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Charles XV
Charles XV photographed by Mathias Hansen around 1865
Preceded by Oscar I
Succeeded by Oscar II
Personal details
Born (1826-05-03)3 May 1826
Stockholm, Sweden
Died 18 September 1872(1872-09-18) (aged 46)
Malmö, Sweden
Spouse(s) Louise of the Netherlands
Religion Church of Sweden

Charles XV also Carl (Carl Ludvig Eugen); Swedish: Karl XV and Norwegian: Karl IV (3 May 1826 – 18 September 1872) was King of Sweden (Charles XV) and Norway (proclaimed as Charles XV, but in recent times referred to accurately as Charles IV) from 1859 until his death. Though known as King Charles XV in Sweden (and also on contemporary Norwegian coins[1]), he was actually the ninth Swedish king by that name, as his predecessor Charles IX (reigned 1604–1611) had adopted a numeral according to a fictitious history of Sweden.[2]


An equestrian portrait of Charles XV, painted by Carl Fredrik Kiörboe, circa 1860

Statue of Charles XV in Stockholm

Adjutant Daniel Nordlander (upper left), with Adjutant Fritz von Dardel, Ordonnance Officer Ferdinand-Alphonse Hamelin, General Henri-Pierre Castelnau, King Charles XV of Sweden and Prince Oscar, future King Oscar II of Sweden, at the International Exposition (1867) in Paris, France.

Early life[]

He was born in Stockholm Palace, Stockholm in 1826 and dubbed Duke of Scania at birth. Born the eldest son of Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden and his wife Crown Princess Josephine, he would be second in line to the throne of his grandfather, the ruling King Charles XIV John of Sweden. During his childhood he was placed in the care of the royal governess countess Christina Ulrika Taube.[3] When he was just 15, he was given his first officer's commission in 1841 by his grandfather the king.

Crown Prince[]

The aging King Charles XIV would suffer a stroke on his 81st birthday in 1844, dying little more than a month later. His successor would be his son, Charles’s father Oscar, who ascended the throne as King Oscar I of Sweden. Upon his father's accession to the throne in 1844, the youth Charles was made a chancellor of the universities of Uppsala and Lund, and in 1853 chancellor of Royal Swedish Academy of Arts. On 11 February 1846 he was made an honorary member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[4]

The Crown Prince was Viceroy of Norway briefly in 1856 and 1857. He became Regent on 25 September 1857, and king on the death of his father on 8 July 1859. As grandson of Augusta of Bavaria, he was a descendant of Gustav I of Sweden and Charles IX of Sweden, whose blood returned to the throne after being lost in 1818 when Charles XIII of Sweden died.

On 19 June 1850 he married in Stockholm Louise of the Netherlands, niece of William II of the Netherlands through her father and niece of William I of Prussia, German Emperor, through her mother. The couple were personally quite dissimilar; Louise was a cultured and refined woman, however, she was considered to be quite plain and Charles was disappointed with her appearance. Louise was in love with her husband, whereas he preferred other women, saddening her deeply. His well-known mistresses included the actress Laura Bergnéhr, the countess Josephine Sparre, Wilhelmine Schröder and the actresses Hanna Styrell and Elise Hwasser, and the Crown Prince neglected his shy wife. On the other hand, his relationship to his only daughter, Louise, was warm and close.[5]


As Crown Prince, Charles' brusque manner led many to regard his future accession with some apprehension, yet he proved to be one of the most popular of Scandinavian kings and a constitutional ruler in the best sense of the word. His reign was remarkable for its manifold and far-reaching reforms. Sweden's existing municipal law (1862), ecclesiastical law (1863) and criminal law (1864) were enacted appropriately enough under the direction of a king whose motto was: Land skall med lag byggas - "With law shall the land be built". Charles also helped Louis De Geer to carry through his reform of the Parliament of Sweden in 1866. He also declared the freedom of women by passing the law of legal majority for unmarried women in 1858 – his sister Princess Eugenie became the first woman who was declared mature.[6]

Charles, like his father Oscar I, was an advocate of Scandinavianism and the political solidarity of the three northern kingdoms, and his friendship with Frederick VII of Denmark, it is said, led him to give half promises of help to Denmark on the eve of the war of 1864, which, in the circumstances, were perhaps misleading and unjustifiable. In view, however, of the unpreparedness of the Swedish army and the difficulties of the situation, Charles was forced to observe a strict neutrality. He died in Malmö on 18 September 1872.[7]

Charles XV attained some eminence as a painter and as a poet. He was followed on the thrones of both Norway and Sweden by his brother Oscar II.

