Madame de Staël and the War of Opinion Regarding the Cession of Norway 1813–1814
Scandinavica, Vol. 54, Issue 1, 2015
A pamphlet and propaganda war raged in Great Britain and Europe around 1814 regarding what was called ‘The Norwegian question’. In this war of opinion, the French-Swiss author Madame de Staël played an interesting and contested role. The Swedish Crown Prince since 1810, the former French Marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, launched an extensive propaganda campaign from 1812 onwards in order to facilitate a union with Norway. In this rhetorical battle, Madame de Staël, as well as her German friend August Wilhelm Schlegel, played prominent roles, almost like spin doctors, defending the Swedish claims on Norway. The British-Swedish treaty of 1813 and the Norwegian upheaval against being transferred to Sweden in 1814 caused a strong debate in Great Britain, in Parliament and the press. Madame de Staël agitated for Bernadotte’s cause in London in 1813-1814. After Napoleon’s defeat, she moved back to Paris, still hoping for Bernadotte to replace Napoleon as French ruler. She did not really care for the Norwegian struggle for independence, but eventually advised Bernadotte to accept the 1814 Norwegian Constitution in order to strengthen his liberal image in France.