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"Bernadote" Topic

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Areas of Interest


347 hits since 8 Mar 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 9:29 p.m. PST

Of possible interest?



BillyNM09 Mar 2019 12:04 a.m. PST

Of very definite interest, so often cast as the villain it will be good to read more and I assume that like most biographies the author has a soft spot for his subject.

von Winterfeldt09 Mar 2019 12:08 a.m. PST

Yes the three volumes of Bsrton are excellent, Bernadotte wasn't a villain at all – in contrast to Boney, also he was tremendously successful, faithful husband, King – founding a still existing dynasty.

Glengarry509 Mar 2019 1:05 a.m. PST

Of all the crowned heads Napoleon created I believe only Bernadotte retained his throne.

BillyNM09 Mar 2019 4:21 a.m. PST

I don't think Napoleon really gets the credit for crowning Bernadotte…

vichussar Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 7:33 a.m. PST

King Fredrich of Wurttemburg was able to retain his expanded kingdom as he was related by marriage to both the King of Great Britain and Tzar of Russ

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 7:39 a.m. PST

Two views on Bernadotte:


‘[Bernadotte's] parents had intended him to be a lawyer. Undoubtedly he would have made an excellent one, especially (as was said of a certain American general) ‘if the case were a bad one, and required dexterous tinkering with the witnesses.' His father died when Bernadotte was seventeen; with no money for further schooling, he enlisted in Regiment Royal Marine. Well built (his nickname was ‘Pretty Leg') and better educated than most recruits, he made first sergeant by 1788. The Revolution made him a lieutenant in late 1791. Three years later he was a general of division. In 1797 he commanded the force sent from Sambre-et-Meuse to reinforce Napoleon in Italy. He impressed Desaix: ‘Young, plenty of fire, vigorous, of fine passions, very estimable; he is not loved for he is considered a fanatic' (Jacobin extremist).' He was also furiously ambitious, apt at intrigue, and gifted with an overwhelming talent for obfuscating eloquence. In 1799 he was first ambassador to Austria (the Viennese mobbed him out of town), then somehow Minister of War (his unrealistic strategic inspirations soon caused the Directory to accept ‘the resignation I have not given.''

‘Bernadotte's position during Napoleon's coup d'etat is obscure. Later he would picture himself as ready to oppose Napoleon if summoned to do so or as having been offered-but nobly refusing-a supreme dictatorship. Actually, he was a minor offstage noise, a general on inactive status, without significant experience in independent command or any following among the troops. Also, his extreme caution always played against his oversized ambitions. That caution served him well in 1802. Placed in command in western France, Bernadotte cooked up a mutiny among troops awaiting shipment to Haiti but took care to be in Paris when the shooting was scheduled to start. The plot was detected; Bernadotte protested that he know nothing of it and so wiggled free.'

‘He served well enough in 1805, but in 1806 he deliberately disobeyed orders, waiting between Napoleon's battle at Jena and Davout's at Auerstad, hoping one or the other would meet disaster. His service in 1807 was unexceptional; in 1809 Napoleon gave him command of the Saxon contingent, but Bernadotte was in a carping mood, which passed into open insubordination. The Emperor sent him back to France.'
‘Tall and dashing, with alert button eyes and a fine beak of a nose, Bernadotte showed remarkable bravery in action and was a competent tactician. He could outbrag Augereau or be convincingly charming to people who might be useful to him. He had fine moments, as in 1790, when he faced down a Marseilles mob to save his colonel. But he trusted no one and was himself untrustworthy-able, but always the enemy of his superiors.'-John Elting, Swords Around A Throne, 127-128.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 7:40 a.m. PST


‘Bernadotte was an interesting and complex character. Destined to become King of Sweden, he had been born a lawyer's son in Gascony in 1763 and entered the army as a private in 1780. The Revolution gave him an opportunity to rise and he was soon a General of Division fighting with Republican fervor (he reportedly had ‘Death to Tyrants' tattooed on his arm) in Germany and Italy. His early military career showed him to be possessed of not inconsiderable tactical talent, a notable ability to motivate troops and a vaulting ambition.

Success brought him prominence, but he ran foul of Napoleon in the Consulate years, his political aspirations, touchy pride and high self-esteem coming between the two men and laying a foundation of suspicion and rancor, especially on Bernadotte's part, that would not dissipate. His perplexing behavior at the double battle of Jena and Auserstadt, where he failed to arrive on either battlefield, cast a shadow over h is reliability and by 1809, he had managed to make enemies of a number of the army's senior leaders, including Berthier.

As a military governor in the Hanseatic cities from 1807-1809, he had gained extensive experience in dealing with Germans and was renowned for his courtesy, charm and adroit handling of difficult civil-military problems. He was equally famous, however, for an inflated opinion of his own importance, a similar view of his own military genius and a propensity to let temper overcome wisdom in violent verbal outbursts…' John Gill, With Eagles to Glory, 256.

‘…[Bernadotte] was thus a competent officer who cared for his troops and received their warm loyalty in return, but also an eristic, ambitious and untrustworthy subordinate and comrade, too fond of intrigue and principally concerned with promoting his own interests.'-Eagles, 256, 273.

‘…Bernadotte's order, issued on 7 July at Leopoldau, was even more bombastic than most documents of its ilk and seemed almost calculated to offend the French Army and confirm the Prince of Ponte Corvo's reputation as an untrustworthy braggart.' -Eagles 304.

‘Bernadotte's relief, however, was the result of a combination of factors and his Order of the Day was only the proximate cause, the straw that broke the Emperor's patience. His patience had been severely tried in 1806 when many of Napoleon's subordinates urged the most draconian penalties for Bernadotte's failure to contribute to the dual victory of Jena-Auerstadt. That incident planted seeds of distrust that sprouted three years later. In 1809, Napoleon and Berthier must certainly have wearied of Bernadotte's jeremiad; his continual complaints, even if based in fact, often resembled excuses for inaction and were inconsistent with the hyperbolic plaudits he handed the Saxons immediately after Linz and Wagram. Furthermore, his performance in the campaign had been uninspiring. While encamped at Linz, he inflated Austrian strength and evinced little interest in pressuring the enemy in Bohemia as Napoleon had repeatedly directed. At Wagram, he showed himself sluggish and testy. He demonstrated tremendous personal courage and made every effort to conserve the lives of the troops, but his tactical performance was poor and soldiers were needlessly sacrificed in uncoordinated, unsupported attacks on both the 5th and the 6th; the abandonment of Aderklaa was a particularly egregious error. Having failed to accomplish his missions, he haughtily attempted to blame his mysterious enemies in Imperial Headquarters and even Napoleon himself…'-Eagles 305-306

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 11:48 a.m. PST

Glad you like it my friend!. (smile)

Thanks Kevin!.


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