Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte (1763-1844)
Prince of Ponte-Corvo/King of Sweden and Norway
The son of a country tailor, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was one of the few marshals who achieved prominence independent of Napoleon. Rising to the rank of general by 1794, he was named Minister of War during the final months of the Directory. He first served under Napoleon in the Italian Campaign and went on to command a corps in the Grand Army during the Battle of Austerlitz, but poor performance as a battlefield commander eventually called his loyalty into question. At Jena/Auerstadt, he spent the day on the march between the two engagements, taking part in neither. At Wagram, his withdrawal from a key position was compounded by his open criticism of Napoleon’s handling of the battle, for which he was summarily dismissed from the army. Having made secret overtures to the King of Sweden, he was named Crown Prince of Sweden in 1810 and by 1813 he had entered the coalition that would bring about Napoleon’s abdication at Fontainebleau. In 1818 he assumed the title Charles XIV, King of Sweden and Norway, and ruled his adopted country ably until his death in 1844.