11 April 2015

Today's Princess: Sophie Amalie Moth

via Wikimedia Commons
Today's "Princess" is the first official royal mistress in Denmark. She gained her position during a kind of heyday for Danish royal mistresses, whose existence at court, not only weakened the position of the Queens but also played a role in destabilizing the relationship between the Kings and the nobility, as the Kings became increasingly powerful and used their illegitimate children as pawns in political marriages with the nobility.

Like many of the royal mistresses before her, Sophie Amalie Moth (1654-1719) seems to have been pushed forward by an ambitious mother. At the age of 16, Sophie Amalie, the daughter of the King's late teacher, became the mistress of King Christian V, shortly before he married Princess Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel. For the next decade, one or both women was pregnant, each presenting five children to Christian--usually with "Christian" or "Christiane" among the child's names. (His wife went on to give the King two more children later.)

Sophie Amalie was formally introduced at Court shortly after the birth of her first child. Then, she was granted the title Countess of Samsø. In 1679, all of her children were officially acknowledged by the King and given the surname Gyldenløve, which looks romantic to English speakers, but actually means "golden lion." It had been the name given to generations of illegitimate royal children.

In 1684, Sophie Amalie's mother and her two youngest daughter's died. A year later, her sons were sent to live with an illegitimate uncle to be better educated for their futures. Then, her eldest child, daughter Christiane was married at age 14 to an illegitimate cousin. Unfortunately, she died before the age of 18.

Sophie Amalie and her family, particularly her brother Matthias Moth, continued to grow in wealth and influence until the King's death in 1699. The new King Frederik V promptly dismissed Matthias Moth from his official duties, but treated his half-brothers well. One was postmaster general while the other, Ulrik Christian was an admiral in the navy and helped defeat the ambitions of the Swedish King against Denmark and its allies in the Great Northern War.

As for Sophie Amalie, she lived a quiet retirement for another couple of decades in her mansion, which is now the home of the French embassy in Sweden. Her descendants are among the highest nobles in Denmark today, and the line of Dannekiold-Samsø, which eventually married into the Augustenburg branch of the Schleswig-Holstein family also descends from her.

For more about Sophie Amalie:
Sophie Amalie Moth on Dansk Kvindebiografisk Leksikon (in Danish)

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