Fersen, Count Hans Axel

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Count Hans Axel Fersen, 1755–1810, Swedish soldier and diplomat; son of Count Fredrik Axel Fersen. He entered (1779) the French service, was aide-de-camp of comte de Rochambeau in the American Revolution, and later at the court of Versailles became a favorite of Marie Antoinette. He was recalled (1784) to Sweden, but returned to Paris on the eve of the French Revolution. In 1791 he helped the marquis de Bouillé plan the flight of Louis XVI and Marie Antionette, and he himself drove their coach outside the city limits, but the king and queen were arrested at Varennes. Fersen later held diplomatic posts at Vienna and Brussels and in 1801 was made marshal of Sweden by Gustavus IV, whom he accompanied to Germany in the Napoleonic Wars. After the Swedish revolution of 1809 that forced Gustavus IV to abdicate, Fersen was accused by popular rumor of reactionary intrigues and was killed by a mob.

See his diaries (tr. 1902); biography by S. Loomis (1972); M. Coryn, Marie Antoinette and Axel de Fersen (1938); E. John (pseud. of E. V. Simpson), Kings' Masque (1941).

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