|Anne of Denmark|
Portrait by John de Critz (1605)
|Queen consort of Scotland|
|Tenure||20 August 1589 – 2 March 1619|
|Coronation||17 May 1590|
|Queen consort of England and Ireland|
|Tenure||24 March 1603 – 2 March 1619|
|Coronation||25 July 1603|
|Born||12 December 1574|
Skanderborg Castle, Skanderborg, Denmark
|Died||2 March 1619 (aged 44)|
Hampton Court Palace
|Burial||13 May 1619|
James VI & I (m. 1589)
|Father||Frederick II of Denmark|
|Mother||Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow|
The second daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark, Anne married James in 1589 at age 15 and bore him three children who survived infancy, including the future Charles I. She demonstrated an independent streak and a willingness to use factional Scottish politics in her conflicts with James over the custody of Prince Henry and his treatment of her friend Beatrix Ruthven. Anne appears to have loved James at first, but the couple gradually drifted and eventually lived apart, though mutual respect and a degree of affection survived.
In England, Anne shifted her energies from factional politics to patronage of the arts and constructed her own magnificent court, hosting one of the richest cultural salons in Europe. After 1612, she suffered sustained bouts of ill health and gradually withdrew from the centre of court life. Though she was reported to have been a Protestant at the time of her death, evidence suggests that she may have converted to Catholicism at some point in her life.
Historians have traditionally dismissed Anne as a lightweight queen, frivolous and self-indulgent. However, recent reappraisals acknowledge Anne's assertive independence and, in particular, her dynamic significance as a patron of the arts during the Jacobean age.
Anne was born on 12 December 1574 at the castle of Skanderborg on the Jutland Peninsula in the Kingdom of Denmark to Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow and King Frederick II of Denmark. In need of a male heir the King had been hoping for a son, however Sofie gave birth to a son, Christian IV of Denmark, three years later.
With her older sister, Elizabeth, Anne was sent to be raised at Güstrow by her maternal grandparents, the Duke and Duchess of Mecklenburg. Christian was also sent to be brought up at Güstrow but two years later, in 1579, his father the King wrote to his parents-in-law, to request the return of his sons, Christian and Ulrich, (probably, at the urging of the Rigsråd, the Danish Privy Council), and Anne and Elizabeth returned with him.
Anne enjoyed a close, happy family upbringing in Denmark, thanks largely to Queen Sophie, who nursed the children through their illnesses herself. Suitors from all over Europe sought the hands of Anne and Elizabeth in marriage, including James VI of Scotland, who favoured Denmark as a kingdom reformed in religion and a profitable trading partner.
James' other serious possibility, though eight years his senior, was Catherine, sister of the Huguenot King Henry III of Navarre (future Henry IV of France), who was favoured by Elizabeth I of England. Scottish ambassadors had at first concentrated their suit on the oldest daughter, but Frederick betrothed Elizabeth to Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick, promising the Scots instead that "for the second [daughter] Anna, if the King did like her, he should have her."
The constitutional position of Sophie, Anne's mother, became difficult after Frederick's death in 1588, when she found herself in a power struggle with the Rigsraad for control of King Christian. As a matchmaker, however, Sophie proved more diligent than Frederick and, overcoming sticking points on the amount of the dowry and the status of Orkney, she sealed the agreement by July 1589. Anne herself seems to have been thrilled with the match. On 28 July 1589, the English spy Thomas Fowler reported that Anne was "so far in love with the King's Majesty as it were death to her to have it broken off and hath made good proof divers ways of her affection which his Majestie is apt in no way to requite." Fowler's insinuation, that James preferred men to women, would have been hidden from the fourteen-year-old Anne, who devotedly embroidered shirts for her fiancé while 300 tailors worked on her wedding dress.
Whatever the truth of the rumours, James required a royal match to preserve the Stuart line. "God is my witness", he explained, "I could have abstained longer than the weal of my country could have permitted, [had not] my long delay bred in the breasts of many a great jealousy of my inability, as if I were a barren stock." On 20 August 1589, Anne was married by proxy to James at Kronborg Castle, the ceremony ending with James' representative, George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal, sitting next to Anne on the bridal bed.
