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Oscar I of Sweden

Oscar I of Sweden

King of Sweden and Norway between 1844-1859
The basics
Quick Facts
Occupations Composer
Countries France Sweden
A.K.A. Oscar I
Gender male
Birth July 4, 1799 (Paris)
Death July 8, 1859 (Stockholm)
Mother: Désirée Clary
Father: Charles XIV John of Sweden
Spouse: Josephine of Leuchtenberg
Children: franzingxxx klindix Charles XV of SwedenPrince GustafDuke of UpplandOscar II of SwedenPrincess Eugenie of SwedenPrince AugustDuke of DalarnaHjalmar Högqvist
Education Uppsala University, Lycée Louis-le-Grand
The details

Oscar I (born Joseph François Oscar Bernadotte; 4 July 1799 – 8 July 1859) was King of Sweden and Norway from 1844 to his death.
Oscar was the only son of French marshal Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte and his wife, Désirée Clary. As Charles XIII & II of Sweden was without heirs, his father was elected Crown Prince of Sweden in 1810 and eleven-year-old Oscar was created Duke of Södermanland. Oscar and his mother moved from Paris to Stockholm where Oscar quickly learned the Swedish language. His mother, however, had difficulty adjusting to the Swedish court and despised the cold weather. She left Sweden in the summer of 1811 and did not return until 1823. Oscar's father eventually succeeded Charles upon his death in 1818 as King Carl XIV John, founding the new Bernadotte dynasty. Seeking to legitimise the new dynasty, Oscar's father had selected four European princesses as potential brides for his son. Oscar eventually married Josephine of Leuchtenberg in 1823 and had five children with her.
During his father's lifetime Oscar served as viceroy of Norway twice, in 1824 and 1833. Oscar was more liberal compared to his father and took progressive views on education, freedom of the press, and penal reform among others, writing and publishing several articles on these subjects. He succeeded his father upon his death in 1844 and continued with his reform plans. Among these reforms was the equal inheritance rights for men and women. He also broke with his father's pro-Russia foreign policy. Later, he introduced new flags and symbols for Sweden and Norway in an effort to show equality between his two kingdoms.
In the 1850s, his health began to rapidly deteriorate, By September 1857, Oscar was paralyzed and his eldest son Carl was declared Regent. Oscar died at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on 8 July 1859 and was succeeded by his son, Carl XV.


Oscar Bernadotte a few years before being chosen with his father to be Swedish royalty.

Oscar I was born at 291 Rue Cisalpine in Paris (today: 32 Rue Monceau), the son of then French Minister of War, general Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte and Désirée Clary. He was named Joseph after his godfather Joseph Bonaparte who was married to his mother's elder sister, Julie Clary, but was also given the names François Oscar. The latter name was chosen by Napoleon after one of the heroes in the Ossian cycle of poems.

In August 1810, his father Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was elected Crown Prince of Sweden. Oscar and his mother moved from Paris to Stockholm (June 1811). Oscar's father was the first ruler of the current House of Bernadotte and his mother was Désirée Clary, Napoleon Bonaparte's first fiancée. Her sister, Julie Clary, was married to Napoleon's brother, Joseph Bonaparte. Désirée is said to have chosen Napoleon to be Oscar's godfather.

From King Charles XIII of Sweden, (Swedish: Karl XIII; Norwegian: Karl II) on the day of the royal adoption of his father, Oscar received the style of Royal Highness and the title of Duke of Södermanland. He quickly acquired the Swedish language. He had an excellent education. On January 17, 1816, he was elected an honorary member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and in 1818, he was appointed chancellor of Uppsala University, where he spent one semester.

In 1832-34 he completed the opera Ryno, the errant knight which had been left unfinished on the death of the young composer Eduard Brendler. In 1839 he wrote a series of articles on popular education, and (in 1841) he published an anonymous work, Om Straff och straffanstalter, advocating prison reforms. Twice during his father's lifetime he was viceroy of Norway. By proxy at the Leuchtenberg Palace in Munich on 22 May 1823 and in person at a wedding ceremony conducted in Stockholm on 19 June 1823 he married the Princess Josephine, daughter of Eugène de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg, and granddaughter of the Empress Josephine.

