1615 – 1683
Son of Jens Bjelke and Sophie Brockenhuus
Husband of Edel Christoffersdatter Ulfeldt
Father of Sophie Amalie Bielke
Henrik Bjelke (13. January 1615 – 16. March 1683) was a Danish-Norwegian officer and for a period the highest authority over the Danish navy. He was the son of Chancellor Jens Bjelke, and brother of General Jørgen Bjelke and Chancellor Ove Bjelke.
At the age of 18 years, Henrik Bjelke went on an educational journey abroad, studied in Padua and received military training in Holland under Frederick Henry of Orange. His first service was with Prince Frederik Hendrik of the Netherlands, where he was an officer in 1640. The same title was awarded him by King Christian IV, who appointed him to Major while he was still in the Netherlands.
Knight Henrik Bjelke
In February, 1644 he returned to Denmark. From there he was sent to Norway to serve with the then Danish statesman and Governor of Norway, Hannibal Sehested. He fought against the Swedes in the Torstenson War. After, in 1645, he went to Holland where he served with the Danish statesman Corfitz Ulfeldt. He was knighted on his return to Denmark.
During the Torstenson War he served in 1644 as Flagoffizier on the side of his king Christian IV both in the naval battle of Kolberg Heath and in the ensuing Battle of Fehmarn in Norway and served as a captain or colonel of then Danish statesman and Governor of Norway, Hannibal Sehested. In 1648, he fought as a volunteer under Peter Melander of Holzappel in Germany against Sweden. On his return to Denmark he was made a Knight of the Order of the Elephant by Danish King Frederick III.
His military career was still on the rise, when in 1653 he left the military for a period. But was soon in combat again when the Karl-Gustav wars broke out in 1657. He was then appointed Vice Riksadmiral, and participated in several battles in the Baltic Sea. As a new realm Vice Admiral (Rigsviceadmiral) Bjelke commanded, together with Admiral Niels Juel and the Dutch Admiral Michiel de Ruyter , the Danish fleet during a renewed war against Sweden from 1657 to 1660, as Reich Admiral Ove Gjedde had fallen in Swedish captivity. Bjelke participated in the naval battle in the Øresund part, fought with varying fortune against the Swedish Admiral Clas Bjelkenstjerna and distinguished himself at Falsterbo, Rödsand and the war for Fyn.
In the extension of his military career he was also a political power, and was appointed to the Riksråd in 1660. He supported Frederik III’s introduction of eneveldets
. In 1660, he was president of the Admiralty College, Imperial Council and in 1662 he was appointed as Riksadmiral (literally admiral of the empire), as well as a member of Statskollegiet and the Supreme Court. When the war ended in 1679 resigned due to his advanced age, in the meantime, the office of the Riksadmiral had become meaningless and was abolished after his death.
He was a loyal friend of Corfitz Ulfeldt
( a second cousin, once removed, of his wife) and Leonora Christina Ulfeldt, wife of Corfitz and daughter of the daughter of King Christian IV of Denmark, which might have weakened his position. In the Skånske war he had no command, but was kept in an administrative function in Copenhagen. In 1679 he left Admiralitetet because of age.
In 1649 Henrik Bjelke married the Danish nobility Edel Christoffersdatter Ulfeldt (1630-1676), with her he had two sons. At the beginning of the 18th Century they both fell while fighting with the French during the Spanish War of Succession. Christopher dies at the Battle of Höchstedt in 1704 and Christian died in Quaregnon a few days after the Battle of Malplaquet in 1709. His daughter, Sophie Marie (1657-1686) was married in 1680 to Vice Admiral Christian Bjelke, a distant cousin, after her death Christian Bjelke married a daughter of Admiral Niels Juel.
Henrik is descended from some of the most noble and prominent families of Denmark. His grandparents were Ove Jenssen Bielke, Margrethe Clausdatter Thott, Henrik Brockenhuus and Dorthe Neilsdatter Juel. His great-grandmothers included Lucie Nielsdatter Gyldenløve, Kirstine Eriksdatter Gyldenhorn and Christence Lunge. Other ancestors included members of the families Banner, Bild, Friis, Krabbe, Rosenkrantz, Gyldenstierne and Skram.
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