July 4, 1799 birth of King Oscar I of Sweden.
Oscar was born in Paris. His birth name was Joseph Francois Oscar Bernadotte. His father, the future Charles XIV John of Sweden was at the time Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, minister of war to Napoleon. His mother Desiree Clary was a former fiancé of Napoleon. Joseph was in honor of his godfather Joseph Bonaparte who was married to his Aunt Julie Clary. Francois would have been a nod to his maternal grandfather Francois Clary. Oscar was chosen by emperor Napoleon for a character in the Ossian cycle of poems. Napoleon also served as one of his godfathers, chosen by his mother.
On August 21, 1816 Oscar's father was elected heir to the Swedish throne and was officially adopted by the childless Charles XIII November 5 of the same year, under the name Charles John. At the time Joseph was named a Prince of Sweden, with the HRH and Duke of Sodermanland. He and his mother moved from Paris to Stockholm June of the following year. Oscar acclimated to his new home quickly, picking up Swedish easily. His mother did not, she hated the weather and left later that summer and would not return back until 1823.
He became crown prince in 1818 on the death of his adoptive grandfather, when his father succeeded the throne.
Oscar had spent only a semester at Upsala University but he was smart. He wrote papers on education and anonymous one on prison reform. He even helped compose the romantic opera Ryno.
His marriage became an important issue. Wanting to cement their place on the throne, his father looked for the perfect bride for his son. Four women were considered. Wilhelmina of Denmark (daughter of Frederick VI of Denmark who would eventually marry Frederick VII), Marie of Hesse-Kassel (daughter of William II, Elector of Hesse and Augusta of Prussia who eventually married Bernard II of Saxe-Meiningen), and Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (daughter of Charles Frederick I of Saxe-Weimar who eventually married Prince Charles of Prussia) were all considered.
The choice fell eventually on Josephine of Leuchtenberg Josephine's father Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg was the stepson of Emperor Napoleon (he was Empress Josephine's son by her first marriage to Alexandre Beauharnais).Her mother was Princess Augusta of Bavaria. She was the eldest of seven children. Her siblings included Empress Amelie of Brazil (wife of Pedro I).
They were married by proxy at her family estate in Munich May 22, 1823 and then in person in Stockholm June 19.
His father worried that he was too liberal, Oscar having sided with the opposition against his father's despotic behavior. He succeeded the throne at 44 March 8, 1844. He established freedom of the press. He introduced gender equality in inheritance, that if there was no will, daughters inherited an equal share to brothers. He established equality between the two kingdoms of Norway and Sweden.
By the 1850s his health deteriorated. He became paralyzed in 1857 and died two years later in the royal palace of Stockholm July 8, 1859. He had celebrated his 60th birthday only 4 days before. His eldest son had been serving as regent for the past two years due to his absence.
Josephine would outlive her husband by 17 years, dying in 1876. Unlike her husband, Josephine received a catholic funeral.
The couple had five children:
-Carl: succeeded his father as Charles XV, third Bernadotte king but first born in Sweden. He was 33 when he succeeded. He married Princess Louise of the Netherlands (granddaughter of William I of the Netherlands, her father was his second son). They had two children, but he was succeeded by his younger brother as his only son died before his second birthday. His daughter Louise would be Queen of Denmark by marriage to Frederick VIII.
-Gustaf- Duke of Upland. He died of typhoid just short of his 25th birthday five years before his father died.
-Oscar- succeeded Charles XV as Oscar II in 1872 at 43. He was married to Sophia of Nassau (daughter of Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau). They had four sons, oldest one succeeded him as Gustaf V.
-Eugenie- died at 69 unmarried. She was an artist and philanthropist.
-August- Duke of Dalarna. He married Princess Therese Amalie of Saxe-Altenburg (daughter of Prince Eduard of Saxe-Altenburg.). Their marriage was childless. He died 9 years later of pneumonia at the age of 41.
Many of the jewels we see on the royal women today came into Sweden through Josephine.
Her emerald tiara now belongs to the royal family of Norway.