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Sat Jan 24, 2015, 01:24 PM

Caroline Matilda of Great Britain and Johann Friedrich Struensee

Caroline Matilda of Great Britain (Danish: Caroline Mathilde; 11 July 1751 – 10 May 1775) was Queen of Denmark and Norway from 1766 to 1775 as the wife of King Christian VII.

Background and early life
Caroline Matilda was the youngest child of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. Her father died suddenly about three months before her birth. She was born at Leicester House in London, and was given the style and title HRH Princess Caroline Matilda, as daughter of the Prince of Wales, though, by the time of her birth, the title of Prince of Wales had passed to her brother George. Both of her names were used due to her aunt, Princess Caroline, being alive. The princess was christened ten days later, at the same house, by The Bishop of Norwich, Thomas Hayter. Her godparents were her brother George, her paternal aunt Caroline and her sister Augusta.[2] She was brought up by her strict mother away from the English court and was described as natural and informal; she enjoyed out-doors life and riding. She could speak Italian, French and German, and was described as an accomplished singer with a beautiful voice.

Marriage to Christian
At the age of fifteen, Caroline Matilda left her family behind in Britain in order to travel to Denmark and marry her cousin, Christian VII of Denmark. The wedding took place on 8 November 1766 at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen. Her eldest brother, by then King George III, was anxious about the marriage, even though he wasn't fully aware that the bridegroom was mentally ill.

Caroline Matilda had two children, both of whom were officially recognized as the issue of Christian VII:

Frederick VI of Denmark (1768–1839)
Princess Louise Auguste of Denmark (1771–1843)

Caroline Matilda was described as vivid and charming. Although not called a beauty, she was regarded as attractive; it was said that her appearance was able to attract the attention of men without the criticism of women. However, her natural and unaffected personality was not popular at the strict Danish court. She was close to her first lady-in-waiting, Louise von Plessen, who regarded the king's friends as immoral and acted to isolate Caroline Matilda from her husband. This was not difficult as her husband did not like her.

The Danish king was persuaded to consummate the marriage for the sake of the succession, and after a son was born, he turned his interest to courtesan Støvlet-Cathrine, with whom he visited the brothels of Copenhagen. Caroline Matilda was unhappy in her marriage, neglected and spurned by the king. When Plessen was exiled from court in 1768, she lost her closest confidante, leaving her even more isolated.

In May 1768 Christian VII took his long tour of Europe, including stays in Altona, Paris and London. During his absence, Caroline Matilda aroused attention when she took walks in Copenhagen; this was considered scandalous, as royal and noble Danish women normally only travelled by carriage in town. Caroline Matilda spent the summer at Frederiksborg Castle with her new child before returning to Copenhagen in the autumn.

Affair and scandal
The king returned to Copenhagen on 12 January 1769, bringing with him Johann Friedrich Struensee as royal physician, who would later also become a minister in his court. He had met Struensee in Altona during the beginning of his travels. Struensee could apparently handle the king's instability, which was a great relief to the king's advisers, and the king developed a confidence in him.

Struensee encouraged the king to improve his relationship with Caroline Matilda, and Christian VII showed his attention to her in the form of a three-day birthday party on 22 July 1769. The Queen was well aware that Struensee was behind these improvements, and her interest in the charming doctor developed. In January 1770 he was given his own bedroom in the royal palace, and by spring 1770 he was her lover. A successful vaccination of the baby crown prince in May still further increased his influence.

In 1770, the king became more and more isolated and less counted upon as his mental health deteriorated; Caroline Matilda, until now ignored at court, became the centre of the royal court's attention, and gathered followers called “Dronningens Parti” (in English: "The Queen's Party". She gained a new confidence and showed herself in public on horse-back dressed as a man.

Supported by her new informal power position at court, Struensee ruled through the king. On 15 September 1770 the King dismissed Bernstorff, and two days later Struensee became maître des requêtes (privy counsellor), consolidating his power and starting the 16 month period generally referred to as the "Time of Struensee". When, in the course of the year, the king sank into a condition of mental torpor, Struensee's authority became paramount, and he held absolute sway for ten months, between 20 March 1771 and 16 January 1772.