Anne set sail for Scotland within 10 days, but her fleet under the command of Admiral Peder Munk was beset by a series of misadventures, finally being forced back to the coast of Norway, from where she travelled by land to Oslo for refuge, accompanied by the Earl Marischal and others of the Scottish and Danish embassies.
On 12 September, Lord Dingwall had landed at Leith, reporting that "he had come in company with the Queen's fleet three hundred miles, and was separated from them by a great storm: it was feared that the Queen was in danger upon the seas." Alarmed, James called for national fasting and public prayers, kept watch on the Firth of Forth for Anne's arrival, wrote several songs, one comparing the situation to the plight of Hero and Leander, and sent a search party out for Anne, carrying a letter he had written to her in French: "Only to one who knows me as well as his own reflection in a glass could I express, my dearest love, the fears which I have experienced because of the contrary winds and violent storms since you embarked ...". Informed in October that the Danes had abandoned the crossing for the winter, and in what Willson calls "the one romantic episode of his life", James sailed from Leith with a three-hundred-strong retinue to fetch his wife personally, arriving in Oslo on 19 November after travelling by land from Flekkefjord via Tønsberg. According to a Scottish account, he presented himself to Anne, "with boots and all", and, disarming her protests, gave her a kiss in the Scottish fashion.
Anne and James were formally married at the Old Bishop's Palace in Oslo on 23 November 1589, "with all the splendour possible at that time and place." So that both bride and groom could understand, Leith minister David Lindsay conducted the ceremony in French, describing Anne as "a Princess both godly and beautiful ... she giveth great contentment to his Majesty." A month of celebrations followed; and on 22 December, cutting his entourage to 50, James visited his new relations at Kronborg Castle in Elsinore, where the newlyweds were greeted by Queen Sophie, 12 year-old King Christian IV, and Christian's four regents. The couple moved on to Copenhagen on 7 March and attended the wedding of Anne's older sister Elizabeth to Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick on 19 April, sailing two days later for Scotland in a patched up "Gideon". They arrived in the Water of Leith on 1 May. After a welcoming speech in French by James Elphinstone, Anne stayed in the King's Wark and James went alone to hear a sermon by Patrick Galloway in the Parish Church. Five days later, Anne made her state entry into Edinburgh in a solid silver coach brought over from Denmark, James riding alongside on horseback.
Anne was crowned on 17 May 1590 in the Abbey Church at Holyrood, the first Protestant coronation in Scotland. During the seven-hour ceremony, her gown was opened by the Countess of Mar for presiding minister Robert Bruce to pour "a bonny quantity of oil" on "parts of her breast and arm", so anointing her as queen. (Kirk ministers had objected vehemently to this element of the ceremony as a pagan and Jewish ritual, but James insisted that it dated from the Old Testament.) The king handed the crown to Chancellor Maitland, who placed it on Anne's head. She then affirmed an oath to defend the true religion and worship of God and to "withstand and despise all papistical superstitions, and whatsoever ceremonies and rites contrary to the word of God".
Anne brought servants and courtiers from Denmark, including the ladies-in-waiting Katrine Skinkell, Anna Kaas, and Margaret Vinster, the preacher John Sering, servants, artisans such as goldsmith Jacob Krogar, her cooks Hans Poppleman and Marion, and her tailors. At first, observers like William Dundas thought the queen led a solitary life, with few Scottish companions. Later in 1590 more Scottish noblewomen were appointed to serve her, including Marie Stewart, a daughter of Esmé Stewart, 1st Duke of Lennox, and members of the Ochiltree Stewart family. James invited Scottish lairds to send gifts of hackney horses for the queen's ladies. Anne bought her ladies and maidens of honour matching clothes and riding outfits, made by her Danish tailor Pål Rei and furrier Henrie Koss, supervised by her master of Wardrobe, Søren Johnson. She gave them wedding gowns and trousseaux when they married, and even arranged a loan for the dowry of Jean, Lady Kennedy. When, in December 1592 the widower John Erskine, Earl of Mar married Marie Stewart, the wedding celebrations were held at Alloa. James VI and Anne of Denmark attended the celebrations and there was a masque in costume in which Anne of Denmark performed. From 1594, the German physician Martin Schöner attended her when she was ill or in childbed.
