Oscar I
King of Sweden and Norway
Reign8 March 1844 – 8 July 1859
Coronation28 September 1844, Stockholm
PredecessorCharles XIV & III John
SuccessorCharles XV & IV
BornJoseph François Oscar Bernadotte
(1799-07-04)4 July 1799
Paris, French First Republic
Died8 July 1859(1859-07-08) (aged 60)
Stockholm, Sweden
Burial8 August 1859
(m. 1823)
FatherCharles XIV John
MotherDésirée Clary
ReligionChurch of Sweden
prev. Catholic Church
SignatureOscar I's signature

Oscar I (born Joseph François Oscar Bernadotte; 4 July 1799 – 8 July 1859) was King of Sweden and Norway from 8 March 1844 until his death.[1][2][3] He was the second monarch of the House of Bernadotte.

The only child of King Charles XIV John, Oscar inherited the thrones upon the death of his father. Throughout his reign he would pursue a liberal course in politics in contrast to Charles XIV John, instituting reforms and improving ties between Sweden and Norway. In an address to him in 1857, the Riksdag declared that he had promoted the material prosperity of the kingdom more than any of his predecessors.[4]

Early life and family

Oscar Bernadotte a few years before being chosen with his father to be Swedish royalty.

Oscar was born at 291 Rue Cisalpine in Paris (today: 32 Rue Monceau)[a] to Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, then-French Minister of War and later Marshal of the Empire and Sovereign Prince of Pontecorvo, and Désirée Clary, Napoleon Bonaparte's former fiancée. He was named Joseph after his godfather Joseph Bonaparte, who was married to his mother's elder sister Julie, but was also given the names François Oscar. The latter name was chosen by Napoleon after one of the heroes in the Ossian cycle of poems, and was the name that came to be used in the family, mainly by the mother and the aunt. Désirée is said to have chosen Napoleon to be Oscar's godfather.[5][6] He spent his first years in France, living with his mother and aunt, partly in Paris, partly at Joseph Bonaparte's country residence, the Château de Mortefontaine north of Paris. In 1807, he received his first tutor, Le Moine.

Prince of Sweden

As the Swedish king Charles XIII was without legitimate heirs, and Sweden therefore was without an heir to the throne, Oscar's father was proposed as a possible candidate to the Swedish throne in 1810. As one of the arguments for his election, it was argued that he already had a son and the future succession to the throne was secured. A portrait of the young Oscar was handed out at the Diet of the Four Estates assembled in Örebro to elect an heir to the throne, serving as a lever for the election of Bernadotte. On 21 August 1810, the Riksdag elected Oscar's father as heir-presumptive to the Swedish throne. Two months later, on 5 November, he was formally adopted by the king under the name of "Charles John"; Oscar was then created a Prince of Sweden with the style of Royal Highness, and further accorded the title of Duke of Södermanland. Oscar and his mother moved from Paris to Stockholm in June 1811; while Oscar soon acclimated to life at the royal court, quickly acquiring the Swedish language, Désirée had difficulty adjusting and despised the cold weather. Consequently, she left Sweden in the summer of 1811, and would not return until 1823.[7]

Oscar, who was accompanied to Sweden by Le Moine, immediately got a teacher of Swedish and was soon able to serve as his father's interpreter. On 17 January 1816, Oscar was elected an honorary member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and in 1818 was appointed chancellor of Uppsala University, where he spent one semester.[8]

Oscar became Crown Prince in 1818 upon the death of his adoptive grandfather, and the accession of Charles John to the Swedish and Norwegian thrones.

Marriage and issue

Medal for Oscar and Josephine 1829

Seeking to legitimise the new Bernadotte dynasty, Charles XIV John had selected four princesses as candidates for marriage, in order of his priority:[9]

Oscar would eventually marry Josephine, first by proxy at the Leuchtenberg Palace in Munich on 22 May 1823 and in person at a wedding ceremony conducted in Stockholm on 19 June 1823.

