Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monument to Queen Caroline Amalie of Denmark

The monument commemorating Queen Caroline Amalie of Denmark is found outside Rosenborg Palace. Who was she, and what is the story behind it?

She was born 1796 as Caroline Amalia of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderborg-Augustenborg daughter of Frederik Christian II, Duke of Augustenborg and Princess Louise Augusta of Denmark. She was of royal blood, and was to wed a king that also played an important role in the Norwegian history. She could, in fact, have been the first Queen of Norway since 1349.

The first Norwegian National Assembly convened at Eidsvoll in 1814, and a Norwegian constitution was signed by its members May 17th. One of their members was my great-great-great grandfather Even Thorsen (1776-1867) that served as a sailor at a Danish man-of-war.

My ancestor and the other members of the assembly elected Christian VII to King Christian Fredrik of Norway in 1814. As the Danes, during the turbulent times, had chosen to support Napoleon, he was never to be the first king of a sovereign Norwegian state in a post-Napoleonic Europe. Instead the union with Denmark that had lasted from 1349, was dissolved, and another was formed with Sweden under the newly elected King Karl XIV Johan, né Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte.

Funny - my ancestor met Charlotte Amalies husband to be. In 1814 she was promised as wife of King Christian VII. She survived him for 33 years and died in 1881. The couple had no children, but the devoutly religious queen worked for welfare of children all her life. She founded children's homes as Caroline Amalies Asylskole.

The sculptor, Wilhelm Bissen, underlined her religious character in the sculpture ordered by Caroline Amalie Asylskoles Minde. He made her wear a collar as the one carried by priests, and firmly holding a bible.

Christian Gottlieb Vilhelm Bissen was born in 1836 as the son of Wilhelm Bissen, one of Bertel Thorvaldsen's pupils and continued his fathers workshop. He was heavily influenced by French naturalism seen in a number of sculptures, and also in this sculpture of Queen Caroline Amalie.

The monument of Queen Caroline Amalie was placed on its present location in 1896, 15 years after her death.

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