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Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless…

Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric

by Veronica Buckley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Part of the “interesting women” reading list. There must have been high hopes for the daughter of Gustavus Adolphus (more correctly but more confusingly called “Gustav Adolf” in this book), but while Christina was bright and had a forceful personality, she definitely wasn’t a version of her father in skirts. In fact, it wasn’t clear if she belonged in skirts at all; it took doctors 24 hours after her birth to determine her gender, she often wore men’s clothes as an adult, and a good number of her romantic attachments appear to have been with other women. The less respectful of her contemporaries described her as a “hunchback lesbian dwarf whore”, and it’s quite clear that even with her acknowledged beautiful eyes, she would never be mistaken for Greta Garbo.

She reminds me of a smarter but homelier version of a modern pop star - perhaps if Paris Hilton could qualify for Mensa and had once been in a bad car wreck? Her life story is full of not-quite-successful attempts to be great, with numerous interesting and ambitious projects that she was just a little too much of an airhead to complete. She wanted to an Athena, presiding over a court full of artists and scholars and philosophers, but (apologies to 17th century Sweden just wasn’t the place to do this. Although she did manage to lure Rene Descartes to Stockholm, he promptly caught pneumonia and died. Her eventual solution to the problem was characteristically outrageous and not very well thought out: she abdicated the throne, converted to Catholicism, and moved to Rome. Although she amassed a decent sculpture collection (dispensing a small amount of patronage to Bernini) and had occasional musical evenings with Correlli and Scarlatti, she was mostly too impoverished to run the kind of salon she had always anticipated. She attempted to stay active in European politics without any success, becoming a comic and pathetic figure at the royal courts she visited, and she ruined her reputation by having one of her own “court” of hangers-on summarily executed for treason.

At least, the end of her life was not unpleasant. With all passion spent she retired to her Roman villa and her art collection. In her last illness she forgave all her enemies and requested forgiveness for herself.

This is author Veronica Buckley’s first book, and I’m impressed. The narrative is well done and the research is impeccable. Apparently it’s a graduate thesis that Buckley spent years refining. I’m hoping there’s another book in the wings somewhere. ( )
1 vote setnahkt | Dec 6, 2017 |
I came to this book knowing the basic outline of Christina of Sweden's life but not the details - and what struck me was the role of gender in this 17th-century queen's life. Initially mistaken for a boy at birth (and possibly intersex?), Christina become Queen of Sweden in her own right while still a child. She refused to marry, however, and eventually abdicated from her throne, motivated partly by a desire to convert to Catholicism. She spent years traveling across Europe, often dressed in men's clothing, and was attracted to both men and women. I wish this historical figure was talked about more - she clearly deserves more attention than she typically receives and her life would provide a rich platform for discussions of gender and sexuality. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Sep 15, 2017 |
This is a biography of the eccentric 17th century Queen of Sweden, Christina. Christina was the only child of King Gustav and gained the throne at age 5. She started actually ruling at age 18 and abdicated in favor of her cousin, Karl Gustav, who many wanted her to marry, at age 28. She was an odd woman - educated and considered sort of manly, she often wore men's clothing and was very active. Her sexuality was always suspect, but she seems to have been more asexual than anything. It's always hard to tell at this sort of distance what the truth is vs. what cultural sensibilities of the time implied.

She was ensconced in the Lutheran country of Sweden and made the highly politcal (though she probably didn't view it that way) decision to convert to Catholicism after her abdication. She lived most of her life after leaving Sweden in sunny, warm, Catholic, Rome. Pretty much as opposite from Sweden as she could get.

I enjoyed this book, but I think it could have been better. I was a bit bored at times, even though this woman led an eccentric and exciting life. She was constantly making bad decision politically and personally. I'm a little ambivalent about recommending it, but if you like historical biographies, it's probably worth the time. I'm always interesting in reading about women who wielded power in these eras. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Aug 15, 2016 |
Christina became Queen of Sweden as a child and abdicated as a young woman. I absolutely hate her. She was a terrible queen and a selfish, pompous, spoiled woman. I was so pleased when she abdicated the throne so she could pursue her Grand Artistic Future, and doubly pleased when it turned out she was no great genius, after all. She died alone, desitute, and despised by most of Europe, which I think fitting for such an annoying person.

The history itself is well-researched and well-written. I usually read about monarchs whose fates I already know--it felt very weird not to know what would happen. I was so impatient to find out that I actually skipped ahead several times. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Haven't read much about her before so this was very interesting and well written. But I absolutely hated her. She was selfish and spoiled. ( )
  Elysianfield | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060736186, Paperback)

Not unlike the elusive figure played by Greta Garbo, the real Queen Christina stood among the most flamboyant and controversial figures of the seventeenth century. All of Sweden could not contain her ambition or quench her thirst for adventure. Freed from her crown, she cut a breathtaking path across Europe -- spending madly, seeking out a more majestic throne, and stirring up trouble wherever she went. With a dazzling narrative voice and unerring sense of the period, Veronica Buckley goes beyond historical myth to breathe life into an extraordinary woman who set the world on fire and became an icon of her age -- a time of enormous change when Europe stood at the crossroads of religion and science, antiquity and modernity, war and peace.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:52 -0400)

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"She was born on a bitterly cold December night in 1626 and mistakenly declared a boy. On her father's death six years later she inherited the Swedish throne. She was educated as a prince, yet could eat and swear like the roughest soldier. She was painted a lesbian, a prostitute, a hermaphrodite and an atheist. She was learned but restless, progressive yet self-deceiving. Her leadership was erratic, her character unpredictable. No sooner had she enjoyed the lavish celebrations of her official coronation at 23, than she abdicated, converted to Catholicism and left her cold homeland behind for an extravagant new life in Rome." "The life of Christina, Queen of Sweden is a European story on the grandest and most eccentric scale. Christina was a child of her time and her time was one of great change. Europe stood at a crossroads where religion and science, antiquity and modernity, peace and war all met. Christina stood at these crossroads too, stirring, astonishing, and dazzling all who met her."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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