The History of the Castle

The History of Frederiksborg Castle


In the Middle Ages, the manor of Hillerødsholm lay on the site of today's castle. Hillerødsholm is first mentioned in 1275 and throughout the following centuries was owned by some of the most distinguished families: Hvide, Brok Ulfeldt and Gøye. In the middle of the 1500s Birgitte Gøye and Herluf Trolle had a new main building built on one of the three islands in the lake. In 1560 Birgitte Gøye and Herluf Trolle exchanged Hillerødsholm with King Frederik II for Skovkloster near Næstved. The king's new property was one of his favourite residences and he gave it his own name - Frederiksborg.


Frederiksborg Castle

Frederik II's son, Christian IV was born at Frederiksborg Castle in 1577 and was deeply attached to it. In 1599 he instigated extensive restoration work in the course of which the old main buildings were pulled down and replaced by a magnificent new Renaissance castle. The Castellan's House and the Chancellery were built on the outer courtyard during the years around 1613. Throughout the seventeenth century, Frederiksborg Castle was often used as a royal residence, but during the succeeding centuries the royal family seldom used it. However, the castle was of great ceremonial importance. With the introduction of absolutism, Danish kings were no longer crowned but instead anointed in the Chapel at Frederiksborg Castle.

The Museum of National History

In the 1850s Frederik VII often used Frederiksborg Castle as a royal residence. The old castle had not been properly maintained, and a fire broke out during the night of 16/17 December 1859. It started in one of the newly installed fireplaces in the third floor and spread rapidly. The greater part of the interior of the castle was destroyed. The Privy Passage and the Audience House escaped the flames. Several of the big ceiling vaults in the Chapel collapsed, but the rest of the building was saved. The fire was a disaster. Frederiksborg Castle was, at the time, regarded as a national monument, and during the days that followed a spontaneous, nation-wide collection was initiated with the aim of financing the restoration of the castle. The founder of the Carlsberg Breweries, J. C. Jacobsen, was among the first contributors and proved to be of great importance to the castle's future use. In 1877 he proposed that a museum of national history was to be established at Frederiksborg Castle along the lines of those at Versailles in France and Gripsholm in Sweden. His aim was to stimulate the self-confidence and national loyalty of the Danes during the period after the loss of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein in 1864.  On 5 April 1878 Christian IX issued a royal decree whereby the Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle became an independent department of the Carlsberg Foundation.