CHRISTINE was six years old when she succeeded her father. Her armies stood scattered through foreign lands, surrounded by enemies and faithless allies. Her country was covered with glory, but in direst distress. The most remarkable aspect of her father’s greatness now was to become apparent. Gustavus Adolphus had left behind men whom he had educated as statesmen, and generals capable of bringing his work to a successful end. First among the former was the state chancellor, Axel Oxenstierna, the friend and adviser of the hero king. He managed to keep the Swedish allies together and to establish harmony and unity of action between the Swedish commanders, supplying funds to carry on the war and strengthening the government at home with his courage and his wisdom. Oxenstierna was a statesman of considerable power before the death of the king; after ït he grows in grandeur to carry the burden of unlimited responsibility placed on his shoulders. His coolness and. dignity were a source of constant irritation to Richelieu, who said there was “something Gothic and a good deal of Finnish” about his proceedings in diplomatic affairs, while Mazarin said that if all the statesmen of his time were to be put aboard of one vessel, Oxenstierna should be placed at the helm.
The great chancellor always upheld the dignity of his country. When French diplomatists forgot themselves thus far as to use, in correspondence, their own language, instead of Latin, the recognized language of diplomacy in that day, Axel Oxenstierna gave instructions that they should be answered in Swedish.
After the death of Gustavus Adolphus, the war in Germany lost more and more of its original aspect. The cause of Protestantism was dropped out of sight for political interests. The battles of Sweden were, to a great extent, and sometimes altogether, fought by foreign troops; but Swedish were the generals and statesmen who led the operations of the armies and the diplomatic deliberations. The success of Sweden, at first, seemed to have passed away with her great hero king. The imperialists won a great victory at Nrdlingen in 1634. The young archduke, Ferdinand, had succeeded Wallenstein as their commander-general, the latter having been murdered at the request of the emperor. Ferdinand marched on the town of Nrdlingen with an army of German and Spanish troops, the experienced Piccolomini being at his side. Duke Bernhard, who with an army had been taking possession of Franconia in his own personal interests, hastened to support the town and was joined by Gustavus Horn, who, with another army, had been stationed in Elsass. Count Horn gave the advice to await reinforcements, but the excitable Duke Bernhard opened an attack on the enemy, which necessitated an immediate battle. After eight hours of hard fighting, the imperialists, who were 30,000 strong, entirely routed the Swedish army of 18,000 men, not a single Swedish regiment being among them. Horn was made a prisoner. Duke Bernhard, who soon afterward with his troops entered French service, acknowledged his fault, saying: “I was a fool, but Horn a wise man.” Sweden lost through this terrible defeat an army and two able generals. The Swedish conquests in South Germany were lost, and the German allies were scattered, the elector of Saxony joining the cause of the emperor. The armistice with Poland came to an end in 1635, and it was renewed for twenty-six years, at the cost of the Prussian seaports, with their lucrative revenues, which had paid for the expenses of the German war. Oxenstierna returned to Sweden to gather means wherewith to continue the war. The ordinary resources of Sweden were drained, and great sacrifices were needed. The Riksdag declared itself willing to “risk life, blood and means, until God grants a peace equal to the dignity of Sweden.”
John Banér was the man who re-established the success of the Swedish arms. He resembled Gustavus Adolphus in greatness of mind and ability in war, paying back the execution of his father under Charles IX., by loyalty to the illustrious son of the latter. Banér was a typical soldier of the Thirty Years’ War, amiable, but licentious, and cruel to his enemies. An able tactician and strategist of inexhaustible resources, he had distinguished himself in the Polish war and later held many important commands. The death of Gustavus Adolphus stirred this strong man to the very depths of his soul. He left his army in Bavaria and arrived at Wolgast, resolved to leave the army. At the sight of the body of his beloved king, he was overcome by a paroxysm of grief. Axel Oxenstierna persuaded him to resume his command in order to bring the work of their dead master to completion. He marched with his army through Silesia to Bohemia, encamping before Prague.