During this time he issued no fewer than 1069 cabinet orders, or more than three a day. For this reason, he has been criticized for having an imprudent "mania" for reform. Other criticisms of Struensee are that he did not respect native Danish and Norwegian customs, seeing them as prejudices and wanting to eliminate them in favour of abstract principles.

Nor were Struensee's relations with the queen less offensive to a nation which had a traditional veneration for the royal House of Oldenburg, while Caroline Matilda's conduct in public brought the Crown into contempt. Her way of openly demonstrating her new happiness, and riding in public dressed as a man, was seen as shocking. On the birthday of the king in 1771 she founded the order called Mathilde-Ordenen.

On 17 June 1771 the royal court took summer residence at Hirschholm Palace in present-day Hørsholm municipality. Here, she lived happily with her child and her lover and was painted in the style of the newly modern country life; this summer is described as an idyll. On 7 July 1771, Caroline Matilda gave birth to her second child, Princess Louise Auguste, whose father was almost certainly Struensee. This was also considered scandalous; the girl was called “la petite Struensee”, though officially accepted as princess.

The court moved to Frederiksberg Palace on 19 November and then back to Christiansborg Castle on 8 January 1772.
Divorce and exile

Struensee and Caroline Matilda were both arrested in the middle of the night between 16 and 17 January, after a masked ball at the royal theatre at Christiansborg Castle. Caroline Matilda was taken to Kronborg Castle to await her judgment. She was allowed to keep her daughter with her, while 4 year old Crown Prince Frederik stayed with his father. She is believed to have been pressed or manipulated to admit the relationship by the interrogator. She was not given any advisers. She initially denied her relationship to Struensee in the hope of saving him.

The marriage of Caroline Matilda and Christian was dissolved by divorce in April 1772. After the divorce, Johann Friedrich Struensee and his accomplice Count Enevold Brandt were executed on 28 April 1772.


Johann Friedrich Struensee
Count Johann Friedrich Struensee (5 August 1737 – 28 April 1772) was a German doctor. He became royal physician to the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark and a minister in the Danish government. He rose in power to a position of "de facto" regent of the country, where he tried to carry out widespread reforms. His affair with Queen Caroline Matilda ("Caroline Mathilde" caused scandal, especially after the birth of a daughter, Princess Louise Augusta, and was the catalyst for the intrigues and power play that caused his downfall and dramatic death. He died unmarried.

Physician to King Christian VII
During Struensee's near ten-year residence in Altona he came into contact with a circle of aristocrats who had been sent away from the royal court in Copenhagen. Among them were Enevold Brandt and Count Schack Carl Rantzau, who were supporters of the Enlightenment. Rantzau recommended Struensee to the court as a physician to attend King Christian VII on his forthcoming tour to princely and royal courts in western Germany, the Netherlands, England, and France.

Struensee received the appointment in April 1768. The king and his entourage set forth on 6 May. While in England Struensee received the honorary degree of Doctor in Medicine from the University of Cambridge.

During the eight-month tour he gained the king's confidence and affection. The king's ministers, Bernstorff and Finance Minister H.C. Schimmelmann, were pleased with Struensee's influence on the king, who began making fewer embarrassing "scenes". Upon the court's return to Copenhagen in January 1769, Struensee was appointed personal physician to the king. In May, he was given the honorary title of State Councillor, which advanced him to the class of the third rank at court.

Rise to power
First he reconciled the king and queen. At first Caroline Matilda (Princess Caroline Matilda) disliked Struensee, but she was unhappy in her marriage, neglected and spurned by the king, and affected by his illness. But Struensee was one of the few people who paid attention to the lonely queen, and he seemed to do his best to alleviate her troubles. Over time her affection for the young doctor grew and by spring 1770 he became her lover; a successful vaccination of the baby crown prince in May still further increased his influence.

