Anna Agriconia was a lady-in-waiting and a letter writer. She witnessed and wrote about the siege of Athens and the destruction of the Parthenon. She was ennobled under the name Åkerhielm in 1691.
Anna Agriconia was the daughter of Magnus Jonae Agriconius, a priest who had married Sofia Kempe. Sofia had previously been married to another clergyman and brought her three children into her second marriage. Sofia and Magnus went on to have at least four and possibly five children together. Education was highly prized within the family and certainly Anna Agriconia and her brother Samuel are remembered because they were viewed as learned and knowledgeable by their contemporaries.
The chancellor Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie employed Anna Agriconia’s brother Samuel Månsson as his secretary but he was soon moved into a different post. It is believed that it was through Samuel that Anna Agriconia, aged 25, was appointed lady-in-waiting to the chancellor’s wife, Princess Maria Euphrosine. Anna Agriconia was highly treasured in this post and she was recommended to field marshal Otto Wilhelm Königsmarck and his wife Catharina Charlotta De la Gardie (also the daughter of the chancellor) as a lady-in-waiting. The field marshal was in Venetian service during that republic’s war with the Turks in the period of 1684-1698. The whole family, including their servants, accompanied the field marshal, and this meant that Anna Agriconia also joined them.
Anna Agriconia kept a diary and wrote letters, mainly addressed to her brother Samuel, when she was away during those military campaigns. What she wrote provides a direct view into the Venetian wars and also into the social conditions on board the ships which from time to time served as housing for the countess and her servants. Anna Agriconia’s notes also describe the military events of the wars. It is possible that extracts from her notes and letters were printed as military accounts in Ordinari Post Tijdender. Her brother Samuel, the recipient of most of her letters, was at the time serving as chief director of the postal services which published the newssheet. Thus, Anna Agriconia possibly served as an early war correspondent.
Not only did Anna Agriconia’s reliable observations provide unique insight into military developments on the southwestern Mediterranean seas, but they also revealed that there was time for learning and to visit historical sites. Anna Agriconia’s description of the destruction of the Parthenon in 1687, which she personally witnessed, is the oldest surviving account that we have of that event. While making her way through the ruins of the former temple Anna Agriconia discovered an Arabic manuscript, which she later donated to Uppsala University Library. In 1691 she was one of few women to be ennobled. She was given her brother’s ennoblement name, Åkerhielm.
The war against the Turks was field marshal Königsmarck’s last campaign. He died in 1688. Countess Catharina Charlotta De la Gardie and Anna Agriconia carried on living at the family castle in Stade, where the countess died in 1697. Anna Agriconia died the next year.