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Copyright, 1915, 

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1. Political Union an Era of Transition 1 

2. King Magnus Smek. The Union of Norway and Sweden . 4 

3. Other Causes Contributing to the Intellectual and Na- 

tional Decadence - 11 

4. The Reign of Haakon Magnusson the Younger ... 15 

5. The Hanseatic League Gains Ascendency in the North . 19 

6. Other Features of Haakon Magnusson's Reign ... 27 

7. The Union of Norway and Denmark. Queen Margaret . 30 

8. The Kalmar Union 36 

9. King Eirik of Pomerania 43 

10. An Embryo Democracy 56 

11. King Christopher .64 

12. Christian I. of Denmark and Karl Knutsson of Sweden . 66 

13. The Reign of King Hans (John) 77 

14. Literature and Intellectual Life in the Fourteenth and 

Fifteenth Centuries 89 

15. Local and General Administration 100 

16. Christian II. The Dawn of a New Era 103 

17. Christian II. the Tyrant. The Stockholm Massacre . . Ill 

18. The Struggle for Norway. Christian II 120 

19. The Count's War. Christian HI 127 

20. The Reformation in Norway 134 

21. The Reign of Christian III 142 

22. Frederick II. The Seven Years' War with Sweden . . 148 

23. Norwegian Internal Administration in the Reign of Fred- 

erick II 155 

24. Intellectual and Social Conditions in Norway in the Six- 

teenth Century 160 

25. Christian IV. and His Age 183 




26. Foreign Relations. The Kalmar War 197 

27. New National Growth. Hannibal Sehested. A New War 

WITH Sweden 207 

28. Frederick III 216 

29. Hereditary Kingship. The Introduction of Absolutism . 228 

30. Foreign Relations . .• 238 

31. Norwegian Emigration to Holland, England, Russia, and 

America in the Seventeenth Century and Later . . 239 

32. The Close of the Reign of Frederick III. Christian V. 

The Gyldenl0ve War 247 

33. Internal and Foreign Affairs in the Reign of Christian V. 262 

34. Economic and Social Conditions in Norway in the Seven- 

teenth Century 272 

35. Norwegian Literature in the Seventeenth Century . . 285 

36. Education and the Church 294 

37. Frederick IV. The Great Northern War .... 300 

38. King Charles XII. in Norway 309 

39. King Charles XII.'s Second Invasion of Norway . . . 316 

40. The Closing Years of the Reign of Frederick FV. Social 

AND Economic Conditions 323 

41. Christian VI. The Age of Pietism 328 

42. Mercantilism and Commercial Stagnation . . '. . 335 

43. Development of Modern Danish-Norwegian Literature. 

The Age of Ludvig Holberg 337 

44. Frederick V 343 

45. Christian VII. and Queen Carolina Mathilda. The Stru- 

ensee Period 349 

46. Prince Frederick and Ove H0eg-Guldberg. A Period of 

Reaction 358 

47. Crown Prince Frederick and A. P. Bernstobpf. Increasing 

Unrest in Norway. Chr. J. Lofthus. War with Sweden, 
1788 363 

48. Danish-Norwegian Literature in the Second Half of the 

Eighteenth Century 371 

49. Revolution and Despotism. Denmark-Norway's Foreign 

Policy, 1792-1814 377 

50. The Gradual Dissolution of the Danish-Norwegian Partner- 

ship 398 



51. Events Leading to the Separation of Norway and Denmark 406 

52. Norway Gains Her National Independence in 1814 . . 417 
.53. The Meeting of the Constituent Assembly at Eidsvold. The 

