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Disobedient Facts About Christina Of Sweden, The Troublemaker Queen

Kyle Climans

The life of Queen Christina of Sweden is full of tragedy, scandal, and more than a little luxury. As a royal rebel, Christina didn’t just rule without a man—she absolutely refused to marry. When she was just 28, Christina gave up her crown, going from a rebellious teen queen to dethroned misfit to gender-bending, counter-culture icon. More people need to know about the incredible, jaw-dropping life of Queen Christina.


Christina of Sweden Facts

Long Live the Queen

Christina was born in Tre Kronor Castle, the ancient palace in the city of Stockholm, where she entered life in the lap of luxury. Christina’s father was King Gustav Adolphus of Sweden and his wife was Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg. But as Christina’s chilling childhood proves, all the money in the world can’t buy happiness…

Queen Christina FactsWikimedia Commons

And Then There Was One

Christina was the youngest of three girls, or rather, she should have been. Tragedy struck Christina’s life almost immediately. Christina was the only one of her sisters to survive to her second birthday. Her eldest sister was stillborn, and her other sister died within a single year of her birth.

A Hairy Situation

Christina’s birth did not go as she planned. After hours of painful labor, Maria Eleonora finally gave birth to Christina, but everyone could tell that something was not quite right. The baby came out covered in dark, downy fleece from its head to its arms. Only its face, arms, and lower legs were bare of the fur.

Hairy, Wealthy, and Wise

According to the reports, little Christina’s nose was very large and she also wailed out “with a strong, hoarse voice”—all characteristics that led people to assume the baby was a boy. It wasn’t. Maria Eleonora had given birth to a very hairy, beak-nosed, loud-mouthed baby girl. According to Christina herself,  “Deep embarrassment spread among the women when they discovered their mistake.”

Clever Girl

Though many European kings (cough, Henry VIII, cough) were obsessed with having male heirs, Christina’s father King Gustav didn’t seem to mind the mix-up too much. He never tried to have another child, and took his initial disappointment in stride. After the mistake, he quipped, “She’ll be clever, she has made fools of us all!”

Oh, Boy

On the other hand, Christina’s unhinged mother Maria was never shy about her disappointment. She had been desperate to give her husband a son, so when presented with baby Christina, she screamed, “Instead of a son, I am given a daughter, dark and ugly, with a great nose and black eyes. Take her from me, I will not have such a monster!”

Tomboy

King Gustav tried to raise Christina like a boy, and gave her many of the privileges of a Prince. This may have rubbed off on her: As a child, Christina was vastly interested in boisterous sports and fun, including fencing and hunting, and many people described her as a tomboy. Likewise, when the princess was just two years old, the king saw her clapping with glee at the sound of cannon fire.

Not Since Richard III

Christina didn’t have an easy life. As though her loony mom wasn’t enough, the princess also suffered from physical deformities. According to contemporary reports, Christina had a bent back, a deformed chest, and one shoulder was higher than the other. We should take these reports with a grain of salt, though. Christina had lots of enemies who loved portraying her in a bad light. But that’s not the only dark explanation behind her deformities…

The Deformed Queen

Christina herself admits (if cryptically) to being deformed throughout her memoirs. Alongside multiple reports of her uneven shoulders, Christina often lamented her strange body and “constitution.” She wrote that an attendant probably dropped her on the ground when she was just a baby. Sadly, that’s not the whole story.

Step Aside, Mommy Dearest

After Christina’s birth, her own mother Maria Eleonora would “accidentally” almost kill Christina several times by dropping her or pushing her down the stairs. Some historians believe that these deranged actions may even have caused Christina’s shoulder deformities.  Mother of the Century Award, anyone?

Baby Blues

Some historians believe a dark secret lay behind Queen Maria Eleonora’s cruel behavior towards her little daughter. She may have suffered from a severe form of postpartum depression after Christina’s birth.

The King Is Dead

In 1632, Christina’s father King Gustav rode into the battle of Lützen. He must have had a dark premonition, because before he left, he confirmed that Christina would become his official heir—and then he never returned, dying in the bloody battlefield. After the death of her beloved father, Christina toddled up to the throne and wore the heavy crown. She was just six years old.

