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Queen Christina of Sweden :: History 229: The Age of the Witch Hunts

Queen Christina of Sweden

Christina_of_Sweden_by_Jacob_Ferdinand_Voet Fig. 1

Queen Christina of Sweden was born in 1626, ruled Sweden from 1644-1654, and died in 1689. She was an excellent politician and kept Sweden from falling into civil war during the Thirty Years War because of class rivalries. Christina was also well educated and cultured which helped contribute the success of her ten year reign. She boasted that during her reign she expressly forbade the death penalty for witches, so long as they could not clearly be proved for murder. She claimed that women who confessed to crimes of witchcraft were influenced by either “disturbances in their female functions or by the frauds of the devil.”[1]  This boast may not have been followed quite as Christina had claimed though, because during her reign there were at least three death sentences passed with the queen’s confirmation that were not accused of fatal maleficium.[2]  These death sentences were part of the Verden trials in 1649, and though the death sentences were passed, Christina managed to end the trials at this point in time. There is doubt about Queen Christina’s early opposition to witchcraft; any action that she did take in 1649 was insufficient because a major witch hunt occurred in 1668 under her successor Charles XI.[3]

 

[1] Ankarloo, Early Modern European Witchcraft, 291.

[2] Ibid., 291

[3] Brian Levack, The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe (New York, Longman, 2006), 227.

Fig. 1 Jacob Ferdinand Voet, Christina of Sweden. Mid-15th century. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christina_of_Sweden_by_Jacob_Ferdinand_Voet.jpg

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