On this date in History: Election of Count Friedrich of Hesse-Cassel to the Swedish Throne by the Swedish Estates, March 24, 1720.
King Friedrich of Sweden
Ulrica Eleanor of Sweden (January 23, 1688 – November 24, 1741) was the youngest child of King Carl XI of Sweden and Ulrica Eleanora of Denmark.
In 1702, a marriage to the future King George II of Great Britain was suggested, but was postponed, and in the end nothing came of it. Duke Johann-Wilhelm of Saxe-Gotha was given permission by her brother, King Carl XII of Sweden to court her, but the marriage plans were interrupted after he engaged in a duel with Anders Lagercrona in the presence of the monarch. In 1710, she received a proposal from Prince Friedrich of Hesse-Cassel. The negotiations were handled by her favorite and confidante Emerentia von Düben. The marriage was supported by her grandmother Hedwig Eleonora, as the Queen Dowager thought this would force Ulrica Eleonor to leave Sweden for Hesse, increasing the chances for the son of Ulrica Eleonor’s elder sister, Carl of Holstein-Gottorp, to become heir to the throne. The engagement was announced on January 23, 1714, and the wedding took place March 24, 1715. During the wedding, her brother Carl XII remarked: “Tonight my sister is dancing away the crown.”
Ulrica Eleanor, Queen Regnant and Queen Consort of Sweden.
Friedrich (April 28, 1676 – April 5, 1751) was the son of Carl I, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, and Princess Maria Amalia of Courland. On May 30, 1700 he married his first wife, Louise Dorothea, Princess of Prussia (1680–1705), daughter of Friedrich I of Prussia (1657–1713) and Elizabeth Henrietta of Hesse-Kassel(1661–1683). Louise Dorothea died in childbirth in December 1705. After his marriage to Ulrica Eleanor he was then granted the title Prince of Sweden, with the style Royal Highness by the estates, and was prince consort there during Ulrica Eleonor’s rule as queen regnant from 1718 until her abdication in 1720. He is the only Swedish prince consort there has been to date
On December 11, 1718, while inspecting trenches close to the perimeter of the fortress, King Carl XII of Sweden was shot, struck in the head by a projectile and killed. After Ulrica Eleanor received the news of the death of her brother, she immediately declared herself monarch in Uddevalla by stating that she had inherited the throne. The council was taken by surprise and did not contest this. She took control over the affairs of state and had Georg Heinrich von Görtz and his followers removed from power. The “Hesse Party” secured Ulrica Eleonor’s succession to the throne.
King Carl XII of Sweden
Ulrica Eleanor and Friedrich gained the support of the Riksdag who wanted to end the absolute monarchy established in 1680 and reinstate parliamentary rule. On 15 December 1718, she declared that though she had inherited the throne, she did not intend to keep the Carolinian absolutism but agreed to reinstate the older system. The war council was determined to abolish absolutism and the right to inherit the throne, but was willing to acknowledge her as an elected monarch. Their opinion was supported by the majority of the Assembly of the Estates. Ulrica Eleanor was forced into agreeing to abolish absolute monarchy and the right to inherit the throne, both for her and for her contestant, her nephew Carl-Friedrich, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp.
After having agreed to sign the new constitution as monarch, she was elected queen on January 23, 1719. On February 19 she signed the Instrument of Governm, thereby securing the support of the Estates to not give the throne to her nephew and competitor. She was crowned in Uppsala Cathedral March 17, 1719 and made her formal entrance into Stockholm as monarch on April 11, that same year.
Ulrica Eleonor supported the political ambitions of her consort, and from the beginning, she wished for him to become her co-monarch, in the fashion of William III and Mary II of England, Scotland and Ireland. However, this was not permitted by the Riksdag. One reason being that co-reigning had been forbidden in Sweden since the 15th century. There was also opposition in the Riksdag to the influence of Emerentia von Düben and her siblings over the affairs of state.
Her difficulty in respecting the constitution and trouble in getting along with the Riksdag, as well as her way of continuously discussing state affairs with her husband, did however make the Riksdag willing to replace her with Frederick as sole monarch if she abdicated, an idea that had the support of Frederick. On February 29, 1720, after having again been denied a co-monarchy, Ulrica Eleonor abdicated in favour of her husband on the condition that she should succeed him if he should die before her. This condition of her abdication in fact granted her place as the heir to the Swedish throne until her death.
King Friedrich of Sweden, Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel.
Queen Ulrica Eleanor often spoke of the abdication as the great sacrifice of her life. Her husband Friedrich succeeded her on March 24, 1720, and this succession was confirmed by the Riksdag. It was the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary.
The defeats suffered by Carl XII in the Great Northern War ended Sweden’s position as a first-rank European power. Under Friedrich this had to be accepted. Sweden also had to cede Estonia, Ingria and Livonia to Russia in the Treaty of Nystad, in 1721.
Friedrich was a very active and dynamic king at the beginning of his 31-year reign. But after the aristocracy had regained power during the wars with Russia, he became not so much powerless as uninterested in affairs of state. In 1723, he tried to strengthen royal authority, but after he failed, he never had much to do with politics. He did not even sign official documents; instead a stamp of his signature was used. He devoted most of his time to hunting and love affairs. His marriage to Queen Ulrika Eleonora was childless, but he had several children by his mistress, Hedvig Taube.
Friedrich became Landgrave of Hesse only in 1730, ten years after becoming King of Sweden. He immediately appointed his younger brother Wilhelm governor of Hesse.
As Landgrave, Friedrich is generally not seen as a success. Indeed, he did concentrate more on Sweden, and due to his negotiated, compromise-like ascension to the throne there, he and his court had a very low income. The money for that very expensive court, then, since the 1730s came from wealthy Hesse, and this means that Friedrich essentially behaved like an absentee landlord and drained Hessian resources to finance life in Sweden.
His powerless reign in Sweden saw his family’s elimination from the line of Succession after the parliamentary government dominated by pro-revanchist Hat Party politicians ventured into a war with Russia, which ended in defeat and the Russian tsarina Elizabeth demanding Adolph-Friedrich of Holstein-Gottorp to be instated following the death of the This occurred when Friedrich of Sweden died on April 5 1751. Friedrich was succeeded as Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel by his younger brother as Wilhelm VIII.