And Now for Something Grisly

If anyone took the death of King Gustav worse than his beloved daughter Christina, it was his wife Maria Eleonora. In a disturbing and unhinged display of grief, Christina’s mother prevented King Gustav from being buried. Purportedly, the Queen wanted to wait until she could be buried with her beloved husband, no matter how long that took…

Queen Christina FactsWikimedia Commons

Get This Woman a Therapist

For 18 long, demented months, Maria regularly visited and touched the corpse of her decomposing husband. She refused to close the coffin, apparently not noticing that her husband was rotting before her very eyes. Maria only stopped when the Swedish Chancellor put his foot down and had poor Gustav properly buried at last.

Paint It Black

After Christina’s father died, her mother Maria Eleonora went mad with grief–and made sure everyone else was miserable too. But no one suffered a more brutal punishment than poor Christina. For a full year, Maria Eleonora forced her into blacked-out, darkened rooms to mourn her father in solitude for unforgivably long periods of time.

Custody Wars

Because she was so young when King Gustav passed, Christina wasn’t allowed to rule as the new monarch. A fierce conflict emerged regarding what was to be done about her upbringing. After years of neglecting her daughter, Maria Eleonora stepped in to take care of Christina. However, this flew in the face of King Gustav’s will. As a sign of how demented Maria had become, King Gustav expressly demanded that if he died, Christina would live with her aunt Catherine. Ouch.

How the Mighty Fall

Maria was not happy when she learned that the privy council planned to follow the King’s will instead of her furious demands. Eyes blazing, she banished Catherine from the castle. But for once, Maria wouldn’t get her way. After all Maria’s creepy demands about Gustav’s body and those “accidents” that kept happening to little Christina, Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna turned the tables.

Oh, Boy

In 1636, Maria Eleonora was so out of her mind that the government separated her from Christina and “placed” (by which I mean, politely imprisoned) her in Gripsholm castle, hoping she couldn’t do anyone any harm there. Once a queen, Maria was now an exile. Christina had effectively lost her father and her mother before her seventh birthday.

Surrogate Parent Wanted

After the Royal Custody Battle calmed down, Christina spent three happy years living with her aunt Catherine—but in 1638, tragedy struck when Catherine passed away. In order to keep her from getting too attached to just one person, Christina’s advisors then organized it so that she was under the care of several foster mothers. This decision had heartbreaking consequences.

Cold as Ice

Perhaps because of this detachment-style parenting, Christina grew up feeling rather distant from other women, including her own female courtiers. She never even mentions her foster mothers by name in her memoirs. When she refers to female courtiers, it’s mostly an excuse to flex her virile masculinity in comparison to their delicate femininity.

Equal Opportunity

As per her father’s wishes, Christina was given the same education that a male heir would have gotten. The subjects she learned included politics, history, philosophy, and religion. Christina took to it eagerly, studying 10 hours a day without slowing down. I guess when you don’t love any of your moms, you’ve got to fill the void somehow.

Multi-linguist

Christina was a total Hermione. As one of the most learned women of her age, she was fluent not just in Sweden, but  Italian, French, German, Danish, Dutch, Arabic, and Hebrew. In case you’re not keeping track, that’s eight languages. At least she could always fall back on a career as a translator if all else failed.

The Woman Who Was King

Christina defied gender norms, so why wouldn’t that extend to her reign? When she became ruler of Sweden, she took the title of Queen, but on paper, she was the one and only “King.”

Christina and Elizabeth, Woman-to-Woman

Queen Elizabeth I of England was one of Christina’s personal heroes. Like the Virgin Queen, Christina had no interest in marrying or sharing her wealth, power, or intellect with a man. Christina was also inspired by Catholic teachings on celibacy, which further confirmed her embrace of that sweet cat lady lifestyle.

