Friday, February 11, 2011

Queen Christina of Sweden


In 1933, the great Greta Garbo portrayed my life in a film entitled Queen Christina. Here is a short clip of the movie.




I was born to King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and Maria Eleanora of Brandenburg.  I was an only child and therefore the only heir.  Because of this, my father took a great interest in me and saw that I had the best education, just as a boy heir would have enjoyed.  In fact, he ordered that I be brought up as a boy.


King Gustavus



Maria Eleanora of Brandenburg

My mother was a woman of distraught temperament and her attempts to make me feel guilty for the difficult birth prejudiced me against wishing to produce an heir to the throne one day myself.  

In 1632 my father was killed in battle and I assumed the throne.  I was six years old. A man named Axel Oxenstierna acted as my regent until I reached maturity.


He continued as my adviser afterwards. Although he advised me against it, I put an end to the Thirty Years War and made peace with Westphalia in 1648.

I named my cousin, Carl Gustav (Karl Charles Gustavus) as my heir and successor.


Karl Gustav

Rumours abounded that we were in love, but we never married.  Other rumors began to circulate regarding Countess Ebba "Belle" Sparre, my lady-in-waiting. It was said we were lovers.


Ebba Sparre

 I know that letters have survived between us which demonstrate our high regard for each other. At times, we even shared a bed together. Our relationship was curtailed when the Countess married and left my court, but the passionate exchange of letters continued.

I was a great patroness of art, theater, and music.  I faced many difficult political situations including taxation, governance, and strained relations with Poland.  The pressures proved too difficult for me to bear.  In 1651, I proposed my abdication.  My council did everything they could to talk me into changing my mind and staying.  The additional strain caused me to suffer some sort of breakdown and I confined myself to my rooms where I received consultation from Father Antonio Macedo.

Finally, in 1654 I could no longer bear it and I officially abdicated.  The true reasons for my abdication continue to be controversial and argued about to this day by historians.



I changed my name to Maria Christina Alexandra, and disguised as a man, departed from Sweden a few days later.  I travelled to Rome where I resided in a palazzo that I filled with beautiful art and books.  Here I established a salon which became a popular center of culture.

I also became Roman Catholic and was much respected and liked by the Vatican and aligned myself with a particularly free-thinking branch of Roman Catholicism. Slowly I found myself drawn into political and religious intrigue between the French and Spanish factions in Rome.

My peaceful existence soon faded.  In 1656, I aligned herself with the French and launched an attempt to become Queen of Naples.  The Marquis of Monaldesco, a trusted member of my  household, betrayed my plans to the French to the Spanish Viceroy of Naples.

My vengeance was swift.  I had Monaldesco executed in my presence and claimed it was my right to do so. For this act, Roman society turned a cold shoulder and  did their best to avoid me.  As time passed, however, I became involved again in church politics.

This time, I set my sights on becoming Queen of Poland.  My attempt failed. Then I attempted to win the Papacy for my confidant, advisor, and lover, Cardinal Decio Azzolino. Again, I failed.


I died in 1689 at the age of 63.  I named Cardinal Azzolino as my sole heir. I was buried in St. Peter's, an unusual honor for a woman.

I gained notariety because I often dressed in men's clothing and my personal relationships which led to rumours about my sexuality.
 
In 1965, my body was exhumed for testing, to see if I bore the signs of hermaphroditism or intersexuality, but the results were inconclusive.
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