Friday, 19 December 2014

My latest article (and a radio documentary): The Sword of State and Carl XIV Johan's legitimacy

The most interesting item among the Norwegian Crown Regalia is in my opinion the Sword of State, which the then Crown Prince Carl Johan of Sweden carried in the Battle of Leipzig in 1813, when he played an important part in defeating his great rival and former master, Emperor Napoléon I. The victory of Leipzig again paved the way for his conquest of Norway the following year, an achievement which meant that he succeeded at what generations of Swedish kings had failed at.
As Carl XIV Johan could not lay claim to any blue blood, he used to say that he built his legitimacy on his sword, in other words his military achievements. He could not have made this any clearer than when he became King in 1818 and gave the sword from Leipzig to Norway to serve as the kingdom's Sword of State and had it engraved with allegories (now almost entirely destroyed) which represented both the peaceful union of the two nations and his programme for the union.
About this I have written an article which appears in the 2014 edition of Trondhjemske Samlinger, the yearbook of Trondhjems Historiske Forening (the Historical Assocation of Trondheim), which was published earlier this month, and NRK's programme "Museum" has made a radio documentary featuring me and Steinar Bjerkestrand, the director of the Restoration Workshop of Nidaros Cathedral, that will be broadcast on P2 at 4.03 p.m. tomorrow and at 8.03 a.m. on Sunday and which is already available as a podcast (external link).

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