Frederick Christian II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg

Frederick Christian II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (28 September 1765 in Augustenburg – 14 June 1814 in Augustenburg) was a Danish prince and feudal magnate. He held the island of Als and some other castles (such as Sonderborg) in Schleswig.

Frederick Christian II was born the eldest son of Frederick Christian I, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1721–1794), by his wife and cousin Princess Charlotte of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Plön (1744–1770). Until his father's death, he was styled "Hereditary Prince of Augustenborg".

He was a prince with an exceptionally high level of Danish blood in his ancestry: his maternal grandmother, paternal grandmother, and paternal great-grandmother having been born, respectively, Countess of Reventlow, Countess of Danneskiold-Samsøe, and Countess of Ahlefeldt-Langeland. He was closely related to all important families of the Danish high nobility of the time. The negative side was that his ancestry was rather too much "comital" and too little royal. Instead of including royal princesses and duchesses of small and large German states, as was customary with the Oldenburg royal family, their marriage connections had been mostly with the nobility (chiefly of Denmark). Thus, although they were undoubtedly the senior cadet line of the royal house of Denmark (Oldenburg), the family was regarded as a bit lower than the Ebenbürtige which the rulers of small Germany principalities thought to be the standard.

By marriage, however, Frederick Christian drew closer to his cousins, the Danish royal family. In 1786, the twenty-year-old hereditary prince married his distant cousin, the fourteen-year-old Louise Auguste of Denmark and Norway (1771–1843), purported daughter of Christian VII of Denmark by his wife, the late Queen Caroline Mathilde. Louise Auguste's father, the king, was a man with mental disabilities and, throughout his reign, effective control was in the hands of other people (ranging from his step-mother to his wife to his half-brother to various courtiers). The king's mental condition, and his unharmonious relationship with his wife, gave rise to speculation that Louise had been sired by someone other than him, and rumour awarded fatherhood to Johann Friedrich Struensee, the king’s court physician and de facto regent of the country at the time of Louise's birth. Indeed, she was at times referred to as la petite Struensee. The truth of the matter cannot be definitely ascertained.

The story of antecedents of the prince's marriage goes as follows: In February 1779, the nation's foremost statesman, Chief Minister Count Andreas Peter Bernstorff, hatched an ingenious plan for the young princess, something that often has been customary with a royal child suspected of not being sired by its nominal father but in its mother's illicit liaison: to marry such a child to another member of the royal house. Since a male child of hers could inherit the throne some day, it would be advantageous to arrange a marriage early, and to marry the "half-royal" back into the extended royal house, to the Hereditary Prince of Augustenborg. This plan had the positive effect of more closely connecting the Danish royal house’s two lines, the ruling House of Oldenborg and the cadet House of Augustenborg, thus not only discouraging any breakup of the kingdom but also forestalling the possibility of a foreigner gaining influence into Danish affairs through marriage with her. This would certainly happen, for instance, if Louise were to marry her closer relations, the Swedish royals. The danger of Louise Auguste marrying into the Swedish royal house (the latter danger was rather low, however: at that time, there were Swedish princes only twenty years or more her senior, and her first cousin, the future King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden, had just been born when she already was seven).

Binding agreements were made as early as in 1780, when Frederick Christian was 15 and Louise was only 9 years old. Five years later, in the spring of 1785, the young Frederick Christian came to Copenhagen. The engagement was announced then, and a year later, on May 27, 1786, the wedding was celebrated at Christiansborg Palace.

The couple lived at the Castle for many years until the Christiansborg Palace fire of 1794 and the death of his father, the Duke of Augustenborg Frederick Christian I, at which point the prince inherited the estate and the duchy. After 1794, the couple lived during the summer on the island of Als and at Gråsten.

The couple had three children:

Over the years, conflict arose between Duke Frederick Christian II and Louise Auguste's brother, King Frederick VI of Denmark, especially over the relationship of the double-duchies of Schleswig-Holstein and the Duke's own small appanage around Sonderborg on the one hand and the Danish monarchy on the other. His wife remained loyal to the Danish royal house throughout these differences. The marriage eventually fell into acrimony and reproach, and Frederick Christian tried to legally limit Louise Auguste's influence over their children's futures.

In 1810, Frederik Christian's younger brother Charles August was chosen by the estates of the Swedish realm as that nation's crown prince, to succeed the elderly and childless King Charles XIII. Following Charles August's death in May 1810, Frederick Christian himself was the leading candidate to become the new heir to the Swedish throne. On August 8, 1810 he was elected crown prince by the estates. His election however, was reconsidered and withdrawn two weeks later and Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, Marshal of France and Prince of Ponte Corvo, was elected instead.

Frederick Charles died on June 14, 1814. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Christian August II, then but sixteen years old. Louise Auguste took control of the Augustenborg estates and the children’s upbringing. The estates were turned over to the son and heir on his return from an extended foreign tour in 1820.


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