Princess Elizabeth of Sweden

This disputed picture has long been considered to be of Karin Månsdotter, but now, it is presumed to be of Princess Elizabeth of Sweden; the text on the picture is believed to have been added much later, when one felt a need of a portrait of Queen Karin. It was probably painted in ca 1580, when Elizabeth was engaged.
The Duke and Duchess in lifesize sculptures on the Schwerin grave monument

Princess Elizabeth of Sweden, (also Elisabet Gustavsdotter Vasa; 5 April 1549 Kungsor, Sweden- 20 November 1597 Stockholm), was a Swedish princess and a duchess consort of Mecklenburg-Gadebusch. She was a daughter of King Gustav Vasa of Sweden and his second spouse, Queen Margaret.


In contrast to her older sister Sofia Vasa, who was described as the most unhappy of the children of Gustav Vasa, Princess Elizabeth has been described as the happiest; she seemed to have a cheerful and placid personality. She was described as blond and pretty. A portrait originally believed to be of queen Karin Månsdotter now is believed to be of her.

Princess Elizabeth was betrothed in 1562 to Christopher, the third son of Albert VII, Duke of Mecklenburg-Güstrow. Soon after, however, he was captured and held hostage for several years, and the engagement was considered broken. Her brothers negotiated for several years to arrange a marriage for her to ensure the highest possible political and economical status, both in Germany and Italy. Among the suitors considered was the Grand Duke of Tuscany. In 1574, arrangements were made between her brother John III and the French queen dowager Catherine de' Medici to marry her to Henry III of France. Catherine de Medici regarded Elizabeth as suitable because she wished for her son to marry a royal princess; because the match was seen as beneficial to maintaining French influence in Poland, and also because it would gain France an ally outside of the Habsburg lands which surrounded France. The French ambassador was given the task of providing a portrait of Elizabeth, and gave the following report of her character:

"I have been assured that she is very beautiful, has good sense, that she is pleasing, has a good figure and posture ... everyone recommends her great humility, in truth Sire, everyone that knows her admires and honors her virtues ... She finds her pleasure at the spinet and plays it better than most, she also plays the lute, and she is also of a mild and soothing temperament."

Everything was almost decided, when the French king announced that he long ago had decided to marry Louise of Lorraine-Vaudémont.

Elizabeth herself lived quite happily at the Swedish court and did not appear sorry that the marriage negotiations failed. She had her own court and was responsible for the upbringing of her brothers' illegitimate children. Karin Månsdotter was among her maids before Karin became the mistress and later queen of Elizabeth's brother, King Eric XIV of Sweden. When Eric was deposed in 1568, she was the last to abandon him, leaving the capital in a boat together with her stepmother Dowager Queen Katarina and her sister Sophia of Sweden. She seems to have been a stabilizing factor and a mediator among her often quarreling siblings.

In 1577, her old engagement to the now recently widowed Christopher of Mecklenburg was acknowledged again, and on 14 May 1581 they married and she left for Germany to live with him in Schwerin. Their long wait for each other has been considered a sign that this was not merely an arranged marriage, but also a love match; and it does seem, judging from letters, that their union was happier and more personal than most royal marriages of the time. They had one surviving child, Margaret Elizabeth, later Duchess of Mecklenburg, who married her kinsman Johann Albrecht II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Güstrow in 1608 and had issue.

In 1592, Elizabeth Vasa became a widow, and the following year she returned to Sweden. She died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1597 during negotiations regarding another marriage. Elizabeth had a grave monument constructed for herself and her spouse in the Cathedral of Schwerin, but in the end she was buried in her father's family grave in Uppsala Cathedral.


Johan Kristiersson (Vasa)
Erik Johansson (Vasa)
Birgitta Gustafsdotter (Sture)
Gustav I of Sweden (Vasa)
Måns Karlsson (Eka)
Cecilia Månsdotter (Eka)
Sigrid Eskilsdotter (Banér)
Elizabeth of Sweden (Vasa)
Abraham Kristiernsson (Leijonhuvud)
Erik Abrahamsson (Leijonhufvud)
Birgitta Månsdotter (Natt och Dag)
Margareta Leijonhufvud
Erik Karlsson (Vasa)
Ebba Eriksdotter (Vasa)
Anna Karlsdotter (Vinstorpa)

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