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Sweden

Princess Estelle learns about ancestor Kristina Gyllenstierna

Princess Estelle was taken to learn about her ancestor, Kristina Gyllenstierna, by her parents, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, early last week. Estelle is Kristina’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter.

This year marks 500 years since King Christian II (also known as Christian the Tyrant) began the Stockholm massacre.

The Crown Princess Family learned more about Kristina and her role in Swedish history. She was the wife of Sten Sture the Younger, who was Sweden’s regent when they rejected Danish Christian II as their monarch in 1513 and ended the union (Kalmar Union) with Denmark and Norway.

Christian II was unhappy with Sweden leaving the union and believed he had the right to be the monarch, and so, in January 1520, he invaded, and war ensued. Sten Sture the Younger died during the Battle of Bogesund on 3 February 1520, leaving Kristina a widow.

Photo: Sara Friberg, Royal Court of Sweden

After the death of her husband, Kristina received the support of the Swedish common people and led the Sture party against the Danes. However, the nobility supported King Christian II and elected him as their monarch in March.

For a period, she and her allies were able to hold Stockholm, Västerås, Kalmar and Nyköping and all of Finland – what were considered some of Sweden’s most important strongholds.

In the spring of 1520, Christian laid siege to Stockholm Palace while also beginning peace negotiations. He promised complete amnesty for Kristina and her allies, and so, in September, she allowed the King into the palace and handed over power. King Christian II was crowned in Stockholm’s Storkyrkan on 4 November.

Christian invited all of his Swedish opponents to his coronation celebrations at the Royal Palace, and the gates were closed. He then revealed that he intended to honour his word regarding amnesty, but he also explained that he had been informed that Archbishop Trolle was deposed by the Swedes (when he had been deposed by parliament and Sture). Christian vowed that the perpetrators should be punished even though Kristina had explained that the Riksdag had made the decision believing that was what was best for Sweden. A short trial took place, and all those who were accused of taking part were sentenced to death.

Kristina, as a woman and the leader, was given a choice on how she wanted to die – be buried alive or burned at the stake. All the others were beheaded. However, Kristina was not killed but instead taken to Copenhagen where she was held prisoner until 1524 when she was released.

She returned to Sweden while her nephew, Gustav Eriksson Vasa, was on the throne. He was told that she was due to marry the Danish admiral Søren Norby and feared that they would work together to seize power for her children. As such, he did not approve of the marriage. Her son, Nils, was captured during a battle between the Admiral and King, and to secure his release, she was forced to deny a relationship with Norby.

She married a cousin of Vasa in 1527 and had royal privileges for the remainder of her life. She died in 1559 at the age of 64.

A statue of Kristina (1494-1559) now stands in the Royal Palace’s Outer Courtyard. It was designed by sculptor Teodor Lundberg.

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. Her love of royals began in middle school, and she's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites.