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Johann Friedrich Struensee

Johann Friedrich, Count von Struensee (1737-1772), was a German doctor, born in Altona. He became royal physician to King Christian VII of Denmark and a minister in the Danish government.

The son of a theologian, Adam Struensee, J F Struensee studied medicine at the University of Halle and obtained his position in the Danish court through the influence of Count Rantzau, leader of a circle of followers of the Enlightenment. Struensee soon wielded great influence on the young king, who was mentally unstable, and soon he practically ruled Denmark. In Christian's name, he introduced a large number of reforms, thereby creating much opposition to his rule, not the least because he disregarded the national language, using only German. When he abolished all censorship, the result was a flood of pamphlets against himself. His affair with Queen Caroline Matilda caused scandal, and was the catalyst for his downfall, especially after the birth of a daughter, Princess Louise.

He fell from power when he was convicted of high treason and decapitated, drawn and quartered in the fields outside Copenhagen in 1772.