a short campaign ensued, in which Christian was easily defeated by the superior skill and forces of the Swedish crown prince (Bernadotte). The brief war was finally concluded by the Convention of Moss on August 14, 1814.
Henceforth Christian’s suspected democratic principles made him persona ingratissima at all the reactionary European courts, his own court included. He and his second wife, Caroline Amalia of Augustenburg, whom he married in 1815, lived in comparative retirement as the leaders of the literary and scientific society of Copenhagen.
It was not until 1831 that old King Frederick gave him a seat in the council of state. On December 13, 1839 he ascended the Danish throne as Christian VIII. The Liberal party had high hopes of “the giver of constitutions,” but he disappointed his admirers by steadily rejecting every Liberal project. Administrative reform was the only reform he would promise.
He died of blood-poisoning in 1848.
Based on original text from 1911 EB
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