Swedish Monarch. Born in Stockholm, the eldest son of the Prince Adolph Frederick and Louise Ulrica. He was betrothed to Princess Sophia Magdalene of Denmark when he was five, and married her fifteen years later, in 1766. He was an intelligent and cultured advocate of the Enlightenment and a Francophile. Though not highly educated, he was extremely well read and multilingual. He succeeded to the throne in 1771 after the sudden death of his father. Unhappy with the Crown's subjugation to the Riksdag, which he considered to be corrupt, Gustav and his allies seized control of all key fortresses and secured the support of the military. Six months after ascending the throne, Gustav reasserted royal power over the Riksdag, alienating the nobility. He founded the Gustavian style and patronized theater, literature, art, music, and opera. The Swedish Academy for Language, the Academy for Literature, History and Antiquities, the Academy of Music, and the Academy of Art were all founded during Gustav's reign. He built up the navy to become one of the most formidable in Europe, and issued currency a realization ordinance in 1776, introduced free trade, amended the poor laws, regulated burial practices by decree, and extended religious tolerance. He was the first neutral head of state in the world to recognize the new United States of America in 1777, and first to make a treaty with that country in 1783. He acknowledged President George Washington in 1789. His controversial war with Russia saved Sweden from becoming her vassal, but was unpopular with Swedish nobles. As a result of a widespread conspiracy among the kingdom's aristocrats, Gustav was shot in the back at a midnight masquerade at the Royal Opera in Stockholm by J. J. Anckarström. The gunman was flogged and beheaded for the crime, while his co-conspirators were treated leniently by Gustav's brother, Carl XIII. The dramatic assassination became the basis of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Un Ballo in Maschera. Two extensive compendia of his letters have been published in French in 1986, and in Swedish in 1992.
Bio by: Iola