Christina of Denmark (November 1521 10 December 1590) was the daughter of Isabella of Habsburg and Christian II of Denmark and Norway.
Less than two years after her birth, her family went in exile to the Netherlands. This because her father was driven out by a revolt. Her mother died in 1526 and her father landed in prison when he tried to retake his throne.Christina was raised by her great-aunt Margaret of Austria and after Margaret's death, by her aunt Mary of Hungary. She got an extensive education, further raising her profile as a useful asset in the royal marriage market of the time.
Christina became Duchess of Milan through her marriage to Francesco II Sforza. The marriage was reportedly a good one, but Franceso died young, leaving her a widow. The city of Tortona was part of her dower. Though popular in Milan, she left to rejoin her aunt Mary in the Netherlands.
In the English-speaking world, Christina is probably best well-known because Henry VIII was interested in marrying her after the death of his third wife. She sat for a painting by Holbein, but was also said to have quipped: "If I had two heads, one should be at the King of England's disposal." Henry was 30 years older, and both her aunt and her uncle Charles V were sympathetic to her reluctance to marry him. Ironically, she would marry Francis, Duke of Bar, who had been bethroted to the woman who would become Henry's fourth wife.
After the death of his father in 1544, Francis inherited the Duchy of Lorraine as well. Like her first marriage, it was a happy but short one. She tried to mediate between the Empire and France, where her aunt Eleonor was queen, though to no success. Francis died in 1545 and Christina became regent for her young son. After the French invaded, she had to depart and give up the regency.
She remained politically active and visited the England of Mary Tudor with her cousin Margaret of Parma.In 1559, she presided over successful negotiations for a peace treaty. A year later, Christina was appointed regent of Lorraine again, as her son and daughter-in-law travelled. When her father died, she laid claim to the throne of Denmark. For this, she did not get the support from her most powerful relatives and after a while, she let the matter lie.
Christina returned to Tortona, where her rule gained a good reputation, as she solved many long-standing issues.
Portrayals of Christina of Denmark in fiction:
- Sonya Cassidy in The Tudors (2007)
- Appears in Helle Stangerup's In the Courts of Power (1988)
- Appears in Marianne Malone's The Sixty-Eight Rooms (2010)
Tropes associated with Christina of Denmark:
- 100% Adoration Rating: Was loved in Milan and in the Netherlands, where she grew up. Also tended to make friends on her travels abroad.
- Arranged Marriage: Both her marriages. There was a lot more talk about her marrying again after her second marriage, but Christina refused.
- Balance of Power: First as a pawn in the marriage market, but she played a role in European diplomacy as well. This was helped by her good relations with several of her relatives, that were all in positions of her power.
- Blue Blood: Descended from the Imperial House of the Holy Roman Empire and Spanish royal houses and. More distantly, from the French and Portuguese royal houses through her mother. Her father was king in Denmark and Norway.
- One-Scene Wonder: in the Tudors, she makes it very clear what she thinks of potentially marrying Henry VIII.
- Parental Substitute: Both Margaret of Austria and Mary of Hungary were this for her.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Acted as regent and worked towards peace in Europe.
- Stay in the Kitchen: By this time, the Habsburgs were used to women ruling as regents, so she got none of that from her own family.