Thursday, July 19, 2012

The First Bernadotte King of Sweden

Reprinted with the author's permission

King Carl XIV Johann and the End of the Holstein-Gottorp Dynasty

King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden - Per Krafft

King Carl XIII was the last Holstein-Gottorp ruler of Sweden, and was succeeded by Jean Baptiste Bernadotte as King Carl XIV Johann, beginning a new royal dynasty.
The Holstein-Gottorp dynasty had ruled Sweden for centuries, but when King Carl XIII lacked an heir the Swedish government had to appoint one. After much negotiation, they appointed the French Marshall Jean Baptiste Bernadotte to succeed King Carl XIII, and Bernadotte began a new Swedish royal dynasty when he ascended the throne as King Carl XIV Johann in 1818.

The Last Holstein-Gottorp Kings of Sweden

When the unpopular King Gustav IV Adolf was deposed and banished in 1809, Sweden chose his uncle Carl to succeed him. King Carl XIII was very popular and did much to help the Swedish people. Unfortunately, he was also very old and ill, and because he had no children the Swedish government knew they would have to find someone to be their next king.
King Carl XIII had adopted the Danish Prince Carl August to be his heir. Prince Carl August was very popular, but unfortunately died in 1810 after a fall from his horse. There were even rumors that the Gustavians, those who still supported the deposed King Gustav IV Adolf, had assassinated him. A new crown prince had to be chosen, and another Dane, Prince Frederick Christian of Augustenberg, was chosen to succeed King Carl XIII.

Jean Baptiste Bernadotte Accepts the Swedish Throne

Not all Swedes were happy with Prince Frederick Christian of Augustenberg being their new king. Lieutenant Carl Otto Morner in particular was against having a Dane be the new king because he feared it would make Sweden a Danish province. So without any authority to do so, Morner went to Paris and started asking Napoleonic war heroes if any of them would like to be the new king of Sweden. After some deliberation, Marshall Bernadotte accepted.
Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was a French Marshall and General who had risen under Napoleon during the war. In 1806, he had even been made Prince of Ponte Corvo, near Naples, and from 1807 to 1809 had been General Governor of Hamburg. Marshall Bernadotte was a good soldier but an even better administrator and organizer, and was known for being good to his own soldiers and fair with prisoners of war.
Although Jean Baptiste Bernadotte had accepted Morner’s proposition, the Swedish government had not authorized any of this. When Morner returned to Sweden he was put under house arrest for his disruptive actions. King Carl XIII, the government, and a committee to appoint the new Swedish heir all still backed Prince Frederick Christian of Augustenberg.

Prince Frederick Christian of Augustenberg may have been the next Swedish king were it not for the actions of the French businessman Jean Antoine Fournier. Fournier arrived in Sweden to argue for the appointment of Bernadotte as the next Swedish king. Fournier did not have much to back his position, just a letter of recommendation from the Swedish consul in Paris. Nevertheless, Fournier was able to get the support of Swedish Prime Minister Lars von Engestrom, largely with the promise of a significant amount of money to be given to the Swedish Chancellor.

Sweden Elects Jean Baptiste Bernadotte Heir to the Swedish Throne

On August 21, 1810, the Swedish Parliament elected Jean Baptiste Bernadotte to be Crown Prince of Sweden. In preparation for becoming king of Sweden, he renounced Catholicism and adopted the Evangelical faith. In November of 1810, he was adopted by King Carl XIII and became Crown Prince Carl Johann of Sweden.
In March of 1811, he was declared regent because of King Carl XIII’s declining health. On February 5, 1818, King Carl XIII died, ending the Holstein-Gottorp dynasty and ushering in the Bernadottes as the new royal family in Sweden. King Carl XIV Johann began a dynasty that is still in power today.
Source:European Royal Families. Nordern Publishing House Ltd., 1993.

Read more at Suite101: The First Bernadotte King of Sweden: King Carl XIV Johann and the End of the Holstein-Gottorp Dynasty |

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