On this day in 1689, Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-1689) passed away at the age of 62. Christina ruled from 1632 until her abdication in 1654 and is known as one of the most important intellectual figures of the 17th century.
Christina was the only surviving child of King Gustav II Adolf and Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg. Following her father’s wishes, she was educated as a prince and was well-versed in religion, philosophy, Greek and Latin. She also spoke seven languages besides Swedish. Her education increased her interest in the arts and led to her earning the name of the "Minerva of the North" and Stockholm becoming the “Athens of the North”.
After her father died in the Battle of Lützen (1632), Christina became the heir to the throne. However, as she was six years old at that time, his father’s advisor Lord High Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna ruled Sweden until she came of age.
Christina was deeply involved in the political affairs of the country despite her young age. Against her advisors, she argued for peace during the Thirty Years' War, which eventually led to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Moreover, she launched a "Court of Learning" to encourage the sciences and arts and she became a patron of numerous artists, among which was French philosopher René Descartes. Still, the Queen was unable to handle the economic difficulties that Sweden was facing and almost brought the country to bankruptcy. The public unrest that this caused rapidly increased when rumours about her aversion to marriage, Catholicism and her sexuality came out.
Abdication and Death
In 1654, after ten years of reign, Christina decided to abdicate and chose her cousin Charles X Gustav as her successor. Even though the reason for her abdication is not known, it is supposed that it was her refusal to marry and to convert the state religion to Roman Catholicism that made her make the decision.
Right after her abdication, Christina moved to Rome and converted to Catholicism under the name of Maria Christina Alexandra. During her stay, she came into contact with the French factions in the city and plotted to seize Naples with the aim of becoming queen and then leaving the throne to the French after her death. However, her plan was unsuccessful due to the betrayal of one of her household members, the marquis of Monaldesco, who told the Spanish viceroy of Naples about the plot. Christina then ordered the execution of the marquis and refused to give any explanation to the French court which, as a result, led to her marginalization in the Roman society. A few years later, while staying in Hamburg in 1667, she met Pope Clement X and gained his support to take the crown of Poland after her second cousin John II Casimir Vasa abdicated. However, her attempt was again unsuccessful.
Christina then went back to Rome and died in 1689 due to health complications. She was buried in St. Peter's Basilica, which is an unusual honour for a woman. The Queen is considered one of the most influential figures of her time thanks to the enormous impact that her interest in the arts had on European culture.
- christina of sweden
- queen christina
- thirty years war
- queen of sweden
- house of vasa