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Gustavus IV

Gustavus IV, 1778–1837, king of Sweden (1792–1809). On the assassination of his father, Gustavus III, he succeeded under the regency of his uncle, later King Charles XIII, a liberal. Attaining his majority in 1796, Gustavus dismissed his uncle's ministers and embarked on a reactionary policy at home. His adoption of inclosure advanced the agricultural economy. The king directed his foreign policy against the French Revolution, and in 1805 he joined the Third Coalition against Napoleon I. Swedish Pomerania was occupied by the French, and Finland was taken (1808) by Russia, which in 1807 had made peace with France at Tilsit. Gustavus's despotism, his mental unbalance, and his disastrous policies led to his forced abdication when the Russians threatened Stockholm (Mar., 1809). The crown was tendered to Charles XIII, who made peace with Russia, and Gustavus's descendants were barred from succession. Gustavus spent most of his exile as "Colonel Gustafsson" at St. Gall, Switzerland, where he died.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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