Norwegian history | the High middle ages | Norway

With the High middle ages came expansion and progress. But everything was about to change, in the most brutal way imaginable.
LA Dahlmann | talk NORWAY
Pesta on the stairs - The Black Death. Painted 1896. | Painting by Theodor Kittelsen - wikmedia - Public Domain.
Pesta on the stairs – The Black Death. Painted in 1896. | Theodor Kittelsen – wikimedia cc pdm.

The High middle ages | AD 1050 – 1350

After the Viking era, the local kings and chieftains turned their attention inwards, to the country’s own resources. The region of Trøndelag surfaced as the new political and financial centre, taking over from the west coast. Many churches were built, and a significant number of them – even wooden stave churches – are still standing today.

The population increased and cleared more land, also in less suitable areas. A significant portion of the populace became tenant farmers, leasing farm-units owned by either the crown, the church, or rich landowners. A tenant paid around 1/6 of the farm’s produce as rent. The keeping of slaves gradually disappeared during the AD 1200s, and the group merged into the overall population, making them the forebears of many Norwegians living today.

When King Sigurd Jorsalfar died in AD 1130, the level of conflict intensified, and a period of infighting and civil war followed. This lasted until AD 1240, when King Håkon 4 Håkonsson conquered his last rival, and initiated a century of domestic peace and expansion. Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands were conquered and incorporated into the kingdom.

In the mid-1300s, Norway was at its peak, the population grew steadily, and the society was well established. The total population was an estimated 300,000 – 450,000.

But a firestorm of destruction was on its way – the plague that forevermore was to be known as The Black Death. It was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. The disease raged like fire through Asia, Europe and beyond. The plague reached Norway in AD 1349, and within a few months, between a third and a half of the population perished. It was a disaster of biblical proportions. Whole communities disappeared, and Mother Nature reclaimed previously cultivated land. Similar plagues returned repeatedly over the next century.

Next period: Norwegian history | the Late middle ages | 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

On the historical Norwegian farm, winter feed for the domesticated animals was a precious resource. Sometimes it was harvested and temporarily stored far away from the farm.
Here is a collection of some wonderful vintage photos, showing a handful of Norwegians and their lives.
Klippfisk - or klipfish - is fish preserved through salting and drying. Since the early 1700s, the Norwegians have been large-scale klippfisk producers and exporters.
One of the oldest Norwegian instruments is the birch trumpet. But is it really an instrument at all - or did it originally have a completely different purpose?
In this video-collection of historical photos, we reminisce about the dairy cow on the old Norwegian farm. We recommend that you watch with the sound on. Enjoy!
In Norway, the first traces of iron date back to 400-300 BC. The country has significant iron resources, and making tools and weapons from this new metal was a significant step forward.
It is said that all people are equal in Heaven. But the historical churchyard shows us that no such equality applied here on Earth.
Skjemat is a Norwegian noun that means food eaten with a spoon - often before or after the main course at dinner. It could be porridge, soup, dessert, and more.
There are many types of cheese slicers, but Norwegian furniture maker Thor Bjørklund invented the Norwegian version in 1925.
Are you looking for a Norwegian-to-English dictionary that includes old-fashioned words and dialect words? Then Einar Haugen’s book is your best pick.
Do you have trouble sleeping? Here are some examples of how the old Norwegians used Mother Nature’s very own remedies to cure their ailments.
The modern human has a tendency to judge its forebears and their way of life solely based on the reality of our own time.
With the Bronze age came a new and important phase in human history and development: mankind learned how to make tools and other objects from a metal they called bronze.
Carl Fredrik Sundt-Hansen created this fascinating oil painting in 1904. It is like a window leading into the house of history. If only we could climb through.
When the ice melted after the last ice age, herds of reindeer followed in its wake. And with the animals came their main predator: the humans.
In 1942, Hans Hyldbakk wrote the history of the local cotter's holdings in Surnadal, Nordmøre, Norway. The book was updated in 1966.
Oslo is the capital city of Norway. It was founded in AD 1048 by the Viking king Harald Hardråde. Historically, the city is also known as Christiania or Kristiania.
In the coastal districts of the old Norway, a strandsitter was a beach dweller - who rented a small piece of land - but owned the house he built on it. His livelihood was usually connected to the sea.
The majestic Norwegian mountains can be treacherous - and they steal human lives every year. Study the Norwegian mountain code - and be prepared for your next journey.
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.
In my childhood, life was simple. And the small joys of Christmas lifted our spirits - and delivered us safely into the new year.

Follow us on social media

Norwegian history