Born 1808, died 1863. King of Denmark 1848-1863. Son of King Christian VIII of Denmark and Queen Charlotte Frederikke. No issue. Married three times; first to Princess Vilhelmine; next to Princess Mariane of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; finally (morganatically) to the commoner-born Countess Louise Danner (originally Louise Rasmussen).
As Crown Prince, Frederik's first marriage, in 1828, was of great dynastic importance, since his wife, Princess Vilhelmine, was the daughter of King Frederik VI of Denmark. The marriage thus united two branches of the Danish royal family. However, the rowdy lifestyle of the prince, with much drinking and adultery, led to a divorce, in 1837. In punishment for this embarassment to the royal family, Frederik was effectively sent into exile in the provincial garrison city Fredericia.
Upon the accession of his father to the throne, in 1839, Frederik became governor of the major Danish island of Fyn. A second marriage in 1841, to a German princess, had much the same outcome as the first - Princess Mariane was unable to stand Frederik's behaviour, and returned home in 1844. The chief cause of the break between Frederik and Princess Mariane was Frederik's improper liaison with the commoner Louise Rasmussen (later ennobled as Countess Louise Danner), who turned out to be the great love of Frederik's life. In 1846, the marriage with Princess Mariane was dissolved. In 1850, Frederik and his beloved Louise were married (a morganatic marriage, meaning that she could never be Queen).
Frederik's father died in 1848, and Frederik became King of Denmark, the seventh of his name. By this time, it was clear that Frederik was not fit for absolute kingship. He simply wasn't capable of living up to the demanding rôle of absolute monarch. Furthermore, public opinion favoured the introduction of democracy, a widespread European trend in 1848. Two months after becoming king, Frederik renounced absolutism, and Denmark became a constitutional monarchy.
During the years 1848-1850, Denmark was embroiled in the First War for Schleswig-Holstein (also known as the Three-Year War), a prolonged civil war in Denmark's southern territories, which later became a focus for German nationalism. Finally finding his place in the monarchy, Frederik played his part as king very well during the war. His dignified yet populist behaviour endeared him to the people, and cemented the union of monarchy and democracy that was to characterise the Danish system ever since. This is not to say that Frederik immediately understood the limitations which constitutional monarchy imposed upon him - far from it. Among other gaffes, his resistance to a partitioning of Schleswig (during the war) caused political havoc.
King Frederik devoted considerable effort to making his Louise acceptable to the upper circles of Danish society - efforts which were ultimately in vain. The nobility and the elevated bourgeoisie were not about to accept a social climber into their midst, even if she were the consort of the King. As a result, Frederik and his not-Queen spent much time in the countryside - and, contrary to the capital, the people in the countryside loved their King and his ladylove.
King Frederik VII is an unusual figure in Danish history. A lazy man with little or no talent for ruling, and with numerous character flaws, he nevertheless managed to muddle his way through a period of enormous changes in the political status of Denmark and its monarchy.
Upon the death of King Frederik VII, the Oldenburg dynasty, which had ruled Denmark since the middle ages, ended, and the monarchy passed to a distant sept, the house of Glücksburg, in the person of King Christian IX of Denmark.