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Queen Christina’s delayed coronation finally took place on October 22, 1650. Christina went to the castle of Jacobsdal where she entered in a coronation carriage draped in black velvet embroidered in gold and pulled by three white horses. The procession to Storkyrkan was so long that when the first carriages arrived, the last ones had not yet left Jacobsdal (a distance of roughly 10.5 km or 6.5 miles).

All four estates were invited to dine at the castle. Fountains at the marketplace splashed out wine for three days, a whole roast ox was served, and illuminations sparkled, followed by a themed parade (The Illustrious Splendors of Felicity) on October 24.

The Crown used by Queen Christina for her coronation was originally made for her mother Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg as the queen consort of Gustaf II Adolph. It was made in Stockholm in 1620 by German goldsmith Rupprecht Miller and originally had two arches in a very fine foliage design in gold with black enameling and set with rubies and diamonds (a reference to the colors of the arms of her father Johann Sigmund of Brandenburg), with a small blue enameled monde and a cross, both set with diamonds.

Queen Christina had two more arches added to her mother’s crown matching the first two and had more diamonds and rubies added to it to enhance the crown’s appearance as the crown of a Queen Regnant. She also added a cap of purple satin, embroidered in gold and set with more diamonds, to the inside of the crown.

The circlet of the crown has eight large cabochon rubies set beneath each of the eight arches of the crown and diamonds in large rosette patterns in the intervening spaces of the circlet. Queen Christina’s crown was the crown chosen to be displayed with other items of the Swedish regalia and artifacts from the Swedish royal collections in a 1988-1989 exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and the Minneapolis Institute of Art commemorating the founding of Delaware as a Swedish colony in 1638.

Religion and health

Her tutor, Johannes Matthiae, influenced by John Dury and Comenius, who since 1638 had been working on a new Swedish school system, represented a gentler attitude than most Lutherans. In 1644, he suggested a new church order, but it was voted down as this was interpreted as Crypto-Calvinism.

Queen Christina defended him against the advice of Chancellor Oxenstierna, but three years later, the proposal had to be withdrawn. In 1647, the clergy wanted to introduce the Book of Concord – a book defining correct Lutheranism versus heresy, making some aspects of free theological thinking impossible. Matthiae was strongly opposed to this and was again backed by Christina. The Book of Concord was not introduced.

In 1651, after reigning almost twenty years, working at least ten hours a day, Christina had what some have interpreted as a nervous breakdown. For an hour she seemed to be dead. She suffered from high blood pressure, complained about bad eyesight and a crooked back.

She had seen already many court physicians. In February 1652, the French doctor Pierre Bourdelot arrived in Stockholm. Unlike most doctors of that time, he held no faith in blood-letting; instead, he ordered sufficient sleep, warm baths, and healthy meals, as opposed to Christina’s hitherto ascetic way of life.

She was only twenty-five and advising that she should take more pleasure in life, Bourdelot asked her to stop studying and working so hard and to remove the books from her apartments. For years, Christina knew by heart all the sonnets from the Ars Amatoria and was keen on the works by Martial and Petronius.

The physician showed her the 16 erotic sonnets of Pietro Aretino, which he kept secretly in his luggage. By subtle means Bourdelot undermined her principles. Having been stoic, she now became an Epicurean. Her mother and de la Gardie were very much against the activities of Bourdelot and tried to convince her to change her attitude towards him; Bourdelot returned to France in 1653 “laden in riches and curses”.

The Queen had long conversations about Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Francis Bacon, and Kepler with Antonio Macedo, secretary, and interpreter for Portugal’s ambassador. Macedo was a Jesuit, and in August 1651, smuggled on his person a letter from Christina to his general in Rome.

In reply, Paolo Casati and Francesco Malines came to Sweden in the spring of 1652, trained in both natural sciences and theology. She had more conversations with them, being interested in Catholic views on sin, the immortality of the soul, rationality, and free will.

The two scholars revealed her plans to Cardinal Fabio Chigi. Around May 1652 Christina, raised in the Lutheran Church of Sweden, decided to become Catholic. She sent Matthias Palbitzki to Madrid and King Felipe IV of Spain sent the diplomat Antonio Pimentel de Prado to Stockholm in August.


On February 26, 1649, was when Christina announced that she had decided not to marry and instead wanted her first cousin Carl Gustaf of Zweibrücken-Kleeburg to be heir to the throne. While the nobility objected to this, the three other estates – clergy, burghers, and peasants – accepted it. She agreed to stay on the throne on the condition the councils never again asked her to marry.

In 1651, Christina lost much of her popularity after the beheading of Arnold Johan Messenius, together with his 17-year-old son, who had accused her of serious misbehavior and of being a “Jezebel”. According to them “Christina was bringing everything to ruin, and that she cared for nothing but sport and pleasure.”

In 1653, she founded the Amaranten order. Antonio Pimentel was appointed as its first knight; all members had to promise not to marry (again). In the same year, she ordered Vossius (and Heinsius) to make a list of about 6,000 books and manuscripts to be packed and shipped to Antwerp.

In February 1654, she plainly told the Council of her plans to abdicate. Axel Oxenstierna told her she would regret her decision within a few months. In May, the Riksdag discussed her proposals. She had asked for 200,000 rikstalers a year, but received dominions instead.

Financially she was secured through a pension and revenue from the town of Norrköping, the isles of Gotland, Öland, Ösel, and Poel, Wolgast and Neukloster in Mecklenburg, and estates in Pomerania.

Her plan to convert to Catholicism was not the only reason for her abdication, as there was increasing discontent with her arbitrary and wasteful ways. Within ten years, she and Oxenstierna had created 17 counts, 46 barons, and 428 lesser nobles. To provide these new peers with adequate appanages, they had sold or mortgaged crown property representing an annual income of 1,200,000 rikstalers.

During the ten years of her reign, the number of noble families increased from 300 to about 600, rewarding people such as Lennart Torstenson, Louis De Geer and Johan Palmstruch for their efforts. These donations took place with such haste that they were not always registered, and on some occasions, the same piece of land was given away twice.

Queen Christina abdicated her throne on June 6, 1654 in favor of Carl Gustaf. During the abdication ceremony at Uppsala Castle, Christina wore her regalia, which were ceremonially removed from her, one by one. Per Brahe, who was supposed to remove the crown, did not move, so she had to take the crown off herself.

Dressed in a simple white taffeta dress, she gave her farewell speech with a faltering voice, thanked everyone, and left the throne to King Carl X Gustaf, who was dressed in black. Per Brahe felt that she “stood there as pretty as an angel.” King Carl X Gustaf was crowned later on that day. Christina left the country within a few days.