Framing of the Norwegian Constitution .... 423 

54. The War of 1814. The Convention of Moss and Union with 

Sweden 432 

55. Sentiments and Conditions after 1814 446 

56. The Reign of Charles John. The Relation to Sweden . 450 

57. Young Norway. Henrik WiSRGELAND and Johan Sebastian 

Welhaven. Literary and Intellectual Revival . . 464 

58. Political Progress. New Men and Measures .... 476 

59. Oscar I. Romanticism and Pan-Scandinavianism . . . 489 

60. Political Reaction. The Labor Movement .... 504 

61. King Charles XV. Beginning of a New Literary Develop- 

ment 517 

62. New Political Struggles. Proposed Revision of the Act of nJ 

Union 522 

63. Important Reform Measures Passed in the Reign of Charles 

XV. The Rise of the Liberal or Venstre Party . . 531 

64. Oscar II. The Office of Statholder Abolished. The Veto 

Question 534 

65. Further Development of the Norwegian Literary and 

Cultural Renaissance 544 

66. The Sverdrup Ministry. Norway under Parliamentary 

Government 555 

67. The Demand for a Separate Norwegian Foreign Office and 

Consular Service 561 

68. Political and Social Conditions, 1905-1914 .... 585 

69. Norwegian Emigration to America. The Norwegians in the 

United States 598 



I. Kringen 24 

Bohus in the Seventeenth Century 24 

II. Ruins of the Hamar Cathedral 118 

Bergenhus 118 

III. Pstraat 130 

Ruins of Steinviksholm Castle 130 

IV. Old Parsonage from Vaage in Gudbrandsdal . . . . , 172 

Bondestue, Older Type . .172 

Old Church at Borgund 172 

V. Christian IV 204 

Hannibal Sehested 204 

Peder Griffenfeld 204 

VI. Woodcarving on an Old Church Door in Sogn .... 294 

Woodcarving on an Old Church Portal at Hurum .... 294 

VII. Peder Clauss0n Friis 340 

Ludvig Holberg 340 

PetterDass ,340 

VIII. The University of Christiania . . . . . , .402 

IX. Eidsvold in 1814 424 

The Eidsvold Constituent Assembly 424 

X. Herman Wedel-Jarlsberg 426 

W. F. K. Christie 426 

Georg Sverdrup 426 

Christian Magnus Falsen 426 

XL Christian Frederick 440 

Charles John (Bemadotte) 440 

XII. Henrik Wergeland 468 

XIII. Camilla Collett 474 

Henrik Wergeland's Monument in Christiania .... 474 

J. S. Welhaven 474 

XIV. John Neergaard 490 

Ludvig Kristensen Daa 490 

Oscar 1 490 

Ole Gabriel Ueland 490 

A. M. Schweigaard 490 



FAonre paos 

XV. J0rgen Moe 492 

P. Chr. Asbj0rn8en 492 

Ivar Aasen 492 

A. O. Vinje 492 

XVI. P. A. Munch 494 

Niels Henrik Abel 494 

OleBuU 494 

Edvard Grieg 494 

XVII. Fredrik Stang 512 

Johan Sverdrup 512 

XVin. B30rnstjerne Bj0rnson 520 

XIX. Chr. Aug. Selmer . . .538 

Emil Stang 538 

Johannes Steen 538 

Oscar II . . . . . .538 

S0ren Jaabsek 538 

XX. Henrik Ibsen 546 

XXI. Alexander L. Kielland 548 

Jonas Lie 548 

Arne Garborg 548 

XXII. J. E. Sars 552 

Fridtjof Nansen 552 

XXIII. The Storthing Building 576 

Royal Palace, Christiania 576 

XXIV. The Michelsen Ministry 578 

XXV. J0rgen L0vland 582 

Christian Michelsen - . . . 582 

Cari Berner 582 

XXVI. King Haakon VII 584 

XXVII. Queen Maud 586 

Crown Prince Olav 586 



I. The Scandinavian North Prior to 1645 152 

n. Norway before 1645 200 

III. Modern Norway 598 



Queen Margaret ^^ 

Visborg Castle ^^ 

King Christian III 1** 

Ulrik Frederick Gyldenl0ve 236 

Frederick IV 302 

Charles XII 311 

Peter Tordenskjold 321 

Frederick VI 390 

Prince Charles August 395 

Hans Nielsen Hauge ^^ 

Charles XIII *21 

Charles XV 523 

Queen Louise °24- 


1. Political Union an Era of Transition 

When the royal family of Norway became extinct in the male 
line upon the death of Haakon V. in 1319, the kingdom still appeared 
to possess its former strength. Internal disturbances no longer 
threatened, as the aristocracy had submitted unconditionally to 
the king, who had firmly established the principles of hereditary 
kingship and a strongly centralized government. In Sweden and 
Denmark, where royalty had become elective, rival pretenders, aided 
by powerful nobles, found opportunity to maintain civil strife in 
ceaseless struggles for the crown. But Norway enjoyed peace, a 
fair degree of prosperity existed, and its commerce, though somewhat 
impaired, was still fairly well maintained. This apparent strength 
and stability of the kingdom was, nevertheless, a mere illusion. In 
reality the nation was gradually sinking into a state of lethargy and 
weakness which soon affected every part of the national organism. 
The once so remarkable energy of the Norwegian people shriveled 
as if touched by a withering bhght, and without any dramatic struggle 
they lost their political and economic independence. There can be 
no doubt that the rise of the Hanseatic merchants, and the change 
in Norway's foreign policy contributed to this growing national decay, 
but the main cause is to be sought in the extinction of the old line 
of kings, who had been leaders of the people, and the center of na- 
tional hfe and greatness. In their long struggle with the aristoc- 
racy, the kings had been victorious. Not only had they lodged 
all power in the crown, and created a body of administrative and 
judicial oflBcers wholly subservient to it, but the aristocracy, weakened 

VOL. II — B 1 


by wars and dispirited by constant defeats, had gradually lost signif- 
icance as leaders of the people. Haakon V. wiped out the remnant 
of the old hereditary aristocracy when he abolished the titles of 
jarl and lendermand, in 1308, while he retained that of knight, as 
this new rank depended on appointment and royal favor. Had 
the circumstances in Norway been favorable to the growth of chiv- 
alry, the disappearance of the old aristocracy might have produced 
no serious change; but the new nobility never became numerous 
or strong enough to assume leadership in a new national develop- 
ment. While Sweden and Denmark fostered a proud and power- 
ful aristocracy, Norway was urged, also by her natural environment, 
along the path towards democratic conditions. In comparing the 
growth of the Swedish and Norwegian nobility P. A. Munch says : 
"The already mentioned circumstance that war in Sweden was 
usually waged on land, while in Norway it was generally waged on 
the sea, would, when we consider the customary mode of fighting, 
make the separation between the mounted nobles and the common 
foot soldiers or peasants more distinct and conspicuous than in Nor- 
way. The more highly developed land war in Sweden, as well as 
the stronger influence of German knight-errantry, also led to the 
erection of numerous royal and private castles, a feature almost 
unknown in Norway. For years together private knights and 
squires, as well as feudal lords, ensconced behind the walls of these 
castles, might successfully defy law and justice, oppress the neigh- 
boring districts, and maintain an independent existence. It is also 
clear that it was in their power to make their privileges hereditary, 
and to transform them into rights which were real as well as personal. 
This is best seen in cases where some powerful knight received a 
fief and castle as security for a debt, which was often not paid during 
his lifetime. These estates with the castle were then, as a matter 
of course, inherited by his sons, or heirs. In this way there had 
been formed in Sweden at the time when it was united with Norway 
under Magnus Eiriksson in 1319 a larger and more compact circle 
of noble families than in Norway ; in other words, a real hereditary 
aristocracy whose members, indeed, did not regard themselves su- 
perior to the Norwegian nobles, and hence often intermarried with 
them; but against their own countrymen they assumed a more 


aristocratic and distant attitude than did the Norwegian nobles 
against their people. We find in Sweden also family names and family 
coats of arms used much earher than in Norway, which shows that 
an aristocracy of birth with inherited privileges was estabUshed 
there, while in Norway nobihty as a mere personal honor still pre- 
vailed." ^ Professor T. H. Aschehoug shows that the Norwegian 
nobility was much weaker than the same class in Sweden and Den- 
mark both in wealth and number. "The great and permanent 
cause of the inferiority of the Norwegian aristocracy in wealth lay 
in the different natural conditions of the three countries. The wealth, 
which should be the mainstay of the noble family, consisted at that 
time more than ever in land. But whether we consider the area 
or the productivity of the tillable soil, Norway has, without com- 
parison, a more scant supply of land than the neighboring kingdoms."^ 
The growth of royal power had wrought the unification of the 
people, and the estabhshing of a national kingdom. An efficient 
government had been created which enabled Norway to rise to 
greatness. But the aristocracy had been crushed, and when the 
kings disappeared, the orphaned nation no longer had competent 
leaders to shape its career, or to protect its interests. The country's 
foreign policy was guided by weak andj unskilled hands, if it could 
be said to be guided at all, while in conimerce, and in economic life 
in general, timidity and torpor replaced the earlier spirit of enterprise. 
For want of men, strong and self-reliant enough to attempt the solution 
of new problems and to face altered conditions with resolute hope- 
fulness, the people grew unprogressive, and clung to old forms with 
a tenacity which made successful competition with spirited rivals 
impossible. The Norwegians had hitherto accomplished great 
things, because they had been stimulated to efforts by ambitious 
leaders, and their energies had been wisely directed by able kings. 
When this stimulus and direction ceased, the decadence began, not 
because the people's native ability was lost, but because it became 
inoperative and latent. 

1 P. A. Munch, Samlede Afhandlinger, III., p. 504 flf. Yngvar Nielsen, 
Af Norges Historie, VI., Borge og Kirker. 

'T. H. Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 181 4j P- 
118 fE. 

4 history of the norwegian people u 

2. King Magnus Smek. The Union of Norway and Sweden 

On the death of Haakon V., May 1, 1319, his grandson Magnus 
Eiriksson, heir to the throne of Norway, was yet a child only three 
years of age. King Birger of Sweden, who had been compelled to 
flee from his kingdom after the treacherous imprisonment and tragic 
death of his brothers, the dukes Eirik and Valdemar, was still living 
in exile in Denmark, while his son Magnus had been imprisoned in 
Stockholm. So bitter was the feeling against the exiled king that 
there seemed to be no hope for him to regain the throne either for 
himself or his son. When Haakon died, Magnus Eiriksson was 
staying with his mother in Sweden, and the leading Swedish nobles 
immediately took steps to elect him king of Sweden. The royal 
Council ^ summoned a general council of magnates, which met at 
Oslo in the month of June. The Duchess Ingebj0rg and seven mem- 
bers of the Swedish royal Council met to negotiate a union between 
Sweden and Norway, and the election of Magnus Eiriksson to the 
throne of both realms. An act of union was soon agreed upon, 
and Magnus was proclaimed king of Norway at the Haugathing, 
at Tunsberg, and about the same time he was also elected king of 
Sweden. Thus Norway and Sweden were united for the first time 
"by an accident which looked like a plan." Nothing but family 
interests had dictated this course, and the two kingdoms had nothing 
in common but the king, who, according to the act of union, should 
spend an equal length of time in each kingdom.^ During the king's 

1 It had been customary for the king to ask advice of his lendermaend 
and other prominent persons in important state affairs, but in the thirteenth 
century we find traces of a smaller number of men acting as the king's ad- 
visers, though they were not required to meet as a body. When Haakon V. 
abolished the title of "lendermand," he seems to have chosen a few promi- 
nent men to act as a concilium regis. In the first half of the fourteenth cen- 
tury this council grew rapidly in power, especially during periods when it 
also acted as a regency during the minority of the kings. From a concilium 
regis, or royal council, it developed into a concilium regni, or council of the 
kingdom, which shared the power with the king, and he was, henceforth, 
not expected to act except with the advice of the Council. See T. H. Asche- 
houg, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark, p. 140 ff. Yngvar Nielsen, Det 
norske Rigsraad, Christiania, 1880. 

* Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. V., p. 321 f., Kong 
Magnus Eriks^ns Valgact. P. A. Munch, Det norske Folks Historie, Unions- 
periodcn, vol. I., p. 7 ff. Yngvar Nielsen, Det norske Rigsraad, p. 135 f. 


minority, his mother, Duchess Ingebj0rg, and the Council, which 
according to the act of succession should consist of twelve members, 
was to act as a regency. A similar arrangement was also made in 

The Council showed great laxity in administering the government 
of the kingdom. The Duchess Ingebj0rg, who was a thoughtless 
and pleasure-loving young woman, got possession of the royal seal, 
and she was able to exercise such an influence in public affairs, that 
she might be called the real regent, although she hastened to estab- 
lish her residence in Sweden, where she also kept the king, contrary 
to the act of union. She became enamored of a Danish noble- 
man, Knut Porse, and spent the money in the treasury in pursuit of 
pleasure, or in furthering the wild and ambitious schemes of her 
paramour. Without submitting the matter to the councils of re- 
gency, she even promised him the support of the united kingdoms 
in a war with Denmark, which he was about to undertake for the 
most selfish reasons. Supplied with a document bearing the seal 
of the kingdom of Norway, he was even enabled to hire mercenaries 
in Germany for an attack on the Danish kingdom. The public 
funds had been squandered, the treasury was empty, the laws were 
disregarded, and the people were oppressed by unlawful taxes. The 
seal of the kingdom was misused in foreign affairs, and Knut Porse 
had begun war with Denmark in the name of the king of Norway 
and Sweden.^ Discontent grew loud on every hand. In 1322 a 
council of magnates, which assembled at Skara in Sweden, deprived 
the duchess of her political power in that kingdom. The following 
year a similar assembly in Oslo chose Erling Vidkunsson regent to 
rule the kingdom of Norway with the advice and assistance of the 
Council.' But a difficult situation confronted the new regency. 
Through the machinations of Knut Porse and the duchess, Norway 
had been placed in a hostile attitude to Denmark, the relations with 
England were strained, the treasury was empty, and war had broken 

^ Diplomatarium Norwegicum, VIII,, no. 50. Yngvar Nielsen, Det norske 
Rigsraad, p. 135. 

2 C. G. Styffe, Bidrag till Skandinaviens Historia ur utlandske arkiver, I. 
p. 2 ff., 6 f. C. E. F. Reinhardt, Valdemar Atterdag og hans Konge- 
gjerning, p. 24. 

* Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historic, V., p. 534 f. 


out with Russia as a result of border disputes in Finmarken. In 
1323 the Russians and KareHans invaded and harried Haalogaland, 
but the regent was unable to act with energy for want of necessary 
funds. Three years later peace was concluded at Novgorod for a 
period of ten years. ^ What had happened in the meantime is not 
known, but the hostilities seem to have practically ceased, since Sweden 
made a treaty with the Russians, 1323. The boundaries in these 
remote regions were at that time very vague, and the treaty, which 
was a mere temporary arrangement, did not bring the question much 
nearer to a final solution. A truce was also concluded between 
Norway and Russia at Novgorod in 1326, for the period of ten 
years, and envoys sent to England had been able to come to a friendly 
understanding with Edward II. in 1325. 

The law made by King Haakon V. that the king should not be of 
age until he was twenty years old seems to have been set aside, as 
Magnus Eiriksson seized the reins of government in 1332 at the 
age of sixteen. His reign began auspiciously by the acquisition of 
Skane and Blekinge, which had hitherto been Danish provinces. 
The worthless King Kristoffer II. of Denmark, who had succeeded 
Eirik Menved, had granted these provinces temporarily to Count 
John of Holstein as security for a loan of 34,000 marks of silver. As 
the people were grievously oppressed by the Holsteiners, they ap- 
pealed to King Magnus, and asked him to become their ruler. Mag- 
nus consented, and they hailed him as their lawful king. Count John 
could not begin war against the provinces while they were supported 
by the king of Sweden and Norway, and he gladly accepted the offer 
to relinquish his title for a sum equal to the amount due him by the 
king of Denmark. Sweden had at least temporarily secured title 
to these important districts, though it is doubtful if this can be 
attributed to the king's own energy and foresight. 

In 1335 Magnus married Blanca or Blanche of Namur, who bore 
him two sons ; Eirik, 1339, and Haakon, 1340. Very little is known 
of King Magnus Eiriksson's character. By some contemporaries 
he was decried as dissolute and incompetent, but it is now generally 
admitted that he was earnest and conscientious, that he tried to 

' P. A. Munch, Samlede Afhandlinger, Vol. II., p. 626 S., Om Graendse- 
Traktaterne meUem Norge, Sverige og Rutland i del 14de Aarhundrede. 


rule well, but that he failed, not for want of good intentions, but 
because he lacked the ability to guide the two kingdoms through a 
most difficult period. During the long regency, the Swedish nobles 
had carried on their private feuds without restraint, and Magnus 
soon met with determined resistance when he attempted to limit 
their privileges, and to increase his income by levying new taxes. 
The large sums paid for the newly acquired provinces, as well as 
Magnus' poor management, had brought him into serious financial 
diflficulties, but his attempt to seek relief in this way only aggra- 
vated the situation. The hostile nobles accused him of vice and 
extravagance, and in contempt they nicknamed him Magnus Smek, 
a name by which he is generally known in history.^ Magnus was 
born and reared in Sweden, and was in all respects a Swedish king. 
The acquisition of new territory, together with financial difficulties, 
involved him so deeply in Swedish politics that he seldom visited 
Norway, or paid any attention to the affairs of that kingdom. But 
though he remained a stranger to its real needs, he nevertheless 
continued to settle Norwegian affairs with a stroke of the pen and 
the use of the royal seal without even consulting the Norwegian 
Council of State. This caused great dissatisfaction, not only be- 
cause of the injury done by this careless and irresponsible manage- 
ment of public affairs, but also because this kind of rule did not con- 
form to the people's ideas of the character and dignity of Norwe- 
gian kingship. A strong opposition party was formed ^ under the 
leadership of Erling Vidkunsson, Ivar Agmundsson, Sigurd Hafthors- 
son, and other powerful barons. They demanded nothing less than 
a dissolution of the union, and asked that King Magnus' youngest 
son, Haakon, should be made king of Norway. The king was forced 
to yield. By a royal decree issued at Varberg, 1343,^ it was decided 
that Haakon should succeed to the throne of Norway as soon as 
he reached his majority, that the older brother Eirik should be 
elected to succeed his father as king of Sweden and Skane, and that 
the kingdoms should remain separated from the time that Haakon 
became of age (1355). Until that time Magnus should act as regent 

1 Smek, pronounced Smake, from Swedish smeka, to fondle or caress. 
^ Gustav Storm, Islandske Annaler, p. 348. 
* Diplomatarium Norwegicum, II., no. 258. 


in Norway. The following year Eirik was elected king of Sweden, 
and Haakon was proclaimed king of Norway. Thereby the royal 
decree annulling the act of union was ratified by the people of both 
kingdoms.^ The royal seal was returned to Norway and given to 
the new chancellor, Arne Aslaksson. This virtually terminated 
King Magnus Smek's rule in Norway. Nominally he remained 
regent, but the affairs of the government were henceforth directed 
by the chancellor and the Council. 