Long Line

Christina’s coronation in 1650 was nothing short of grandiose. The procession from the castle of Jacobsdal to Storkyrkan was so long that the last carriages in the parade hadn’t even left the starting point before the first ones arrived at the destination!

I Choose You

In 1649, Christina shocked the world by swearing her allegiance to the single life. The royal rebel declared that even though she wanted to be Queen, she had no intention to get married and have kids, and thus she wouldn’t have an heir. The people didn’t need to worry, though; Christina appointed her cousin Charles Gustav to take over her duties when she passed. Christina said bestowing her power unto Charles made her feel like “God creating the first man.”

Denied

Why did Christina choose Charles Gustav to be her successor, especially so early in the game? The answer to that question involves one of the court’s shadiest figures: the power-hungry Chancellor Oxenstierna. As a decorated soldier, mentor to Christina, and big boss of the Swedish court, it was clear that Oxenstierna was gunning for power. Historians believe Christina appointed Charles Gustav as a sign that Oxenstierna needed to back the heck off. But there was another, far more scandalous reason…

Playing Hard to Get

Christina and Charles Gustav had major history. Not only were they cousins, but back in 1642, the duo even became secretly engaged! After a few years, Christina called that off and explored other, even spicier options…

Did They?

Though Queen Christina was not known for her attention to her female courtiers, she did have a very close relationship with her extraordinarily beautiful lady-in-waiting, the dancer Ebba Sparre. The two women often shared a bed, and it has been speculated that Christina and Sparre had an intimate relationship. Though we may never know for certain, there are some clues…

Wink Wink Nudge Nudge

Christina lovingly nicknamed Sparre “Belle,” introduced her as her “bed-fellow,” and kept in touch with her even after she exiled herself from Sweden. In one of those letters, Christina professed that she would always love her Belle. To add more fuel to the fire that the girls were more than friends, Sparre’s parents forbade Christina from visiting their daughter after she got married. Were they trying to prevent Christina from coming in between Sparre and her new hubby? Maybe so…

Non-Binary?

Christina wasn’t a tomboy just as a child. She often dressed in male clothing, shaved her head, and rocked cropped haircuts. And her masculinity wasn’t just sartorial: People said that she loved hunting, riding, and dirty jokes, and that she “walked like a man, sat and rode like a man, and could eat and swear like the roughest soldiers.” As a result, historians today think Queen Christina may have been gender fluid.

She’s the Man

Here’s a burn for the ages: In 1638, Chancellor Oxensteirna got tired of Christina stomping around the castle and sitting like a bro. He shadily suggested that she work on becoming more ladylike by hiring an entire French ballet troupe to live at the castle and teach the boyish queen to move gracefully.

Big Nerd Energy

Queen Christina was so busy with studying during her youth that she usually slept for just four hours per day, maximum.

Did You Shower This Morning?

Another side-effect of Christina’s full-time commitment to education was her lack of personal hygiene or presentation. She would often wear men’s shoes for the sake of convenience, dress hastily, and she never did her hair. In fact, her permanent bed-head became her trademark look in paintings.

Let’s Go Shopping

When she wanted, the Swedish Queen knew how to spend. In 1648, Christina began giving her palaces in Uppsala and Stockholm some major makeovers. Over the next two years, these castles gained hundreds of paintings, statues, scientific instruments, and pieces of crystal. One of Christina’s biographers said her frantic collecting became an uncontrollable “mania.” I mean, crazy did run in the family.

Queen Christina FactsPicryl

All the Single Ladies, Now Put Your Hands up

For years, Christina’s royal council had been pressuring her to marry, but she was staunchly opposed. She only told them, “I do not intend to give you reasons, [I am] simply not suited to marriage.” Then she coolly demanded that if she was to continue on as Queen, they must never ask her to wed…ever again.

Classic Sagittarius

As the years wore on, Queen Christina continued to face much criticism for her refusal to marry and for her extravagant spending. People claimed she “was bringing everything to ruin, and that she cared for nothing but sport and pleasure.” But the Queen was nothing if not stubborn, and she refused to change for any man, council member, or royal subject.

