7/18/2008

Woman of the week - Cecila Vasa

Name: Cecilia Vasa
Born: November 6, 1540, Stockholm, Sweden
Dead: January 27, 1627, Brussels
Married to: Christoph, Marquess of Baden-Rodemachern, in 1564
Children: Edward (1565-1600)
Occupation: Royalty

Cecilia was born to the Swedish king Gustav I and his second wife Margareta Eriksdotter (often referred to as Leijonhuvud, 'Lion's head', though that is a bit of a anachronism) as their third child.

Cecilia was a rather wild person, according to most sources, living beyond her means and doing what she pleased, without taking to account the consequences.

When her elder sister Katarina was married in 1559 the girl fell in love with the brother-in-law John of Ostfriesland. Due to the political situation a marriage was out of the question, there were problems enough for Katarina who was greatly disliked by her mother-in-law and who would not travel to her new home for over eighteen months (but who gave birth to a daughter in the meantime). This did not stop Cecilia from having an affair with John. He was spotted when he was climbing into the princess's chamber and caught by Cecilia's brother Erik (the future Erik XIV, the one who married Karin Månsdotter). The king went berserk and according to the sources beat his daughter up quite badly. John was imprisoned for a while.

The only thing the king could do with his badly behaving daughter - princesses were not supposed to have liaisons - was to marry her off to someone. There was a time likely she would be married to the Polish count Johan Tenczynski, but it all came to nothing. Instead she settled at Arboga, Sweden, and called herself 'countess of Arboga'. In the end she was married to Christoph, Marquess of Baden-Rodemachern (1537-1575) in 1564. She had a son, born in London while she was there to help with the negotiations of a match between her brother Erik and Elizabeth I - which, of course, came to nothing.

In 1570 she became a Catholic, her father had made Sweden a protestant country, but her mother was a Catholic. This did not make her very popular, especially not within her own family - which also had to deal with her constant asking for more money. In 1575 she was widowed and in 1579 she left Sweden for good and settled down in Brussels.

There were plenty of rumours about the extravagant princess here too. These included that she was supposed to run a brothel and she herself worked there as the main attraction. This statement must be viewed in the light of her being a Catholic and it was common to spread false statements about people of the 'wrong' belief and the story that her son would have entered said brothel and pulled her out in her hair should perhaps be taken with a big pinch of salt.

She died in Brussels, but where she is buried is not certain. It has been stated that she is buried in Rodemachern, Germany, beneath the altar. No tomb-stone has been found but the church has been renovated several times since then and a lost tomb-stone would not be odd. Later family members are buried there too - but it could also be due to that fact that she is believed to be found there.

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