Norway Old History

By | January 2, 2023

Norway is an independent nation in Northern Europe. With the capital city of Oslo, Norway 2020 population is estimated at 5,421,252 according to countryaah. In the 11th century, Olav Haraldsson laid the foundation for the United Kingdom of Norway. In 1380, a Danish-Norwegian union was established, which was ruled from Copenhagen and came to last for four centuries. Denmark was forced to relinquish Norway to Sweden in 1814. The Swedish-Norwegian union lasted until 1905, when Norway became independent from Sweden.

  • Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Norway, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

Norway was in the past divided into a number of small kingdoms, the counties, where Viking chiefs, and later kings, struggled to expand their territories. Around 900 AD, Harald Hårfagre was probably master of the coastal regions. The first to succeed in laying the foundation for a united Norway was Olav Haraldsson, who in the beginning of the 1000s took control of both the coastal areas and the interior of the country. For Norway political system, please check computerminus.

Several Norwegian Vikings went west. Olav had accepted Christianity during a Viking march against England and then became the one who, by hard methods, completed Norway’s Christianity. The king was the head of the church and religion became an important factor in linking the kingdom. After his death in the Battle of Stiklestad 1030, Olav was declared Norway’s national saint.

A prosperous 13th century is followed by decline

Mutual battles raged between various faithful dependents until Håkon Håkonsson took control in the second half of the 13th century and enforced that the oldest married king’s son should be granted inheritance to the throne. During Håkon’s time, Iceland and Greenland came under Norwegian rule, trade flourished and Bergen became a leading trading town. At the end of the 13th century, German merchants were granted extensive trading rights, which would prove fatal to Norway’s economic independence.

The Late Middle Ages were characterized by economic, political and social decline. In the mid-1300s, Norway lost between a third and a half of its population in the death toll. Most of the agriculture was put into service when many of the farmers died and no one could use the land. The German trade union Hansan got a stronger grip on foreign trade, Bergen became a significant Hanseatic city and the central power weakened.

In 1380 a Danish-Norwegian union was formed, which from 1397 constituted the Kalmar Union including Sweden. Norway formally retained its own laws, but the higher officials were Danes and the administrative language was Danish. The country was increasingly governed by Copenhagen. The Kalmar Union was dissolved in 1523, and in 1536 Norway formally became a Danish province. At the same time, the Protestant Reformation, a counter-movement to Catholicism, was spread throughout Europe in the 16th century.

New golden age in the 17th century

The dissolution of the Hanseatic League in the 17th century led to a new economic upturn. Norwegian exports of timber products to the Netherlands and Scotland, among others, grew rapidly. The importance of shipping increased, fish exports grew and King Kristian IV encouraged mining in Norway and created several new cities.

In war with Sweden, Denmark lost Jämtland, Härjedalen and Bohuslän. When Denmark weakened, Norway’s position within the Union became stronger. But when royal monarchy was introduced in Denmark in the 1660s, Norway must obey directly under the Danish king.

After the Great Nordic War (1716-1718) a long period of peace entered. Norwegian shipping, fishing and trade could develop without interruption. However, when in 1807 Denmark joined the French continental system (Napoleon’s plan to prevent exports from Britain to the continent), Norway was included in the blockade, which in combination with the growth of famine led to famine.

The blockade meant that Norway had to take responsibility for its own government, as relations with Denmark weakened. Due to the peace in Kiel in 1814, Denmark was forced to resign from Norway to Sweden, but the Danes had to retain the former Norwegian areas of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

Struggle for Norwegian independence

In Norway, the demands for independence had started to grow strong. An elected national assembly drafted a Norwegian constitution at Eidsvoll’s mill and on May 17, 1814, appointed the Danish prince Kristian Fredrik as the Norwegian king. However, the Swedish throne follower Karl Johan went on a campaign in Norway and the military in a couple of weeks turned down the independence attempt.

The peace treaty, the so-called convention in Moss, stipulated that the king of Sweden should also be the king of Norway, but the Norwegians largely had to retain their new constitution which was more democratic than the Swedish one. Norway was less divided than Sweden and the new National Assembly received only one chamber.

The mid-19th century was characterized in Norway by popular movement activity, association formation and public education, which became an important exercise in political activity. Demands for broader popular rule and struggle against the old governmental regime united small farmers, younger merchants, craftsmen and academics. These liberal and mostly union-critical circles, which in 1884 would form the party of Venstre, demanded democracy, parliamentarism and universal suffrage.

An increasingly fierce power struggle developed between the majority in the national assembly, the parliament, on the one hand, and the Swedish king and the Norwegian government official on the other. The king, encouraged by the government, considered himself a veto on constitutional issues and refused to comply with the parliament’s decision on a constitutional amendment. After the opposition won a convincing victory in a recent election, the battle culminated with the government being deposed through national law and King Oscar II was forced in 1884 to issue a Left government led by Johan Sverdrup. Norway thus became the first country in the Nordic region with parliamentary rule. The Conservatives formed the party Høire (now the Right) the same year.

The Union with Sweden dissolves – independence

The existence of the Union and the fact that the king was Swedish had helped to radicalize Norwegian politics. Venstre had a trump card in his nationalist union criticism, supported by, among others, the author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. Venstre propelled incipient social legislation and could, after new electoral successes, enforce universal suffrage for men in 1898 – women gained the right to vote in 1913. The royal-friendly Høyre was forced to reconsider its union defense in fear that political power would be pushed further to the left. In 1904, the party joined Venstres demands for its own Norwegian consulate and foreign administration, and left-wing politician and shipowner Christian Michelsen formed a national unity government.

The conflict with Sweden in the consulate matter led to a government crisis in Oslo. When King Oscar II refused to intervene in June 1905, the parliament took the opportunity to declare that he no longer served as a Norwegian king. A Norwegian referendum gave overwhelming support for the dissolution of the Union and after negotiations in Karlstad the union was formally dissolved in September 1905. The Danish prince Carl was appointed Norwegian king by the name of Haakon VII.

During World War I, Norway remained neutral. The country joined the League of Nations (forerunners of today’s UN) in 1920 and was granted the supremacy of Svalbard (Spetsbergen). During the 1910s and 1920s, Norway was ruled alternately by the left and right governments. The class contradictions were sharp and the strikes prolonged.

An economic crisis in the late 1920s hit agriculture hard. The peasant party (founded in 1921) thus received increased support and in 1931 was able to form its first government. In 1935, the Peasant Party and the Labor Party (formed in 1887) settled into the so-called crisis settlement, a social policy program and support for agriculture. Thus, the Labor Party could embark on three decades of almost uninterrupted government ownership. Former prime minister became former sawmill worker Johan Nygaardsvold.



Norway gets new government

Norway gets a red-green government. With the Labor Party leader Jens Stoltenberg as prime minister, the Labor Party, the Socialist Left and the Center Party form a government.


The Labor Party wins the parliamentary election

The Labor Party wins the parliamentary election. The Labor party increases its voting share from 24 percent in the 2001 election to 33 percent (61 of the 169 seats). The next largest is the Nationalist and Immigration Critical Progress Party, which reaches a top listing of 22 percent (38 seats). Conservative Høyre goes back from 21 percent in 2001 to 14 percent (23 seats). The Socialist Left Party backs 9 percent (15 seats), while the Christian People’s Party gets 7 percent (11 seats). The center party increases slightly to 6.5 percent (11 seats), while liberal Venstre increases to 6 percent (10 seats). Together, the three red-green parties receive 87 seats against 82 for the bourgeois. The turnout is 77 percent.

Norway Old History