Norway’s history is shaped by the constant changes in the rulers, the harsh living conditions in the far north but also by the proud residents who love their country.
Learn more about the history of the Norwegians – from the Stone Age and its first settlement areas through the epochs of the seizure of power by other countries to modern times.
REVIEW – STONE AGE TO THE FIRST CENTURIES AD
Remains of Stone Age houses show that people lived in Norway more than 10,000 years ago, where they hunted seals and reindeer. Some of the settlements were on the fjords and bays of the North Sea at the northernmost tip of Europe. As the climate warmed and the glaciers receded, hunters migrated from the east into southern Norway and moved along the coast. Finally they gave up the nomadic life and began to cultivate the few fertile areas. Further north, where agriculture was impossible, the abundant fish stocks tempted people to settle down. Stone tools and weapons were soon replaced by better and more practical bronze implements, but the way of life changed little. The small communities were self-supporting, but if necessary defended
In the first centuries after Christianity – the Iron Age still ruled these northern climes – militant tribal leaders expanded their sphere of influence and turned the country into a patchwork of kingdoms. According to countryaah, Norway is a country located in northern Europe.
THE VIKINGS – 9TH TO 11TH CENTURIES AD
In Norway, with its mountains, fjords and islands, people have always made better progress on water than on land. In this way, the residents became the most skilled seafarers in the world – a quality that is still attributed to them. The Viking era began shortly before 800 AD. With long, flat ships equipped with oars and sails, the Scandinavian robbers sailed the coastal waters and rivers of Europe, plundered monasteries and cities, took the residents with them as slaves and looted everything they found on their way. What led to this sudden departure? This is still a mystery. Overpopulation or Bad Harvests? The right of inheritance, that only considered the eldest son? The advances in shipbuilding and navigation? Perhaps it was also the lure of easy and rich prey after the first attack (793); The victim was the wealthy Lindisfarne Monastery on a small (now British) island in the North Sea. After that, the Vikings expanded their raids. They came from different parts of Scandinavia and specialized in different areas: The Norwegians (or Normans) occupied the Orkney Islands, the Hebrides, Ireland and north-west England. Their fleets set up bases, then the settlers followed to cultivate the conquered land. Norway and Greenland were also discovered and cultivated by the Norwegians. Pioneers reached North America around the year 1000, but could obviously only establish short-lived colonies. The effects of the Viking era weren’t all bad: they opened trade routes and spread their knowledge of metalworking and other handicrafts across Europe. European literature was also influenced by their way of storytelling, the sagas. The Irish adopted certain art forms from them. The raids and conquests ended in the 11th century. It is no coincidence that this was also the time when the Norwegians were converted to Christianity: the church pressured the Viking leaders to give up their violent way of life. European literature was also influenced by their way of storytelling, the sagas. The Irish adopted certain art forms from them. The raids and conquests ended in the 11th century. It is no coincidence that this was also the time when the Norwegians were converted to Christianity: the church pressured the Viking leaders to give up their violent way of life. European literature was also influenced by their way of storytelling, the sagas. The Irish adopted certain art forms from them. The raids and conquests ended in the 11th century. It is no coincidence that this was also the time when the Norwegians were converted to Christianity: the church pressured the Viking leaders to give up their violent way of life.
UNITY AND CHRISTIANITY – 11TH TO 13TH CENTURIES AD
Up until the 9th century Norway was split up into small kingdoms. Harald Hårfagri (»fair hair«) succeeded in temporarily unifying the country in the 10th century. But it lost cohesion when several leaders converted to Christianity while others clung to their old beliefs.
Olav II had almost succeeded in founding a Christian empire when he was killed in battle in 1030. Miracles could be observed at his first grave near Trondheim. He was canonized; Christianity became the official religion. Still, the turbulent times continued: King Harald Hardråde (“the Strict”) strengthened the border with Sweden, founded Oslo and then invaded England, where he was killed in a battle in 1066. The victor, King Harold II, was defeated a little later in the Battle of Hastings to William the Conqueror, a descendant of the Norman Viking leader Rollo.
Under Håkon IV. (1217–63) the central government was organized efficiently, and Norwegian culture flourished. The rule over Norway and Greenland was confirmed. A trade deal with England was profitable, and Håkon’s son Magnus Lagabøte (“Law Improver”) ended the conflict with Scotland by selling him the Hebrides and Isle of Man, which had belonged to Norway since the Viking Age. He promoted German and Baltic traders in the Hanseatic League.
UNDER FOREIGN RULE – 14TH TO 18TH CENTURIES
A series of defeats in the 14th century ended Norway’s independence for 500 years. The plague struck in 1349 and killed more than half of the population.
Dynastic marriages had already led to an alliance with Sweden, with Norway playing the role of junior partner. But the partnership broke up. Then King Håkon VI married. the daughter of the King of Denmark, and her son inherited both rulers. In 1397 all three Scandinavian countries were united by the Kalmar Union. In 1523 Sweden left the alliance; in Norway which is short for NO by abbreviationfinder, Denmark retained power for another three centuries. Ownership changed hands: Norway and Greenland became Danish colonies, the Orkney and Shetland Islands pawned to Scotland. The church alone had remained independent, but in 1536 the Reformation spread. Although the bishops proclaimed the independence of Catholic Norway, the Protestant movement could not be stopped. The church princes were replaced by Danish Lutherans; their language was henceforth official, and Norwegian culture withered.
Christian IV of Denmark and Norway broke the vicious cycle of exploitation and neglect. After the discovery of the Kongsberg silver mines in the early 17th century, he spent a lot of time in his northern province. Oslo was rebuilt after a conflagration and renamed Christiania. During his reign the port of Kristiansand was built. Trade picked up; the export of dried and salted fish to the countries of southern Europe flourished. In the 18th century, wood, ore and shipbuilding made the country a fortune.