Axel von Fersen the Younger

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Axel von Fersen the Younger
Hans Axel von Fersen2.jpg
Count Axel von Fersen, dressed in the robes of a Swedish Privy Councilor, with the Knight collar of the Order of the Seraphim and the Commander Grand Cross collar of the Order of the Sword around his neck.
Born (1755-09-04)4 September 1755
Stockholm, Sweden
Died 20 June 1810(1810-06-20) (aged 54)
Stockholm, Sweden
Parent(s) Count Axel von Fersen the Elder
Hedvig Catharina De la Gardie

Hans Axel von Fersen ([hɑːns ˈaksɛl fɔn ˈfæʂɛn]; 4 September 1755 – 20 June 1810) was a Swedish count, Marshal of the Realm of Sweden, a Lieutenant General in the Royal Swedish Army, one of the Lords of the Realm, aide-de-camp to Rochambeau in the American Revolutionary War, diplomat and statesman. A friend of Queen Marie-Antoinette of France, he died at the hands of a Stockholm lynch mob.


Descent and early life[edit]

He was born in 1755 to the statesman and Field Marshal Axel von Fersen the Elder and the countess Hedvig Catharina De la Gardie (through her relatives to the Royal House of Vasa), and was nephew of Eva Ekeblad and grandson of General Hans Reinhold Fersen. Axel was born the second of four children. His older sister was Hedvig Eleonora (born July 2, 1753) and his two younger siblings were his sister Eva Sophie [born March 30, 1757] and his brother Fabian Reinhold (born October 7, 1762). He had two female cousins who were Swedish ladies-in-waiting and leading socialites of the Gustavian age: Ulrika von Fersen and Christina Augusta von Fersen.

It is said that his ancestors had come from Scotland to Sweden at the time of the Thirty Years' War, which took place from 1618 to 1648. Upon arriving in Sweden the family made their name quickly during the reigns of Christina [Queen regnant of Sweden from 1632 to 1654]; Charles X [King of Sweden from 1654 to 1660]; and Charles XI [King of Sweden from 1660 to 1697]. In 1735 the Fersen family purchased Steninge Palace, which overlooks lake Mälaren outside of Stockholm, Sweden.

Fersen's father, the de facto parliamentary leader of the Hats party, was politically the most influential man in Sweden at the time and also one of the richest in the realm. He was the lord of four grand houses in Sweden: Löfstad [inherited through his wife], Steninge, Ljung and Mälsåker. Additionally he owned mines, land, forests and iron foundries in Sweden and Finland. He also owned a large share of Sweden's East India Company, the country's most profitable undertaking ever.

The younger Axel was influenced to a great degree by French civilization, owing in part to his father's ties and services to Louis XV of France. Fersen's childhood tutor was a man named Jacob Johan Forslund. Even at an early age he was brought up learning different languages, including basic Latin, spoken French, and later also English, German and Italian. His later education was above all military.

The Grand Tour (1771–1775)[edit]

On 3 July 1770 Fersen made his first journey abroad with the intention of seeing the world as well as finishing his studies at various military schools and academies, including at Brunswick, Turin, Strasbourg and Lüneburg. He was accompanied by his private teacher and a servant. Besides learning languages such as French, German, and Italian, his education comprised etiquette and good manners, fencing, riding, music, and history to name but some. Although it is not known everywhere he went and his exact itinerary on this rite of passage, a rough sketch can be gleaned from his diary entries.

In October 1771 he passed through Switzerland, including the towns of Basle, Geneva, Lausanne and Ferney. In Ferney he met the philosopher Voltaire. In England nearly seven years later, Fersen looked back on that meeting:

I once had two hours of his society when I was at Geneva some years ago. M. Constant, an intimate friend of his, gave me a letter of introduction to him... I was struck by the beauty of his eyes and the vivacity of his expression. It was, I confess, curiosity rather than admiration which led me to seek his acquaintance... He was not only extremely clever, but also very lucky; and one of the reasons of his success was that he was disliked, admired and befriended by different great people in such a way that his fame could not fail to spread.[1]

In August 1772 Gustav III staged a coup d'état that overthrew parliamentary rule in Sweden. He will rule the country until his death in 1792, but from now until April of 1774 the incipient revolution in Sweden will be on a war footing with her closest neighbors, including Denmark-Norway, Russia, and Prussia.

In November of 1772, meanwhile, Fersen continued on to Turin, Italy, where he paid a visit to King Charles Emmanuel III and presumably to Marie-Antoinette's brother, Leopold, then Grand Duke of Tuscany. On January 1, 1774 his travels took him to France for the first time, where he paid court to the reigning monarch and his mistress, Louis XV and Madame du Barry. While at Versailles he attended the ceremony of the Order of the Holy Spirit. A little over a week later, Fersen met Marie-Antoinette, then Dauphine, for the first time:

The Dauphine talked to me for a long time without me knowing who she was; at last when she was recognized, everybody pressed round her and she retired into a box at three o’clock: I left the ball.[2]

On 15 February he attended another ball at Versailles, also attended by the Dauphin and Dauphine; the Dauphin's two brothers, the Comte d'Artois and the Comte de Provence; their wives; and Mme. de Lamballe, all dressed in the costume of Henry IV. Among others in Paris he met Mdm. du Deffand, the Comtesse de Brionne, Madame de Noailles, Mercy d'Argenteau and the Comtesse de La Marck.[3] During this month that Axel's sister Sophie was proposed to by Duke Frederik Adolf, the king’s youngest brother and third-in-line to the throne, though she did not accept. Fersen continued on the Grand Tour by traveling to England in the middle of May. While Fersen was in England, the French king Louis XV died from smallpox, and Louis and Marie-Antoinette became king and queen. Fersen meanwhile stayed in England for roughly four months, meeting people including King George III, Queen Charlotte, and others. By the beginning of 1775 Fersen had returned to Sweden, where he remained for approximately the next three years, serving under his king, Gustavus III.

A familiar face[edit]

In the late summer of 1778, Fersen and his friend Barrington Beaumont arrived in Paris after a three-month stay in England. With the city nearly deserted, they resolved to go to Normandy, accompanied by one of Fersen's good friends and countrymen, the Baron de Stedingk, to see a large army camp that was training under the command of the Duke of Broglie. Besides military matters, they were treated to dinner and dances attended by the officers and their wives. Afterward, Fersen and Beaumont visited the nearby monastery of La Trappe. Fersen later paid his respects to the French royal family for the first time since his Grand Tour more than three years earlier:

August 26: "Last Tuesday I went to Versailles to be presented to the royal family. The queen, who is charming, said when she saw me, 'Ah! Here is an old acquaintance.' The rest of the family did not say a word to me."

