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Oscar II of Sweden

Oscar II

Portrait by Anders Zorn, 1898
ReignFrom September 18, 1872
- until June 7, 1905 in Norway
- until December 8, 1907 in Sweden
CoronationOn May 12, 1873 in Sweden.
On July 18, 1873 in Norway.
Royal motto "Brödrafolkens väl" (until 1905)
("The welfare of the brother peoples"
"Sveriges väl" (after 1905)
("The welfare of Sweden")
QueenSophia Wilhelmina of Nassau
Royal HouseBernadotte
PredecessorCharles XV, as the Swedish title and with
Carl IV, as the Norwegian title.
SuccessorsGustav V in Sweden
Haakon VII in Norway
Date of BirthJanuary 21, 1829
Place of BirthStockholm
Date of DeathDecember 7, 1907
Place of DeathStockholm
Place of BurialRiddarholmskyrkan, Stockholm

Oscar II (1829-1907), king of Sweden and Norway, son of Oscar I of Sweden, was born in Stockholm on January 21, 1829. He entered the navy at the age of eleven, and was appointed junior lieutenant in July 1845. Later he studied at the University of Uppsala, where he distinguished himself in mathematics. On June 6, 1857 he married Princess Sophia Wilhelmina, youngest daughter of Duke William of Nassau. He succeeded his brother Charles XV of Sweden, on the September 18, 1872, and was crowned in the Norwegian cathedral of Trondheim on July 18, 1873. At the accession he adopted as his motto Brödrafolkens väl, "The Welfare of the Brother Peoples". While the King and the Royal Court resided in Sweden, Oscar made the effort of learning to be fluent in Norwegian and from the very beginning he realized the essential difficulties in the maintenance of the union between the two countries. The political events which led up to the final crisis in 1905, by which the thrones were separated could hardly have been attained but for the tact and patience of the king himself. 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, which took place at Stockholm on the December 8, 1907.

Table of contents
1 Politics
2 Science and arts
3 Children
4 References


His acute intelligence and his aloofness from the dynastic considerations affecting most European sovereigns gave the king considerable weight as an arbitrator in international questions. At the request of Great Britain, Germany and the United States in 1889 he appointed the chief justice of Samoa, and he was again called in 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 in to act as umpire in the Anglo-American arbitration treaty that was quashed by the senate. He won many friends in England by his outspoken and generous support of Great Britain at the time of the Boer War (1899-1902), expressed in a declaration printed in The Times of the May 2, 1900, when continental opinion was almost universally hostile.

Science and arts

Himself a distinguished writer and musical amateur, 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 1875-1876, and a larger edition, in three volumes, appeared in 1885-1888. His Easter hymn and some other of his poems are familiar throughout the Scandinavian countries. His Memoirs of Charles XII of Sweden were translated into English in 1879. In 1885 he published his Address to the Academy of Music, and a translation of one of his essays on music appeared in Literature on the igth of May 1900. He had a valuable collection of printed and MS. music, which was readily accessible to the historical student of music.


  1. Prince Gustav Adolf, Duke of Wermelandia (1858-1950)
  2. Prince Oscar, Duke of Gotlandia, later know as Count Oscar Bernadotte of Wisborg (1859-1953)
  3. Prince Carl, Duke of Westrogothia (1861-1951)
  4. Prince Eugene, Duke of Nericia (1865-1947)

His eldest son, Oscar Gustavus Adolphus, duke of Wermelandia, succeeded him as Gustav V of Sweden. His second son, Oscar, resigned his royal rights on his marriage in 1888 with a lady-in-waiting, Miss Ebba Munck, when he assumed the title of Prince Bernadotte and from 1892 he was known as Count Wisborg. The king's other sons were Charles, duke of Westrogothia, who married Princess Ingeborg of Denmark; and Eugene, duke of Nericia well known as an artist.


Preceded by:
Charles XV of Sweden/
Carl IV of Norway
List of Swedish monarchs Succeeded by:
Gustav V
List of Norwegian monarchs Succeeded by:
Haakon VII