Adolf Frederick, King of Sweden

Last updated
Adolf Frederick
Gustaf Lundberg - Portrait of Adolf Frederick, King of Sweden - WGA13779.jpg
Portrait by Gustaf Lundberg
King of Sweden
Reign25 March 1751 12 February 1771
Coronation 26 November 1751
Predecessor Frederick I
Successor Gustav III
Born14 May 1710
Gottorp, Schleswig, Duchy of Schleswig
Died12 February 1771(1771-02-12) (aged 60)
Stockholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Burial30 July 1771
Issue Gustav III
Charles XIII
Frederick Adolf, Duke of Östergötland
Sophia Albertina, Abbess of Quedlinburg
House Holstein-Gottorp
Father Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince of Eutin
Mother Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach
Religion Lutheran

Adolf Frederick or Adolph Frederick (Swedish : Adolf Fredrik, German : Adolf Friedrich; 14 May 1710 12 February 1771) 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. [1] [2]


The first king from the House of Holstein-Gottorp, Adolf 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. Aside from a few attempts, supported by pro-absolutist factions among the nobility, to reclaim the absolute monarchy held by previous monarchs, he remained a mere constitutional figurehead until his death.

His reign saw an extended period of internal peace, although the finances stagnated following failed mercantilist doctrines pursued by the Hat administration. 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 libelling the monarch or the Church of Sweden. [3]


His father was Christian Augustus (16731726) duke and a younger prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp, prince-bishop of Lübeck, and administrator, during the Great Northern War, of the duchies of Holstein-Gottorp for his relative Charles Frederick. [4]

His mother Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach (1682–1755) was a descendant of earlier royal dynasties of Sweden, great-granddaughter of Princess Catherine of Sweden, mother of King Charles X of Sweden. On his mother's side, Adolf Frederick descended from King Gustav Vasa and from Christina Magdalena, a sister of Charles X of Sweden. [5]


Adolf Frederick in old age as King, by Lorens Pasch the Younger Adolf Fredrik by Lorens Pasch d.y. - no frame (Nationalmuseum, 15309).png
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. After his first cousin Charles Frederick, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp died in 1739, Adolf Frederick became administrator of Holstein-Kiel during the minority of the duke's orphan son, then known as Charles Peter Ulrich. Shortly afterwards, the young boy was invited to Russia by his maternal aunt, Empress Elizabeth, who soon declared him her heir; he later became known as Peter III of Russia. [6]

In 1743, Adolf Frederick was elected heir to the throne of Sweden by the Hat faction (Swedish: Hattarna) in order that they might obtain better conditions at the Treaty of Abo from Empress Elizabeth of Russia, [4] who had adopted his nephew as her heir. He succeeded as King Adolf Frederick twelve years later on 25 March 1751. [7]

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 1756 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 through the Coup of 1756 to abolish the rule of the Riksdag of the Estates and reinstate absolute monarchy in Sweden. He nearly lost his throne in consequence. On the second occasion during the December Crisis (1768), under the guidance of his eldest son, the crown prince Gustav, afterwards Gustav III of Sweden, he succeeded in overthrowing the "Cap" (Swedish: Mössorna) senate, but was unable to make any use of his victory. [4] [8]


Adolf Frederick died in Stockholm 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: hetvägg made of semla and served in a bowl of hot milk. [9] [10]

The king 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.

Following his death, his son Gustav III seized power in 1772 in a military coup d'état, reinstating absolute rule. [11]


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

With Jeanne Du Londel he had one son:

  1. Adolf Fredriksson (c. 1734-1771), Captain in the Swedish Army. [12]

With Marguerite Morel he had one son who died as a child:

  1. Frederici (c. 1761 - 1771) [13]

Adolf Frederick may have been the father of Lolotte Forssberg by Ulla von Liewen, but this has however never been confirmed. [14]


Related Research Articles

Charles XIII of Sweden King of Sweden

Charles XIII, or Carl XIII,, was King of Sweden from 1809 and King of Norway from 1814 to his death. He was the second son of King Adolf Frederick of Sweden and Louisa Ulrika of Prussia, sister of Frederick the Great.

