Oscar II of Sweden

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Oscar II
King Oscar II of Sweden in uniform.png
King of Sweden
Reign18 September 1872 – 8 December 1907
Coronation 12 May 1873
Predecessor Charles XV
Successor Gustaf V
King of Norway
Reign18 September 1872 – 26 October 1905
Coronation 18 July 1873
Predecessor Charles IV
Successor Haakon VII
Born(1829-01-21)21 January 1829
Stockholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Died8 December 1907(1907-12-08) (aged 78)
Stockholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Burial19 December 1907
Sophia of Nassau (m. 1857)
Issue Gustaf V of Sweden
Prince Oscar Bernadotte
Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland
Prince Eugén, Duke of Närke
Full name
Oscar Fredrik
House Bernadotte
Father Oscar I of Sweden
Mother Josephine of Leuchtenberg
Religion Church of Sweden
Signature Autograf, Oscar II, Nordisk familjebok.png

Oscar II (Oscar Fredrik; [1] 21 January 1829 – 8 December 1907) was King of Sweden from 1872 until his death, and the last Bernadotte King of Norway from 1872 until his dethronement in 1905.

House of Bernadotte royal house of Sweden

The House of Bernadotte 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.


Oscar was king during a time when Sweden was undergoing a period of industrialization and rapid technological progress. His reign also saw the gradual decline of the Union of Sweden and Norway, which culminated in its dissolution in 1905. He was subsequently succeeded as King of Norway by his grandnephew Prince Carl of Denmark under the regnal name Haakon VII, and as King of Sweden by his eldest son, Gustaf V.

Dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden the dissolution of the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway

The dissolution of the union between the kingdoms of Norway and Sweden under the House of Bernadotte, was set in motion by a resolution of the Norwegian Parliament on 7 June 1905. Following some months of tension and fear of war between the neighbouring nations – and a Norwegian plebiscite held on 13 August which overwhelmingly backed dissolution – negotiations between the two governments led to Sweden's recognition of Norway as an independent constitutional monarchy on 26 October 1905. On that date, King Oscar II renounced his claim to the Norwegian throne, effectively dissolving the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, and this event was swiftly followed, on 18 November, by the accession to the Norwegian throne of Prince Carl of Denmark, taking the name of Haakon VII.

Haakon VII of Norway King of Norway

Haakon VII, known as Prince Carl of Denmark until 1905, was a Danish prince who became the first king of Norway after the 1905 dissolution of the union with Sweden. He reigned from November 1905 until his death in September 1957.

Harald V, the present king of Norway, is a great-grandson of Oscar II, through his third son Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland.

Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland Swedish prince

Prince Carl of Sweden and Norway, Duke of Västergötland 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.

Early life

Oscar Fredrik was born in Stockholm on 21 January 1829, the third of four sons of Crown Prince Oscar and Josephine of Leuchtenberg. Upon his birth, he was created Duke of Östergötland. During his childhood he was placed in the care of the royal governess countess Christina Ulrika Taube. [2]

Stockholm Capital city in Södermanland and Uppland, Sweden

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous urban area in the Nordic countries; 965,232 people live in the municipality, approximately 1.6 million in the urban area, and 2.4 million in the metropolitan area. The city stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Outside the city to the east, and along the coast, is the island chain of the Stockholm archipelago. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is also the capital of Stockholm County.

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.

Josephine of Leuchtenberg Swedish queen

Joséphine of Leuchtenberg or Joséphine de Beauharnais was Queen of Sweden and Norway as the wife of King Oscar I, as well as Princess of Bologna from birth and Duchess of Galliera from 1813. She was known as Queen Josefina, and was regarded to be politically active during the reign of her spouse. She acted as his political adviser and actively participated in state affairs. She was particularly active within the laws of religion in Sweden and Norway, and is attributed to have introduced more liberal laws regarding religion.

He entered the navy at the age of eleven, and was appointed junior lieutenant in July 1845. Later he studied at Uppsala University, where he distinguished himself in mathematics. On 13 December 1848, he was made an honorary member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Swedish Navy naval branch of the Swedish Armed Forces

The Swedish Royal Navy is the naval branch of the Swedish Armed Forces. It is composed of surface and submarine naval units – the Royal Fleet – as well as marine units, the Amphibious Corps (Amfibiekåren).

