GUSTAVUS III.,-king of Sweden, was b. at Stockholm in 1746, and succeeded his father. Adolphus Frederick, in 1771, at a period when the country was distracted by the intrigues of the rival political parties of Horn and Gylleuborg, known as the `• hats" and Caps." Finding that the people, who were thoroughly wearied by the misrule of the nobles, were ready for any change, Gustavus covertly fomented the general discon tent. and having raised a fictitious rebellion, through the agency of his friend and adherent, rapt. Hellichius, he collected together a large the diet• and laid before it a newly framed constitution, to which the assembly was compelled to sub scribe. A revolution was thus effected without the shedding of blood, and by a stroke of the pen Gustavus recovered all the regal powers that bad been gradually lost by his immediate predecessors. Gustavus acted with great moderation after this successful equp ditat; and he might have long retained the advantages he had gained, if his love of display, and his wish to emulate the king of France in extravagance and maguhicenee, had not led him into profuse expenditure, which embarrassed the finances; at the same time, the introduction of the manners and usages of Versailles at his own court irritated the national party, while it undoubtedly tended to demoralize the upper classes, and through them the nation generally. In 1788 he engaged in war with Russia, at the moment that the empire was engaged in active hostilities against the Turks, but derived no advantages from the contest. On the breaking out of the French revolution he
combined with the other monarchs against France, and applied to the diet for funds to assist the Bourbons. His repeated applications having been decisively rejected, the nobles, amongst whom he had many enemies, took advantage of his general unpopu larity, and entered into a conspiracy against him, the leaders of which were Ribbing, Horn, and Pechlin. On Mar. 16, 1792, Gustavus was mortally wounded by their agent, a rapt. Ankarstroin (q.v.), at a masked ball in the opera-house which he had himself built. The pistol had been loaded with broken shot, which rendered the wound espe cially painful, and the king suffered the most dreadful agony for thirteen days before his death.
Gustavus was a man of varied learning, and the author of several dramatic works and poems of considerable merit. His writings have been published in a collective form both in Swedish and French. In 1788 Gustavus deposited certain papers in Um library of Upsala, which excited much interest from the feet that they were not to be opened for fifty years after his death. Their publication, which was confided in 1842 to Geier, disappointed the general expectation, as they were found to consist of histori cal notes and letters of little value. •