Christina of Sweden’s childhood is spent in an atmosphere of nightmare and sobbing. She even has to suffer it at night because her mother insists on having her by her side, even in her bed. Her already fragile temperament must have been affected by such behaviour.
As well as this, Christina is the second daughter of Marie-Eleanore and Gustave-Adolphe. She was preceded in life by another daughter who did not live long. Between the two births, her mother had miscarried. After these two losses, great hopes were placed on this future birth.
They wanted a boy, and the tiny being who came into the world was so hairy and dark that the father, at first, thought that it was. A servant presented the child’s sex to the King, to show him his mistake. It was a girl.
As time passed, her features became more pronounced and her voice and appearance became more and more masculine. It had to be admitted that the astrologists who had predicted to the King that he would have a son, had been only half-mistaken. Her mother never recovered from this disappointment.
Gustave-Adolphe, on the other hand, became very attached to this daughter, who gave all the signs of having a precocious intelligence, which seemed as if it would also be much higher than normal. He took her with him to the camps, and had the military exercises performed in front of her. She accompanied him when he went hunting, and dressed in male clothes on these occasions.
When she was only four years old, Gustave-Adolphe, before leaving for what would later be known as the Thirty-Year War, carried his daughter in his arms to the Senate to have her recognized, from that moment, as the future Queen of Sweden. It is easy to see how different her life might have been if the King had not been killed as soon as he was.
She is scarcely six years old when she loses her father and is left with a mother who, formerly indifferent toward her, will then love her to the point of suffocation. She is mentally shaken from an early age.
On top of that, the education which she receives from her father contributes to the development of her fiery temperament and her aversion for women. In fact, she was not taught to be a princess; she was taught to be a prince. Christina, herself, tells us how she was raised:
“The King gave the order to everyone [her governors, the five officers of the Crown whom her father had assigned to her as tutors] to give me an entirely virile education and to teach me all that a young prince should know to be worthy of reigning… In this, my inclinations seconded his designs marvellously well, for I had an aversion and an invincible antipathy for all that women do and say. I found their clothes, accessories and manners unbearable. I never wore a headdress or a mask, I took no care of my skin, my waistline, nor the rest of my body, and, except for cleanliness and honesty, I disdained all the trappings of my sex. I was unable to suffer long clothes, I wanted to wear only short skirts, particularly in the country. As well as that, I had such lack of ability for all their handiwork, that it was impossible to teach me any of it. On the other hand, I learned with marvellous facility all the languages and all the exercises that anyone wanted to teach me.”
Her passion for study borders on frenzy. She says that she consecrates twelve hours a day to work. Taking exaggeration into account, it can still be said that she gives herself up to it with such enthusiasm, that she sometimes forgets to eat and drink. It is true that she doesn’t eat properly and endures frequent digestive problems. These dietary digressions and an unhealthy life-style will catch up with her later.
Philology, History and Theology are the basis of all education at that time. However, Christina also studies, one after the other or simultaneously, Latin and Greek, French and Spanish, German and Italian. The historians of Antiquity and the classic authors fill her with admiration. Extremely intelligent, she learns quickly and is passionate about different domains. However, this enthusiasm causes her to suffer from a certain amount of overwork.
Early on, she is accustomed, in particular by her father, to be conscious of her greatness, of her rank and of her power, and she is given the habit of speaking of her victories, of her armies and of her people. From her majority, she is persuaded that she is the absolute arbiter, not only of her kingdom, but of the whole of Europe, whose destinies depend entirely on her wishes.
The words “my greatness”, “my glory”, are constantly pronounced or written by her. In her old age, when she talks about her life, she will recognize only one person above herself, God, to whom she dedicates her memoires, as being the only judge worthy of such an honour.
This deep consciousness of her power and of her functions result in her wanting to be kept up-to-date on everything and, if the explanations she demands take too long to arrive, there are tantrums and tears.
Third part tomorow.