Uppsala University research university in Uppsala, Sweden

Uppsala University is a research university in Uppsala, Sweden, and is the oldest university in Sweden and all of the Nordic countries still in operation, founded in 1477. It ranks among the world's 100 best universities in several high-profile international rankings. The university uses "Gratiae veritas naturae" as its motto and embraces natural sciences.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is one of the royal academies of Sweden. Founded on June 2, 1739, it is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which takes special responsibility for ptomoting the natural sciences and mathematics and strengthen their influence in society, whilst endeavouring to promote the exchange of ideas between various disciplines.

In 1859, Oscar became heir-presumptive to the thrones of Sweden and Norway, as his eldest brother King Charles XV & IV was without legitimate heirs, having lost his only son to pneumonia in 1854. Oscar's middle brother, Gustaf, had died of typhoid fever in 1852.

Charles XV of Sweden King of Sweden and Norway between 1859-1872

Charles XV & IV also Carl ; Swedish: Karl XV and Norwegian: Karl IV was King of Sweden and Norway from 1859 until his death. Though known as King Charles XV in Sweden, he was actually the ninth Swedish king by that name, as his predecessor Charles IX had adopted a numeral according to a fictitious history of Sweden.

Prince Carl Oscar, Duke of Södermanland Prince of Sweden and Norway

Prince Carl Oscar of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland was a prince of Sweden and Norway.

Prince Gustaf, Duke of Uppland Swedish prince

Prince Gustaf of Sweden and Norway, Duke of Uppland, also known officially as Gustav, was the second son of Oscar I of Sweden and Josephine of Leuchtenberg, and the younger brother of Prince Charles.

King of Sweden and Norway

Oscar assumed the thrones on 18 September 1872, upon the death of Charles XV. At his accession he adopted as his motto Brödrafolkens väl / Broderfolkenes Vel ("The Welfare of the Brother Peoples"). While the King and the Royal Court resided mostly in Sweden, Oscar made the effort of learning to be fluent in Norwegian and from the very beginning realized the essential difficulties in the maintenance of the union between the two countries.


The political events which led up to the peaceful dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905 could hardly have been attained but for the tact and patience of the king himself. He was dethroned on 7 June 1905 by the Storting and renounced the Norwegian throne on 26 October. He declined, indeed, to permit any prince of his house to become king of Norway, but better relations between the two countries were restored before his death. Oscar II died in Stockholm on 8 December 1907 at 9:10 am. [3]

Foreign and domestic statecraft

Adjutant Daniel Nordlander (upper left), with Adjutant Fritz von Dardel, Ordonnance Officer Ferdinand-Alphonse Hamelin, General Henri-Pierre Castelnau, King Charles XV of Sweden and Prince Oscar, future King Oscar II of Sweden, at the International Exposition (1867) in Paris, France King Charles XV of Sweden and Prince Oscar with Adjutants.jpg
Adjutant Daniel Nordlander (upper left), with Adjutant Fritz von Dardel, Ordonnance Officer Ferdinand-Alphonse Hamelin, General Henri-Pierre Castelnau, King Charles XV of Sweden and Prince Oscar, future King Oscar II of Sweden, at the International Exposition (1867) in Paris, France

His acute intelligence and his aloofness from the dynastic considerations affecting most European sovereigns (both of his grandfathers were French military commanders who served under Napoleon) gave the king considerable weight as an arbitrator in international questions. At the request of Great Britain, Germany and the United States in 1889 he appointed the Chief Justice of Samoa under the Treaty of Berlin, and he was again called on to arbitrate in Samoan affairs in 1899.

In 1897 he was empowered to appoint a fifth arbitrator if necessary in the Venezuelan dispute, and he was called on to act as umpire in the Anglo-American arbitration treaty that was quashed by the United States Senate. He won many friends in the United Kingdom by his outspoken and generous support of Britain at the time of the Second Boer War (1899–1902), expressed in a declaration printed in The Times of 2 May 1900, when continental opinion was almost universally hostile. [4]

He remained a strong supporter of the Navy throughout his life, and frequently visited ships of the fleet. When the coastal defence ship Oscar II was launched, he even signed his name on the vessel's aft main gun tower. [5]

The office of prime minister was instituted in 1876. Louis De Geer became the first head of government in Sweden to use this title. The most known and powerful first minister of the Crown during the reign of Oscar was the conservative estate owner Erik Gustaf Boström. Boström served as Prime Minister in 1891–1900 and 1902–1905. He was trusted and respected by the king, who had much difficulty approving someone else as prime minister. Over a period of time, the king gave Boström a free hand to select his own ministers without much royal involvement. It was an arrangement (unintentionally by both the King and Boström) that furthered the road to parliamentarism.

