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Oscar II of Sweden

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oscar II
King Oscar II of Sweden in uniform.png
King of Sweden
Reign18 September 1872 – 8 December 1907
Coronation12 May 1873
PredecessorCharles XV
SuccessorGustaf V
King of Norway
Reign18 September 1872 – 26 October 1905
Coronation18 July 1873
PredecessorCharles IV
SuccessorHaakon VII
Born(1829-01-21)21 January 1829
Stockholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Died8 December 1907(1907-12-08) (aged 78)
Stockholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
Burial19 December 1907
Riddarholm Church
IssueGustaf V of Sweden
Prince Oscar Bernadotte
Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland
Prince Eugén, Duke of Närke
Full name
Oscar Fredrik
FatherOscar I of Sweden
MotherJosephine of Leuchtenberg
ReligionChurch of Sweden
Oscar II's signature

Oscar II (Oscar Fredrik;[1] 21 January 1829 – 8 December 1907) was King of Sweden from 1872 until his death, and the last Bernadotte King of Norway from 1872 until his dethronement in 1905.

Oscar was king during a time when Sweden was undergoing a period of industrialization and rapid technological progress. His reign also saw the gradual decline of the Union of Sweden and Norway, which culminated in its dissolution in 1905. He was subsequently succeeded as King of Norway by his grandnephew Prince Carl of Denmark under the regnal name Haakon VII, and as King of Sweden by his eldest son, Gustaf V.

Harald V, the present king of Norway, is a great-grandson of Oscar II, through his third son Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland.

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Early life

Oscar Fredrik was born in Stockholm on 21 January 1829, the third of four sons of Crown Prince Oscar and Josephine of Leuchtenberg. Upon his birth, he was created Duke of Östergötland. During his childhood he was placed in the care of the royal governess countess Christina Ulrika Taube.[2]

He entered the navy at the age of eleven, and was appointed junior lieutenant in July 1845. Later he studied at Uppsala University, where he distinguished himself in mathematics. On 13 December 1848, he was made an honorary member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

In 1859, Oscar became heir-presumptive to the thrones of Sweden and Norway, as his eldest brother King Charles XV & IV was without legitimate heirs, having lost his only son to pneumonia in 1854. Oscar's middle brother, Gustaf, had died of typhoid fever in 1852.

King of Sweden and Norway

Oscar assumed the thrones on 18 September 1872, upon the death of Charles XV. At his accession he adopted as his motto Brödrafolkens väl / Broderfolkenes Vel ("The Welfare of the Brother Peoples"). While the King and the Royal Court resided mostly in Sweden, Oscar made the effort of learning to be fluent in Norwegian and from the very beginning realized the essential difficulties in the maintenance of the union between the two countries.


The political events which led up to the peaceful dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905 could hardly have been attained but for the tact and patience of the king himself. He was dethroned on 7 June 1905 by the Storting and renounced the Norwegian throne on 26 October. He declined, indeed, to permit any prince of his house to become king of Norway, but better relations between the two countries were restored before his death. Oscar II died in Stockholm on 8 December 1907 at 9:10 am.[3]

Foreign and domestic statecraft

Adjutant Daniel Nordlander (upper left), with Adjutant Fritz von Dardel, Ordonnance Officer Ferdinand-Alphonse Hamelin, General Henri-Pierre Castelnau, King Charles XV of Sweden and Prince Oscar, future King Oscar II of Sweden, at the International Exposition (1867) in Paris, France
Adjutant Daniel Nordlander (upper left), with Adjutant Fritz von Dardel, Ordonnance Officer Ferdinand-Alphonse Hamelin, General Henri-Pierre Castelnau, King Charles XV of Sweden and Prince Oscar, future King Oscar II of Sweden, at the International Exposition (1867) in Paris, France

His acute intelligence and his aloofness from the dynastic considerations affecting most European sovereigns (both of his grandfathers were French military commanders who served under Napoleon) gave the king considerable weight as an arbitrator in international questions. At the request of Great Britain, Germany and the United States in 1889 he appointed the Chief Justice of Samoa under the Treaty of Berlin, and he was again called on to arbitrate in Samoan affairs in 1899.

