Article | Last updated: 2011-05-26
Christian Zetlitz Bretteville was civil servant and politician.
(Painting: Knud Bergslien, photo: Oslobilder).
Councillor of State 30 April 1850-17 June 1856, Chief of the Ministry of Finance. Member of the Interim Government in Stockholm 15-18 July 1852, Member of the Council of State Division in Stockholm September 1852, Member of the Interim Government in Stockholm 11 October 1852-12 April 1853, Chief of the Ministry of Finance September 1853, Chief of the Ministry of the Interior March 1854, Chief of the Ministry of Auditing June 1855-April 1856.
Councillor of State 17 June 1856-16 December 1858, Chief of the Ministry of the Interior. Member of the Norwegian Council of State Division in Stockholm August 1858.
Councillor of State 16 December 1858-17 December 1861, Member of the Council of State Division in Stockholm. Acting Prime Minister 16 December 1858, Chief of the Ministry of the Interior July 1859, Member of the Interim Government in Stockholm 12-25 August 1861, Member of the Council of State Division in Stockholm August 1861, acting Prime Minister 30 November 1861.
Councillor of State 17 December 1861-24 February 1871, acting Prime Minister and Member of the Council of State Division in Stockholm. Chief of the Ministry of the Interior September 1862, Member of the Council of State Division in Stockholm August 1865, Chief of the Ministry of the Interior August 1866, Council of State Division in June 1868, Chief of the Ministry of the Interior October 1869. In office until his death 24 February 1871.
Born in Stavanger 17 November 1800, son of French immigrant (former tax collector in Paris and Brest) Charles Eugène le Normand de Bretteville (1782-1854) and Mette Christine Zetlitz (1783-1815).
Married in Christiania (Oslo) 14 August 1829 to Emilie Jeanette Steensgaard (1810-1905), daughter of office manager Lars Steensgaard and Ingeborg Cathrine Birchenbusch.
Deceased in Kristiania (Oslo) 24 February 1871. Buried at Vår Frelsers gravlund (Our Saviour Cemetery) in Kristiania.
Christian Bretteville started his law studies in 1821, achieving his degree from the University of Christiania in 1826. He was engaged as a clerk in the Ministry of Finance in 1828, was appointed head of division in 1831 and director general in 1839. In that capacity he was chief of the Ministry’s interior department, and from 1840 of the finance department.
Bretteville was member of Christiania's city council 1839-1842, council chairman 1841-1842 and from 1842 mayor. During his time as mayor Bretteville was also chairman of the board of Christiania Savings Bank, a post he used to the advantage of the city. At his initiative the bank supported the rebuilding of Our Saviour’s Church (Oslo’s Lutheran Cathedral) and Christiania Theatre. Major municipal reforms in his period was the introduction of gas lighting, an agreement with the National Hospital on the hospitalisation of poor people, and the introduction of municipal posts of relieving officer and city engineer.
In 1848 Bretteville was elected to the Storting for Christiania, and two years later he was appointed councillor of state and chief of the Ministry of Finance in the Løvenskiold/Vogt Government – where Jørgen Vogt became the senior minister in Christiania and Governor-General Severin Løvenskiold was the King’s representative. Norwegian prime minister in Stockholm was Frederik Due. Bretteville alternated between service at the Norwegian Council of State Division in Stockholm, and the service as chief of a ministry in Christiania - in the Ministries of Finance, the Interior and Auditing.
When the Vogt Government took over in June 1856, Bretteville continued – now as chief of the Ministry of the Interior. Towards the end of the period he was at the Council of State Division in Stockholm. When Georg Sibbern was not able to succeed Due as prime minister at once in December 1858, Bretteville was acting prime minister in the Sibbern/Birch/Motzfeldt Government until June 1859.
Also towards the end of Georg Sibbern’s first period as prime minister, in November/December 1861, Bretteville was acting prime minister – until Sibbern was re-appointed. This was at the beginning of the long-term government named after First Minister – and later Prime Minister in Christiania - Frederik Stang.
Bretteville’s reputation after 21 years as councillor of state and as acting prime minister twice, was that he had been more of a swift and flexible administrator than a statesman and a politician.
Norsk Biografisk Leksikon
National Library of Norway