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#OTD 1720: a Swedish Queen abdicated in favour of her husband


On this day, March 24, exactly 300 years ago Sweden elected a new King. For many in today’s society, it may seem strange that a nation can choose a new monarch, but Sweden has elected new monarchs on several occasions.

Frederick was born in Germany in 1676 and became the Count of Hessen-Kassel. In 1700, he married Louise of Brandenburg who died five years later. In 1710 he entered into marriage negotiations with the Swedish princess Ulrika Eleonora who was the sister of the then Swedish King, Karl XII. The two married in 1715. Princess Ulrika Eleonora was considered to be the heir to the Swedish throne, which attracted many marriage proposes, including from the future George II of Great Britain.

Ulrika Eleonora , Queen of Sweden from 1718 to 1720. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Frederick became good friends with his new Swedish royal family. He participated both in 1716 and 1718 in the Swedish campaigns against Norway and was appointed Swedish generalissimus. After Karl XII had been killed in the siege of the Norwegian Fredriksten fortress and Ulrika Eleonora succeeded him as reigning queen, she wanted to make her husband a co-ruler, which the Swedish parliament rejected.

Fredrick, however, gained great influence over the Swedish government. As Generalissimus, he command the Swedish armed forces and led the defence against Russian attacks. Finally, Ulrika Eleonora abdicated on March 24 in 1720 in favour of her husband, and Fredrik was crowned king in Stockholm on May 3, 1720.

His Majesty King Frederick I of Sweden, Count of Hessen-Kassel. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Fredrik I enjoyed his popularity in Sweden through his takeover of power. However, this changed in 1721 after he signed  “The peace of Nystad” where he gave up Livland, Estonia and parts of Karelia to Russia. His attempts to increase his power over the current constitution and his lack of knowledge of the Swedish language also contributed to an increased opposition to the king among Sweden’s nobles.

Fredrik spent his time to a greater extent hunting and dealing with loved ones and mistresses. In 1741 he again proposed a campaign against Russia, but it did not achieve any notable results. Ulrika Eleonora died on November 24, 1741 in Stockholm of smallpox. There were rumours of poisoning by her own husband the king, but these were rejected as the court itself found that her body was covered with scars from the disease. After several periods of illness King Frederick died on March 25, 1751 in Stockholm.



About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.