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Hedwig of Denmark


Hedwig of Denmark

Hedwig of Denmark
Electress of Saxony
Tenure 1602–1611
Spouse Christian II, Elector of Saxony
House House of Wettin
House of Oldenburg
Father Frederick II of Denmark
Mother Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow
Born (1581-08-05)5 August 1581
Frederiksborg Palace, Hillerød, Kingdom of Denmark
Died 26 November 1641(1641-11-26) (aged 60)
Schloss Lichtenburg, Prettin, Electorate of Saxony
Burial Freiberg, Saxony
Religion Lutheranism

Princess Hedwig of Denmark (5 August 1581 – 26 November 1641) was the youngest daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark and Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, and Electress of Saxony from 1602 to 1611 as the wife of Christian II.

The marriage was childless, and her husband was succeeded by his brother John George. After Christian's death in 1611, the Dowager Electress Hedwig held a powerful position in Saxony.

Early life and marriage

Hedwig was born on 5 August 1581 at Frederiksborg Palace in Denmark, the seventh child and fourth daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark and Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow. One of her three sisters was Princess Anne of Denmark, future queen of England and Scotland, and one of her brothers became Christian IV of Denmark. Like her siblings, she spent most of her childhood away from Denmark: in her case with her mother's relative in Mecklenburg.

She was married on 12 September 1602 to Christian II, Elector of Saxony, her first cousin once removed, in Dresden. The nine-year marriage was childless. Christian died in Dresden on 23 June 1611.

Life as Dowager Electress

When her husband died in 1611, Hedwig became Dowager Electress in charge of the police and courts. She shared her authority with the new Elector, but her subjects considered her their sovereign. She was able to maintain her independence from her brother-in-law when it came to trade and commerce. She acted independently, granting letters of free passage etc., something that was normally the prerogative of the Elector. Additionally, she founded churches and aided the poor, sick, and disabled.

As sister of the Danish king Christian IV and sister-in-law of the British king she cultivated important connections for her brother-in-law, Elector John George I, and was involved in arranging the marriages of five of his seven children. Because of her position and connections, her territories were hardly attacked during the Thirty Years' War.

As a widow, she mainly lived in Lichtenburg, but she visited Denmark on her mothers' funeral in 1631 and at her nephew the crown prince's wedding in 1634.

She died on 26 November 1641 at Schloss Lichtenburg in Prettin.



  • (Danish)


Preceded by
Sophie of Brandenburg
Electress of Saxony
Succeeded by
Magdalene Sibylle of Prussia
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