Christina Gyllenstierna

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Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna (1494–1559), 16th century sculpture by the altar of Västerås Cathedral

Christina (Kristina or Kerstin) Nilsdotter of Fogelvik, Heiress of Tullgarn (1494/5 – January 1559), was the wife of the Swedish regent Sten Sture the Younger, and after his death, leader of resistance to Christian II of Denmark. In her lifetime she was called Lady Kristina (Swedish: Fru Kristina), but later was referred to as "Kristina Gyllenstierna" because of the house of nobility to which she belonged.

Early life[edit]

Christina Gyllenstierna was born to riksråd Nils Eriksson Gyllenstierna and Sigrid Eskilsdotter (Banér) of Venngarn, Heir of Lindholm.

Gyllenstierna was a great-granddaughter of King Charles VIII of Sweden through her father, a younger son of Christina Karlsdotter Bonde, for whom she was named. She was from a family of Danish origin. Her grandfather Erik Eriksen of Demstrup ("Gyldenstjerne") was Danish, but became acquainted with Sweden, because the two realms were united in the Kalmar Union. When Sweden and Denmark began to fight over control of the Union, Erik allied with the Swedish claimant, Charles VIII. As reward, Charles's daughter, the heir of Fogelvik, was married to him and he ultimately became the High Steward of Charles' court. Through her mother, Christina was the half-sister of Cecilia Månsdotter of Eka, mother of the future king Gustav I, through her mother's other marriage. Her father was Niels Eriksen, Lord of Tullgarn (also written Nils Eriksson, and surnamed "Gyllenstjerna" by later historians). Her family belonged to the highest Swedish nobility of this "Regency" era.

Christina was first engaged to Nils Gädda (d. 1508), governor of Kalmar and Lycka, but the marriage never took place due to his death. She married the nephew of her former betrothed, Sten Sture the Younger, son of Svante, the regent of Sweden, in Stockholm 16 November 1511. She had five children during her marriage: Nils in 1512, Iliana in 1514, Magdalena 1516, Svante 1517 and Anna 1518, and a son after the death of her spouse, who died age one and a half. She had two sons from her first marriage: Nils and Svante Stensson Sture.

After the death of her father-in-law regent Svante in 1512 one year after her marriage, Sten Sture was elected regent of Sweden. During this period, Sweden was formally a part of the Kalmar Union of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, were the Danish monarch were habitually elected king of all three kingdoms. This created an opposition in Sweden to the Danish dominance within the union, and during most of the second half of the 15th-century, Sweden was governed almost continuously by "Regents": the father-in-law of Christina, Svante Nilsson, was Regent in 1504–1512. At the death of his father, Sten was 18 years old. High Councillor Eric Trolle was chosen as regent by the council— he supported union with Denmark. However, young Sten utilized the castles and troops fiefed to him by his late father and made a coup. After Sten promised to continue union negotiations with Denmark, the High Council accepted him as regent instead of Trolle. In reality, lord Sten's purpose was to keep Sweden independent of Denmark. He took the Sture name, heritage from his great-grandmother, because it symbolized independence of Sweden as reminder of Sten Sture the Elder, his father's third cousin. Regent Sten had already in 1504 been proposed as a candidate in the election of a new king of Sweden as a replacement for king John, King of Denmark, who had been elected king of Sweden in 1497 but who was ousted from Sweden in 1502. Upon the death of John in 1513, the question was again raised to elect regent Sten as king of Sweden rather than the son of John, Christian II of Denmark, and Sten was making preparations to arrange an election, among them seeking support for it from the pope.[1]

It is considered likely that Christina acted as political adviser to her spouse and participated in state affairs,given her later role. In practice, Sten and Christina already functioning as king and queen of Sweden: In 1519, Peder Månsson, Bishop of Västerås, expressed his surprise in a letter from Rome to the Abbess of Vadstena Abbey that Sten had not yet been crowned,[2] and in the contemporary Stockholm chronicle, Christina is referred to as "Our Gracious Princess".[3]

Danish invasion[edit]

Gyllenstierna as defender of Stockholm in a modern statue at the Royal Palace there

A conflict arose between Regent Sten and archbishop Gustav Trolle, son of Eric Trolle. The archbishop claimed more autonomy for the church. Regent Sten had the archbishop deposed and imprisoned in 1517. Finally, Christian II started an invasion of Sweden. Regent Sten was mortally wounded at the battle of Bogesund on 19 January 1520. Several members of the Privy Council of Sweden submitted to Christian II, electing him king of Sweden in Uppsala on 6 March 1520.