By all accounts, James was at first entranced by his bride, but his infatuation evaporated quickly and the couple often found themselves at loggerheads, though in the early years of their marriage James seems always to have treated Anne with patience and affection. Between 1593 and 1595, James was romantically linked with Anne Murray, later Lady Glamis, whom he addressed in verse as "my mistress and my love"; and Anne herself was also occasionally the subject of scandalous rumours. In Basilikon Doron, written 1597–1598, James described marriage as "the greatest earthly felicitie or miserie, that can come to a man".
From the first moment of the marriage, Anne was under pressure to provide James and Scotland with an heir, but the passing of 1591 and 1592 with no sign of a pregnancy provoked renewed Presbyterian libels on the theme of James' fondness for male company and whispers against Anne "for that she proves not with child". When it was thought that she was pregnant, James tried to prevent her going horseriding but she refused. There was great public relief when on 19 February 1594 Anne gave birth to her first child, Henry Frederick.
Anne soon learned that she would have no say in her son's care. James appointed as head of the nursery his former nurse Helen Little, who installed Henry in James' own oak cradle. Most distressingly for Anne, James insisted on placing Prince Henry in the custody of John Erskine, Earl of Mar at Stirling Castle, in keeping with Scottish royal tradition.
In late 1594, she began a furious campaign for custody of Henry, recruiting a faction of supporters to her cause, including the chancellor, John Maitland of Thirlestane. Nervous of the lengths to which Anne might go, James formally charged Mar in writing never to surrender Henry to anyone except on orders from his own mouth, "because in the surety of my son consists my surety", nor to yield Henry to the Queen even in the event of his own death. Anne demanded the matter be referred to the Council, but James would not hear of it. After public scenes in which James reduced her to rage and tears over the issue, Anne became so bitterly upset that in July 1595 she suffered a miscarriage. Thereafter, she outwardly abandoned her campaign, but it was thought permanent damage had been done to the marriage. In August 1595, John Colville wrote: "There is nothing but lurking hatred disguised with cunning dissimulation betwixt the King and the Queen, each intending by slight to overcome the other." Despite these differences, Anne and James visited the Prince at Stirling in December 1595 and returned to Holyrood Palace to celebrate her 21st birthday, they had six more children.
Anne saw a belated opportunity to gain custody of Henry in 1603 when James left for London with the Earl of Mar to assume the English throne following the death of Elizabeth I. Pregnant at the time, Anne descended on Stirling with a force of "well-supported" nobles, intent on removing the nine-year-old Henry, whom she had hardly seen for five years; but Mar's wife and son would allow her to bring no more than two attendants with her into the castle. The obduracy of Henry's keepers sent Anne into such a fury that she suffered another miscarriage: according to David Calderwood, she "went to bed in anger and parted with child the tenth of May."
When the Earl of Mar returned with James' instructions that Anne join him in the Kingdom of England, she informed James by letter that she refused to do so unless allowed custody of Henry. This "forceful maternal action", as historian Pauline Croft describes it, obliged James to climb down at last, though he reproved Anne for "froward womanly apprehensions" and described her behaviour in a letter to Mar as "wilfulness". After a brief convalescence from the miscarriage, Anne duly travelled south with Prince Henry, their progress causing a sensation in England. Lady Anne Clifford recorded that she and her mother killed three horses in their haste to see the Queen, and that when James met Anne near Windsor, "there was such an infinite number of lords and ladies and so great a Court as I think I shall never see the like again."
Observers regularly noted incidents of marital discord between Anne and James. The so-called Gowrie conspiracy of 1600, in which the young Earl of Gowrie, John Ruthven, and his brother Alexander Ruthven were killed by James' attendants for a supposed assault on the King, triggered the dismissal of their sisters Beatrix and Barbara Ruthven as ladies-in-waiting to Anne, with whom they were "in chiefest credit." The Queen, who was five months pregnant, refused to get out of bed unless they were reinstated and stayed there for two days, also refusing to eat. When James tried to command her, she warned him to take care how he treated her because she was not the Earl of Gowrie. James placated her for the moment by paying a famous acrobat to entertain her, but she never gave up, and her stubborn support for the Ruthvens over the next three years was taken seriously enough by the government to be regarded as a security issue. In 1602, after discovering that Anne had smuggled Beatrix Ruthven into Holyrood, James carried out a cross-examination of the entire household; in 1603, he finally decided to grant Beatrix Ruthven a pension of £200.
