As we have already said, Christina’s refusal of marriage has been explained by a sexual malformation, and hermaphrodism has been mentioned.

Did she think herself unfit for a fruitful marriage because of a physical imperfection?  She did say:  “I would give birth to a Nero rather than to an Augustus.  What a lovely gift that would be for my country!”  Nothing leads us to believe that this imperfection really existed.

However, at the age of fifty, she thought that she was becoming a man.  Surprised to see “an excrescence of flesh in a place which made her hope to have become of our sex” – these are the words of the dispatch sent by the French Legation Attache in Rome to Minister Colbert de Croissy, dated 2 November 1680 – Christina communicates her doubt to her doctor, then successively to her chambermaid, her surgeon, to a Jesuit priest and even a cardinal who was very high up in her good graces.

The excrescence gets bigger.  It is believed that the Queen has become a king.  It is only after a second examination by the doctor, that he recognizes his mistake, and sees that it is a prolapsus of the uterus.  Here is the precise account of it given by Colbert de Croissy.

“The Queen of Sweden was surprised, four years ago, to see an excrescence of flesh in a place which made her hope to have become of our sex.  She communicated her doubt to her doctor, to a chambermaid named Ottavia, to Mr Dalibert, to Marquis del Monte, to her confidante named Maria Candida, a nun at the Santa Cecilia Convent, where she went on purpose, to her surgeon, to Marquis Pignatelli, to Father Pallavicini, a Jesuit who had sung her praises, and to Cardinal Azzolin.  They kept the secret for a long time.  However, this excrescence grew a lot, remaining in a form which confirmed their hopes.  And one day, the chambermaid whom I have named and who is very pretty, having touched it to see what would happen, it appeared such that the doctor threw himself to his knees, and said to her ecstatically, in Latin:  Salve, rex Suecorum!  She gave the same vision and the same experience to the nun.  The Marquis Pignatelli, who had also sung the praises of this princess, saw it as well, and her hope was such, that she had herself painted in armour, helmet on head, visor raised, with the inscription of only one of her names:  Alexander, Suecorum rex, for her name is Christina-Alexandra.  She also wanted to show this novelty to Cardinal Azzolin, who assures me that he never wanted to see it, as he is very devoted and says Mass every day…  After all this, the excrescence grew so much three months ago, and so changed its form, that the doctor noticing rather late his own ignorance, knew that the neck of the womb had fooled him by falling out, but that remedies were very necessary to stop the entire collapse of this part.  She stayed in bed with the pretext of a sore foot, things returned to normal, and I am able to assure you of the truth of all of these circumstances with no exaggeration, but which are known as exactly as I recount them by those whom I have named.”

In spite of a carefully maintained auto-suggestion, Christina’s last illusions vanish.  A woman she was, and a woman she would remain.

Queen Christina has been placed in the intermediate zone between healthy and ill people.  But this classment is very vague and needs more precision.

For Dr de Sarlo, the Queen of Sweden was just an hysteric.  Neurotic pathology admits a form, morbid in itself, characterised by a collection of very different phenomena, such as egoism, vanity, contradiction, moral insensitivity, a tendancy to dream and to roam in search of adventure, thoughtlessness and intellectual vivacity, all things which can be seen, for the most part, as a consequence of weakness of willpower and which characterised Christina.

Dr de Sarlo says:  “If we think about the course of events in her life, we can immediately see that, if she had received a different education, and if she had been able to apply her genius and the exuberance of her mental activity to great and glorious enterprises, she would not have appeared to us as an hysteric.”

Her mood changes and her frequent contradictions show her mobile mind;  her travels are the indication of the particular state which psychiatrists have named dromomania.  She felt the imperious need to do everything the opposite way to everyone else, to show herself to be unique by her acts, her tastes and her opinions.

One after the other, she showed herself to be humble and haughty, rude and indulgent, very feminine or very masculine, according to the circumstances, or the time of day.  Sometimes she gave herself up to exaggerated devotional practices, then to the most uncontrolled shamelessness.

Wanting to accept Catholic dogmas, she does not intend submitting herself to the domination of priests.  Always detesting hypocrisy, she imposes no control on her words or her thoughts.

Was Queen Christina an hysteric?  In other words, did her comportment have a pathological cause?

Nothing proves that the impetuous character of Christina was a symptom of this neurotic illness which is also hereditary.  Her mother’s unhinged and morbid mind is not in itself the result of hysteria.

Queen Christina was an active woman with a character all of one piece.  She possessed uncommon passion and vitality which were unquestionably perverted by an atypical education.  Therefore, it would be imprudent to look for a medical cause.

If she had lived today, she would have been perceived as your average rock star, avid for publicity, Tweeting and Facebooking, with her own webpage broadcasting her scandalous behaviour to the world.  She’d have loved it, but she would have been disappointed at not being absolutely unique in this comportment.  There are dozens of her now.

Advertisements