After the battle of Nrdlingen he retreated to Saxony, whose deceitful elector he reproached with harsh words. Intrigues by the latter to bring the German troops in Swedish service to mutiny were frustrated by Banér, who had only 2,000 Swedes and Livonians with him. The Saxon army followed Banér into Mecklenburg, but suffered a de-feat at Dmitz. Banér marched eastward and joined the Swedish force, which met him, from Prussia, commanded by Lennart Torstensson. The elector of Brandenburg also declared war on Sweden, Banér answering by invading his country. From the vicinity of Berlin, Banér continued his way through Saxony back to Mecklenburg, his German troops marauding with such cruelty that they were sharply remonstrated with by Banér, who said he found it strange that God did not instantly punish them.
Banér was followed by the united armies of Austria and Saxony, but, having received reinforcements of Swedish troops, he turned on his tracks and met the enemy at Witt-stock, in Brandenburg, September 24, 1636. The Swedish army consisted of 20,000 men, while the opposing force was much larger and occupied a favorable position on a hill. Banér won a glorious victory, thanks to a skilfully executed manuvre. It grew dark, and the right wing of the Swedes was leading an almost forlorn hope against the overwhelming forces, when their left wing, after a difficult roundabout move, attacked the enemy from behind. Of the hostile armies every man was killed except a detachment less than 1,000 strong. The baggage, artillery and banners were taken, even the table silver of the elector and the imperial generals falling into the hands of the Swedes, who by this victory had regained their supremacy on German soil.
Banér had commenced the siege of Leipsic, when, upon news of an approaching army of the imperial allies, he was forced to undertake the famous “Retreat from Torgau,” which made him more celebrated than any of his great battles. He with his army was near being surrounded at the river Oder, but saved himself through a series of movements of the highest strategic skill. Cardinal Richelieu wrote that “this retreat, by means of which Banér saved 14,000 men, less a few fugitives and wounded, with cannon and baggage, against an army 60,000 strong, is to be compared to the most glorious deeds in history.” The enemy prided itself on having “caught Banér in a bag.” “Yes,” said Banér later, “surely they had me there, but they forgot to tie the string around.”
In Pomerania, Banér received the reinforcements from Sweden which he had awaited, and once more invaded Saxony, where he won a grand victory at Chemnitz, in 1639. The Swedish army invaded Bohemia, cruelly devastating the country. Banér made a daring attack upon Regensburg in order to make the emperor and the whole German diet his prisoners. Sudden thaws frustrated the plans, making it impossible for the Swedes to cross the Danube. A superior force was sent to meet Banér, who saved his army by another famous retreat back to Saxony. On the way Banér was attacked by a fever and died at Halberstadt, in 1641. When the imperialists learned of the death of the Swedish Leonidas, they thought they could easily defeat his army. The Swedes saw the approaching enemy and collected around the coffin of their dead hero, offering solemn pledges to fight for the glory of his name. They then made a sudden attack upon the imperial army, which suffered a thorough defeat at Wolfenbuttel. John Banér, triumphant in death like his great master, was buried in the Swedish Pantheon of the Riddarholm.
Banér had expressed the wish that Lennart Torstensson should succeed him as commander-general of the Swedish armies. Lennart Torstensson was a greater warrior even than John Banér; no Swedish general, Gustavus Adolphus not excepted, ever reaching higher skill or perfection in the science of war than this crippled hero. Torstensson was of a noble although not influential family. He entered the service of Gustavus Adolphus as a body page to the king, later distinguishing himself as an artillery commander. Torstensson took an honorable part in the battle of Breitenfold, but made a prisoner at Nuremberg, he lost his health, during one year’s captivity, in a miserable dungeon. During his later brilliant career he suffered greatly from rheumatism, and was mostly carried around in a litter throughout the battles which covered his name with undying fame. He was a pious man of a gentle and cheerful disposition, who tried his utmost to reintroduce among his troops the excellent moral behavior and severe discipline which had been lost after the death of Gustavus Adolphus.
Torstensson with rigor suppressed the intrigues against Sweden which were secretly carried on within the army. Brandenburg received a new elector in Frederic William, who, ambitious and far-seeing, entered an alliance with the victorious power of the North. Torstensson now was enabled to invade the imperial crown lands, commencing with Silesia; but finding it necessary to force a battle he met the imperialists at Breitenfeld. October 23, 1642, the second great victory of Breitenfeld was won by Swedish arms. Archduke Leopold and Piccolomini led the imperial army, the latter general fighting as a common soldier to inspire courage by his example, but with no effect. The Swedes captured the baggage, cannon and banners of the enemy, taking 5,000 prisoners and leaving as many dead imperialists on the field. Torstensson conquered Leipsic on the following day.
