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March 21, 2023


Gunilla Bielke, a name that may not ring a bell, was once the queen of Sweden. Although her story is unknown to many, it is a fascinating one. What started as a young, ordinary noblewoman’s life, ended up with her becoming the queen of Sweden. Her humble beginnings, unexpected rise to royalty, and transformative reign make for an incredible story. Let us delve into the untold story of Gunilla Bielke.

Section 1: Early Life

Gunilla Bielke was born in 1568 in her family estate in Kalmar County, southern Sweden. Her parents were Nils Bielke, a Swedish nobleman, and his wife, Märta Eriksdotter Leijonhufvud. Gunilla was raised in an affluent family, and her early life was typical of a young noblewoman. Her education involved learning household management, needlework, and other skills needed for noblewomen of the time.

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Section 2: Marriage

At the young age of fifteen, Gunilla married a nobleman named Joachim Frederick von Hirschfeldt. Their marriage was short-lived as Joachim died just two years later, leaving Gunilla widowed. In 1584, she then married a wealthy man named Pontus De la Gardie, who was also much older than her. Together they had ten children, three of which survived infancy.

Section 3: Royal Affair

In 1591, King John III of Sweden met Gunilla Bielke and soon became deeply infatuated with her. Despite being married, the king pursued her relentlessly. Many historical accounts suggest that Gunilla did not reciprocate the king’s romantic feelings for her initially. However, her husband Pontus De la Gardie saw this as an opportunity to advance his fortunes and encouraged the king’s interest in his wife. Eventually, Gunilla succumbed to the king’s advances, and their relationship became public knowledge.

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Section 4: Queen of Sweden

In 1592, when King John III passed away, his son Sigismund III succeeded him on the throne. Gunilla, who was still married to Pontus De la Gardie, continued to have a close relationship with Sigismund. After the death of her husband in 1602, she officially became the queen of Sweden – a curious feat, considering the Protestant beliefs of the nation at that time.

Section 5: Queenly Duties

As a queen, Gunilla Bielke was not educated enough in royal duties, and it is unclear how much power she held or what her influence was on Sigismund. However, she was known to have a fondness for the arts and was a major patron of the arts in Sweden. Her reign lasted from 1602 to 1611, the same year Sigismund was deposed.

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Section 6: Life after Reign

After her tenure as queen, Gunilla Bielke retired to her estates. She lived a quiet life until her death in 1591. Many believe that she had an illegitimate son with King John III, but this has never been conclusively proven.

Section 7: Legacy

Gunilla Bielke’s legacy is not well known outside of Sweden. However, she is remembered as an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings to become the queen of Sweden. Her patronage of the arts is still fondly remembered in Sweden today.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Who was Gunilla Bielke?
Gunilla Bielke was a Swedish noblewoman who became the queen of Sweden in the early seventeenth century.

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2. How did Gunilla Bielke become a queen?
Gunilla Bielke became the queen of Sweden due to her close relationship with the king of Sweden, Sigismund III.

3. Was Gunilla Bielke married?
Yes, Gunilla Bielke was married twice, first to Joachim Frederick von Hirschfeldt and later to Pontus De la Gardie.

4. How long did Gunilla Bielke reign as queen of Sweden?
Gunilla Bielke reigned as queen of Sweden from 1602 to 1611.

5. What was Gunilla Bielke known for?
Gunilla Bielke was known for her patronage of the arts during her reign as the queen of Sweden.

6. Did Gunilla Bielke have any children?
Gunilla Bielke had ten children but only three survived infancy.

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7. What is Gunilla Bielke’s legacy?
Gunilla Bielke’s legacy is as an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings to become the queen of Sweden and her patronage of the arts.


Gunilla Bielke’s life was remarkable in many ways. As a young girl, she had no aspirations of becoming the queen of Sweden. However, fate had other plans. She rose to become the queen due to her close relationship with the king, and while her reign was not particularly noteworthy, she is remembered for her patronage of the arts. Her story is an inspiring one, showing us that anything is possible if we keep an open mind and heart.

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