After the peaceful settlement of the troubles with Norway, Magnus 
devoted himself earnestly to social and legal reforms in Sweden. 
The last remnants of slavery were removed ; he prepared a uniform 
code of laws for the kingdom, " Medal-Lagen," and also a code of 
city laws. The work was very praiseworthy, and shows that he 
meant to rule well; but new troubles were soon created both in 
Sweden and Norway by the growing power and arrogance of the 
Hanseatic merchants. The foreign affairs of Norway were still 
controlled by Magnus, while the domestic affairs of the kingdom were 
managed by the Council. They tried to enforce the tariff laws and 
other restrictions which aimed at preventing undue encroachments 
on Norwegian trade, but the Hanseatic League, which was rapidly 
developing into a great commercial monopoly, possessed great 
capital and superior business methods, and they did not hesitate 
to treat the weak government with contempt. The "Icelandic 
Annals" mention many bloody encounters between the German 
merchants and the citizens of Bergen; 1332 : "The Germans burned 
a large part of Bergen ; " 1333 : " A fight between the priests and the 
German shoemakers (sutara), and two priests killed." ^ Other 
lawless acts were committed, so that the city of Liibeck in 1341 
finally found it necessary to send envoys to King Magnus to arrange 

1 Haakon was not proclaimed king at the 0rething, nor at a thing as- 
sembled for the purpose, but representatives from the cities and from the 
country districts were summoned to Bohus, where they signed a written 
agreement to accept him as their king when he became of age. A copy of 
this document is still in existence. See Diplomatarium Norwegicum, I., no. 
290. This copy bears the signatures of the representatives of the cities and 
a part of the country districts. Other copies must have contained the sig- 
natures of the other representatives. 

* Alexander Bugge, Studier over de norske Byers Selvstyre og Handel ffir 
Hanseaterne. Gustav Storm, Islandske Annaler, p. 220 and 349. 


a settlement.^ King Magnus describes the conduct of the Hanseatic 
merchants as follows : " When they come to the harbors of Norway, 
they ill-treat, wound, and kill people, and depart without a thought 
of amends for their wrong-doings to God or the king, or even of resti- 
tution to those whom they have injured. Where they land, they 
pull down houses belonging to the king or other people, and use 
them for fuel without asking permission. They do not permit 
other goods to be exported from their cities than spoiled ale, poor 
flour, and adulterated hops, but they import from Sweden, Norway, 
and SkS,ne grain and other valuable articles. The Germans look 
with contempt on the inhabitants of Norway, and in Sweden even 
on those who have formerly belonged to their own class {i.e. those 
who have married in Sweden, and who have established homes 
there), so that they never admit them to their feasts, or to other 
social intercourse." ^ 

In 1342 Norway and Sweden became involved in a war with 
King Valdemar Atterdag, who did not seem willing to abide by his 
agreement regarding the Danish provinces which had been ceded 
to King Magnus. The Hanseatic cities aided Valdemar, and the 
"Icelandic Annals" mention a fight between the German merchants 
and the citizens of Bergen, in which many merchants were killed.' 
In the peace treaty of 1343, Valdemar ceded to Magnus, Skane, 
Halland, Lister, Blekinge, and Hven, for the amount of 49,000 marks. 
In his dealings with the Hanseatic merchants Magnus was less suc- 
cessful. He was unable to pay the stipulated amount for the ac- 
quired provinces, and had to seek the financial aid of the Germans, 
in return for which he granted to a number of German cities a charter 
(1343) in which he confirmed all the privileges which had been given 
them by Eirik Magnusson and others of his predecessors. He 
abolished the high duties, which had been imposed by Haakon V., 
and henceforth they were not required to pay higher duties than in 
the days of Eirik Magnusson.^ The efforts which had hitherto 

1 P. A. Munch, Det nor she Folks Historie, vol. V., p. 269. 

2 R. Keyser, Norges Historie, vol. II., p. 575. 
' Gustav Storm, Islandske Annaler, p. 222. 

* The document by which the king grants the German merchants of Bergen 
these privileges is found in Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. V., no. 197. 


been made to control the traflBc of the Hanseatic merchants were 
thereby adjusted in their favor, and they exercised henceforth almost 
unrestricted control over the country's trade. The general economic 
conditions seem, however, to have been quite good. The conspicu- 
ous lack of energetic activity had at least the advantage of producing 
a period of comparative peace, in which the people were able to direct 
their attention to their own domestic affairs. The distribution of 
land according to the law of odel, and the comparative weakness of 
the aristocracy insured the people against oppression, and main- 
tained a large class of freeholders Q)^nder), who continued to be the 
mainstay of the nation, and the custodians of the national traditions 
and spirit of liberty. Even the renters who owned no land were 
protected in their rights by the laws, and were not left to the mercy 
of the larger landowners. Roads and bridges were maintained 
by the people, subject to the direction and supervision of the authori- 
ties of the fylke, and the laws were so well enforced that no one was 
in danger of being robbed or otherwise molested, even in journeying 
along the lonely mountain paths of remote inland districts. But, 
aside from this fair degree of prosperity and general social well- 
being, a weakening of the people's energies took place in nearly 
every phase of national activity. Literary productivity ceased, 
and no books seem to have been read, save legends and translations 
of chivalric romances. Through the influence of the king and the 
court and Norway's intimate relations with Sweden, the Swedish 
language came to be regarded in higher social circles as more refined 
than the Norse, in which so many great works had been written, 
and which had been most highly developed as a literary language. 
Norse was still exclusively used, but many Swedish words were 
introduced, especially in the diplomatic language and in public 
documents. The literary language shows very little change, how- 
ever, during the whole Old Norse period, which lasted till 1350. 
It retained throughout great purity of vocabulary and constancy 
of forms and idioms. The Old Norse language was divided into a 
few not very sharply differentiated dialects, especially during the 
latter part of the period. East Norse was spoken in Tr0ndelagen 
and 0stlandet ; West Norse in Vestlandet (Gulathingslag) and North 
Vestlandet {i.e. Romsdal, S0ndm0r, S0ndfjord, Nordfjord, and Ytre 


Sogn) as well as in Iceland and the rest of the colonies. About 1300 
^stlandet developed its own dialect, distinct from that of Tr0nde- 
lagen with which it had hitherto been ahnost identical. The West 
Norse had been divided into two dialects, a southern and a northern, 
at a much earlier date. The southern dialect of the West Norse 
was identical with that of Iceland until about 1400, and is the one 
used with but few exceptions in Old Norse Hterature. But when the 
unifying influence of literary activity disappeared, the number of 
dialects rapidly increased, and the greater uniformity of forms and 
idioms was lost. The language of Norway entered upon a new 
development, like other languages of Europe at that time, while 
the more conservative Icelandic became a distinct language.^ 

3. Other Causes Contributing to the Intellectual and 
National Decadence 

It is quite evident that in the growing competition with the new 
sea-power, the Hanseatic League, the Norwegians soon found them- 
selves outclassed, both as to their merchant marine and their mili- 
tary power at sea.^ Hitherto Norway had been a leading naval power. 
The fleet had been her main strength in war — as necessary to the 
maintenance of her political power and independence as her mer- 
chant marine and commerce were to the nation's economic well- 
being. Shorn of these locks of strength, the nation inevitably sank 
into a state of languor and debihty. The more surprising it is to 
notice with what indecision and lack of energy the government waged 
this decisive contest for naval and commercial supremacy. Norway's 
navy had become hopelessly antiquated. The old leding system, 
which had proven very advantageous a century or two earlier, still 
remained unaltered, though wholly impractical under the changed 
conditions of the fourteenth century. According to this system, the 
coast provinces were divided into 309 skibreder (O. N. skip reidur), 
or naval districts, and each skibrede should build and man one ship. 
In this way the full quota of vessels could be secured, but no progress 

^ Marius Haegstad, Det norske Maalet fyre 1350, Indledning til Gamalnorsk 
Ordbok, Christiania, 1909. Norsk Konversations-Leksikon, "Norge," vol. V. 

