Axel von Fersen the Elder

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Fredrik Axel von Fersen

Count Fredrik Axel von Fersen (5 April 1719 – 24 April 1794)[1] was a Swedish statesman and soldier.


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.[2]

Fersen is best known today as the father of Axel von Fersen the Younger and Sophie von Fersen, two of his four children with his wife Hedvig Catharina De la Gardie. His other two children were Fabian Reinhold von Fersen and Hedvig Eleonora von Fersen.


  1. ^ The Fersen Family Archived October 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 5 January 2009
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Fersen, Fredrik Axel von". Encyclopedia Americana. 


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Political offices
Preceded by
Henning Adolf Gyllenborg
Lord Marshal of the Riksdag of the Estates
Succeeded by
Thure Gustaf Rudbeck
Preceded by
Thure Gustaf Rudbeck
Lord Marshal of the Riksdag of the Estates
Succeeded by
Axel Gabriel Leijonhufvud
Cultural offices
Preceded by
First holder
Swedish Academy,
Chair No 7

Succeeded by
Axel Gabriel Silverstolpe