Christina, engraving by Cornelis Visscher, 1650.—Courtesy of the Svenska Portrattarkivet, Stockholm
(born Dec. 8, 1626, Stockholm, Swed.died April 19, 1689, Rome) Queen of Sweden (1644–54). The successor to her father, Gustav II Adolf, she was a prime mover in concluding the Peace of Westphalia and ending the Thirty Years' War. After 10 years of rule, she stunned Europe by abdicating the throne, claiming that she was ill and that the burden of ruling was too heavy for a woman. Her real reasons were her aversion to marriage and her secret conversion to Roman Catholicism, which was proscribed in Sweden. She moved to Rome and subsequently attempted, without success, to gain the crowns of Naples and Poland. One of the wittiest and most learned women of her age, she was a lavish patroness of the arts and an influence on European culture.