lördag, juni 19, 2010

Bernadotte 1810-2010

This year there is another bicentennial concerning mostly Sweden but to some extent also France, namely the 200 years of the Bernadotte dynasty on the throne.

I'm not going to write an extensive historic review because this is of course not my domaine but for those not knowing much about Sweden and the royal family this can be said:

The French revolution in 1789 put an end to the class society, earlier being the most common societal structure both in France and Sweden.
This meant that people from 'lower classes' were given career opportunities and this made it possible for a person like Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, the son of a small town lawyer, to rise in the ranks within the military.

He became one of the foremost marshals of France and a close ally to Napoléon and on the same time somewhat of a rival.

He is said to have had bigger ambitions than this and among his friends and allies there were those who in him saw the new emperor after Napoléon Bonaparte.

However Bernadotte had powerful enemies, namely Klemens von Metternich and Charles Maurice de Talleyrand! They opposed the idea of having a parvenu as emperor of France.

Napoléon appointed him Prince of Ponte Corvo in 1806 but this didn't please neither him nor the people of Ponte Corvo, so it seems.

The Swedish military Carl Otto Mörner knew about this formidable marshal Bernadotte and decided to - as we would say today perhaps - headhunt him in order to become the king of Sweden.

In Sweden king Gustav IV Adolf had been suspended in 1809 and his uncle Karl XIII was appointed king. He was however 61 years old and had no children. This made the questions about the throne aire somewhat 'delicate'.
In the autumn 1809 Karl XIII had a stroke and became more or less unable to govern the country.
The Swedish Parliament chose for crown prince the Danish prince Kristian August and he arrived early in 1810, taking the name Karl August and was adopted by Karl XIII.

He adapted very quickly and became very popular but unfortunately he also had a stroke during a military manouevre and died!
Fredrik Kristian of Augustenborg - brother-in-law to the Danish king Fredrik VI - now became the foremost candidate to become the succesor on the Swedish throne.

It's however at this point that the Swedish lieutenant Carl Otto Mörner started making plans, in order to get a French marshal on the throne.

Mörner was in Paris as a courier for the Swedish government and his prime mission was to obtain approval from Napoléon to the coronation of Fredrik Kristian of Augustenborg.
Napoléon did however mention another person, namely count Bonde, an heir to earlier kings in Sweden. Maybe he would be suitable as king of Sweden, the emperor suggested.

Mörner didn't settle for this. Instead he started inquiring among a number of French marshals in order to find out if they would like to become the king of Sweden.
General Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte displayed great enthusiasm but when Mörner came back to Sweden Karl XIII was displeased with his mission and he wasn't allowed to participate in the Swedish Parliament. He was even put in house arrest.

Meantime Bernadotte got the approval by Napoléon but at the same time one had decided making Fredrik Kristian of Augustenborg the king of Sweden.

A French vice consul by the name of Fournier came to Sweden and began, what we would call, a PR campaign, promoting Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte and the 21st of August 1810, Bernadotte was chosen to be crown prince, on one condition:
He had to convert and accept the Evangelical-Lutheran confession, the official religion of Sweden then as now.

So he did and the rest is history as one say.

This year Sweden is celebrating this event but also the wedding of the Crown Princess Victoria, marrying Daniel Westling.
This wedding took place today the 19th of June, the same date as the marriage between her father and mother king Carl Gustaf (Carl XVI Gustaf) and queen Silvia (Sommerlath) in 1976.

For the 'French connection' it's perhaps important to note that Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was born in Pau in France.

Trivia: Crown Princess Victoria is born the 14th of July, the National Day of France!
Trivia: Jean Baptiste Bernadotte is said to have had a tatoo on his body where one could read:
"Mort aux rois", that is to say: "Death to the kings".

(Painting Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte copied from: http://www.consulat-suede.fr/news_img/Bernadotte.jpg)

(Photo king Carl XVI Gustaf copied from: http://www.angeloplessas.com/blog/uploaded_images/king_carl_xvi_gustaf_1146407355-773986.jpg)

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