Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

good hopes of her.” Unfortunately her brilliant and commanding qualities were vitiated by an inordinate pride and egoism, which exhibited themselves in an utter contempt for public opinion, and a prodigality utterly regardless of the necessities of the state. She seemed to consider Swedish affairs as far too petty to occupy her full attention; while her unworthy treatment of the great chancellor was mainly due to her jealousy of his extraordinary reputation and to the uneasy conviction that, so long as he was alive, his influence must at least be equal to her own. Recognizing that he would be indispensable so long as the Thirty Years’ War lasted, she used every effort to bring it to an end; and her impulsive interference seriously hampered the diplomacy of the chancellor, and materially reduced the ultimate gains of Sweden. The general peace congress was not opened till April 1645. The Swedish plenipotentiaries were Johan Oxenstjerna, the chancellor’s son, and Adler Salvius. From the first the relations between them were strained. Young Oxenstjerna, haughty and violent, claimed, by right of birth and rank, to be caput legationis. The chancellor, at home, took his son’s part, while Salvius was warmly supported by Christina, who privately assured him of her exclusive favour and encouraged him to hold his own. So acute did the quarrel become that there was a violent scene in full senate between the queen and the chancellor; and she urged Salvius to accelerate the negotiations, against the better judgment of the chancellor, who hoped to get more by holding out longer.

The longer Christina ruled, the more anxious for the future fate of her empire grew the men who had helped to build it up. Yet she gave fresh privileges to the towns; she encouraged trade and manufactures, especially the mining industries of the Dales; in 1649 she issued the first school ordinance for the whole kingdom; she encouraged foreign scholars to settle in Sweden; and native science and literature, under her liberal encouragement, flourished as they had never flourished before. In one respect, too, she showed herself wiser than her wisest counsellors. The senate and the estates, naturally anxious about the succession to the throne, had repeatedly urged her majesty to marry, and had indicated her cousin, Charles Gustavus, as her most befitting consort. Wearied of their importunities, yet revolting at the idea of submission to any member of the opposite sex, Christina settled the difficulty by appointing Charles her successor, and at the Riksdag of 1650 the Swedish crown was declared hereditary in Charles and his heirs male. In the summer of 1651 Christina was, with difficulty, persuaded to reconsider her resolution to abdicate, but three years later the nation had become convinced that her abdication was highly desirable, and the solemn act took place on the 6th of July 1654 at the castle of Upsala, in the presence of the estates and the great dignitaries of the realm. Many were the causes which predisposed her to what was, after all, anything but an act of self-renunciation. First of all she could not fail to remark the increasing discontent with her arbitrary and wasteful ways. Within ten years she had created 17 counts, 46 barons and 428 lesser nobles; and, to provide these new peers with adequate appanages, she had sold or mortgaged crown property representing an annual income of 1,200,000 rix-dollars. Signs are also not wanting that Christina was growing weary of the cares of government; while the importunity of the senate and Riksdag on the question of her marriage was a constant source of irritation. In retirement she could devote herself wholly to art and science, and the opportunity of astonishing the world by the unique spectacle of a great queen, in the prime of life, voluntarily resigning her crown, strongly appealed to her vivid imagination. Anyhow, it is certain that, towards the end of her reign, she behaved as if she were determined to do everything in her power to make herself as little missed as possible. From 1651 there was a notable change in her behaviour. She cast away every regard for the feelings and prejudices of her people. She ostentatiously exhibited her contempt for the Protestant religion. Her foreign policy was flighty to the verge of foolishness. She contemplated an alliance with Spain, a state quite outside the orbit of Sweden’s influence, the firstfruits of which were to have been an invasion of Portugal. She utterly neglected affairs in order to plunge into a whirl of dissipation with her foreign favourites. The situation became impossible, and it was with an intense feeling of relief that the Swedes saw her depart, in masculine attire, under the name of Count Dohna. At Innsbruck she openly joined the Catholic Church, and was rechristened Alexandra. In 1656, and again in 1657, she visited France, on the second occasion ordering the assassination of her major-domo Monaldischi, a crime still unexplained. Twice she returned to Sweden (1660 and 1667) in the vain hope of recovering the succession, finally settling in Rome, where she died on the 19th of April 1689, poor, neglected and forgotten.

