The μακελοσ Queen

Queen Christina was a very serious coin collector and commissioned a series of 118 coins commemorating her life, which she called her “histoire metallique”, though only 8 of them were actually struck before her abdication.

One of them is a recognizable image of Christina wearing the helmet of Athena, the Athenian virgin goddess of wisdom. The logo on the reverse side, μακελοσ, puzzled scholars until they realized that it was the Swedish word “makelos”, which means “peerless or unmatched”, “unmarried”, and perhaps (by a stretch) “undefeated”.

This word is seen in Middle English in the form of “makeles”, and is an epithet of the Virgin Mary :

I synge of a mayden
That is makeles:
Kyng of alle kynges
To hir son she ches.

Christina was without false modesty or, it would seem, any other kind.

NOTE: In German makellos means “unblemished”, “without stain”, “immaculate”, meanings I cannot find in English (OED) or  Anglo-Saxon. Etymologically it is a completely different word, from the Latin macula. But the Virgin Mary was also immaculate, , though the Immaculate Conception is a fairly recent dogma.

Queen Christina of Sweden, 1659 Makelos coin.

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Published in: on November 29, 2013 at 7:47 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. In German, “makellos” means flawless or immaculate. “Makel” means flaw or blemish and the affix “-los” denotes the absence of something. “Immaculate” is obviously of Latin origin, but I’m not sure about the entire etymology involved here.


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