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1655 Christina of Sweden converts to Catholicism, and arrives in Rome. On December 23, she is received by Pope Alexander VII in Rome. Her conversion is now public, and she takes "Alexandra" as her middle name. Her appearance and behavior are a source of endless fascination and gossip. The Pope gives her accommodations in the Palazzo Farnese.

1656 Christina holds an academy in France to discuss problems concerning the nature of love. She falls deeply in love with Cardinal Azzolino, who remains close to her until her death 31 years later. Their relationship is intense but platonic. 

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1657-58 Christina finds Catholicism and the atmosphere of Rome stricter than she imagined it would be, and flaunts convention, refusing to conform to her new environment.   Many are appalled at her often rude behavior, and malign her. Spanish officials in particular spread false and malicious gossip.

Suffering from financial problems and losing power, Christina acts on her plans to seize Naples from Spain, and become the Neapolitan queen. To further her aims, she travels to France in an attempt to win the support of France against Spain.  In the palace at Fountainebleau, she brutally slaughters one of her men, Monaldesco, for betraying her plans. 

Europe is horrified at the means Christina has taken to proclaim her sovereign authority. Rumors circulate that Monaldesco was her lover, and that she has had many lovers whom she murders when she tires of them (although those who know her well believe her to be a virgin, or to have only known one man, Pimentel). Her reputation is in ruins. The Pope asks her to leave her apartments in the Vatican. Her loyal friend and priest, Azzolino, helps her to recover from her failure and humiliation at this low point in in her life.

During this time, Christina also meets mystic Francois Malaval, who will later dedicate his first book on Quietist Contemplation to her, and who along with Molinas who considerably influence her later years.

1659 Christina moves into the Palazzo Riario.
1660 King Charles dies. Christina visits Sweden, but is no longer welcome there. 
1661-62 Christina lives in Hamburg for 1 1/2 years.
1662 Belle dies in Sweden. 
1665 Christina's income is halved and she has increasing financial difficulties. She is intensively focused on increasing her income and regaining some of the power she has lost.
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Christina at age 35

1666 -1668  Christina studies astronomy with Lubenitz. Suffering financially, she returns to Sweden for the last time, attempting unsuccessfully to gain the right to rule Poland. She also lives for a year in Hamburg, where she studies alchemy. During this time, she is at the mercy of her unrequited love for Azzolino, writing him numerous letters declaring her complete devotion to him ("You have unlimited power over me") and expressing hurt at his apparently now cool response to her, and his failure to support her return to Rome. Christina the Superwoman has collapsed. 

Pope Alexander VII dies. Christina returns to settle permanently in Rome. Clement IX, who has been friendly to Christina, becomes pope, and awards her a pension.

1668 Christina installs an observatory in her palace, and hires two live-in astronomers. She publishes a letter on religious tolerance and a manifesto defending the Jews of Rome. 

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Christina at age 41
1669 Christina sponsors one of many archaeological digs. Pope Clement IX dies. Clement X becomes Pope.
1670-1 Christina begins writing her Maxims. She also employs actors and opens a successful theater, known for both of its quality and scandalous performances.

1674-5 Christina opens a new academy for philosophy and literature, and continues to sponsor many artistic events.  She helps to open the first public opera house in Rome. Her palace is  the cultural and intellectual center of Rome. 

1676 Migual Molinos' recently published Spiritual Guide becomes immensely popular, and deeply influences Christina's increasing interest in Quietism and the contemplative life. Pope Clement X dies. The conservative Pope Innocent  XI closes down theaters.

1679-80 Christina supports her friend, the sculptor Bernini, who is being discredited. She continues to be an  active patroness of  art, literature, philosophy and science. She publishes events of her reign and continues to write her Maxims. Increasingly introverted, and inspired by Catherine of Siena and Catherine of Genoa, she becomes more earnestly engaged in spiritual pursuits.

1681-88  Christina sponsors many musical performances.  She adopts the Quietist contemplative lifestyle, as developed by Molinos. Molinos is arrested in 1684 and convicted of heresy in 1687; the practice of Quietism is prohibited. Christina defends him for several years, but during his trial before the Inquisition, she becomes disenchanted with him as he reveals all his sexual aberrations. She nevertheless maintains her spiritual devotion.

1685 Despite her flagging income, Christina celebrates the crowning of the Catholic King James II of England by paying for a cantata to be written and performed by 100 singers and a 150 piece orchestra. She continues to write her Maxims, which are published after her death, and to seek a deeper connection with God.

1689 The Pope orders Christina's favorite, Angela, to the convent, enraging the increasingly ill Christina. Knowing the end is near, she puts her affairs in order, writing apologies to people she has offended, including Pope Innocent XI. Christina dies April 19, 1689, with Cardinal Azzolino, who is ailing himself, at her side. She is honored by being buried in St. Peter's Church in Rome. Azzolino dies a month later.

Images scanned, color corrected and optimized by Tracy Marks
copyright 1999 by (Tracy Marks)
Images were scanned by Tracy Marks and may not be reproduced. Christina on horseback painting was created by Sebastian Bourdon.

This site was originally created for The Ancient Sites Celebration of Women. Ancient Sites community folded March 30, 2001. 
The web sites of Tracy Marks as TorreyPhilemon of Ancient Sites  are now being moved to

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