Christian 3rd had early shown, that he placed the carrying out of
the reformation above all. When he after his fathers death obtained the power
over the land south of the present border, he at first ensured, that the new
teaching was steady spread out.
I would rather walk from here, he wrote, and let everything alone, than accept
their non Christian way of living.
One year after the death of his father, which activated the civil war
1534-1536, and which is called Grevens Fejde (the count’s feud), the mature
as well as moderate man, was by some of the members of the Danish Council and
low-nobilities urged to receive the crown.
Christian 3rd could in August 1536 enter a starving Copenhagen, The
Count’s Feud had ended.
After his victory 1536 he showed the same impatience to carry out the
reformation in one blow, perhaps motivated by his fierce Holstenske Council,
who cryed out, that it was necessary to break de Danish Hanser (people from
Shortly after the capture of Copenhagen Christian 3rd had a meeting
with Johan Rantzau and his German advicers. Here they decided to imprison the
bishops. The religious councils should also have been imprisoned, but got off,
as they all straigt away promised to accept repeal of the bishop’s ruling,
and implementation of the Evangelical Church. The imprisoned bishops were soon
thereafter released, as they gave their accept, except Joakim Rønnov, who
remained in prison until the day, he died.
By this coup d’état the king achieved both, that the church was placed
under him, what the miserable financial state of the kingdom almost
necessitated, and that the Council, which now only counted ecclesiastical
members, became secondary to the crown.
The new arrangement was then established in the written and signed document,
agreed on by the king and the Council, and the dismissal decided at a
“rigsdag” (council), consisted of 400 noblemen, 200 citizens and 500
peasants, who were kept in Copenhagen in October 1536.
The king’s 2 year old son Frederik was crowned as successor to the throne,
and for him should the castles be kept, if the king died.
There should never more be appointed bishops, but instead appointed “super
indenter” (a new word, but people got never accustomed to it, and called
them bishops) to teach the people the holy gospel. The bishop’s estates
should be placed under the crown.
The kings power had increased extremely. At once the bishop’s estates were
confiscated and gradually the monastery estates.
In the first years after 1536 Christian 3rd leaned on the
Holstenske advicers, but later he joined the Danish nobility, and the German
advicers, among those Johan Rantzau, withdrew.
After all he exercised his enormous power with reservation. He was a good
example for the believer, and at his court he did not tolerate drinking and
His strength he especially devoted to bring the church in good working. His
enemies called him “The priest king”.
He died at Koldinghus in 1559.
Buried in St. Knuds Church in Odense, transferred in 1578 to Roskilde
Christian 3rd was son of Frederik 1st and Anna of
Married in 1525 to Dorothea of Sachsen-Lauenburg (1511-71), daughter of count
Magnus 1st of Sachsen-Lauenburg and Cathrine of
They had the children:
1532-85, she was in 1548 married to prince August of Sachsen.
2nd, 1534-88, later king
1540-83, king of Livland and in 1573 married to Marija of Russia
1545-1622, count of Slesvig-Holsten, married in 1568 to Elisabeth of
Braunschweig. Second time in 1588 to Agnes Hedevig of Anhalt.
1546-1617, who was married to count Wilhelm of Braunschweig-Lüneburg.