In 1897 he was empowered to appoint a fifth arbitrator if necessary in the Venezuelan dispute, and he was called on to act as umpire in the Anglo-American arbitration treaty that was quashed by the United States Senate. He won many friends in the United Kingdom by his outspoken and generous support of Britain at the time of the Second Boer War (1899–1902), expressed in a declaration printed in The Times of 2 May 1900, when continental opinion was almost universally hostile.[4]

He remained a strong supporter of the Navy throughout his life, and frequently visited ships of the fleet. When the coastal defence ship Oscar II was launched, he even signed his name on the vessel's aft main gun tower.[5]

The office of prime minister was instituted in 1876. Louis De Geer became the first head of government in Sweden to use this title. The most known and powerful first minister of the Crown during the reign of Oscar was the conservative estate owner Erik Gustaf Boström. Boström served as Prime Minister in 1891–1900 and 1902–1905. He was trusted and respected by the king, who had much difficulty approving someone else as prime minister. Over a period of time, the king gave Boström a free hand to select his own ministers without much royal involvement. It was an arrangement (unintentionally by both the King and Boström) that furthered the road to parliamentarism.

Science and arts

King Oscar II in full regalia – he was the last crowned Swedish king and was known to enjoy the pomp and ceremony.
King Oscar II in full regalia – he was the last crowned Swedish king and was known to enjoy the pomp and ceremony.
Portrait of Oscar II by Anders Zorn 1898
Portrait of Oscar II by Anders Zorn 1898

A distinguished writer and musical amateur himself, King Oscar proved a generous friend of learning, and did much to encourage the development of education throughout his dominions. In 1858 a collection of his lyrical and narrative poems, Memorials of the Swedish Fleet, published anonymously, obtained the second prize of the Swedish Academy. His "Contributions to the Military History of Sweden in the Years 1711, 1712, 1713", originally appeared in the Annals of the Academy, and were printed separately in 1865. His works, which included his speeches, translations of Herder's Cid and Goethe's Torquato Tasso, and a play, Castle Cronberg, were collected in two volumes in 1875–76, and a larger edition, in three volumes, appeared in 1885–88.

His Easter hymn and some other of his poems are familiar throughout the Scandinavian countries. His memoirs of Charles XII of Sweden were translated into English in 1879. In 1881 he founded the world's first open-air museum at his summer residence near Christiania, now Oslo. In 1885 he published his Address to the Academy of Music, and a translation of one of his essays on music appeared in Literature in May 1900. He had a valuable collection of printed and manuscript music, which was readily accessible to the historical student of music.

Being a theater lover, he commissioned a new opera house to be built by Axel Anderberg for the Royal Swedish Opera which was inaugurated on 19 September 1898. It is until today the current home of that institution. Oscar II told Henrik Ibsen that his Ghosts was "not a good play". As he was dying, he requested that the theatres not be closed on account of his death. His wishes were respected.

King Oscar II was an enthusiast of Arctic exploration. Along with Swedish millionaire Oscar Dickson and Russian magnate Aleksandr Mikhaylovich Sibiryakov, he was the patron of a number of pioneering Arctic expeditions in the 1800s. Among the ventures the king sponsored, the most important are Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld's explorations to the Russian Arctic and Greenland, and Fridtjof Nansen's Polar journey on the Fram.[6]

The name and portrait of Oscar II have been used as a trademark for King Oscar sardines (which remains the only brand to obtain his "royal permission") as well as for gingerbread cookies (pepparkakor) and other bakery products made by Göteborgs Kex AB.

Oscar was also a generous sponsor of the sciences, particularly mathematics. He set up a contest, on the occasion of his 60th birthday, for "an important discovery in the realm of higher mathematical analysis".[7][8][9]

Marriage and children

Oscar II boating.Engraving by Anders Zorn.
Oscar II boating.
Engraving by Anders Zorn.

On 6 June 1857 he married in Wiesbaden-Biebrich, Germany, Princess Sophia Wilhelmina, the youngest daughter of Duke William of Nassau. They had four children:

1. King Gustaf V (1858–1950)
2. Prince Oscar, Duke of Gotland, later Prince Oscar Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg (1859–1953)
3. Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland (1861–1951)
4. Prince Eugén, Duke of Närke (1865–1947)

His eldest son, Oscar Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Värmland, succeeded him as King Gustaf V of Sweden. His second son, Oscar, renounced his succession rights upon his marriage in 1888 to Ebba Munck af Fulkila, and was given the title of Prince Bernadotte first in Sweden and from 1892 in Luxembourg, where he also was created Count of Wisborg. The king's other sons were Carl, Duke of Västergötland, who married Princess Ingeborg of Denmark; and Eugén, Duke of Närke, who was well known as an artist.