September 8: "The queen, who is the prettiest and most amiable princess that I know, has had the kindness to inquire about me often; she asked Creutz why I did not go to her card parties on Sundays; and hearing that I did go one Sunday when there was none, she sent me a sort of excuse. Her pregnancy advances and is quite visible."

November 19: The queen treats me with great kindness; I often pay her my court at her card-games, and each time she makes to me little speeches that are full of good-will. As someone had told her of my Swedish uniform, she expressed a wish to see me in it; I am to go Thursday thus dressed, not to Court, but to the queen's apartments. She is the most amiable princess that I know."[4]

A world apart from the constraints of Versailles lay Marie-Antoinette's own personal property next door in the Petit Trianon. While Versailles was fettered with elaborate etiquette and formal dress, Marie-Antoinette made the Petit Trianon all about simplicity. For example, a white gown, a gauze kerchief, and a straw hat were the uniform dress of the Princesses, in the manner of Madame Bertin's rustic down-to-earth look.[5] Her guests - only those personally invited were allowed into its private nook - were not required to stand up in her presence as they would like a subject to a queen, but rather all people there were treated equally as friends. In other words, it was the stark opposite of Versailles.

Much jealousy was caused by the queen's evening dinners and other private festivities at the Petit Trianon among those who were excluded from them. Also, as early as 1777 there was evidence of pornographic pamphlets (libelles) of the queen being sold on the very doorstep of Versailles, and even in towns which the court is known seasonally to visit, such as Compiègne, Fontainbleau, and Saint-Cloud.[6] "By the false policy of Her Majesty's advisers, these enemies and libelers...were privately hushed into silence, out of delicacy to the Queen's feelings, by large sums of money and pensions, which encouraged numbers to commit the same enormity in hope of obtaining the same recompense."[7] Little by little Marie-Antoinette was being dehumanized in the public eye, beginning in the closest circles to the queen.

The American war[edit]

While Fersen was taking the Grand Tour of Europe, the Intolerable Acts were being passed by Great Britain on her American subjects. When Fersen returned to Sweden at the age of twenty, the Americans were fighting the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill. By 1780, he convinced his friend Barrington that going to America was the only option by touching upon the fact that in France currently "it is the fashion to rhapsodize over the Americans' rebelliousness against England".[8] Benjamin Franklin, the American ambassador in France since 1776, was a big sensation in France. France had officially declared war against her "natural enemy" in February of 1778, but now in the beginning of 1780 a French contingent was finally being outfitted to fight with the rebels on North American soil.

On May 4, 1780 Fersen secured the position of aide-de-camp to General Rochambeau and sailed from the port of Brest. Nearly two months later his ship would make anchor at Narragansett Bay in Newport, Rhode Island, where the French made camp until June of the next year. In mid-September Fersen set off as part of Rochambeau's suite to meet the American General George Washington in Hartford, Connecticut. Washington's retinue included the young Alexander Hamilton, General Henry Knox and the Marquis de Lafayette. Washington attempted to persuade Rochambeau and Ternay to stage an attack against Clinton in New York before the onset of winter; the French, however, were still waiting to hear back whether France would send reinforcements from across the sea. Both sides agree that superiority of sea was essential before any undertaking. The next day it was learned that British Admiral Rodney had arrived in New York with a fleet three times the size of the British already stationed there, and Washington and Rochambeau parted quickly with the plan to remain on the defensive unless a solid opportunity presented itself. On meeting Washington, Fersen remarked:

He has the air of a hero; he is very cold, speaks little, but is polite and civil. An air of sadness pervades his whole countenance, which is not unbecoming to him, and makes him the more interesting.[9]

It was after this meeting in Hartford that Washington learnt of the betrayal of Benedict Arnold. Major John André was hanged on October 2 for his part in the betrayal. This same month Fersen wrote to his father about his burgeoning friendship with the Duc de Lauzun, who had offered him the position of proprietary colonel of his personal legion. By the end of October Rochambeau had dispatched his son the Vicomte de Rochambeau to Versailles to petition Louis to send reinforcements and aid. By the end of the year the British under Cornwallis continued to make themselves masters of the South by disembarking 3,000 more soldiers at Chesapeake Bay, yet Washington, in his delicate position, could not abandon his own position in the North without also abandoning the Hudson River and adjacent territories to the British. Both sides spent the remaining campaigning season by preparing for winter-quarters.

From March 6–13 Washington made his first visit to the French lines in Newport, Rhode Island. Some of the discussions centered on the defection of Arnold, who since turning had been causing immense havoc in Virginia. The Marquis de Lafayette was equipped with his own contingent of one thousand light infantry and headed south to mirror Arnold's moves and to check him if possible. The need was also discussed for Ternay's successor as Admiral, Destouches, to land in Virginia with succor for the Virginia militia and for Lafayette. To this effect he set sail on the 6th, but was defeated on the 16th at the Chesapeake Bay by a British fleet. On May 6 the Vicomte de Rochambeau arrived in Boston from France and made his way back to Newport. He had not been promised the reinforcements in men, but did bring back around six million livres in money and the promise that help was on its way from the West Indies in the form of Grasse's fleet, bringing with him the one element Washington and Rochambeau had agreed was indispensable to a successful campaign: superiority at sea.

After spending eleven months in Newport, Rhode Island, in total inaction, the men under Rochambeau began a march on June 12, 1781, to link up with Washington's army at Philipsburg on the Hudson. The strategy was to make a feint in order to make General Clinton believe their intended goal was the British in New York, but the two armies instead continued south through parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia in order to reach Cornwallis's position in Yorktown. On August 15 Fersen was tasked with conveying a letter from Rochambeau to Barras nearly 220 miles back in Newport. Barras had been at the ready for a signal to join Grasse's fleet at the Chesapeake. The rest of the army set out south from Philipsburg two days later. Word reached the troops in early September of Grasse's victory in gaining control of the Chesapeake Bay, and by the end of the month Washington, commanding around 8,000 Continentals, 7,800 Frenchmen, and 3,100 militia, has Cornwallis surrounded in Yorktown. By October 19 the British have surrendered the town, and consequently hastened the end of the war. Axel and the rest of the French then winter in and around Williamsburg until June of next year (1782). Fersen writes from his winter quarters:

All our young colonels of the Court are going away to pass their winter in Paris...I shall remain here. I have no reason for going to Paris, except pleasure, and I must sacrifice that. We have gone into winter quarters and are established at Williamsburg...The cold weather is setting in, and we are not very well off for blankets but have to eke them out with our cloaks. The few remaining officers are extremely dull and depressed: you know French courtiers, and so can imagine the dismay with which they contemplate a long winter here - no women, no suppers, no plays, no balls! Nothing short of immediate action will console them.[10]

