Scotlands History

Anne of Denmark (12 December 1574 – 2 March 1619)

Anne of Denmark was the second daughter of Frederick II of Denmark.  By marrying James VI and I she became Queen Consort of Scotland, England and Ireland.  They had three children who survived childhood: Henry, Elizabeth and Charles I. Conflict over how to raise the children, especially Henry, led to Anne and James living separately.

Anne’s influence and importance is primarily felt in the world of the arts. The Masques that Anne of Denmark commissioned were legendary. Her personal performances - utterly scandalous at the time - did much to pioneer the cause of women in the dramatic arts at a time when young men performed the female roles in the play houses.

Queen Anne performed with the ‘honorable Ladyes’ of her court in a number of masques written by Ben Jonson, including ‘The Masque of Beauty’.

...A horrors vanish, and all name of Death,

Bee all things here as calme as is my breath.

A gentler Wind, Vulturnus, brings you newes

The Ile is found, & that the Nymphs now vse

Their rest, & ioy. The Nights black charmes are flowne.


The Masque of Beauty, Ben Jonson, 1608 

Anne of Denmark also commissioned many pieces of art, adding significantly to the Royal Collection. By 1617 Anne had become seriously ill.  Her health continued to decline and she died in 1619. 

During the Restoration, Anne of Denmark’s grandson Charles II would bring the theatre back to Britain after it was outlawed. Women were finally allowed to act on stage and an actress, Nell Gwyn, famously became the mistress of Charles II.

  • Oil painting of Anne of Denmark with her hair piled high

Click on the image to view a larger version.