Christina (Swedish: Kristina; 18 December [New Style] 1626 – 19 April 1689) was a member of the House of Vasa, and the Queen of Sweden in her own right from 1632 until her abdication in 1654. She succeeded her father Gustavus Adolphus upon his death at the Battle of Lützen in 1632, but began ruling the Swedish Empire when she reached the age of eighteen in 1644.
The Swedish queen is remembered as one of the most learned women of the 17th century. She was fond of books, manuscripts, paintings, and sculptures. With her interest in religion, philosophy, mathematics, and alchemy, she attracted many scientists to Stockholm, wanting the city to become the "Athens of the North". The Peace of Westphalia allowed her to establish an academy or university when and wherever she wanted.
In 1644, she began issuing copper in lumps as large as fifteen kilograms to serve as currency. Christina's financial extravagance brought the state to the verge of bankruptcy, and the financial difficulties caused public unrest. Christina argued for peace to end the Thirty Years' War and received indemnity. Meanwhile, she caused a scandal when she decided not to marry, and when she converted to Catholicism secretly in Brussels and publicly in Innsbruck. The "Minerva of the North" relinquished the throne to her cousin, and settled in Rome.
Pope Alexander VII described Christina as "a queen without a realm, a Christian without faith, and a woman without shame." Notwithstanding, she played a leading part in the theatrical and musical communities and protected many Baroque artists, composers, and musicians.
Christina, who was the guest of five consecutive popes and a symbol of the Counter-Reformation, is one of the few women buried in the Vatican grotto. Her unconventional lifestyle and occasional masculine style of dressing have been featured in countless novels, plays, operas, and film. In most biographies of Christina, her gender and cultural identity play an important role.