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concerning Christine, ou Stockholm, Fontainebleau, et Rome

     Christina, Queen of Sweden (1626-1689) assumed the throne at the age of 18, in 1644, and reigned until 1654. While still young, she astonished Europe by abdicating, turning her throne over to her cousin, decamping to Italy, and converting to Catholicism. As an unemployed Catholic monarch, she entered into an unsuccessful intrigue with Cardinal Mazarin, Premier of France, to be made Queen of Naples.
     While staying in France (at the Palace of Fontainebleu), she ordered the summary execution of her equerry and Ambassador to the French Court, Marchese Gian Rinaldo Monaldeschi. As a sovereign, Christina had the power of life or death over her subjects, while as a private citizen, she had ordered a murder. The position of an ex- and perhaps future sovereign was unclear.
     Dumas' play Christine was based on this episode. Many contemporaries and 18th century historians believed that Monaldeschi was a discarded lover, and that the crime was one of passion. However, modern historians, who have the benefit of reading Christina's decrypted letters, believe that Monaldeschi had betrayed Christina in her negotiations with the French Court, and that the killing was strictly political. The French did not detain Christina, and she lived another thirty years (mostly in Rome) as an unsuccessful politician and celebrated patroness of the arts and letters.


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