Oscar II

(Redirected from Oscar II of Sweden)

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

Oscar II
Porträtt av Oscar II i amiralsuniform. 1900-1907. Foto Lars Larsson.jpg
Photograph of Oscar II, c. 1900–07
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
(m. 1857)
IssueGustaf V of Sweden
Prince Oscar Bernadotte
Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland
Prince Eugen, Duke of Närke
Oscar Fredrik
FatherOscar I of Sweden
MotherJosephine of Leuchtenberg
ReligionChurch of Sweden
Church of Norway
SignatureOscar II's signature

Oscar was the son of King Oscar I and Queen Josephine. He inherited the Swedish and Norwegian thrones when his brother died in 1872. Oscar II ruled during a time when both countries were 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. In 1905, the throne of Norway was transferred to his grandnephew Prince Carl of Denmark under the regnal name Haakon VII. When Oscar died in 1907, he was succeeded in Sweden by his eldest son, Gustaf V.

Oscar II is the paternal great-great-grandfather of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is his descendant through his son Gustaf V. King Harald V of Norway; King Philippe of the Belgians; and Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg are also descendants of Oscar II, all through his third son Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland.

Early lifeEdit

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

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]

Prince Oscar entered the Royal Swedish Navy as a midshipman 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, was made an honorary member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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.

In 1859, Prince Oscar became heir-presumptive to the thrones of Sweden and Norway, as his eldest brother King Charles XV of Sweden/Charles IV of Norway was without a legitimate heir, having lost his only son, Prince Carl Oscar, Duke of Södermanland, to pneumonia in 1854. His second elder brother, Prince Gustaf, Duke of Uppland, had before died of typhoid fever in 1852.

King of Sweden and NorwayEdit

Photograph of Oscar II, c. 1870s

Oscar II became King on 18 September 1872, upon the death of his brother, Charles XV who died without an heir. At his accession, he adopted as his motto Brödrafolkens väl / Broderfolkenes Vel ("The Welfare of the Brother Peoples"). While the King, his family and the Royal Court resided mostly in Sweden, Oscar II 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.

Foreign and domestic statecraftEdit

Photograph of Oscar II by Gösta Florman, c. 1891

His acute intelligence and his aloofness from the dynastic considerations affecting most European sovereigns (both his paternal and maternal grandfathers were French military commanders who served under Napoleon I) gave the king considerable weight as an arbitrator in international questions. At the request of the United Kingdom, 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.[3]

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.[4]

The office of Prime Minister of Sweden 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 Oscar II, 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 (unintentional by both the King and Boström) that furthered the road to parliamentarism.

Science and the artsEdit

Portrait of Oscar II by Anders Zorn 1898

His Easter hymn and some other of his poems are familiar throughout the Scandinavian countries. His work on Charles XII of Sweden were translated into English in 1879. In 1881 he founded the world's first open-air museum, at Bygdøy, located next to his summer residence near Oslo (back then known as Christiania). 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 remains as the home of that institution. Oscar II once told playwright 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.

In 1889, to commemorate the 60th birthday of King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway, a contest was held to produce the best research in celestial mechanics pertaining to the stability of the solar system, a particularly relevant n-body problem. The winner was declared to be Henri Poincare, a professor at the University of Paris.[5]

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]

Oscar was also a generous sponsor of the sciences and personally funded the Vega Expedition, which was the first Arctic expedition to navigate through the Northeast Passage, the sea route between Europe and Asia through the Arctic Ocean, and the first voyage to circumnavigate Eurasia. Oscar was also particularly interested in 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]


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.[10]

Marriage and childrenEdit

Oscar II boating.
Engraving by Anders Zorn.

On 6 June 1857 he married in Wiesbaden-Biebrich, Duchy of Nassau (located in present-day Hessen, Germany) Princess Sophia Wilhelmina, the youngest daughter of Duke William of Nassau and Princess Pauline of Württemberg. They had four sons:

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

His eldest son Gustaf was Duke of Värmland and succeeded him as King Gustaf V of Sweden from 1907 until 1950, married Princess Victoria of Baden and they had three sons. His second son, Prince Oscar, lost his rights of succession to the throne upon his unequal marriage in 1888 to a former lady-in-waiting, Ebba Munck af Fulkila, and was granted the title of Prince Bernadotte first in Sweden, and from 1892 in Luxembourg, where he also was created Count of Wisborg as an hereditary title for his marital progeny (Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, was the half-brother of his mother, Queen Sophia). The other sons of Oscar II were Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland who married Princess Ingeborg of Denmark; and Prince Eugén, Duke of Närke, who was well known as an artist and remained a bachelor all his life.

Alleged extramarital childrenEdit

Oscar II is also suspected to have had several extramarital children,[11] of which at least five are named:

  • Anna Hofman-Uddgren (1868–1947) by Emma Hammarström (1849–1910)[12]
  • Elin Esping Smitz (1878–1960) by Paulina Mathilda Esping (1858–1878)[13][14]
  • Knut August Ekstam (born 1878, in U.S.A. 1903, death unknown) by Marie Friberg (1852–1934)
  • Florence Stephens (1881–1979) by Elisabeth Kreüger Stephens (1858–1911)[15]
  • Nils Teodor Ekstam (1889–1954) also by Friberg above[16][17]

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


Portrait of Oscar II wearing the Crown of Eric XIV and mantle, by Oscar Björck. King Oscar II was the last crowned Swedish king and was known to enjoy the pomp and ceremony.


