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Ett kungahus i tiden: Den bernadotteska dynastins möte med medborgarsamhället c:a 1810–1860
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2011 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this dissertation is to describe and analyze how the Royal House of Bernadotte maintained and strengthened its legitimacy in the united kingdoms of Sweden and Norway during the first half of the 19th century. Sweden’s repeated military setbacks during the first decade of that century had undermined the last vestiges of the autocratic monarchy’s legitimacy, and as a consequence King Gustav IV Adolf was deposed in a military coup in March 1809. In June parliament adopted a written constitution and the deposed king’s uncle, Prince Charles, ascended the throne as Charles XIII.  Since Charles had no children, parliament in August 1810 elected Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, Marshal of the French Empire and Prince of Pontecorvo, as heir to the Swedish throne.

Bernadotte, who in Sweden used the name Charles John and was adopted by Charles XIII, immediately became the country’s regent due to the king’s poor health. In that capacity he managed to restore the country’s bruised military confidence and dampen domestic political tensions. In 1813 he led the Northern Army that helped depose his former brother in arms and relative, Emperor Napoleon I. As a sign of appreciation, Sweden was awarded Norway that since the 1300s had been united with Denmark. When Charles XIII died in 1818, the former revolutionary general was proclaimed Charles XIV, king of Sweden and Norway.

In older history writing, Charles John’s rule has been described as conservative, even reactionary. This dissertation is linked to research in recent decades that shows that this picture is oversimplified, and partly misleading.  This thesis, which also comprises the reign of Oscar I, describes and analyzes how the first two Bernadotte kings interacted with the new societal formation – the civic society that during the 19th and 20th centuries gradually replaced the older elite-ruled society, first in Norway and later in Sweden. This is done through three substudies. The first shows how the royal house used the royal court as a meeting place and invited civic society representatives there. The second substudy describes how the royal house entered civic society by getting involved in so-called voluntary civic associations. The third, and final, substudy depicts how the heirs to the throne Oscar (I) and Charles (XV) and their siblings were readied for encounters with civic society. The dissertation ties in with two international research trends. On the one hand, the modern research on monarchies where British historian Peter Burke is one of the prominent advocates; and on the other, the interdisciplinary research closely linked to the German sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas, which studies and describes various aspects of the emergence and expression of modern civic society.


The dissertation’s overall conclusion is that the Royal House of Bernadotte, seen in an international context, during the period 1810–1860 appeared to be notably civic-minded with a clear civic profile.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2011. , 325 p.
Studia historica Upsaliensia, ISSN 0081-6531 ; 242
Keyword [en]
Sweden and Norway 1810–1860, elite-ruled society, civic society, public civic, manifestation and legitimacy
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-150970ISBN: 978-91-554-8033-2OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-150970DiVA: diva2:409542
Public defence
2011-05-03, Universitetshuset, lärosal X, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2011-04-12 Created: 2011-04-08 Last updated: 2014-10-02Bibliographically approved

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