Bailing Mom Out

Maria Eleonora and Christina’s relationship was all kinds of messed up. In one of their more dramatic moments, Christina intercepted a letter from Maria to Sweden’s enemy, the King of Denmark. She called her betrayer-mother to the court to explain herself. As she walked to the center of the room, Maria immediately broke down in tears. At the time, Christina was just 13 years old.

Mean Mama

At the time, Christina’s mother was completely deranged. The court had basically imprisoned her (and solitary confinement does such wonders for someone with a fragile grasp on reality). As Maria begged her daughter to forgive her and let her out of her palace-prison at Gripsholm, her daughter knew she couldn’t do that. After sending her mother back to the fortress, Maria hatched another plan to betray her only child.

That’s Gotta Hurt

In the middle of the night, Maria and her handmaiden climbed out of the castle tower and snuck into a boat. They had secretly arranged to meet King Christian IV of Denmark, Sweden’s arch rival, and stay at one of his palaces. This put Christina in an extremely humiliating position. The child had to “thank” her country’s enemy for accepted her runaway mom. To make matters worse, poor Christina had to pay the Danish king alimony out of her own pocket. Ouch.

This Job Will Be the Death of Me

One of the many scholars who Queen Christina invited to Sweden was the famous philosopher Rene Descartes. Christina offered him a high-powered job running a scientific academy. This plan backfired, however, when it became clear that Descartes and Christina hated each other’s guts. And then things got even worse.  Descartes died, possibly of pneumonia, on the 11th of February 1650. This was less than two months after he visited Christina in her cold, drafty castle. Not to point any fingers…

Well Put

When Queen Christina’s life is adapted into a glossy Netflix miniseries, might we suggest the following tagline? To use Pope Alexander VII’s words, she was “a queen without a realm, a Christian without faith, and a woman without shame.” I can hear the dramatic music rising already.

Watch the Queen Conquer Negotiate

During the brutal and bloody Thirty Years War, Chancellor Oxensteirna and Queen Christina faced off. Oxensteirna wanted to keep fighting, while Christina stood her ground and supported peace. Guess who won? In 1648, Christina signed a Peace Treaty and Oxensteirna walked off with his tail between his legs. Lesson learned: Don’t mess with Christina.

Papa, Can You Hear Me?

But there was a heartbreaking reason behind Christina’s desperate need to secure peace. She had intimate knowledge of the Thirty Years War’s carnage. After all, many years before, her dearly beloved father perished in the same long, drawn-out conflict.

Wallflower Princess

When Christina was a young girl, she basically lived in a Renaissance sitcom. Her loony mom Maria Eleonora went wild for the latest fads, and she was particularly obsessed with buffoons, jesters, and the weird 17th-century craze for keeping dwarves as court curios. While Maria spent all day partying, Christina rolled her eyes and tried to study Hebrew. Penny and Leonard vibes, anyone?

That’s Way Harsh, Christina

One of the more controversial moments in Christina’s reign was her (perhaps righteous) vendetta against Arnold Johan Messenius. Messenius was an enfant terrible within Swedish society, and the son of a noted historian. After a lifetime of arrests, Messenius finally went too far when he and his 17-year old son slandered Christina. Christina wasn’t about to take that sitting down.

Bring on the Death Penalty

After Messenius and his son accused Queen Christina of being a “Jezebel” and an incompetent ruler who just wanted “sport and pleasure,” Christina ordered both father and son to be executed. The Swedish people saw this move as a bit an overreaction on Christina’s part, and she lost a lot of popularity as Queen after the double execution.

The Heavy Crown

Christina’s feverish studying came to an end 20 years into her time as queen. Struck down by high blood pressure, she also reported that she had declining eyesight. By 1651, the stress of rule was too much for her, and Christina collapsed at the age of only 25. Some historians suspect that she suffered a nervous breakdown.

Wild Idea

A cure wasn’t found until 1652, when a French doctor recommended something pretty radical (for the time): warm baths, healthy meals, and a proper sleep schedule. He also recommended that Christina tone down her 10-hour-a-day work regimen and, you know, try to enjoy herself rather than studying all day and night.

