Christina krĭstēˈnə [key], 1626–89, queen of Sweden (1632–54), daughter and successor of Gustavus II. From her father's death (1632) until 1644 she was under a regency headed by Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna. Her early devotion to state affairs soon gave place to other interests, especially a zeal for learning. She attracted many foreign artists and scholars—including Descartes—to her court. Music and literature, especially the poetry of Jorge Stiernhielm (1598–1672), were encouraged. On her favorites she lavished titles, lands, and money, and by the end of her reign half of the crown lands had been given away. Her distaste for marriage caused her to designate her cousin Charles (later Charles X) as her successor. Weary of her duties and the growing antagonism of the nobles, and attracted to Catholicism, Christina abdicated in 1654. She left Sweden attired as a man, was received into the Catholic Church at Innsbruck in 1655, and settled at Rome. Her eccentricity and financial incompetence kept her affairs in continual disorder. On the death (1660) of Charles X, Christina returned to Sweden; she hoped to regain her throne but failed. She again went to Sweden in 1667 but was refused entrance into Stockholm because of her religion. She died in Rome and was buried at St. Peter's.

See biographies by M. L. Goldsmith (1933), A. Neumann (tr. 1935), S. Stolpc (1960, tr. 1966), C. H. J. Weibull (1960, tr. 1966), G. Masson (1968), and V. Buckley (2004).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Scandinavian History: Biographies