Handskrivet obduktionsprotokoll

Post Mortem of King Adolf Fredrik

Story of His Highness the King's Last Illness and Death, and the Opening and Embalming of the Royal Corpse.

Stockholm, 1771

Since the Almighty God has pleased to transfer His Royal Majesty our Most Gracious King, King ADOLPH FRIEDRICH, most reverently in memory, from this earthly call to a better life, on the 12th of February at ¼ to 9 in the evening, as it has previously been announced by the print, the opening of the royal corpse, on the 14th of February following, was performed, by high command, in the presence of all their Excellencies, the Lords of the Royal Council, present and the doctors of the royal court, the Medici Assessors of the Royal College, and Doctores Medici in Stockholm; and noted the following:


A bluish redness all over the back and loins, as well as all around the neck. The abdomen, especially above the navel, was much dissolved.


1. The omentum or the mesh was large and thick, stretched to the greater part forward and upward. The liver and stomach on the left side were especially tightly packed.

2. Abdomen large and distended, in appearance reddened, mostly on the side against the septum. Opposite the upper stomach mouth, the colour was darker. Stomach veins swollen with blood. Inside the stomach were remains of food, partly melted, partly still in smaller pieces, which had not begun to transform. This appears to be about three quarters, and was found, after several chemical experiments, to be nothing but the collection of food after the mid-day meal. After the stomach had been washed clean, its inner membranes were also generally found more or less red in patches. The same dark colour, which was visible on the outside of the belly, was even more evident on the inside, especially on the bottom and back. Around the lower stomach mouth, the blood vessels were very full.

3. The small intestines were distended with gas, and contained some of the same collection as was found in the stomach, and were especially red-blasted nearer to the duodenum and stomach. The duodenum was dark in colour, but mostly on the lower and posterior side. The jejunum was not completely empty, as usually happens, and, like the ileum, somewhat reddened.

4. The large intestines were mostly empty but congested with gases; otherwise in perfect condition.

5. The smaller end of the oesophagus was bloodshot and black-stained, mostly on the side closest to the upper mouth of the stomach, below and behind the stomach.

6. The upper side of the liver had its natural colour, but the lower side of the right lobe was somewhat darker. Gallbladder without fault.

7. The spleen, the intestine, both kidneys and the bladder, which was mostly empty, were in a healthy and natural state.

In the chest

1. The lungs were soft, of natural colour and texture.

2. The heart with all its great tubes healthy. The vena cava with the right auricle is only full of blood, but the rest is rather empty and somewhat limp, rather than too full.

In the head

1. All arteries, as well as major and minor blood vessels and membranes were not filled with blood.

2. There was a lot of water in the brain chambers, and the right one in particular was noticed to be distended from it.

3. The big and small brain were moist with such water.

To be able to give some information about His Majesty the King's last illness and all too hastily timed death, it is necessary to briefly mention something about His Majesty's health, especially during the last years.

His Majesty has been, ever since his happy arrival in Sweden, occasionally troubled with back pain and colic. Ten years ago, His Highness the King suffered from a long-lasting headache and severe migraine. At the same time the haemorrhoids flowed once and leeches were applied, and shortly afterwards a well cure at Loka was used, after which these torments were relieved.

Nevertheless, His Majesty has since been often troubled with a pressing pain in the pit of the stomach, whereupon pains over the lower back, sometimes constipation, and occasionally diarrhoea, accompanied by colic and rumble of weather occurred; a peculiar soreness around the navel, resulting in that nothing could be tolerated that pressed there; frequent headache, mostly at the back of the neck, which was relieved when the head began to perspire at night, as His Majesty during fits of fever and exercise was apt to perspire profusely.

These pains, as well as a pain in the arm and between the shoulders, have started more violently after colds, which His Majesty did not avoid, or considered to have dangerous consequences, as His Majesty did not like to complain about any pain that he felt; His Majesty, in between, and during movement in the open air, was well, had a good appetite, ate steady food, and had likewise accustomed himself to his pains. These last two years His Majesty has also complained of Pruritus haemorrhoidalis and had relief from cold water externally.

One can conclude from these and other circumstances that, although His Majesty was able to endure much fatigue, he nevertheless had a delicate constitution, and had long been troubled with haemorrhoids (molimina haemorrhoidalia), though they did not break out, and instead laid the basis of aforementioned afflictions.

When also, due to frequent colds, adequate evaporation was not allowed to lighten the blood, the serum sanguine has increased so much more, and with time increased in severity.

During the sharp winter cold, which has lasted for a long time this year, His Majesty has been exposed to many and severe colds both on the head and feet. Now came the unfortunate 12th of February, when His Majesty little more than three hours after the meal, which was strong and of steady food, was attacked by the most violent colic and spasms in the abdomen, which in haste also moved the head and brain, extorting a great deal sharp serum, and thereby squeezed together the parts indispensable to life, and quickly concluded in a killing asphyxia, and perfect apoplexia serosa, to the greatest sorrow and loss of all the inhabitants of the Swedish Kingdom.

Dr. Schützercrantz had performed the opening of the Royal corpse, and with great diligence and accuracy perfected the embalming, with the help of the court surgeon Justin, so that the earthly remains of the Most High King would soon be placed on a large king-worthy parade bed.

Abraham Bäck
Zacharias J. Strandberg
Johan Bergstral
Johhan A. Darelius
Roland Martin
D. v. Schulzenheim
P. J. Bergius
J. Pfeiffer
Is. Svensson

Present Doctores Medici Practici S.T.
H. Schutzercrantz
J. G. Hallman
A. Hedenberg
O. Acrel
J. F. Odhelius
C. F. Hoffberg
Carl Ribe