Fersen, while waiting out the winter, takes some time to tour the state of Virginia. Anticipating the American Civil War nearly eighty years later, he remarks that he wouldn't be surprised to see Virginia separate herself from the rest of the states at some point due to the strain of "aristocracy" prevalent there as opposed to the northern states. After the winter ends it is still unclear to the men if they will continue campaigning in the West Indies or return home with the end of the war. By the end of November Axel is encamped in Boston where the fleet is being made ready to sail. In December 1782 they make sail for the West Indies and Venezuela but word reaches them of the signing of peace and the ships head back to France. Axel arrives back in Brest in June of 1783.[11]

Years leading up to the Revolution (1783–1787)[edit]

Following the end of hostilities, the United States and Sweden concluded a Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Fersen was awarded the Order of Cincinnatus by Washington, though he was forbidden by his monarch to wear a medallion earned fighting in a republican war.

On September 20, 1783 Fersen planned on leaving for Sweden to see his family. It had been six years since he last saw his home country. While passing through Strasbourg he met up with his brother Fabian, who was traveling abroad on the Grand Tour. Before he got there, however, Gustavus III asked him to join his suite in Germany as Captain of the Guard. Gustavus was planning on making war on Denmark, and was currently on a trip through the Continent to see if he could secure aid. Gustavus promoted Fersen to titulary-colonel in the Swedish army, chevalier of the Order of the Sword, and lieutenant-colonel of the light-horse cavalry of the king. Gustavus also used his influence to persuade Louis to have Fersen appointed proprietary colonel of the Royal Suédois French Army infantry regiment. Louis also appointed Fersen second-colonel of the Royal Deux-Ponts regiment and chevalier of the Order of Military Merit.

Fersen reached Gustavus at Nuremberg, where they were visited by the Duke of Brunswick (who would command the Allied forces when war broke out with France in 1792). They followed him to Quedlinburg, from where they continued on to Italy, passing through Verona and Pisa before reaching Florence, where they stayed for a month. Here they were surprised and entertained by two of Marie-Antoinette's brothers, Joseph II and Leopold. From there they travelled to Rome where they met with Pope Pius VI. Early in 1784 the suite travelled to Naples to escape the cold weather. Gustavus returned to Rome after this, where he received the news that there has been a change of administration in Denmark and with the death of Trolle in Stockholm in March, their program of building up their naval armaments ended. From Rome they continued on to Venice.[12]

On June 7, 1784 Fersen returned to Versailles from Italy with Gustavus, who concluded a treaty of alliance with France on the 19th of the month. On June 27 Gustavus and the rest of his suite were invited to the Petit Trianon by the French royal family. Fersen, Taube and Armfelt sat in the royal box beside Marie-Antoinette, while Louis and Gustavus stood behind them.

A month later Fersen returned to Sweden, tasking himself with the job of getting a dog for Marie-Antoinette, which she named Odin. By mid-May through June of 1785 Fersen was dividing his time between Paris and Versailles, while also spending time with his new regiment in Valenciennes. While this was going on, the Diamond Necklace Affair took place, and only months later the Cardinal de Rohan was arrested, bringing the affair to public knowledge. Fersen wrote to his father in September that everyone believed the queen [Marie-Antoinette] had fooled the king. On October 15 Necker's daughter Germaine was betrothed to Fersen's kinsmen Staël. Concerning the event Fersen wrote to his friend Barrington Beaumont:

Ne me plaignez pas, mon ami for I am convinced that this marriage will suit him much better than it would have suited me. Entre nous, I never thought of it except to please my father, and I am not at all sorry it cannot be.[13]

Despite Marie-Antoinette's continuing decline in popularity, especially after the May trials of the culprits involved in the Diamond Necklace affair, things brightened with the birth of Sophie Hélène Béatrice in July. Louis also left Versailles for the first time since his coronation in Reims to watch the submersion of a cone at Cherbourg harbor. In August of 1786 Calonne finally apprised Louis XVI of the desperate state of the French finances, and by the very end of the year it was announced formally that there would be a convening of an Assembly of Notables to discuss future measures.

The French Revolution[edit]

In late-February of 1787 the Assembly of Notables was finally convened. Fersen was able to attend the closing of the last day of that meeting, and described the gathering as "imposing".[14] For the entire summer of 1787 Fersen stayed with his regiment in Valenciennes, excepting the occasional visit to Versailles. He had secretly been entrusted by Gustavus III with the role of special envoy to the king and queen of France over his kinsmen Staël, the latter being suspected of being won over to republicanism and no longer trustworthy. Some sensitive diplomatic contacts between Sweden and France were therefore conducted not through the Swedish embassy but through Fersen. To be closer to Paris he moved into a house in Auteuil borrowed from Count Esterhazy.

Sometime during the summer/autumn Fersen stood in as Gustav’s proxy at the baptism of the child of Germaine de Staël and her husband at the Lutheran Chapel in the Swedish Embassy. Later in the spring of 1788 Fersen joined Gustav for the latter's Finnish campaign against Russia as lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Horse Guards[15] but by December of 1788 Fersen was again with his French regiment in Valenciennes, France to witness the following:

All men’s minds are in a ferment. Nothing is talked of but a constitution. The women especially are joining in the hubbub, and you know as well as I what influence they have in this country. It is a mania, everybody is an administrator and can talk only of progress; the lackeys in the antechambers are occupied in reading the pamphlets that come out, ten or twelve in a day, and I do not know how the printing-presses can do the work.[16]

On May 2, 1789 the Estates-General finally met. Fersen and Beaumont sat in one of the boxes of the Salle des Menus Plaisirs on May 5 as Louis read his opening speech. Before long, however, the Third Estate reconstituted itself as the National Assembly, arguing that the three orders were no more than arbitrary divisions of one body. By the end of June, the monarchy had reinforced its concentration of regiments around the capital, ostensibly to contain disorders in and around Paris, although many believed the troops will be turned against the recalcitrant Third Estate. Fersen wrote:

They have brought about 12,000 to 15,000 troops into the neighborhood of Versailles, La Muette, Meudon, etc. What is most grievous is that they are not sure of the French soldier, and they are forced to employ foreigners as much as possible.[16]

