King Christian VII of Denmark-Norway was born in 1749, Jan. 29th. He ruled for over 42 years but is mostly known as “the schizophrenic king of Denmark”.
As a young child the future looked very bright for Christian. He was very gifted and intelligent, had good social skills and was heir to one of the most powerful countries in Europe at the time. What happened during his childhood that made him the person he later became is uncertain but it is known that Christian was incredibly nervous and had problems with anxiety as a child. But one of the things that undoubtedly contributed to his later insanity was his male caretakers and teachers. Christian was subjected to both physical and sexual abuse, but the emotional abuse Christian experienced from his caretakers was to an extreme degree.
When Christian’s father king Frederik V died, Christian was forced to become king at the age of 16 in 1766. Christian had never been interested in being king. As a child he daydreamed that he and the real crown prince had been switched at birth, and that the mistake soon would be discovered so that he could live a normal and not become king. At his accession to the throne Christian’s behavior was already noticeably strange, but it was by the Danish court brushed off as nothing serious, and it was thought that a wife would cure his strange habits. A marriage to his 15-year-old cousin Princess Caroline Mathilda of the United Kingdom was arranged, but the marriage did not cure Christian. Christian began drinking heavily and his behavior became more violent. Christian indulged in violent wrecking sprees around his palace, often beating his head against walls until he drew blood. He spent his evenings stalking the streets of Copenhagen with a gang of friends, occasionally destroying brothels. Symptoms during this time included paranoia, self-mutilation and hallucinations.
The Danish court realized Christian behavior had to be controlled, so the German doctor Struensee was hired as Christian private physician. Struensee and Christian became best friends, and Struensee quickly became good friends with Christian’s wife Queen Consort Caroline Mathilda as well. Struensee and Caroline Mathilda, who since her arrival in Denmark had suffered from severe depression, became lovers and “partners in crime”. Christian was completely unable to rule for himself, so Struensee and Caroline Mathilda saw this as an opotunity to rule Denmark the way they though it should be ruled. As Struensee, unofficially, became Christian’s de facto regent, the affair between Struensee and the Queen became commonly known. The two even had a lovechild together, Princess Augusta. In 1772, after 2 years as Christian’s de facto regent and Caroline’s lover, Struensee was arrested. Christian’s stepmother and members of the court manipulated and forced Christian to sign his best friend Struensee’s death warrant. A few months later, Struensee was executed and Queen Caroline Mathilda was sent to Germany, never to see her two children again.
After Struensee’s death and until Christian’s own death, Christian lived an isolated life. His stepmother, and later his son, ruled for him and began controlling his life. Christian was horribly mistreated at court and his symptoms worsened. Christian had extreme mood swings and his behavior became more erratic and odd. Christian died of a heart attack at the age of 59 in 1808 after witnessing the arrival of Spanish auxiliaries, which he mistook for enemy forces. He had 1 child, King Frederik VI, with Caroline Mathilda but also officially declared Caroline Mathilda and Struensee’s lovechild, Princess Augusta, as his own daughter.
In a book from 1906, a historian claimed that Christian suffered from schizophrenia. Recent historians refrain from giving a diagnosis, but agree that Christian was very intelligent and had periods of clarity, but that he suffered from severe emotional problems and had extreme erratic behavior.