Lady Christina, however, took command of the Swedish forces and held out stoutly at Stockholm, while the second stronghold of Sweden, Kalmar, was commanded and defended and by the widow of its governor, Anna Eriksdotter (Bielke), in the same fashion. The peasantry of central Sweden, roused by her patriotism, flew to arms and defeated the Danish invaders at Balundsås on March 19 and were only with the utmost difficulty finally defeated at the bloody battle of Uppsala, on April 6. Christina had chancellor Peder Jakobsson Sunnanväder bring her son Nils Stensson Sture in safety to Poland, and issue negotiations with Sigismund I the Old and the Hanseatic League for support against Denmark.

In May the Danish fleet arrived, and Stockholm was besieged by land and sea. But Gyllenstierna resisted valiantly for four months longer. She surrendered on September 7 after great starvation and suffering in the city. She took care to exact beforehand an amnesty of the most explicit and absolute character for all acts of resistance to Denmark. King Christian promised, that "Everything from the past will be forgotten", that she would be granted the fief Tavastehus in Finland and that neither she nor her family would be punished.

After the defeat[edit]

On November 1, Christian crowned himself king of Sweden and invited the nobility to great festivities to celebrate the coronation. At a grand ball, he even danced with Gyllenstierna. The festivities lasted for three days.

On November 7, Christian summoned the Swedish nobility, including Lady Christina, to a meeting. When they arrived, the doors were shut and guards set in place. Christian accused them all of deposing the pro-Danish Archbishop Gustav Trolle. He specifically accused Sten Sture as responsible for this, and directed his accusation toward Gyllenstierna. She stepped forward and stated that the king could not punish them for this, nor could he accuse her late spouse and her for having performed the deposition alone: everyone in the room had signed the bill of deposition, the removal of Archbishop Trolle had been a part of the rebellion, and Christian had pledged amnesty to everyone involved in the rebellion.

"We have proof," she added, "the document is here." At this, the document with the signatures of everyone supporting the deposition of the Archbishop was brought forward. But Christian had found a loophole, which the Swedes had overlooked. The deposition of a bishop was also a crime against the church - heresy - and the king had no authority to pardon them for that. So he could punish them without violating his pledge.

Christian then took his revenge, known as the Stockholm Bloodbath. Christina's brother Erik Nilsson, Lord of Tullgarn, was executed by beheading, as were many other Swedish magnates. Gyllenstierna inherited Tullgarn, little benefit as it then did her. Her husband's remains were exhumed and burned publicly at the stake as a heretic.

Gyllenstierna was declared a great traitor and rebel, and as such King Christian called upon her and publicly asked her to choose: which did she prefer, to be burned at the stake or to be buried alive? Confronted with this choice, she was unable to reply and fainted with horror. After this, Christian was advised to spare her life. To save her life, she ceded a large part of her property to Christian. Gyllenstierna's mother Sigrid was sentenced to be drowned (the only woman condemned to death), but avoided execution by surrendering all her estates.

However, Danish rule in Sweden was soon overthrown by Gustav Vasa, who soon became the leader of the Swedish War of Liberation. In the spring of 1521, Christina and her half sister Cecilia was forced to write to her nephew Gustav Vasa in an attempt to persuade him to surrender to Denmark.[4] In the summer of 1521, her sons, along with her mother and several other Swedish noblewomen, among them the sisters and mother of Gustav Vasa, taken to Denmark and imprisoned in the feared and infamous Blåtårn ("Blue Tower") of Copenhagen Castle. In September the same year, Christina herself and her daughters were also brought to Denmark.[5]

In January 1523, Christian II was deposed as king of Denmark and replaced with Frederick I of Denmark, and in the following summer, Gustav Vasa took Stockholm and was elected king of an independent Sweden. Christina were apparently imprisoned in Kalundborg at some point. In the summer of 1523, Gustav applied for her release to Frederick I through the Hanseatic League. At that point, Christina was in Roskilde, were she reconciled with bishop Gustav Trolle.[6]