Torstensson marched through Bohemia and Moravia with the rapidity which characterized all his military movements, and penetrated to the very gates of Vienna, the emperor with difficulty saving himself from being made his prisoner. But suddenly he left and marched through Silesia to North Germany. He had received an order from the state council to attack Denmark. The great chancellor was out of patience with the perfidy and intrigues of Christian IV., who stood in secret connection with every one of Sweden’s enemies. No previous declaration of war was made. Torstensson captured the Danish duchies of Schleswig and Holstein before any one could prevent it, his army then taking possession of all Jutland. Gustavus Horn invaded Scania, almost completely capturing the whole province in spite of bands of freebooters among the peasants, called Snaphaner.
Denmark was in danger of its very existence, but King Christian IV. did not forget his old wish to destroy the town of Gothenburg, whose growing prosperity caused him envy. He approached Gothenburg with a fleet, and viewed the town from the overlooking mountain of the Ramberg. His demands for a surrender were refused. Patriotic Louis de Geer had ordered from Holland a fleet at his own expense, which was to go to the support of Gothenburg. It did not arrive in time, but King Christian left to meet it, and it later proved of great value in the Swedish movements at sea, joining the Swedish fleet in the Sound. The latter, consisting of twenty-two ships under the command of Clas Fleming, sailed to the Danish waters, capturing the island of Femern, supported by Torstensson. An invasion of the island of Funen was planned, but could not be effected. A great naval battle between the Swedish and Danish fleets was fought July 6th. It caused great loss on either side, without being decisive. King Christian, who commanded his naval forces, lost one eye and received over twenty different wounds. The Swedes kept the place of battle, but sought the Bay of Skiel for repairs, where they were hedged in by the Danish fleet. Clas Fleming encouraged his followers to cut through the line, in which they were successful. A month later he was killed by a shot from the coast of Holstein, where the Danes had erected a fort. The Swedes avenged the death of their valiant commander by destroying the fort and killing its defenders. Fleming was succeeded by Charles Gustavus Wrangel, who saved the fleet to Sweden, returning to Femern in the autumn, joined by the Dutch fleet of Louis de Geer. The Danish fleet was met with October 13th, and at once scattered. The swift-sailing Dutch ships went in pursuit and destroyed all the seventeen Danish ships but two, which brought the news of the disaster to Copenhagen.
King Christian, who had in vain expected support from the emperor, found himself defeated on every point, and had no other choice than to make peace. The treaty was signed August 13, 1645, at Brmsebro, Denmark ceding the provinces of Jemtland and Herjedal and the islands of Gothland and C sel. The province of Halland was to remain for thirty years in the possession of Sweden, which country was exempt from duties of toll for the traffic in the Sound. Denmark disavowed all claims of supremacy over Holstein, the duke of said country two years later formally placing himself under Swedish protection.
Lennart Torstensson had fulfilled his task in Denmark and returned to Germany. At Jueterbogk, in Brandenburg, he met the imperial army, which had been sent to cut off his retreat from Denmark, and entirely routed it. After this victory Torstensson hastened to Bohemia, resolved to “attack the emperor in his heart and force him to make peace.” At Jankowitz, in Bohemia, Torstensson administered a new and crushing defeat to the imperialists, in 1645. The emperor, who himself had ordered his army to battle, had arrived in Prague to witness the defeat of the Swedes, which the Holy Virgin had promised him in a dream. He soon learned the news, which was quite different from that expected. The imperial commander-general, five generals and eight colonels were made prisoners by the Swedes, who captured the artillery and baggage of the enemy. The health of Torstensson was at that moment so good that he was able to lead the movements on horseback. He said that such a bloody battle would not be seen for a long time.
