Famous Rulers in History Queen Christina of Sweden Part 2

About the famous Swedish Queen Christina, her history and biography, personal and early life.

Famous and Infamous Rulers in History


The queen mother was in intense mourning. She asked that the king in his pearl-decorated coffin be deposited in her bedroom (he was not buried until two years later) and had his heart hung in a golden case on the wall over her bed. In the black-draped room, she wept constantly, kept company by her dwarfs and hunchbacks (it was common practice then to have such people at court) and her child. Christina hated the nightmarish atmosphere, her hysterical mother, and the long Lutheran sermons in commemoration of her father's death.

It may have been this experience that began her lifelong antipathy to Lutheranism, the official faith of her country. The first hellfire sermon on the Last Judgment that she heard as a child filled her with terror, but two years later she "didn't believe any more" and began to doubt all the rest she had been told. One day she said to her tutor, John Mathiae, whom she called Papa, "Will you tell me the truth? Isn't all they tell us about religion just fables like the Last Judgement?" He berated her and threatened to have her beaten for asking such an impertinent question. Her reply: "I promise you never again to say anything like it, and I do not want to be beaten because you would have call to regret it very much if such a thing happened." She later recalled that she said this "with such an imperious air that I made him tremble."

Perhaps to avoid being with her mother, Christina studied--as much as 12 hours a day from the time she was eight, she claimed. Her mind was independent and her curiosity voracious from the first. Only two men, one of her governors and Mathiae, were able to control her, and she often questioned what they told her.

When she was 10, Axel Oxenstierna returned to Sweden from Germany, and from then on essentially ran the government--and ran it extremely well--until Christina took over the reins of power. As the king had asked, Oxenstierna separated Christina from her mother, putting the child in the hands of her Aunt Catherine and Uncle John Casimir. Christina grew fond of them and their children, Marie Euphrosyne and Charles Gustavus, both of whom played a significant part in her adult life.

She was a child stoic, who rose at four each morning to study and maintained a Spartan indifference to heat and cold. Her father had requested that she be raised as a boy; from the grave, he directed her life. So she learned to ride, hunt, and shoot, unusual accomplishments in those days for a girl. She was a crack shot, able, according to the French ambassador, to kill a running hare with her last cartridge. In terms of the attitudes of the time, she was showing masculine characteristics: neglect of her appearance (it took her 15 minutes or less to dress), a habit of swearing in a loud and often coarse voice, physical and emotional toughness. The upshot of it all was that she despised the contemporary concept of femininity with "an ineradicable prejudice against everything that women like to talk about and do."

As she grew older, Christina developed an admiration for Alexander, Caesar, Scipio, and other classic heroes, and learned to identify with them. From Oxenstierna, who said she had "extraordinarily brilliant intelligence," she learned about current affairs. By the time she was grown, she knew German, French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic. All her life she was a gifted student.

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