King Karl XIV Johan
The first Bernadotte was the son of Henri Bernadotte and Jeanne de Saint-Jean. In 1798, Jean Baptiste married Désirée Clary in Sceaux-l'Unité, and their son Oscar (I) was born the following year.
In 1810, when Jean Baptiste was 47 years old and Marshal of France, he was elected Crown Prince of Sweden and adopted the royal name Karl XIV Johan. With his military credentials, the Swedes hoped that he would recapture Finland from Russia.
One reason why Karl Johan was named heir to the throne was the belief that he had a good relationship with Napoleon, although this was not the case. When Napoleon then occupied Swedish Pommern, their enmity was sealed. This suited Karl Johan perfectly – he was now able to demonstrate how little Sweden could expect from the Emperor. With this, he approached Sweden's sworn enemy, Russia. In April 1812, a treaty was signed in St Petersburg awarding Norway to Sweden. Finland was thus sacrificed. The Union between Sweden and Norway began in 1814.
Karl XIV Johan modernised the Swedish monarchy in order to strengthen its position. This included engaging in dialogue with the emerging civil society.
Karl XIV Johan as crown prince. Portrait painted in 1811 by the French artist François Gérard (1770–1837). The painting hangs in the Bernadotte Gallery at the Royal Palace. Photo: Alexis Daflos/Royalpalaces.se