NORWAY

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NORWAY

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Archaeological finds indicate that there were people in Norway as early as the 10th millennium BC (12,000 years ago). Archaeological research shows that they came from either southern regions (northern Germany), or from the north-east (northern Finland or Russia). From there they settled along the coastline.

In the 9th century it seems that Norway consisted of a number of petty kingdoms. According to tradition, Harald Fairhair gathered the small kingdoms into one in 872AD with the Battle of Hafrsfjord. He became the first king of a united Norway.

The Viking age (8th to 11th centuries) was one of unification and expansion. Norwegians established settlements on Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and parts of Britain and Ireland, and attempted to settle at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada (the "Vinland" of the Saga of Eric the Red). Norwegians founded the modern-day Irish cities of Limerick, Dublin, and Waterford[citation needed] and established trading communities near the Celtic settlements of Cork and Dublin[citation needed] which later became Ireland's two most important cities. The spread of Christianity in Norway in this period is in large part attributed to the missionary kings Olav Trygvason (995–1000) and St. Olav (1015–1028), although Haakon the Good was Norway's first Christian king. Norse traditions were slowly replaced during the 9th and 10th centuries.

Also, in 1349, the Black Death killed between 40% and 50% of the Norwegian population,[3] causing a decline in both society and economics. During this decline, it is probable that the Fairhair dynasty died out in 1387. Ostensibly, royal politics at the time resulted in several personal unions between the Nordic countries, eventually bringing the thrones of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden under the control of Queen Margrethe when the country entered into the Kalmar Union with Denmark and Sweden. Suddenly, Sweden declared its independence in 1523, but Norway remained under the Oldenburg dynasty for 434 years until 1814. During the national romanticism of the 19th century, this period was by some referred to as the "400-Year Night", since all of the kingdom's royal, intellectual, and administrative power was centred in Copenhagen, Denmark. However, it must be said that the common people of Norway had more freedom and paid lower taxes than the Danish people because it was difficult for royal bureaucracy to have strict control over its distant Norwegian provinces. Other factors also contributed to Norway's decline in this period. With the introduction of Protestantism in 1537, the archbishopric in Trondheim was dissolved, and the church's incomes were distributed to the court in Copenhagen in Denmark instead. Norway lost the steady stream of pilgrims to the relics of St. Olav at the Nidaros shrine, and with them, much of the contact with cultural and economic life in the rest of Europe. Additionally, Norway saw its land area decrease in the 17th century with the loss of the provinces Båhuslen, Jemtland, and Herjedalen to Sweden, as a result of the wars between Denmark–Norway and Sweden.
After Denmark–Norway was attacked by Great Britain, it entered into an alliance with Napoleon, and in 1814 found itself on the losing side in the Napoleonic Wars and in dire conditions and mass starvation in 1812. The Dano-Norwegian Oldenburg king was forced to cede Norway to the king of Sweden, while the old Norwegian provinces of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands remained with the Danish crown. Norway took this opportunity to declare independence, adopted a constitution based on American and French models, and elected the Danish crown prince Christian Fredrik as king on May 17, 1814. However, Sweden militarily forced Norway into a personal union with Sweden, establishing the Bernadotte dynasty as rulers of Norway. Under this arrangement, Norway kept its liberal constitution and independent institutions, except for the foreign service. See also Norway in 1814.

This period also saw the rise of the Norwegian romantic nationalism cultural movement, as Norwegians sought to define and express a distinct national character. The movement covered all branches of culture, including literature (Henrik Wergeland, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, Jørgen Moe, Henrik Ibsen), painting (Hans Gude, Adolph Tiedemand), music (Edvard Grieg), and even language policy, where attempts to define a native written language for Norway led to today's two official written forms for Norwegian: Bokmål and Nynorsk.

Christian Michelsen, a Norwegian shipping magnate and statesman, was Prime Minister of Norway from 1905 to 1907. Michelsen is most known for his central role in the peaceful separation of Norway from Sweden on June 7, 1905. Norway's growing dissatisfaction with the union with Sweden during the late 19th century combined with nationalism to prompt the dissolution of the union. After a national referendum confirmed the people's preference for a monarchy over a republic, the Norwegian government offered the throne of Norway to the Danish Prince Carl and Parliament unanimously elected him king. He took the name of Haakon VII, after the medieval kings of independent Norway. In 1898, all men were granted universal suffrage, followed by all women in 1913.

During World War I, Norway was a neutral country. Norway also attempted to claim neutrality during World War II, but was invaded by German forces on April 9, 1940. The Allies also had plans to invade Norway, in order to take advantage of her strategically important Atlantic coast, but were thwarted by the German operation. Norway was unprepared for the German surprise attack, but military resistance continued for two months, longer than any country invaded by the Germans, save the Soviet Union. During the Norwegian campaign, the Kriegsmarine lost many ships including the brand new cruiser Blücher. The battles of Vinjesvingen and Hegra eventually became the last strongholds of Norwegian resistance in southern Norway in May, while the armed forces in the north launched an offensive against the German forces in the Battles of Narvik, until they were forced to surrender on June 10 after losing allied help following the fall of France. King Haakon and the Norwegian government continued the fight from exile in Rotherhithe, London. On the day of the invasion, the collaborative leader of the small National-Socialist party Nasjonal Samling — Vidkun Quisling — tried to seize power, but was forced by the German occupiers to step aside. Real power was wielded by the leader of the German occupation authority, Reichskommissar Josef Terboven. Quisling, as minister president, later formed a collaborationist government under German control. During the five years of Nazi occupation, Norwegians built a strong resistance movement which fought the German occupation forces with both armed resistance and civil disobedience. More important to the Allied war effort, however, was the role of the Norwegian merchant navy. At the time of the invasion, Norway had the fourth largest (as well as fastest and most effective) merchant navy in the world.page 93 It was led by the Norwegian shipping company Nortraship under the Allies throughout the war and took part in every war operation from the evacuation of Dunkirk to the Normandy landings.

Following the war, the Social Democrats came to power and ruled the country for much of the cold war. Norway joined NATO in 1949, and became a close ally of the United States. Two plebiscites to join the European Union failed by narrow margins in 1972 and 1994. Large reserves of oil and gas were discovered in the 1960s, which lead to a continuing boom in the economy.

 


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last updated:  20.07.2007

 


Send your e-mail with questions or suggestions about dreamlike to: webmaster@dreamlike.info
Copyright © 2007, Hanspeter Hochuli, Ennetburgen, Switzerland
last updated:  18.06.2016