Arvid Horn 17th and 18th-century Swedish politician

Count Arvid Bernhard Horn af Ekebyholm was a Swedish general, diplomat and politician, a member of the noble Horn family. He served twice as President of the Privy Council Chancellery and was one of the leading figures of the Swedish Age of Liberty.

Frederick William von Hessenstein Field Marshal of Sweden

Frederick William, Prince von Hessenstein, was a Swedish soldier and statesman. He was an extramarital son of King Frederick I of Sweden and his royal mistress Hedvig Taube.

House of Holstein-Gottorp (Swedish line) cadet branch of the Oldenburg dynasty, ruled Sweden from 1751 until 1818, and Norway from 1814 to 1818

The House of Holstein-Gottorp, a cadet branch of the Oldenburg dynasty, ruled Sweden from 1751 until 1818, and Norway from 1814 to 1818. The current royal family, Bernadotte, is de jure a branch of the Holstein-Gottorps due to the last Holstein-Gottorp king's adoption of the first Bernadotte king, Charles XIV John.

Gustav, Prince of Vasa Crown Prince of Sweden

Prince Gustav Vasa, Count Itterburg, born Crown Prince of Sweden and later called Gustaf Gustafsson von Holstein-Gottorp, Prince of Vasa, was the son of King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden and Queen Frederica. His Austrian princely title was actually spelled Wasa.

Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp

Frederick III of Holstein-Gottorp was a Duke of Holstein-Gottorp.

Duchess Marie Elisabeth of Saxony Duchess of Holstein-Gottorp

Duchess Marie Elisabeth of Saxony was duchess consort of Holstein-Gottorp as the spouse of Duke Friedrich III of Holstein-Gottorp.

Sophia Albertina, Abbess of Quedlinburg Princess-Abbess of Quedlinburg

Princess Sophia Albertina of Sweden was the last Princess-Abbess of Quedlinburg Abbey, and as such reigned as vassal monarch of the Holy Roman Empire.

Ulriksdal Palace was built around 1638-1645 for Jacob De la Gardie and preserved rooms have been restored with original furnishings

Ulriksdal Palace is a royal palace situated on the banks of the Edsviken in the Royal National City Park in Solna Municipality, 6 km north of Stockholm. It was originally called Jakobsdal for its owner Jacob De la Gardie, who had it built by architect Hans Jacob Kristler in 1643–1645 as a country retreat. He later passed on to his son, Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie, from whom it was purchased in 1669 by Queen Hedvig Eleonora of Sweden. The present design is mainly the work of architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder and dates from the late 17th century.

Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince of Eutin Prince regent of Eutin, Prince-bishop of Lübeck and regent of the Duchy of Holstein-Gottorp

Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp-Eutin was a cadet of the reigning ducal House of Holstein-Gottorp who became prince of Eutin, prince-bishop of Lübeck and regent of the Duchy of Holstein-Gottorp.

Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp Queen consort of Sweden

Hedwig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp was Queen of Sweden and Norway as the consort of King Charles XIII and II. She was also a famed diarist, memoirist and wit. She is known by her full pen name (above), though her official name as queen was Charlotte (Charlotta).

Prince Frederick Adolf, Duke of Östergötland Duke of Östergötland

Prince Frederick Adolf of Sweden was a Swedish Prince, youngest son of King Adolf Frederick of Sweden and Louisa Ulrika of Prussia, a sister of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. He was given the title Duke of Östergötland.

Charlotte Eckerman Swedish opera singer, actress and courtesan

Beata Charlotta "Charlotte" Eckerman, was a Swedish opera singer and actress. She was also a very well known courtesan during the Gustavian era, and the official royal mistress of Charles XIII of Sweden from 1779 to 1781.

