House of Bernadotte

The House of Bernadotte (/ˌbɜːrnəˈdɒt/ BUR-nə-DOT)[a] is the royal house of Sweden, which has reigned since 1818. Between 1818 and 1905, it was also the royal house of Norway. Its founder Charles XIV John of Sweden, born a Frenchman as Jean Bernadotte, was adopted by the elderly King Charles XIII of Sweden, who had no other heir and whose Holstein-Gottorp branch of the House of Oldenburg thus was soon to be extinct.

House of Bernadotte
Arms of Bernadotte
Arms of Bernadotte
CountrySweden, Norway
FounderCharles XIV John
Current headCarl XVI Gustaf
Final rulerNorway: Oscar II

"By the Grace of God King of the Swedes, the Goths and the Wends"

"By the Grace of God King of Norway"
Estate(s)Sweden, Norway
DepositionNorway: 1905 Dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden

History of the Royal House

Following the conclusion of Finnish War in 1809, Sweden lost possession of Finland, which had constituted roughly the eastern half of the Swedish realm for centuries. Resentment towards King Gustav IV Adolf precipitated an abrupt coup d'état. Gustav Adolf (and his son Gustav) was deposed and his uncle Charles XIII was elected King in his place. However, Charles XIII was 61 years old and prematurely senile. He was also childless; one child had been stillborn and another died after less than a week. It was apparent almost as soon as Charles XIII ascended the throne that the Swedish branch of the House of Holstein-Gottorp would die with him. In 1810 the Riksdag of the Estates, the Swedish parliament, elected a Danish prince, Prince Christian August of Augustenborg, as heir-presumptive to the throne. He took the name Charles August, but died later that same year.

At this time, Emperor Napoleon I of France controlled much of continental Europe, and some of his client kingdoms were headed by his brothers. The Riksdag decided to choose a king of whom Napoleon would approve. On 21 August 1810, the Riksdag elected Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, a Marshal of France, as heir presumptive to the Swedish throne.

Karl XIV Johan, king of Sweden and Norway, painted by Fredric Westin
Charles John, born Jean Bernadotte, King of Sweden and Norway 1818-1844
Portrait by Fredric Westin.

The coat of arms of the House of Bernadotte dimidiates the coat of arms of the House of Vasa (heraldic right) and the coat of arms of Bernadotte as Prince of Pontecorvo (heraldic left). It is visible as an inescutcheon in the Greater Coat of Arms of the Realm.

When elected to be Swedish royalty the new heir had been called Prince Bernadotte according to the promotions he received from Emperor Napoleon I, culminating in sovereignty over the Principality of Pontecorvo. Some Swedish experts have asserted that all of his male heirs have had the right to use that Italian title, since the Swedish government never made payments promised Charles John to get him to give up his position in Pontecorvo.[1]

Some members of the house who lost their royal status and Swedish titles due to unapproved marriages have also been given the titles Prince Bernadotte and Count of Wisborg in the nobility of other countries.


Coat of arms of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte
Bernadotte's arms as sovereign of Pontecorvo

Bernadotte, born in the town of Pau, in the province of Béarn, France, had risen to the rank of general during the French Revolution. In 1798, he married Désirée Clary, whose sister was married to Joseph, Napoleon's elder brother. In 1804, Napoleon promoted Bernadotte to a Marshal of France. Napoleon also granted him the title "Prince of Pontecorvo".

As the Crown Prince of Sweden, he assumed the name Charles John (Swedish: Karl Johan) and acted as regent for the remainder of Charles XIII's reign. In 1813, he broke with Napoleon and led Sweden into the anti-Napoleon alliance. When Norway was awarded to Sweden by the Treaty of Kiel, Norway resisted and declared independence, triggering a brief war between Sweden and Norway. The war ended when Bernadotte persuaded Norway to enter into a personal union with Sweden. Instead of being merely a Swedish province, Norway remained an independent kingdom, though sharing a common monarch and foreign policy. Bernadotte reigned as Charles XIV John of Sweden and Charles III John of Norway from 5 February 1818 until his death on 8 March 1844.