In 1603, James fought with Anne over the proposed composition of her English household, sending her a message that "his Majesty took her continued perversity very heinously." In turn, Anne took exception to James' drinking: in 1604 she confided to the French envoy that "the King drinks so much, and conducts himself so ill in every respect, that I expect an early and evil result."
A briefer confrontation occurred in 1613 when Anne shot and killed James' favourite dog during a hunting session. After his initial rage, James smoothed things over by giving her a £2,000 diamond in memory of the dog, whose name was Jewel.
In London, Anne adopted a cosmopolitan lifestyle, while James preferred to escape the capital, most often at his hunting lodge in Royston. Anne's chaplain, Godfrey Goodman, later summed up the royal relationship: "The King himself was a very chaste man, and there was little in the Queen to make him uxorious; yet they did love as well as man and wife could do, not conversing together." Anne moved into Greenwich Palace and then Somerset House, which she renamed Denmark House. After 1607, she and James rarely lived together, by which time she had borne seven children and suffered at least three miscarriages. After narrowly surviving the birth and death of her last baby, Sophia, in 1607, Anne's decision to have no more children may have widened the gulf between her and James.
The death of their son Henry in 1612 at the age of eighteen, probably from typhoid, and the departure for Heidelberg of their daughter Elizabeth in April 1613, after marrying Frederick V, Elector Palatine, further weakened the family ties binding Anne and James. Henry's death hit Anne particularly hard; the Venetian ambassador was advised not to offer condolences to her "because she cannot bear to have it mentioned; nor does she ever recall it without abundant tears and sighs". From this time forward, Anne's health deteriorated, and she withdrew from the centre of cultural and political activities, staging her last known masque in 1614 and no longer maintaining a noble court. Her influence over James visibly waned as he became openly dependent on powerful favourites.
Although James had always adopted male favourites among his courtiers, he now encouraged them to play a role in the government. Anne reacted very differently to the two powerful favourites who dominated the second half of her husband's English reign, Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, and George Villiers, the future Duke of Buckingham. She detested Carr, but she encouraged the rise of Villiers, whom James knighted in her bedchamber; and she developed friendly relations with him, calling him her "dog". Even so, Anne found herself increasingly ignored after Buckingham's rise and became a lonely figure towards the end of her life.
A further source of difference between Anne and James was the issue of religion; for example, she abstained from the Anglican communion at her English coronation. Anne had been brought up a Lutheran, and had a Lutheran chaplain Hans Sering in her household, but she may have discreetly converted to Catholicism at some point, a politically embarrassing scenario which alarmed ministers of the Scottish Kirk and caused suspicion in Anglican England.
Queen Elizabeth had certainly been worried about the possibility and sent messages to Anne warning her not to listen to papist counsellors and requesting the names of anyone who had tried to convert her; Anne had replied that there was no need to name names because any such efforts had failed. Anne drew criticism from the Kirk for keeping Henrietta Gordon, wife of the exiled Catholic George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly, as a confidante; after Huntly's return in 1596, the St Andrews minister David Black called Anne an atheist and remarked in a sermon that "the Queen of Scotland was a woman for whom, for fashion's sake, the clergy might pray but from whom no good could be hoped."
When former intelligencer Sir Anthony Standen was discovered bringing Anne a rosary from Pope Clement VIII in 1603, James imprisoned him in the Tower for ten months. Anne protested her annoyance at the gift, but eventually secured Standen's release.
Like James, Anne later supported a Catholic match for both their sons, and her correspondence with the potential bride, the Spanish Infanta, Maria Anna, included a request that two friars be sent to Jerusalem to pray for her and the King. The papacy itself was never quite sure where Anne stood; in 1612, Pope Paul V advised a nuncio: "Not considering the inconstancy of that Queen and the many changes she had made in religious matters and that even if it might be true that she might be a Catholic, one should not take on oneself any judgement."