Lolotte Forssberg Swedish countess

Fredrika Charlotte "Lolotte" Forssberg (1766–1840) was a Swedish noble and lady-in-waiting, later countess Stenbock. She was one of the most talked about people of her time as the possible child of King Adolf Frederick of Sweden. Princess Sophia Albertina of Sweden investigated her birth in the 1790s and tried to have her acknowledged as the daughter of her father. The truth is unconfirmed, though it is considered likely that she was the illegitimate daughter of the king.

Marguerite Du Londel or Dulondel was a French ballerina, actress and singer (soprano). She was active in the French theater in Sweden and at that time attracted great fame. She is also known for her relationship with king Adolf Frederick of Sweden.

Gustaf Lundberg Swedish rococo painter

Gustaf Lundberg was a Swedish rococo pastelist and portrait painter, working in Paris and later in Stockholm.

Princess Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach Mother of King Adolf Frederick of Sweden

Princess and Margravine Albertina Frederica of Baden-Durlach was a German princess. She was the daughter of Frederick VII, Margrave of Baden-Durlach and his wife Duchess Augusta Marie of Holstein-Gottorp. She married Christian August of Holstein-Gottorp, Prince of Eutin.

Christina Magdalena of the Palatinate-Zweibrücken Swedish Princess by birth; margravine of Baden-Durlach by marriage

Countess Palatine Christina Magdalena of Kleeburg of the House of Wittelsbach, Margravine of Baden-Durlach. She was the daughter of John Casimir, Count Palatine of Kleeburg and Princess Catherine of Sweden. Christina Magdalena was a sister of Charles X of Sweden, and grew up in Sweden.

Charlotta Sparre Swedish noble

Charlotta "Lotta" Fredrika Sparre, commonly named Lotta Sparre, was a Swedish noble and courtier.

Hovpartiet political party

Hovpartiet was the name for a political group in Sweden during the age of liberty. It had the goal to strengthen royal power against the parliament of the Riksdag of the Estates. It is most known in history as the force behind Queen Louisa Ulrika's Coup of 1756, but it did in fact exist in some form or another from 1723 until Gustav III's Revolution of 1772 when its goal of an absolute monarchy was finally realized.


  1. L. Stavenow. "Adolf Fredrik". Svenskt biografiskt lexikon. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  2. "Christian August (Herzog von Holstein-Gottorf)". Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  3. "Adolf Fredrik". Nordisk familjebok. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  4. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Adolphus Frederick". Encyclopædia Britannica . 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 211–212. This cites:
    • R. Nisbet Bain, Gustavus III. and his Contemporaries, vol. i. (London, 1895).
  5. Nina Ringbom. "Kristina Magdalena av Pfalz-Zweibrücken". Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  6. "Peter III". Saint-Petersburg.Com. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  7. "Hattpartiet, Hattarna". Nordisk familjebok. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  8. "Mösspartiet, Mössorna". Nordisk familjebok. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  9. The lowdown on Sweden's best buns Archived 2008-02-16 at the Wayback Machine The Local, February 2007
  10. Magnus Carlstedt. "Hetvägg". Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  11. "Gustav III (January 24, 1746 – March 29, 1792)". European Royal History. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  12. Rainer, Claes (2019). Lovisa Ulrika: konst och kuppförsök. Stockholm: Bokförlaget Langenskiöld
  13. Gunilla Roempke (1994). Gunilla Roempke. ed. Vristens makt – dansös i mätressernas tidevarv (The power of the ankle - dancer in the epoch of the royal mistresses) Stockholm: Stockholm Fischer & company. ISBN   91-7054-734-3
  14. af Klercker, Cecilia, ed. Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok [The diary of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte] (in Swedish). VI 1797-1799. (1927) Translated by Cecilia af Klercker. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt & Söners förlag. pp. 290–291
  15. Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 28.
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
Succeeded by
Gustav III
Preceded by
Charles Augustus of Holstein-Gottorp
Prince-Bishop of Lübeck
Succeeded by
Frederick August of Oldenburg