Oscar also is known to have had several extramarital children,[10] of which five are known to have been alleged by name:

5. Anna Hofman-Uddgren (1868–1947) by Emma Hammarström (1849–1910)[11]
6. Elin Esping Smitz (1878–1960) by Paulina Mathilda Esping (1858–1878)[12][13]
7. Knut August Ekstam (born 1878, in U.S.A. 1903, death unknown) by Marie Friberg (1852–1934)
8. Florence Stephens (1881–1979) by Elisabeth Kreüger Stephens (1858–1911)[14]
9. Nils Teodor Ekstam (1889–1954) also by Friberg above[15][16]

Oscar II, unlike his father, never officially recognized any illegitimate children of his.


Arms of Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway, as displayed on his Garter stall plate in St George's Chapel
Arms of Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway, as displayed on his Garter stall plate in St George's Chapel




  1. ^ Stockholm City Archives, archive of the Court parish, birth and baptism records, volume C I:5
  2. ^ Gustaf Elgenstierna, Den introducerade svenska adelns ättartavlor. 1925-36.
  3. ^ "Death Of Oscar King Of Sweden. His Son Ascends The Throne And Takes The Title Gustave The Fifth". The New York Times. December 9, 1907. He Eulogizes His Father Tells Why The Country Should Cherish His Memory. In His Sentiments All Sweden Shares.
  4. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  5. ^ Borgenstam, Curt (2017). "Swedish Coastal Defence Ship Oscar II" (PDF). International Navy Journal. 5 (1): 65. ISSN 2411-3204.
  6. ^ Aho, Maire (January 1999), "AE Nordenskiöld Collection included in the Unesco Memory of the World Program", Tietolinja News, FI: Helsinki, archived from the original on 7 July 2007.
  7. ^ The scientific legacy of Poincaré. Charpentier, Éric., Ghys, E. (Etienne), Lesne, Annick. Providence, R.I.: American Mathematical Society. 2010. p. 165. ISBN 9780821847183. OCLC 426389803.
  8. ^ King Oscar’s Prize. Springer.
  9. ^ The solution of the n-body problem, Florin Diacu. Mar 2016.
  10. ^ Sir Gustaf von Platen in Bakom den gyllene fasaden Bonniers ISBN 91-0-058048-1 p 146
  11. ^ Anna Hofmann – varietéstjärna och filmregissör, catalogue of exhibition by that name at Stockholms Stadsmuséum 1998 with essays by Åke Abrahamsson and Marika Lagercrantz/Lotte Wellton.
  12. ^ Throne of a Thousand Years p. 277
  13. ^ FamSAC
  14. ^ Norlin, Arne (2015). Familjen Bernadotte: makten, myterna, människorna (in Swedish). Stockholm: Fischer & Co. pp. 218–220. ISBN 9789186597962. LIBRIS 17803399.
  15. ^ Sherlock Holmes and the King of Scandinavia Archived 16 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. The Swedish Pathological Society
  16. ^ Sandberg, Mattias (24 May 2010). "Jakten på den försvunne sonen". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  17. ^ "A Szent István Rend tagjai" Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Le livre d'or de l'ordre de Léopold et de la croix de fer, Volume 1 /Ferdinand Veldekens
  19. ^ "The Order of the Norwegian Lion", The Royal House of Norway. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Toison Espagnole (Spanish Fleece) - 19th century" (in French), Chevaliers de la Toison D'or. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
  21. ^ Wm. A. Shaw, The Knights of England, Volume I (London, 1906) page 66

Further reading

External links

Oscar II
Born: 21 January 1829 Died: 8 December 1907
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles XV/IV
King of Sweden
18 September 1872 – 8 December 1907
Succeeded by
Gustav V
King of Norway
18 September 1872 – 7 June 1905
Title next held by
Haakon VII

This page was last edited on 24 November 2018, at 09:51
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