Queen Christina of Sweden and the Marquis Monaldeschi

Queen Christina of Sweden and the Marquis Monaldeschi

Sweden to-day is one of the peaceful kingdoms of the world, whose people are prosperous, well governed, and somewhat apart from the clash and turmoil of other states and nations. Even the secession of Norway…was accomplished without bloodshed, and now the two kingdoms exist side by side as free from strife as they are with Denmark, which once domineered and tyrannized over both. It is difficult to believe that long ago, in the Middle Ages, the cities of southern Sweden were among the great commercial centers of the world. Stockholm and Lund ranked with London and Paris. They absorbed the commerce of the northern seas, and were the admiration of thousands of travelers and merchants who passed through them and trafficked with them. Much nearer to our own time, Sweden was the great military power of northern Europe. The ambassadors of the Swedish kings were received with the utmost deference in every court. Her soldiers won great battles and ended mighty wars. The England of Cromwell and Charles II was unimportant and isolated in comparison with this northern kingdom, which could pour forth armies of gigantic blond warriors, headed by generals astute as well as brave. It was no small matter, then, in 1626, that the loyal Swedes were hoping that their queen would give birth to a male heir to succeed his splendid father, Gustavus Adolphus, ranked by military historians as one of the six great generals whom the world had so far produced. The queen, a German princess of Brandenburg, had already borne two daughters, who died in infancy. The expectation was wide-spread and intense that she...
Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Bothwell

Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Bothwell

Mary Stuart and Cleopatra are the two women who have most attracted the fancy of poets, dramatists, novelists, and painters, from their own time down to the present day. In some respects there is a certain likeness in their careers. Each was queen of a nation whose affairs were entangled with those of a much greater one. Each sought for her own ideal of love until she found it. Each won that love recklessly, almost madly. Each, in its attainment, fell from power and fortune. Each died before her natural life was ended. One caused the man she loved to cast away the sovereignty of a mighty state. The other lost her own crown in order that she might achieve the whole desire of her heart. There is still another parallel which may be found. Each of these women was reputed to be exquisitely beautiful; yet each fell short of beauty’s highest standards. They are alike remembered in song and story because of qualities that are far more powerful than any physical charm can be. They impressed the imagination of their own contemporaries just as they had impressed the imagination of all succeeding ages, by reason of a strange and irresistible fascination which no one could explain, but which very few could experience and resist. Mary Stuart was born six days before her father’s death, and when the kingdom which was her heritage seemed to be almost in its death-throes. James V. of Scotland, half Stuart and half Tudor, was no ordinary monarch. As a mere boy he had burst the bonds with which a regency had bound him,...