Plot Twist

In 1652, Christina met with a man who would change Swedish history forever: Antonio Macedo, the lowly secretary of Portugal’s ambassador. Christina and Macedo would stay up discussing philosophy and Catholicism. Their conversations became so passionate that Christina began to question everything about her Protestant faith. She secretly wrote to Macedo’s associates and expressed her interest in Catholicism.

Priests in Disguise!

Macedo smuggled Christina’s illicit letter out of the palace and delivered it to his superiors in Rome. Soon enough, some unexpected diplomats arrived at Christina’s door. Once they were safely inside, they revealed the truth: They were disguised Catholics who hoped to guide her through her crisis of faith. After more intense discussions, Queen Christina made up her mind: One day, she would convert. Her decision would change Sweden forever.

 I Quit

In 1654, Queen Christina shocked the world with an unprecedented gesture. She decided to abandon the throne of Sweden and give the job to her cousin Charles Gustav. While the councils urged her to reconsider, Christina was adamant. She said, “It is a far greater happiness to obey no one than to rule the world.”

If You Want Something Done Right

Queen Christina’s abdication ceremony to her cousin Charles Gustav was only slightly less dramatic than her coronation. During the ritual, she wore her full, opulent regalia, which was then slowly removed from her body piece by piece until she was dressed in a bare, white taffeta gown. Then the real dramatics started.

Do It Yourself

One of her councillors was tasked with removing the crown from her head. However, the man stood stock-still when his time came. He just couldn’t bear to do his duty. Never one to wait around, Christina took her crown off herself. Then, when it was all said and done, the former Queen Christina of Sweden left her home country within mere days. She was only 28 years old.

From Queen to Drag King

After she gave up her crown, Christina was determined to live on her own terms. She low-key stole a bunch of the Swedish palace’s valuable tapestries and silverware to fund her new lifestyle, then disguised herself in men’s clothing, took the name “Count Dohna,” and rode her horse throughout enemy lands in Denmark. As she travelled around, Christina visited nobles, went to parties, and pretty much lived her best life. But the good times wouldn’t last forever…

Always a Matchmaker, Never a Bride

Ironically, the woman who would rather abdicate than marry played a key role in getting her successor hitched. After she gave up the throne, Christina scoped out eligible matches for her cousin/ex-lover/heir Charles Gustav. He even married her top pick: the clever noblewoman Hedwig Eleonora.

Womanizer

Christina never got married, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have fun. She had rumored relationships with high-profile women like Gabrielle de Rochchouart de Mortemart, the famous chanteuse Angelina Giorgino, and Rachel Teixeira, the niece of a prominent banker. Get it, Christina.

Party Girl

After a childhood spent cooped up in libraries, Christina’s inner party girl finally came out when she quit being queen. As she travelled around Sweden and Denmark, she amassed an enormous entourage of 255 people and 247 horses. But Christina’s best diva moment came when she demanded to be entertained by the Archduke of Austria. Christina’s lavish needs nearly bankrupted the poor man.

Roman Holiday

Christmas Eve of 1654 was one of the most significant days in Christina’s life: she officially converted to Roman Catholicism. Since Sweden was a Protestant nation at the time, this was a huge, rebellious move. Even though it would cost her everything, Christina stuck to her guns and remained Catholic for the rest of her life.

Hush Money

Christina was proud to be a Catholic, but she also knew when to keep her mouth shut. She purposely didn’t publicize her conversion so that good old Protestant Sweden would keep sending their ex-queen alimony. Sweden was effectively footing the bill for Christina’s newly Catholic lifestyle without being any the wiser.

Here for a Good Time, Not a Long Time

Christina managed to trick Sweden for a while, but she was never one to live outside the limelight. When the ex-queen rolled into Italy in a custom carriage, the Catholic church staged an enormous celebration of her conversion. Christina even got to live in an entire wing of the Vatican. But there was a downside: Everyone now knew that Christina had ditched Protestantism. The Swedes quickly (and gleefully) denied her any more money.

