Eva Magdalena Oxenstierna grew up at Rosersberg castle in Uppland. She was born into the Swedish financial and political elite during that kingdom’s era of great power. As such she was provided with a proper education. She came from a large family. In addition to the three children her father, Bengt Gabrielsson Oxenstierna, had sired in his first marriage she had five siblings who survived beyond infancy. Eva Magdalena Oxenstierna’s mother, Magdalena Stenbock, was a cousin of Count Magnus Stenbock, whom Eva Magdalena Oxenstierna married in 1690.
This marriage bound two of Sweden’s most politically influential families together. Surviving letters reveal how attempts were made at profiting from relatives’ networks and, not infrequently, it was women who conveyed pleas for assistance. On several occasions, for example, Eva Magdalena Oxenstierna was encouraged by her husband to ask her father to put in a good word on his behalf before he entered Swedish military service and was able to carve out a career for himself through his own efforts.
Magnus Stenbock’s military service led to many years’ absence. Thus running and managing the couple’s property lay mainly in Eva Magdalena Oxenstierna’s hands. Although large-scale agricultural work was undertaken at, for example, Rånäs in Uppland, it was their property of Vapnö near Halmstad which seems to have been the focal point of their financial activities. In addition to engaging in traditional agriculture Eva Magdalena Oxenstierna also restored the old stud farm whilst also setting up a carpet manufacture. During her husband’s time as governor of Scania Eva Magdalena Oxenstierna’s duties included hosting formal occasions. Hunts, dinners, and genteel socialising at the Ramlösa health resort were just some of these kinds of events.
Eva Magdalena Oxenstierna’s life story was perhaps in the main no more remarkable than that of other noblewomen. However, the correspondence she exchanged with her husband has largely survived and been published, allowing us to see in some detail what was expected of an aristocratic woman towards the end of Sweden’s era of great power – and whether or how far these expectations were met.
Although Magnus Stenbock’s military activities led to certain successes, he was captured in 1713 and imprisoned north of Copenhagen until his death in 1717. Following his local funeral his coffin was brought to Vapnö. When Eva Magdalena Oxenstierna died five years later her husband’s and her coffin were both sent to Uppsala where they were buried in the Oxenstierna family grave in the cathedral.