Torstensson invaded Moravia, the fortresses surrendering and the inhabitants fleeing in terror. For a second time he stood at the walls of Vienna. The very fortifications which protected the bridge across the Danube were captured by the Swedes. The enemy, whom the elector of Saxony had promised to chase out of Germany, was now knocking at the gate of the emperor, who heard the report with consternation. But Lennart Torstensson was forced to surrender to a perfidious enemy, who came to his door without knocking. His rheumatic ailment returned with such violence that he was obliged to renounce his command and return from the fields where he had led none but victorious armies. He was succeeded by Charles Gustavus Wrangel. The latter had to give up the siege of Vienna, but maintained, in connection with the French, the supremacy in Germany until an honorable peace was won. Upon his return to Sweden, Lennart Torstensson was covered with distinctions, being made a baron and a count on one and the same day. He was appointed governor-general of West Gothland, Vermland, and the lately conquered Halland, with his seat at Gothenburg, where he built him-self a palace (still the official residence of the governor of Gothenburg and Bohuslaen). Lennart Torstensson died in 1651, leaving behind the fame of one of the greatest warriors known to history, and a spotless memory.
The treaty of peace of Westphalia was signed in October, 1648. The representatives of Sweden were John Oxenstierna, a son of the great chancellor, and Adler Salvius. Sweden received, as a reward for her decisive and glorious part in the Thirty Years’ War, the following possessions: West Pomerania, with the islands of Rugen and Usedom, the western part of East Pomerania, with the island of Wollin; the town of Wismar, with surrounding territory, and the bishoprics of Bremen and Verden. With these German possessions followed three votes at the German Diet. The Swedish government was to receive a sum of several millions to defray the army expenses, of which Queen Christine recklessly ceded the larger part.
Through these glorious conditions of peace Sweden rose to the rank of one of the mightiest of European empires, which held the balance of power in Northern Europe. Her possessions made the Baltic almost an “inland lake of Sweden,” and efforts soon followed to make it completely so. Sweden exerted a beneficent influence throughout her large possessions, which, from a cultural point of view, hardly can be overestimated. Her methods of planting the seeds of culture, by establishing Swedish and German universities, and by abolishing serfdom in the conquered lands, are worthy of the highest respect. But with her new political grandeur Sweden acquired formidable enemies; she had not the resources to sustain or defend her great possessions, and the development of the mother country was for a time misdirected by dreams of vain glory.
The government of Sweden during Christine’s minority, according to the directions left by her father, consisted of the five highest officials of the realm. Among these the chancellor, through his experience and his former intimacy with Gustavus Adolphus, was the leading spirit, king in all except the name, and deserving the honorable surname of “our greatest civilian,” given him by Swedish historians. Unlike the majority of other uncrowned or crowned rulers, he did not use his power to secure wealth or distinction for himself and his family until upon his retirement. Offers to make him a ruling prince of Germany, and the young queen his son’s consort, were coldly refused. While the war was going on he strengthened the foundations of the centralization of the state by the government regulations of 1634. At the side of the supreme court of Stockholm another was established at Jnkping, for Gothaland, with a state councillor as president. The system of various government departments was enlarged upon.’ The most important of these was the chancery, in which all business to come before the government was prepared. Departments for commerce and for mining were established. These were not departments in the sense of bureaus, but collegia was divided into eleven administrative districts, ken, later increased to sixteen, each of these having a governor. Fin-land was divided into five districts. Count Peter Brahe the Younger, as governor-general of Finland, did more for this neglected country than was ever done before to right wrongs and foster prosperity. Livonia and Ingermanland received each their governor-general, the latter province, by repeated wars brought into a devastated condition, serving as a place of deportation. This system of administration won the admiration of the Continent and was in many instances copied as a pattern of perfection. The Swedish army was considered the finest in the world, and troops better trained or more victorious did not exist. At the end of the Thirty Years’ War about 100,000 men were under Swedish command. The majority of these were foreigners, who afterward were enlisted for continual service. Their officers were raised in great numbers to the rank of nobles and endowed with dignities and estates. The army was divided into twenty regiments, seven of which were Finnish. The town and coast population regularly furnished able men for the navy. Much was done to improve the interior communications by means of new roads and canals. A postal route was established between Stockholm and Gothenburg, and others followed. A Swedish postmaster in Hamburg had charge of the foreign mails. Newspapers were published, the government shaping for itself an organ for official announcement which is yet published.
