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The Swedish King Who Ate Himself to Death

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Ravi loves writing within the cusp of relationships, history, and the bizarre, where boundaries are blurred and possibilities are immense.

Adolf Frederick was king of Sweden who ate himself to death

Adolf Frederick was king of Sweden who ate himself to death

Gluttony Is One of the 7 Cardinal Sins

In Roman Catholic theology, there are 7 deadly sins or 7 cardinal sins that spur other sins and encourage immoral behavior.

First enumerated by Pope Gregory I (the Great) in the 6th century and later elaborated in the 13th century by St. Thomas Aquinas, these sins are often thought to be gross abuses that every human being need to curb before dire consequences and misdeeds could occur. And one of these sins is gluttony or overeating.

Yes, while overeating does not appear much like a sin at first sight, but scientific studies have proved that our forefathers were not wrong in classifying it as a sin of the worst kind.

In 1999, physicians Gene-Jack Wang and Nora Volkow of Brookhaven National Laboratory conducted a detailed study on the brain workings of overeaters and drug addicts. The results were interesting.

They observed that both overeating and drug addiction alters the same brain circuits. This altering of the pathways as they called these circuits make them helpless (or addicted) to run after ‘stronger’ thrills again and again despite having enough of it. This is the reason that a glutton craves more food and a drug addict craves more cocaine so that he/she can continue to ‘experience’ the thrill.

As Wang says.

“The continuous need to get thrilled makes his brain go wild and leads to lack of decision making and control. The more one eats, the more he gets thrilled.”

That brings us to another question.

Can anybody die of overeating? The answer is yes, and the best example is Adolf Frederick, King of Sweden from 1751 to 1771 who died by eating excess gourmet food. He became the only king in the world who ate himself to death.

While overeating does not appear much like a sin at first sight, but scientific studies have proved that our forefathers were not wrong in classifying it as a sin of the worst kind.

While overeating does not appear much like a sin at first sight, but scientific studies have proved that our forefathers were not wrong in classifying it as a sin of the worst kind.

The Story of Adolf Frederick

King Adolf Frederick was born on the 14th of May 1710. He was the son of Christian August and Albertina Frederica.

He became the king of Sweden on the 25th of March 1751 and ruled for 20 years. He was a weak king but was considered a caring father and a loving husband. During his rule the country witnessed an extended period of peace and saw the Swedish parliament pass the world’s first legislation, supporting freedom of the press and freedom of information.

But the king is best remembered for the comically sad way his reign ended, by extreme overeating.

One of Adolf Frederick's greatest pleasures in life was eating, and he was addicted to gluttony by indulging in overeating even when full.

One of Adolf Frederick's greatest pleasures in life was eating, and he was addicted to gluttony by indulging in overeating even when full.

Adolf Frederick Was Addicted to Food

It was a holiday for Shrove Tuesday on February 12, 1771, and Adolf Frederick decided to observe the holiday by satisfying his indulgence for good food. One of his greatest pleasures in life was eating, and he was addicted to gluttony by indulging in overeating even when full.

The king ordered a big meal from the royal kitchen that included lobster, caviar, kippers, sauerkraut, boiled meats, and turnips. Given the enormity of the meal, it would have been expected that the king would at least skip dessert. But he did not. Frederick had a very healthy appetite and a huge, sweet tooth.

After washing the meal down with champagne, he decided to have semlas for dessert. Semlas are buns made from white flour that is a traditional Swedish comfort ‘food’ invented in 1541. A typical semla is a heavy bun dish covered with cream, chocolates, fruits, and topped with hot milk and raisins.

While most Swedes manage to eat a maximum of two to three semlas in one go, the king decided to eat 14 of them in one sitting. They were served to him topped in hot milk and flavored with cinnamon and raisins.

Semlas are buns made from white flour that is a traditional Swedish comfort ‘food’ invented in 1541. A typical semla is a heavy bun dish covered with cream, chocolates, fruits, and topped with hot milk and raisins.

Semlas are buns made from white flour that is a traditional Swedish comfort ‘food’ invented in 1541. A typical semla is a heavy bun dish covered with cream, chocolates, fruits, and topped with hot milk and raisins.

Later That Night, His Stomach Pains Started

One by one he sent them into his mouth and soon all 14 were gone. Later that night, the pains started. His stomach began to pain which steadily increased in intensity. Physicians were called immediately but the time they came, the king was in deep throes of pain and his digestive tracts stopped functioning. His condition steadily worsened, and he died a few hours later.

Despite his bizarre death, he was deeply mourned by his loved ones who had witnessed his friendship and hospitality. He is still remembered as the kind king who met with a comically undignified death just because of overeating.

Sources

© 2021 Ravi Rajan

Comments

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on August 31, 2021:

Thanks, Denise.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on August 31, 2021:

That might be one of the reasons Teodora. We would never know why he overate. Thanks for your comments.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on August 31, 2021:

Thanks Linda for your comments.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on August 31, 2021:

Thanks Joanne

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 31, 2021:

What a sad way to go. This was very interesting. I never heard of anyone going quite that far. I think there must have been some other underlying health issues.

Bllessings,

Denise

Teodora Gheorghe on August 31, 2021:

What a way to die... He must have craved for affection. People often overeat when they feel unworthy of love or overly stressed.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 31, 2021:

This is a sad but interesting story. I like the fact that the king was kind to his family. It’s a shame that his huge desire for food couldn’t be helped, though.

Joanne Hayle from Wiltshire, U.K. on August 31, 2021:

I enjoyed reading this. very informative.

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on August 31, 2021:

Thanks, Misbah for your insightful comments.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on August 31, 2021:

Ravi, this was an interesting read. This is so sad that the king died because of eating so much.

In Quran Allah says in Surah Taha, verse 81:

“Eat and drink, but avoid excess.” [20:81].

“And He enforced the balance. That you exceed not the bounds; but observe the balance strictly, and fall not short thereof.” [55:7-9]

In one Hadith Prophet PBUH said,

“No human being has ever filled a container worse than his own stomach. The son of Adam needs no more than a few morsels of food to keep up his strength, doing so he should consider that a third of his stomach is for food, a third for drink and a third for breathing” [Ibn Maja].

Thanks for sharing this beautiful hub and for creating awareness about bad eating habits can lead one to death.

Blessings to you!!

Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on August 31, 2021:

Thanks, Liz for your comments.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 31, 2021:

I had not heard this sad tale before. It is such a shame that his death was avoidable.

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