In Scotland, Anne sometimes exploited court factionalism for her own ends, in particular by supporting the enemies of the Earl of Mar. As a result, James did not trust her with secrets of state. Henry Howard, active in the highly secret diplomacy concerning the English succession, subtly reminded James that though Anne possessed every virtue, Eve was corrupted by the serpent. Another of James' secret correspondents, Robert Cecil, believed that "the Queen was weak and a tool in the hands of clever and unscrupulous persons." In practice, Anne seems to have been little interested in high politics unless they touched on the fate of her children or friends, and later told Secretary of State Robert Cecil that "she was more contented with her pictures than he with his great employments." However, in November 1600 Robert Cecil had been anxious to find out about correspondence she had with Archduke Albert, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands.
In England, Anne largely turned from political to social and artistic activities. Though she participated fully in the life of James' court and maintained a court of her own, often attracting those not welcomed by James, she rarely took political sides against her husband. Whatever her private difficulties with James, she proved a diplomatic asset to him in England, conducting herself with discretion and graciousness in public. Anne played a crucial role, for example, in conveying to ambassadors and foreign visitors the prestige of the Stuart dynasty and its Danish connections.
The Venetian envoy, Nicolo Molin, wrote this description of Anne in 1606:
|“||She is intelligent and prudent; and knows the disorders of the government, in which she has no part, though many hold that as the King is most devoted to her, she might play as large a role as she wished. But she is young and averse to trouble; she sees that those who govern desire to be left alone, and so she professes indifference. All she ever does is to beg a favour for someone. She is full of kindness for those who support her, but on the other hand she is terrible, proud, unendurable to those she dislikes.||”|
Anne has traditionally been regarded with condescension by historians, who have emphasised her triviality and extravagance. Along with James, she tended to be dismissed by a historical tradition, beginning with the anti-Stuart historians of the mid-17th century, which saw in the self-indulgence and vanity of the Jacobean court the origins of the English civil war. Historian David Harris Willson, in his 1956 biography of James, delivered this damning verdict: "Anne had little influence over her husband. She could not share his intellectual interests, and she confirmed the foolish contempt with which he regarded women. Alas! The king had married a stupid wife." The 19th-century biographer Agnes Strickland condemned Anne's actions to regain custody of Prince Henry as irresponsible: "It must lower the character of Anne of Denmark in the eyes of everyone, both as a woman and queen, that she ... preferred to indulge the mere instincts of maternity at the risk of involving her husband, her infant, and their kingdom, in the strife and misery of unnatural warfare."
However, the reassessment of James in the past two decades, as an able ruler who extended royal power in Scotland and preserved his kingdoms from war throughout his reign, has been accompanied by a re-evaluation of Anne as an influential political figure and assertive mother, at least for as long as the royal marriage remained a reality. John Leeds Barroll argues in his cultural biography of Anne that her political interventions in Scotland were more significant, and certainly more troublesome, than previously noticed; and Clare McManus, among other cultural historians, has highlighted Anne's influential role in the Jacobean cultural flowering, not only as a patron of writers and artists but as a performer herself.
Anne shared with James the fault of extravagance, though it took her several years to exhaust her considerable dowry. She loved dancing and pageants, activities often frowned upon in Presbyterian Scotland, but for which she found a vibrant outlet in Jacobean London, where she created a "rich and hospitable" cultural climate at the royal court, became an enthusiastic playgoer, and sponsored lavish masques. Sir Walter Cope, asked by Robert Cecil to select a play for the Queen during her brother Ulrik of Holstein's visit, wrote, "Burbage is come and says there is no new play the Queen has not seen but they have revived an old one called Love's Labour's Lost which for wit and mirth he says will please her exceedingly." Anne's masques, scaling unprecedented heights of dramatic staging and spectacle, were avidly attended by foreign ambassadors and dignitaries and functioned as a potent demonstration of the English crown's European significance. Zorzi Giustinian, the Venetian ambassador, wrote of the Christmas 1604 masque that "in everyone's opinion no other Court could have displayed such pomp and riches".
