Monday, August 31, 2020

The Theater King of Sweden ~ Part I

This will be a week of a bit of Swedish history. I've been playing around with a post I wrote about a Swedish king, a tragedy, and an opera by Verdi. 

My friend in Denmark told me she has recently watched programs about the Opera in Stockholm. This reminded me that during the A-Z Challenge in 2012, I wrote a post about the old Opera where King Gustav III of Sweden was assassinated. I thought why not post it again. It was a long post, so I broke it up into three segments and edited it, added some, took some away. This is part one:

Gustav III

This is a true historical drama about a king who ruled Sweden toward the end of the 18th century. 

I was very fond of this king up to a point. He did some  wonderful things for cultural life in Sweden, and then he sort of blew it. Apparently he was not alone. I learned that during this period we call Enlightenment, some rulers who were progressive and believed in the ideas of the time, then later changed as power became more important are called Enlightenment despots. 

The king's name was Gustav III and he ruled Sweden from 1771 - 1792. Also known as the Theater King, Gustav was a patron of the arts, architecture and the building of beautiful palaces, as well as the old Royal Opera House in Stockholm. 

King Gustav also founded the Royal Ballet and the Royal Theater, where his own historical dramas were performed.

The Royal Swedish Academy, which focuses on the Swedish language and, since 1901, decides who will be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature every year, was also founded by Gustav III.

And he was a patron and supporter of one my favorite Swedish artists, the poet and composer Carl Michael Bellman. 

Carl Michael Bellman

In addition to his cultural endeavors, King Gustav reformed criminal justice, eliminating the use of torture to gain confessions and restricting the death penalty to murder and a few other crimes. He proclaimed liberty of the press, however, within certain limits. He also proclaimed limited religious liberty for Roman Catholics and Jews. 

Gustav III ruled at the time of the American Revolution and took an interest in what went on across the Atlantic Ocean. According to Wikipedia, he had this to say in 1776: 

General Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge

It is such an interesting drama to see a nation create itself, that I – if I now had not been who I am – would go to America to follow up close every phase in the emergence of this new republic. – This perhaps is America’s century. The new republic, which hardly has a population put together better than Rome had to begin with, may perhaps take advantage of Europe some day, in the same manner as Europe has taken advantage of America for two centuries. No matter what, I cannot help but admire their courage and enthusiastically appreciate their daring.

Part 2 will post on Wednesday

Part 3 ~ The Opera on Friday


  1. Interesting story, and I love history. I am looking forward to Part 2.

  2. i am glad i did not live in those times, i mean who wants a king wearing a skirt. ha ha... the men were so effeminate in that time era. I barely passed American History in high school..Bob is a history lover, so is my brother, I missed the history genetics i think..i think it is amazing that you left one country and came here and thrived so well.. i can't imagine what i would have done if i left here at 19 and went to your country..

  3. I'm not much a history buff either but I find it interesting just the same. Thanks for sharing your interest in history.
    Stay well and safe.
    Hugs, Julia

  4. I knew nothing about him, I await to read the rest!

  5. I do love history and especially an era I am unfamiliar with. Such an interesting man who made positive moves under his rein. No torture, limited death penalty and some religious freedom.
    Interesting how he viewed our revolution. Looking forward to more.

  6. Thank you for doing this. I know practically nothing if swedish history and this is such a pleasure. I had no idea it was a king who founded these institutions. And now I'm off to YouTube to check out Bellmann.

  7. Reporting back after a happy time on YouTube with Bellmann. A songwriter. I can see how you enjoy him. And some really good musicians do, too.

    1. I'm so happy to hear this. Did you listen to Sven-Bertil Taube singing Hvila vid denna kalla? Which translates to Rest at This Spring. Now I think I must write a post about Bellman too. He really was something else.

  8. i love history! and this was interesting. a 'royal' that truly seemed to care for his people.
    and ... "decides who will be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature every year, was also founded by Gustav III." never knew this! thank you for a great post. looking forward to the other parts. xo

    1. Unfortunately, this changes in the next post.

  9. this is interesting. I look forward to hearing more!

  10. I see our Big Boy Watching, thanks for loving him long distance

  11. Hi Inger - this is great ... crosses the continents and gives us some history. Pity about Gustav's death ... life might have been very different - but change was on the way, so perhaps not. Interesting to see that it was Gustav who founded the Swedish Academy that now awards the Literature Nobel Prize. I really enjoyed it - thank you ... and I know part II is waiting for me! Take care - Hilary

    1. Hi Inger - I meant to add in a note about Bellman - he's obviously been essential in keeping your Swedish song tradition going ... thanks for letting us know about him. All the best - Hilary


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


Related Posts with Thumbnails