Christina of Sweden
Daughter of Gustavus Adolphus
1626 – 1689 A.D.
Christina, queen of Sweden, only child of the great Gustavus Adolphus, was born on December 17, 1626, and succeeded her father in 1632, when only six years old. Distinguished equally by beauty and the possession of a lively imagination, a good memory, and uncommon intelligence, she received a man’s rather than a woman’s education, and to this may partly be attributed the many eccentricities of her life.
During Christina’s minority, the kingdom was governed by the five highest officers of state, the principal being Chancellor Oxenstiern. In 1644 she assumed the reins of power, and in 1650 was crowned with the title of king. She previously declared her cousin, Charles Gustavus, her successor. For four years thereafter she ruled the kingdom with vigor, and was remarkable for her patronage of learned men, such as Grotius, Salmasius and Descartes. In 1654, however, at the age of twenty-eight, weary of the personal restraint which royalty imposed on her, the abdicated in favor of her cousin, reserving herself sufficient revenues, entire independence, and supreme authority over her suite and household.
Upon leaving Sweden, she proceeded to Brussels, where she embraced the Roman Catholic religion. She next went to Rome, which she entered on horseback, in the costume of an Amazon, with great pomp. Confirmed by Pope Alexander VII, she adopted the surname of Alesandra. She next visited Paris; and there in 1657 she caused her grand equerry, Monaldeschi, who had enjoyed her entire confidence, to be put to death in her own household for treason. The death of the king in 1660 caused her to hasten from Rome to Sweden, but failing in her attempt to be reinstated on the throne, she again left the country. In 1666 she aspired to the crown of Poland, but was unnoticed by the Poles.
The remainder of her life was spent in Rome in artistic and scientific pursuits. Here she lived for some twenty years, quarreling, intriguing, and collecting; corresponding with men of letters and founding academics; consumed by the desire for that political power which she had thrown away, and endeavoring to assert her vanished influence to the last. She wrote a great deal, but her Maxims and Sentences, and Reflections on the Life and Actions of Alexander the Great, are all that have been preserved.
Her death occurred in Rome, April 19, 1689, and she was buried under a sonorous epitaph, in St. Peter’s.
Her magnificent library was purchased by Alexander VIII, her collection of antiquities and part of her paintings by a nephew of the Pope, and the remainder of her pictures by the regent of Orleans.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World published by the King-Richardson Co. in 1903.