Queen of Sweden. She was the daughter of a little known palace guard named Magnus and his wife, Ingrid, and is the veritable Cinderella of Swedish history. Legend has it that King Eric XIV, who had a number of mistresses, all the while proposing marriage without success to several European princesses, saw Catherine selling nuts in the square near his castle in Stockholm. A fact seems to be that she worked as a barmaid at a popular local pub that the King frequented. In any case, Catherine must have been exceptionally attractive and personable, and she became the great love of Eric's life. Already orphaned by the time she was about 10, she was later one of the Ladies-in-Waiting on Eric's half-sister Princess Elizabeth, also taking care of one of Eric's children with a previous mistress. By the time she was fifteen she had registered benefits at court and probably began her relationship with the King then, soon giving birth to their daughter Sigrid. Two years later, Eric gave up on his foreign proposals and took the unprecedented step of marrying this peasant girl, ceremoniously renewing his vows with her and having her crowned Queen as Katarina the following year. His brothers refused to attend the festivities, whereas three farmer brothers of hers from Trög were there, dressed up in appropriate finery at the King's expense. Eric and Catherine were alienated in a royal family that felt they had denigrated it. The wedding and coronation have been considered major contributing factors to Eric's downfall a year later, though the effect on politics of his mental problems, which Catherine tried to sooth, probably was more vital. At Eric's dethronement, their family also included a little son, Crown Prince Gustav. Two more sons that died young were born before the ex-king was moved to a solitary confinement strongly lamented by both the lovers. When he was murdered in a castle dungeon in 1577, Catherine was given property in Finland and lived there in comfort for another 35 years. Constant worries over her roving son, who was banished from the kingdom (which included Finland), and thus from her company, clouded her existence, but her daughter's good marriages were silver linings of sorts. In 1582, ex-Queen Catherine was invited to visit King John III and his Queen Catherine in Stockholm. With the addition of old Dowager Queen Catherine, the longtime widow of Gustav I, the ceremonious "Three Queen Meeting" took place at Svartsjö Castle where all three Catherines got together to divide up some remaining inheritance and make arrangements for young Sigrid. Her mother returned to her property in Liuksala, Finland, and is the only member of Swedish royalty buried in that country.
Bio by: Count Demitz