1902 Encyclopedia > King Gustavus IV

Gustavus IV
(also known as: Gustaf IV)
King of Sweden

GUSTAVUS IV (1778-1837), king of Sweden, was son of the preceding. He was only fourteen years of age when his father was cut off, and his uncle Duke Charles acted as regent during the minority. Gustavus early gave proof of an obstinate strength of will and of a highly-wrought temperament bordering on insanity. Thus he went to St Petersburg, according to agreement, to marry a granddaughter of the empress Catherine, and the whole court was assembled for the ceremony. The bridegroom however did not appear, and the company dispersed after waiting several hours. Gustavus had drawn back at the eleventh hour, refusing to sign the marriage treaty because it bound him to grant his future queen the free exercise of her religion. He spent his whole reign under the mastery of a fixed idea, that Napoleon was the Great Beast spoken of in the Apocalypse; and he joined the great coalition of 1805 against the conqueror. In this war Swedish Pomerania was occupied by the French. Even after Tilsit, Gustavus prosecuted the war with unbroken resolution. Sweden suffered fearfully by this obstinacy' of the king; the Russians conquered Finland; the Danes invaded the southern provinces; his English allies, wearied of his irrational obstinacy, left him to his fate. Sweden also grew sick of his wrong-headed policy. The officers of the army conspired against him. He was dethroned and detained in captivity, while his uncle Duke Charles was elected to the crown (1809). After the new arrangements had been made, he was banished with the assurance of a considerable income. Under the name of Colonel Gustavson he passed a wandering life abroad, dying at St Gall in 1837.

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