Many of the other two orders had since come over to the side of Third, and things reached a fever pitch on 20 June when the Third Estate was locked out of the Salle de Menus Plaisirs ostensibly for work repairs. They instead met at a nearby indoor tennis court and took the Tennis Court Oath, swearing to God and the Patrie never to be separated until they have formed a solid and equitable Constitution as their constituents have asked them to'.[17] On July 14 the Invalides and the Bastille were both stormed and taken, coming only two days after the Lambesc affair. On July 16 Fersen was at Versailles with the king and queen and others where there was debate on how the government was going to deal with the incipient revolution in Paris. At last after much discussion, Louis decided to go to Paris with the guardsmen to show his personal goodwill towards the revolution, yet he implored all the royal family and attendants to make plans for their safety. The Princess de Lamballe (who in 1792 would lose her life in the September Massacres) related the scene:

No sooner, however, had the King left the room than it was as much as the Count de Fersen, Princess Elizabeth, and all of us could do to recover [the Queen] from the most violent convulsions. At last, coming to herself, she the same time requesting Fersen to follow [Louis] to the Hôtel de Ville. Again and again she implored him, as she went, in case the King should be detained, to interest himself with all the foreign ministers to interpose for his liberation.[18]

Fersen and the Venetian Ambassador Pisani helped the Duchess de Polignac into her coach as she made her way out of Versailles in disguise, and she was followed by the Prince de Condé, Conti, and Bourbon, the Polignacs, the Comte d'Artois and his family, Baron de Breteuil, the Abbé Vermond and many others. Fersen left, following Louis' departure for the capital and arrived in time to watch Louis take the national cockade from the mayor Bailly and placed it in his own hat. Bailly gave Louis the keys to the city of Paris at the same time as he humbled the king by claiming it was to the people that he owed his sovereignty. On August 8 the August Decrees were enacted, in which many particularisms of the ancien régime were thrown on the bonfire, including the abolition of tithes and hereditary titles. Fersen wrote from Valenciennes:

Riots are taking place in all the cities of the kingdom…So far all is confined to breaking into the tax offices and opening the prisons, for it is the lowest of the populace who make the disorder. The bourgeoisie was immediately armed and that did much to restore tranquility. We have had our little riot here but it is all over. Now the idle scoundrels have spread themselves over the country districts; they are pillaging, or putting under contribution all the abbeys and châteaux. They are hunted everywhere, and yesterday, in one spot, we captured 119; many more will probably be taken... Disorder is increasing throughout the country. The [new militia in Paris] has better pay than in our regiments and there are no means not employed to entice them. It is said that…there have been, since July 13th, 12,750 deserters, without counting the gardes françaises. The king’s authority is totally annihilated, so is that of the parliaments and the magistrates. The States-General themselves tremble before Paris, and this fear greatly influences their deliberations.[16]

Months later, in October, with the revolution radiating to the rest of the country from Paris and the once royal army in near-total disintegration, the Flanders Regiment was brought to Versailles to replace the French Guards who had mutinied. The king's bodyguard decided to host a fraternal dinner party at for the regiment, and Fersen and Beaumont attended also. Despite having reservations at first, the king and queen made an appearance towards the end. This banquet, however, provided fuel for the market women march on Versailles four days later, when it was rumored that the tricolor [cockade] was trampled upon at the banquet and disrespected. Fersen was still in Versailles to witness the latter event also.

On the morning of October 5, a large crowd of some 6,000 to 7,000 market women gathered. As well as demanding bread, they insisted that the royal bodyguard be punished, and after nearly sacking the Hôtel de Ville in search of arms, they began the march to Versailles to bring their demands before the king. To this crowd was attached a group of some 15,000 rank and file of the National Guard. Although barred from entering the grounds of Versailles, the Salles des Menus Plaisirs was invaded by hundreds of the women who, though reassured to a degree that the government was doing all they could in respect of the food shortages, still asked to see the king themselves. At around 5:30am the next morning, an armed crowd managed to find their way into the palace grounds by way of the Cour des Ministres and made their way to the royal apartments. Two of the royal bodyguards were killed but before any harm could come to the royal family, the first companies of National Guards advanced through the crowds and restored order. Louis agreed to go to the balcony of the Cour de Marbre and tell the crowd that he would return with them to Paris. Fersen recounts the departure in his diaries:

I was witness of it all and I returned to Paris in one of the carriages of the king's suite: we were six hours and a half on the way [to Paris]. God keep me from ever again seeing so afflicting a sight as that of those two days.[19]

Flight to Varennes[edit]

"I have to be away tonight," said Axel, "and I will return for a few hours on Tuesday if I can...It is supposed that I am going to Varennes to join my regiment."

"But I need not suppose so?" I queried.

"Not unless you like...If I have not arrived at Arlon by twelve on Friday night, come back to Paris, unlock my bureau, and burn everything you find...; and, if within the next twenty-four hours you hear I am killed or imprisoned, burn all my papers. But I hope it will not come to that, for we have so arranged matters....."[20]

Conversation recalled by Barrington Beaumont on the afternoon of June 20th, 1791

Although the situation of the royal family was bad before, things became considerably more desperate on April 18, 1791 when they were prevented by a large hostile crowd from traveling to Saint-Cloud to attend Mass. Escape plans had been broached earlier by the Comte de Mirabeau, who, once one of the Revolution's earliest heroes, had since May of 1790 been intriguing with the royal family. To this effect Mirabeau has many conversations with Fersen on the subject, but Mirabeau's death on April 2, 1791 put an end to that.[21] Following the events concerning the aborted trip to Saint Cloud, Fersen revived these plans with vigor. In June he had acquired a berline and drove it to a courtyard at Eleanore Sullivan's residence on the Rue de Clichy in Paris. The escape was arranged to take place on April 20 coinciding with a particular guard change.

Fersen saw the queen earlier on that, but the escape did not take place until later that night. At 11:15pm the royal children were brought out without difficulty. At 11:45 the king's sister Madame Elizabeth appears, followed by Louis himself. A half hour later they were still waiting for Marie-Antoinette. However, she came out at the same time as the torchlit carriage of Lafayette appeared with some of his men, though she was able to conceal herself enough to avoid detection. Lafayette, with the royal family slipping away practically in front of his eyes, was coincidentally the man in charge of keeping security tabs on them.

Fersen drove the carriage first from the Place du Carrousel to the Porte Saint-Martin. After driving rapidly away through the deserted streets, he decided to call at Eleanore's house to find if his German coachman has started off with the berline as instructed. To this effect he took a slight detour and stopped a little beyond the house. After finding that all was according to plan, they set off again to the Barrier Saint-Martin where the berline was found and the glass coach they had started in left deserted. Fersen hold the reins as far as Bondy, seven miles from Paris, where the queen's maids and a fresh relay of horses awaited them. They took the post road and Fersen took the road to Bourget, departing each other a little before 3 am. If thing went well Fersen was to meet them there; if not, the contingent plan was for him to travel to Brussels to deliver an important letter to the Austrian ambassador Mercy d'Argenteau, and to take action to stir the other European powers to action.

