The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Bernadotte, Jean Baptiste Jules

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BERNADOTTE, Jean Baptiste Jules, marshal of the French empire and king of Sweden and Norway, born at Pau, Jan. 26, 1764, died in Stockholm, March 8, 1844. He was the son of a lawyer, and was educated for that profession, but enlisted in 1780 in the royal marines. When the French revolution broke out his advancement became rapid. In 1792 he served as colonel in Custine's army; commanded a demi-brigade in 1793; was in the same year, through Kléber's patronage, promoted to the rank of brigadier general; and contributed, as general of division in the army of the Sambre and Meuse, under Kléber and Jourdan, to the victory of Flenrus, June 26, 1794, the success at Jülich, and the capitulation of Maestricht. He also did good service in the campaign of 1795-'6 against the Austrian generals Clairfait, Kray, and the archduke Charles. At the beginning of 1797 he was ordered by the directory to march with 20,000 men as reënforcements to the Italian army, and it was upon his arrival in Italy that his first interview with Bonaparte took place. During the invasion of Friuli and Istria Bernadotte distinguished himself at the passage of the Tagliamento, where he led the vanguard, and at the capture of the fortress of Gradisca, March 19, 1797. After the 18th Fructidor, Bonaparte ordered his generals to collect from their respective divisions addresses in favor of the coup d'état of that day; but Bernadotte sent an address to the directory different from that which Bonaparte wished for and without conveying it through Bonaparte's hands. After the treaty of Campo Formio Bonaparte made Bernadotte a friendly visit at his headquarters at Udine, but immediately after deprived him of half his division of the army of the Rhine, and commanded him to march the other half back to France. Bernadotte was much dissatisfied, but finally accepted the embassy to Vienna. Having been reprimanded by the directory because he had not placed the emblem of the republic upon the outside of his hotel, Bernadotte hoisted the tri-colored flag with the inscription “Liberty, equality, fraternity.” This was done upon a day on which a public anniversary was celebrated at Vienna, April 13, 1798. His hotel was stormed by a mob, his flag burnt, and his life endangered. Satisfaction having been refused, Bernadotte withdrew to Rastadt with all his legation. The directory, however, on the advice of Bonaparte, waived the claim for satisfaction and recalled Bernadotte to Paris. He married in August, 1798, Mlle. Désirée Clary, the daughter of a Marseilles merchant and Joseph Bonaparte's sister-in-law. In November of the same year he was made commander of the army of observation on the upper Rhine. After the coup d'état of the 30th Prairial, 1799, he was made minister of war, and in that office rendered valuable services. On the morning of Sept. 13 he found his resignation announced in the Moniteur before he was aware that he had tendered it. This was a trick; played upon him by Sieyès and Roger Ducos, the directors allied to Bonaparte. Although solicited to do so by Bonaparte, Bernadotte refused to take part in the revolution of the 18th Brumaire (Nov. 9, 1799), by which the directory was abolished and supreme power conferred on Napoleon. Placed in command of the army of the west, he restored tranquillity to La Vendée. After the proclamation of the empire in 1804 he was made a marshal, and was intrusted with the command of the army of Hanover. In this capacity, as well as during his later command of the army of northern Germany, he created for himself a reputation for independence, moderation, and administrative ability. At the head of the corps stationed in Hanover, which formed the first corps of the grand army, he participated in the campaign of 1805 against the Austrians and Russians. In the battle of Austerlitz he was posted with his corps in the centre between Soult and Lannes, and contributed to baffle the attempt of the right wing of the allies to outflank the French army. On June 5, 1806, he was created prince of Ponte-Corvo, a district of Naples formerly subject to the pope. During the campaign of 1806-'7 against Prussia he commanded the first corps d'armée. After the battle of Jena, Oct. 14, 1806, Bernadotte defeated the Prussians at Halle, Oct. 17, pursued conjointly with Soult and Murat the Prussian general Blücher to Lübeck, and aided in forcing his capitulation at Radkow, Nov. 7. He also defeated the Russians at Mohrungen, Jan. 25, 1807. After the peace of Tilsit, according to the alliance concluded between Denmark and Napoleon, French troops were to occupy the Danish islands, thence to act against Sweden. Accordingly, in 1808, while Russia invaded Finland, Bernadotte was commanded to move upon Seeland in order to penetrate with the Danes into Sweden to dethrone its king, and to partition the country between Denmark and Russia. He passed the Belt and arrived in Seeland at the head of 30,000 Frenchmen, Dutch, and Spaniards; most of the latter, however, by the assistance