Christina of Sweden (18 December 1626 – 19 April 1689)
known as the Girl King of Sweden, Christina was the only surviving child of Gustav
II Adolph of Sweden and his wife Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg. After of the death of her father in the
Thirty Years War, Christina became queen-elect in 1632 at the age of six. In keeping with her father’s will, Christina
was given the education of a young prince studying politics, philosophy,
religion, and a wide range of languages including Latin, Greek, German, French,
Arabic, and Hebrew.
Christina began attending council meetings at age 14 and was
crowned at age 18. Christina was a central
figure in ending the Thirty Years War in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia.
Christina was also a noted patron of artists and great thinkers.
She aimed to make Stockholm the “Athens of the North.” She invited Rene Descartes to her court,
where he unfortunately took ill and died.
Christina never married and had no children. In 1651, she announced her intention to
abdicate in favor of her cousin and heir, Charles Gustavus. Around this time Christina also converted to
Roman Catholicism and when she officially abdicated in 1654, she travelled to
Rome to meet the Pope. Christina spent
much of the rest of her life in Rome, dying there is 1668 at the age of 62.
Over the centuries, Christina’s gender identity has been
hotly disputed. She favored masculine
clothing. Some of her contemporaries
described her voice and bearing as masculine.
Her autobiography mentioned distaste for marriage and female friendship. However, Christina was interested in the lifelong
celibacy of Catholic nuns as a very young girl and her choices may have been influenced
by her unusual position as a female sovereign.