Oscar I 1844-1859

Above: Species taler from Oscar I

Oscar I was born in France, the only son of Jean-Baptiste-Jules Bernadotte, who later became King Carl XIV Johan (John) of Sweden and Norway. When Oscar succeeded as king in Sweden-Norway, he was 45 years old. Influenced by the humanitarian ideals of his age, he initiated an extensive reform program in the two countries. The reforms included the introduction of a more humane penal code with improved conditions in prisons, equal rights of inheritance for men and women, and a new welfare law. He was sympathetic to Norwegian national sentiment and issues of symbolic value to Norwegians. One result was the establishment of a Norwegian order of knighthood, the Order of Saint Olav.

King Oscar played an active role in shaping foreign policies, his ambition being to strengthen his position beyond the Nordic region. In the Danish-German war of 1848 to 1850 his politics were explicitly in support of the Danish. He let it be known to the Prussian leaders that large forces of Swedish-Norwegian troops would come to the aid of Denmark if Jutland or the Danish islands were threatened. During the Crimean War, Oscar shifted his international orientation away from Russia and towards the western powers by signing the so-called November Treaty of 1855. This treaty established Sweden-Norway's independent position relative to Russia, and was considered to be of major importance.

When Oscar died in 1859 and his oldest son Carl XV took over the throne, the mid-point had been reached in the Sweden-Norway Union.

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