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Christina (Swedish: Kristina; 18 December 1626 – 19 April 1689), a member of the House of Vasa, was Queen of Sweden from 1632 until her abdication in 1654. She succeeded her father Gustavus Adolphus upon his death at the Battle of Lützen, but began ruling the Swedish Empire when she reached the age of eighteen in 1644.
- Early Life
- Failed Schemes
Christina was born Dec. 18, 1626, to King Gustavus Adolphus Vasa of Sweden and Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg, now a state in Germany. She was her father's only surviving legitimate child, and thus his only heir. Her mother was a German princess, daughter of John Sigismund, elector of Brandenburg, and granddaughter of Albert Frederick, Duke of Prussia. She married Gustavus Adolphus against the will of her brother George William, who had by that time succeeded to the office of elector of Brandenberg. Her childhood came during a long European cold spell called the "Little Ice Age" and the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), when Sweden sided with other Protestant nations against the Habsburg Empire, a Catholic power centered in Austria. Her father's role in the Thirty Years' War may have turned the tide from the Catholics to the Protestants. He was considered a master of military tactics and instituted political reforms, including expanding education and the rights of the peasantry. After h...
When her father was killed in battlein 1632, the 6-year-old girl became Queen Christina. Her mother, who was described as being "hysterical" in her grief, was excluded from being part of the regency. Lord High Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna ruled Sweden as regent until Queen Christina was of age. Oxenstierna had been an adviser to Christina's father and continued in that role after Christina was crowned. Christina's mother's parental rights were terminated in 1636, though Maria Eleonora continued to attempt to visit Christina. The government tried to settle Maria Eleonora first in Denmark and then back in her home in Germany, but her homeland would not accept her until Christina secured an allowance for her support.
Even during the regency, Christina followed her own mind. Against Oxenstierna's advice, she initiated the end of the Thirty Years' War, culminating with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. She launched a "Court of Learning" by virtue of her patronage of art, theater, and music. Her efforts attracted French philosopher Rene Descartes, who came to Stockholm and stayed for two years. His plans to establish an academy in Stockholm collapsed when he suddenly became ill with pneumonia and died in 1650. Her coronation finally came in 1650 in a ceremony attended by her mother.
Queen Christina appointed her cousin Carl Gustav (Karl Charles Gustavus) as her successor. Some historians believe that she was romantically linked to him earlier, but they never married. Instead, her relationship with lady-in-waiting Countess Ebbe "Belle" Sparre launched rumors of lesbianism. Surviving letters from Christina to the countess are easily described as love letters, though it is difficult to apply modern classifications such as "lesbian" to people in a time when such categorizations were not known. They shared a bed at times, but this practice did not necessarily imply a sexual relationship. The countess married and left the court before Christina's abdication, but they continued to exchange passionate letters.
Difficulties with issues of taxation and governance and problematic relations with Poland plagued Christina's last years as queen, and in 1651 she first proposed that she abdicate. Her council convinced her to stay, but she had some sort of breakdown and spent much time confined to her rooms. She finally abdicated officially in 1654. Supposed reasons were that she didn't want to marry or that she wanted to convert the state religion from Lutheranism to Roman Catholicism, but the real motive is still argued by historians. Her mother opposed her abdication, but Christina provided that her mother's allowance would be secure even without her daughter ruling Sweden.
Christina, now calling herself Maria Christina Alexandra, left Sweden a few days after her official abdication, traveling disguised as a man. When her mother died in 1655, Christina was living in Brussels. She made her way to Rome, where she lived in a palazzo filled with art and books that became a lively center of culture as a salon. She had converted to Roman Catholicism by the time she arrived in Rome. The former queen became a favorite of the Vaticanin the religious "battle for the hearts and minds" of 17th century Europe. She was aligned with a free-thinking branch of Roman Catholicism. Christina also embroiled herself in political and religious intrigue, first between the French and Spanish factions in Rome.
In 1656, Christina launched an attempt to become queen of Naples. A member of Christina's household, the marquis of Monaldesco, betrayed plans of Christina and the French to the Spanish viceroy of Naples. Christina retaliated by having Monaldesco executed in her presence. For this act, she was for some time marginalized in Roman society, though she eventually became involved again in church politics. In another failed scheme, Christina attempted to have herself made queen of Poland. Her confidant and adviser, Cardinal Decio Azzolino, was rumored to be her lover, and in one scheme Christina attempted to win the papacy for Azzolino. Christina died on April 19, 1689, at age 62, having named Cardinal Azzolino as her sole heir. She was buried in St. Peter's Basilica, an unusual honor for a woman.
Queen Christina's "abnormal" interest (for her era) in pursuits normally reserved for males, occasional dressing in male attire, and persistent stories about her relationships have led to disagreements among historians as to the nature of her sexuality. In 1965, her body was exhumed for testing to see if she had signs of hermaphroditism or intersexuality. The results were inconclusive, though they indicated that her skeleton was typically female in structure. Her life spanned Renaissance Sweden to Baroque Rome and left a record of a woman who, through privilege and strength of character, challenged what it meant to be a woman in her era. She also left behind her thoughts in letters, maxims, an unfinished autobiography, and notes in the margins of her books.Buckley, Veronica."Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric." Harper Perennial, 2005.Mattern, Joanne. "Queen Christina of Sweden." Capstone Press, 2009.Landy, Marcia and Villarejo, Amy. "Queen Christina." British Film Institute,1995."Christina of Sweden."
Jul 29, 2021 · Christina, queen of Sweden (1644–54) who stunned all Europe by abdicating her throne. She subsequently attempted, without success, to gain the crowns of Naples and of Poland. One of the wittiest and most learned women of her age, Christina is best remembered for her lavish sponsorship of the arts
The Outrageous Queen: A Biography of Christina of Sweden. London: Muller, 1956. This book explains the life of Christina of Sweden in a narrative form. It begins with her father's life and continues into her own life until her death. It is a very thorough biography of Christina's life.
Christina, Queen of Sweden is doomed to forever be known as the cross-dressing queen who abdicated her Protestant throne and turned to Catholicism. Veronica Buckley explores the quirks of Christina’s personality in “Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric”.
Oct 09, 2018 · Queen Christina of Sweden, Lesbian Troublemaker. Christina of Sweden was trouble, right from the moment she was born. Her parents had no surviving children, and her mother Maria was desperate to give King Gustavus a son. The only legitimate heirs to the throne of Sweden at the time were the King of Poland and his sons, and Sweden had been at ...
- Ciaran Conliffe