Thursday, September 10, 2009

Anna of Austria, Queen of Poland and Sweden

A little-known Swedish queen is Anna of Austria, first wife of King Sigismund Vasa. Born in 1573, she was the daughter of Archduke Charles of Austria and Maria Anna of Bavaria. One of her brothers was the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II. In 1592, Anna married Sigismund, heir to the Swedish crown. He had already been elective King of Poland for five years and was determined upon a policy of close alliance with the Habsburgs. Many powerful Polish nobles, however, opposed this policy, and one group even tried to prevent Anna from entering the country. Nevertheless, the Archduchess evaded the border guards, arrived in Krakow, and was duly crowned Queen. Cultivated and gracious, Anna won the sympathy and respect of many former foes, and her marriage, although politically motivated, was a happy and collaborative one.

Six months after his marriage, upon his father's death, Sigismund inherited the Swedish crown. Religious and political conflicts, however, fomented by his ambitious uncle, Duke Karl (who would later usurp his throne) delayed his coronation for two years. In 1594, Sigismund and Anna were finally crowned King and Queen of Sweden. Yet their reign was brief and deeply troubled. They were both devout Catholics, reigning over a Lutheran realm, and Duke Karl (who served as Regent during the King's protracted absences in Poland) seized every opportunity to weaken Sigismund's position, portraying him as a tyrant intent on reimposing Romish heresy and himself as the heroic defender of Protestantism. Anna, for her part, also clashed on religious grounds with Sigismund's stepmother, the firmly Lutheran Dowager Queen Gunilla.

One misfortune, however, was spared Queen Anna. She did not live to see her husband's loss of the Swedish throne, dying in childbirth some months before Sigismund was crushingly defeated by Karl at the Battle of Stångebro. She was only 25 years old. Her life and reign had been sadly brief but her son, Wladyslaw, would later become one of Poland's greatest and most popular monarchs as King Wladyslaw IV Vasa.

5 comments:

MadMonarchist said...

Thanks for the info. I never knew much about Queen Anna; more familiar with her husband and son. If I recall correctly he was supported by a group of nobles to be Czar of Russia.

Matterhorn said...

Yes, that's true.

The Anne Boleyn Files said...

I love your blogs, such an education because I have never heard of some of the people you write about and don't know much about the others. Thanks for the comments on my site and for your support.

Matterhorn said...

Thank you, Claire.

MadMonarchs said...

Thank you for this bio of unknown Anna. The Wasa royal family was very interesting!