In the mid-16th century, a German merchant sold what he claimed was a unicorn horn to King Frederick II of Denmark for a large sum of money. The “unicorn horn” was later found to be a narwhal tusk. At the time, the tusk was even used to create a “unicorn throne.” That throne is still on display at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark today.
What’s the story behind the horn?
The story of the Unicorn Throne begins in the mid-16th century when a German merchant sold what he claimed was a unicorn horn to King Frederick II of Denmark. At the time, many people believed that unicorns were real animals and that their horns had magical healing powers.
King Frederick II was so impressed with the “unicorn horn” that he had it mounted in a gold and silver frame and displayed in his cabinet of curiosities. The cabinet was known as the “Kunstkammer,” and it contained a wide variety of objects, including natural specimens, scientific instruments, works of art, and oddities from around the world.
How did the narwhal horn become part of the “unicorn throne”?
Over a century later, King Frederick III commissioned a new throne for the coronation of his son, Christian V. A master craftsman named Bendix Grodtschilling was tasked with creating it. He spent several years working on the throne, which would eventually become known as the “Unicorn Throne.”
The throne is made from 250 kilos of silver and is covered in intricate carvings and symbols. The most striking feature of the throne is the backrest. This is decorated with three life-size silver lions and is topped by a large silver crown. The armrests are adorned with carved figures of the virtues and vices, while the seat is covered in red velvet.
But the most important feature of the Unicorn Throne is the narwhal tusk that runs down the center of the backrest. This tusk is over 2 meters long. It is believed to be the same one that was sold to King Frederick II as a “unicorn horn” over a century earlier. The narwhal tusk is surrounded by silver branches and leaves, with a silver unicorn perched on top of it.
The Unicorn Throne was used for the coronation of King Christian V in 1671. It was last used for a coronation in 1840, during the coronation of King Christian VIII of Denmark.
The Unicorn Throne has also become an important symbol of Danish royal power and prestige. And today, it’s recognized as one of the most impressive pieces of furniture in Europe.
The Unicorn Throne is on display at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark.