At first, Christina is very popular in Rome.  The Pope dines with her.  There are two tables, one foot apart, because, according to etiquette, no person of the female sex may dine at the same table as the Pope.  No female is allowed to kiss his cheek, only his hand and his slipper.  After dinner, a drama is performed, with musical accompaniment.

Rapidly, however, her excessive arrogance, her scrapes and her excentricities begin to displease.  Alexander VII had ordered the cardinals to remain silent during services.  Christina laughs out loud during them.  She is an Art lover, and visits numerous churches and palaces where she openly mocks the modest covering of naked sculptures with vine leaves.

Only the Pope is respected, because she considers him to be above her.  She maintains a certain deference toward the cardinals, but is odious with the other important Romans.

No durable and deep affection can be found in her, apart from the cult of her own person.  Egoism, vanity, the mania for performing in public, for “making herself interesting”, are not the only characteristics which distinguish Queen Christina.  Her immorality compared to Church dogma, or just to Italian mentalities, offends and horrifies her hosts.  The Pope, himself, has difficulty in putting up with her jokes.

One day, when he had had delivered to her a magnificent rinfresco, that is to say, fruits, jams, game and other provisions, Christina greets it with “in Rome, the business of war is not well understood, since castles are given supplies before being beseiged”.

Another thing demonstrated by accounts of her stay in Italy, is the effort she makes to have everyone talk about her smallest actions.  This need to let the public know about her every move, shows a bloated vanity.

She needs to act in contradiction with the actions of ordinary people, and to show herself to be unique in everything she does, as well as by her tastes and opinions.  The worst insult for her, is to imitate her.

She is impatient to leave Rome, and takes the pretext of an outbreak of contagious disease, to flee this inhospitable city, where she is so misunderstood.  She hopes that France will give her a warmer welcome.

Christina is thirty years old when she arrives in France, in August 1656.  The King sent his Grand Chamberlain, Duke Henry de Guise, to meet her on her entry into his kingdom.  To amuse his sovereign, the Duke sends him the following letter, giving his first impressions of the Queen:

“She is not tall, but her body is full and her backside wide, her arms are beautiful, her hands white and well-made, but more a man’s than a woman’s;  one shoulder is high and she hides this fault so well by the strangeness of her clothing, her walk and her actions that it could be disputed.  Her face is big without being defectuous;  all her features are the same and strongly marked;  an aquiline nose, a fairly big mouth, but not disagreeable;  her teeth are all right, her eyes very beautiful and full of fire;  her skin, in spite of a few smallpox marks, is fairly bright and beautiful;  a reasonable facial outline, accompanied by a very strange hair-do.  It is a man’s wig, very big and raised high above the forehead, very thick on the sides, with very light points at the bottom;  the top of the head is a mass of hair, and the back has something of a female hair-do.  Sometimes, she wears a hat.  Her corset laced behind, on a biais, is made almost like our doublets;  her shirt, hanging out all around, over her skirt, which she wears rather badly attached and not very straight.  She is always heavily powdered with a lot of pomade and never wears gloves.  She is booted like a man, and her tone of voice is male, as are most of her actions.  She sees herself as an Amazon.  She has at least as much glory and pride as the great Gustave, her father, must have had.  She is very civil and flattering, speaks eight languages, and principally French, as if she had been born in Paris.  She knows more than any Academy and the Sorbonne put together;  admirably knows painting, as well as all other things;  knows better than I, all of our court intrigues.  In short,  she is a really extraordinary person.  I shall accompany her to court through Paris;  so you will be able to judge for yourself.  I do not think that I have forgotten anything in her portrait, except that she sometimes wears a sword with a buffalo collar, and that her wig is black, and that she has nothing on her breast except a scarf of the same.”

Seventh part tomorrow.

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