Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership
Female Denmark Heads of State

Also see Slesvig-Holsten, Denmarks Lensmaend, Danish County Sheriffs  and Denmark Honrofic Titles

1259-66 Regent Dowager Queen Margrethe Sambiria Sprænghest 
1266-81 Lady of Estonia and Virland
Born as a Pommerian Princess, she was regent for her son Erik 5. Klipping after the death of her husband, Kristoffer I. She fought against the powerful Archbishop Jakob Erlandsen. In 1261 she and her son were taken prisoner in Germany. The next year she returned together with Albrecht of Braunschweig and Erlandsen left the country. She managed to persuade Pope to accept the idea of female succession to the Danish throne. She even wanted he daughters to have succession-rights before male relatives in other lines. Estonia was her dowry which she controlled from Lolland-Falster another Dowry in the South of Denmark. She lived circa (1230-81)

1286-92 Regent Dowager Queen Agnes af Brandenburg
Regent for Erik IV after her husband, Erik V was killed. She later married Count Gerhard of Holsten. (d. 1304)

1340-74 Politically Influential Queen Consort Helvig von Slesvig of Denmark
By her marriage to Valdemar IV Atterdag (1340-75), her father gave her 1/4 of Jutland as dowry which he had in security for lones to the Danish kings and other royals who had engaged in a long civil war. Most of the country was in the hands of the Holstein Counts, but her dowry was a contributing factor to the fact that her husband managed to win back all the territory - giving him his by-name "Day again". Helvig must have acted as regent during her husband's many journeys abroad, but she also seems to have ended her day's in a convent. She was the mother of Margrethe I of Denmark, and died (circa 1374). 

1376-87 Regent Queen Margrethe I Valdemarsdatter
1387-1412 Reigning Queen (Lady and Mistress) of Denmark, Sweden and Norway
She was the youngest daughter of King Waldemar IV of Denmark. At the age of ten, in 1363, Margrethe was married to King Håkon VI of Norway, son of Magnus II of Sweden and Norway. Their son Olaf, born in 1370, was elected King Olaf II of Denmark in 1375 at the death of Margrethe's father, with her as regent. After her husband's death shortly after her son also became Olaf IV of Norway. After Olaf's death in 1387 the Estates in Denmark elected her as Full-mighty Husband and Mistress for life. The following year she became regent of Norway. In 1388 the Swedish nobility dethroned their king Albrecht of Mecklenburg, and elected Margrethe as their reigning Queen instead. She   elected her sister's daughter's son Eric of Pommerania as her successor. He became king of Norway in 1389, but Margrethe remained the real ruler. In 1410, Margrethe tried to reinstate Danish overlordship over Schleswig, which caused a war with the Counts in Holstein. She traveled to the conflict area, and died there in 1412. Her Danish union with Sweden would last until 1523, and with Norway until 1814. She lived (1353-1412)

1420 De-facto Regent Queen Philippa of England of Sweden
1423-25 Regent of Denmark and Norway
She had big parts of Sweden as her dowry and she acted as her husband's representative in the country. During his stay abroad from 1423 she was regent in Denmark, and among others successfully organized the Defence of Copenhagen against the attacking.... She lived (1394-1430)

1448 Holder of the "Royal Authority" Dowager Queen Dorothea af Brandenburg of Denmark, Norway and Sweden
1481-90 Regent of Slesvig-Holsten (Schleswig Holstein)
The "royal authority" was vested in her after the death of her first husband, Christoffer III of Bavaria. She contrasigned and authorized the decisions made by the Council of State which reigned the country. Later same year she married the new king Christian I of Oldenborg and often acted as regent during his many warfares. She also had Abrahamstrup, Kalundborg, Lolland-Falster Slesvig and Holsten, Närke and Värmland (Sweden) as security for lones she granted her husband. A month before his death, Christian granted her Slesvig-Holsten as a personal fief, and after his death she acted as regent for son, Frederik, (later king) in the Dukedoms. She lived (1430-90)

1518-23 De-facto In charge of the Customs Sigbrit Villoms
1519-23 "Second in Command" in Denmark
1522-23 De-facto Leader of the Treasury
Generally known as Mor Sigbrit, she was a Dutch tradeswoman who moved Norway and managed a trading company in Bergen of a substantial size. Her daughter, Dyveke, became mistress of the later Christian 2 of Denmark around 1509. When became king in 1513 they moved with him to Copenhagen and Sigbrit's influence grew. Dyveke died suddenly in 1517 - rumoured to have been poisoned. Queen Elisabeth von Habsburg appointed her as her Chief of Court and she also acted as midwife of the king's children. Her brother was a pharmacist and she was knowledgeable about medicine. She was also left in charge of the government when Christian was abroad. 1522 she was given a so-called "General receipt" (generalkvittering), that made her de-facto a kind of Minister of Finance. When the king was deposed in 1523 for his dictatorial rule, she went with the family to the Netherlands where they tried to gain support for the king's return. One of the conditions was that Christian had to part with her. From then on, nothing is heard of her, though the story of an old woman in prison accused of heresy or witchcraft sounds like it could have been her. Sigbrit Willoms also wrote her surname as Villumsdatter and she (d. circa 1532).


