Gustavus III, King of Sweden

Once acclaimed as an “enchanter on the throne” Gustavus was both loved and hated; but, writes Oliver Warner, those who loved him were better men than his enemies.

Oliver Warner | Published in History Today

By general consent, the eighteenth century was pre-eminently the age of elegance in Europe and it was as true of Sweden as of any other country.

There, a coruscating sovereign, Gustavus III (1771-1792), in the course of a reign full of event and vicissitude, set his mark upon his realm, particularly in Stockholm, which to this day makes the city such a pleasure to those who, by-passing current bustle, pause to admire aspects of the past. He was indeed, as Carlyle said of him, “a shining sort of man.”

When he succeeded to the throne, Gustavus, who was a nephew of Frederick the Great, was on a visit to Paris, during which he stored up impressions and ideas that were to influence his whole life. He returned home to the prospect of state and ceremony, but scarcely any power.

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