Queen of Sweden
1626 – 1689 A.D.
Christina, Queen of Sweden, the only legitimate child of Gustavus Adolphus who survived infancy. She was but six years of age when her father died, and she was early separated from her mother. Her tutor was John Matthiae, the king’s court preacher, under whom she learned Greek, Latin and French, while her progress in accomplishments of every kind was remarkable. Her observers aat this time declare that she valued nothing but honor and virtue, and predicted that her extraordinary merit alone would make her reign illustrious, independent of foreign conquest and the valor of her armies. At the age of eighteen Christina begun most auspiciously under the guidance of the great statesman Oxenstiern, but having lost favor with the queen, his influence was eclipsed by unworthy favorites.
After ruling Sweden ten years during which her armies achieved many victories, Christina suddenly resolved to abdicate the throne in favor of her cousin Charles Gustavus.
Though her hand had been sought by many princes, she resolutely declined a matrimonial alliance, and the latter part of her reign was marred by her capricious and dissolute conduct.
An independent life in other lands was now Christina’s great desire, and on June 6, 1654, the abdication took place, the council having assigned for her an income of 240,000 rix dollars a year. At the ceremony she appeared in robes of state, with crown and sceptre, and after an address of farewell laid aside the various regalia. When she departed Oxenstiern wept and exclaimed: “She is the daughter still of our great Gustavus.”
Twelve ships of war had been equipped to convey her across the Baltic; but she took her way by land to Denmark, dismissing all her Swedish attendants except four. On reaching a brook which then formed the southern boundary of Sweden, she alighted from her carriage, and leaping across it, she cried, “Now I am free, and out of Sweden, which I trust never to see again.”
Carrying with her everything curious or valuable from the palace of her fathers, she abandoned her country as the abode of ignorance and barbarism. She now visited various cities of Europe, often traveling in the dress of a man, and everywhere creating a sensation. In 1656 she went to Paris, and her talents and learning were the wonder of that capital, but she seemed to become more an more unsexed, and her masculine air and libertine conversation kept the women of delicacy at a distance.
In 1660, on the death of the King of Sweden, she went to Stockholm, and began to intrigue for the recovery of the crown, but was compelled to sign another formal act of abdication.
She spent the rest of her life in Rome, in the culture of letters and in correspondence with learned men, made fast collections of works of art and books, and founded the Arcadian academy. She bequeathed her fortune to Cardinal Azzolini and was interred in the Church of St. Peter, where a magnificent monument was erected in her memory. Her collections of art were sold and scattered about the world. She let some writings, which, says Geijer, the historian, “exhibit a soul ardent and untamed by years, striving in all things after the extreme and the supreme, but submitting at last. The feminine virtues which she despised, avenge themselves upon her good name; yet she was better than her reputation.”
Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.