Bernadotte coat of arms by Tomas Bragesjö

House Bernadotte original coat of arms

Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadottes original coat of arms as Sovereign Prince of Pontecorvo was a version of the city of Pontecorvos coat of arms mixed with Napoleons symbol of the French empire , the Eagle on a thunderbolt.

Image of House Bernadottes original coat of arms according to Wikipedia

The image source is from Visit for legal terms. The image is from the version that was created 2013 by Jacques63.

Evolution of Bernadotte coat of arms

During the generations that passed the coat of arms evolved. At some point the divider between the bridge and the eagle was removed. The eagle was replaced with a black raven instead and sometimes it became an eagle again but black and later gold again and the thunderbolt also returned. Stars was also added above the eagle and in the final version version the stars formed the starformation Karlavagnen (Charles Wain).

Different Bernadotte was ennobled into foreign titles and new coat of arms as a result that also uses Bernadotte family shield.

One branch of Danish "Count of Rosenborg" uses Bernadotte family shield as part of half of the heart shield.

Bernadotte family coat of arms

Contoraty to common belief the Royal House of Bernadottes family coat of arms is actually the evolved version from "Prince of Pontecorvo" and not the other elements from Swedens greater coat of arms like Royal House Vasa. However Swedens greater coat of arms (link goes to Wikipeidas excellent article) is also the Kings personal coat of arms. All Royal born members shield also uses House Vasa and other symbols for Sweden as well as their dukedoms shield except Madeleine who has two dukedoms so her dukedom field uses a divided shield.

Image of Royal House Vasas heart shield according to Wikipedia

The image source is from Visit for legal terms. The image is from the version that was created 2016 by Sodacan.

Why branches of Bernadotte was ennobled

Bernadotte members who lost Royalty titles becouse of they choosed to mary an none Royal wife got some compensation. A branch has also been ennobled into Belgium Prince rank, called simply Bernadotte, and other branches into Luxemburg Count rank, called "Bernadotte af Wisborg".

The King did not give them a Swedish nobilety title since then only one person at time time would have got the title becouse of the Swedish 1809 rule so they used connections to get them foreign noble titles.

Branches of ennobled Bernadotte

Belgium Prince rank Bernadotte does not use House Vasa symbol. It uses a quarting shield with Bernadottes family coat of arms as heart shield and the ennobleds former dukedom Östergötland at two places and one exra shield at two places. However the Prince titles condiction was personal and the descendants are Belgium Counts rank with an identical coat of arms except other rank coronet.

The Luxemburg Count ranked "Bernadotte af Wisborg" use both Bernadottes family coat of arms at one field and House Vasa at one field and Gotlands coat of arms at one field. Several members was separate ennobled into "Bernadotte af Wisborg" but the first one was Duke of Gotland therefore Gotland shield is used in one of the fields.

Evolution of Swedens greater coat of arms

When Norway became part of Sweden, Swedens greater coat of arms changed form to add a field for Norway. The heart shield also shifted towards Bernadotte coat of arms as well as the Royal House Vasa coat of arms.

The Royal House Vasas coat of arms in turn are a mix between noble House Vasa and the noble House Eka since Gustav Vasas parents descended from these noble Houses and that coat of arms was created when Gustav Vasa became king.

When Norway became independent, Sweden greater coat of arms changed towards the traditonal four fields that was originaly created by King Karl Knutsson Bonde while still have the Vasa and Bernadotte heart shield.

How the former Swedish-Norwegian Union coat of arms looked like according to Wikipedia

The image source is from Visit for legal terms. The image is from the version that was created 2009 by Ssolbergj.

Principality of Pontecorvo

The Principality of Pontecorvo was a principality in Italy created by Napoleon after he became King of Italy in 1805. It consisted of the Italian commune of Pontecorvo, an enclave of the Papal States from 1463 within the territory of the Kingdom of Naples.

The principality was created by Napoleon for hes Marshal Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte who become the first Prince of Pontecorvo .

The principality was short-lived. In 1815, after the Napoleonic Wars, the town was ceded back to the Papal States. In 1820, the 'Republic' of Pontecorvo seceded from the Papal States, but Papal rule was restored in March 1821. In 1860, it joined Benevento, the other southern Italian papal enclave, in being united with the new Kingdom of Italy.

Prince of Pontecorvo

When Bernadotte was elected as Swedish crown prince he gave up hes Pontecorvo title but on some terms that was never met. In a Swedish book called "Tronrätt, bördstitel och hustillhörighet" the authors, who are experts, therefore argued that every male line Bernadotte descendants can also use that Italian title even through the title "Prince of Pontecorvo" was later passed over to Lucien Murat.

The Murat family has close ties to Napoleons family and was King of Naples so they uses an other coat of arms. The title "Prince of Pontecorvo" is still used today by the oldest male decendant of House Murat as an honor title.

The Royal House of Bernadotte is the only Royal House that was created during Napoleon era that still rules, even though they rule Sweden and not Pontecorvo or the conquered Norway.

Bernadotte bastards

Every Bernadotte that descends from Oskar I:s wife and forward also descends from House Vasa on female lines. Also every queen untill Silvia descends from House Vasa on female lines too so more Vasa on every generation.

Both of the brothers Kron-Kalle (Karl XV) and Oskar II has rumors about 100s of illegitimate childs, it is still unclear exactly what rumors that are true since the Royal Court of Sweden refuses DNA tests.

There are also rumors about other members and bastard childs that are unconfirmed. One could probelby write an entire large book about Bernadotte bastards and and their descendants.

Animation with a picture of me from 2016 and a picture of Swedish King Gustav V. Family legends speak of Gustav VI as as mothers fathers biological father and Oskar II as my fathers mothers mothers biological father. As a direct result of my mothers fathers birth, Gustav VI:s wife ordered him to stop drink alcohol that year and so he did.

Further reading

I have written articles for both Svenska Heraldiska Föreningens magazine Vapenbilden and also for Svenska Heraldiska Föreningens homepage.

I have also written som articles in English for use on this site that is not going to be published else where. Some articles are translations and slight modifications of articles I wrote for Svenska Heraldiska Föreningen.