Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden: Wikis


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Gustav IV Adolf
King of Sweden
Reign 29 March 1792 – 29 March 1809
Coronation 3 April 1800
Predecessor Gustav III
Successor Charles XIII
Spouse Frederica of Baden
Gustav, Prince of Vasa
Princess Sophie
Princess Cecilia
Father Gustav III of Sweden
Mother Sophia Magdalena of Denmark
Born 1 November 1778 (1778-11)
Stockholm Palace, Sweden
Died 7 February 1837 (1837-02-08)[aged 58]
St. Gallen, Switzerland
Burial Riddarholmen Church, Stockholm
  Swedish Royalty
  House of Holstein-Gottorp
Adolf Frederick
   Gustav III
   Charles XIII
   Prince Frederick Adolf
   Princess Sophia Albertine
Gustav III
   Gustav IV Adolf
   Carl Gustav, Duke of Småland
Gustav IV Adolf
   Gustav, Prince of Vasa
   Carl Gustav, Grand Duke of Finland
   Sofia Wilhelmina, Grand Duchess of Baden
   Princess Amalia Maria Charlotta
   Princess Cecilia
Grandchildren include:
   Princess Carola
Charles XIII

Gustav IV Adolf (1 November 1778 – 7 February 1837) was King of Sweden from 1792 until his abdication in 1809. He was the son of Gustav III of Sweden and his queen consort Sophia Magdalena, eldest daughter of Frederick V of Denmark and his first wife Louise of Great Britain. He was the last Swedish ruler of Finland. Gustavia in Swedish Pomerania was named after him, but was lost in the Napoleonic Wars.


Early life

Gustav Adolph as a teenaged king

Gustav Adolf was born in Stockholm. It was rumored at the time of his birth that Gustav Adolf was the biological son of a Swedish nobleman, then Baron and later Count Adolf Fredrik Munck af Fulkila, though this has never been established. He was raised under the tutelage of his father and the liberal-minded Nils von Rosenstein. Upon Gustav III's assassination in March 1792, Gustav Adolf succeeded to the throne at the age of 14, under the regency of his uncle, Charles, duke of Södermanland, who was later to become King Charles XIII of Sweden when his nephew was forced to abdicate and flee the country in 1809.

In August 1796 his uncle the regent arranged for the young king to visit Saint Petersburg to betroth him to Catherine the Great's granddaughter, Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna. However, the whole arrangement foundered on the obstinate refusal of Gustav to allow his destined bride liberty of worship according to the rites of the Russian Orthodox Church — a rebuff which undoubtedly accelerated the death of the Russian empress. Nobody seems to have suspected the possibility at the time that emotional problems might lie at the root of Gustav's abnormal piety. On the contrary, when he came of age that year, thereby ending the regency, there were many who prematurely congratulated themselves on the fact that Sweden had now no disturbing genius, but an economical, God-fearing, commonplace monarch to deal with.


Gustav Adolf's prompt dismissal of the generally detested Gustaf Adolf Reuterholm, the duke-regent's leading advisor, added still further to his popularity. On 31 October 1797 Gustav married Friederike Dorothea, granddaughter of Karl Friedrich, Margrave of Baden, a marriage which seemed to threaten war with Russia but for the fanatical hatred of the French republic shared by the Emperor Paul of Russia and Gustav IV Adolf, which served as a bond of union between them. Indeed the king's horror of Jacobinism was morbid in its intensity, and drove him to become increasingly reactionary and to postpone his coronation for some years, so as to avoid calling together a diet. Nonetheless, the disorder of the state finances, largely inherited from Gustav III's Russian war of 1788-90, as well as widespread crop failures in 1798 and 1799, compelled him to summon the estates to Norrköping in March 1800 and on 3 April the same year. When the king encountered serious opposition at the riksdag, he resolved never to call another.

