Norwegian history | reborn as a sovereign state | Norway

17 May 1814 is regarded as the birth of the modern-day Norwegian state. But it took almost another hundred years before the Norwegians could declare complete independence.
The 1814 constitution assembly. Painting by Oscar Wergeland. | Photo: Teigens Fotoatelier A/S - Stortinget cc pdm.
The 1814 constitution assembly. Painting by Oscar Wergeland. | Photo: Teigens Fotoatelier A/S - Stortinget cc pdm.

Reborn as a sovereign state | AD 1814

During the Napoleonic wars (AD 1802-1815), Denmark-Norway and Sweden fought on opposite sides. The Danish leadership sided with France, and lost, and had to hand over Norway to Sweden. Excluded from the deal were Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, which remained a part of Denmark.

The Norwegians strongly opposed the arrangement, and finally saw an opportunity to break away and recreate Norway as a sovereign state. The Danish Prince Christian Frederik, at the time the Danish governor of Norway, called for an assembly of Norwegian leaders, with the intent to declare independence. On 17 May 1814, a new Norwegian constitution was created, and Christian Frederik was elected king. However, Sweden saw this as a hostile act and the Swedish crown prince, Karl Johan, set out for Norway with his troops and forced through the new union. Prince Christian Frederik left Norway and was no longer king. Later, as fate would have it, he became King Christian VIII of Denmark.

Despite the hostilities, the Swedes allowed Norway to keep its constitution, and the country was again a separate national state, albeit the weaker party in a union. Under the same king, the two countries had a common foreign affairs front, but great autonomy when it came to internal matters. Norway’s new semi-independent status was very different from the situation prior to AD 1814. The country quickly built its own national institutions: a parliament, a government, a central administration, courts, and a national bank. A university had already been established in AD 1811. In AD 1801, the total population was 883,603.

Next period: Norwegian history | in union with Sweden | Norway

Or see the full: History timeline | from stone age to modern era | Norway

BC = before Christ | AD = anno domini = after Christ
Main source: Store norske leksikon – snl.no

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