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In 2011, one of the popular stories over the Internet was a history of The Lion of Gripsholm Castle. The Swedish language version of the linked blog entry was the one responsible for spreading this story.

The most detailed description of the Lion's story comes from the Mental Floss website article:

King Frederik I of Sweden was given gifts from the Bey of Algiers in 1731. These included a lion, another wildcat, three hyenas, and a freed slave who became the animals' keeper. The creatures lived out their lives at Djurgården, the Royal Game Park.

Quite a few years after the lion died, some of its remains were sent to a taxidermist to be mounted. All that was left was the pelt and some bones. The taxidermist was not at all familiar with this animal called a lion. So he did the best he could with what he had. (...)

King Frederik's lion is on display to this day at Gripsholm Castle, a former royal residence and now a museum in Mariefred, Södermanland, Sweden.

I don't care what was the reason that poor lion looks like that, as I doubt there can be any verifiable answer. I'm much more intrigued with the origin of the gift.

Unfortunately I couldn't find any valuable sources for this story on the Internet, even the official website of the Museum at Gripsholm Castle doesn't write about it.

But when I've tried to investigate it a bit, it turned out that there was no such person as Bey of Algiers (or bejen av Alger, as in the original Swedish text).

In 1731, Algieria was known as the Regency of Algiers, a territory of Ottoman Empire. According to Wikipedia, the official title of its ruler was Dey, who nominated three beys, governors of provinces, which were called beyliks:

The realm of the dey of Alger was divided into three provinces (Constantine, Titteri and Mascara), each of which was administered by a bey (باي) whom he appointed.

I'll just clarify that the province name for Mascara was Couchant, while Mascara was one of three towns from which beys governed in different years, with Mascara being the right one for 1731, moved there by Mustapha bou Chelagram (Mustafa al Masrafi) from Mazouna in 1710 and later in 1792 to Oran.

This way Frederik I could receive the gift from at least 4 different persons. I can suppose such a gift for an European king would come from the most important of them. But even that it's not clear. According to English language Wikipedia list, the dey in 1731 was Abdy Pasha. However French language list claims that Abdy Pasha (Kurd Abdi) was replaced by Ibrahim III in 1731, not 1732. So even in this situation, there are at least 2 and up to 5 candidates.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any English and French language Internet materials related to any of them.

This way I wonder, who exactly made that gift to Frederik I of Sweden, on what opportunity and why? From what I know, there weren't any important contacts between Regency of Algiers and Sweden in 18th century, but my knowledge on this subject is narrow.

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No one can say that you havent done your research. :) –  Russell Mar 19 '13 at 8:05
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