50 Shades

Christina’s years in Rome were chock-a-block full of controversy. Not only did she open a free-thinking academy, she dared to be friends with prominent men, and even struck up a suggestive correspondence with Decio Azzolino, a bad boy cardinal. In one especially spicy letter to Azzolino, Christina says she will “live and die as your slave.” Kinky.

Plan B

But the good times wouldn’t last forever. After some schemes for power failed and the Pope sent Azzolino away to keep him from Christina, the ex-queen moved to the luxurious palace of Fontainebleau. As she pranced through its magnificent front gates in the autumn of 1657, Christina had no idea that she was walking into a catastrophe that would change her life forever.

Epic Fail

When Christina moved into Fontainebleau, a man named Gian Rinaldo Monaldeschi became her master of the horse. He would also, unbeknownst to Christina, be her undoing. Christina grew to distrust Monaldeschi and believed he was conspiring against her. She secretly intercepted his letters and confirmed her fears: He was plotting against her. Monaldeschi was copying her private letters and sending them to the Pope.

But it was his Idea!

Christina confronted Monaldeschi about his deception and was shocked when he not only admitted his betrayal but admitted that such a sin warranted the death sentence. Monaldeschi went to give his last confession, only for Christina’s servants to brutally attack him. They thrust daggers into his body and when Monaldeschi’s chain mail prevented any serious wounds, they slit his throat.

Renaissance Soap Opera

But how exactly did Monaldeschi betray Christina? While the incendiary letters are lost, Christina hinted about their scandalous contents. Apparently, Monaldeschi was gossiping about Christina’s intimate activities in the bedroom. Even wilder, the person she may have been seeing could have been Monaldeschi himself. Yup, Christina might have ordered the execution of her own lover.

Dark Whispers

Over in Rome, people whispered that something even darker had occurred at Fontainebleau. The streets buzzed that Christina had secretly been seeing Monaldeschi…alongside a few other romantic interests. When Monaldeschi snooped through her mail, he discovered that she was cheating on him. Furious at being called out, Christina ordered Monaldeschi to die.

The Aftermath

Monaldeschi’s death was technically legal, since Christina was kind of a queen and the execution occurred under her orders, but over in Rome, people were furious. Italy adored Monaldeschi, leading the Romans to turn their backs on the convert queen Christina. The first time Christina rode into Rome, she was welcomed like a goddess. After the death of Monaldeschi, she became a social leper.

Christina of Sweden FactsThe Girl King,Marianna Films

Does She Even Go Here?

When Christina came into town, Pope Alexander VII haughtily refused to greet her, instead staying at his summer home. In a brutal letter, he wrote that Christina had “intolerable pride.” But that was nothing compared to his next takedown: Christina was “a woman born of a barbarian, barbarously brought up and living with barbarous thoughts.” Ouch.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

In April 1660, Christina’s successor Charles Gustav died, leaving behind his heir, who was only a five-year-old boy. Perhaps regretting her hasty abdication years before, Christina returned to Sweden and declared that she would resume the throne if the vulnerable little boy also died. However, there was a huge problem with her plan.

I’ll Just Be Going

Besides the fact that the boy king was still very much alive, Christina’s conversion to Catholicism meant there wasn’t a hope in heaven that the Swedish people would let her take the throne again. They said, “No thanks,” and Christina went back on her way.

The Drama Never Stops

It’s safe to say that Pope Alexander VII and Christina were not on good terms, so when he died, she did what any petty ex-princess would do. She threw an absolutely enormous party for his replacement, Clement IX. The night should have been happy, but it almost ended in a devastating tragedy.

Not This Time

As Christina heard the terrifying sounds of gunfire interrupt her soiree, she felt abductors grabbing at her. Her celebration had turned into a kidnapping. But Christina was a born fighter. She somehow managed to break free from her would-be captors, disguised herself, and ran out of one of the palace’s back doors. Seriously, people, don’t mess with Christina.

