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Bernadotte Genealogy and Bernadotte Family History Information

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About the Bernadotte surname

Bernadotte is the dynastic name of Sweden's royal family, which has its origins in southern France.

Den äldsta kända medlemmen i släkten på fädernet är Joandou du Poey, som den 5 juli 1615 gifte sig med Germaine de Bernadotte, delägare i ett hus i Pau, kallat "de Bernadotte", och från vilken namnet Bernadotte har sitt ursprung. Hon var dotter till Jean de Layus och Estébène de Butleret, och synes ha tagit namnet efter det hus hon ärvde i Pau, Béarn. (Swedish Wikipedia, Bernadotte: Släkten Bernadottes franska rötter)

English translation: The oldest known member of the family on his father's side was Joandou de Poey, who on July 5 1615 married Germaine de Bernadotte, co-owner of a house in Pau, called the "Bernadotte", and from which the name of Bernadotte originated. She was the daughter of Jean de Layus and Estébène de Butleret, and seems to have taken the name after the house she inherited in Pau, Béarn.

Origin of Sweden's Royal Family

Following the Finnish War in 1809, Sweden suffered the traumatic loss of Finland, which had constituted the eastern half of the Swedish realm for centuries. Resentment towards King Gustav IV Adolf precipitated a coup d'état. Gustav Adolf was deposed and his uncle Charles XIII was elected King in his place. This was merely a temporary solution, as Charles XIII was childless. So in 1810 the Riksdag of the Estates (Swedish parliament) elected Prince Christian August of Augustenborg, from Denmark, as heir to the throne. However, he died later that same year.

At this time, Emperor Napoleon I of France controlled much of continental Europe, some of it as client kingdoms headed by his brothers (see Napoleonic Empire). The Riksdag decided to choose a king whom Napoleon would like. On 21 August 1810, the Riksdag elected Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, a Marshal of France, as heir presumptive to the Swedish throne.

Bernadotte, born in the town of Pau, in the province of Béarn, France, had risen to the rank of general during the tumultuous years of the French Revolution. In 1798 he married Désirée Clary, whose sister was married to Joseph, Napoleon's elder brother. In 1804 Napoleon promoted him to a Marshal of France. Napoleon also granted him the title 'Prince of Pontecorvo', a town in central Italy.

As the Crown Prince of Sweden he assumed the name Karl Johan (Charles John), and acted officially as regent for the remainder of Charles XIII's reign. In 1813, he broke with Napoleon and Sweden joined the anti-Napoleon alliance. He secured a forced personal union between Sweden and Norway in the 1814 campaign against Norway. 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 was then elected as King Haakon VII of Norway. Carl was a grandson of King Charles XV of Sweden, and a great-great-grandson of Charles XIV.

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 Pontecorvo (heraldic right). It is visible as an inescutcheon in the Greater Coat of Arms of the Realm.