Sophie Magdalene was born on 28 November 1700 in Castle Schonberg, Germany, and was the daughter of Christian Heinrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth-Kulmbach, and Sophie Christiane of Wolfstein.
When Christian, Crown Prince of Denmark, was touring Europe in search of bride, he met Sophie Magdalene at the court of Christiane Eberhardine, Queen of Poland, at the Pretzsch Castle where she was serving as lady-in-waiting. Christian was immediately struck by Sophie Magdalene’s religious piety which matched his own and he soon sought permission from his father, Frederick IV, to marry her. Although Sophie Magdalene was from a low-ranked family, Frederick IV acquiesced and the couple were married on 7 August 1721 at Pretzsch Castle.
Despite the couple’s alleged piety, Sophie Magdalene had a love for luxury and fine jewellery which she wasted no time in collecting. Although Sophie Magdalene enjoyed her new lavish life in Denmark, she never forgot she was from a poor mobile family and she often supported her siblings, inviting them to stay with her on numerous occasions. When Sophie Magdalene announced she was pregnant with her first child, she invited her mother, Sophie Christiane, to stay at Sorgenfri Palace and she never returned to Germany.
Sophie Magdalene gave birth to three children: Frederick (1723-1766); Louise, (1724-1724); and, Louise (1726-1756). For Sophie Magdalene, the two surviving children were a great source of disappointment as Frederick V grew up to be a notorious drunkard with suicidal tendencies, while his sister, Louise, had to be hastily married off to cover an illegitimate pregnancy.
When Frederick IV died in 1730, Christian and Sophie Magdalene were crowned King and Queen of Denmark and Norway, and Sophie Magdalene insisted a new crown be made for her as she refused to wear the same one as the hated Queen Anna Sophie. Sophie Magdalene did bequeath many of her own jewels to the crown to achieve this, including emeralds Christian had presented to her on the birth of their son. Sophie Magdalene was never particularly popular at court as her piety made her seem haughty and aloof. Sophie Magdalene’s love for luxury was also a growing problem as she had no qualms about spending large amounts of money when the country was particularly poor.
Sophie Magdalene also did not hide her disdain for anything Danish, and she ensured her German entourage held more key positions at court than their Danish equivalents, including her own brothers who were given positions outranking Danish princes of the blood. Although German had been spoken at the Danish court long before Sophie Magdalene’s arrival, she was blamed for it regardless.
When Christian died in 1746, Sophie Magdalene retired to Hirschholm Palace where she opted to live a quieter life as she did not get along with her son who had succeeded to the throne. Sophie Magdalene for along better with her grandchildren, and she came out of retirement when her grandson, Christian VII, succeeded. Christian had sought refuge at Hirschholm Palace during his early years and he had grown particularly close to his grandmother. Sophie Magdalene’s influence over her grandson wasn’t seen as a good thing however, since she spoiled him immensely and he was already displaying the signs of mental instability.
Name: Sophie Magdalene
House (birth): House of Hohenzollern
House (marriage): House of Oldenburg
Father: Christian Heinrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth-Kulmbach
Mother: Sophie Christiane of Wolfstein
Born: 28 Nov 1700
Died: 27 May 1770
Spouse: Christian VI of Denmark
Queen of Denmark and Norway