Adolf Frederick, King of Sweden

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Adolf Frederick
King adolffrederickofsweden.jpg
Adolf Frederick , painted by Antoine Pesne as elected Crown Prince of Sweden
King of Sweden
Reign 25 March 1751 – 12 February 1771
Coronation 26 November 1751
Predecessor Frederick I
Successor Gustav III
Spouse Louisa Ulrika of Prussia
Issue Gustav III
Charles XIII
Frederick Adolf, Duke of Östergötland
Sophia Albertina, Abbess of Quedlinburg
House House of Holstein-Gottorp
Father Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince of Eutin
Mother Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach
Born 14 May 1710
Gottorp, Schleswig, Duchy of Schleswig
Died 12 February 1771(1771-02-12) (aged 60)
Stockholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Burial 26 February 1771
Riddarholmen Church, Stockholm
Religion Lutheran

Adolf Frederick or Adolph Frederick (Swedish: Adolf Fredrik, German: Adolf Friedrich; 14 May 1710 in Gottorp – 12 February 1771, in Stockholm) was King of Sweden from 1751 until his death. He was the son of Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince of Eutin and Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach.

The first King from the House of Holstein-Gottorp, Adolph Frederick was a weak monarch, instated as first in line of the throne following the parliamentary government's failure to reconquer the Baltic provinces in 1741–43. Asides from a few attempts to — supported by pro-absolutist factions among the nobility — reclaim the absolute monarchy held by former predecessors, he remained a mere constitutional figurehead until his death, by popular belief attributed to a heavy consumption of semlas. His reign saw an extended period of internal peace, although the finances stagnated following failed mercantilist doctrines pursued by the Hat administration ended only in the 1765–66 parliament, where the Cap opposition overtook the government and enacted reforms towards greater economic liberalism as well as a Freedom of Press Act almost unique at the time for its curtailing of all censorship, retaining punitive measures only for libeling the monarch or the Lutheran state church.

Following his death, his son Gustav III seized power through violent means in a 1772 coup d'etat, reinstating absolute rule. The rule of the Riksdag was not to prevail again until after World War I, when universal and equal suffrage was also instated (although under Adolf Frederick a minor number of women have had the vote).

Ancestry[edit]

His father was Christian Augustus (1673—1726) duke and a younger prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp, prince-bishop of Lubeck, and administrator, during the Great Northern War, of the duchies of Holstein-Gottorp for his relative Charles Frederick. His mother was Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach.[1]

On his mother's side, Adolf Frederick descended from king Gustav I of Sweden and from Christina Magdalena, a sister of Charles X of Sweden. From both his parents he was descended from Holstein-Gottorp, a house with a number of medieval Scandinavian royal dynasties among its ancestors. Adolf Frederick was also a 13th-generation descendant of Erik V of Denmark; a 13th-generation descendant of Sophia of Denmark and Valdemar I of Sweden; and an 11th-generation descendant of Euphemia of Sweden, Duchess of Mecklenburg and her husband the duke Albrecht.

Reign[edit]

Adolf Frederick in old age as King, by Lorens Pasch the Younger

From 1727 to 1750 prince Adolf Frederick was prince-bishop of Lübeck (which meant the rulership of a fief around and including Eutin), and administrator of Holstein-Kiel during the minority of his nephew, Duke Charles Peter Ulrich, afterwards Peter III of Russia. In 1743 he was elected heir to the throne of Sweden by the Hat faction in order that they might obtain better conditions at the Peace of Turku from Empress Elizabeth of Russia,[1] who had adopted his nephew as her heir. He succeeded as Adolf Fredrik on 25 March 1751.

