Henrika Tandefelt: Konsten att härska [The art of ruling]

27 March 2009 | Mini reviews

Konsten att härskaKonsten att härska. Gustaf III inför sina undersåtar
[The art of ruling. Gustav III in the presence of his subjects]
Helsingfors: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland / Stockholm: Atlantis, 2008. 439 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-583-159-0
€ 35, hardback

The book, based on Henrika Tandefelt’s  doctoral dissertation (2007), explores the meaning of kingship in Gustavian political culture. King Gustav III (1746–1792), who ruled over Sweden and its ‘Finnish territory’ with his machinery of government officials, devoted himself to phenomena which have received little attention from historians. Complicated rules of etiquette, ceremonies, tournaments, and various genres of art were the object of much study on the part of the king, who had both ethical and political aims in meddling in these. Tandefelt examines topics like royal favours – the granting of noble ranks, and medals and titles – and the rhetoric used by the king. The final part of the book looks at Gustav III’s actions against Russia during the 1788–1790 war.

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