Axel von Fersen the Elder
A son of Lieutenant-General Hans Reinhold von Fersen, he entered the Swedish Life Guards in 1740, and from 1743 to 1748 was in the French service in the Royal-Suedois, where he rose to the rank of brigadier.
In the Seven Years' War Fersen distinguished himself during the operations round Usedom and Wollin in 1759, when he inflicted serious loss on the Prussians. But it is as a politician that he is best known. At the Riksdag of 1755–1756 he was elected lantmarskalk, or marshal of the diet, until the revolution of 1772, led the Hat party. In 1756 he defeated the projects of the court for increasing the royal power; but, after the disasters of the Seven Years' War, returned to court.
On the accession of the Caps to power in 1766, Fersen refused to employ the Guards to keep order in the capital when King Adolf Frederick of Sweden, driven to desperation by the demands of the Caps, abdicated, and a seven days’ interregnum ensued. At the ensuing riksdag of 1769, when the Hats returned to power, Fersen was again elected marshal of the diet; but he made no attempt to redeem his pledges to Crown Prince Gustavus (later Gustav III).
He obstructed the measures of Gustavus III, whom he treated with colossal insolence, for several years. He was arrested in 1789 and thereafter remained aloof from politics. His book Historiska Skrifter is mainly autobiographical, but its historical accounts are often biased.
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- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
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