During his twenty-year reign Adolf Frederick was little more than a figurehead, the real power being lodged in the hands of the Riksdag of the Estates, often distracted by party strife. Twice he endeavoured to free himself from the tutelage of the estates. The first occasion was in 1755 when, stimulated by his imperious consort Louisa Ulrika of Prussia (sister of Frederick the Great), he tried to regain a portion of the attenuated prerogative, and nearly lost his throne in consequence. On the second occasion, under the guidance of his eldest son, the crown prince Gustav, afterwards Gustav III of Sweden, he succeeded in overthrowing the "Cap" senate, but was unable to make any use of his victory.[1]

His mother died a widow in Hamburg on 22 December 1755. She was a descendant of earlier royal dynasties of Sweden, granddaughter of Christina Magdalena of Palatinate, Charles X's sister.

Death[edit]

The king died on 12 February 1771 after having consumed a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, kippers and champagne, which was topped off with 14 servings of his favourite dessert: semla served in a bowl of hot milk.[2] He is thus remembered by Swedish school children as "the king who ate himself to death."[3]

He was regarded, both during his time and in later times, as dependent on others, a weak ruler and lacking of any talents. But he was allegedly also a good husband, a caring father and a gentle master to his servants. His favourite pastime was to make snuffboxes, which he allegedly spent a great deal of time doing. His personal hospitality and friendliness were witnessed by many who deeply mourned him at his death.

His portrait is included with the 16-sheet series of Princely Persons on Horseback by Johann Elias Ridinger.

Children[edit]

By his marriage to Princess Louisa Ulrika of Prussia (which took place on 18 August/29 August 1744 in Drottningholm), he had the following children:

  1. (Stillborn) (Stockholm, 18 February 1745 – Stockholm, 18 February 1745)
  2. Gustav III (1746–1792)
  3. Charles XIII (1748–1818)
  4. Frederick Adolf (1750–1803)
  5. Sofia Albertina (1753–1829)

Ancestors[edit]

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
16. John Adolf, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (=28)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
8. Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (=14)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
17. Augusta of Denmark (=29)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4. Christian Albert, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
18. John George I, Elector of Saxony (=30)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
9. Marie Elisabeth of Saxony (=15)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
19. Magdalene Sibylle of Prussia (=31)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2. Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince of Eutin
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
20. Christian IV of Denmark
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
10. Frederick III of Denmark
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
21. Anne Catherine of Brandenburg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5. Frederikke Amalie of Denmark
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
22. George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
11. Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
23. Anne Eleonore of Hesse-Darmstadt
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1. Adolf Frederick of Sweden
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
24. Frederick V, Margrave of Baden-Durlach
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
12. Frederick VI, Margrave of Baden-Durlach
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
25. Barbara of Württemberg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
6. Frederick VII, Margrave of Baden-Durlach
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
26. John Casimir, Count Palatine of Kleeburg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
13. Christina Magdalena of the Palatinate-Zweibrücken
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
27. Catharina of Sweden
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3. Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
28. John Adolf, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (=16)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
14. Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp (=8)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
29. Augusta of Denmark (=17)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
7. Augusta Marie of Holstein-Gottorp
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
30. John George I, Elector of Saxony (=18)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
15. Marie Elisabeth of Saxony (=9)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
31. Magdalene Sibylle of Prussia (=19)
 
 
 
 
 
 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Adolphus Frederick". Encyclopædia Britannica 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.  This cites:
    • R. Nisbet Bain, Gustavus III. and his Contemporaries, vol. i. (London, 1895).
  2. ^ The lowdown on Sweden's best buns The Local, February 2007
  3. ^ Semlor are Swedish treat for Lent Sandy Mickelson, The Messenger, 27 February 2008
  • Herman Lindqvist, "Historien om Sverige, Nyttan och Nöjet" (In Swedish)
Adolf Fredrik
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 14 May 1710 Died: 12 February 1771
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Fredrik I
King of Sweden
1751–1771
Succeeded by
Gustav III
Religious titles
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles Augustus of Holstein-Gottorp
(Lutheran Administrator)
Prince-Bishop of Lübeck
1727–1750
(Lutheran Administrator)
Succeeded by
Frederick August of Oldenburg
(Lutheran Administrator)