It was decided by Bouillé that when the carriage reached Pont de Somme-Vesle, the young Duc de Choiseul would provide a military escort, but by 4:30pm the royal family was two hours late for the rendezvous. He at last led his men off convinced that the plan has miscarried. The royal family reached Pont de Somme-Vesle only shortly afterward. Sainte-Menehould was reached at 8pm and Clermont an hour-and-a-half later. Varennes was finally reached on 22 April around 11pm, but here they were discovered and eventually held in custody until troops from the National Convention arrived. They departed Varennes surrounded by 6,000 armed citizens and National Guardsmen. Having left behind him a long declaration which has been read and published in all the newspapers in his absence, Louis himself had made it impossible to sustain the pretense that he had been "abducted".

War against France (1791–1793)[edit]

Even before the royal family has returned to Paris, it was discovered that Fersen was one of the people who facilitated their escape, and a warrant was put out for his arrest. With no options left in France, Fersen began to arrange matters from the outside. At Koblenz, in Germany, he put himself in touch with the exiled princes, including the Comte d'Artois and the former Controller-General Calonne, where plans were being hatched to convince the other European powers to declare war on France. At the end of June, in Aix-la-Chapelle, Fersen discussed this argument with Gustavus III, suggesting that Crawford would go in his place to England in order to better find out the British position as regards the French monarchy. While in Brussels, Fersen worked out a cypher code and secret methods of writing with his friend Barrington in order to forward any news to him that might arrive. This method will also be used when Fersen and Marie-Antoinette write to each other:

The simplest plan was to write an ordinary letter with the lines rather far apart, and then to write the real information between the lines, using milk instead of ink. The milk calligraphy was invisible until the paper was covered with coal or other dust; when the dust was shaken off, the secret writing stood out as black as that for which ink had been used. In this manner we wrote to each other, and sent the letters by couriers...[22]

From August 2 to 14 Fersen was in Vienna to discuss the situation with Marie-Antoinette's brother Leopold, now Emperor. On August 27, 1791 the Declaration of Pillnitz was issued from Pillnitz Castle near Dresden: it declared the joint support of the Holy Roman Empire and Prussia for King Louis XVI against the Revolution but stipulated that Austria would go to war if and only if all the other major European powers followed them in a war with France, which at this point in time not likely of happening. Fersen, a few days later, wrote on the state of preparations to Count Coblentz:

As to Ostend, he told me that vessels of war cannot enter that port; that the season was too far advanced to send troops this year; moreover, we must know what England and Holland would say to the arrival of a fleet in that port. I can see clearly that they are dragging things along purposely to prevent the king of Sweden from sending troops this year; they fear his activity, and also that he may command in person. They want to avoid acting, or else to act alone if it becomes necessary. Nothing is being done; the requisitions have not been sent, although they assure me the troops are to march at once. They are all agreed that the congress must be an armed one; but they are losing time awaiting replies and doing nothing positive. My conversation with Coblentz has made me lose heart. I see a well-formed plan to do only trifling things over the winter, to try to patch up matters for the time being, and not to act until spring, and not then unless it is absolutely necessary.[23]

One December day in 1791 Fersen confided with his friend Barrington Beaumont about another possible escape attempt for the royal family that was formed by the king of Sweden and Baron Taube. Because the roads were all closely watched, it was decided that Louis should escape through the woods under the pretext of going out to hunt and escape by sea, while Fersen would convey Marie-Antoinette and the children by another route. Fersen announced his decision to go to Paris to bring the plan before the king. Preparations were made and the departure date scheduled for February 3, but word got out of a suspected escape attempt and security tightened over the royal family. Fersen and Beaumont resolved to go anyway and a week later set out for Paris. Fersen, donning a large wig and false moustache, assumed the identity of a minister plenipotentiary of the Queen of Portugal. They arrived in Paris two days later without difficulty, and both Fersen and Beaumont were able to sneak into the Tuileries and speak with Marie-Antoinette. The next day Fersen laid the escape plan before Louis. However, Louis believed they were under such close watch that they would not be able to make any moves, and that he would only allow himself to be guided through the woods on the approach of the allied armies. Moreover, he added that he was not in a position to refuse any of the demands of the revolutionists. As he told Fersen:

I know that I am called feeble and irresolute, but no one has ever been in a position such as mine. It is true that I lost the opportune moment; it was July 14, I ought to have gone then, but you must remember that monsieur himself entreated me to stay, and the Marechal de Broglie said, "We can go to Metz certainly, but what is to be done when we get there?" I lost the opportunity, and it has not come again.[24]

After heading back to their hotel one evening, both Fersen and Barrington were treated to the rantings of their innkeeper who, unaware of the identities of his disguised guests, entreated them to all the popular calumnies of l'Autrichienne and the flight of the king to Varennes. As Beaumont remembers:

Though I was prepared for anything, I admit I felt extremely uncomfortable when my host remarked that "If Count Fersen ever ventured into Paris he would be torn in pieces." Fersen listened impassively, with an air of polite interest, shrugged, and amiably assented.[25]

That night Fersen was able to see the king and queen for one more time, which, unbeknownst to him, was to be the last time. After this Fersen and Beaumont headed back north. Outside of Cambrai, their carriage was stopped by a Frenchman doubting the authenticity of their passport, but with Fersen feigning sleep, Beaumont managed to talk himself out of trouble and they were able to continue on.

On March 16 Gustav III was shot at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm. He would die from his wounds almost two weeks later. In Sweden Gustav's younger brother, the Duke Karl, becaeme regent to the underage Gustav IV. On April 20, France officially declared war on Austria, and just over a week later French troops set foot on foreign soil in the Austrian Netherlands. On June 20 the Tuileries was stormed by a large crowd and Louis is made to wear a red bonnet of liberty and drinks a toast to the health of the people of Paris and the Nation. This is the coup that now ushered in the truly radical phase of the Revolution: the violent overthrow of the educated elite and notables who have dominated the Constituent and the reforming enterprises since the 1770s. Three days later Marie-Antoinette was able to get an encrypted letter out to Fersen: "Your friend is in the greatest danger. His illness is making terrible progress... Tell his relations about his unfortunate situation". Fersen meanwhile is attempting to send an emissary to England to persuade the king to go on the offensive and to declare that if innocent lives are attacked there will be retribution. On August 1 the Brunswick Manifesto was issued by the Duke of Brunswick, commander of the Allied forces.