Let the Ladies Sing

During her time in Rome, Christina became a well-known patron of the arts. She would also court controversy within the city by allowing women to perform under her roof. Pope Innocent XI was convinced that women should not be allowed to sing or dance, as it would lead to issues of morality. Well, I think you can guess what Christina had to say to that. The former Queen refused to even consider that kind of thinking, defied the pope’s opinion, and hosted women in her house all the same.

Props to You, Christina

Christina was one outspoken lady and after receiving such scorn for converting to Catholicism, she now had a cause to champion: religious persecution. She publicly admonished Louis XIV for stripping French Protestants of their rights and pestered Pope Clement until outlawed chasing Jewish people during carnival season. In 1686, Christina declared that she would personally protect Rome’s Jewish population. You go, Christina.

Style Icon

Christina never cared what other people thought of her. When she was older, she gained weight and rocked whatever clothes she wanted. She’d smile from ear to ear as she paired a long men’s coat with an incredibly tiny skirt and emphasized her tummy with a tight belt under her paunch. Christina also rocked a light beard and styled her short hair to stand straight up. Lady Gaga, take notes.

Counter-Culture Queen

Even after the Monaldeschi affair was a thing of the past, Christina never quite regained her clout in Rome. But here’s the thing about Christina: She was an absolute legend and she didn’t care if people didn’t like her. She became the queen of Rome’s counter culture, dressing bizarrely, opening artsy theaters, and protesting unjust treatment of religious minorities.

The Queen Is Dead

Christina struggled with serious illness during the last months of her life. Aside from diabetes mellitus, she also contracted pneumonia in the aftermath of a bacterial infection. Queen Christina died in Rome on the 19th of April, 1689 at the age of 62.

The Passing of a Great Figure

At the pope’s insistence, Queen Christina’s funeral involved her body being displayed in royal regalia for four days. She then became one of just three women to ever be buried in the Grotte Vaticane. However, as extravagant and prestigious as this funeral was, it flew completely in the face of Christina’s wishes: she had asked to be buried in Rome’s Pantheon without any pomposity or prestige.

Bad Call

Remember how Christina was thirsty for the bad boy cardinal Decio Azzolino? Well, that infatuation clearly lasted. The duo stayed in touch through letters they wrote in a secret code, and when Christina passed away, she left Azzolino everything. Unfortunately, Azzolino perished soon after Christina’s death. His will left everything to his dirt bag nephew Pompeo, who promptly sold Christina’s legendary art collection. What a guy.

Dig Her Up

After centuries of speculation that Christina could have been a hermaphrodite or intersex, historians finally laid the question to rest in 1965. They exhumed her bones and conducted an analysis. Their findings, drumroll please, were inconclusive, though they noted that her skeleton was “typically female.” Even after death, Christina refuses to be placed in a clear category.

Lights, Camera, Action!

One of Hollywood’s first takes on Christina’s life came in the form of the 1933 film Queen Christina. Starring screen siren Greta Garbo as the titular character, the film was a triumph back in the day, but it wasn’t without controversy. The flick featured a scandalous kiss between Christina and her “companion” Ebba Sparre. The script suggested the kiss was just friendly, but Garbo, who was bisexual in real life, pushed the envelope by passionately embracing her scene partner.

It’s All Greek to Me

When she became Queen, Christina sought to turn Stockholm into an “Athens of the North.” Many people responded by calling her the “Minerva of the North,” as Minerva is the Goddess of Wisdom.

A Macabre Memento

Everyone mourns in their own way, but Maria Eleonora’s way of mourning King Gustav was hella freaky. Not only did she force the young Christina into darkened rooms, but she also hung King Gustav’s heart in a golden casket above Christina’s bed. She made the girl sleep directly underneath her father’s “blessed” remains. Take note: That’s not one way to raise a well-adjusted child.

High Femme

As an adult, Christina was known for dressing in male clothing, but all that changed when she met Decio Azzolino. Apparently, the newly thirsty ex-queen started wearing frilly, feminine dresses that highlighted her, um, assets. Christina’s revealing wardrobe became so risqué that the Pope personally told her to raise her dress’ necklines.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


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