1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pechlin, Karl Fredrik

PECHLIN, KARL FREDRIK (1720–1796), Swedish politician and demagogue, son of the Holstein minister at Stockholm, was educated in Sweden, and entered the Swedish army. He rose to the rank of major-general, but became famous by being the type par excellence of the corrupt and egoistic Swedish parliamentarian of the final period of the Frihetstiden (see Sweden: History); he received for many years the sobriquet of “ General of the Riksdag.” Pechlin first appears prominently in Swedish politics in 1760, when by suddenly changing sides he contrived to save the “ Hats” from impeachment. Enraged at being thus excluded from power by their former friend, the “ Caps ” procured Pechlin's expulsion from the two following Riksdags. In 1769 Pechlin sold the “ Hats ” as he had formerly sold the “ Caps,” and was largely instrumental in preventing the projected indispensable reform of the Swedish constitution. During the revolution of 1772 he escaped from Stockholm and kept quietly in the background. In 1786, when the opposition against Gustavus III. was gathering strength, Pechlin reappeared in the Riksdag as one of the leaders of the malcontents, and is said to have been at the same time in the pay of the Russian court. In 1789 he was one of the deputies whom Gustavus III. kept under lock and key till he had changed the government into a semi-absolute monarchy. It is fairly certain that Pechlin was at the bottom of the plot for murdering Gustavus in 1792. On the eve of the assassination (March 16) the principal conspirators met at his house to make their final preparations and discuss the form of government which should be adopted after the king's death. Pechlin undertook to crowd the fatal masquerade with accomplices, but took care not to be there personally. He was arrested on the 17th of March, but nothing definite could ever be proved against him. Nevertheless he was condemned to imprisonment in the fortress of Varberg, where he died four years later.

See R. N. Bain, Gustavus III. and his Contemporaries (London, 1905).  (R. N. B.)