Christina of Holstein-Gottorp, Queen of Sweden

Christina of Holstein-Gottorp c. 1610, artist unknown (source)

Christina of Holstein-Gottorp c. 1610, artist unknown (source)

Christina of Holstein-Gottorp, born April 13, 1573, was Queen Consort of Sweden as wife of Charles IX. She also served as Regent in 1605 during the absence of the king and in 1611 for her son Gustavus Adolphus. She was the second wife of Charles, married in 1592, and although he became king in 1604, they were crowned together in 1607 at Uppsala cathedral.

Christina was both respected and feared. She exercised strict control over the court, but not over her husband, the king. Charles was equally strong-willed and didn’t let her dictate policy. He did, however, ask her advice, and the marriage appears to have been a happy one. They had three children who survived to adulthood: Gustavus Adolphus (1594–1632) who succeeded his father as Gustav II, Princess Maria Elizabeth of Sweden (1596–1618), and Charles Philip (1601–1622).

In 1611, Charles died and Christina briefly served as regent for the 17 year old Gustavus. Also during this time, 10-year-old Charles Philip was proposed as a candidate for Tsar during the “Time of Troubles” in Russia, but Christina refused to let him leave for Russia (an action that the new king agreed with). On the death of his father Charles Philip became the Duke of Södermanland and his mother administered the duchy during his minority as well. There she managed the iron mines and weapons manufacture which became one of the largest financiers of the crown.

Christina was actively involved in the marriage arrangements of her children. She prevented the marriage of Gustavus to his love interest, Ebba Brahe, who Christina considered not of sufficient rank. She also arranged the marriage of her daughter Maria Elizabeth to her cousin John, Duke of Ostrogothia, to prevent his marriage to an ambitious foreign princess.

In 1622, Charles Philip died and Christina retired from public life. After his death, his wife from a secret morganatic marriage gave birth to a daughter. Christina acknowledged the marriage and took both the mother, Elisabet Ribbing, and her daughter, Elisabeth Carlsdotter Gyllenhielm, into her home. She died only three years later on December 8, 1625 at the age of 52.

Find out what else happened on April 13 in Women’s History.

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