Great improvements were made in the mining industry, thanks principally to the efforts of the noble immigrant, Louis de Geer and his Walloons, who made the mines of Dannemora a source of riches. Weapons and cannon were manufactured not only for the army, but for exportation also. The brass foundries were excellent. The towns began to flourish, especially Stockholm and Gothenburg, through commerce with Holland and the Baltic States. A Swedish colony, planned by Gustavus Adolphus through the South Company, created by him in Gothenburg, was founded in North America. In 1638 two ships, “Kalmar Nyckel” and “Fogel Grip,” arrived at the mouth of the Delaware River, where territory was procured through honest purchase from the Indians. The Dutch in neigh-boring colonies tried to persuade the Indians to oust the newcomers, but the Swedish governor, Peter Menuet, won their goodwill by fair dealing. The members of the colony of New Sweden were honest, upright people, who dwelt in peace with the natives. They accepted a governor appointed by the government, in the person of John Printz, but refused to tolerate among themselves criminals who later were despatched to their colony, and these had to be taken back. New Sweden after a few decades became the prey of the Dutch, but many American families point with justifiable pride to their descent from these honest and industrious Swedish settlers. A Swedish colony on the coast of African Guinea existed between 1650 and 1663, but was through treacherous dealings turned over to the Dutch.
Much was done to build up the educational system, several new colleges were established, and regulations made to instruct the peasants. Peter Brahe founded the University of Abo, in 1640, while in Finland, and the German University of Greifswald, in Swedish Pomerania, was re-established. Swedish men of learning began to attract attention, such as John Skytte, who was considered the most brilliant Latin scholar of Europe in his day, Stiernhoek, the jurist, Bureus and Messenius, the historians, and Georg Stiernhielm, poet and antiquarian. The old Icelandic literature was discovered and began to exert a strong influence on literature and science, to a great extent strengthening their chauvinistic spirit. The Swedish poets Stiernhielm, Runius, Holmstrm, Luciclor and the poetess Brenner, from the Eddie songs, which contain some of the oldest humorous poems in existence, learned how to write in a humorous vein, something entirely unknown in the German and French literatures of that day.
The excellent government, of which Axel Oxenstierna was the leading spirit, had its defects. In its perfect system of administration, which in the main features stands unshaken to this day, there appeared to be no room for the people themselves to be governed. On account of the great allowances made to the nobles it was necessary to increase the taxes of the peasants. Many had to leave their homes and farms for want of resources to pay their taxes; others were forced away from their property by the nobles. There was danger of the destruction of the free, self-dependent yeomanry. A hatred against the nobility grew up. The great lords returned from the wars laden with booty, erected fine castles, and continued the high living to which they had become accustomed while abroad. The power of the nobility was increased by lavish donations from Queen Christine and by the appropriation of other crown lands which the government was forced to sell or mortgage on account of the wars. The clergy were the spokesmen of the peasant class at the Riksdag, every year demanding with greater emphasis a restitution to the crown of its property, which was held by the nobles.
Queen Christine herself took the reins of government, in 1644, at the age of eighteen. She had inherited from her illustrious father some of his genius, and from her mother, Marie Eleonore of Brandenburg, a peculiar nervous disposition. Her mother took no interest in her until the death of Gustavus Adolphus, when a flood of exalted tenderness suddenly was let loose over her. Count Jacob de la Gardie took the lead in opposing the undesirable and unstable character of this relation, Christine being separated from her mother and educated by the Countess-Palatine Catherine, a pious and noble woman, the older sister of Gustavus Adolphus. Greatly offended, Maria Eleonore left the country never to return. Queen Christine showed a remarkable faculty of absorbing knowledge. Well versed in a great number of languages, and well read in various sciences, particularly mathematics, she soon acquired fame as the most learned woman of her time. She was of frank countenance, slept little, cared little for dress, and was passionately fond of hunting and riding on horseback. Queen Christine possessed a sharp intellect, was daring and resolute, but headstrong, fickle, extravagant, and but little particular in her choice of favorites. Her vanity and egotism knew no bounds. At the beginning of her reign she took pains to give serious attention to the affairs of state. The great chancellor had been her instructor in economics and statecraft, but she repaid him by open coldness and secret antagonism. Her ambition to surround her-self with scientists of note, particularly foreigners who flattered her vanity by blowing her fame to the four corners of the earth, killed her interest for politics. Later she was seized by the evil spirit of frivolity, abandoning herself to empty pleasures and to excesses of extravagance when her learned admirers were forgotten for unworthy favorites. Among the latter, Count Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie was for a long time all-powerful. The grandson of General Pontus and a daughter of John III., he was the son of Count Jacob de la Gardie and Ebba Brahe, and one of the most brilliant noblemen of Europe. In his youth he formed an intimate friendship with the dauphin of France, later Louis XIV., who throughout his life honored him with the title of ” Mon Cousin,” or “Mon cher Cousin.” His ambition to become Queen Christine’s consort was never satisfied, nor was he allowed to accept the rank of a prince from the German emperor, but the queen made him the richest man in her realm. Magnus de la Gardie did not possess the sterling qualities of his ancestors, but was of great patriotism and lavishly liberal toward educational institutions, in. this respect without a peer in Swedish history. In 1666 he founded the Academy of Antiquities, which was the first archaeological institution in Europe, the Swedish antiquarians of the day, principal among them Bureus and Stiernhielm, doing valuable antiquarian re-search. In 1664, Count de la Gardie donated to the University Library of Upsala a highly valuable collection of manuscripts and books, chiefly from Iceland. In the collection was also the Gothic Bible translation of Bishop Wulfila in the only copy extant. Liberal with his silver, Count de la Gardie gave to the precious book a silver binding, as he had in earlier years presented to Queen Christine a silver throne (which is still in use). This book has an interesting history of its own.