They are working at the manifesto. I have written one which I gave to M. de Limon, and he has given it to M. de Mercy [d'Argenteau], without his knowing that it is mine. It is very good, and such as they ought to desire. Nothing is promised to anyone, no party is affronted, we are pledged to nothing, and Paris is made responsible for the king and family.[26]

By November it was decided whether Louis could be tried in a court of law, and if so which one. On November 7, following the French victory at Jemappes, Fersen wrote from Brussels:

Breteuil came to tell me that the Austrians have been defeated before Mons…that retreat from Brussels is decided on…At nine o’clock the news was made public; consternation and fear general; nothing as seen but people running about in search for means to get away. For two days there had been orders to give no post horses without permission. I went to tell the news to Crawford and get them to pack their things. I packed mine and we arranged to go together, with Simolin, by Antwerp to Breda... The whole road from Mons was covered with war equipages and carts with wounded... I was engaged to dine with the Neapolitan ambassador; he sent to excuse himself. We had fixed our departure for the net day, but Mercy, who came in the evening to see Mme. Sullivan,... said he was not going to Ruremond, but to Düsseldorf, and begged us to come there too.[27]

On January 21, 1793 Louis XVI was guillotined at the Place de Grève. Fersen hears the news while in Cologne: "Received last night at 10:30, from the Archbishop of Tours, the sad details of the death of the king of France".[28] On February 1 France officially declared war against Great Britain and the Dutch Republic. By the end of March, however, the tide was beginning to turn against the French in the Netherlands. The general in charge of the northern army, Dumouriez, was defeated March 18 at Neerwinden and again three days later at Louvain. On 18 March Fersen was able to meet with him:

We struggled through a crowd of people and found him in a lower room, the windows besieged by the people outside. He was alone with three aides-de-camp. He recognized Simolin [Russian ambassador to France]; I named myself; he made me a compliment, saying he ought to have known me by my handsome face. I thanked him for his courtesies to Berlin; he answered that if he had not done more it was not his fault, but that of circumstances. I told him that I was very glad to see him here; he answered that he had long intended it... He said his plan had been to capture and deliver up [to the Prince de Coburg] Lille, Condé, Valenciennes, and Maubeuge, with the commissioners who were there to serve as hostages; that this plan had partly failed through the imbecility of those he intrusted with it; but the proposal had already been made to exchange the four commissioners against the royal family; that his opinion had been that everything should be granted to get possession of the royal family; after that, no terms should be kept with those wretches; and finally, he said that even if the republic were recognized, the war should be continued to see which were the stronger, it or the Powers. — On the whole, I found him a true Frenchman, vain, confident, heedless; with much intelligence and little judgment. His scheme failed through excess of confidence in his strength and in his influence with the army.[29]

The armies of the Duke of Brunswick meanwhile, despite sitting on the fringes of France, become bogged down in what Fersen describes as "an ill-chosen and disastrous defensive". On August 2 Marie-Antoinette was moved to the Conciergerie while awaiting her trial. During this time Fersen was still attempting to find any hope of saving her and the remaining royal family. On 11 August he writes:

Having talked with La Marck on the means of saving the queen, and agreeing that there were none except to push forward at once a strong body of cavalry to Paris - which would be the easier to do at this moment, because there are no troops before the city and the granaries are full, - I went to see Mercy about it and found him all ice to the idea... He believes the royal family lost and that nothing can be done for them. He does not think the factious would negotiate.[30]

On October 6, 1793, Fersen managed to pay Drouet a visit at the Saint-Elizabeth prison on the slim hope of hearing any news that might be of use. Drouet was the postmaster who recognized Louis on his flight to Varennes and was able to alert the authorities in time to stop them. Beaumont relates the scene from his memoirs:

Fersen stood with his back to the light, wasted as few words as possible, and was stony in manner; even when both Drouet and the officer had the effrontery to assure him that Madame Capet was very well treated, had all she wished, and was in no danger, he did not comment. Could Madame de Staël have witnessed, she would doubtless have reiterated her usual observation as to his icy coldness of temperament, and his absolute insensitivity and passionless. I should have said that his nerves were strained almost to snapping, and that to see and speak to this Drouet was an almost unbearable test, even of his remarkable self-control. Still, though I imagined I had some idea of how he must be feeling, I was not prepared for him to speak as he did when he was alone with me...[31]

Marie-Antoinette was executed ten days later. Fersen heard the news of this while in Brussels:

Though I was prepared for it and expected it since the transfer to the Conciergerie, I was devastated by the reality. I did not have the strength to feel anything. I went out to talk about this misfortune with my friends and Madame de Fitz-James and the Baron de Breteuil, whom I did not find... I thought about her constantly, about all the horrible circumstances of her sufferings, of the doubt she might have had about me, my attachment, my interest. That thought tortured me.[32]

Later years (1793–1810)[edit]

Fersen returned to Sweden, from where he was forced to watch the ever increasing expansion of the French revolutionary empire.[33] In late-December of 1793 Fersen was suspected of possible complicity in Baron Armfeldt’s conspiracy to deprive the Duke of Sudermania of the regency and Fersen was deprived of his diplomatic appointments and his post as ambassador. At the end of April 1794, Fersen's father died, leaving him with the estate at Ljung and Fersen's sister Sophie with the estate at Löfstad.

In November of 1796 Prince Gustav was declared of age and become King Gustav IV Adolf. His accession restored Fersen, Arnfelt, and other supporters of the late Gustav III back to favor at court. Fersen and his best friend Baron Taube became two of the most influential advisors to the young king, inculcating in him a "steadfast opposition to Revolutionary France, close relations with Russia, and hostility to Denmark, with the ultimate objective of acquiring Norway".[34]

In November of 1797 Fersen attended the Second Congress of Rastatt and met general Napoleon Bonaparte:

When I called at his hotel to pay my compliments he asked would I be kind enough to tell him what minister from Sweden is now in Paris. As you know, there is none. My reply was necessarily vague. Then he said that it was astounding that the Court of Sweden should behave in such a manner towards a nation, with which it had been on more or less friendly terms for a long while. Before I had time to respond, he remarked that the Court of Sweden seemed to take a pleasure in sending agents and ambassadors who were personally disagreeable to every French citizen.

“No doubt,” said he, “the king of Sweden would regard with disfavor a French minister who had attempted to raise the people of Stockholm against him. On the same principle, the French Republic ought not to allow men too well known for their connection with the late King and Queen of France to be sent to mock the minister of the first nation on earth.”

