The Abdication of Queen Christina

Michael Roberts examines the end of the reign of a Swedish monarch of "natural genius".

On May 1st, 1654, Bulstrode Whitelocke, ambassador from the Commonwealth of England to the court of Sweden, took his place in the gallery of the great hall of Uppsala castle, to witness the opening of the Diet which was to receive the Queen’s abdication. In the vivid account of the proceedings which Whitelocke set down in his Journal, one passage in particular makes a memorable impression. After describing how the Archbishop of Uppsala, the Marshal of the Nobility, and the Speaker of the Burgesses each in turn answered the Queen’s speech on behalf of their respective Estates, he proceeds:

In the last place stepped forth the Marshal of the Boors, a plain country fellow in his clouted shoon, and all other habits answerable, as all the rest of his company were accoutred. This boor, without any congees or ceremony at all, spake to Her Majesty [and implored her not to leave them] ... When the boor had ended his speech, he waddled up to the Queen without any ceremony, took her by the hand and shook it heartily, and kissed it two or three times; then turning his back to her, he pulled out of his pocket a foul handkerchief and wiped the tears from his eyes ...*

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