I ended the previous part with the marriage of Elisabeth Auguste, only child to live to adulthood of the Elector Palatine Karl III Philipp, to Joseph Karl of Sulzbach, heir to the next most senior Wittelsbach branch and thus to the whole of the Palatinate. He did not in fact attain this inheritance, dying in 1729, a year after his wife and while his father-in-law had over a decade left of his own span.
Nor had he ever even been next heir to the Palatinate, as I not quite accurately called him, as that would be his father Count Theodor Eustach of Sulzbach, who survived until 1732. His heir would now have been his grandson by Joseph Karl, another Karl Philipp, had he not died several years before aged only six. Otherwise there were but three daughters from the marriage, all of whom would grow to adulthood but none of whom could inherit. So the heir now after Theodor Eustach was the younger of his two sons that survived infancy, Joseph Karl’s brother Count Johann Christian. Who did outlive his father, though not for long, and now the last male left of the Sulzbach line was his only son Karl Theodor, just eight years old when orphaned.
‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ was perhaps among the Wittelsbach mottos; as Karl III Philipp could not now have a grandson on the Palatine throne, he tried to arrange for a great-grandson instead, living just long enough to see Karl Theodor, his second cousin twice removed, wed his eldest granddaughter, another Elisabeth Auguste, the bridegroom having just turned 17 and the bride, his first cousin of course, being exactly 21, since the wedding took place on her 21st birthday.
Karl Theodor, a reforming and enlightened ruler and a great patron of the arts, was less respected for these things than he might have been due to a merited reputation for dissipation. He lived well into his seventh decade, inheriting the Palatinate six months after his wedding and Bavaria 35 years later. He had not been widowed, Elisabeth Auguste also surviving into her 70s, but had no legitimate children, the only fruit of the union having been a boy who died the day after his birth.
Several illegitimate children, yes, by several different mothers, and Karl Theodor devoted much time and effort to arranging inheritances for these, but of course none of them were eligible to inherit his territories as a whole. After his long-estranged wife did eventually die he married again, this time to a lady over 50 years younger, as opposed to all but four years older. But his second marriage was a worse failure than the first, his teenage bride, the high-spirited Archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria-Este, refusing to enter into any sort of marital relations with the septuagenarian roué her family had compelled her to wed.
So his predecessor Karl III Philipp’s second attempt at having someone of his descent eventually succeed to his throne had worked even less well than the first, as there was not even a daughter to perhaps marry to the next heir, and like Karl III Philipp and also Maximilian III of Bavaria, Karl Theodor’s predecessor there, Karl Theodor would die in the knowledge that a distant agnatic cousin would be taking his place.
This cousin, agnatically a fifth cousin to be precise, was Count Maximilian IV Joseph of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld, known to history as Maximilian I, Bavaria’s first King. But the agnatic relationship is the third to appear in the link, preceded by two closer cognatic relationships, first and fourth cousin once removed. Maximilian Joseph’s mother was Maria Franziska of Sulzbach, youngest sister of Karl Theodor’s first wife and his own first cousin. So while there would not ever be a grandson of Karl III Philipp taking up rule of the Palatinate, as envisaged in the first attempt, a great-grandson as hoped for from the second would, just not arising from it.
Third time lucky, you could say. The union from which Maximilian Joseph sprang had in fact taken place over three years after Karl III Philipp died, but nevertheless did fulfil his original intent. All of it, as neither of Maria Franziska’s elder sisters had children that lived, so Maximilian Joseph was his great-grandfather’s cognatic as well as eventual agnatic heir.
He was also the son of the possible second marriage of a Catholic bride to a Protestant husband that I mentioned in the first part. Both Maximilian Joseph’s paternal grandparents were Protestant, and his father Count Friedrich Michael’s two siblings that married equally did so to Protestants, so there is every reason to think he was a Protestant when he married the Catholic Maria Franziska. He might have converted either before or after the marriage, I don’t know, but he surely had started out in life in the Protestant faith.
However that may be the children of the marriage were all raised Catholic, including Maximilian Joseph, which he remained despite taking two Protestant brides in succession. His offspring from the two unions were also raised Catholic in their turn, and his posterity today is widespread indeed, with living descendants of six of his altogether 12 children; Prince Joseph Wenzel of Liechtenstein, eventual heir to that throne as well as to cognatic representation of Maximilian I, for example is descended from a son of the first marriage and two daughters of the second.
But we are concerned here only with the first daughter of the first marriage, and second child overall. This was Princess Augusta of Bavaria, as she became upon her father’s ascension to a royal throne. She was married aged 17 to Eugène de Beauharnais, the 24-year-old son of a minor French nobleman, now deceased. But it was far less important who his father had been than who his mother was, and stepfather; respectively the Empress Joséphine and Napoléon I.