In 1872, Charles XV had controversial plans to enter a non-morganatic marriage with the Polish countess Marya Krasińska through the assistance of Ohan Demirgian, plans that aroused opposition both in the royal house and government and which were interrupted only by his death.[8]


By his wife, Louise of the Netherlands, Charles had two children, a son who died in infancy and a daughter who married the King of Denmark. The early death of his only legitimate son meant that he was succeeded on the throne of Sweden by his younger brother Oscar II.

Name Birth Death Notes
Louise Josephine Eugenie 31 October 1851 21 March 1926 married, 1869, Frederick VIII of Denmark; had issue including Christian X of Denmark and Haakon VII of Norway.
Carl Oscar Vilhelm Frederik 14 December 1852 13 March 1854 died in infancy of pneumonia.

Charles also sired an illegitimate son, Carl Johan Bolander, (4 February 1854 - 28 July 1903), the father of Bishop Nils Bolander[9] and daughter, Ellen Svensson Hammar (28 October 1865 - 1931), and it has been widely rumored that he had many more extramarital children.[10]

No subsequent king of Sweden to this day is Charles' descendant. However, his descendants are or have been on the thrones of Denmark, Luxembourg, Greece, Belgium and Norway. A few weeks before Charles' death, his daughter Louise (then the Crown Princess of Denmark) gave birth to her second son. The young Prince of Denmark became christened as grandfather Charles' namesake. In 1905 this grandson, Prince Carl of Denmark, ascended the throne of Norway, becoming thus his maternal grandfather's successor in that country, and assumed the reign name Haakon VII. The present king, Harald V of Norway, is Charles' great-great-grandson, through his father and mother.[11]


National decorations[12]
  • Knight and Commander with Collar of the Seraphim, 3 May 1826
  • Knight of Charles XIII, 3 May 1826
  • Commander Grand Cross, Order of the Sword, 3 May 1826
  • Commander Grand Cross, Order of the Polar Star, 3 May 1826
  • Commander Grand Cross, Order of Vasa, 3 May 1826
  • Grand Cross with Collar, Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, 3 May 1826
Foreign decorations[12]


Coat of arms of Carl Ludvig (later Charles XV and IV), Crown Prince of Sweden, Duke of Skåne (1826-1844).svg
Prince of Sweden and Norway,
Duke of Scania (1826-1844)
Coat of arms of The Crown Prince of Sweden, Duke of Skåne.svg
Crown Prince of Sweden and Norway,
Duke of Scania (1844-1859)
Armoiries des rois Oscar Ier et Charles XV de Suede.svg
King Charles XV of Sweden
and Norway
Royal Monogram of King Charles XV of Sweden.svg
Monogram of King Charles XV
of Sweden


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This article does not contain any citations or references. Please improve this article by adding a reference. For information about how to add references, see Template:Citation.

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  1. Example
  2. Article Karl in Nordisk familjebok
  3. Gustaf Elgenstierna, Den introducerade svenska adelns ättartavlor. 1925-36.
  4. Lars Roar Langslet. "Karl 4, Konge (1826-1872)". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  5. "Karl 4, Konge (1826-1872)". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  6. Erik Opsahl. "Karl 4 – 1826-72". Store norske leksikon. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  7. Cronholm, Neander N. (1902). A History of Sweden from the Earliest Times to the Present Day.  ch 41 pp 289–99
  8. Ohan Demirgian, urn:sbl:17456, Svenskt biografiskt lexikon (art av Carl-Gustaf Thomasson.), hämtad 2014-12-13.
  9. Sahlberg, Carl-Erik (1994) (in sv). Nils Bolander: diktare och predikant. Aneby: KM-förl.. p. 11. ISBN 91-86112-39-2. 7755088. 
  10. Lagerqvist, Lars O.; Åberg, Nils; Hjelm, Lars E. (2002). Kings and rulers of Sweden: a pocket encyclopaedia (2., rev. ed.). Stockholm: Vincent. p. 48. ISBN 91-87064-35-9. 8836893. 
  11. Ole Kristian Grimnes. "Haakon 7". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved September 1, 2016. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Sveriges och Norges Statskalender (1872) p. 459" (in sv). Retrieved 2018-01-06. 


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Bain, Robert Nisbet (1911) "Charles XV." in Chisholm, Hugh Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press 

External links[]

Works related to at Wikisource

Karl XV/IV
House of Bernadotte
Born: 3 May 1826 Died: 18 September 1872
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Oscar I
King of Sweden and Norway
Succeeded by
Oscar II
Titles of nobility
New title Duke of Skåne
Title next held by
Gustav Adolf
Political offices
Preceded by
Severin Løvenskiold
Prime Minister of Norway
Succeeded by
Jørgen Herman Vogt
Preceded by
Jørgen Herman Vogt
Prime Minister of Norway

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