Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Cruise Chronicles – Day 2 – Roskilde, Denmark

Roskilde Cathedral (9 May 2019)

Before retiring on our first night in Copenhagen…blessed sleep in a real bed after being up for two days, we sat in the hotel lobby checking out the rack of brochures on area attractions. There were bus and boat tours, various museums, parks and cultural offerings…the usual things one finds in and around a big city…and none were ringing any bells. Then Suzanne saw this little card that identified the town of Roskilde and the cathedral there that just happens to be the traditional burial site of the Danish monarchs.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

I’m happy to report that going there appealed to all, not just this lover of graves and their important occupants. The day began at Copenhagen’s Central Station. I do love the look of classic old European rail stations.

Central Station, Copenhagen (9 May 2019)

The Danish monarchy is the oldest in the world with a lineage that extends back over a thousand years. Curiously, every king since 1513 has alternately been a Christian or a Frederik. Until Queen Margarethe II assumed the throne in 1972 (the first female ruler since Margarethe I passed in 1412), there has been a Chris who begat a Fred who begat a Chris and so on. 

Inside Roskilde Cathedral Organ (9 May 2019)

Christian IV Chapel, Roskilde Cathedral (9 May 2019)

The black and silver sarcophagus on the left contains the remains of Christian IV, who ruled for 59 years before he died in 1648. No other Scandinavian monarch has occupied a throne as long. He brought wealth and stability to the country. At the same time, he jumped into the Thirty Years War, a most destructive religious conflict. He also rebuilt the Norwegian capital of Oslo and renamed it Christiania after himself…modest monarch that he was.

Tomb of Queen Margrethe I, Roskilde Cathedral (9 May 2019)

Queen Margrethe ruled at a time when the Danish Kingdom included Norway and Sweden. She died at age 59 in 1412. Some consider her to be the first great European ruling queen. She was very capable and her subjects liked to call her their ‘Lady King.’ She occupies a prime central position in the cathedral. Six hundred years later, that regard holds as the current monarch, the first woman since Margrethe to rule, is Margrethe II. 

Tomb of King Christian V, Roskilde Cathedral (9 May 2019)

King Christian V, son of Frederik III and father of Frederik IV, died in 1699. A quick glance at history shows he was one lucky stiff who ruled when European monarchs (conspiring with the clergy) solidified the idea that kings had a Divine Right to rule and no earthly authority could do anything about it. Those were the days.

He started a war with Sweden which he lost. The Danish economy tanked and to add insult to injury, his sister married the king of Sweden. He was not interested in being educated enough to rule effectively but he was popular with the people. Gotta love what he himself said were his main interests in life: ”hunting, love-making, war and maritime affairs.” A real manly man of the people he was, fathering eight children with his wife and six more with his mistress.

I’ll leave you to consider if any of his story reminds you of our modern political environment.


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