Princess Christina of Denmark, Dowager Duchess of Milan is a niece of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and a potential suitor for King Henry VIII after the death of his third Queen, Jane Seymour. She appears in only one episode, "Search for a New Queen".
In episode 3.06 (approximately the year 1539) Christina is proposed as a possible bride for Henry by various courtiers, especially Charles Brandon; however, the King's First Minister Thomas Cromwell mentions her with diminished enthusiasm. This is largely because of Christina's obvious connection to the Catholic Charles V, to whom the Protestant Cromwell does not want associated with England. Cromwell instead attempts to persuade the King to pursue Princess Anne of Cleves (sister of the Protestant Duke Wilhelm of Cleves), but the King makes it clear he isn't interested, as he has heard little in Anne's favor and much in Christina's. Cromwell is forced to send the English Ambassador to the Low Countries (where Christina lives) and Hans Holbein to meet with her and make a portrait of her.
Christina sits for the painting, but in her conversation with the Ambassador (Sir John Hutton), she makes it clear she has nothing but disgust for the King, pointing out that he went through three wives in a very short time- the first (Catherine of Aragon) suspected of having been poisoned to hasten her final illness, the second (Anne Boleyn) unjustly executed, and the third (Jane Seymour) dying of childbed fever due to lack of proper care from her doctors. Hutton desperately tries to praise Henry's virtues, but she shoots him down rather quickly, ending with a stinging reference to Anne Boleyn's beheading: "If I had two heads, one should be at the King's disposal. Alas, I have only the one!" Although not outright refusing to marry Henry, she makes it clear she will not "mend her heart in his favor" unless her uncle the Emperor commands her to.
Ultimately, the betrothal is not arranged due to Christina's close familial affinity with Catherine of Aragon, who was her great-aunt. She is instead betrothed to someone else in episode 3.07, although this betrothal quickly fails, resulting in Ambassador Eustace Chapuys presenting her to Henry again as a potential candidate for marriage. However, Henry, angry that he has once again been a "pawn" of the Emperor, scorns the offer. He soon regrets it when his marriage to Anne of Cleves proves a dismal failure, claiming that Christina had been the most beautiful of all the ladies he had considered for marriage.
Backstory[edit | edit source]
Christina was rather like Anne Boleyn in that, while she was not considered a particularly great beauty, she was well-educated and intelligent, bold, and possessing of a charismatic personality. A daughter of the exiled King of Denmark and his Austrian Queen (Charles' sister), she had been raised in the Netherlands but was married in 1535 to Francisco Sforza, Duke of Milan. Despite the age difference (Sforza was over 20 years her senior) Christina's marriage proved relatively happy, and she was very popular in Milan. When Sforza died without issue only two years later, the Duchy was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire, but Charles allowed his niece to continue living in Milan as the Dowager Duchess. Christina later re-married in 1541 to Francis, the future Duke of Lorraine (a sometimes-supporter of King Francis I of France, her uncle's fiercest rival), a marriage which produced three children; four years later, Francis died, leaving Christine as Regent of Lorraine for her son. She was later exiled to the Netherlands during one of Charles and Francis' various wars, but eventually managed to return to Lorraine and reunite with her children.