Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden

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Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden also Gustav Adolph (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.

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Early life

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. After his birth, he was put under the supervision of Maria Aurora Uggla. 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.

Politics

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.

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