WOMEN OF HISTORY | KRISTINA AUGUSTA, QUEEN OF SWEDEN, GIRL KING (18 December 1626 – 19 April 1689) (Shirley Henderson)
Christina was Queen Regnant of the Swedes, Goths and Vandals, Grand Princess of Finland, and Duchess of Ingria, Estonia, Livonia and Karelia. At the age of six she became queen when her father died in battle and at eighteen she took the throne officially. (She had also been asked to join the National Council when she was sixteen, but asked them in return to wait until she had turned eighteen.)
Her first act as queen was to bring about peace in her nations, which she did successfully. A woman of great intellect, Christina transformed her court into a meeting place for great minds, and turned Sweden into a powerful empire. (Even as a child she happily studied ten hours a day, learning Swedish, German, Dutch, Danish, French and Italian. Her tutor wrote of her at fourteen that she was ‘she is not at all like a female’ because she instead had ‘a bright intelligence.’)
At twenty-five, Christina suffered a nervous breakdown from the stress and exhaustion of rulership- her duties were reported to keep her occupied for ten hours a day, and she refused to stop her own private studies. She abdicated her throne and caused scandal when she converted to Catholicism.
For a time she traveled around Europe before settling in Rome. There she spent much of the rest of her life and became a leader of musical and theatrical life, protecting and funding many projects and artists. Her behaviour and dress were unconventional and masculine, and she held open disdain for typically feminine things like marriage and childrearing. Christina preferred the company of men, but was said to invite beautiful women to dine with her so that she could court them.