House of Bernadotte

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House of Bernadotte
Arms of Bernadotte.svg
Arms of Bernadotte
Country Sweden, Norway
Founded1818;201 years ago (1818)
Founder Charles XIV John
Current head Carl XVI Gustaf
Final rulerNorway: Oscar II

"By the Grace of God King of the Swedes, the Goths and the Wends" (used until 1973)


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

The House of Bernadotte [lower-alpha 1] 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.

Monarchy of Sweden Rulers of Sweden

The Monarchy of Sweden concerns the monarchical head of state of Sweden, which is a constitutional and hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary system. The Kingdom of Sweden has been a monarchy since time immemorial. Originally an elective monarchy, it became an hereditary monarchy in the 16th century during the reign of Gustav Vasa, though virtually all monarchs before that belonged to a limited and small number of families which are considered to be the royal dynasties of Sweden.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund Strait. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. The capital city is Stockholm. Sweden has a total population of 10.3 million of which 2.5 million have a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi) and the highest urban concentration is in the central and southern half of the country.

Monarchy of Norway head of state of Norway

The Norwegian monarch is the monarchical head of state of Norway, which is a constitutional and hereditary monarchy with a parliamentary system. The Norwegian monarchy can trace its line back to the reign of Harald Fairhair and the previous petty kingdoms which were united to form Norway; it has been in unions with both Sweden and Denmark for long periods.

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.

Finnish War 1808–1809 war between Russia and Sweden

The Finnish War was fought between the Kingdom of Sweden and the Russian Empire from the 21st of February 1808 to the 17th of September 1809. As a result of the war, the eastern third of Sweden was established as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire. Other notable effects were the Swedish parliament's adoption of a new constitution and the establishment of the House of Bernadotte, the new Swedish royal house, in 1818.

Finland Republic in Northern Europe

Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. The capital and largest city is Helsinki. Other major cities are Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku.

Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden King of Sweden between 1792-1809

Gustav IV Adolf or Gustav IV Adolph was King of Sweden from 1792 until his abdication in 1809. He was also the last Swedish ruler of Finland.

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.

A heir presumptive is the person entitled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honour, but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an heir apparent or of a new heir presumptive with a better claim to the position in question. The position is however subject to law and/or conventions that may alter who is entitled to be heir presumptive.

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

Coat of arms unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon

A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design on an escutcheon, surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the full heraldic achievement which in its whole consists of shield, supporters, crest, and motto. A coat of arms is traditionally unique to an individual person, family, state, organization or corporation.


In heraldry, dimidiation is a method of marshalling two coats of arms.

House of Vasa dynasty

The House of Vasa was an early modern royal house founded in 1523 in Sweden, ruling Sweden 1523–1654, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth 1587–1668, and the Tsardom of Russia 1610–1613. Its agnatic line became extinct with the death of King John II Casimir of Poland in 1672.

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. [3]

Prince Bernadotte was a title granted to men who were formerly titled as princes of Sweden before losing their royal titles when they married unequally and against the Swedish constitution. It was created in 1892 as a non-hereditary title in the nobility of Luxembourg and conferred upon Oscar Bernadotte by Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg. A title with the same name was subsequently created in 1937 as a non-hereditary title in the nobility of Belgium and conferred upon Carl Bernadotte by King Leopold III of Belgium. The wives of these princes of Luxembourgish and Belgian nobility were then granted the title of Princess Bernadotte. The title was also used in the early 19th century with reference to Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, the subsequent founder of the Swedish royal House of Bernadotte.

Principality of Pontecorvo created by Napoleon I Bonaparte

The Principality of Pontecorvo was a principality in Italy created by Napoleon after he became King of Italy in 1805. It consisted of the Italian commune of Pontecorvo, an enclave of the Papal States from 1463 within the territory of the Kingdom of Naples.

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.

Count of Wisborg

Count of Wisborg is a title granted by the monarchs of Luxembourg to some men formerly titled as princes of Sweden and their descendants.

Nobility Official privileged social class

Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately under royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than most other classes in society. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary, and vary by country and era. As referred to in the Medieval chivalric motto noblesse oblige, nobles can also carry a lifelong duty to uphold various social responsibilities, such as honorable behavior, customary service, or leadership positions. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically hereditary.


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

The king's mother Jeanne Jeanne Bernadotte (1728-1809) (Louis Andre Fabre) - Nationalmuseum - 24994.tif
The king's mother Jeanne
Baron J. E. Bernadotte John Evangelist Bernadotte c 1811.jpg
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. [4]

A grandson of theirs, Jean Bernadotte (1649–1698), was a weaver. [5]

Another Jean Bernadotte (1683–1760), his son, was a tailor. [6]

His son Henri Bernadotte (1711–1780) married Jeanne de Saint-Jean (1728–1809) and with her was the father of the future Swedish–Norwegian king. Henri was a local prosecutor, from a family of artisans, [7] who had once been imprisoned for debt. [8] [9] 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. [10]

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 [11] 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. [12]

Kings of Sweden

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

Kings of Norway

Entire royal house

The list excludes in-laws and living persons (2019) who were royal when born but no longer are today. Royalty currently alive is listed in italics. All are listed primarily as Swedish royalty unless otherwise noted.

