Danish prince, son of Cor. Christian IV.
Country: Denmark

Biography of Valdemar

Valdemar, the Danish Prince, was the son of King Christian IV. In his later years of life, Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich decided to marry off his daughter to a foreign prince. Similar attempts had been made in Russia before, such as the marriage of the Danish Prince Magnus to Ivan the Terrible's niece, and the planned marriage of the Swedish Prince Gustav Eriksson to Boris Godunov's daughter Kseniya. Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich learned from the Dutch diplomat and industrialist P. Marselis that the Danish king had a 22-year-old son named Valdemar. Based on Marselis' words, the prince seemed like a suitable groom for his daughter Irina, and Mikhail sent the nobleman I. Fomin to Denmark to gather information about the groom and bring back his portrait.

In Denmark, it quickly became apparent that the Russian court's interest in the royal family could be advantageous. In the summer of 1641, it was announced in Moscow that an extraordinary embassy from Denmark was arriving, among them Valdemar. However, the embassy did not receive much attention, as they were primarily focused on securing special privileges for their merchants, and after failing to achieve anything, they left the country with the prince in October. All the attention was now focused on Valdemar.

On his way to Moscow, Valdemar was closely watched by the officials, who were ordered to report on how members of the embassy treated him and whether they showed him the appropriate respect as a prince. In Moscow, he and the other diplomats were accommodated in the house of the deacon I. Gramotin. To make the nobleman's house more suitable for accommodating foreign guests, the yard was cleaned, and the necessary repairs were made. In the spring of the following year, Mikhail Fyodorovich sent the chamberlain Proyestev to Denmark with a marriage proposal for the prince and Tsar's daughter Irina. When Proyestev was asked what cities and lands the Tsar would give to his son-in-law, he couldn't provide an answer. However, when he discussed the necessity for Valdemar to be baptized according to the Orthodox rite before the marriage, he received a decisive refusal.

In December of the same year, P. Marselis, on behalf of the Tsar, went to Denmark, promising to give the future Tsar's son-in-law Suzdal, Rostov, and other cities, as well as guaranteeing him and all those who came with him freedom of religion. Moscow land in Western Europe was seen as a wild country and inspired fear. The Danish nobles told Marselis, "If our prince goes there, he will become a slave forever, and they will not fulfill their promises. How can our prince go to such wild people?" Marselis, an experienced diplomat, began praising the Moscow state, assuring them that there was excellent order there, and as proof that it was possible to live there, he gave himself as an example. The prince himself was not eager to go to Moscow, remembering the reception he had received there the first time. However, the king wanted to fulfill his wishes and provide a good position for his younger son. Marselis reassured the prince, guaranteeing that everything would be fine.

Marselis was sent back to the Tsar with conditions for the prince's arrival in Moscow: no coercion in matters of faith, complete dependence on the Tsar, hereditary inheritance of the assigned estate, and financial support from the Tsar in case the income from the estate was not enough. The Tsar agreed to everything, and he granted Suzdal and Yaroslavl to his future son-in-law for perpetuity. Additionally, he promised to give his daughter a dowry of 300,000 rubles. Valdemar, welcomed along his journey with bread, salt, and gifts, arrived in Moscow on January 21, 1644, and was received with exceptional honor. Everything seemed to be going well, and suddenly on February 6, the Tsar sent a message to the prince, asking him to prepare for baptism according to the Orthodox rite before the wedding ceremonies could take place. The prince was shocked by this treachery and initially thought it might be a test. He responded that he had no intention of converting to any other faith and referred to the agreement. He assured them that he would not have come if he had known that the issue of faith would arise and noted that the marriage had already been somewhat concluded, and if it were broken, it would be an insult to the Danish crown and a bad reputation for the Tsar.

On February 13, the Tsar invited Valdemar to him and said, "Your father, the king, ordered you to obey me; it is my pleasure that you accept the Orthodox faith." Valdemar replied resolutely, "I am ready to shed my blood for you, but I will not change my faith. In our countries, it is accepted that a man holds to his faith, and a woman to hers." The Tsar replied, "In our country, a man and a woman of different faiths cannot be together." The prince asked to be allowed to return home, but the Tsar replied that it would be "unpleasant and unfair, not doing a good deed." Valdemar repeatedly wrote to the Tsar, accusing him in his first letter that he would not be forced into a different faith. The Tsar replied that he was not forcing him now, but Valdemar's letter to his father did not mention that he should not call for unity in faith. The prince repeated his request to be allowed to leave, but he was not released and continued to be persuaded to accept Orthodoxy. Boyars came to him, flattering him and assuring him of the beauty of his bride, her intelligence, and how he would immediately fall in love with her once he saw her. They claimed that she did not get drunk like other Moscow women and that it would be worth sacrificing his faith for such a beauty. The patriarch suggested that Valdemar engage in a dispute about faith and tried to persuade the prince to accept Orthodoxy. Valdemar agreed to the dispute, noting that he knew the Holy Scriptures better than any priest. Later, the patriarch sent him a lengthy admonition, columns, according to the Danes, almost 48 fathoms long. Valdemar replied, "If I am unfaithful to God, how can I be trusted to be faithful to His Majesty?" The Danish ambassadors asked to be allowed to return to their homeland and demanded that the prince be released with them. However, they were told that the prince would not be released because his father had given him "to the will" of the Tsar. To prevent Valdemar from escaping, surveillance on him was increased, and a guard was even placed outside his house. After an unsuccessful attempt to escape, the prince decided to have a dispute and entrusted his pastor Matvei Filkhaber to conduct it on his behalf. The disputes took place several times in the house of the German who converted to Orthodoxy, Franzbekov. The disputes did not yield any results. In late June, Valdemar was informed that the Tsar had sent one of the Danish ambassadors to the king, and when he received a letter from the king, then he would release the prince. However, they again began to persuade him to accept Orthodoxy. The prince persistently sought a resolution to his fate, but he was only told that the Tsar was suffering from illness and could not accept him. Meanwhile, Tsarevich Alexei visited him quite often and treated him as a friend. And then, in late December, the Tsar invited Valdemar to him once again and tried to persuade him to accept the Greek faith. The prince firmly declared, "Either the Tsar performs the wedding ceremony, or he immediately releases me home." "A wedding cannot be performed," Mikhail Fyodorovich replied, "as long as you remain in your faith, and it is impossible to release you because the King sent you to be in our Tsar's will and to be our son." "I would rather be baptized in my own blood," Valdemar replied.

In early 1645, Valdemar wrote a sharp letter to the Tsar, reminding him that he and his people were not Russian serfs, and reproached Mikhail for acting in a way that even unfaithful Turks and Tatars would not allow themselves, and that he, the prince, would defend his freedom by force, even if he had to lose his head. This letter also went unanswered. Soon, the death of the Tsar put an end to this unpleasant episode in Valdemar's life. The new Tsar, Alexei Mikhailovich, released the prince to Denmark, and his marriage to Irina Mikhailovna never took place. Vladimir Boguslavsky