^ J. E. Sars, Hanseaternes Handelsherred^mme, Udsigt over den norske 
Historie, vol. III. 


was made in the art of ship-building. The binder (freeholders), 
who furnished the required vessels and equipments as a regular leding 
tax, continued to build ships of the same size and type as had been 
furnished hundreds of years earlier. In the Hanseatic cities, in 
Flanders, France, and the Netherlands a new type of vessel, the 
kogge (Old Fr. coque, Italian cocca), had been introduced.^ This 
vessel had one or two stationary masts, and was wholly propelled by 
sails. It was of the size of a brig or small schooner. Such a vessel 
could travel faster and maneuver easier than the Norwegian long- 
ships, which had only one sail, and had to be partly propelled by oars. 
The kogge was also harder to enter ; it was well supplied with war 
machines of different kinds; and as the men did not have to ply 
the oars, the fighting force on these new ships was relatively much 
larger than on the old war vessels. About 1350, gunpowder was also 
introduced, and the Hanseatic merchants were not slow in making 
use of it. The art of ship-building and the science of war had changed. 
In a contest with a fleet of sailing vessels of the new type the Norwe- 
gian fleet soon proved comparatively useless. After the inferiority 
of the older type of ships had been thoroughly demonstrated, the 
longship was discarded about 1350, and sailing vessels of the new type 
were built ; but the change came too late to save Norway's prestige 
as a naval power. 

In the Norwegian merchant marine similar conditions prevailed. 
Small ships of the old type were still used, while the Hanseatic mer- 
chants were introducing large sailing vessels of improved type. Alex- 
ander Bugge says: "The Norwegian ships which came to England 
during the fourteenth century not only became fewer and fewer, 
but also smaller and smaller," — a sad evidence of Norway's failing 

While the nation was sinking into such a lethargic state, its re- 
maining strength was suddenly broken by the fearful ravages of the 
Black Death. In 1347 this plague had reached southern France 
from the Orient, and it quickly spread to Italy and Spain. In 
1348 it appeared in England, whence it seems to have been carried 

1 Alexander Bugge, Et lidet Bidrag til Sp^rgsmaalet om Norges Nedgang i 
det 14de Aarhundrede, published in Historiske Afhandlinger tilegnet Professor 
J, E. Sars, Christiania, 1905. 


to Scotland, the Orkneys, Hebrides, Shetland, and Faroe Islands, 
while Iceland and Greenland escaped its ravages. The disease was 
so malignant that people died after a few days', or even a few hours', 
illness, and many districts lost the greater part of their population. 
According to the " Icelandic Annals," the disease was brought to Nor- 
way by a merchant vessel which came to Bergen from England. The 
exact date is not given, but it must have been in the summer of 1349.^ 
The people on the ship died before the cargo was unloaded, and the 
ship sank in the harbor, says the annahst. The plague seems to 
have spread to all parts of the kingdom. In 1350 it harried Sweden, 
and the following year Finland and Russia. When it reached the 
districts around the Black Sea, it finally ceased, after having visited 
all parts of Europe on its deadly mission. How large a part of the 
population of Norway died from this scourge it is impossible to deter- 
mine with any degree of accuracy. Many tales were later told by 
the people, of whole settlements which became wholly depopulated, 
of churches which were later discovered in dense forests, which had 
grown up on formerly cultivated areas, of children who had been 
left alone in depopulated districts, where they grew up in a wild state.^ 
It is not difficult to see that these tales are later creations, based 
largely on imagination ; but the mortality must, nevertheless, have 
been very large. Even public documents show evidence of this.' 
Of the bishops of Norway only one survived the Black Death, and 
even in 1371 the Archbishop of Nidaros complained to the Pope 
that while there used to be about three hundred priests in his diocese, 
there were, after the great plague, not above forty. The " Icelandic 
Annals" contain the following statement : "Then the disease spread 
over all Norway, and caused such mortality that not one-third of 
the people of the country remained alive." * This statement is, 
however, an exaggeration. Oscar Montelius, who has investigated 
the decrease of the population in Sweden on the basis of the Peter's 
Pence paid before and after the Black Death, finds that the plague 

^ Islandske Annaler, p. 275. 

* Scriptorum Rerum Danicarum, VII., 2. Rasmus Nyerup, Historisk 
Skildring af Tilstanden i Danmark og Norge i oeldre og nyere Tider, Copen- 
hagen, 1808, vol. I., p. 228 ff. A. Faye, Norske Sagn. 

^ Diplomatarium Norwegicum, V., 1, p. 166; XL, 1, p. 40 f. ; XII., 1, p. 76. 

* Gustav Storm, Islandske Annaler, p. 275. 


carried away from one-third to one-half of the population in that 
country.^ Professor J. E. Sars, who has made a similar investiga- 
tion in Norway, finds that the decrease of the population in that 
kingdom was considerably less than in Sweden, probably because 
it was less densely populated ; that the loss did not exceed one-third.^ 
The calamity was, nevertheless, overwhelming. Commerce was 
almost at a standstill, the voyages to Greenland almost ceased,^ 
many estates lay uncultivated, and a number of leading men in 
church and state were dead. There is, indeed, evidence that the 
ordinary affairs of life were carried on in the customary routine way, 
but a stunning blow had been dealt all optimism and enterprise, 
and the consequences were the more serious because of the low ebb 
of national vigor. 

After the expiration of the ten years' truce which had been con- 
cluded at Novgorod in 1326, hostiUties with the Russians had been 
renewed. In 1348 King Magnus crossed the Baltic Sea with an 
army, and fought a campaign in Finland, but the Black Death put 

1 Oscar Montelius ; Forsell och Wirsen, Svensk Tidsskrift for Literatur, Poli- 
iik, och Ekonomi, 1870, p. 219-20. 

In Sweden one penning in Peter's Pence was paid yearly by every 
household. In the period 1333-1350 the average sum per year was 221 f 
marks, while in the years 1351-1353 the average sum was 132 1 marks. The 
population would, therefore, stand in the same ratio. 

2 In Norway the Peter's Pence was one penning from every man and 
woman who owned property to the value of three marks. J. B. Sars, Til 
Oplysning om Folkemcengdens Bevcegelse i Norgefra det ISde til del 1 7de Aarhun- 
drede, Historisk Tidsskrift, anden rsekke, vol. III., p. 281 ff. Dr. H. Hilde- 
brand, Sveriges Medeltid, vol. I., p. 58 fif. C. G. Styffe, Skandinavien under 
Unionstiden, 2d ed., p. 94. P. A. Munch, Det norske Folks Historic, anden 
hovedafdeUng, Unionsperioden, f0rste del, p. 888 ff. J. E. Sars, Nyt His- 
torisk Tidsskrift, vol. V., p. 243 f. A. L. Faye, Den sorte D^d i det 14de 
Aarhundrede, Christiania, 1880. J. E. Sars, Hanseaternes Handelsherred^mme 
og den store Manded^d, Udsigt over den norske Historie, vol. III. 

3 After Iceland and Greenland were united with Norway, they became 
crown colonies, and the king regulated all commerce with these islands. In 
the charter granted the German merchants in 1294, it was stipulated that 
they should not sail north of Bergen, except where it was granted as a special 
favor. Alexander Bugge considers it probable that the crown established a 
monopoly of the trade with these colonies for the benefit of companies in 
Bergen and Trondhjem. Only one merchant ship was dispatched to Green- 
land every year, and if this failed to reach its destination the colony remained 
wholly isolated from the rest of the world. 


a stop to the war. The exhausted and afflicted kingdoms needed 
peace above all things, but the king immediately undertook a new 
expedition, which was as unsuccessful as the first. In 1351 the Pope 
instructed the clergy of Sweden and Norway to preach a crusade 
against the Russians,^ and Magnus raised a small army of volunteers 
with which he again entered Finland ; but instead of gaining renown 
as a defender of the Catholic faith, he only proved his incompetence. 
The treasury was empty, his debts had increased, and new dissatis- 
faction had been created, especially among the nobility. 

