On This Day in Napoleonic History – 7 January 1813

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Sweden declares war against France during the War of the Sixth Coalition

Sweden was ruled by Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, Marshal of France appointed by Napoleon, who was married to Napoleon’s first love, Désirée Clary. Bernadotte, whom Byron called ‘that rebellious bastard of Scandinavian adoption’ and who from the very start had a turbulent relationship with Napoleon, was elected to the throne of Sweden in 1810.

When declaring war on Napoleon in 1813, Bernadotte told him that he was not acting against France but for Sweden and that Napoleon’s seizure of Swedish Pomerania was the cause of the rapture. He added that he would always hold for his old commander the sentiments of the former comrade in arms. It is doubtful that his words were genuine but it couldn’t have been an easy decision for Bernadotte to make. Apart from his natural repugnance as a Frenchman to shed French blood, Bernadotte knew that in doing so he would be giving up his hopes, implausible though they were, of one day finding himself on the throne of France.

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