Science and arts

King Oscar II in full regalia - he was the last crowned Swedish king and was known to enjoy the pomp and ceremony. Oscar II of Sweden painted by Oscar Bjorck.jpg
King Oscar II in full regalia – he was the last crowned Swedish king and was known to enjoy the pomp and ceremony.
Portrait of Oscar II by Anders Zorn 1898 Oscar II of Sweden.jpg
Portrait of Oscar II by Anders Zorn 1898

A distinguished writer and musical amateur himself, King Oscar proved a generous friend of learning, and did much to encourage the development of education throughout his dominions. In 1858 a collection of his lyrical and narrative poems, Memorials of the Swedish Fleet, published anonymously, obtained the second prize of the Swedish Academy. His "Contributions to the Military History of Sweden in the Years 1711, 1712, 1713", originally appeared in the Annals of the Academy, and were printed separately in 1865. His works, which included his speeches, translations of Herder's Cid and Goethe's Torquato Tasso , and a play, Castle Cronberg, were collected in two volumes in 1875–76, and a larger edition, in three volumes, appeared in 1885–88.

His Easter hymn and some other of his poems are familiar throughout the Scandinavian countries. His memoirs of Charles XII of Sweden were translated into English in 1879. In 1881 he founded the world's first open-air museum at his summer residence near Christiania, now Oslo. In 1885 he published his Address to the Academy of Music, and a translation of one of his essays on music appeared in Literature in May 1900. He had a valuable collection of printed and manuscript music, which was readily accessible to the historical student of music.

Being a theater lover, he commissioned a new opera house to be built by Axel Anderberg for the Royal Swedish Opera which was inaugurated on 19 September 1898. It is until today the current home of that institution. Oscar II told Henrik Ibsen that his Ghosts was "not a good play". As he was dying, he requested that the theatres not be closed on account of his death. His wishes were respected.

King Oscar II was an enthusiast of Arctic exploration. Along with Swedish millionaire Oscar Dickson and Russian magnate Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Sibiryakov, he was the patron of a number of pioneering Arctic expeditions in the 1800s. Among the ventures the king sponsored, the most important are Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld's explorations to the Russian Arctic and Greenland, and Fridtjof Nansen's Polar journey on the Fram . [6]

The name and portrait of Oscar II have been used as a trademark for King Oscar sardines (which remains the only brand to obtain his "royal permission") as well as for gingerbread cookies (pepparkakor) and other bakery products made by Göteborgs Kex AB.

Oscar was also a generous sponsor of the sciences and personally funded the world famous Vega Expedition which was the first Arctic expedition to navigate through the Northeast Passage, the sea route between Europe and Asia through the Arctic Ocean, and the first voyage to circumnavigate Eurasia. Oscar was also particularly interested in mathematics. He set up a contest, on the occasion of his 60th birthday, for "an important discovery in the realm of higher mathematical analysis". [7] [8] [9]

Marriage and children

Oscar II boating.
Engraving by Anders Zorn. Oscar II by Zorn from Hildebrand Sveriges historia.jpg
Oscar II boating.
Engraving by Anders Zorn.

On 6 June 1857 he married in Wiesbaden-Biebrich, Germany, Princess Sophia Wilhelmina, the youngest daughter of Duke William of Nassau. They had four children:

1. King Gustaf V (1858–1950)
2. Prince Oscar, Duke of Gotland, later Prince Oscar Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg (1859–1953)
3. Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland (1861–1951)
4. Prince Eugén, Duke of Närke (1865–1947)

His eldest son, Oscar Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Värmland, succeeded him as King Gustaf V of Sweden. His second son, Oscar, renounced his succession rights upon his marriage in 1888 to Ebba Munck af Fulkila, and was given the title of Prince Bernadotte first in Sweden and from 1892 in Luxembourg, where he also was created Count of Wisborg. The king's other sons were Carl, Duke of Västergötland, who married Princess Ingeborg of Denmark; and Eugén, Duke of Närke, who was well known as an artist.

