Queen Christina of Sweden

Queen Christina of Sweden

Queen Christina was born on 18 December 1626 and was Gustavus Adolphus’s only child. She became queen at the age of six in 1632, and was nicknamed the ‘girl king’. She enjoyed the teaching of top tutors, including Bishop Johannes Matthiae was made to bring her up as a boy by Adolphus.

When her father died at the Battle of Lutzen in 1632, Christina was only six. A regency, led by Axel Oxenstierna, was created to rule until she came of age. Christina attended council meetings from the age of 14 and would often share her disagreements with  Oxenstierna. Despite her age, Christina was no shrinking violet: one contemporary even commented:

"She was naught of a child except in age and naught of a woman except in sex."

Queen Christina of Sweden
Queen Christina of Sweden

Christina took over in 1644 at the age of 18. Before this, Sweden's participation in the Thirty Years War was directed by the regency.

An attachment to her cousin, the future Charles X, led to nothing, and Christina decided not to marry. Instead, she nominated her cousin Charles as her successor. The nobility tried to pressure her to marry, but she ignored them and managed to get her own way by appearing to join sides with the Diet’s lower estates in 1650. The nobles felt threatened and in October 1650, it was decided Charles Gustav would succeed Christina.

Christina and Oxenstierna also fell out over the Thirty Years War. The Queen was prepared to make concessions if they quickly ended the war. Oxenstierna wanted to keep as much of Sweden's overseas conquered territory as possible. Sweden’s finances were in a bad state after the war and these territories could help Sweden’s economy.

Christina was headstrong in matters of religion as well as politics. She was born a Lutheran, but kept questioning her faith. She had made secret contacts with Jesuits by 1652 and was probably already a practising Catholic. But in Lutheran Sweden conversion to Catholicism was a crime and she would have to be prepared to renounce her throne if she wanted to become fully Catholic - which she did in August 1651.

This happened in June 1654 and Charles succeeded her, becoming Charles X. Another influence which could be responsible for her decision was the fact that the Royal coffers were severely empty following the Thirty Years War.

Christina left Sweden in December 1654 and converted to Catholicism in Brussels in secret - one year later this was made public. Christina died aged 62 in Rome 1869.

See also: Charles X

MLA Citation/Reference

"Queen Christina of Sweden". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.