Kronborgs tre kroner. Kunst og heraldik som kampplads i 1500-tallets Norden

  • Poul Grinder Hansen Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen


Title: The three crowns of Kronborg. Art and heraldry as a battlefield in 16th-century Scandinavia
The article deals with the controversy in the 16th century between Denmark-Norway and Sweden concerning the right to use the coats-of-arms with three golden crowns on a blue background. The Swedish king Erik XIV (ruled 1560–1568) claimed that the three crowns were a symbol of Sweden and should not be used by the Danish king now that Sweden was an independent country, while the Danish king Frederik II (ruled 1559–1588) claimed that the three crowns were simply a reminiscence of the Kalmar Union between all Scandinavian countries, which lasted with several long intermissions from c. 1397 to 1520, headed by the kings of Denmark-Norway. The article stresses that it is difficult to separate the reputation of the nation from that of the king in 16th-century Scandinavia, since politics and the use of power were to a great degree a personal matter, where the illustrious appearance and behaviour of the king as well as appropriate artistic surroundings were decisive. The importance of personal reputation meant that a lot of the activities which we today call propaganda, including the use of art and heraldry, were in reality largely direct or indirect attacks on the reputation of the royal opponent. The controversy about the three crowns was not settled in the war 1563–1570, yet the article suggests that the Danish king provided his new royal castle Kronborg in Elsinore, built 1574–1585, with spires and weather vanes decorated with three crowns, as a deliberate statement that the Danish king had no intention of giving up this powerful symbol.

How to Cite
HANSEN, Poul Grinder. Kronborgs tre kroner. Kunst og heraldik som kampplads i 1500-tallets Norden. ICO Iconographisk Post. Nordisk tidskrift för bildtolkning – Nordic Review of Iconography, [S.l.], n. 1-2, p. 6-35, dec. 2019. ISSN 2323-5586. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 31 oct. 2020.