Assassination of King Gustav III

The masquerade costume worn by Gustav III when he was shot in the back by an assassin
The masquerade costume worn by Gustav III when he was shot in the back by an assassin

Historical Context

By 1792, King Gustav III of Sweden had amassed an enormous amount of personal power, displacing the old constitutional monarchy and forming an absolutist system based on the principles of the Enlightenment.

Among many liberal reforms he had made (while also cracking down on dissent) was to curtail the powers of the Swedish nobility. Ever since he had essentially seized power in a coup against the Swedish parliament in 1772, the nobles had decided to oppose him, eventually conspiring to murder him.

The assassination took place during a masquerade ball at the Swedish Royal Opera. A Swedish count by the name of Jacob Johan Anckarström shot the King in the back as he entered the ball wearing his costume. Gustav did not die immediately however - continuing on for another thirteen days before dying of septicemia on 29 March 1792.

Photo Info


Photographer: Göran Schmidt/The Royal Armoury
Location taken: Stockholm, Sweden

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1792-03-16 King Gustav III of Sweden is shot by Count Jacob Johan Anckarström at a masked ball at the Opera; he dies on March 29
  • 1792-03-29 King Gustav III of Sweden dies after being shot in the back at a midnight masquerade ball at Stockholm's Royal Opera just 13 days earlier. He is succeeded by Gustav IV Adolf.

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