Sunday, 3 October 2010

French Marshal Founded Dynasty in Sweden - French Obsession

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This handsome Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, (1763-1844) one of Napolean's marshals, was elected on the 21 August 1810 as heir presumptive of the Swedish throne.

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He became Karl XIV Johan of Sweden and even Karl III Johan of Norway until Norway left the union with Sweden in 1905.

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There is a statue of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte in the park that is named after him,

Photo Copyright Christina Wigren

Carl Johan Park, in my hometown, Norrkoping.

Photo Copyright Christina Wigren

Carl XIV Johan (Charles XIV John) is the great, great, great, great-grandfather of the present king, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Who looks like this today:

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And like this in 1950.

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And here together with Queen Silvia.

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Look at the family tree here.

Photo Copyright Christina Wigren

According to Wikipedia:
Bernadotte, born in the town of Pau, in the province of Béarn, France, had risen to the rank of general during the tumultuous years of the French Revolution. In 1798 he married Désirée Clary, who had a sister who was married to Joseph, Napoleon's elder brother. In 1804 Napoleon promoted him to a Marshal of France, a move that he would later regret when Bernadotte disobeyed orders and refused to attack during the Battle of Auerstaedt. He narrowly escaped a court martial because of his familial ties to the Emperor. Before defecting from France he was also granted the title 'Prince of Ponte Corvo', a town in central Italy. Souce: Wikipedia
Here is a portrait of the House of Bernadotte as Royal Family in 1837.
Photo Copyright Wikipedia
Photo Copyright Wikipedia

Imagine Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte's wife, Dèsirée Clary (1777-1860), moving to Sweden at that time. I read somewhere that she did not like the cold climate. Here are two portrait of Dèsirée or Desideria as her name became in Swedish. She came to Sweden for a short stay in 1811 but returned to France and did not move permanently to Sweden until 1823 and was crowned as Queen of Sweden 21 augusti 1829. She never learned to speak Swedish.

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Annemarie Selinkos wrote a novel, Dèsirée, about her life. It is not completely historically accurate.

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(I have not read it, so I am just quoting Wikipedia here.) A film was made after this novel with Jean Simmons as Dèsirée. (I have not seen this movie.)

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Here is a photo of the Royal Family in 1857
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This is the House of Bernadotte's coat of arms.
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This is a professional photographer's photo of the same statue in Carl Johan Park.

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This was a little history lesson (with help of Wikipedia) for this month's French Obsession Party #7. I am inspired by Frenchy, our hostess, who is a very good example of a French person who settled in another country, where she is living an interesting and productive life, and can even speak and write the language there!

Here's to you Frenchy!

Best wishes,


Visit other posts for the French Obsession #7 here.
Or click on the lovely image of our hostess below:


First Commenter:
Ann of Ann's Snap, Edit & Scrap


Ann said...

A very grand look at the royal family. Thanks for the little history lesson.

Jean said...

I have always loved history. Thanks for the informative post about Sweden's Monarchy beginnings. Loved the pictures!

FishHawk said...

This is a really impressive piece! Did Sara Cat help with the research?

Susan said...

Interesting history!
Sweden's Royal line is actually French, I did not know this.

Thanks for sharing.

Anna said...

Dear Ann,
Thanks for stopping by!
Dear Jean,
Thank you for visiting and commenting.
Yes, isn't history fascinating?
To be a little more acturate, this is not the beginning of the Swedish monarchy. It is the beginning of this 'dynasty', that is with the surname 'Bernadotte'.
If you click on the link to the family tree, you will see that princesses with liniage from older dynasties married into this family and gave links back to earlier royalty.
Dear FishHawk,
Yes, of course! Sara Cat is at my side now! She is always willing to lend a paw, especially when it comes to longer posts that need proof-reading. She saw some typos in this post that I have now corrected.
Thanks for stopping by!
Dear Susan,
Thank you for you comment. Yes and no. The name Bernadotte is French, and Carl Johan and his son and grandson sure looked French, but as princesses from other royal families married into this family they start to look a little more Swedish or Northern German. But then with Queen Silvia's brown eyes, Prince Carl Phillip looks a little more French. (Sorry, I don't have a picture of him here. He's real cute. He looks a little like Orlando Bloom, except better!)

The Royal Houses of Europe are interesting to study from both a geneological and a genetic point of view. Queen Victoria of England had so many children who married into other the other royal families of Europe, that for a time, they were all more or less related. And being related to each other did have a purpose. You don't start a war against your own kin!

You can see this in the information that I have borrowed from Wikipedia. The fact that Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was married to a relative of Napolean, saved his life when he disobeyed Napolean and more or less had to leave France.

He was probably happy to get the offer from the Swedish Riksdag (=Parlament). I think he even tried to learn a little Swedish, even if everyone around him could speak French, at that time. (There are lots of stories related to linguistic misunderstandings. I thought about including one or two on this post, but decided not to, because you almost have to know both Swedish and a little French to understand what's funny.)

All in all most historians seem to think that Carl XIV Johan was a good king who brought stability to Sweden at a time when there was something of a crisis.

The Bernadottes seem to have been/and still are intelligent and even artistic individuals. You can see this when you look at the children who did not become ruling monarchs. Several became artists or designers. Prince Eugen (1865-1847) is a good exemple. There are several others and even in the younger generation. My guess is that Prince Carl Phillip may become a designer or artist of some kind, since it is his older sister, Victoria, who will be Queen one day.

Thank you all wonderful people for your kind words!
Sara Cat sends purrs!

Le Chateau des fleurs said...

I loved this! You did a great job! Great and interesting history!
You made me laugh too :)
So sad that she never learned the language :(
It really looks like she had a hard time :(
Beautiful post! I always enjoy them and thank you for linking! You are the best.

Lin said...

Wow! You were very busy! ;)

Tina said...

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I just wanted to let you know that my Game FreakZ ( blog is no longer active.

However my other blogs will still remain live.

If you could remove it from your blogroll that would be great.

Thank you for your support over the years. Hope you will still continue to visit me at my other places.

Im Translator

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