4. The Reign of Haakon Magnusson the Younger 

Haakon Magnusson ascended the throne of Norway in 1355, having 
reached the age of fifteen years.^ The two kingdoms were not com- 
pletely separated, as might have been expected, as several provinces 
were still retained by Magnus. Besides Vestfold and Skienssyssel, 
which he retained in his own name, his queen, Blanche, kept Rana- 
fylke, Borgarsyssel, and Iceland as her Norwegian dowry. This 
was an important modification of the Act of Varberg of 1343, accord- 
ing to which the two kingdoms should be separated as soon as Haakon 
became of age, but it seems that the Norwegian magnates made 
this concession without protest, as Magnus had yielded to their 
demand that the union should be dissolved. The districts retained 
by King Magnus and his queen were not severed from Norway, but 
were to revert to the crown upon the death of the royal pair. But 
through this parceling out of the provinces and possessions of the 
kingdom, Norway continued to be affected by the subsequent check- 
ered fortunes of Magnus Smek. 

The expeditions to Russia had left Magnus in great financial diffi- 
culties. Money could be borrowed only in small quantities for 
short periods, and these distress loans aggravated rather than re- 
lieved the deplorable financial situation. In 1355 he was excom- 
municated by the Pope for failure to pay his debts, and he had 
already been obliged to pawn his two crowns to the city of Liibeck 

* Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. VI., no. 200 ; vol. VII., no. 245. 

* Detmars Chronik herausgegeben von Grautoff, p. 234. P. F. Suhm, His- 
torie af Danmark, XII., p. 228 ff. 


for a small loan. The political outlook was not encouraging. King 
Magnus' brother-in-law, Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg, had entered 
into a secret compact with King Valdemar of Denmark to wrest 
from Magnus the province of SkS,ne.^ At home he was opposed by 
the discontented nobles, who for some time had pursued a well- 
defined policy of increasing their power and privileges at the king's 
expense. The violent and often disloyal nobles found a new oppor- 
tunity to nurse their growing discontent when Magnus bestowed the 
greatest honors on his favorite, Bengt Algotsson, whom he made 
Duke of Halland and Finland, and governor of Skane.^ His motives 
for doing this are left wholly to conjecture. Did he attempt to win 
a competent ally for the struggle with the nobility, the approach of 
which he must have foreseen ? It is not improbable, but this move 
hastened the crisis. The nobles easily persuaded Prince Eirik that 
he had been slighted. His younger brother Haakon was already 
king of Norway ; ^ the royal favorite, Bengt Algotsson, had been 
made duke, while Eirik had neither titles nor possessions. In 1356 
he raised the standard of revolt. Aided by the nobles, he surprised 
and captured Bengt, and forced Magnus to cede the whole of southern 
Sweden. Albrecht of Mecklenburg, who had encouraged him with 
a view to his own benefit, secured for himself and his sons southern 
Halland and a part of Sk&ne. But not even these liberal conces- 
sions satisfied the rebellious Eirik, who now assumed the title of 
king. He broke without hesitation the agreements which he had 
made, and seized one district after another of his father's remaining 
possessions until he ruled all Sweden. But in 1359 both he and 
his queen suddenly died.^ Magnus again mounted the throne, and 

1 C. E. F. Reinhardt, Valdemar Atterdag, 228 f. 

2 Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, VI., p. 530. 

' St. Birgitta, who voiced the general sentiment of her people, expressed dis- 
approval of the arrangement by which the younger brother Haakon received 
the hereditary kingdom of Norway, while Eirik had to be satisfied with 
Sweden, where the kingship was elective. The hereditary kingship was re- 
garded as the more stable and honorable, hence Norway was regarded as the 
more desirable of the two kingdoms. 

* The rumor was spread that Eirik and his queen were poisoned. (See 
Islandske Annaler, p. 277.) But the report seems to be only an attempt of 
the common people to account for their sudden death. They probably died 
in the small-pox epidemic raging at the time. 


the nobles, whom he summoned to a council, agreed that everything 
should be as before, even as if the uprising started by Eirik had not 
taken place. This agreement was subscribed to also by King Haakon 
of Norway. But Magnus was not even now suffered to enjoy the 
blessings of peace. Not long after he had regained the throne,. King 
Valdemar of Denmark entered Sweden with an army and besieged 
the castle of Helsingborg. 

Albrecht of Mecklenburg, who was playing the double role of 
Magnus' friend and Valdemar's secret ally, seems to have been 
placed in command of the castle by the unsuspecting Magnus, and 
as soon as the king withdrew to the northern districts of his realm, 
Albrecht surrendered Helsingborg to King Valdemar, who also seized 
Sk§,ne and Blekinge. A Danish chronicle says that, "taking ad- 
vantage of Magnus' lack of penetration, Valdemar gained possession 
of SkS,ne through fraud and deceit." 

Magnus' weakness encouraged Valdemar to continue his opera- 
tions. In the summer of 1361 he captured the island of Oland, and 
seized Gothland, where he sacked the rich city of Wisby. This bold 
and unexpected move greatly alarmed the Baltic cities of the Han- 
seatic League, who feared that a similar fate might befall them. 
Negotiations were begun with a view to bring about an alliance 
between the Hanseatic cities and the kingdoms of Norway and Sweden 
against Valdemar, but the greed and selfishness of the cities frus- 
trated the plan. In the fall of 1361, Haakon, who had always been 
a loyal son, had a serious quarrel with his father, and even imprisoned 
him for a time.^ The "Icelandic Annals" state that "Haakon im- 
prisoned Magnus because he promised to cede a part of his kingdom 
to Valdemar." ^ However this may be, he seems to have been 
prompted to the act by the nobles. His resolute action won their 

^ Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Aeneas Sylvius), later Pope Pius II., wrote in 
1457 that Haakon was a superb man and wonderfully loved by his people ; 
that all his deeds show him to have been a good son, father, man, and Idng, 
except that in his youth he suffered himself to be persuaded by the Swedish 
Council to imprison his father, which deed he recompensed later by filial 
obedience and support. Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historie, 
vol. III., p. 613. Diplomatarium Suecanum, III., p. 708 ff. A. Huitfeldt, 
Danmarks Riges Kr^nike, p. 493. 

2 Gustav Storm, Islandske Annaler, p. 226. 

VOL. II — C 


favor, and he was made king of Sweden a few months later, to rule 
that kingdom jointly with his father. In their war with Denmark 
the Hanseatic cities were unsuccessful. Valdemar captured the 
greater part of their fleet, and after an unsuccessful attempt to take 
Helsingborg, their commander, John Wittenborg, was forced to 
conclude an armistice and withdraw his forces. On his return to 
Liibeck he was condemned to death and executed. 

Both Magnus and Haakon had learned to understand the advan- 
tage of maintaining cordial relations with Valdemar, for they were 
now opposed by the Hanseatic League as well as by the nobles at 
home, who sought to destroy their power. In 1363 a friendly agree- 
ment was finally concluded between the three kings. Magnus ceded 
to Valdemar the provinces which had been seized by the Danes, 
and the friendship was further cemented by the marriage of King 
Haakon to Valdemar's ten-year-old daughter Margaret.^ Two 
months later the Danish prince, Kristoffer, died, and Margaret 
became eligible to the throne of Denmark, a circumstance which 
ultimately led to the union of the three Northern kingdoms. 

The Swedish nobles were deeply oflFended, as they regarded the 
concessions made to King Valdemar as a treasonable sacrifice of 
the interests of their country, and they decided to offer the crown 
of Sweden to Albrecht of Mecklenburg. He offered them his next 
oldest son, Albrecht, who was chosen king of Sweden in 1364 after 
Magnus and Haakon had been formally deposed. They received 
no aid in their effort to defend their throne. King Valdemar was 
absent on a visit to Pope Urban V. in Avignon, and the Norwegian 
nobles would not begin a war to keep them on the throne of Sweden. 
They succeeded, nevertheless, in raising a small army, with which 
they took the field against King Albrecht ; but they were defeated 
in the battle of Gata, March 3, 1365. Haakon escaped, severely 
wounded, but Magnus was captured and imprisoned in Stockholm 
castle, where he was confined till 1371, when he was finally set free 
on the payment of a ransom of 12,000 marks of silver.^ Both he 

^C. E. F. Reinhardt, Valdemar Atterdag, p. 324. 

