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Author photo. Courtesy of the Royal Danish Library/ Dept. of Maps, Prints and Photographs (image use requires permission from the RDL).

Courtesy of the Royal Danish Library/ Dept. of Maps, Prints and Photographs (image use requires permission from the RDL).

Leonora Christina, Countess Ulfeldt (1621–1698)

Author of Jammers Minde

Includes the names: Leonora Christina Ulfeldt, Gräfin Leonora Christina Ulfeldt, prinsessa av Danmark Leonora Christina

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Leonora Christina was the third child of King Christian IV and his morganatic wife Kirsten Munk. She grew up in the royal palace at Fredriksborg, north of Copenhagen, and was taught reading and mathematics, how to play musical instruments and draw, and the Danish, German, and French languages. In 1636, at age 15, she was married to Corfitz Ulfeldt, a nobleman 20 years her senior, with whom she had 10 children. After he was made a count of the Holy Roman Empire, she was known as Countess Ulfeldt. For several years, she served as first lady of her father's court. After her father's death and the accession to the throne of her half-brother Frederick III in 1648, she and her husband fled to Stockholm and then to Amsterdam. He was eventually arrested for treason, and the couple were imprisoned in Denmark in 1660-1661. They were released after paying most of their property as ransom. Leonora Christina went to England to ask King Charles II to repay loans from her husband, but the king turned her over to Danish authorities in 1663. She was kept in solitary confinement in the Blue Tower of Copenhagen Castle for the next 22 years. During this time, she began to write the book that later made her famous, Jammers Minde (A Memory of Lament), which was finally published in 1869. It is now regarded as a classic of 17th-century Danish literature. She also wrote in French an account of her happy youth called La Lettre à Otto Sperling, completed in 1673 and smuggled out of the prison, and a book of biographical sketches of famous women in history, Heltinders Pryd (Praise of Heroines, 1683). Another memoir in French, Tout m'est Bonheur, was published in 1978.
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