Christina, Queen of Sweden: The Restless Life of a European Eccentric
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)
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Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai
nyone with any knowledge of Europe in the late sixteenth/early seventeenth century is aware that it was a melting pot of political alliances, marriages of convenience, wars of all shapes and sizes ... in short, it was a mess! Veronica Buckley takes us to one of Europe's most northerly kingdoms, and outlines the life of Sweden's Queen Christina, who inherited the throne of her father at the ripe age of six.
hristina was an unusual child, preferring the pursuits of men and boys to the frivolous ways of girls, and it seems that she was never to enjoy a true, physical love relationship, although she professed to
several people; her name was often linked to scandals which forced her to leave town on more than one occasion, until the furore had died down. Christina was more at home in the dress of a man than in the trappings of femininity, which begs the question of her sexuality – was she, in fact, a lesbian?
hristina only reigned as Queen for a short period in her own right (before her eighteenth birthday the crown regents had governed in her stead), but Buckley provides us with many quotations written by Christina herself, attesting to her royal demeanour and highlighting her enormous ego: '
The people were amazed by my grand manner, playing the role of a queen already. I was only little, but on the throne I had such an air, such a grand appearance, that it inspired respect and fear in everyone.
hristina ruled in an age that was constantly in flux - in politics, religion and the arts. After her abdication she made her way to Rome (having converted to Catholicism); she spent a great deal of time in Paris, and liked to think of herself as a major patron of the arts, but it seems that everywhere she went she left a legacy of political intrigue and eccentricity.
his book is not for those who have no prior knowledge of European history –
Christina, Queen of Sweden
is a hard read, of necessity detailing the intrigues and intricacies of the political alliances and enmities of Europe.
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