Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan


Christina was born in Nyborg, Denmark in the year of 1522. She was the second living daughter of Christian II of Denmark and Isabella of Burgundy. Isabella was the sister of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Christina was the grandniece of Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England, and first wife of Henry VIII.

After Christina’s farher was removed from the throne of Denmark, she went to live in the Netherlands. Christina and her sister, Dorothea, Electress of Palantine, asked for the Danish crown as sole surviving heirs of Christian II. Their cousin, Frederick II, won the throne of Denmark.

Christina’s early marriage

In 1533, Christina of Denmark married Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. He died in 1535. They didn’t have any children. After the Duke of Milan’s death, Christina returned to the Netherlands to live at the court of her aunt, Dowager Queen Mary of Hungary, who was Governor of the Netherlands for Charles V.

Henry VIII’s marriage proposal

After his third wife, Jane Seymour’s death, Henry VIII was looking for another wife. He sent Hans Holbein to paint a portrait of Christina of Denmark. In the portrait , Christina was wearing mourning clothes. She was only sixteen years old and didn’t hide her unwillingness to marry Henry VIII. Christina proclaimed, ” that if she had two heads, one should be at the disposal of the King of England.” In Europe, Henry VIII was infamous for his ugly treatment of his wives. Mary of Hungary wasn’t happy about the match because of the way Henry VIII had treated Catherine of Aragon.

Christina’s later life

In 1544, Christina married Francois, Duc de Lorraine. They had two children and he died in 1545. Christina became regent for her son, Charles, until he came of age. In 1552, Francis II, King of France, invaded Lorraine and Christina was driven from Lorraine. She had to permit her son, Charles to be raised in France. She went back to the Netherlands.

When her Aunt Mary died in 1558, Christina vied to become the new Governor and Regent of the Netherlands. She did not succeed and she returned to Lorraine. Her son had become Charles III, Duc de Lorraine. Christina called herself the rightful Queen of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. In 1578, she went to Tortona, Italy where she had an estate left to her by her first husband,the Duke of Milan. She lived there until her death in 1590.

Christina’s legacy

The contempory Danish, Noewegian, and Swedish royal families are descended from her through her daughter, Renata.

Henry VIII fell in love with Christina of Denmark. When the marriage did not occur, Henry remained in love with the portrait and kept the picture until the day he died.