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.
LA Dahlmann | talk NORWAY
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

Our most recent posts

My Norwegian heritage

Old objects tell stories, silent stories about a time gone by.
With Christmas comes the turning of the sun, and the promise of a new year. Enjoy these traditional and vintage Norwegian Christmas cards - 24 in all.
1769 was the year of the first complete Norwegian census. Today, Norway has a population of more than 5 million, in 1769 the number was 723,618.
In a cold country like Norway, warm clothing is essential. This is a refined and old version of a woollen sweater from the district of Setesdal.
Skibladner is one of the world's oldest paddle steamers still in regular service. She was launched in 1856, and sails on Norway's largest lake, Mjøsa.
In this post you will find a list of Norway’s 15 main historical eras - from the ice age to our modern day.
A primstav is an old wooden calendar-stick, marking the days of the year and important events. It splits the year into two equal halves: summer and winter.
Norway’s full independence came in AD 1905, and was the culmination of a process that had lasted for several decades.
For many, it may come as a surprise that the history of rose painting and its place in Norwegian folk art is not as old as one might think.
After a troubled ten-year courtship, the current King Harald V of Norway finally got to marry his Miss Sonja Haraldsen on the 29th of August 1968.
This is our second video-slideshow with vintage photos of the Norwegian farm horse. Enjoy!
In Scandinavia, agriculture first appeared in the Stone age – around 2400 BC. The early farmers cleared their land by using simple tools and fire.
With this old photograph in my hand I have set myself a task: how much information can I find in Norwegian online archives based on what the photo tells me?
The word ski comes from the Old Norse language, with the meaning cleft wood. The old Norwegians were master hunters, and have been skiing for over 5000 years.
In this period, Norway was still primarily a nation of farmers, fishermen and hunters. In AD 1801, 90% of the population lived in rural areas.
Like all buildings on the old Norwegian farm, the stabbur had a clear purpose: it was a building designed for the storage of food.
10 July is the feast day of Saint Knut - Knutsok - and marks the beginning of the haymaking season - høyonna - in the old Norwegian farming calendar.
On 18 November 1905, after a supportive referendum, the Norwegian parliament unanimously elected the Danish Prince Carl as the country’s new king.
When I was a boy, it was the workhorse that pulled the heaviest weight in agricultural life. And this had been the reality for as long as anyone could remember.
In the old Norwegian farming society, a husmann was a man who was allowed to build his home on a small section of a farm’s land, and pay with his labour instead of rent.
The Norwegians rarely allow alien species into their fauna. With one notable exception, the muskox - first welcomed in from Greenland in 1924.

Follow us on social media

Norwegian history