Codex Argenteus, the silver book, thus called on ac-count of its silver binding, contains fragments of the four Gospels in the Gothic language. The translation was made from the Greek original by Bishop Wulfila (b. 318-d. 388), the apostle of the Goths. The writing is done in so-called encaustum (printing with heated stamps) of gold and silver letters on vellum of scarlet color. This copy is considered to have been made toward the end of the fifth or in the beginning of the sixth century, when the East Goths still held sway in Italy. Its early fortunes are unknown, but it is supposed that the book was found in the possession of the Visigoths (or West Goths) when their empire was seized by the Franks, and donated to the monastery of Verden by some munificent Frankish chief. Here, in the Benedictine abbey of Verden, on the river Ruhr, in Westphalia, the book was discovered at least as early as 1554, when the scholars Cassander and Gualther of Cologne are known to have had copies which can have been made from no other source.
After the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War, the Codex was transmitted to Prague for safety. In the year of 1648, Prague, or rather the older portion of the town, was captured by the Swedish general, Count Hans Christopher Knigsmark, who, among the vast treasures of the Bohemian capital, found also the Codex Argenteus which he presented to Queen Christine. All the books and manuscripts of the queen were in the care of her librarian, Isaac Vossius, a learned but eccentric scholar of Dutch parentage. Vossius was at first Queen Christine’s teacher of Greek, not a very agreeable position, for the queen called him to the castle at three o’clock in the morning for her first hour. In 1650 he had to leave court and country on account of a quarrel with that light of learning, Claude de Saumaise (Salmasius), another one of the foreign scholars in favor with the queen. In 1653 he was called back, and again took charge of the books of the queen, but soon returned to Holland. Before his departure he gathered several costly books and manuscripts, among which Codex Argenteus, with or without the queen’s private permission, taking them with him. In 1670, Vossius came to England, where he died, in 1688, as court chaplain at Windsor. King Charles II. of England said of him : “Vossius believes in anything but the Bible.”
When in Holland, the Codex Argenteus passed out of the hands of Vossius after his uncle Franziskus Junius had made a complete copy of it. Junius, called the “grand-father of modern philology,” published the first edition of Codex Argenteus at Dortrecht, in 1665, providing the beautiful facsimile with parallel Old English texts and a Gothic glossary. In Holland the Codex changed hands repeatedly until found in Brabant by Samuel Pufendorff, in 1661, who, in the following year, bought it for Count de la Gardie, paying a sum of something like $1,200 for it.
Once more in Sweden the Codex Argenteus was made the subject of close attention, a new edition of it being published, in 1671, by Georg Stiernhielm, the innovator of Swedish language and literature.’ That Bishop Wulfila’s Bible should ultimately harbor in Sweden does not seem out of place, for of all languages now spoken the Swedish comes closest to the language of the Goths as crystallized during its classical epoch. The interest taken by Swedish scholars in the book has always been great and fruitful of results, in times when it was thought to be written in the mother tongue of all the Teutonic languages, as well as later, when Gothic was found to be, not the mother, but the oldest sister in the family.