See also


Related Research Articles

Charles XIV John of Sweden King of Sweden and Norway between 1818-1844. Prince of Ponte Corvo 1806-1810 and French field marshal

Charles XIV John or Carl John, was King of Sweden and King of Norway from 1818 until his death in 1844.

Oscar I of Sweden King of Sweden and Norway between 1844-1859

Oscar I was King of Sweden and Norway from 8 March 1844 until his death. He was the second monarch of the House of Bernadotte.

Oscar II of Sweden King of Sweden and Norway

Oscar II was the King of Sweden from 1872 until his death, and was also the final King of Norway from the House of Bernadotte.

Princess Margaret of Connaught British princess

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Princess Ingeborg of Denmark Danish Princess

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The 1810 Act of Succession is one of four Fundamental Laws of the Realm and thus forms part of the Swedish Constitution. The Act regulates the line of succession to the Swedish Throne and the conditions which eligible members of the Swedish Royal Family must abide by in order to remain in it.

Prince Oscar Bernadotte Prince of Sweden and Norway

Prince Oscar Carl August Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg was a Swedish religious activist, the second son of King Oscar II of Sweden and his consort, Sofia of Nassau. Born as a Prince of Sweden and Norway, after the Norwegian secession from Sweden, he was known as Prince Oscar, Duke of Gotland. However, by marrying contrary to Swedish constitutional requirements, he lost those titles, becoming instead Luxembourgish nobility as Prince Bernadotte and Count of Wisborg.

House of Holstein-Gottorp (Swedish line) cadet branch of the Oldenburg dynasty, ruled Sweden from 1751 until 1818, and Norway from 1814 to 1818

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.

Swedish royal family

The Swedish royal family since 1818 has consisted of a number of persons in the Swedish Royal House of Bernadotte, closely related to the King of Sweden. Today those who are recognized by the government are entitled to royal titles and style, and perform official engagements and ceremonial duties of state. The extended family of the King consists of other close relatives who are not royal and thus do not represent the country officially.

Duchies in Sweden Wikimedia list article

Duchies in Sweden have been allotted since the 13th century to powerful Swedes, almost always to princes of Sweden and wives of the latter. From the beginning these duchies were often centers of regional power, where their dukes and duchesses had considerable executive authority of their own, under the central power of their kings or queens regnant. Since the reign of King Gustav III the titles have practically been nominal, with which their bearers only rarely have enjoyed any ducal authority, though often maintaining specially selected leisure residences in their provinces and some limited measure of cultural attachment to them.

Carl Johan Bernadotte Swedish prince

Carl Johan Arthur Bernadotte, Prince Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg, was the fourth son and fifth and youngest child of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden and his first wife Princess Margaret of Connaught.

Kungliga begravningsplatsen burial place of the royal family on the island of Karlsborg, Sweden

Kungliga begravningsplatsen, known in English as the Royal Cemetery, was first used in 1922 and has been the only official burial place of the Swedish Royal Family since 1950, succeeding Riddarholm Church as such. It takes up all of the small island of Karlsborg in the bay of Brunnsviken. The cemetery is part of the popular Haga Park in Solna, Sweden.

Carl of Sweden - English also often: Charles ; Swedish also officially: Karl - may refer to:

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François Clary 18th-century French merchant

François Clary was a wealthy French merchant and is an ancestor of many European monarchs by two of his daughters. He was the father of Julie Clary, Queen of Naples and Sicily and of Spain and the Indies as married to Joseph Bonaparte, a brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was also the father of Désirée Clary, who at first was engaged to Napoleon and later became Queen of Sweden and Norway as married King Charles XIV John.

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  1. "Bernadotte". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  2. "Bernadotte, Folke" (US) and "Bernadotte, Folke". Oxford Dictionaries . Oxford University Press . Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  3. Bramstång, Gunnar (1990). Tronrätt, bördstitel och hustillhörighet (in Swedish). p. 30.
  4. Ätten Bernadotte : biografiska anteckningar, [Andra tillökade uppl.], Johannes Almén, C. & E. Gernandts förlag, Stockholm 1893, p. 1
  5. (in French).;pz=timothe;nz=billard;ocz=0;p=jean;n=bernadotte.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. (in French).;pz=timothe;nz=billard;ocz=0;p=jean;n=bernadotte;oc=1.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. "Bernadotte : un général de Napoléon devenu du Roi de Suède" (in French).
  8. Bulletin du Musée Bernadotte volume 3–4, Pau 1958–1959, p. 57
  9. "Le fabuleux destin de Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte : de Pau à Marseille" (in French).
  10. "Victoria de Suède sur les pas de son aïeul" (in French).
  11. "Photo du Château Louvie, à Jurançon – Côté Est" (in French). J. Callizo, photographe (1909). Archived from the original on 2016-03-12.
  12. Bulletin du Musée Bernadotte charts on ancestry
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)