Norway History: Under Rule of Denmark

In the early Middle Ages Norway did not have a uniform political structure: several local lords, who jointly exercised the authority of sovereigns and religious leaders, governed a population of skilled navigators and hunters, made up of Germanic groups, migrated here from their lands of origin., and by natives, probably of Finnish race. In the sec. VIII Norway began to characterize itself as an autonomous entity and to organize the great Viking expeditions. The various Norwegian political-social groups united under the sovereignty of Harold I who in 872 secured the supremacy of the country. His work was continued by his younger son Haakon I Adalstersfostre (945-960 ca.), but the true unifier of the country is considered Olaf I(995-1000) who introduced Christianity to Norway, the Nordic’s first contact with European civilization. The Christianization of the country was completed by Olaf II known as the Saint (1016-30), later canonized and recognized as the patron saint of Norway, who fell in the battle of Stiklestad against King Canute of Denmark who in 1028 temporarily united Norway to his domains. Died Canute (1035), the son of Olaf II, Magnus I the Good (1035-47), exiled in the principality of Kiev, regained the throne and independence of Norway and subjected Denmark for a short time (1042-47) under his reign; during the whole century. XI the social structure of the country gradually took on the characteristics of a feudal regime, with the division of assets between the crown, the nobility and the clergy. Magnus I’s successor, Harold III (1047-66), attempted to conquer England but was killed at Stanfordbridge. Olaf III (1066-93), who in the first three years ruled with his brother Magnus II, was nicknamed the Pacific because he preferred a policy of commercial expansion to the battles, favoring the stabilization of the population, the construction of new cities, the expansion of old and trying to secure the support of the Church. His successors Magnus III (1093-1103) and Sigurd Jorsalfar (1103-30) made notable contributions of men and ships to the Crusades in the Holy Land.

At the death of Sigurd I and for more than a century bitter civil wars between the ruling dynasty of the Ynglings and other powerful families, and violent peasant revolts shook the country; only Sverre Sigurdsson (1184-1202) managed to partially contain the great power achieved by the nobility and the clergy (in 1164 it was the archbishop of Nidaros, today Trondheim, who crowned the infant Magnus V). The order of succession to the throne was finally regulated with special legislation by Haakon IV (1217-63) and Magnus VI Lagabøter (1263-80) who also promulgated a code of laws more favorable to the peasants. But already with Erik II (1280-99) a long period of decline began again; in particular, the maritime trade began to be strongly affected by competition from the Hanseatic League. The last national king, Haakon V(1299-1319), he attempted to save the kingdom with a strong personal government, but for the marriage of his daughter Ingeborg to Erik of Sweden, the Norwegian crown, along with the Swedish one, passed to Magnus Eriksson (1319-43) and then to his son, Haakon VI (1343-80); Norway partially regained its independence, but was troubled by epidemics and civil strife. Haakon VI then sought the help of Denmark and in 1363 married Margaret, daughter of Valdemaro IV king of Denmark, causing the secession of Sweden. Haakon VI and Margaret’s son, Olaf, became king of Denmark in 1375 and king of Norway in 1380, but he died a minor (1387). The two crowns were then assumed by the mother who in 1397 succeeded in succeeding also to the throne of Sweden, thus constituting the Union of Kalmar and placing Erik of Pomerania at the head of the three kingdoms. The administration of Norway, especially after the death of Margaret (1412), was completely monopolized by Danish officials, trade was more than ever enslaved to Hansa, which had its stronghold in Bergen from 1343, the economic unease caused frequent revolts of peasants (very serious that of 1435), but, except for brief separatist attempts (in 1449-50 Norway recognized its king Charles VIII of Sweden, rival of Christian I of Denmark), the union of Norway with Denmark lasted until 1814. It was not always a peaceful union. In the sec. XVI it was troubled by the advent of the Reformation. Visit for Norway’s history.

Norway after trying in vain to oppose Lutheranism introduced by King Frederick I (1523-33), which could have been the starting point for a national recovery, ended up adapting to it: in 1536 Lutheranism had won and, given the greater dependence on the State of the Lutheran Church compared to Catholicism, Norway was practically reduced to a Danish province. There followed a period of decline of both the local nobility and the bourgeoisie and Danes were the feudal lords, administrators and even the language of government, commerce, education, while Norwegian dissolved into rural dialects. An economic recovery took place with the invention of the water-powered saw which facilitated the cutting of timber, for which the peasants got rich and a bourgeois class was formed, especially in Bergen: which hastened the already ongoing decline of the Hansa. Positive was the government of Christian IV (1588-1648), who reaffirmed Norway’s rights over Greenland and the Finnmark Lapps, valued the discovery of some iron and silver mines, organized a small Norwegian army and rebuilt Oslo, destroyed by fire, renaming it Christiania. However, the Thirty Years War, in which Christian IV threw himself headlong, damaged Norway, which in 1645 lost the Jämtland to Sweden. and the Härjedalen and in 1658 the Baaluslen; instead the region of Trondheim, lost in 1658, was reconquered by Norway in 1660, which avoided the division of the country into two parts. In 1660 the monarchy became hereditary confirming a Norwegian tradition that did not exist in Denmark, where the crown was, instead, elective: this change benefited the Norwegians who saw themselves equal in their rights to the Danes. This law and the development of the merchant navy contributed to the arrival of a relatively long period of peace after 1660, troubled only by the brief storm of the invasion of Charles XII of Sweden (1716-18), which was opposed by the audacity of a young Norwegian commander called Tordenskiold and which ended with the death of Charles in Fredrikshald.

Norway History - Under Rule of Denmark