Haakon of Sweden

Charles XV of Sweden

Karl XV (Karl Ludvig Eugen) (May 3, 1826September 18, 1872) was King of Sweden and Norway (where he was known as Karl IV) from 1859 until his death.


He was born in Stockholm Palace and dubbed Duke of Skåne at birth. He was the eldest son of King Oscar I and Josephine of Leuchtenberg. The Crown Prince was Viceroy of Norway briefly in 1856 and 1857. He became Regent on September 25, 1857, and king on the death of his father on July 8, 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 June 19, 1850 he married 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; Princess Louise was in love with her husband, whereas he preferred other women. His mistresses included the actresses Hanna Styrell and Elise Jakobsson-Hwasser (the latter the most celebrated actress in Sweden during his reign) and the Crown Prince neglected his shy wife. On the other hand, his relationship to his only daughter, Louise, was warm and close.

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 communal 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 memorable reform of the Riksdag in 1866. He also declared the freedom of women by passing the law of legal maturity for unmarried women in 1858 - his sister Princess Eugenie became the first woman who was declared mature.

Charles was a warm advocate of Scandinavianism and the political solidarity of the three northern kingdoms, and his warm friendship for 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 September 18, 1872.

Charles XV was highly gifted in many directions. He attained to some eminence as a painter, and his poems show him to have been a true poet. He was followed on both the thrones of Norway and Sweden by his brother Oscar II.

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, and 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.

No subsequent king of Sweden to this day is Charles' direct descendant. However, his descendants are or have been on the thrones of Denmark, Luxembourg, Greece, Belgium and Norway.


Name Birth Death Notes
Louise Josephine Eugenie 31 October 1851 21 March 1926 married, 1869, Frederick VIII of Denmark; had issue
Charles Oscar William Frederick 14 December 1852 13 March 1854 died in infancy


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