The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Fersen, Hans Axel, Count von

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FERSEN, Hans Axel, Count von, Swedish military officer and diplomat: b. Stockholm, Sweden, 4 Sept. 1755; d. there, 20 June 1810. He came to America in 1780 on the staff of Rochambeau; fought under Lafayette and received from Washington the Order of the Society of the Cincinnati. Later he returned to Paris where he had already been stationed in 1778-80; he became a favorite at court, and was the disguised coachman at the flight of the royal family from Versailles during the Revolution. He was deeply devoted to Queen Marie Antoinette and made a number of unsuccessful attempts to save her. His relations with her have been the subject of a number of books. He returned to Sweden, where he was received with honor, and in 1801 was made grand marshal of that country. He was entrusted with a number of important diplomatic missions. On suspicion of complicity in the death of Prince Christian of Sweden he was seized by a mob while marshaling the funeral procession, and beaten to death. After his brutal assassination his entire innocence was clearly established. Consult Carnegy, M., ‘A Queen's Knight; the Life of Count Axel de Fersen’ (London 1912); Fersen, Comte J. A. de, ‘The French Army in the Revolutionary War’ (in Magazine of American History, Vol. XXV, pp. 55 and 156, New York 1891); Gaulot, P., ‘Un Ami de la Reine’ (Paris 1894; translated into English as ‘A Friend of the Queen’ by C. Hoey, 2 vols., London 1894); Granath, W., ‘Fersenska Mordet. Historisk Roman’ (Stockholm 1904); Hansson, O, ‘L'Assassinat de Fersen’ (in Revue d'Histoire Diplomatique, Vol. XXV, p. 195, Paris 1911); Heidenstam, O. G. de, ‘Marie-Antoinette, Fersen et Barnave; leur Correspondance’ (Paris 1913); Klinckowström, R. M. de, ed., ‘Le Comte de Fersen et la Cour de France’ (2 vols., Paris 1878); O'Connor, T. P. ‘Some Old Love Stories’ (London 1895).