Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna was a baroness and a landowner who became famous for her learning and proficiency at riding and fencing.
Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna was born in 1646. She was the eldest child of Lieutenant Colonel Carl Nilsson Gyllenstierna till Fågelvik and Sidonia Nilsdotter Mannersköld. The same year she was born father had been appointed vice commander of Wismar in Swedish Pomerania. Following the family’s relocation there her brothers Carl Gustaf and Nils along with her sister Elsa were born, although Elsa died while still an infant. In 1650 Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna’s father died. Legend has it that his death was the result of an accidental shooting. Her mother then returned to Sweden with her three children. In 1656 Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna also lost her mother.
Little is known of Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna’s childhood. At that time it was the norm for orphaned children to be taken in by close relatives. Their maternal and paternal grandparents were already dead but there were four unmarried paternal aunts; it is highly likely that one or more of them became responsible for the children in the first instance.
Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna benefited from an unusually thorough education despite her gender. She was described as a learned and linguistically talented woman with knowledge of chemistry, the natural sciences, theology, and several other subjects. Even more unusual was the fact that she was skilled in areas that at that time were considered the domain of men, namely riding, fencing, and hunting. All of this shows that she had in fact received the kind of education that tended to be reserved for boys. Wilhelmina Ståhlberg described her, in Anteckningar om svenska qvinnor, as “both a Minerva and an amazon”. It is highly likely that she had attended the lessons that her brothers received from a tutor. It remains unclear whether she continued her studies after her brothers went off to attend university in 1662.
Perhaps the most surprising thing claimed about the renowned baroness Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna was that she in 1661 challenged the lieutenant colonel of the artillery, David Davidsson Kohl, to a duel. The reason for it was related to her cousin, Görwel Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna till Kurumsnäs. According to some sources the dispute involved Kohl’s refusal to marry the cousin, whilse other sources imply that he had proposed to her without first asking the family for permission. There was still a surviving paternal uncle who should have been approached. Whether this duel ever took place cannot be established. Nevertheless, Görwel Nilsdotter Gyllenstierna and David Kohl did marry that same year.
In 1670 Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna married Leonard Schulman till Brandsnäs och Leonardsberg in Östergötland. He was a lieutenant colonel in the infantry. The couple settled at Leonardsberg, which they turned into a manor farm and where they had a new manor house built. Following her husband’s death in 1677 Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna became entirely responsible for Leonardsberg. From her correspondence with the administrative authority Kammarkollegiet it emerges that Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna was actively involved in farming, acquiring plots of land and negotiating legal matters. During the Great Reduction of the 1680s, the revocation of land from the nobility to the Crown, she successfully ensured that Leonardsberg remained in her possession for her lifetime. It was subsequently inherited.
Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna and Leonard Schulman had had two children together, although their mother outlived them both.
Görwel Carlsdotter Gyllenstierna died in 1708.