Famous Rulers in History Queen Christina of Sweden Part 5

About the famous Swedish Queen Christina, history and biogaphy of her reign and rule of Sweden.

Famous and Infamous Rulers in History


Postscript: Christina's power, in a sense, did not end with her abdication but took a different form. On her trip to Rome, in 1654, she dressed as a knight with sword and boots, rode astride, and called herself Count Dohna, but she divested herself of this disguise to be feted in various cities along the way. At Innsbruck she was received into the Catholic Church, and nearly a year later, riding a prancing white horse, she made a spectacular entry into Rome. She was received by the pope, who soon became disillusioned with her because, as the token royal convert, she did not like to make public displays of piety and because she did too many shocking things. For instance, she continued to dress as a man, covering her increasingly portly body with men's coats and wearing men's wigs. Moreover, her linen and hands were often dirty.

She gave full rein to her interest in the arts. She began an academy (which still exists); backed Giovanni Bernini, the sculptor, at a time when he was being discredited; started the first opera house in Rome; had as her orchestra conductor Arcangelo Corelli and as her choirmaster Alessandro Scarlatti; and put together one of the greatest collections of Venetian paintings ever in one place. She also built an observatory and employed two full-time astronomers to run it; was a friend of several scientists; and dabbled in alchemy.

Twice she tried to win herself a crown. In 1657, while conspiring with Cardinal Mazarin of France and the Duke of Modena to take Naples from Spain so that she could be its queen, she shocked Europe by ordering the execution of the Marchese Giovanni Monaldeschi, who betrayed her plans to the Holy See. Ten years later, she made a bid for the crown of Poland, but the Polish Diet refused her, partly because of her unwillingness to marry.

With Cardinal Azzolino, she insisted that Rome pursue the Holy War against the Turks (won by Innocent XI), even contributing her pension from Rome to the treasury to fight the war.

Late in life she became interested in quietism (a Catholic movement which stressed direct communion with God), defending its founder, Miguel de Molinos, who was imprisoned by the Inquisition, until he was proved to be a charlatan.

She died on Apr. 19, 1689, debilitated by erysipelas (also known as St. Anthony's fire), after falling into a fit of rage at a man who failed to carry out her request to kill a molester of one of the women under her protection. She was buried in great pomp, which was against her wishes.

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