Anne of Denmark
Anne of Denmark
ANNE OF DENMARK
Queen consort of King James I of Great Britain; b. Skanderborg, Jutland, Dec. 12, 1574; d. Hampton Court, England, March 2, 1619. Anne, whose parents were King Frederick II of Denmark and Norway and Queen Sophia of Mecklenburg, was brought up in a traditional Lutheran household, and was the second of four daughters in a family of seven children. Anne was sought in marriage by James VI of Scotland as a means of settling in Scot-land's favor a dispute with Denmark over the Orkney Islands. The marriage was solemnized at Oslo, Nov. 24, 1589. Of an indolent, but tolerant and amiable nature, the young bride showed little interest in anything more serious than rich clothes, court balls, and masques, which remained her chief delight throughout her life. She was the mother of six children: her eldest son, and favorite, Henry Frederick, was born at Stirling, Feb. 19, 1594, and his premature death in 1612 left her inconsolable; Elizabeth (b. 1596) became Princess of Bohemia; Margaret (b. 1598) died in infancy; Charles, the future King Charles I of England, was born in 1600; Robert (b. 1601) died in infancy, as did Mary (b. at Greenwich, England, 1605; d. 1607).
Anne preferred Lutheranism to the Calvinism of Scotland. The deprivation of Lutheran services seems to have led to her interest in Catholicism. In 1600, at Holyroodhouse Palace, she received Robert abercromby, SJ: "After a long conversation with the father, she earnestly entreated him to stay with her three days that he might instruct her fully in Catholic doctrines and ceremonies…. On the fourth day, full of holy joy she made her general confession and having heard Mass twice, she received the most holy sacrament with joy in the presence of only a few persons of rank." Not only did James know of her conversion, he utilized it in negotiations with clement viii for recognition of James's right to the throne of England at Elizabeth's death. The negotiations were carried on through Sir James Lindsay, the pope's messenger.
During Anne's reign as Queen of England (1603–19), it is known that Alexander MacQuhirrie, SJ, was her chaplain and that Richard Blount, English Jesuit provincial, visited her secretly on a number of occasions before and after the birth of her daughter Mary at Greenwich. He reprimanded her severely for attending her infant daughter's baptism according to the Protestant form. Anne's light and frivolous nature has caused many historians to regard her Catholicism as a passing fancy and fad. Certainly her conversion seemingly did nothing to make her serious and devout, or to offer strength of character. Nonetheless, her refusal to receive the Sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England at her coronation with James, July 24, 1603, showed some courage and raised the hopes of Catholic England. She urged a Catholic marriage for Prince Henry and sought to obtain office for her co-religionists. She corresponded with the Spanish infanta and dared to employ Sir Anthony Stan-den, James's ambassador to Italy, as her private agent in Rome. Undoubtedly the storm over the Gunpowder Plot and the pressures of James, who then found his wife's Catholicism awkward for him, did much to weaken her resolution, at least publicly. Although James made a point of choosing only those favorites first accepted by his wife, it was always actually a manipulated affair, and Anne was known to have little political influence, as, e.g., in the case of Sir Walter Raleigh. Her correspondence with Ottaviano Lotti, the opinions of Philip III and Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, Duke of Lerma, and ambassador's reports, all indicate continued knowledge and acceptance of her Catholicism throughout the years 1605 to 1618. Don Diego de Sarmiento de Acuna, Count Gondomar, Spanish Ambassador, attests to the fact that though Anne attended the services of the Church of England with James, she never took Communion at these services, and that at Denmark House, her London residence, she frequently heard Mass secretly in the garret from recusant priests. At her country residence at Oatlands she had two priests and while there she heard Mass daily.
Anne, frustrated in any powerful public influence, seems to have resorted to extravagant expenditures for masques and building, utilizing the genius of Inigo Jones at Greenwich House and Denmark House especially. After 1612 Anne suffered for many years from dropsy, which eventually caused her mortal illness. She was attended at her deathbed by George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the bishop of London. Her deathbed renunciation of "the mediation of all saints and her own merits" is taken as a denial of her Roman Catholicism, a position most recently accepted by Philip Caraman, SJ, who felt she was "persuaded vs. her true conviction." A virtuous wife, affectionate mother, and good friend, generous and compassionate, Anne was well liked by the English people.
Bibliography: d. h. willson, King James VI and I (New York 1956). g. p. v. akrigg, Jacobean Pageant (Cambridge, Mass. 1962). l. hicks, "The Embassy of Sir Anthony Standen in 1603," Recusant History 5 (1959–60) 91–127, 194–222; 6 (1961–62) 163–194; 7 (1963–64) 50–81. a. w. ward, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 1:431–441, bibliog. s. r. gardiner, History of England, 10 v. (2d rev. ed. London 1883–84) v.1–3. a. strickland, Lives of the Queens of England, 12 v. (London 1840–48) v.7.
[j. d. hanlon]
Anne of Denmark
Sue Minna Cannon