Adolf Frederick, The Swedish King Who Ate Himself To Death
The Story of Adolf Frederick
King Adolf Frederick was born on the 14th of May 1710. He was the son of Christian August and Albertina Frederica.
He became the king of Sweden on the 25th of March 1751 and ruled for 20 years. He was a weak king but was considered a caring father and a loving husband. During his rule the country witnessed an extended period of peace and saw the Swedish parliament pass the world’s first legislation, supporting freedom of the press and freedom of information.
But the king is best remembered for the sad way his reign ended, by extreme overeating.
It was the evening of February 12, 1771, and Adolf Frederick settled down for dinner. The king ordered a big meal from the royal kitchen that included lobster, caviar, kippers, sauerkraut, boiled meats, and turnips. Given the enormity of the meal, it would have been expected that the king would at least skip dessert. But he did not. Frederick had a very healthy appetite and a huge, sweet tooth.
After washing the meal down with champagne, he decided to have semlas for dessert. Semlas are buns made from white flour that is a traditional Swedish comfort ‘food’ invented in 1541. A typical semla is a heavy bun dish covered with cream, chocolates, fruits, and topped with hot milk and raisins.
While most Swedes manage to eat a maximum of two to three semlas in one go, the king decided to eat 14 of them in one sitting. They were served to him topped in hot milk and flavoured with cinnamon and raisins.
Following his consumption of the semlas, Adolf Frederick finally decided to stop eating. That same day, he died of the digestive problems that his enormous meal ended up giving him.
His preparation for gluttonous leanings also had political consequences since it ended up killing not only him but also the Age of Liberty.
Upon his death, his son Gustav III ascended to the Swedish throne. He proceeded to end the Age of Liberty by creating a dictatorship and severely restricting freedom of the press. He also started a costly war with Russia that ended with defeat.
Gustav III had not only a more unpleasant reign than his father, but also a more unpleasant cause of death. Instead of stuffing himself with delicious pastries, Gustav III died by an assassin’s bullet.