•A mark of silver was half a pound of pure silver, Cologne weight, or 
233.858 grams. It was worth about thirty-seven crowns or ten dollars. 
But as the purchasing power of money was over eight times as great at that 


and Haakon had to relinquish their claim to the throne, but Magnus 
received the income from the provinces Vestergotland, Dalsland, and 
Verm land during his lifetime. After he regained his liberty, he spent 
his remaining years in Norway, where the people liked his kindness 
of heart, and called him Magnus the Good. He perished in a ship- 
wreck on the B0mmelfjord, in western Norway, December 1, 1373.^ 

5. The Hanseatic League Gains Ascendency in the North 

When Valdemar Atterdag, in 1360, seized Sk&ne, and shortly 
after also Oland and Gothland, Magnus Smek and his son, King 
Haakon of Norway, formed an alliance with the Hanseatic cities 
against him. This alliance did not last long, as neither of the kings 
aided the cities in their war against Valdemar in 1362, but the Han- 
seatic merchants had been able to obtain a new charter (1361), in 
which they were granted unrestricted permission to trade in both 
kingdoms whenever and in whatsoever manner they pleased. They 
could even remain with their wares as long as they pleased, without 
being obliged to bear the burdens of ordinary citizens. This charter 
enabled them to gain final control over all trade in every part of 
the country. They not only seized all commerce, but they began 
also to do the retail trade with the people of the country districts, 
which had hitherto been reserved for the Norwegian merchants. 
In this way they destroyed all competition by forcing the Nor- 
wegian merchants even out of the local trade. It was, indeed, al- 
ways stated in the charters that the Norwegian merchants should 
enjoy the same privileges in the German cities as the Hanseatic 
merchants enjoyed in Norway, but these were only meaningless 
phrases, as Norwegian commerce was already destroyed. Bergen, 
the great depot of the trade with the North, became one of the most 
important cities of the League. The Hanseatic colony in Bergen 
seems to have been definitely organized about 1350.^ Its three thou- 

time as at present, a mark of silver would have a real value of about $80 in 
our money. Hence the ransom would amount to about $960,000. 

^ Islandske Annaler, p. 363. 

* Friedrich Bruns, Die Lubecker Bergenfahrer und ihre Chronistik (Berlin, 
1900), Die Begrundung der hansisch-liibeckischer Machtstellung in Bergen. 
Ludvig Holberg, Bergens Beskrivelse, p. 202 ff. 


sand merchants, masters, and apprentices, all armed and robust men, 
were not allowed to marry, or mingle socially in any way with the 
townspeople. They formed a distinct community — a state within 
the state — governed wholly by their own laws. If a member of 
the colony committed any misdeed, he could not be brought to jus- 
tice by the city authorities, and if the offense was a grave one, he 
could easily be smuggled out of the city on a German merchant vessel. 
At times these foreign merchants would carry on a veritable reign 
of terror in the city, as they well knew that the authorities did not 
dare to resist. In 1365 they broke into the royal residence, and 
forced the commander of the city to grant every request; where- 
upon they dragged one of his servants from a monastery, and beheaded 
him without a trial. They then forced the bishop to grant them 
absolution for their deeds, and compelled the city council to decide 
the case in their favor. In case resistance was offered, they threat- 
ened to burn the bishop's residence and the whole city. It is true 
that this species of tyranny and brigandage affected directly only 
the city of Bergen, that it was a local evil which did not imperil the 
peace and liberty of the people in general ; but it was, nevertheless, 
a national humiliation, and furnished positive proof of the nation's 
failing strength. It was a foretaste of the kind of blessing which 
Norway was to enjoy under the galling commercial yoke of the Han- 
seatic League.^ 

1 J. E. Sars, Hanseaternes Handelsherred^mme, Udsigt over den norske 
Ilistorie, vol. III. Schafer, Die Hansestddte und Konig Waldemar von Dane- 
mark. Ludvig Daae, Del tyske Hanseforbund, Historiske Skildringer, II. 
Alexander Bugge, Handel og Byliv nord for Alperne; VerdenskuUuren, edited 
by Aage Friis, vol. IV., p. 109 ff. W. Cunningham, Growth of English Indus- 
try and Commerce. W. Vogel, Nordische Seefahrten im fruheren Mittelaller. 
P. A. Munch, Det norske Folks Historie, part II., vol. I., 804-805. Alexander 
Bugge, Handelen mellem England og Norge indtil Begyndelsen af det 15de 
Aarhundrede, Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie rsekke, vol. IV. William Christen- 
sen, Unionskongerne og Hansestoederne, Copenhagen, 1905. O. A. 0verland, 
Norges Historie, vol. IV., p. 489 ff. Kr. Erslev, Danmarks Riges Historie, 
Den senere Middelalder, p. 345 ff. Wolfgang Menzel, Germany from the 
Earliest Period. Islandske Annaler, edited by Gustav Storm. Yngvar Niel- 
sen, Bergen fra de celdste tider indtil Nutiden. Yngvar Nielsen, Af Norges 
Historie, Norge og Hansaforbundet, 95 ff. Sartorius, Geschichte des hanseat- 
ischen Bundes. Friedrich Bruns, Die Liibecker Bergenfahrer und ihre Chr»ni- 
stik (Hansische Geschichtsquellen, Neue Folge, Band II.), Berlin, 1900. 


When Haakon Magnusson was deprived of the throne of Sweden, 
he devoted more special attention to the affairs of his own kingdom 
of Norway. He had seen the injurious effects produced by the char- 
ters and Hberties granted the Hanseatic merchants ; he was loath to 
keep the agreements which he had made with them ; and looked for 
an opportunity to shake off their commercial yoke. He made regu- 
lations which favored the native merchants, and infringed on the 
rights of the Germans granted in their charters; and in the hope of 
resisting them, if they attempted to use force, he made an alliance 
with King Valdemar of Denmark, The Hanseatic cities saw the 
danger, and determined to break the opposition of the two Northern 
sovereigns.^ Already in 1366 they were uttering loud complaints 
about encroachments made by the kings of Denmark and Norway 
on their charters and trade privileges, and made extensive prepara- 
tions for a decisive war against the two realms. The cities of the 
Baltic seacoast were the leaders in the undertaking, but they also 
persuaded the other cities of the League to join. In 1367 a general 
Hanseatic meeting, the largest of the kind ever held, was assembled 
at Cologne, and a coalition for war was organized in the name of the 
whole League. The cities agreed to assist each other faithfully 
against the kings of Denmark and Norway; no city should carry 
on negotiations, or conclude peace separately, and the compact 
should remain in force three years after peace was concluded.'^ The 

1 The German merchants feared lest they should be shut out from the 
lucrative trade with the North on which they depended for many of their 
staple articles, such as fish, herring, furs, hides, etc. Dried codfish, one of 
the chief commercial articles, was exported from Bergen. The herring 
fisheries on the coast of Bohuslen were especially important at the time. 
Fishing boats .and fishermen from Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and 
Scandinavia would assemble in large numbers during the fishing season in 
the two towns Skan0r and Falsterbo, where they built storehouses and 
depots, and where great markets were held. These two towns, situated less 
than two miles apart on a jutting peninsula, became one of the leading 
trading places in the North. A French nobleman who sailed through the 
Sound in the fourteenth century on his way to Prussia states that 40,000 
boats and 300,000 people took part in the herring fisheries during the months 
of September and October. Alexander Bugge, Handel og Byliv nord for 
Alperne, VerdenskuUuren, edited by Aage Friis, vol. IV., p. 170. 