Struensee was very involved with the upbringing of the Crown Prince Frederick VI along the principles of Enlightenment, such as outlined by Jean-Jacques Rousseau's challenge to return to nature. However he had his own rather strict interpretation of Rousseau's ideas, by isolating the child, and encouraging him to manage things largely on his own. He also took Rousseau's advice about cold being beneficial for children literally, and the Crown Prince was thus only sparsely clothed even during winter time.

Struensee was named royal adviser (forelæser) and konferensråd on 5 May 1770.[3]

The royal court and government spent the summer of 1770 in Schleswig-Holstein (Gottorp, Traventhal and Ascheberg). On 15 September the King dismissed Chancellor Bernstorff and on 18 December Struensee appointed himself maître des requêtes (privy counsellor), consolidating his power and starting the 16-month period generally referred to as the "Time of Struensee".

When in the course of the year the king sank into a condition of mental torpor, Struensee's authority became paramount.

In control of the government
At first, Struensee kept a low profile as he began to control the political machine. However, in December he grew impatient, and on the 10th of that month he abolished the council of state. A week later he appointed himself maître des requêtes. It became his official duty to present reports from the various departments of state to the king. Because King Christian was scarcely responsible for his actions, Struensee dictated whatever answers he pleased.

Next, he dismissed all department heads, and abolished the Norwegian viceroyship. Henceforth the cabinet, with himself as its motive power, became the one supreme authority in the state. Struensee held absolute sway for almost thirteen months, between 18 December 1770 and 16 January 1772. During this time he issued no fewer than 1069 cabinet orders, or more than three a day.

Reforms initiated by Struensee included:
abolition of torture[4]
abolition of unfree labor (corvée)[4]
abolition of the censorship of the press[4]
abolition of the practice of preferring nobles for state offices[4]
abolition of noble privileges[4]
abolition of "undeserved" revenues for nobles[4]
abolition of the etiquette rules at the Royal Court[4]
abolition of the Royal Court's aristocracy[4]
abolition of state funding of unproductive manufacturers[4]
abolition of several holidays[4]
introduction of a tax on gambling and luxury horses to fund nursing of foundlings[4]
ban of slave trade in the Danish colonies[4]
rewarding only actual achievements with feudal titles and decorations[4]
criminalization and punishment of bribery[4]
re-organization of the judicial institutions to minimize corruption[4]
introduction of state-owned grain storages to balance out the grain price[4]
assignment of farmland to peasants[4]
re-organization and reduction of the army[4]
university reforms[4]
reform of the state-owned medical institutions[4]

Other reforms included the abolition of capital punishment for theft, the doing away with such demoralizing abuses as perquisites, and of "lackey-ism," the appointment of powerful men's domestic staff to lucrative public posts.


Critics of Struensee thought that he did not respect native Danish and Norwegian customs, seeing them as prejudices and wanting to eliminate them in favor of abstract principles. He also did not speak Danish, conducting his business in German. To ensure obedience, he dismissed entire staffs of public departments, without pensions or compensation, and substituted with nominees of his own. These new officials were in many cases inexperienced men who knew little or nothing of the country they were supposed to govern.

While initially the Danish people favored his reforms, they began to turn against him. When Struensee abolished all censorship of the press, it mostly resulted in a flood of anti-Struensee pamphlets.[5]

For at least a short time, in spite of all his blunders, middle class opinion was in his favor. Had he been wiser, he might have been able to avoid the hostility and impending chaotic changes that were to come. What incensed the people most against him was the way in which he put the king completely on one side; and this feeling was all the stronger as, outside a very narrow court circle, nobody seems to have believed that Christian VII was really mad, but only that his will had been weakened by habitual ill usage; and this opinion was confirmed by the publication of the cabinet order of 14 July 1771, appointing Struensee "gehejme kabinetsminister" or "Geheimekabinetsminister", with authority to issue cabinet orders which were to have the force of royal ordinances, even if unprovided with the royal sign-manual.