1560-90 Pretender to the throne: Chrêtienne, By the Grace of God Queen of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, The Wends, Goths and Slavs, Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein, Ditmasken, Lorraine, Bar and Milano, Countess of Oldenborg and Balomnt. Lady of Tortana. Former dowager Duchess-regent in Lorraine. She took over the claims as successor of their father, Christian II, from her sister, Countess Palantine Dorothea, who had no children. Christine lived (circa 1521-90)

1629-48  Politically Influential Vibeke Kruse in Denmark
Vibeke Kruse was the mistress of Christian IV. The first part of Vibeke Kruse's life is not known. She came into the service of Kirsten Munk, the second wife of Christian IV, and later of Kirsten Munk's mother, Ellen Marsvin. The long suffering relationship between Christian IV and Kirsten Munk was finally severed in 1629 when the King began a love affair with Vibeke Kruse. The relationship was arranged by Ellen Marsvin, who wanted to continue her own good relations with the King. With the King, Vibeke Kruse had a son, Ulrik Christian Gyldenløve. She had a great influence on the King and he presented her with an estate in Holstein and a house in Copenhagen. At the death of Christian IV, Vibeke Kruse, who was sick at the time, was expelled from Rosenborg by Kirsten Munk's son-in-law, Corfitz Ulfeldt. He also tried to initiate a court case against her; that did not succeed but she died a few months later. (d. 1648).

1772-84 De-facto In Charge of the Government Dowager Queen Juliane-Marie of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel of Denmark and Norway
She initiated a coup d'etat against the "premier" count Struense who had an affair with Queen Caroline-Mathilde of England and had total influence on the insane King Christian VII. Her son, Hereditary Prince Ferdinand and Premier Høegh-Guldberg became official leaders of the Government with her as the power behind the scenes. In 1784 they were removed by her stepson, Crown Prince Frederik (VI) . Her sister-in-law was Grand-Duchess Anna Pavlovna, regent of Russia 1740-41 for her oldest son, Zar Ivan, her younger children lived in Denmark after her execution. Juliane-Marie lived (1729-96)


1775 Politically Active Ex-Queen Caroline Matilde of Great Britain
In 1775 she was approached by a group of opponents of the rule of her step-mother-in-law, Queen Juliane Marie and her son, who wanted to depose her insane ex-husband, Christian 7. and make her Head of the Regency Government for her son. She had been exiled after her affair with the royal physician and minister Johann Friedrich Struensee, who was almost certainly father of her daughter, Louise Augusta (1771-1843). Struensee was executed in 1772, and she was divorced and deported to Celle in the Electorate of Hannover of her brother, Georg III, who was not supportive of her attempts to return to Denmark. The posthumously born daughter of Frederick, Prince of Wales by his wife, Augusta von Sachsen-Gotha, she died suddenly from throat cancer having lived (1751-75).


Circa 1784-1804 Politically Influential Countess Sophie Magdalene von Gram Krag-Juel-Vind in Denmark
After the death of her husband, Baron Jens Krag-Juel-Vind of the Baronies to Juellinge and Stensballegård, in 1776, she became the center of "The Danish Party" a circle of high aristocracy and major landowners, in opposition to the governing "German Party" lead by A.P. Bernstorff and Ludwig Reventlow. In 1790 she was one of the driving forces behind the united protest of the estate-owners of Jutland against the agricultural reforms. Also in her later years she was viewed as an formidable political force. In 1799 she inherited the county of Frijsenborg from her mother's sister, Elisabeth Sophie Desmercières, who had inherited the county from her sister, Christine Sophie Frijs-Wedel, who was holder of the fiefcounty 1763-86. Sophie Magdalene, who was daughter and Birgitte Christine Frijs and Carl Christian von Gram, thereby became the biggest land-owner in the country, and belonged to the highest nobility. After her death, her son, Frederik Carl Krag-Juel-Vind-Frijs, inherited the fiefcounty and was granted the title of Fiefcount. She lived (1734-1810).

1814-15 Regent Queen Marie Sofie Frederikke zu Hessen-Kassel
Regent during her husband, Frederik 8s participation in the Congress of Vienna. 

1850-63 Politically Influential Countess Louise Danner
Louise Christine Rasmussen was a former ballet-dancer and later owner of a fashion-boutique. She had been the mistress of then Crown-Prince Frederik's best friend, Carl Berling, with whom she had a child. After Frederik 7. (1808-48-63) succeeded to the throne, she moved into the royal palace and the couple married two years later. She was very influential during the reign of her husband, who had a very difficult personality, and divorced his two first royal wifes. Louise was granted the title Lensgrevinde Danner (Fief-Countess) and lived (1815-74).

1958-72 Deputy Head of State, The Throne Follower
1972- Queen Margrethe II
At the age of 18 she became member of the Council of State and acted as regent for her father, King Frederik IX on many occasions. The Danish constitution requires that the monarch appoints a regent every time he/she leaves the country. In Greenland she is known as Kunngiarna (Kingwoman) and in Faeroish as Drotning. She is married to Henri Comte de Laborde de Montpezat, Prince Henrik and mother of two sons. (b. 1940-) 

1965- Co-Deputy Head of State Princess Benedikte of Denmark
She became a member of the Council of State by the age of 21 and has acted as regent first in the place of her father and then for her sister. She is married to Prince Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and lives in Germany. Mother of 3 children. (b. 1944-)

1972-2000 Co-Deputy Head of State Queen Ingrid of Sweden
As the first Dowager Queen ever she became member of the Council of State, because both Queen Margrethe and Princess Benedikte had small children and needed the help. She still acts as regent on rare occasions but both her grand-children, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim takes the most turns. Queen Ingrid is born as Princess of Sweden and married Crown Prince Frederik in 1935. He was king (1947-72). She lived  (1910-2000)

 

Last update 07.02.09