From A Drug-Fueled Car Cash To A ‘Surfeit Of Lampreys,’ These Are The Strangest And Most Gruesome Royal Deaths In History

Published November 15, 2022
Updated November 16, 2022

King Adolf Frederick Of Sweden Who ‘Ate Himself To Death’

King Adolf Frederick

DeAgostini/Getty ImagesKing Adolf Frederick is best known for his rather embarrassing royal death.

King Adolf Frederick of Sweden was a middling king who would have likely left little mark on history if not for the way he died. On Feb. 12, 1771, the Swedish monarch apparently ate himself to death.

Until that point, Adolf Frederick hadn’t accomplished much. According to Ancient Origins, he was born a younger son of a Swedish noble who, thanks to maneuvering by Elizabeth of Russia, ended up as heir to the Swedish throne. Once there, he was more a figurehead than a ruler.

But though Adolf Frederick had little power, he had a royal appetite. And as the monarch prepared for Lent in 1771, he sat down for a feast fit for a king.

Semlas Royal Deaths

Getty ImagesAfter tucking into a generous feast, Adolf Frederick allegedly enjoyed more than a dozen semlas, a cream-filled Swedish pastry.

On Fettisdagen, or Fat Tuesday, Adolf Frederick tucked into a meal that included lobster, caviar, kippers, sauerkraut, boiled meats, and turnips, all washed down with generous pours of champagne. He might have survived the night if he’d stopped there, but the king also called for a dessert.

After his feast, Adolf Frederick enjoyed semlas, Swedish pastries filled with cream that were traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday. Not only did the king feast on 14 of these pastries, but he also enjoyed them alongside a bowl of hot milk flavored with cinnamon and raisins.

Unsurprisingly, he complained of a stomachache soon afterward. The king’s stomachache got worse and worse, until Adolf Frederick died, apparently from severe digestive problems. His embarrassing royal death cemented the king in history and, indeed, he’s remembered for little else.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
Citation copied
Cite This Article
Fraga, Kaleena. "From A Drug-Fueled Car Cash To A ‘Surfeit Of Lampreys,’ These Are The Strangest And Most Gruesome Royal Deaths In History.", November 15, 2022, Accessed May 28, 2024.