The couple had five children:

  1. King Charles XV & IV (1826–1872)
  2. Prince Gustaf, Duke of Uppland (1827–1852)
  3. King Oscar II (1829–1907)[12]
  4. Princess Eugenie (1830–1889)
  5. Prince August, Duke of Dalarna (1831–1873)

Oscar also had two extramarital sons (unofficially called the Princes of Lapland) by actress Emilie Högquist:[13]

  1. Hjalmar Högquist, born 18 June 1839 in Hamburg, died 1874 in London.
  2. Max Högquist, born 12 August 1840 in Stockholm, died 1872 in China.

By Countess Jaquette Löwenhielm (née Gyldenstolpe) Oscar had a premarital daughter:

  1. Oscara Hilder née Meijergeer (1819–1880)

Crown Prince

Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden, painted by Joseph Karl Stieler

In 1824 and 1833, Oscar briefly served as Viceroy of Norway.

In 1832–1834 he completed the romantic opera Ryno, the errant knight, which had been left unfinished on the death of the young composer Eduard Brendler. In 1839 he wrote a series of articles on popular education, and in 1841 anonymously published Om Straff och straffanstalter, a work advocating prison reforms.


Coronation medal 1844
Daguerreotype of Oscar I in 1844; this is the first known photograph of a Swedish monarch.

In 1838 Charles XIV John began to suspect that his son was plotting with the Liberal politicians to bring about a change of ministry, or even his own abdication. If Oscar did not actively assist the Opposition on this occasion, his disapprobation of his father's despotic behaviour was notorious, though he avoided an actual rupture. Yet his liberalism was of the most cautious and moderate character, as the Opposition—shortly after his accession to the thrones in 1844—discovered to their great chagrin. The new king would not hear of any radical reform of the cumbersome and obsolete 1809 Instrument of Government, which made the king a near-autocrat. However, one of his earliest measures was to establish freedom of the press.[11] He also passed the first law supporting gender equality in Sweden when he in 1845 declared that in the absence of a will specifying otherwise, brothers and sisters should have equal inheritance.[14] Oscar I also formally established equality between his two kingdoms by introducing new flags with the common Union badge of Norway and Sweden, as well as a new coat of arms for the union.

In foreign affairs, Oscar I was a friend of the principle of nationality; in 1848 he supported Denmark against the Kingdom of Prussia in the First War of Schleswig by placing Swedish and Norwegian troops in cantonments in Funen and North Schleswig (1849–1850), and was the mediator of the Truce of Malmö (26 August 1848). He was also one of the guarantors of the integrity of Denmark (the London Protocol, 8 May 1852).[11]

As early as 1850, Oscar I had conceived the plan of a dynastic union of the three Scandinavian kingdoms, but such difficulties presented themselves that the scheme had to be abandoned.[15] He succeeded, however, in reversing his father's favored-nation policy towards Imperial Russia. His fear lest Russia should demand a stretch of coast along the Varanger Fjord induced him to remain neutral during the Crimean War, and, subsequently, to conclude an alliance with Great Britain and the Second French Empire (25 November 1855) for preserving the territorial integrity of Sweden-Norway.[11]


Oscar on his deathbed in 1859

In the 1850s, Oscar's health began to rapidly deteriorate; he became paralyzed in 1857 and died two years later at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on 8 July 1859, four days after his birthday. He was buried in the traditional burial site for Swedish monarchs, the Riddarholmen Church on the islet of Riddarholmen in central Stockholm. His eldest son, who served as Regent during his absence, succeeded him as Charles XV.

Photograph of Oscar I (right) and his son Prince Gustaf (left), c. 1852


Swedish and Norwegian honours

Foreign honours

Arms and monogram

Crown Prince, Duke of Södermanland

Crown Prince, Duke of Södermanland

King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway

Royal Monogram of King Oscar I
of Sweden


  1. ^ On 4 July 1911, a memorial plaque was placed on the building by the Société archéologique.


