Margareta Elisabeth Roos

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Margareta Elisabeth Roos or Anna Stina Roos (1696–1772) was a Swedish-Estonian woman and a crossdresser who served as a soldier in the Swedish army of Charles XII of Sweden during the Great Northern War. She is also called Anna Stina Roos. [1]

Margareta Elisabeth Roos was born the daughter of a Captain in the Swedish province of Ingermanland in Estonia-Carelia. She ran away from home dressed as a boy allegedly because she was treated poorly.

Roos enlisted in the army in 1713. One version is that her motive for enlisting was that she was in love with an officer. She served until the end of the war, during which she was noted for her courage and promoted to the rank of non-commissioned officer for bravery in battle. [2] She is reported to have served in the regiment of General Düker. Apparently, she was never discovered. She is said to have been so "masculine" in her ways regarding alcohol usage and foul language that no-one suspected her of being a woman, and she was also as tall as a man.[3]

Roos left the army after the peace treaty of 1721. After the war, she was employed as head butler at the household of a countess, suggested to have been Hedvig Vilhelmina Oxenstierna, Countess Dücker by marriage, for three years. [3] During an illness, however, a maid discovered her to be a woman and informed the countess. The countess agreed to keep quiet, but arranged a marriage for her with an officer. The officer was John Gustave Irving (d. 1744), of Scottish origin and himself a veteran of the same war. [3]

The marriage took place in 1724 and lasted for twenty years, during which she had two children. After the death of her spouse, she moved to Köping. Her daughter with Irving, Margareta Charlotta Irving, married the vicar of Bro, Nils Larsson Sundell, and Roos spent much of her old age with her daughter and son-in-law. [3] During her old age, she was said to have given numerous proofs of a "male and courageous mind". [3] The description about her service in the army was given by her family to a priest in 1843, 71 years after her death.[3]

Margareta Elisabeth Roos' service in the army is regarded as unconfirmed, as it was recounted only after her own death.[2] In contrast to other women serving in the army posing as men, such as Ulrika Eleonora Stålhammar and Lisbetha Olsdotter, Margareta Elisabeth Roos was never discovered and brought to trial, and she is therefore not mentioned in any court documents, nor is the name which she used as a soldier known, which makes it hard to verify in military documents. The story about her, however, is well known and is regarded to indicate a certain tolerance and admiration for women serving as soldiers, at least within aristocratic circles, despite the fact that it was regarded as a serious crime for a woman to pose as a man by contemporary law, and the fact that she married a man after service is also taken as an indicator that posing as a man did not lower the repute of a woman at the marriage market. [2]

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Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Wilhelmna Stålberg: Anteckningar om svenska qvinnor (Swedish)
  2. ^ a b c Borgström Eva, ed (2002). Makalösa kvinnor: könsöverskridare i myt och verklighet (Marvelous Women: genderbenders in myth and reality) Stockholm: Alfabeta/Anamma. Libris 8707902. ISBN 91-501-0191-9 (inb.)(Swedish)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Alf Åberg (Swedish): Karolinska Kvinnoöden (English: Fates of Carolinian Women) ISBN 91-27-07761-6, in Swedish, page 160

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