Christina of Denmark was born in November of 1521 to Christian II of Denmark and Isabella of Austria. Just over a year later her father was forced to abdicate, and the family fled into exile to Veere in the Netherlands. She and her brother and sister were raised by the Governors of the Netherlands, Margaret of Austria and Mary of Hungary. Her mother died suddenly in 1526 in Ghent.
In 1531 her uncle the Emperor Charles V agreed to match between her and Francesco II Sforza, Duke of Milan. They were married by proxy on 23 September 1533 in Brussels, and she officially entered Milan on 3 May 1534. She was quite popular in Milan, and the relationship with her husband was good. It was to prove to be a short marriage. Francesco was weak, never having recovered from a poisoning attack. He died in October 1535, leaving Christina, a widow at the age of 13. Two years later she went to live in Brussels at the court of Mary of Hungary.
Christina was considered as a wife for Henry VIII of England after Jane Seymour died in childbirth. She was then still only 16 years old and was opposed to marrying him. She is famously quoted as saying, “If I had two heads, one should be at the King of England’s disposal.” She was pursued for two years before he finally gave up. She was proposed to by William, Duke of Cleves, brother of Anne of Cleves, who went on to marry Henry VIII. It was refused by her uncle.
By this time Christina herself was in love with René of Chalon, Prince of Orange. This was noted during the Christmas celebrations at the court in Brussels. Despite her heavy mourning robes she still charmed everyone. She especially charmed René, who was the only son and heir of the House of Nassau. He had actually been a playmate of her brother John, and she still remembered him. He was the perfect knight as he performed in a grand tournament, wearing the Orange colours of his house and his motto ‘Je maintiendrai’. He even received the prize from her own hands. In 1540 René of Charlon was forced to marry Anne of Lorraine, and the Emperor declared Christina to be engaged to Anne’s brother, Francis of Lorraine. Their unofficial courtship came to an abrupt end, and it’s a shame we don’t know their feelings about this. I can imagine they were not thrilled. René died just four years later in 1544 during the siege of St. Dizier. He is buried next to his short-lived daughter with Anne in the Grote Kerk in Breda.
Christina indeed married Francis of Lorraine, and their relationship is described as happy. She and Francis had three children before his death in 1545. She became regent for their minor son. Custody was taken away from her by the King of France, and she fought to get him back. She was finally able to join him when he was of age and married, and she served as his advisor. She died on 10 December 1590 in Tortona, Duchy of Milan. She was buried in the Cordeliers Convent in Lorraine.