Before you is a reconstruction of King Gustav the Second Adolf during his only known visit to the shipyard where Vasa was built in January of 1628. The woman is Margareta Nilsdotter. She and her brother-in-law Arendt Hybertsson are the couple receiving the king upon his arrival.

Margareta Nilsdotter was married to the Dutch master shipwright Henrik Hybertsson who, together with his brother, secured the contract to design and build Vasa.

When Master Henrik became ill and died, his widow Margareta was beseeched by her family to abandon the project.
But she had her own ideas:"I must fulfill the contract to which my deceased husband was obliged; before that, I'll not abandon anything"

Margareta Nilsdotter's role in the company was apparently extensive. She took care of the family's goods and property as well as seeing to her deceased husband's assets.

In Sweden during the 1600s it was not uncommon that women took over the business activities of their spouses after their death. When Margareta’s husband died, she inherited property as well as status, and as a widow, could sign documents and marry whomever she pleased. She had the right to self-determination.

She was most likely already an essential part of her husband's business interests. The home and the workplace were one and the same, and the services of the husband often involved the entire household: the wife, the children and the servants all took part in the work.

Arranged marriages were quite common during the 1600s. It was important to keep money, power and property within the family. Families could even marry their way into power and property, something which applied to both men and women. So it's easy to imagine how difficult it was for a young woman to turn down the marriage proposals of men who were selected for her.

After the marriage, a woman lost many of her individual rights, but even married women could act independently and testify in court.