of the English fleet, decamped under Gen. de la Romaña. Being recalled to Germany to assist in the new war between France and Austria, he received the command of the 9th corps, which was mainly composed of Saxons. At the battle of Wagram he commanded this corps, of which the division of Gen. Dupas formed part. Having resisted on the left wing for a long time an attack from a superior force, he ordered Dupas forward to his support; the latter replied that he had orders from the emperor to remain where he was. After the battle Bernadotte complained to Napoleon for having in violation of all military rules ordered Gen. Dupas to act independently of his command, and for having thereby caused great loss of life to the Saxons, and tendered his resignation; and Napoleon accepted it after he had become aware of an order of the day issued by Bernadotte in which he gave the Saxons credit for their courage in terms inconsistent with the emperor's official bulletin. Bernadotte having returned to Paris, the Walcheren expedition (July, 1809), caused the French ministry in the absence of the emperor to intrust him with the defence of Antwerp. In a proclamation issued to his troops at Antwerp he made a charge against Napoleon of having neglected to prepare the proper means of defence for the Belgian coast. He was deprived of his command, and ordered on his return to Paris to leave it for his princedom of Ponte-Corvo. Refusing to comply with the order, he was summoned to Vienna, and after an interview with Napoleon at Schönbrunn accepted the general government of the Roman states. He was making his preparations to enter upon this office when the Swedish diet elected him crown prince of Sweden, Aug. 21, 1810. The king, Charles XIII., who in 1809 had succeeded the dethroned Gustavus IV., adopted him as his son under the name of Charles John. Before freeing Bernadotte from his allegiance to France, Napoleon asked him to agree never to take up arms against France. Bernadotte having refused to make any such agreement, upon the ground that his obligations to Sweden would not allow it, Napoleon signed the act of emancipation unconditionally. Landing at Helsingborg, Bernadotte there abjured the Catholic religion, and entered Stockholm Nov. 1. During the king's sickness, in the following year, Bernadotte acted as regent. Napoleon compelled him to accede to the continental system and declare war against England; but the declaration was treated by both England and Sweden as being merely nominal. Napoleon suppressed the crown prince's revenues as a French prince, declined to receive his despatches, and sent back the order of the Seraphim bestowed by him upon the new-born king of Rome. Finally French troops in January, 1812, invaded Swedish Pomerania and the island of Rügen; whereupon Sweden concluded an offensive alliance against France with Russia. In this treaty the annexation of Norway to Sweden was stipulated. When Napoleon declared war against Russia, Bernadotte was for a time the arbiter of the destinies of Europe. Napoleon offered him, on the condition of his attacking Russia with 40,000 Swedes, Finland, Mecklenburg, Stettin, and all the territory between Stettin and Volgast. But Bernadotte remained upon the side of Russia. He mediated the peace of Orebro, concluded about the same time between England on the one side and Russia and Sweden on the other. After the French retreat from Moscow, when England guaranteed him Norway, he entered the coalition. He assisted the emperor Alexander and the king of Prussia in the formation of their plans for the campaign of 1813, in which as crown prince of Sweden he was commander-in-chief of the army of the north. In this campaign, after having defeated Oudinot at Grossbeeren, he gained a victory (Sept. 6) over Ney at Dennewitz, and joined in the battle of Leipsic in time to contribute materially to the victory of the allies. After that battle he marched upon Denmark by way of Hanover; and he forced Frederick VI. to sign the treaty of Kiel, Jan. 14, 1814, by which Norway was ceded to Sweden. When the allies entered France the crown prince followed slowly, and stopped on the frontier. After Napoleon's abdication he repaired personally to Paris, where his reception by the allies was not particularly cordial; but on his return to Sweden the treaty of Kiel was guaranteed by the five great powers. The representatives of Norway, assembling at Eidwold, adopted the constitution which is still in force. This constitution Bernadotte agreed to accept, and obtained the assent to it of the Swedish assembly (storthing). Charles XIII. expired Feb. 5, 1818, and Bernadotte was acknowledged throughout Europe as king both of Sweden and Norway under the name of Charles XIV. John. Although ignorant of the language of the countries over which he reigned, Bernadotte as king succeeded in overcoming all the difficulties which arose in either country. During his long reign of 26 years education was promoted, agriculture, commerce, and manufactures prospered, and the means of internal communication were increased. (See Sweden.) He was succeeded by his only son, Oscar.