In January 1524, Denmark agreed to release the Swedish hostages. Christina Gyllenstierna was released and are confirmed to have been in Sweden 28 January the same year. In Linköping, she reconciled with her former political advisory bishop Hans Brask.[7]

Later life[edit]

A 19th-century drawing of Gyllenstierna, known from a popular Swedish magazine published around 1880, though not an authenticated likeness of her

In the summer of 1524, there were rumors of a marriage between Christina Gyllenstierna and Søren Norby, Grand Admiral of Denmark and a follower of Christian II. These plans were regarded with great suspicion and anxiety from both the Danish and the Swedish monarchs. King Gustav I complained over: "The evil plots and treason" of Christina and her followers, and that Norby had offered her marriage "So that she and her children would come to reign the realm".[8] In March 1525, Christian II promised Norby to make him his governor in Sweden, should he marry Christina. In April, Norby was rumored to be on his way to Blekinge with a fleet. Reportedly, the governor of Kalmar, Berend von Melen, who was opposed to Gustav I, was to have handed Norby the son of Christina, Nils Stensson.[9] In May 1525, the Dalecarlians reproached King Gustav for having imprisoned Christina and having driven her son Nils out of the country.[10] When Norby negotiated to submit his loyalty to the new king of Denmark, Frederick I, one of his demands were to secure help from Frederick I to secure Christina's release from the prison of Gustav.[11] On 20 July 1525, Christina's son Nils were taken prisoner by Gustav I after the Siege of Kalmar.[12] After this, Christina made a settlement with Gustav I. In a letter from Vadstena on 29 December, she denied ever having contemplated a marriage with Søren Norby.[13]

In November 1525, king Gustav I stated that Christina Gyllenstierna was to marry his cousin Johan Turesson, Lord of Falun, riksråd and governor of Nyköping. The marriage took place in the Christmas of 1526. The marriage seem to have been a way of securing her loyalty to Gustav and neutralize her as a political threat.

In 1527, the Dalecarlian Rebellions broke out in Dalarna in opposition to Gustav's introduction of the Protestant Reformation to Sweden. The leader of the rebellion was the so-called Daljunkern ("The youngster from Dalarna"), who claimed to be Nils Sture, the 15-year-old elder son of Lord Sture and Gyllenstierna. Gustav had Gyllenstierna write an official statement where she declared that Daljunkern was not her son.[14] According to Gustav's official history, Nils had died a year earlier. But some modern historians think that Nils may have been Daljunkern. Gustav defeated the rebels, and Daljunkern fled to Norway and then Germany, where he was arrested in Rostock in 1528. In order to have the Daljunkern executed, Gustav I had Christina write a statement were she stated that of all the sons she had with regent Sten, the only son alive was Svante.[15] During the rebellion Västgötaherrarnas uppror in 1529, Christina was made to negotiate with her rebellious brother-in-law Jöran Turesson (Tre rosor).[16]

Gyllenstierna was briefly made responsible for the court of the royal children between the death of queen Margaret Leijonhufvud in 1551 and the king's marriage to queen Katarina Stenbock in 1552.

Christina Gyllenstierna had two sons from her first marriage: Nils and Svante Stensson Sture. From her second marriage, she had a son, Gustaf Johansson. Eric XIV made Svante Count of Vestervik and Stegeholm, and at the same time made Gustaf Count of Enköping (later changed to county of Bogesund). Most of Sweden's highest nobility is descended from Gyllenstierna through daughters of these two counts. Her distant direct descendant, Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha married Prince Gustaf Adolf, and with Sibylla's son, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Gyllenstierna's blood returned to the Swedish throne.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  2. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  3. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  4. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  5. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  6. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  7. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  8. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  9. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  10. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  11. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  12. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  13. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  14. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  15. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
  16. ^ Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.

References[edit]

  • Lindqvist, Herman: Historien om Sverige (The History of Sweden)
  • Ohlmarks, Åke: Alla Sveriges drottningar (All the queens of Sweden)
  • Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon (SBL), cd-skiva, band 17 (Swedish biographical Dictionary)
  • Kristina Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna, urn:sbl:13412, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Hans Gillingstam), hämtad 2015-03-10.
Christina Gyllenstierna
Born: 1494 Died: January 1559
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Mette Dyre
Regent consort of Sweden
1512–1520
Succeeded by
Isabella of Austria
as Queen consort