  1. ^ "Oscar 1, Konge". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Archived from the original on 10 December 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Kong Oscar I (1799–1859)". kongehuset.no. Archived from the original on 20 October 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Oskar, konungar af Sverige och Norge". Nordisk familjebok. Archived from the original on 22 October 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  4. ^ Cronholm, Neander N. (1902). A History of Sweden from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. ch 40 pp 273–88
  5. ^ "Karl 3 Johan, Konge". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Archived from the original on 10 December 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Desideria, Dronning". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Archived from the original on 19 October 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  7. ^ Lars Elgklou (1995). Familjen Bernadotte. En släktkrönika. (The Bernadotte family. A family chronicle.) (in Swedish). Skogs Boktryckeri Trelleborg. p. 21. ISBN 91-7054-755-6.
  8. ^ "Karl 2". Store norske leksikon. Archived from the original on 19 September 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  9. ^ Hjalmar Lagerqvist, Sveriges drottningar
  10. ^ "Josefine, Dronning". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Archived from the original on 23 October 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911.
  12. ^ "Oscar 2, Konge". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  13. ^ Söderhjelm & Palmstierna in Oscar I, Bonniers, Stockholm 1944, p. 279
  14. ^ "Oscar I". Soylent Communications. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  15. ^ Lars O. Lagerqvist in Sverige och dess regenter under 1000 år (Sweden and Her Rulers for 1000 years) ISBN 91-0-075007-7 pp. 273–274
  16. ^ "The Order of St. Olav". www.royalcourt.no. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  17. ^ Liste der Ritter des Königlich Preußischen Hohen Ordens vom Schwarzen Adler (1851), "Von Seiner Majestät dem Könige Friedrich Wilhelm III. ernannte Ritter" p. 16 Archived 10 May 2023 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Almanach de la cour: pour l'année ... 1817. l'Académie Imp. des Sciences. 1817. pp. 63, 78. Archived from the original on 20 November 2023. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  19. ^ a b Johann Heinrich Friedrich Berlien (1846). Der Elephanten-Orden und seine Ritter: eine historische Abhandlung über die ersten Spuren dieses Ordens und dessen fernere Entwicklung bis zu seiner gegenwärtigen Gestalt, und nächstdem ein Material zur Personalhistorie, nach den Quellen des Königlichen Geheimen-Staatsarchivs und des Königlichen Ordenskapitelsarchivs zu Kopenhagen. Gedruckt in der Berlingschen Officin. pp. 168-169.
  20. ^ "Caballeros existentes en la insignie Orden del Toison de Oro". Guía de forasteros en Madrid para el año de 1850 (in Spanish). En la Imprenta Nacional. 1850. p. 80. Archived from the original on 20 November 2023. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  21. ^ Bayern (1858). Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Königreichs Bayern: 1858. Landesamt. p. 7.
  22. ^ Hof- und Adreß-Handbuch des Fürstenthums Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen: 1844. Beck und Fränkel. 1844. p. 19. Archived from the original on 20 November 2023. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  23. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1853), "Großherzogliche Orden" pp. 31 Archived 2 September 2019 at the Wayback Machine, 46 Archived 2 September 2019 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Militaire Willems-Orde: Wales, Oscar I." [Military William Order: Oscar I]. Ministerie van Defensie (in Dutch). 21 June 1849. Archived from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  25. ^ "Liste des Membres de l'Ordre de Léopold", Almanach Royal Officiel (in French), 1850, p. 35, archived from the original on 15 May 2021, retrieved 13 March 2021 – via Archives de Bruxelles
  26. ^ Staat Hannover (1858). Hof- und Staatshandbuch für das Königreich Hannover: 1858. Berenberg. pp. 37, 66.
  27. ^ ""A Szent István Rend tagjai"". Archived from the original on 22 December 2010.
  28. ^ Staats- und Adreß-Handbuch des Herzogthums Nassau: 1859. Schellenberg. 1859. p. 7. Archived from the original on 20 November 2023. Retrieved 9 September 2019.


Further reading

Oscar IHouse of BernadotteBorn: 4 July 1799 Died: 8 July 1859 Regnal titles Preceded byCharles XIV/III John King of Sweden and Norway 1844–1859 Succeeded byCharles XV/IV Swedish royalty Preceded byCharles XIII/II Duke of Södermanland Succeeded byCharles Oscar Italian nobility Preceded byJosephine Duke of Gallierawith Josephine 1823–1837 Succeeded byRaffaele de Ferrari