The first official mistress of Denmark – Sophie Amalie Moth

(public domain)

Sophie Amalie was born in March 1654 as the youngest of six children. She was born straight into a life at the royal court. Her parents were Ida Dorothea Bureneus and her husband Poul Moth, who was a court doctor after previously having worked as a teacher in the household.

We do not know anything of Sophie’s childhood, but we do know that after the death of her husband, Sophie’s mother worked tirelessly to try to set her daughter up with the new 24-year-old King Christian V of Denmark. Having been left with six children to provide for; Sophie’s mother clearly decided to use her role as a familiar figure at court to push her child in the king’s direction as a way to provide for her future. The tradition of keeping a mistress was well-established by this point in European courts and was seen as a way for a woman to establish herself.

christian king
King Christian V (public domain)

Whatever Ida Bureneus did, her scheme was a success, and by 1671 Sophie and King Christian were an item. Sophie was 16 years old when the pair became a couple and lived in a house with her sister at the time. The king’s wife Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassell could do nothing but abide her husband’s actions as he continued this relationship with Sophie. As Christian and Charlotte had their royal children together, more illegitimate children were being born around the same times to Sophie and Christian.

Sophie’s first child was born in 1672 and was a daughter named Christiane. This child came just a year after Christian’s heir, the future Frederick IV, was born to Queen Charlotte. There were six children born to the couple between the years 1672-1682, which shows that their love affair was a long term relationship.

Over the years, during her relationship with the king, Sophie managed to buy herself houses, farms and estates with money from the king and the crown treasury. These properties made sure that Sophie and her children were well provided. Her position became more certain when in 1676, Sophie was declared the king’s official mistress. This was unprecedented in Denmark, and the king may have come up with the idea after spending time in Louis XIV’s court at Versailles in his younger years. This announcement brought about great embarrassment for a time for Queen Charlotte. However, she soon learned to put up with Sophie as Charlotte realised that her position as Queen could not be touched. Charlotte would attend all royal parties with the king, she was allowed to enter his chambers, and she went on trips with him to battle sites in a way that Sophie was not able. Nevertheless, it is clear that the king loved Sophie and the children born from their union.

In 1677, Sophie was given a title by the king and was known as Countess of Samsø from then on. Two years later, the king publically acknowledged the five children he had with Sophie and gave them the surname of Gyldenløve which was often given to the illegitimate children of Danish kings.

As time went by and the children grew up, they were seen at court more and more. Sadly two of the couple’s daughters died in the year 1684. In 1685, the other children were officially introduced at the court and even presented to Queen Charlotte, from this point on, it was more acceptable for good marriages and jobs to be arranged for the children. Sadly before long, tragedy struck again, and in 1689, Sophie and Christian’s remaining two daughters both passed away. One of them was Christiane their eldest who had recently married with her father in attendance, and the other was Anna, who was aged just thirteen. After these losses, Sophie was left with just her two sons alive out of six children.

In 1697, Sophie was given another property by the king, which is known today as Thott Palace. Just two years later, after almost thirty years together, King Christian died suddenly at the age of 53, after a hunting accident. Sophie lived a quiet life for another two decades before her own death. Only one of the couple’s six children outlived them both. Today the Danish noble family Danneskiold-Samsøe still descends directly from Sophie and King Christian.

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