The House of Bernadotte reigned in both countries until the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905. Prince Carl of Denmark was then elected as King Haakon VII of Norway. Carl was a grandson of King Charles XV of Sweden and a great-great-grandson of Charles XIV.

French origins

John Evangelist Bernadotte c 1811
Baron J. E. Bernadotte

King Charles John's first known paternal ancestor was Joandou du Poey, who was a shepherd. He married Germaine de Bernadotte in 1615 in the southern French city of Pau and began using her surname. Through her the couple owned a building there called de Bernadotte.[2]

A grandson of theirs, Jean Bernadotte (1649–1698), was a weaver.[3]

Another Jean Bernadotte (1683–1760), his son, was a tailor.[4]

His son Henri Bernadotte (1711–1780), father of the future Swedish–Norwegian king, was a local prosecutor, from a family of weavers and artisans,[5] who had once been imprisoned for debt.[6][7] This was a modest family which occupied only one floor of the house in a cross street in a popular and peripheral district of Pau.[8]

Two branches of the French Bernadotte family survive. The elder descends from Andrew (André) Bernadotte, an older granduncle of Carl John's, with descendants today in the general population of France. The younger branch divided in two, one branch descending from the king's older brother John (Jean Évangéliste) Bernadotte (1754–1813), the heads of which were French barons as of 1810 with Louvie Castle[9] in the south of Pau as their seat (branch extinct with the death of Baron Henry Bernadotte in 1966), and the other branch being the Swedish Royal House.[10]

Kings of Sweden

Great coat of arms of Sweden
Greater Coat of Arms of Sweden

Kings of Norway

Entire royal house

The list excludes in-laws and has persons currently alive (2018) in italics, all listed primarily as Swedish royalty unless otherwise noted.

See also


  1. ^ Swedish: [bæɳaˈdɔtː]


  1. ^ Bramstång, Gunnar (1990). Tronrätt, bördstitel och hustillhörighet (in Swedish). p. 30.
  2. ^ Ätten Bernadotte : biografiska anteckningar, [Andra tillökade uppl.], Johannes Almén, C. & E. Gernandts förlag, Stockholm 1893, p. 1
  3. ^ (in French).;pz=timothe;nz=billard;ocz=0;p=jean;n=bernadotte. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ (in French).;pz=timothe;nz=billard;ocz=0;p=jean;n=bernadotte;oc=1. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Bernadotte : un général de Napoléon devenu du Roi de Suède" (in French).
  6. ^ Bulletin du Musée Bernadotte volume 3-4, Pau 1958–1959, p. 57
  7. ^ "Le fabuleux destin de Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte : de Pau à Marseille" (in French).
  8. ^ "Victoria de Suède sur les pas de son aïeul" (in French).
  9. ^ "Photo du Château Louvie, à Jurançon - Côté Est" (in French). J. Callizo, photographe (1909). Archived from the original on 2016-03-12.
  10. ^ Bulletin du Musée Bernadotte charts on ancestry
  • Jean-Marc Olivier, "Bernadotte Revisited, or The Complexity of a Long Reign (1810–1844)", in Nordic Historical Review, number 2, October 2006, pp. 127–137.

External links

House of Bernadotte
Preceded by
House of Oldenburg
(Holstein-Gottorp branch)
Ruling house of the Kingdom of Sweden
Ruling house of the Kingdom of Norway
Succeeded by
House of Oldenburg
(Glücksburg branch)
House of Holstein-Gottorp (Swedish line)

The House of Holstein-Gottorp, a cadet branch of the Oldenburg dynasty, ruled Sweden from 1751 until 1818, and Norway from 1814 to 1818. The current royal family, Bernadotte, is de jure a branch of the Holstein-Gottorps due to the last Holstein-Gottorp king's adoption of the first Bernadotte king, Charles XIV John.

In 1743, Adolf Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp was elected crown prince of Sweden as a Swedish concession to Russia, a strategy for achieving an acceptable peace after the disastrous war of the same year. He became King of Sweden in 1751.