Loss of Finland

His reign was ill-fated and was to end abruptly. In 1805, he joined the Third Coalition against Napoleon. His campaign went poorly and the French occupied Swedish Pomerania. When his ally, Russia, made peace and concluded an alliance with France at Tilsit in 1807, Sweden and Portugal were left as Great Britain's European allies. On 21 February 1808, Russia invaded Finland, which consisted of provinces of Sweden, on the pretext of compelling Sweden to join Napoleon's Continental System. Denmark likewise declared war on Sweden.[citation needed] In just few months after, almost all of Finland was lost to Russia. As a result of the war, on 17 September 1809, in the Treaty of Hamina, Sweden surrendered the eastern third of Sweden to Russia. The autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland within Imperial Russia was established.

Coup d'etat and abdication

Gustav arrested.

Gustav Adolf's inept and erratic leadership in diplomacy and war precipitated his deposition through a conspiracy of army officers.

On 7 March 1809, lieutenant-colonel Georg Adlersparre, commander of a part of the so-called western army, triggered the revolution by raising the flag of rebellion and starting to march upon Stockholm. To prevent the King from joining loyal troops in Scania, on 13 March 1809 seven of the conspirators led by Carl Johan Adlercreutz broke into the royal apartments in the palace, seized the king, and imprisoned him and his family in Gripsholm castle; the king's uncle, Duke Charles (Karl), was thereupon persuaded to accept the leadership of a provisional government, which was proclaimed the same day; and a diet, hastily summoned, solemnly approved of the revolution.

On 29 March Gustav IV Adolf, to save the crown for his son, voluntarily abdicated; but on 19 May the Riksdag of the Estates, dominated by the army, declared that not merely Gustav but his whole family had forfeited the throne, perhaps an excuse to exclude his family from succession based on the rumours of his illegitimacy. A more likely cause, however, is that the revolutionaries feared that Gustav's son, if he inherited the throne, would avenge his father's deposition when he came of age. On 5 June Duke Charles (Gustav's uncle) was proclaimed king under the title of Charles XIII, after accepting a new liberal constitution, which was ratified by the diet the next day. In December Gustav and his family were transported to Germany. In 1812 he divorced from his wife.

In exile Gustav used several titles, Count Gottorp, Duke of Holstein-Eutin, and finally settled at St. Gallen in Switzerland where he lived in a small hotel in great loneliness and indigence, under the name of Colonel Gustafsson. It was there that he suffered a stroke and died. At the suggestion of King Oscar II of Sweden his body was finally brought to Sweden and interred in the Riddarholmskyrkan.



Gustav Adolf and Frederica Dorothea.

In 1797 he married Frederica Dorothea Wilhelmina of Baden (1781-1826), with whom he had five children:

  1. Crown Prince Gustav, after 1809 known as Gustaf Gustafsson, Prince of Vasa (9 November 1799-1877). He served as an officer in the service of the Habsburgs of Austria, but would never father a son of his own, only a daughter, later Queen Consort Carola of Saxony, the consort of Albert of Saxony. She in turn would die childless.
  2. Princess Sofia Wilhelmina (21 May 1801-1865). She married Grand Duke Leopold of Baden, and their granddaughter Victoria of Baden would marry the Bernadotte king Gustaf V of Sweden. (The present King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden is thus Gustav IV's heir.)
  3. Prince Carl Gustaf, Grand Duke of Finland, Duke of Småland (Drottningholm, 2 December 1802 – Haga, 10 September 1805)
  4. Princess Amelia Maria Charlotta (Stockholm, 22 February 1805 – Vienna, 31 August 1853), unmarried and without issue
  5. Princess Cecilia (22 June 1807-1844), married Augustus, Grand Duke of Oldenburg.

By 1812, Gustav Adolf divorced his consort and following this he had several mistresses, among them Maria Schlegel who gave him the son Adolf Gustafsson.


  • H. Arnold Barton, Scandinavia in the Revolutionary Era, 1760–1815, 1986, ISBN 0-8166-1392-3.
  • Sten Carlsson, Gustaf IV Adolf, 1946.

External links

Gustav IV Adolf
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 1 November 1778 Died: 7 February 1837
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gustav III
King of Sweden
Succeeded by
Duke Karl
as Regent of Sweden

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