Anne's masques were responsible for almost all the courtly female performance in the first two decades of the 17th-century and are regarded as crucial to the history of women's performance. Anne sometimes performed with her ladies in the masques herself, occasionally offending members of the audience. In The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses of 1604, she played Pallas Athena, wearing a tunic that some observers regarded as too short; in The Masque of Blackness of 1605, Anne performed while six months pregnant, she and her ladies causing scandal by appearing with their skin painted as "blackamores". Letter writer Dudley Carleton reported that when the Queen afterwards danced with the Spanish ambassador, he kissed her hand "though there was danger it would have left a mark upon his lips". Anne commissioned the leading talents of the day to create these masques, including Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones.
Jones, a gifted architect steeped in the latest European taste, also designed the Queen's House at Greenwich for Anne, one of the first true Palladian buildings in England; and the Dutch inventor Salomon de Caus laid out her gardens at Greenwich and Somerset House. Anne particularly loved music and patronised the lutenist and composer John Dowland, previously employed at her brother's court in Denmark, as well as "more than a good many" French musicians.
Anne also commissioned artists such as Paul van Somer, Isaac Oliver, and Daniel Mytens, who led English taste in visual arts for a generation. Under Anne, the Royal Collection began once more to expand, a policy continued by Anne's son, Charles. With some irony, Anne compared her reputation to be content among "harmless pictures in a paltry gallery" with the Earl of Salisbury's "great employments in fair rooms".
Historian Alan Stewart suggests that many of the phenomena now seen as peculiarly Jacobean can be identified more closely with Anne's patronage than with James, who "fell asleep during some of England's most celebrated plays".
From September 1614 Anne was troubled by pain in her feet, as described in the letters of her chamberlain Viscount Lisle and the countesses of Bedford and Roxburghe. Lisle first noted "the Queen hath been a little lame" as early as October 1611. She was ill in March 1615, suspected to have dropsy. By late 1617, Anne's bouts of illness had become debilitating; the letter writer John Chamberlain recorded: "The Queen continues still ill disposed and though she would fain lay all her infirmities upon the gout yet most of her physicians fear a further inconvenience of an ill habit or disposition through her whole body." In January 1619, royal physician Sir Theodore de Mayerne instructed Anne to saw wood to improve her blood flow, but the exertion served to make her worse. On 9 April 1618 she was well enough to make a shopping trip incognito to the Royal Exchange, and was discovered, drawing a crowd of onlookers.
James visited Anne only three times during her last illness, though their son Charles often slept in the adjoining bedroom at Hampton Court Palace and was at her bedside during her last hours, when she had lost her sight. With her until the end was her personal maid, Anna Roos, who had arrived with her from Denmark in 1590. Queen Anne died aged 44 on 2 March 1619, of dropsy.
Despite his neglect of Anne, James was emotionally affected by her death. He did not visit her during her dying days or attend her funeral, being himself sick, the symptoms, according to Sir Theodore de Mayerne, including "fainting, sighing, dread, incredible sadness ...". The inquest discovered Anne to be "much wasted within, specially her liver". After a prolonged delay, she was buried in King Henry's Chapel, Westminster Abbey, on 13 May 1619. The catafalque placed over her grave, designed by Maximilian Colt, was destroyed during the civil war.
As he had done before he ever met her, James turned to verse to pay his respects:
So did my Queen from hence her court remove
And left off earth to be enthroned above.
She's changed, not dead, for sure no good prince dies,
But, as the sun, sets, only for to rise.
After the funeral, her French servant Piero Hugon, and Anna, a Danish maiden of honour, were arrested and accused of stealing jewels worth £30,000. Another servant, Margaret Hartsyde, had faced similar charges a decade earlier.
Anne gave birth to seven children who survived beyond childbirth, four of whom died in infancy or early childhood. She also suffered at least three miscarriages. The physician Martin Schöner attended her pregnancies. Her second son succeeded James as King Charles I. Her daughter Elizabeth was the "Winter Queen" of Bohemia and the grandmother of King George I of Great Britain.
|Ancestors of Anne of Denmark|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Anne of Denmark.|
Anne of DenmarkBorn: 12 December 1574 Died: 2 March 1619
Title last held byMary of Guise
| Queen consort of Scotland
Title next held byHenrietta Maria of France
Title last held byCatherine Parr
| Queen consort of England and Ireland|