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Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt

Count Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt, (1757-1814), Swedish soldier and diplomat, son of Charles XII of Sweden's general, Carl Gustaf Armfelt, was born in Finland on March 31, 1757.

Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt

Table of contents
1 Career
2 Diplomacy
3 Military service
4 See also
5 References


In 1774 he became an ensign in the guards, but his frivolity provoked the displeasure of Gustav III of Sweden and he thought it prudent to go abroad. Subsequently, however 1780 he met the king again at Spa and completely won the monarch's favour by his natural amiability, intelligence and intelligent social gifts. Henceforth his fortune was made. At first as the maitre des plaisirs of the Swedish court, but it was not long before more serious affairs were entrusted to him. He took the part in the negotiations with Catherine II of Russia in 1783 and during the Russian War of 1788-1790 he was one of the king's most trusted and active counsellors. He also displayed great valour in the field. In 1788 when the Danes unexpectedly invaded Sweden and threatened Gothenburg, Armfelt who under the king's directions organized the Dalecarlian levies and led them to victory. He remained absolutely faithful to Gustav when nearly the whole of the nobility fell away from him; brilliantly distinguished himself in the later phases of the Russian war; and was the Swedish plenipotentiary at the conclusion of the Treaty of Värälä. During the years of Gustav III his influence was paramount, though Armfelt protested against his master’s headstrong championship of his subjects.


On his deathbed Gustav III, 1792 committed the care of his infant son to Armfelt and appointed him a member the council of regency and as the Over-Governor of Stockholm, but the anti-Gustavian duke-regent Charles sent Armfelt as Swedish ambassador to Naples to get rid him. From Naples Armfelt communicated with Catherine II, arguing her to bring about by means of a military demonstration a change in the Swedish government in favour of the Gustavians. The plot was discovered by the regent's spies, and Armfelt only escaped from the man-of-war sent to Naples to seize him, with the assistance of Queen Caroline. He now fled to Russia, where he was interned at Kaluga, while at home he was condemned to confiscation and death as a traitor, and his unjustly accused mistress Magdalena Rudenschöld was publicly whipped to gratify old grudge of the regent’s, and inprisoned two years in Stockholm.

Military service

When Gustav IV of Sweden attained his majority, Armfelt was completely rehabilitated and sent as Swedish ambassador to Vienna in 1802, but was obliged to quit at post two years later for sharply attacking the Austrian government’s attitude towards Bonaparte. From 1805 to 1807 he was commander-in-chief of the Swedish forces in Pomerania, where he displayed great ability and retarded the conquest of the duchy as long as it was humanly possible. On his return home, was appointed commander-in-chief on the Norwegian frontier, where he could do nothing owing to the ordres, contre-ordres et désordres of his lunatic master. He would have nothing to say to the revolutionaries who in 1809 deposed Gustav IV and his whole family. Armfelt was the most courageous of the supporters and was resolved to retire to Russian Finland. His departure was accelerated a decree of expulsion as a conspirator in 1811. Over the impressionable Alexander I of Russia, Armfelt exercised almost as large an influence as Czartoryski. He contributed more than any one else to the erection of the grand-duchy into an autonomous state, and was its first and best governor-general. The plan of the Russian defensive campaigns was with great probability, also attributed to him, and gained Alexander over to the plan of uniting Norway with Sweden. He died at Tsarskoe Selo on August 19, 1814.

See also