The Caulbearer

“It’s a boy!” the midwife shouted.

King Gustav celebrated. At last, he would have a son to replace him on the throne. But the celebration on this 18th of December, 1626, didn’t last long. One by one, the cheers of the royal court died down until Gustav was the last one singing.

A chill shot up his spine and he turned towards the door to see the midwife standing silently crying.

“My God ... Does the boy not breathe?” the King cautiously asked the old woman.

“No, your majesty, it’s not that ...” she replied, quivering.

Gustav erupted, “I can see it in your eyes! Don’t lie to me! I see your shaking hands, damn you!”

“Your majesty, the child came out in a caul ... and covered from head to toe with so much hair that we thought for sure ... we didn’t know ... we assumed ... even your astronomers said that ...”

From behind her could be heard a deep bellow which turned into a masculine cry.

Gustav’s eyebrows rose. “Out with it, damn you!”

“Your majesty ... I’m sorry ... It’s a girl,” the midwife finally revealed and she braced herself for a blow.

Gustav’s jaw slackened. “A girl! Is that it?”

The midwife peeked at the king. Seeing his anger subside, she said, “Yes, sire. But if you please, let us clean her before you see her.”

King Gustav roared with delight.

“Already, she’s made fools of us! A daughter! And clever! Perhaps it’s fitting if we continued her game and raised her as a boy then, eh?!” he mischievously remarked to his relieved group.

Christina of Sweden, the hairy little child born in a "victory jacket,” would continue to surprise the world, all the way up until her eventual burial in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

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