Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Gustav III of Sweden: The Assassination of a King

The Assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden
On the 16th of March in 1792, King Gustav III of Sweden was assassinated.
Well, he was technically assassinated on the 16th of March 1792, as in he was shot by an assassin. However, he didn't actual die as a result of his injuries until March 29th.
King Gustav was not well liked in Sweden amongst the nobility of the time. They were still miffed that he had taken control and assumed the throne in a Coup D'etat in 1772.
They began plotting the assassination over the winter months of 1791/1792, leaving nothing to chance. There were costumes to buy. And everyone wanted to come dressed as either Iron Man or Thor.
The assassination would take place at exactly midnight on the 16th of March 1792, as the King attended the Royal Opera House in Stockholm.
King Gustav was all joy and happy and carefree as he arrived for dinner and singing. The night was almost soured, though, when a letter was delivered to his table. It was anonymous. But contained a threat to his life.
The King ignored it. He received dozens of death threats. They were nothing new. The people hated him. They all wanted him dead. Who cares? Ungrateful scum.
None of them would dare kill a King.
Gustav finished his dinner and left his private dining room to partake of the masquerade. Dinner, dancing, singing, masquerading, it was all fun, joy, slap me with a hedgehog and call me randy. There'd be a bit of hanky panky with a servant tonight.
As he entered the hall, the conspirators surrounded the King: Anckarstrom, Count Claes Fredrik Horn and Count Adolf Ludvig Ribbing.
The conspirators all wore black masks, the king wore a Supergirl costume with the breast star of the Royal Order of the Seraphim glowing silver on his cape. It's the only thing that gave away the identity of the king. If he hadn't worn it, no one would have recognised him.
The assassins shouted in French, "Bonjour, beau masque."

Which translates as, "Are you related to Clark Kent?"
Or, "Good day, fine mask."
Anckarstrom snuck behind the King and pulled his pistol from a secret hiding place that was very warm and very comfortable, but prevented him from sitting down properly.
He shot the king in the left side of his back.
The king jumped aside, shouting, "Ah. Je suis blesse, tirez-moi d'ide et arretez-le."
Which translates as, "You son of a..."
Or, "Ah, I am wounded, take me away from here and arrest him."
King Gustav was hoisted on the back of a passing child and taken to his private chambers. The Opera house was sealed.
Anckarstrom was arrested the next day. He confessed to the murder instantly, but insisted he acted alone. There was no conspiracy.
"But you do know we have arrested Horn and Ribbing. And they confessed to everything."
"Oh, well, sure. Yes, there was a conspiracy."
The King remained alive and all was well. The assassination was a failure, as was the coup. Gustav remained functional as the monarch and head of state.
Not for long.
The wound became infected.
Almost two weeks later, on the 29th of March, 1792, King Gustav III of Sweden died as a result of the bullet wound and the resulting infection.
His last words were: "Jag känner mig sömnig, några ögonblicks vila skulle göra mig got."
Which translates as: "Clark Kent is Superman? No, that can't be right. Clark Kent wears glasses and Superman has perfect vision."
Or maybe it was: "I feel sleepy, a few moments' rest would do me good."

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