Nor were Struensee's relations with the queen less offensive to a nation which had a traditional veneration for the royal House of Oldenburg, while Caroline Matilda's shameless conduct in public brought the Crown into contempt. The society which daily gathered round the king and queen excited the derision of the foreign ambassadors. The unhappy king was little more than the butt of his environment, but occasionally the king would put up a show of obstinacy and refuse to carry out Brandt's or Struensee's orders. And once, when he threatened his keeper, Brandt, with a flogging for some impertinence, Brandt ended up in a struggle with the king, and in the course of this he struck the king in the face.


The Queen


Johann

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Reply Caroline Matilda of Great Britain and Johann Friedrich Struensee (Original post)
Tuesday Afternoon Jan 2015 OP
ismnotwasm Jan 2015 #1
Tuesday Afternoon Jan 2015 #2
shenmue Jan 2015 #3
Tuesday Afternoon Jan 2015 #4
ismnotwasm Jan 2015 #5
Name removed Jan 2015 #6
Name removed Jan 2015 #7
ismnotwasm Jan 2015 #8
Name removed Jan 2015 #9
ismnotwasm Jan 2015 #10
Name removed Jan 2015 #11

Response to Tuesday Afternoon (Original post)

Sat Jan 24, 2015, 01:33 PM

1. Now there's s ball of historical intrigue!

Fascinating stuff

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 24, 2015, 01:46 PM

2. recommend a film - A Royal Affair -

the parallels to what is happening politically with our country today struck me as very similar.

A Royal Affair (2012)
"En kongelig affære" (original title)
137 min - Drama | History | Romance - 29 March 2012 (Denmark)
A young queen, who is married to an insane king, falls secretly in love with her physician - and together they start a revolution that changes a nation forever.

Storyline
In 1767, the British Princess Caroline is betrothed to the mad King Christian VII of Denmark, but her life with the erratic monarch in the oppressive country becomes an isolating misery. However, Christian soon gains a fast companion with the German Dr. Johann Struensee, a quietly idealistic man of the Enlightenment. As the only one who can influence the King, Struensee is able to begin sweeping enlightened reforms of Denmark through Christian even as Caroline falls for the doctor. However, their secret affair proves a tragic mistake that their conservative enemies use to their advantage in a conflict that threatens to claim more than just the lovers as their victims.

User Reviews
Impressive in its beauty!
4 September 2012 | by Wendy Yd New Style (Netherlands) –
Love can lead to transformation yet the force of greed and the lack of political skills can bring anyone down even though you have the best intentions and act for the "greater good".
It does not happen very often that I come out of the cinema and completely shut up. It didn't feel like I was listening to a non-English dialogue. Danish felt like a familiar language ... and it was beautiful in this movie.
Though not with splendid clothes like Marie Antoinette, no intense intrigues, no large battle scenes, it was one of the best historic films I have ever seen. Everything was kept "small", yet with so much feeling that I could not take sides with any of the 3 main characters. Fair enough, the greedy and backward upper-class angered me much; just can't stand stupidity, especially when it holds back progress and the aim for improvements.


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Response to Tuesday Afternoon (Original post)

Sat Jan 24, 2015, 01:47 PM

3. Wow

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Response to shenmue (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 24, 2015, 01:48 PM

4. IKR - I love the History of Feminism. So many Righteous Females throughout History.

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Response to Tuesday Afternoon (Reply #4)

Sat Jan 24, 2015, 01:55 PM

5. Yes indeed

History is so incredibly important, humans ignore it to their peril. The history of Feminism is a suppressed history, once you start looking the enormity of the suppression is evident.

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Response to Name removed (Reply #7)

Sun Jan 25, 2015, 02:39 PM

8. I'm not telling you shit

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Response to Name removed (Reply #9)

Sun Jan 25, 2015, 02:52 PM

10. Wacka wacka wacka

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