Norwegian history | the Early modern period | Norway

In the year AD 1537, King Christian 3 of Denmark-Norway embraced the Lutheran Reformation, and the Norwegians went from being Catholics to Protestants. The king confiscated the Catholic Church’s considerable wealth, a welcomed addition to the royal coffers. Norway more or less ceased to exist as a sovereign state and became a province under Denmark.
Rollag stave church in Rollag, Buskerud, Norway. Sections estimated built in late 1200s. | Photo: Dagfinn Rasmussen - kulturminnebilder.ra.no Rollag_169_DSC5291_DxO - CC BY.
Rollag stave church in Luster went from being Catholic to Protestant. | © Rui Baião - stock.adobe.com.

The Early modern period | AD 1537 – 1814

During the AD 1500s, the authorities worked hard to stem the outbreaks of plague and disease. Gradually, the population started to grow, and people returned to areas that had lain fallow since The Black Death.

There was an increased trade during the Early modern period. Fish and timber were two important commodities, and different types of mines were established, with the silver mine at Kongsberg being the most significant.

In AD 1660, after political unrest, the Danish King Frederik 3 declared himself an absolute monarch of both Denmark and Norway, weakening the position of the nobility and transferring more of the day-to-day running of the country to bureaucrats, answerable to the king only. Power was increasingly centralised in the Danish capital Copenhagen, widening the gap between the bodies of government and the local communities of Norway. In AD 1665, the total population was an estimated 440,000.

During the AD 1600s and the AD 1700s, there was great unrest in the Nordics and the whole North-European region. The Denmark-Norway crown covered the expenses of war by drastically increasing the level of taxes. Norwegian men were ordered to partake as soldiers. Sweden was on the opposite side, and gradually strengthened its position. During the AD 1700s, with the crown’s constant need for resources – and reduced profitability seen by the large landowners – there was a gradual change in the structure of land ownership. Tenant farmers started to buy out the farms their families lived on, and became self-owners.

In AD 1769, Denmark-Norway carried out its first complete population count. The total Norwegian population was 723,618 – and the largest town was Bergen, with 13,735 citizens. 91% of the population lived in rural areas.

During the AD 1700s, there was a growing patriotic sentiment among the Norwegians – and a longing for independence was slowly brewing.

Next period: Norwegian history | reborn as a sovereign state | 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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