See Francis William Bain, Queen Christina of Sweden (London, 1890); Robert Nisbet Bain, Scandinavia (Cambridge, 1905); Christina de Suède et le Cardinal Azzolino (Paris, 1899); Claretta Gaudenzio, La Regina Christina de Suezia in Italia (Turin, 1892); Hans Emil Friis, Dronning Christina (Copenhagen, 1896); C. N. D. Bildt, Christina de Suède et le conclave de Clement X (Paris, 1906); Drottning Kristinas sista dagar (Stockholm, 1897); and J. A. Taylor, Christina of Sweden (1909). (R. N. B.) 

CHRISTINA [Maria Christina Henrietta Désirée Félicité Rénière], for some years queen-regent of Spain (1858–  ), widow of Alphonso XII. and mother of Alphonso XIII., was born at Gross Seelowitz, in Austria, on the 21st of July 1858, being the daughter of the archduke Charles Ferdinand and the archduchess Elizabeth of Austria. She was brought up by her mother as a rigid Catholic, and great care was taken with her education. At eighteen she was appointed by the emperor Francis Joseph, abbess of the House of Noble Ladies of Saint Theresa in Prague, where she made herself very popular and distinguished herself by her intellectual parts. It is said that at the court of Vienna the archduchess saw the young prince Alphonso of Spain when he was only a pretender in exile, before the restoration of the Bourbons. A few years later, when Alphonso XII. had lost his first wife and cousin, Queen Mercedes, daughter of the duc de Montpensier, his ministers, especially Señor Canovas, urged him to marry again. He told them that if he did so it would only be with the young Austrian archduchess Maria Christina. After some negotiations between the two courts and governments it was agreed that the archduchess Elizabeth and her daughter should meet Alphonso XII. at Arcachon, in the south of France, where a few days’ personal acquaintance was sufficient to make both come to a decision. The duke of Bailen went officially to Vienna to get the emperor of Austria’s authorization, and on the 14th of November 1879, in the throne-room of the Imperial palace, the archduchess solemnly abdicated all her rights of succession in Austria, in accordance with the law obliging all princesses of the imperial house to do so when they wed a foreign prince. On the 17th of November the archduchess and her mother, with a numerous suite, started for Spain, arriving at the royal castle of El Pardo, near Madrid, on the 24th of November. The wedding took place in the Atocha cathedral, on the 29th of November, in great state, and was followed by splendid festivities. Queen Christina bore her husband two daughters before he died in 1885—Dona Mercedes, born on the 11th of September 1880, and Dona Maria Theresa, born on the 12th of November 1882. During her husband’s lifetime the young queen kept studiously apart from politics, so much so that her inexperience caused much anxiety in November 1885, when she was called upon to take the arduous duties of regent. During the long minority of the posthumous son of Alphonso XII., afterwards King Alphonso XIII., the Austrian queen-regent acted in a way that obliged even the adversaries of the throne and the dynasty to respect the mother and the woman. The people of Spain, and the ever-restless civil and military politicians, found that the gloved hand of their constitutional ruler was that of a strong-minded and tenacious regent, who often asserted herself in a way that surprised them much, but always, somehow, enforced obedience and respect. More could not be expected by a foreign ruler from a nation little prone to waste attachment or demonstrative loyalty upon anybody not Castilian born and bred.

CHRISTISON, SIR ROBERT, Bart. (1797–1882), Scottish toxicologist and physician, was born in Edinburgh on the 18th of July 1797. After graduating at the university of that city in 1819, he spent a short time in London, studying under John