King Gustav III, Adolf Frederick's eldest son, was enthusiastic about the fact that through his great-great-grandmother their dynasty descended from the royal House of Vasa. He expressed wishes that their house be known as Vasa, as the new royal house of Vasa and the continuation of the original. There was no effective way to force this change. Historians have not agreed with Gustav's desires, and the house is always referred to as Holstein-Gottorp.

In 1809, Gustav III's son King Gustav IV Adolf was deposed following the loss of Finland, and the dynasty disappeared from Swedish history with the death of his uncle King Charles XIII in 1818. In 1810, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte (later Charles XIV John), a Marshal of France, was elected crown prince, and became the founder of the next and current Swedish dynasty, the House of Bernadotte.

In 1836, Gustav, the son of the deposed Gustav IV Adolf, was created Prince of Vasa in Austria (written Wasa). However, the use of that name ceased when the prince's only surviving child, his daughter Carola died without children.

The marriage of the future King Gustaf V to Princess Victoria of Baden in 1881 united the ruling House of Bernadotte with a descendant of the House of Holstein-Gottorp since Victoria was a great-granddaughter of the deposed Gustav IV Adolf.

Oscar I of Sweden

Oscar I (Joseph François Oscar Bernadotte; 4 July 1799 – 8 July 1859) was King of Sweden and Norway from 8 March 1844 until his death. He was the second monarch of the House of Bernadotte.

The only child of King Charles XIV & III John, Oscar inherited the thrones upon the death of his father. Throughout his reign he would pursue a liberal course in politics in contrast to Charles XIV, instituting reforms and improving ties between Sweden and Norway. In an address to him in 1857, the Riksdag declared that he had promoted the material prosperity of the kingdom more than any of his predecessors.

Prince Alexander, Duke of Södermanland

Prince Alexander of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland (Alexander Erik Hubertus Bertil; born 19 April 2016), is the first child and son of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia. He is a grandson of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. He is the elder brother of Prince Gabriel, Duke of Dalarna and is fifth in the line of succession to the Swedish throne.

Prince August, Duke of Dalarna

Prince Nikolaus August of Sweden and Norway, Duke of Dalarna (24 August 1831 – 4 March 1873) was the youngest of the five children of King Oscar I of Sweden and Josephine of Leuchtenberg.

Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland

Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland (Bertil Gustaf Oskar Carl Eugén; 28 February 1912 – 5 January 1997), was a member of the Swedish royal family. He was the third son of King Gustaf VI Adolf and his first wife, Princess Margaret of Connaught, as well as the uncle of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. From 1973 to 1977 he was heir presumptive to his nephew King Carl XVI Gustaf and the Swedish throne.

Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland

Prince Carl of Sweden and Norway, Duke of Västergötland (27 February 1861 – 24 October 1951) was a Swedish prince. Through his daughters, for whom he arranged excellent dynastic marriages, he is an ancestor of several members of European royal houses today, including the reigning monarchs King Harald V of Norway, King Philippe of Belgium, and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg.

Prince Carl Oscar, Duke of Södermanland

Prince Carl Oscar of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland (Carl Oscar Vilhelm Frederik; 14 December 1852 – 13 March 1854) was a prince of Sweden and Norway.

Prince Gabriel, Duke of Dalarna

Prince Gabriel of Sweden, Duke of Dalarna (Gabriel Carl Walther; born 31 August 2017) is the second child of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia. He is a grandson of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. His elder brother is Prince Alexander, Duke of Södermanland. Prince Gabriel is sixth in the line of succession to the Swedish throne as of June 2018.

Prince Gustaf, Duke of Uppland

Prince Gustaf of Sweden and Norway, Duke of Uppland (Frans Gustaf Oscar, 18 June 1827 at Haga Palace, Solna – 24 September 1852 in Kristiania, Norway), also known officially as Gustav, was the second son of Oscar I of Sweden and Josephine of Leuchtenberg, and the younger brother of Prince (from 1844 Crown Prince) Charles.

