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Famous Affinities of History — Volume 1 by Orr

Monaldeschi accompanied her to France


Christina's

philosophy of life appears to have been compounded of an almost brutal licentiousness, a strong love of power, and a strange, freakish longing for something new. Her political ambitions were checked by the rising discontent of her people, who began to look down upon her and to feel ashamed of her shame. Knowing herself as she did, she did not care to marry.

Yet Sweden must have an heir. Therefore she chose out her cousin Charles, declared that he was to be her successor, and finally caused him to be proclaimed as such before the assembled estates of the realm. She even had him crowned; and finally, in her twenty-eighth year, she abdicated altogether and prepared to leave Sweden. When asked whither she would go, she replied in a Latin quotation:

"The Fates will show the way."

In her act of abdication she reserved to herself the revenues of some of the richest provinces in Sweden and absolute power over such of her subjects as should accompany her. They were to be her subjects until the end.

The Swedes remembered that Christina was the daughter of their greatest king, and that, apart from personal scandals, she had ruled them well; and so they let her go regretfully and accepted her cousin as their king. Christina, on her side, went joyfully and in the spirit of a grand adventuress. With a numerous suite she entered Germany, and then stayed

for a year at Brussels, where she renounced Lutheranism. After this she traveled slowly into Italy, where she entered Borne on horseback, and was received by the Pope, Alexander VII., who lodged her in a magnificent palace, accepted her conversion, and baptized her, giving her a new name, Alexandra.

In Rome she was a brilliant but erratic personage, living sumptuously, even though her revenues from Sweden came in slowly, partly because the Swedes disliked her change of religion. She was surrounded by men of letters, with whom she amused herself, and she took to herself a lover, the Marquis Monaldeschi. She thought that at last she had really found her true affinity, while Monaldeschi believed that he could count on the queen's fidelity.

He was in attendance upon her daily, and they were almost inseparable. He swore allegiance to her and thereby made himself one of the subjects over whom she had absolute power. For a time he was the master of those intense emotions which, in her, alternated with moods of coldness and even cruelty.

Monaldeschi was a handsome Italian, who bore himself with a fine air of breeding. He understood the art of charming, but he did not know that beyond a certain time no one could hold the affections of Christina.

However, after she had quarreled with various cardinals and decided to leave Rome for a while, Monaldeschi accompanied her to France, where she had an immense vogue at the court of Louis XIV. She attracted wide attention because of her eccentricity and utter lack of manners. It gave her the greatest delight to criticize the ladies of the French court--their looks, their gowns, and their jewels. They, in return, would speak of Christina's deformed shoulder and skinny frame; but the king was very gracious to her and invited her to his hunting-palace at Fontainebleau.


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