Since March is running away from me this will probably be my last Cranky Women post, and because of that I am making it a sample meal. I still have twelve (!) people I want to write about, but I think I might limit it to these four because I’m just a little bit lazy.
In mostly chronological order:
Okay I have one more queen for you. Just one. This one is also named Kristina, often referred to as Kristina Gyllenstierna (Kristina Gold Star, which is a pretty great name if you ask me) to distinguish her from the other one. At age 17 she married Sten Sture den yngre, and when he became a king in everything but name following what sounds like a coup of some kind (I’m too lazy to research this in detail, bear with me) she suddenly found herself a queen of sorts.
The actual king, Kristian II of Denmark (later nicknamed Kristian Tyrant here in Sweden — read on to see why) wasn’t a huge fan of this, and invaded the country. When her husband died Kristina suddenly found herself a leader of the resistance against king Kristian. She defended Stockholm against his troops for months, but eventually capitulated after being promised amnesty. Unfortunately Kristian was a lying liar who lied a lot, and after he was made a king he invited people to a feast, which somehow derailed into what’s called Stockholms blodbad (Stockholm blood bath). It’s pretty much what it says on the tin: at least 80 people were either beheaded or hung at hastily raised gallows, and their bodies burnt on a fire. Kristina’s late husband was dug up and thrown on the fire as well, and she was asked if she’d prefer to be burnt at the stake or buried alive. She is said to have fainted from the horror of such a choice (I do hope this was a ruse of some kind, because honestly, isn’t that an awesome way to get out of that sort of decision?), and ended up being thrown in jail instead.
Three years later Kristian was overthrown by Gustav Vasa, and the Danes kicked him to the curb as well. In 1525 the two countries finally managed to make peace and she was released. Gustav Vasa saw her as quite a threat since she’d become a bit of a national symbol, almost as big of one as he was, and it was arranged for her to marry some dude and retire from politics. Which she did.
PS. This all happened on a square in what is now Gamla Stan (Old Town), and let me tell you, it’s always a bit freaky to walk across it. I know it’s been 500 years, but seriously. BLOOD. BATH.
Fredrika Bremer (1801-1865) is considered one of the Swedish feminist movements most important activists. Her novel Hertha (1856), which was about the lack of freedom for women at the time, became very influential, and raised a debate that contributed to a law of legal majority for adult, unmarried women. It also brought up the idea of higher formal education for women, and six years after its publication the first university for women was founded. The book has cemented Fredrika Bremer as one of the Swedish feminist movement’s founders, although arguably she wasn’t the first to voice these ideas.
Many of her works were translated to English and in Little Women mrs March reads from one of her books, which is pretty damn cool if you ask me. And of course there were people criticising the way she looked at dressed — one account claimed that if you dressed like her it didn’t matter how intelligent and brilliant you were, you still look like a monster. Which, yeah, is an excellent to rag on a brilliant woman. Some things never change, it seems.
Karolina Widerström (1856-1949) was Sweden’s first female physician. Her father was a veterinarian and a gym teacher, and encouraged her to become a teacher just like him, which got her off to a good start. She studied at what is now Gymnastik- och idrottshögskolan, one of our biggest universities when it comes to physical education, health, etc. After she finished her degree she worked as an assistant to a professor at the school, moonlighting as physical therapist. Said professor encouraged her to study medicine, and that she did. In 1888 later she graduated from Karolinska Institutet, also one of our biggest universities for medical education. The sky is the limit and all that.
After she got her license to practice medicine she focused on gynecology and published a book named Kvinnohygien (Female Hygiene), the first edition published in 1889 and the eighth and last in 1932. Karolina wanted to encourage women to get to know their bodies, and to have the same opportunities and rights as men. She was active in an organisation fighting to give prostitutes more rights, arguing that the law of forced inspections of women selling sex as a way of combating sexually transmitted diseases was not only ineffective, but also counter-productive since patient’s trust in doctors couldn’t be forced. She also pointed out a number of causes for prostitution and helped making the debate a lot less black and white.
On top of this she was a member of a number of feminist organisations. She was chairwoman of an organisation arguing for women’s right to vote (1918-1921) and another one for female academics (1910-1912), plus a regular member of various others supporting equality between the sexes. She also published four books, all focusing on women’s health and/or sexually transmitted diseases and seems to have been pretty damn awesome.
Katarina (Kata) Dalström (1858-1923) was an author and one of our most famous socialist agitators. The picture above is of her hard at work, and although it doesn’t show her up close it was too awesome not to choose for this post.
Kata was born into a wealthy family, and her becoming a liberal was seen as incredibly radical. Never one to disappoint she drifted further and further left, going from liberal to social democrat, to socialist, and even communist. In 1900 she became the first woman elected to the executive committee of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, and later on she was the Swedish representant at a communist convention of some kind.
She was an author, mainly writing political texts but also about mythology, religion and so on. Her list of published works is seriously impressive, and includes 28 (!) works in total.
Kata wasn’t one of our most vocal supporters of women’s right to vote, since she thought that it may delay the right for all men’s right to vote, and was criticised for being Christian, since the view that you had to be an atheist to fully understand Marxism was popular. She has a street named after her in Stockholm, and it so happens to be less than 400 meters from the one named after Karolina Widerström which is a pretty damn awesome coincidence if you ask me.
This post is the third and probably final part (because why limit yourself?) as part of the Cranky Ladies of History (and also Women’s History month!) blog tour. If this sort of thing makes you squee you should go help fund the Pozible campaign for the anthology with the same name, to be published by FableCroft Publishing in 2015.
The list of cranky Swedish women I’ve put together are courtesy of the Swedish non-profit organisation Rättviseförmedlingen, created to help correct the imbalance of gender in media, culture, business and so on. You can read more about them here and see the list of historical women I pulled these names from here. That first link is in English, fyi.