Oscar II - Encyclopedia

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OSCAR II. (1829-1907), king of Sweden and Norway, son of Oscar I., was born at Stockholm on the 21st of January 1829. He entered the navy at the age of eleven, and was appointed junior lieutenant in July 1845. Later he studied at the univer sity of Upsala, where he distinguished himself in mathematics. In 1857 he married Princess Sophia Wilhelmina, youngest daughter of Duke William of Nassau. He succeeded his brother Charles XV. on the 18th of September 1872, and was crowned in the Norwegian cathedral of Drontheim on the 18th of July 1873. At his accession he adopted as his motto Brodrafolkens Vdl, " the welfare of the brother folk," and from the first he realized the essential difficulties in the maintenance of the union between Sweden and Norway. The political events which led up to the final crisis in 1905, by which the thrones were separated, are dealt with in the historical articles under Norway and Sweden. But it may be said that the peaceful solution eventually adopted could hardly have been attained but for the tact and patience of the king himself. He declined, indeed, to permit any prince of his house to become king of Norway, but better relations between the two countries were restored before his death, which took place at Stockholm on the 8th of December 1907. His acute intelligence and his aloofness from the dynastic considerations affecting most European sovereigns gave the king considerable weight as an arbitrator in international questions. At the request of Great Britain, Germany and the United States in 1889 he appointed the chief justice of Samoa, and he was again called in to arbitrate in Samoan affairs in 1899. In 1897 he was empowered to appoint a fifth arbitrator if necessary in the Venezuelan dispute, and he was called in to act as umpire in the Anglo-American arbitration treaty that was quashed by the senate. He won many friends in England by his outspoken and generous support of Great Britain at the time of the Boer War (1899-1902), expressed in a declaration printed in The Times of the 2nd of May 1900, when continental opinion was almost universally hostile.

Himself a distinguished writer and musical amateur, King Oscar proved a generous friend of learning, and did much to encourage the development of education throughout his dominions. In 1858 a collection of his lyrical and narrative poems, Memorials of the Swedish Fleet, published anonymously, obtained the second prize of the Swedish Academy. His "Contributions to the Military History of Sweden in the Years 1711, 1712, 1713," originally appeared in the Annals of the Academy, and were printed separately in 1865. His works, which included his speeches, translations of Herder's Cid and Goethe's Torquato Tasso, and a play, Castle Cronberg, were collected in two volumes in 1875-1876, and a larger edition, in three volumes, appeared in 1885-1888. His Easter hymn and some other of his poems are familiar throughout the Scandinavian countries. His Memoirs of Charles XII. were translated into English in 1879. In 1885 he published his Address to the Academy of Music, and a translation of one of his essays on music appeared in Literature on the 19th of May 1900. He had a valuable collection of printed and MS. music, which was readily accessible to the historical student of music.

His eldest son, Oscar Gustavus Adolphus, duke of Warmland (b. 1858), succeeded him as Gustavus V. His second son, Oscar (b. 1859), resigned his royal rights on his marriage in 1888 with a lady-in-waiting, Frdken Ebba Munck, when he assumed the title of Prince Bernadotte. From 1892 he was known as Count Wisborg. The king's other sons were Charles, duke of Westergbtland (b. 1861), who married Princess Ingeborg of Denmark; and Eugene, duke of Nerike (b. 1865), well known as an artist.

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