He is supposed to have said about his Irishness, that being born in a stable, doesn’t mean you are a horse, though apparently this may be just an urban legend.
I always wondered about his ancestry so I had a (very quick) go a finding out his tree. Here it is.
Some of the figures, particularly the female side of the family not much is known about, but it does seem to give the impression his family could be Irish straight down the line from the Plantations in the early 1600′s or even older, dating back to Elizabethan times or an Old English family that converted to protestantism.
The 1796 pattern light cavalry sabre was introduced into British service between 1796-7 and issued to light dragoon and hussar regiments. The sword easily able to sever an arm was derived from the ferocious Indian Talwar and gained such fearsome reputation during the Peninsular War that French cavalry began to fear engaging their counterparts and protested against its use as a war crime.
Designed by John Gaspard Le Marchant as a universal cavalry sword to be used by both British heavy and light cavalry reflecting the lack of distinction in the British army between heavy and light cavalry unlike their European neighbours. Unfortunately the idea of arming the heavy cavalry and light with the same weapon proved too radical for Horseguards and the heavy cavalry were instead armed with the Bacon Slicer (a copy of the Austrian heavy cavalry sabre). British heavy cavalry regiments eyed their light cavalry counterparts sword with envy and it was not untypical for heavy cavalry to exchange their heavy cavalry sabres for light ones at any opportunity, famously even the commander of the Life Guards did so.
The sword found considerable foreign appreciation too. The Prussians began manufacturing them in 1811 and used them through to 1848 when a shorter version was created that stayed in use until the end of WWI. The United States began manufacture of them in 1832 and the swords were carried by both sides in the American Civil War. Among several countries Britain exported to in large numbers was Mexico and the sword was present at the Alamo as well as being held aloft during several revolutions.
In theory the sword’s British service ended 1821 when the 1821 pattern light cavalry sabre was introduced, however the sword stayed in use with Indian regiments.
Here’s a video test by Cold Steel of their version. I bought one of these a few years back, quite heavy and unweildy I wouldn’t want to dual with it. However a devastating cutter, nearly as good as my heavy Daab and way better than any of my katanas, dadao or even kukri.
Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was a committed Republican who rose through the ranks of the Republican army to become a general in 1794, he also became influential politically. Eventually he threw is lot in with Napoleon even marrying Napoleon’s ex Desiree Clary.
He handled his troops well in the early part of the Napoleonic Wars earning the Marshals Baton and at Austerdat performed well enough to be made a prince. However from then on his military competence seems to have inexplicably disappeared, after the Prussian campaign he was heavily criticised by Napoleon and at the Battle of Wagram commanded so poorly he was stripped of command in the middle of the battle and probably only avoided a jail cell because of who he married.
Then an inexplicable event occurred. In 1810 this disgraced French marshal with a “death to kings” tattoo was contacted by the Swedish government and offered the throne of Sweden, which he duly accepted. In 1813 Bernadotte joined the War of Liberation against Napoleon. The house of Bernadotte is still the reigning monarchy of Sweden.
The great mystery then is why on earth did the Swedes offer a French peasant and disgraced French Marshal the throne above all the Swedish nobility?