Prince Nicolas, Duke of Ångermanland

Prince Nicolas of Sweden, Duke of Ångermanland (Nicolas Paul Gustaf Bernadotte; born 15 June 2015) is the second child and only son of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill. He is ninth in the line of succession to the Swedish throne. At the time of his birth, he was sixth in line.

Prince Oscar, Duke of Skåne

Prince Oscar of Sweden, Duke of Skåne (Oscar Carl Olof; born 2 March 2016), is the younger child and only son of Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel. He is a grandson of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia and is third in the line of succession to the Swedish throne, after his mother and his sister, Princess Estelle.

Prince Wilhelm, Duke of Södermanland

Prince Wilhelm, Duke of Södermanland (Carl Wilhelm Ludvig; 17 June 1884 – 5 June 1965) was a Swedish and Norwegian prince. He authored a large number of books (primarily in Swedish) as Prins Wilhelm.

Princess Adrienne, Duchess of Blekinge

Princess Adrienne of Sweden, Duchess of Blekinge (Adrienne Josephine Alice Bernadotte; born 9 March 2018) is the third child and second daughter of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill. She is a granddaughter of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. She is tenth in the line of succession to the Swedish throne.

Princess Estelle, Duchess of Östergötland

Princess Estelle of Sweden, Duchess of Östergötland (Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary; born 23 February 2012), is the elder child and only daughter of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland. She is the eldest grandchild of King Carl XVI Gustaf, and is second in line of succession to the Swedish throne.

Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotland

Princess Leonore of Sweden, Duchess of Gotland (Leonore Lilian Maria Bernadotte; born 20 February 2014), is the eldest child of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill. She is eighth in the line of succession to the Swedish throne. At the time of her birth she was fifth in line.

Princess Margaretha of Sweden

Princess Margaretha of Sweden (Margaretha Sofia Lovisa Ingeborg; 25 June 1899 – 4 January 1977) was a member of the Swedish Royal Family and a Princess of Denmark by marriage. She was the elder sister of Crown Princess Märtha of Norway and Queen Astrid of Belgium.

Princess Therese of Saxe-Altenburg

Princess Therese of Saxe-Altenburg (21 December 1836 – 9 November 1914) was a Princess of Saxe-Altenburg by birth and a Princess of Sweden and Norway as the spouse of Prince August, Duke of Dalarna. She was known in Sweden as Teresia.

Sigvard Bernadotte

Sigvard Oscar Fredrik Bernadotte, Prince Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg (7 June 1907 – 4 February 2002), was a Swedish prince and industrial designer.

He was the second son of King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden and his first wife, Margaret, Duchess of Scania, a granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria. He was born a Swedish prince and was originally titled Duke of Uppland, but was no longer authorized to use his royal titles from 1934 when he married a commoner. He was a paternal uncle of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and a maternal uncle of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece.

Treaty of Paris (1810)

The Treaty of Paris, signed on 6 January 1810, ended the war between France and Sweden after Sweden's defeat by Russia, an ally of France, in the Finnish War of 1808-1809. Russia had previously been an ally of Sweden in the Third and Fourth Coalitions against France, but after Russia's defeat at Friedland, she joined France and attacked Sweden so as to compel her to join Napoleon's Continental System. The primary result of the treaty was Sweden's agreement to join the Continental System, so that Sweden would not trade with the United Kingdom. Shortly after the treaty was signed, on 21 August 1810, one of Napoleon's marshals, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, was elected crown prince of Sweden, and he went on to found the House of Bernadotte, which remains the Royal House of Sweden. The peace resulting from the treaty lasted until Napoleon's refusal to permit Sweden to annex Norway, which was then under the sovereignty of Denmark, an ally of France. This was followed in January 1812 by French occupation of Swedish Pomerania for violation of the Continental System, since Sweden was still trading with the United Kingdom, and, in April, Sweden's conclusion of the Treaty of Petersburg with Russia against France.

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