Crown prince Oscar of Sweden painted by Joseph Karl Stieler

Planned marriage

Oscar's father had selected four princesses as candidates for marriage, in order of his priority:

  • Vilhelmina of Denmark (born 18 January 1808), daughter of Frederick VI of Denmark and Marie Sophie of Hesse-Kassel (ultimately she married first Frederick VII of Denmark and second Karl, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg)
  • Josephine of Leuchtenberg (born 14 March 1807), daughter of Eugene, 1st Duke of Leuchtenberg and Augusta of Bavaria, whom he chose to marry.
  • Marie of Hesse-Kassel (born 6 September 1804), daughter of William II, Elector of Hesse and Augusta of Prussia (ultimately she married Bernard II of Saxe-Meiningen)
  • Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (born 3 February 1808), daughter of Charles Frederick I of Saxe-Weimar and Maria Pavlovna of Russia (ultimately she married Prince Charles of Prussia)
  • Hjalmar Lagerqvist, Sveriges drottningar


In 1824 and 1833, the Crown Prince was briefly Viceroy of Norway. In 1838 the king began to suspect that his son was plotting with the Liberal politicians to bring about a change of ministry, or even his own abdication. If Oscar did not actively assist the Opposition on this occasion, his disapprobation of his father's despotic behaviour was notorious, though he avoided an actual rupture. Yet his liberalism was of the most cautious and moderate character, as the Opposition, shortly after his accession (8 March 1844), discovered to their great chagrin. He would not hear of any radical reform of the cumbrous and obsolete Constitution of 1809. But one of his earliest measures was to establish freedom of the press. He also passed the first law towards gender equality in Sweden when he in 1845 declared that brothers and sisters should have equal inheritance, unless there was a will.

Daguerreotype of Oscar I in 1844; this is the first known photograph of a Swedish monarch.

He formally established equality between his two kingdoms by introducing new flags with the common Union badge of Norway and Sweden and a new coat of arms for the union. He also founded the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav on August 21, 1847, giving his Norwegian kingdom its own order of chivalry. Most of the legislation during Oscar I's reign aimed at improving the economic position of Sweden, and the Riksdag of the Estates, in its address to him in 1857, declared that he had promoted the material prosperity of the kingdom more than any of his predecessors.

In foreign affairs Oscar I was a friend of the principle of nationality. In 1848 he supported Denmark against the Kingdom of Prussia in the First War of Schleswig; placed Swedish and Norwegian troops in cantonments in Funen and North Schleswig (1849–1850); and mediated the Truce of Malmö (26 August 1848). He was also one of the guarantors of the integrity of Denmark (the London Protocol, 8 May 1852).

As early as 1850 Oscar I had conceived the plan of a dynastic union of the three Scandinavian kingdoms, but such difficulties presented themselves that the scheme had to be abandoned. He succeeded, however, in reversing his father's obsequious policy towards Imperial Russia. His fear lest Russia should demand a stretch of coast along the Varanger Fjord induced him to remain neutral during the Crimean War, and, subsequently, to conclude an alliance with Great Britain and the Second French Empire (25 November 1855) for preserving the territorial integrity of Sweden-Norway. He was the 968th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Spain.

Medal with the image of Oscar and Josephine (1829)


Oscar I left five legitimate children – four sons and one daughter. Two of his sons, Charles and Oscar, succeeded him to the throne.

  1. King Charles XV (Charles IV in Norway) (1826–1872)
  2. Prince Gustaf, Duke of Uppland (1827–1852)
  3. King Oscar II (1829–1907)
  4. Princess Eugenie (1830–1889)
  5. Prince August, Duke of Dalarna (1831–1873)

Oscar also had two sons (unofficially called the Princes of Lapland) by his mistress, the actress Emilie Högquist:

  1. Hjalmar Högquist, born 18 June 1839 in Hamburg, died 1874 in London.
  2. Max Högquist, born 12 August 1840 in Stockholm, died 1872 in China.

With another mistress, Jaquette Löwenhielm (née Gyldenstolpe), Oscar had a daughter

  1. Oscara Hilder née Meijergeer (1819–1880)
  • "Oscar 2, Konge". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  • Söderhjelm & Palmstierna in Oscar I, Bonniers, Stockholm 1944, p. 279


Arms and monogram

Coat of arms of Oscar, Duke of Södermanland.svg
Crown Prince, Duke of Södermanland
Blason du Prince Oscar 1826-1844.svg
Crown Prince, Duke of Södermanland
Armoiries des rois Oscar Ier et Charles XV de Suede.svg
King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway
Oskar I, monogram.svg
Royal Monogram of King Oscar I
of Sweden

Related reading

Oscar I
House of Bernadotte
Born: 4 July 1799 Died: 8 July 1859
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles XIV/III John
King of Sweden and Norway
Succeeded by
Charles XV/IV
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Charles XIII/II
Duke of Södermanland Succeeded by
Charles Oscar
Italian nobility
Preceded by
Duke of Galliera
with Josephine

Succeeded by
Raffaele de Ferrari

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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