It was impossible not to understand this. I felt somewhat as I had felt the day we interviewed Drouet, and I preserved the same apparent indifference. I looked down serenely at M. le Général and merely said that I would make known to my Court what I had just heard; and I left him.[35]

While in Germany Fersen made a trip to Karlsruhe to secure for Gustav IV Adolf the hand of the Princess Friederike of Baden, whom the latter married in October. In 1799, following his return to Sweden from Germany, Fersen was appointed as one of the Lords of the Realm. In the fall of that year there was cause for concern in the Swedish government as many of the middle-class and the students at the University of Uppsala sympathized openly with the revolution in France. After students at Uppsala celebrate the return of Bonaparte to France from his Italian campaigns, Gustav IV Adolf appointed Fersen as Chancellor of Uppsala. According to Adlerbeth, this amounted to "a declared French royalist being made the Swedish Jacobins' schoolmaster". Over this winter a wave of rioting occurred in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Norrköping, Linköping, Malmö and other Swedish towns following the onset of a severe winter and famine. Fersen wrote:

Who, given the spirit that now prevails, can guarantee that there will not be a general upheaval.[36]

With the state bordering on financial bankruptcy and poor harvests and declining trade undermining his efforts to resolve the issue without recourse to parliament, Gustav Adolf reluctantly announced the first assembling of the Estates of his reign. The Riksdag was held in the provincial city of Norrköping to avert the dangers of meeting in the climate of the capital. In April an attempt to trick the Uppsala orchestra into performing a composition containing an excerpt from the Marseillaise led to the trial and punishment of four known radicals of the university, one of whom was dismissed. The 'Music trial' proved the deathblow to what remained of Uppsala radicalism over the preceding decade. The Riksdag, meanwhile, dissolved in mid-June, but not before several prominent aristocrats walked out and renounced their noble status. Though creating a much-talked about sensation, they had virtually left a vacuum in the political field which their rivals filled.

The next year Fersen's mother Hedvig-Catharina de La Gardie died. In 1801 Fersen was appointed Marshal of the Realm. He was now the highest official in the court of Sweden. Around this time Fersen's sister Sophie had returned to Sweden from Germany after the death of Evert Taube, and now took over Fersen's household in lieu of any wife. In 1803 Fersen attended the meeting of the Imperial Diet in Dresden. In December 1804 Napoleon was officially crowned Emperor of the French, though he had exercised nearly unchallenged power since his coup in November of 1799. In 1805 Sweden joined the Third Coalition against France.

Swedish politics and death[edit]

Fersen killed by the mob

Following the overthrow and exile of King Gustavus IV in 1809 a dispute over the Royal succession divided the nobility and much of Swedish society. Fersen, now Earl Marshal of Sweden led a political faction, ("the Gustavians"), which supported the candidacy for the crown of Gustavus' son against that of the popular Crown Prince Charles August.[37]

On May 28, 1810, while reviewing troops in Scania, Charles August fell from his horse and died from apoplexy. Rumors ran strong throughout the country that he had been poisoned by the partisans of Gustav IV, of whom Fersen had been a personal friend. Fersen and his sister Sophie were seen as prime suspects. Fersen's friend Barrington Beaumont, who had been out of touch with his friend for the past sixteen years, traveled to Sweden only five days before the Crown Prince's sudden death. During this time Fersen and his sister were abused in public and Fersen received anonymous death threats.

June 20, 1810 was the date set for the Crown Prince's public funeral. The Livgarde till Häst (Horse Guards) Regiment formed the advance guard in the procession; Fersen, as Marshal of the Realm, and other court dignitaries rode in coaches before the coffin; while the rear of the procession was brought up by a squadron of cavalry which had accompanied the Crown Prince's remains from Scania. Foot Guards paraded on the Riddarhustorget. Early in the morning Fersen left in a gilded white coach drawn by six white horses. General Silfversparre, commander of the Stockholm garrison was alerted of the possibility of disturbances but may himself have been a member of the court party that opposed Fersen.[38] The procession, meanwhile, proceeded slowly through the Hornsgatan and the Södermalm Square but was met with threats and insults as soon as it entered the city.[39]

First curses then copper coins and various missiles were hurled at the carriage till its windows were broken; then savage threats and showers of stones become continuous, and, at last in the Riddarhustorget, at the instant when the escort was turning to the right, a tremendous crowd barred the way of Fersen's carriage...the [guards] remained passive while the rabble unharnessed the horses, and dragged Fersen out of the coach.

Fersen, with a violent effort, flung back one of the ruffians who grasped him, and shook himself free of the others who were pressing round. There was a momentary lull; the curses shrank from shouts to mutterings. His face bled where a stone had cut it; his decorations were glittering in the sun; the guards, who were supposed to protect him, gazed at him with a sort of curious expectancy.[40]

It was at this moment when Beaumont arrived on the scene with General Silfversparre and a small detachment of troops. This intervention further enraged the large crowd. Fersen, realizing that the authorities planned to do nothing, turned and dashed into the first door that he could find. The crowd converged on this spot and a few ran into the house in pursuit of him.

Silfversparre, and I, and our sixteen men were utterly helpless, so tightly were we wedged in the crowd that we might just as well have been blocks of wood for all the power we had of independent movement. We were carried along by the surging crowd, and it seemed to me as though hell were let loose around us.[41]

Before long one man appeared at the window, "and with a triumphant shout", hurled down Fersen's cloak and sword, which were seized by the angry crowd. Fersen was dragged back out into the square. His gloves were pulled off and thrown in his face and his coat torn off and trampled upon. Silfversparre, attempting to save Fersen, offered to arrest him and have him tried in court for the Crown Prince's murder. At this moment the mounted escort turned and rode away. The mob "which had been almost quiet, but now raised yells of delight and triumph, and fell upon Axel".[42]

Fersen's contemporary, Baron Gustaf Armfelt, stated afterward that "One is almost tempted to say that the government wanted to give the people a victim to play with, just as when one throws something to an irritated wild beast to distract its attention. The more I consider it all, the more I am certain that the mob had the least to do with it... But in God's name what were the troops about? How could such a thing happen in broad daylight during a procession, when troops and a military escort were actually present?"