At the Riksdag of 1649 considerable dissatisfaction was directed against the nobility and the extravagance of the queen in deeding over to favorites all the possessions of the crown, in form of counties and baronies. The nobility sided against the queen, desirous of reducing her power. But Queen Christine received gracefully the complaints made, and promised to institute a reduction of taxes and payments. In the following year the commotion increased when the same taxes were asked as in time of war. The queen continued her policy of earnestly considering the requests of the lower Estates, thus gaining the controlling power. The nobility, suffering strife between its various classes, was forced to seek a shelter in the royal power it desired to crush, and humiliated itself before the queen. Christine received a joint appeal from the lower Estates for a restitution to the crown of all property illegally turned over to the nobility, but she managed to have the reform postponed upon promise of some minor privileges and a reduction of taxes. She refused the appeals of the nobility to have the clergymen and others punished who had used hard language against the aristocrats. But the discontent was spreading and turned against the queen personally. The ministers preached against the wrongs and violence of the mighty ones; the nobles and the peasants threatened each other. Peasants in Finland refused to work for aristocratic masters, and a general rebellion seemed imminent. In the meantime Queen Christine was crowned at Upsala amid great display and elaborate festivities, the count-palatine Charles Gustavus, her cousin, being installed as heir-apparent to the throne.
But Queen Christine was not able to still the storm around her. The finances of the crown were utterly ruined by her extravagance, and she dared not take by violence from the nobility what she had given by grace. In 1651 she declared it to be her intention to leave the government, but was persuaded to remain. Her cousin was placed in a very difficult position, apparently taking no interest in what was going on, but following everything with the keenest attention. The son of John Casimir, count of Palatinate-Zweibrucken, and Princess Catherine, he was born at Nykping in Sweden, in 1622, and designated as the future consort of Queen Christine. Charles Gustavus was educated in simplicity and rigor, and was, as his father before him, utterly neglected by Axel Oxenstierna and the government. He slept in a room without wallpaper, and when through with his lessons he sawed wood with his teacher, Professor Lemons. Burning with ambition, and perhaps also in love with his brilliant cousin, he proposed to her repeatedly, but in vain. After several years of extensive travel he joined Lennart Torstensson, refusing a command and working himself up through the military degrees. He took an honorable part in the victory at Jankowitz, and was appointed supreme commander of the Swedish armies shortly before the close of the German war. When the opposition against Christine reached its climax a good deal was expected from Charles Gustavus, which he, on account of his singular position, could not undertake to do. A petition replete with abusive language about the queen was sent him, asking him to take hold of the government. Charles turned the document over to the queen. Its author, the promising young Arnold Messenius, and his father, an able historian, suspected as having inspired his son, were accused of high treason, condemned to death and executed.
This act of force produced an impression, and the new taxes demanded at the next Riksdag were granted without opposition. But the queen felt that the discontent was only subdued, not suppressed, and, having no further means to keep up a luxurious court, she did the wisest act of her reign, that of resigning, at Upsala, in June, 1654, Charles Gustavus being crowned the same day. The scene of her abdication was very impressive, Queen Christine carrying herself with noble and lofty dignity, an inheritance from her father which she made use of when she saw fit. Leaving the crown and the royal emblems, one by one, to the Riksdrotset, she descended the throne, from the lowest steps of which she spoke an eloquent and touching farewell to the four Estates of the Riksdag. She suddenly left’ the country after having secured for herself a princely income. At Innsbruck, the daughter of Gustavus Adolphus joined the Catholic church, thereby, and by her fame as a learned woman, creating a sensation. She died in Rome in 1689, after having made two unsuccessful attempts to regain her Swedish throne, and one equally unsuccessful to succeed the last king of the Polish line of the Vasa dynasty, and was buried in the church of St. Peter.
Among the many learned men who at one time sur-rounded Christine were Vossius, Heinsius, Salmasius, Huet, Freinshemius, Loccenius, Meibom, Bclerus, Ravius, Sohefferus, and others. The greatest of them all, the philosopher Cartesius (René Descartes), died in Stockholm, in 1650.
After the love-story of Gustavus Adolphus had come to an end, he long felt a disinclination to marry. His sister Catherine is said to have tried to rouse him to the necessity of choosing a consort. His answer was always : “Never mind, dear sister, you shall yourself bring up a son to inherit the crown and continue my work.” This son of Catherine became Queen Christine’s successor.