Queen Christina of Sweden

Christina of Sweden was born to King Gustav II Adolph of Sweden and his wife Queen Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg in 1626. She was given an education unusual for a woman of her time, with many great philosophers and scholars acting as her personal tutors. When the princess was just six, her father died during battle and left his throne to Christina. Gustav II Adolf had barred Christina’s mentally ill mother from caring for the princess, choosing instead to have a politician be more directly involved with her upbringing; this same man, Axel Oxenstierna, became Christina’s regent. Oxenstierna ruled for Christina until she was eighteen. As a member of the royal family of Sweden, Christina was in possession of an art collection almost from the moment of her birth. Sweden’s national treasures, such as the tapestries of the first Swedish kings and great Protestant manuscripts, were housed in the royal palaces; when the Tre Kronor castle in Stockholm was adopted by Christina’s father as the permanent royal residence, the royal architect was commissioned to add a room to hold the royal collection. When Christina was crowned in 1650 she had many medals, tapestries, and other regalia made in her honor. She also had portraits commissioned of herself and her favorites at court. When she left Sweden with her retinue of personally chosen paintings, books, and medals, she did leave behind many treasures that had once belonged to her as Queen. Christina expressed interest in abdication as early as 1651, but was persuaded to remain on the throne by her Privy Council. However, at 27 she was no longer able to remain Queen of Sweden. In 1654, Christina officially abdicated the throne. Her cousin Charles Gustav had been named heir to the throne in 1649, after Christina had made it clear that she had no intention of marrying him or anyone else. It is usually accepted that her primary reason for abandoning her country was her desire to convert to Catholicism. When she left Sweden for Rome, she took many artworks with her.

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