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Christian VI and his family. Photo: The Royal Danish Collection Rosenborg

Christian VI

The builder king

Christian VI reigned from 1730 to 1746. During this period, Christian erected some magnificent palaces. The only one of his buildings which stands to this day is the Hermitage Royal Hunting Lodge, which was completed in 1736. His grandiose buildings stand in stark contrast to Christian’s personality. He was feeble, awkward and shy and had a squeaky voice. He spent most of his reign hiding from his subjects behind the walls of his palaces. Nevertheless, he was still able to create for himself an aura of greatness. This can be seen throughout the Hermitage from the lobby to the bel étage. The king decorated his hunting lodge with the finest materials – gold, silver, Chinese silk wallpaper – and world-class architecture.

However, Christian VI was not a popular king. He prohibited most forms of entertainment such as masquerades, dances and even Holberg's plays. He even compelled his subjects to attend church twice on Sundays. He was also the king who introduced serfdom and the Danish tradition of confirmation. The king married Sophie Magdalene who was just as pious and as interested in building as Christian.