Sophie Magdalene of Brandenburg-Kulmbach

28 Nov 1700
27 May 1770
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Sophie Magdalene of Brandenburg-Kulmbach (28 November 1700 – 27 May 1770) was queen-consort of Denmark and Norway as the wife of King Christian VI of Denmark and Norway.

She was born in Castle Schonberg, to Christian Heinrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth-Kulmbach by his wife, Countess Sophie Christiane of Wolfstein.

She was the lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Poland, Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, where Christian came to choose his spouse.

On 7 August 1721, she was married to Prince Christian.

As Crown Princess, she lived discreetly with her spouse: the couple was in opposition to the second marriage of the King.

She is often considered to have been behind the fact that her spouse broke his promise to respect and protect the rights of his father’s widow, Anne Sophie Reventlow.

She became queen of Denmark in 1730. The royal couple’s life together was harmonious and her spouse respected and trusted her, but Sophie Magdalene was unpopular.

She was accused of creating a certain closedness around the Court and the royal family. She was seen as haughty, arrogant and proud.

Her background in a religious environment, marked by Pietism, strongly influenced the introduction of the subdued life at the Court.

However, although her court was strict, it was also very luxurious. Sophie, following the fashion of queens of her day, owned a lathe built by Diderich de Thurah, 1735-36, which she used for turning items of ivory or precious woods.

She was interested in luxury, pomp, fashion and jewelry and spent large sums of money on luxury during a time of poverty in the country. She made the most of her position as Queen in etiquette and ceremonial matters.

Later, she was criticized also for never having discarded her Germanness, even though German culture and language had been dominant at the Court before her time. She did in fact never learn Danish.

Her German entourage was given important positions at court and was favoured over Danes. Her sister, Sophie Caroline of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, lived at the Danish court from 1740, and it was rumoured that she was the mistress of her husband.

In 1732, she founded the order Ordre de l’Union Parfaite, which was to be given only to women who lived in happy marriages. In 1737, she founded Vallø stift, a Protestant convent for unmarried noblewomen.

Sophie Magdalene was behind the making of a new Danish queen’s crown when she refused to wear the same one that the hated Queen Anna Sophie had worn.

Queen Sophie Magdelene established the collection of crown jewels when she bequeathed a large part of her jewellery for that purpose.

This includes the emeralds given to Sophie by King Christian VI upon the birth of the future Frederik V. She had Hirschholm Palace built and lived there after being widowed in 1746.

As a queen dowager, she lived a discreet life under the reign of her son, with whom she was too different in character to get along. She disliked his favourite, Moltke, whom she blamed for the distance between them.

During the reign of her grandson, she got more attention, as she was on much better terms with her grandchildren than with her children. Crown Prince Christian and his cousin, Prince Charles of Hesse-Kassel, spent much time with the queen on Hirschholm.

During Christian’s visits to her as a child, she spoilt him so much that he was considered impossible to deal with and more rebellious than ever.

During Christian’s reign, Moltke was disfavoured and Danneskjöld was favoured on her advice. She spent her later years in bad health, or, as it was said, in hypochondria.

She died in Christiansborg Palace and was buried in Roskilde Cathedral.

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