King Frederik II of Denmark and Norway has often been overshadowed by Christian IV, his son who has been much loved by posterity. Yet Frederik II, who reigned from 1559 to 1577, was himself one of the most interesting Dano-Norwegian monarchs and indeed the realm’s first renaissance king.
He was a significant patron of the arts and sciences, and his reign saw the birth of true royal splendour at court and the advent of gifted professional artists. Such was the fame of his lasting monument, Kronborg Castle in Elsinore (Helsingør), that Shakespeare chose it as the setting for Hamlet.
Nevertheless, the Norwegian city of Fredrikstad is today one of the few places where Frederik II is honoured, as it was he who founded the town in 1567, and in Fredrikstad Museum’s yearbook, Mindre Alv XV, which goes on sale today, I tell the story of the city’s founder’s life and reign.
Since I completed this article this spring Frederik II has for the first time become the subject of a biography, written by the historian Poul Grinder-Hansen, which is also well worth reading.