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The House of Bernadotte, the current Royal House of the Kingdom of Swedenmarker, has reigned since 1818. Between 1818 and 1905 it was also the Royal House of Norwaymarker.


Following the Finnish War in 1809, Sweden suffered the traumatic loss of Finlandmarker, which had constituted the eastern half of the Swedish realm for centuries. The agony and resentment towards King Gustav IV Adolf precipitated a coup d'état, and Gustav Adolf's uncle, the childless Charles XIII, replaced him. This was merely a temporary solution, and in 1810 the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates elected the Danish Prince Christian August of Augustenborg as heir to the throne. As Swedish crown prince he took the name Charles August (Karl August); however, he died later that same year.

As Napoleon I of France was Emperor of the French, and ruled, directly or indirectly, over much of Continental Europe through a network of client kingdom headed by his brothers (see Napoleonic Empire), the Swedish parliament saw it practical to elect a king whom Napoleon could accept. On 21 August 1810, the Riksdag elected Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, Marshal of France, as heir apparent to the Swedish throne.

Bernadotte, born in the town of Paumarker, in the province of Béarn, Francemarker, 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 Italymarker.

As the Crown Prince of Sweden he assumed the name Karl Johan (Charles John), acted officially as regent for the remainder of Charles XIII's reign and secured a forced personal union between Sweden and Norway in the 1814 Campaign against Norway. Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte reigned as King Charles XIV of Sweden and Carl III Johan 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, a grandson of King Charles XV, was then elected as Norway's new king.

The coat of arms of the House of Bernadotte combines the coat of arms of the House of Vasa (heraldic left) and the coat of arms of Bernadotte as the Prince of Ponte Corvo (heraldic right). It is visible as an inescutcheon in the Greater Coat of Arms of the Realm.

Kings of Sweden

Kings of Norway

See also


  • Jean-Marc Olivier, "Bernadotte Revisited, or The Complexity of a Long Reign (1810–1844)", in Nordic Historical Review, number 2, October 2006, pp. 127–137.

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