The name and portrait of Oscar II have been used as a trademark for King Oscar sardines in Norway since 1902[40] (which remains the only brand to have once obtained his "royal permission" [41]) as well as gingerbread cookies (pepparkakor) and other bakery products made by Göteborgs Kex in Sweden.[42]




  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. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  4. ^ Borgenstam, Curt (2017). "Swedish Coastal Defence Ship Oscar II" (PDF). International Navy Journal. 5 (1): 65. ISSN 2411-3204. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 February 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Chaos", Textbooks in Mathematical Sciences, New York, NY: Springer New York, 1996, pp. 105–147, doi:10.1007/0-387-22492-0_3, ISBN 978-0-387-94677-1, retrieved 2 February 2022 {{citation}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  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.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ King Oscar’s Prize. Archived 14 June 2018 at the Wayback Machine Springer.
  9. ^ The solution of the n-body problem Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Florin Diacu. Mar 2016.
  10. ^ "Death Of Oscar King Of Sweden. His Son Ascends The Throne And Takes The Title Gustave The Fifth". The New York Times. 9 December 1907. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2017. He Eulogizes His Father Tells Why The Country Should Cherish His Memory. In His Sentiments All Sweden Shares.
  11. ^ Gustaf von Platen in Bakom den gyllene fasaden Bonniers ISBN 91-0-058048-1 p 146
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Throne of a Thousand Years p. 277
  14. ^ "FamSAC of Stockholm & Blair – Family Tree". famsac.tribalpages.com. Archived from the original on 26 March 2022. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  15. ^ Norlin, Arne (2015). Familjen Bernadotte: makten, myterna, människorna (in Swedish). Stockholm: Fischer & Co. pp. 218–220. ISBN 9789186597962. SELIBR 17803399.
  16. ^ Sherlock Holmes and the King of Scandinavia Archived 16 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine The Swedish Pathological Society
  17. ^ Sandberg, Mattias (24 May 2010). "Jakten på den försvunne sonen". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 31 October 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
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  19. ^ Sveriges och Norges statskalender (in Swedish), 1870, p. 568, archived from the original on 25 April 2018, retrieved 6 January 2018 – via runeberg.org
  20. ^ Sveriges och Norges statskalender (in Swedish), 1870, p. 690, archived from the original on 19 July 2019, retrieved 6 January 2018 – via runeberg.org
  21. ^ "The Order of the Norwegian Lion" Archived 10 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine, The Royal House of Norway. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  22. ^ ""A Szent István Rend tagjai"". Archived from the original on 22 December 2010.
  23. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1880), "Großherzogliche Orden" pp. 60 Archived 6 August 2020 at the Wayback Machine, 72 Archived 6 August 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreichs Bayern (1906), "Königliche Orden" p. 7
  25. ^ Ferdinand Veldekens (1858). Le livre d'or de l'ordre de Léopold et de la croix de fer. lelong. p. 224.
  26. ^ Bille-Hansen, A. C.; Holck, Harald, eds. (1907) [1st pub.:1801]. Statshaandbog for Kongeriget Danmark for Aaret 1907 [State Manual of the Kingdom of Denmark for the Year 1907] (PDF). Kongelig Dansk Hof- og Statskalender (in Danish). Copenhagen: J.H. Schultz A.-S. Universitetsbogtrykkeri. p. 3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 October 2020. Retrieved 7 September 2020 – via da:DIS Danmark.
  27. ^ "oscar-iis-franska-raddningsmedalj" [Oscar II's Rescue Medal] (in Swedish). 28 February 2018. Archived from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  28. ^ Staat Hannover (1865). Hof- und Staatshandbuch für das Königreich Hannover: 1865. Berenberg. p. 81.
  29. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (1883), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen", p. 14 Archived 9 October 2021 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Cibrario, Luigi (1869). Notizia storica del nobilissimo ordine supremo della santissima Annunziata. Sunto degli statuti, catalogo dei cavalieri (in Italian). Eredi Botta. p. 118. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  31. ^ 刑部芳則 (2017). 明治時代の勲章外交儀礼 (PDF) (in Japanese). 明治聖徳記念学会紀要. p. 143. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 March 2021. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  32. ^ https://journaldemonaco.gouv.mc/var/jdm/storage/original/application/f41d2b49a98a52b8d0a24470ad08cc49.pdf Archived 18 March 2022 at the Wayback Machine[bare URL PDF]
  33. ^ Staats- und Adreß-Handbuch des Herzogthums Nassau (1866), "Herzogliche Orden" p. 8 Archived 7 April 2023 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ a b "Königlich Preussische Ordensliste", Preussische Ordens-Liste (in German), Berlin, 1: 6, 935, 1886, archived from the original on 18 August 2021, retrieved 22 August 2021
  35. ^ Sachsen (1876). Staatshandbuch für den Freistaat Sachsen: 1876. Heinrich. p. 3.
  36. ^ Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1864), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 13 Archived 30 August 2019 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ "Caballeros de la insigne orden del toisón de oro", Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish), 1887, p. 146, archived from the original on 22 December 2019, retrieved 21 March 2019
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  39. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Württemberg (1907), "Königliche Orden" p. 28
  40. ^ "About King Oscar". kingoscar.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  41. ^ "King of the sea". The Norwegian American. 7 September 2016. Archived from the original on 7 July 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  42. ^ "Kung Oscar" (in Swedish). Göteborgs Kex AB. Archived from the original on 7 July 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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