Axel von Fersen died that day in Stockholm as formally Sweden’s highest-ranking official next to the King. His death sent shock waves throughout the country. The cause of death was determined to be "crushing of the ribcage" when the Swedish-Finn Otto Johan Tandefelt dressed as a sailor jumped with both feet on Fersen's chest.[43]


A few months after the murder Axel von Fersen and his family were cleared of any suspicion connected with the death of Carl August of Augustenburg, and he finally received a state burial with all pomp and ceremony. His sister Sophie Piper thereafter withdrew from Stockholm to her Löfstad manor, near Norrköping. Here she raised a memorial to her brother, with the inscription:

Åt en oförgätlig broder, mannamodet uti hans sista stunder den 20 juni 1810 vittna om hans dygder och sinnes lugn (English: To an unforgettable brother, the courage in his last moments on the 20th of June 1810, bears testimony to his virtues and clean conscience)

Relationship with Marie-Antoinette[edit]

The young nobleman was, from the first, a prime favorite at the French court, owing partly to the recollection of his father's devotion to France, but principally because of his own amiable and brilliant qualities. Queen Marie-Antoinette, who had first met Fersen when they both were eighteen (January 1774), was especially attracted by the grace and wit of "le beau" Fersen. However, it was nearly four years later on Fersen's second visit to France in the summer of 1778 when the relationship blossomed. Here he was accepted by Marie-Antoinette into her trusted circle and invited to her private gatherings at the Petit Trianon. It seems that the friendship grew very quickly in a short time and caused much jealousy among those at court. By the account of Barrington Beaumont, his friend left for the war in America in the early part of 1780 to avoid causing a scandal as it was known widely that the two were close and it was rumored that he was the Queen's lover.[44] He writes in his memoirs that Axel then asked Creutz to use his influence as Swedish ambassador to France to get him [Axel] appointed as aide-de-camp to Rochambeau. According to Creutz in a letter to Gustav III:

The young Count Fersen has been so well received by the queen that this has given umbrage to several persons. I own that I cannot help thinking that she had a liking for him; I have seen too many indications to doubt it. The conduct of the young count has been admirable on this occasion for its modesty and reserve, but above all, in the decision he made to go to America. By thus departing he avoided all dangers; but it needed, evidently, a firmness beyond his years, to surmount that seduction. The queen's eyes could not leave him, during the last days, and they often filled with tears.[45]

The idea that somewhere along the line Marie-Antoinette and Axel consummated their love for each other is speculation. It is simply impossible to state how far the relationship went. It was difficult for the Queen of France to remain alone for long; she was almost always accompanied by others, such as attendants of the court. The idea that the relationship was platonic is also an open question and speculation. At the time that Marie-Antoinette was rumored to be Axel's lover she was also rumored to be the lovers of the Duc d'Orléans, the Comte d'Artois and others.


8. Count Reinhold Johan von Fersen
4. Count Hans Reinhold von Fersen
9. Anna Sophia von Ungern-Sternberg
2. Count Fredrik Axel von Fersen
10. Axel Wachtmeister, Count of Mälsåker
5. Countess Eleonora Margareta Wachtmeister
11. Baroness Anna Maria Soop
1. Count Hans Axel von Fersen
12. Axel Julius De la Gardie
6. Magnus Julius De la Gardie
13. Sofia Juliana Arvidsdotter Forbus
3. Hedvig Catharina De la Gardie
14. Count Axel Johan Lillje
7. Countess Hedvig Catharina Lilje
15. Agneta Wrede |}

Portrayal in popular culture[edit]

  • In 1938, von Fersen was portrayed by Tyrone Power in the film Marie Antoinette, opposite Norma Shearer as Marie-Antoinette.
  • Von Fersen is a major but at the same time a minor character in the 1973 shoujo manga The Rose of Versailles by Riyoko Ikeda, as well as in the anime of the same name. Here, his affair with Marie-Antoinette is a source of much of the drama of the period, and a driving cause behind the Queen's aloof behavior.
  • In 2006, von Fersen was portrayed by Jamie Dornan in the film Marie Antoinette.
  • In 2014, he was in the popular book, The Bane Chronicles in almost complete historical context and a friend of Magnus Bane—a warlock—and share a kiss.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. p. 22. 
  2. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. pp. 6–7. 
  3. ^ Gade, John Allyne. Under the Golden Lillies. p. 256. 
  4. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 12. 
  5. ^ Campan, Jeanne-Louise-Henriette. Memoirs of the Court of Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France. 
  6. ^ Schama, Simon. Citizens. p. 175. 
  7. ^ Lamballe, Marie Thérèse. Secret Memoirs of Princess Lamballe. p. 125. 
  8. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. p. 42. 
  9. ^ Fersen, Axel von. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 30. 
  10. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. p. 78. 
  11. ^ Yates, Edmund Hodgson. Tinsley's Magazinee: Volume 35. p. 65. 
  12. ^ Bain, Robert. Gustavus III and his contemporaries, 1742-1792. pp. 263–273. 
  13. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 97. 
  14. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 68. 
  15. ^ Wraxall, Sir Lascelles. Remarkable Adventurers and Unrevealed Mysteries: Volume 1. p. 215. 
  16. ^ a b c Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. pp. 69–75. 
  17. ^ Schama, Simon. Citizens. p. 359. 
  18. ^ Lamballe, Marie Thérèse. Secret Memoirs of Princess Lamballe. p. 180. 
  19. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 76. 
  20. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. p. 144. 
  21. ^ Lamballe, Marie Thérèse. Secret Memoirs of Princess Lamballe. p. 248. 
  22. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. p. 150. 
  23. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 137. 
  24. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. pp. 169–170. 
  25. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. pp. 170–171. 
  26. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 338. 
  27. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 279. 
  28. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 349. 
  29. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. pp. 289–290. 
  30. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 293. 
  31. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. pp. 195–196. 
  32. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. p. 255. 
  33. ^ Munro Price (23 September 2011). The Fall of the French Monarchy: Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and the Baron de Breteuil. Pan Macmillan. p. xxv. ISBN 978-1-4472-1169-3. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  34. ^ Hildor, Arnold. Scandinavia in the Revolutionary Era: 1760-1815. p. 235. 
  35. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. pp. 269–270. 
  36. ^ Hildor, Arnold. Scandinavia in the Revolutionary Era: 1760-1815. p. 237. 
  37. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica Fifteenth Edition, page 110, Volume IV
  38. ^ Mansell, Philip. Pillars of Monarchy. p. 121. 
  39. ^ Wraxall, Sir Lascelles. Remarkable Adventurers and Unrevealed Mysteries: Volume One. p. 219. 
  40. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. p. 302. 
  41. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. p. 303. 
  42. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. p. 304. 
  43. ^ Herman Lindqvist, Axel von Fersen, 1991
  44. ^ Barrington, Michael. The Reminiscences of Sir Barrington Beaumont. pp. 42–47. 
  45. ^ Fersen, Axel. The Diary and Correspondence of Count Axel Fersen. pp. 13–14. 

External links[edit]