The Baron Who Unexpectedly Made a King and Became a Power Behind the Throne
Baron Morner was a Swedish envoy in Paris, when he offered power and the crown of Sweden to Bernadotte in 1810. The Swedish government, surprised and affronted by Morner’s unauthorized offer, had him arrested. However, the more the Swedes thought about it, the more they liked Bernadotte, and the French marshal’s candidature gradually gained favor. In August, 1810, the Riksdag elected him crown prince, the king appointed him to command Sweden’s armies, and Bernadotte became regent. Once Bernadotte assumed the regency and governance of Sweden, he cast about for an accomplishment to solidify his authority.
He got his chance when Napoleon was weakened after his 1812 invasion of Russia ended in catastrophe. In 1813, Bernadotte switched sides, signed a treaty with Britain, declared war on France, and landed a Swedish army in northern Germany. In alliance with the Austrians, Russians, and Prussians, he got his payback against Napoleon and helped defeat him in the war’s biggest and bloodiest battle, at Leipzig, in 1813. After the war, he returned to Sweden, where he established the Bernadotte Dynasty, whose royal family reigns to this day.