Caps

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Caps

 

an 18th-century Swedish political party.

At the end of the 1730’s, the proponents of the peaceful foreign policy conducted by the government of A. Horn were contemptuously nicknamed Caps (“nightcaps”) by their political foes, the Hats. The leaders of the Caps came from the large landowning aristocracy and opposed the oncoming war with Russia. In 1742 and 1743 the party had a majority in the Riksdag, but it lost it in 1745 and dissolved in 1747. It was reformed early in the 1760’s, but the so-called Young Caps made up virtually a new party. Attracting the opposition elements of the gentry to its ranks, it advanced an essentially bourgeois democratic program calling for economies in the state budget, greater freedom of enterprise, limitations on the privileges of the elite and the big bourgeoisie, freedom of the press, and equal opportunity for all estates to hold high state posts. The ideas of the Enlightenment strongly affected the Caps. With the diplomatic and financial support of Russia, they came to power in 1765. Their government, which lasted until 1769, was oriented toward Russia in foreign policy; it introduced a law on freedom of the press in 1766 and passed a number of other laws fulfilling the party program. After being displaced in 1769 by the Hats, the Caps again won a majority in the Riksdag in 1772 and returned to power. However, the palace revolution of Gustavus III in August 1772 led to their demise.

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