Queen of Arts: Christina of Sweden (LS-RS-516)

This learning scenario is created by Natalija Budinski, a Serbian mathematics teacher. It combines history with mathematics. The idea is to help students understand the role of women in the past and gain information on the history of mathematics by connecting math lessons with historical facts.

Queen Christina: a controversial figure of her time

Students explore the life of Swedish Queen Christina. Queen Christina is a controversial figure in the past. She liked to dress like a man which was highly unusual in her time. She was very intelligent and one of the most educated women of her time. Christina was educated both in the arts and the sciences and she invited scientists and artists into her capital, Stockholm, turning it into the “Athens of North”. She never married, and later abdicated her crown, converted to the catholic religion, and moved to Rome.

Queen Christina as a child. Jacob Heinrich Elbfas, Nationalmuseum, Sweden (PD)

Learning process

This Europeana blog was used as the source of information.

A connection is made to Queen Christina’s teacher Rene Descartes, a famous mathematician. During the lesson, students learned about the Cartesian Product which in Serbian is called Descartes’ Product.

The mathematical definition of the Cartesian product is a product of two sets A and B, denoted A × B, is the set of all ordered pairs (a, b) where a is in A and b is in B. 

Students learn about the Cartesian product. They solve mathematical tasks related to the topic and gain knowledge in mathematical content required by the curriculum.

Student's notebook

Students work in pairs to research about the life of Descartes and his connection to Swedish Queen. They use Europeana resources. After they finish, they present their findings. 

Students presents their findings about life of Christina Queen of Sweden
Student presentation


This lesson can be used in high school for developing creativity, learning about the past and women in the ruling position in the past, the life of famous mathematician, mathematical content in an interesting and motivating way. Students liked the topic and they found the facts about Queen Christina’s life and her relation to famous mathematician Descartes very interesting

Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:

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Public Domain Mark 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Skoklosters slott.

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