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Norwegian History in Five Minutes

I figured I'd make a quick intro to Norwegian history, which will make it easier to understand the posts on dress and language. I present to you: Norwegian History in Five Minutes!

(Actually, I'll even give you a five second version! It would go something like this: First, there was nothing, just snow. Became kingdom in 870. Then Vikings. Ruled by Denmark from 1400 to 1800, then Sweden. Total independence in 1905. Oil in 1969. Rich!)


Early in the 6th millennium BC: Norway is populated
First centuries AD: Many small small kingdoms
872 AD: Harald Hårfagre unifies the country and becomes the first king of the Kingdom of Norway
800 - 1066 AD: Viking era, expansion and emigration, especially to Iceland but also Greenland, Ireland, Britain, etc.
1030: Christianity is brought to Norway by Olav (Óláfr) Haraldsson (now known as St. Olav, Patron Saint of Norway)
1349: Things have been going downhill for a while and the arrival of the Black Death kills around 60% of the population, including most of the monks, who are pretty much the only ones who are literate. The elites died in great numbers as well. Whole valleys and regions were left without people.
1379-1814: We are pretty much under Danish rule this whole time. (At times it is called a "union" but we are never the leader of the union!)
1814: Denmark is one of the losers in the Napoleonic Wars and lose Norway to Sweden. They are off fighting so the Norwegians see their chance and draft a constitution! It is signed on May 17th, which we celebrate as our independence day. However, we are officially in a "union" with Sweden and there is not real independence, although we have our own government and parliament.
1905: We've had enough! A referendum shows that the majority of the people want complete independence from Sweden, and it is granted. Since most European countries are still monarchies at the time, Norway decides to import the Danish prince Carl and make him King Haakon VII of Norway.
1940-45: Norway is occupied by Germany; the strong German military needed only three weeks to take over the country. However, the national resistance is strong and people are loyal to the government (which flees to England rather than working with the Germans) and king in exile. Important patriotic symbols emerge, such as the wearing of a paper clip (a Norwegian invention) on your lapel - "we stick together."
1945 onward: the country is poor after the war, but equality is an important principle, leading to the birth of the welfare state; long rule by the Labour Party
1969: Oil is discovered! Norway's economy changes forever.
1970s: Your friend Chiocciola is born!

Comments (16)

Wow, Chiocciola! Thanks for the quick history lesson.
Great information.

The five second version does sum it up pretty well! 1349 sure was a bad year. And you imported a king? Fun post. I learned a lot and you made me laugh. This is the way they should teach history in school!

Barb Cabot:

I like all the history notes but esp. appreciate the specialness of 1970!

Now that really was the reader's digest version of history!

Fascinating (and the five second version made me laugh. "Rich!" is good!).

So no Christianity until 1030? What kind of faith did the Vikings have before that and are there any remnants of it around (like Stonehenge)?

And I didn't know that the paperclip came from Norway. Very cool!


Wonderful potted history of Norway! I'm going to print this out for my Mom -- she is of Norwegian descent, but doesn't know a great deal about the family tree (her father was from Wisconsin, moved to Canada in the 1930s and didn't talk much about his roots.)


Ummmmmm 1970--a Good year!

The Vikings had their own belief system, what we now call Nordic or Norse Mythology. I am sure you have heard of Odin and Tor? You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norse_mythology or maybe I'll do a post on that too!

Oh, and note that I said "1970s..." :)


Hee! I loved the five second version! Reminds me of the joke of the history behind every Jewish holiday--"They tried to kill us, they didn't, let's eat."


Amy stole my remarks! Very clever post.


We are loving this series on Norway. Brad is half Norwegian (Hans Hansen was grandpa), and he knows so little about that side of his family!

LOVE this post. I learned more about Norway in two minutes of reading than I learned in my previous 58 years of life.
The paper clip is one of the great contributions to civilization. Cool that it comes from Norway.
GREAT post!

Amy, that is hilarious! (And tragic, I guess...)

Palma, so glad you and Brad are enjoying it!! I figured that Brad had to have some Scandinavian in him with that last name!

Thanks Deborah and everyone, I am very glad you liked it!


Awesome post, what a fantastic condensed history, I'm impressed!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Chicciola, Great post and interesting history. And when you said 5 minutes you weren't kidding. I really enjoyed this post!

Thank you so much for the quick history lesson.

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