Oscar also is known to have had several extramarital children, [10] of which five are known to have been alleged by name:

5. Anna Hofman-Uddgren (1868–1947) by Emma Hammarström (1849–1910) [11]
6. Elin Esping Smitz (1878–1960) by Paulina Mathilda Esping (1858–1878) [12] [13]
7. Knut August Ekstam (born 1878, in U.S.A. 1903, death unknown) by Marie Friberg (1852–1934)
8. Florence Stephens (1881–1979) by Elisabeth Kreüger Stephens (1858–1911) [14]
9. Nils Teodor Ekstam (1889–1954) also by Friberg above [15] [16]

Oscar II, unlike his father, never officially recognized any illegitimate children of his.


Arms of Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway, as displayed on his Garter stall plate in St George's Chapel Garter encircled arms of Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway.png
Arms of Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway, as displayed on his Garter stall plate in St George's Chapel



Related Research Articles

Gustaf V of Sweden King of Sweden

Gustaf V was King of Sweden from 1907 until his death in 1950. He was the eldest son of King Oscar II of Sweden and Sophia of Nassau, a half-sister of Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Reigning from the death of his father Oscar II in 1907 until his own death 43 years later, he holds the record of being the oldest monarch of Sweden and the third-longest reigning after Magnus IV and Carl XVI Gustaf. He was also the last Swedish monarch to exercise his royal prerogatives, which largely died with him, although formally abolished only with the remaking of the Swedish constitution in 1974. He was the first Swedish king since the High Middle Ages not to have a coronation and hence never wore a crown, a tradition continuing to date.

Sophia of Nassau Swedish queen

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Princess Ingeborg of Denmark Danish Princess

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Prince Oscar Bernadotte Prince of Sweden and Norway

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Count of Wisborg

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Prince Eugen, Duke of Närke painter and prince of Sweden

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  1. Stockholm City Archives, archive of the Court parish, birth and baptism records, volume C I:5
  2. Gustaf Elgenstierna, Den introducerade svenska adelns ättartavlor. 1925-36.
  3. "Death Of Oscar King Of Sweden. His Son Ascends The Throne And Takes The Title Gustave The Fifth". The New York Times . 9 December 1907. He Eulogizes His Father Tells Why The Country Should Cherish His Memory. In His Sentiments All Sweden Shares.
  4. Chisholm 1911.
  5. Borgenstam, Curt (2017). "Swedish Coastal Defence Ship Oscar II" (PDF). International Navy Journal. 5 (1): 65. ISSN   2411-3204.
  6. Aho, Maire (January 1999), "AE Nordenskiöld Collection included in the Unesco Memory of the World Program", Tietolinja News, FI: Helsinki, archived from the original on 7 July 2007.
  7. The scientific legacy of Poincaré. Charpentier, Éric., Ghys, E. (Etienne), Lesne, Annick. Providence, R.I.: American Mathematical Society. 2010. p. 165. ISBN   9780821847183. OCLC   426389803.CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. King Oscar’s Prize. Springer.
  9. The solution of the n-body problem, Florin Diacu. Mar 2016.
  10. Sir Gustaf von Platen in Bakom den gyllene fasaden Bonniers ISBN   91-0-058048-1 p 146
  11. Anna Hofmann – varietéstjärna och filmregissör, catalogue of exhibition by that name at Stockholms Stadsmuséum 1998 with essays by Åke Abrahamsson and Marika Lagercrantz/Lotte Wellton.
  12. Throne of a Thousand Years p. 277
  13. FamSAC
  14. Norlin, Arne (2015). Familjen Bernadotte: makten, myterna, människorna (in Swedish). Stockholm: Fischer & Co. pp. 218–220. ISBN   9789186597962. LIBRIS   17803399.
  15. Sherlock Holmes and the King of Scandinavia Archived 16 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine The Swedish Pathological Society
  16. Sandberg, Mattias (24 May 2010). "Jakten på den försvunne sonen". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  17. "A Szent István Rend tagjai" Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  18. Le livre d'or de l'ordre de Léopold et de la croix de fer, Volume 1 /Ferdinand Veldekens
  19. "The Order of the Norwegian Lion", The Royal House of Norway. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  20. "Toison Espagnole (Spanish Fleece) - 19th century" (in French), Chevaliers de la Toison D'or. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  21. Wm. A. Shaw, The Knights of England, Volume I (London, 1906) page 66

Further reading

Oscar II
Born: 21 January 1829 Died: 8 December 1907
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles XV/IV
King of Sweden
18 September 1872 – 8 December 1907
Succeeded by
Gustav V
King of Norway
18 September 1872 – 7 June 1905
Title next held by
Haakon VII