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Frederica of Baden

Frederica of Baden
Queen Frederica portrayed in regal attire
Queen consort of Sweden
Tenure 31 October 1797 – 29 March 1809
Born (1781-03-12)12 March 1781
Karlsruhe, Germany
Died 25 September 1826(1826-09-25) (aged 45)
Lausanne, Switzerland
Burial Pforzheim, Germany
Spouse Gustaf IV Adolf
Issue Gustav, Prince of Vasa
Sophie, Grand Duchess of Baden
Prince Carl Gustaf
Princess Amalia
Cecilia, Grand Duchess of Oldenburg
Full name
Friederike Dorothea Wilhelmina
House House of Zähringen
Father Karl Ludwig of Baden
Mother Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt

Friederike Dorothea Wilhelmina of Baden (12 March 1781 – 25 September 1826) was Queen consort of Sweden from 1797 to 1809. Daughter of Karl Ludwig of Baden and Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt, she was the younger sister of Empress Elisabeth Alexeievna (formerly Princess Louise of Baden), wife of Tsar Alexander I of Russia.


  • Biography and background 1
  • Exile and divorce 2
  • Legacy 3
  • Offspring 4
  • Arms 5
  • Ancestors 6
  • References 7

Biography and background

Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden and Queen Frederica

She was born in Karlsruhe, on 12 March 1781. She married King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden on 31 October 1797, and became queen. Her husband had arranged the marriage himself because she was the sister of the Russian Empress, which made a form of alliance with Russia even after he refused to marry the Russian Grand Duchess Alexandra Pavlovna, because her proposed marriage contract would have allowed Alexandra to keep her Orthodox faith; in 1795, he refused a marriage with a Princess of Mecklenburg, Duchess Louise Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, because he had heard that she was not beautiful. Prior to this, he had been in love with Ebba Modée but had been refused to marry her.

She had been given but a small education by a French-Swiss governess. She was treated with kindness by her mother-in-law, Sophia Magdalena of Denmark, who remembered how ill she herself had been treated by her own mother-in-law. She was described as stiff, shy, unfriendly and beautiful. The first years, she found it difficult to adapt to the strict court etiquette and played children's games with her ladies-in-waiting.

The marriage is often considered happy, but the King was much more interested in sex than she was. Often, the king was delayed for hours after "having entered the queen's bed chamber" in the mornings, so much that the members of the parliament had to interrupt and ask the king to "spare the queen's health", and she complained of the exhaustion it caused her. In the presence of others, however, he behaved very formally towards her. She was shocked and intrigued by the sexually liberal Swedish court and wrote home to her family that "everyone had a lover" and about the bisexual rumours about the royal Duchess Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp; she wrote to her mother, that the Duchess was said to have both male and female lovers and that she herself was probably the only woman of note who did not have three or four lovers. Her husband wanted to preserve her sexual ignorance. When a frivolous play was performed for the queen at the Opera by a French theatre troupe, the king actually closed the Royal Swedish Opera down in 1806, though officially because of the costs; it remained closed until 1809.

After the birth of her son in 1799, she became more comfortable in her position as queen. In 1800, she was crowned in Norrköping, and in 1801, she received a visit from her parents. During a trip to Finland in 1802, she crossed the border to Russia to visit her sisters Elisabeth and Amalie. In 1803–5, she and her husband visited Germany and her home country, and the marriage greatly improved after this. She hosted her exiled sister Princess Marie of Baden as a guest in 1806–7. She was skillful with the clavichord, often played for the King. In Sweden, they preferred the Haga Palace as their residence.

In 1807, during the war with France, Frederica intervened politically. Her sister, the Russian Empress, sent her a letter through their mother, that she should use her influence to advise the king to make peace with France, and that anything else would be a mistake. She did try this, but the king saw this as a way to influence him to a more Napoleon-friendly politic, and this caused a conflict between the king and queen.[1]

She was deposed with her spouse in the Coup of 1809. She and her children were first kept at Haga. The spouses were separated because she was suspected to plan a coup.[1]:359 During her house arrest she was given more sympathy than her entire time as queen for her dignified behaviour. She was often visited by the new queen, Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte, who felt sympathy for her and wished to preserve the right to the throne for Frederica's son. Frederica told her that she was willing to give up her son,[1]:360 and asked to be reunited with her husband; this was granted, by intervention of Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte,[1]:377 and she was reunited with her husband after the coronation of the new king.

There were plans by a military party led by General Vegesack to free Frederica and her children from the arrest and pronounce her as regent for her minor son. These plans were in fact presented to her, but she declined: The Queen displayed a nobility in her feelings, which makes her deservable of a crown of honor and placed her above the pitiful earthly royalty. She did not listen to the secret proposals, made to her by a party, who wished to preserve the succession of the crown prince and wished, that she would remain in Sweden to become the regent during the minority of her son... she explained with firmness, that her duty as a wife and mother told her to share the exile with her husband and children.[1]:389

They were escorted out of the country in the three carriages; the first one with the adults, the second with the former crown prince, and the third with the smaller children.

Exile and divorce

Frederica exiled by Joseph Karl Stieler, c. 1810

The family settled in Baden, but her husband was restless and did not want to stay. She herself refused further sexual intercourse as she "did not wish to give birth in exile." She also wished to live a life more in the style of a queen, while he preferred a more simple family life. They were separated in 1810, and divorce proceedings begun in 1811. They were divorced in 1812. Secretly, she supported him financially after the separation. After the divorce, she entrusted her children to the formal guardianship of the Russian czar.

She kept a correspondence with her former mother-in-law, Sophia Magdalena in Sweden, and with Queen Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte, to whom she entrusted her economic interests in Sweden. According to her ladies-in-waiting, she turned down proposals from her brother-in-law Frederick William of Braunschweig-Oels and Frederick William III of Prussia. She was rumored to have had a secret marriage with her son's tutor, the French-Swiss JNG de Polier-Vernland. She travelled a lot, using the name Countess Itterburg. She died in Lausanne of a heart disease. She was buried in Schloss and Stiftskirche in Pforzheim, Germany.


The communities of Fredrika (1799), Dorotea (1799) and Vilhelmina (1804) located in Swedish Lapland were named in her honor.


Gustav would serve as an officer to the Habsburgs of Austria, but would only father one daughter, Carola, the wife of King Albert I of Saxony, but she died childless.

Sofia Wilhelmina would marry Leopold I of Baden, and their granddaughter, Victoria of Baden, would eventually marry Gustav V of Sweden, thus connecting the House of Bernadotte with the previous Swedish dynasties.


Coat of arms of Queen Frederica of Sweden



  1. ^ a b c d e   (search for all versions on WorldCat)
  • Lindquist, Herman, Alla Sveriges drottningar (in Swedish) .
  • Nordensvan, Georg, Svensk teater och svenska skådespelare (in Swedish) .
  • (search for all versions on WorldCat)  
Frederica of Baden
Born: 12 March 1781 Died: 25 September 1826
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Sophia Magdalena of Denmark
Queen consort of Sweden
Succeeded by
Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp
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