What he lacked in royal blood was made up for in the Imperial rank conferred by his stepfather. And even at that young age he was already seen as gallant and accomplished and generally admired by friend and foe alike, so Augusta, who naturally would have been given no choice in the matter, was probably willing enough to proceed to the altar.
And in fact their union, cut short after sixteen years by Eugène’s death aged 42, was both happy and productive, seven children resulting, all but one of whom lived to adulthood, three having descendants today. Our concern is again with the eldest daughter, Princess Joséphine of Leuchtenberg, that ducal title along with the distinction of Serene Highness having been conferred upon her father by her maternal grandfather Maximilian I following Napoléon’s fall.
Joséphine’s marriage was to be the third, or possibly second, union of a Catholic bride to a Protestant bridegroom in the chain of descent from Christian II to Christian X of Denmark, and either way was the first of lasting significance. The first and the possible second resulted in Catholic children, in the first case at least following a post-marriage conversion by the husband. But Joséphine’s husband remained Protestant, and was always going to remain Protestant. And their children were raised in their father’s not mother’s faith, and were always going to be, allowing Joséphine’s Catholic royal blood to spread through Protestant families.
The future Oscar I of Sweden and Norway was born just an ordinary boy. In pre-Revolutionary France he would have been very ordinary indeed, his father the son of a provincial lawyer and his mother the daughter of a Marseilles silk merchant. In Napoléon’s France he was rather more than that, as his father’s successful military career had made him one of Napoléon’s leading marshals and his mother, at one time Napoléon’s fiancée, had been given in marriage to his father at the future Emperor’s behest.
Quite an important boy then, in that sense. But still no prince, let alone King, and perhaps as boys do he had daydreamed sometimes of being one. If he did the dream came true, as when he was eleven years old his father was elected Crown Prince of Sweden. Oscar too was made a Prince of Sweden by his new adoptive grandfather King Carl XIII, and Duke of Södermanland for good measure.
He rapidly learned the Swedish language (which neither his father nor mother ever came near mastering), his personality making him a favourite at Court and with the Swedish public. As he entered his twenties, now himself Crown Prince following his father’s accession in 1818, it was time for him to seek a bride and, despite his humble origins, one suitably royal.
His father the King drew up a list of eligible and suitable princesses for Oscar’s consideration, four of them in all. The first on the list was Princess Vilhelmina of Denmark, daughter of Frederik VI, but when Oscar travelled to Copenhagen to meet her he did not find himself attracted. Which was probably just as well, as she subsequently married twice and never conceived, so most likely was barren.
Third and fourth on the list were Princess Marie of Hesse, future bride of Bernhard II of Saxe-Meiningen and mother of the ‘Theatre Duke’ Georg II, and Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, whose great-granddaughter would marry a Crown Prince of Sweden but she would not. This was because Oscar had already met and fallen in love with princess no. 2 and decided to dispense with inspection of the remaining prospects.
She of course was Joséphine of Leuchtenberg, the only one of the four to be a Catholic and the only one not royal on both sides. But one side was deemed good enough, and she had been ranked as high as two because Oscar’s father Carl XIV Johan, having risen to great heights due to the convulsions of the Napoleonic era, was attracted by the idea of a connection to another family of the same sort, and one with a close affiliation to Napoléon himself.
The bride’s Catholicism caused problems, though not as many as there might have been. Her father reportedly would not have objected to her converting, but she was not prepared to even consider such a step. She nevertheless had to accept that her husband, who himself had converted or rather been converted to Lutheranism when he came to Sweden as a child, would remain so and furthermore all their children must be raised Lutheran too, the laws of Sweden requiring adherence to that faith for the King and all those in the line of succession.
The Church could have created difficulties, especially over the children, and in other cases had done so (and would in the future). It did not in this one, though, the Pope of the day, Pius VII, issuing the required dispensation without demur. The Lutheran clergy of the two kingdoms were not happy at all, but were powerless in the face of the King’s will, and so the two were wed, first in a Catholic ceremony in Munich and then a Lutheran one in Stockholm.
They went on to have five children, all living to adulthood though descent survives from only two. The first of these was Carl XV of Sweden and Norway (strictly, Karl IV of Norway, though the separate numeral was not often bothered with), who through his mother reintroduced the blood of Gustav I, founder of the modern Swedish monarchy, to its throne following a gap of two reigns. And the blood of Gustav I’s immediate predecessor Christian II after a gap of 18 reigns and 338 years. In Norway that gap had spanned 15 reigns and 336 years.
This was In 1859. In Denmark the gap still stood, and was then at 14 reigns and again 336 years. It was to endure for a further two reigns and 53 years before in 1912 Christian X, maternal grandson of Carl XV, followed his father Frederik VIII on the Danish throne. And so the story ends, with all the chances along the way more than justifying, I feel, my original assertion that this return after so long of Christian II’s blood to all his thrones might just as easily have never happened at all.