Jacob Johan Anckarström

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Anckarström in the pillory

Jacob Johan Anckarström (also: Jacob Johan Ankarström ; born May 11, 1762 on Gut Lindö in Roslagen ; † April 27, 1792 in Stockholm ) was a Swedish assassin who killed King Gustav III. murdered.


Jacob Johan Anckarström was the eldest son of a lieutenant colonel of the same name (1729–1777). His mother Hedvig Ulrika Drufva, for whom the marriage to the older Jacob Johan Anckarström was already the second, died in 1771. After his father's death in 1777, Anckarström could not keep the estate and went to the Swedish court as a page . In 1778 he joined the army and became a member of the royal bodyguard, but took his leave as captain in 1783 . In that year he married the wealthy Gustaviana Elisabet Löwen (1764-1844). The couple had seven children, four of whom reached adulthood. At first they made a living on Torsåker Manor from agriculture, but above all from the lending business that his wife carried out. Anckarström was considered belligerent, stingy and intellectually uninterested. After a lawsuit against a neighbor, the family moved to Stockholm in 1790.

Anckarström was one of the numerous nobles who, through the expansion of the royal power, Gustav III. with the constitution of 1772 saw their rights curtailed. In addition, he sympathized with the revolutionary forces in France. This attitude also brought him into opposition to the king, who rejected the constitutional ideas of the French Revolution and, moreover, with King Louis XVI. and Queen Marie Antoinette was friends.

In July 1790, shortly before the end of the war against Russia , Anckarström and his wife traveled to Gotland , where the last naval battle of the war had taken place shortly before. Anckarström criticized the war, which was waged against the will of the nobility and ended, despite the victory in the last battle, with the fruitless peace of Värälä . Initially arrested as a Russian spy, he was charged with seditious speech and was for a time in strict pre-trial detention. For lack of evidence, however, he was released again in 1791 and - posthumously - acquitted of the allegations in May 1792. The treatment, perceived as unfair, increased his hatred of the king.

Already in the winter of 1791/1792, after the king had expanded his power again, there was a conspiracy of the nobility against the life of Gustav III. but it was revealed. Gustav was lenient and all but one death sentences were  overturned. Anckarström was an eyewitness to the execution of the only conspirator who had not been pardoned. Since that day he looked at Gustav III. finally as a bloodthirsty tyrant .

In 1792 Gustav III. new tax laws to combat national debt, which Anckarström also saw threatened and which reinforced his hatred of the king. The new conspiracy had the assassination of Gustav III. and aim to introduce a new constitution. Behind the constitutional plans stood the nobles Jacob and Johan von Engeström, Carl Pontus Lilliehorn, T. J. Bielke and Carl Fredrik Pechlin ; Besides Anckarström, Adolph Ribbing and Claes Fredrik Horn were responsible for the murder plans.

The co-conspirator Carl Pontus Lilliehorn was an old friend of Gustav III. He sent the king a warning advising him not to attend the masked ball at the Royal Opera on March 16, 1792. Gustav III ignored the warning and appeared nonetheless. Anckarström in disguise shot him in the back with a shotgun loaded pistol. The tradition is false that it was not Anckarström but Count Ribbing who fired the pistol at the king. The king died of blood poisoning on March 29, 1792 .

Public whipping

The dreaded Stockholm Police Chief Nils Henrik Liljensparre soon found Anckarström's trail. Anckarström was arrested on April 16. He immediately confessed, but refused to name his co-conspirators, even after being publicly whipped with rods for three days in a row. His possessions and titles were denied him, but the confiscated property was returned to the widow and children. Anckarström was sentenced to death . On April 27, 1792, his right hand was cut off in Stockholm, then he was beheaded and his body then quartered. The other conspirators got away with exile or imprisonment. Pechlin died in 1796 at the Varberg Fortress .

After Anckarström's execution, his widow and younger brother Gustaf Adolf (1764–1813) changed their family name to Löwenström. The foundation of the Löwenström Hospital in Stockholm by the widow and brother was a kind of reparation for which the Lindö estate, inherited from Anckerström's mother, was sold. Gustaviana signed a second marriage in 1797 with the notary of the life guard, Bertel Barthold Rundberg (1762-1803), to whom she had lent money from her considerable fortune. She already had a relationship with Rundberg, who had accompanied the couple on their trip to Gotland in 1790, during Anckerström's lifetime.

The conservative Swedish politician Ulf Adelsohn (* 1941) is Anckarström's great, great, great grandson.

Verdi's opera

Anckarström is the historical model for Count René (Renato) in Giuseppe Verdi's opera Un ballo in maschera (1859, German: a masked ball ). The opera Gustave III. ou Le bal masqué (1833, German Gustav or the masked ball ) by Daniel-François-Esprit Auber takes on the subject.


Web links

Commons : Jacob Johan Anckarström  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Hedvig Ulrika Drufva personnel file
  2. a b Personal file Gustaviana Elisabet Löwen (Swedish)
  3. a b c d Stavenow: Jacob Johan Anckarström
  4. Rundberg, who is considered corrupt, was accidentally shot by his own brother, a pastor ( Rundberg personal file )