2 Jacobus Langebek, Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, VI., p. 522. Detmars 
Chronik, von Grautoff, p. 214. 


warships should assemble at Easter, 1368, in the Sound. Duke 
Albrecht of Mecklenburg and his son, the king of Sweden, the counts 
of Holstein, and many nobles in Jutland, led by Claus Limbek, were 
also persuaded to join the coalition. The courage of the allies rose 
with their numbers. They agreed to partition Denmark so that the 
king of Sweden should receive Skane and the island of Gothland; 
Albrecht of Mecklenburg, Seeland and some of the smaller islands; 
and the counts of Holstein should receive Jutland, Fyen, Langeland, 
etc. King Valdemar must have been aware of the grave danger 
which threatened his kingdom, but there is no indication that he 
took any decisive steps to safeguard his realm.^ Valdemar was a 
sagacious though unscrupulous statesman — a great ruler, but not 
really a warrior, and when so many, even of his own nobles, joined 
the coalition against him, he seems to have despaired of success in 
the war. He turned the government over to the Lord High Con- 
stable (drost), Henning Podbusk, and left the kingdom.^ He went 
to Germany, but what he had in mind is not clear. He may have 
sought to get aid, or he may have thought that the Council would 
be able to make peace on better terms if he were not present. 

Off the Island of Riigen the League collected in 1368 a fleet of 
seventeen large war vessels and many smaller ones, carrying 200 
horses and 1540 warriors. This force was to operate against Den- 
mark, and the victory was swiftly and cheaply won, as no Danish 
fleet appeared to offer battle. Copenhagen was captured and sacked, 
a German garrison was placed in the castle, and the harbor was 
obstructed by sinking ship-hulls at the entrance. Elsinor (Helsing0r), 
Aalholm, Nykoping, Malmo, Skanor, and Falsterbo were captured. 
Seeland was harried with fire and sword. The king of Sweden took 

1 Tradition says that when he received the Hanseatic cities' declaration 
of war, he improvised as an answer this Low Dutch stanza : 
Seven unde seventig hensen 
Heff t seven unde seventig gensen ; 
Wo mi di gensen nichten biten, 
Nah den hensen frage ick nichten sehiten. 
This is without doubt only invention, but the impression seems to have 
prevailed that Valdemar was overconfident and failed to make preparations. 
C. E. F. Reinhardt, Valdemar Atterdag og hans Kongegjerning, Copenhagen, 

* Jacobus Langebek, Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, vol. VI., p. 631. 


Sk&ne, and the counts of Holstein seized the greater part of Jutland. 
" The Germans harried Jutland and all the possessions of the Danish 
king," says the old annalist.^ 

A second fleet of six war vessels and 1100 men was organized in 
the Netherlands to operate against Norway, and this force met 
as little resistance as the first. The old leding system in Norway 
had fallen into such complete decay that the country no longer had 
a fleet worthy of the name. The districts east of Lindesnes were 
ruthlessly harried, and fifteen parishes are reported to have been 
laid waste. Marstrand, Konghelle, and Ljodhus were burned, and 
as King Haakon had no means of resisting the enemy, no alternative 
but the negotiation of peace remained. On August 10, 1368, an 
armistice was arranged at Wismar, which should last till Easter 
the following year. During this interval the hostilities should cease, 
but the embargo on commerce with Norway was to be maintained, 
a proviso which would ultimately compel the Norwegians to accept 
peace on any terms offered. But the stipulations regarding the 
cessation of hostilities were not kept. The seacoast, as far as Bergen, 
was harried, houses and forests were burned, and an effort was made 
to so terrorize the people that they would never again attempt to 
offer resistance to the Hanseatic merchants. 

Before the war broke out, the Hanseatic League ordered all the 
German merchants in Norway to leave the country.^ The Enghsh 
merchants seized the opportunity, and tried to reestablish their 
trade with Norway, but the Germans returned and drove them away.^ 

A new armistice was concluded in 1369, which should last till 1370, 

^ Islandske Annaler, edited by Gustav Storm, p. 361 f . 

' The order recalling the merchants from Bergen was issued at Liibeck, 
Feb. 2, 1368. Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. VIII., no. 182. In a letter 
to the League, of May, 1368, the merchants of Bergen say that they have 
obeyed the order, but that it has brought them irreparable loss. Diplo- 
matarium Norwegicum, vol. VIII., no. 184. P. A. Munch, Det norske Folks 
Historic, part II., vol. I., p. 804 f. Islandske Annaler, edited by Storm, 
p. 279. 

' The EngUsh complained of this in 1375, when an embassy from the Han- 
seatic League arrived in England, and sought to obtain a renewal of the 
trade privileges of Edward I.'s time. Hanserecesse, 1st series, III., no. 318, § 1. 
Alexander Bugge, Handelen mellem England og Norge, Historisk Tidsskrift, 
tredie raekke, IV., p. 85. 


when peace negotiations should begin at Bohus castle. These nego- 
tiations at first led only to the prolongation of the armistice, and 
permanent peace was not concluded till 1371. Peace with Denmark 
was concluded at Stralsund, 1370, the most humiliating which any 
Northern kingdom had ever been forced to conclude. The vic- 
torious Hanseatic merchants secured the renewal of all their trade 
privileges. They got full control of the important herring fisheries 
on the coast of Bohuslen, and the towns and castles of Skanor, 
Falsterbo, Malmohus, Helsingborg, and Varberg were ceded to them 
for fifteen years as a war indemnity. Their trade privileges were 
now so extensive and well protected that all competition could be 
excluded; their commercial supremacy in the North was absolute 
and uncontested.^ The only trade which still remained to the native 
merchants was the traffic with the colonies and with Nordland (the 
northern districts of Norway, except Finmarken). From Nordland 
fish and other products were brought to Bergen, and sold to the 
German merchants. But even this trade was soon brought under 
the control of the merchants at Bergen.^ The "Norderfahrer" 
(Nordfarere), as the Germans called the native traders and fisher- 

1 Friedricli Bruns in his excellent work, Die Lubecker Bergensfahrer und 
ihre Chronistik, gives the statistics of the trade between Bergen and Liibeck. 
Summed up it shows the following results : 

Imported to Bergen Exported from Berobn 

1369-1370 1 1,058 § marks value 10,586 

1378 6,881 marks value 18,955 i 

1379 7,564 marks value 17,629 

1381 9,369 marks value 19,072 

1383 5,7831 marks value 7,856 

1384 7,920i marks value 20,623i 

1385 9,211 marks value 12,269 

It will be seen that after the Hanseatic merchants gained control of the 
trade, they exported from Bergen goods worth about twice the amount of 
the goods imported. As trade at this time was a mere barter, Norway re- 
ceived only half of what her exported goods were worth, and the German 
merchants were reaping an immense profit. 

* Norske So, an allegory by an unknown author, describing conditions in 
Norway ; quoted by Rasmus Nyerup in Historisk-statistisk Skildring af Til- 
standen i Danmark og Norge i aeldre og nyere tider, Copenhagen, 1803, vol. I., 
p. 327-340. Ludvig Holberg, Bergens Beskrivelse, p. 265 fif. 



Bonus IN THE Seventeenth Century. 


men who carried on the traflSc with Nordland, were often in need. 
Their capital was small, and the merchants at Bergen gladly furnished 
them the needed supplies, after an agreement had been made that 
the fish brought to Bergen should be sold for a fixed price, which was 
always very low. In this way the Nordfarere were kept in a sort of 
commercial serfdom, an evil which lasted long, and which was 
eradicated with great difficulty. 

As to the nature of the influence exerted by the Hanseatic mer- 
chants on Norway's commercial development there has been differ- 
ence of opinion among historians. P. A. Munch and J. E. Sars 
have held that, as Norway at this time had no distinct merchant 
class, the Hanseatic merchants filled an empty gap, and stimulated 
Norwegian trade and commerce to new growth. They had more 
capital and better business methods than the native traders, and 
although their control of Norwegian commerce proved ruinous to 
individual traders of Bergen, Tunsberg, and Oslo, forcing them out 
of business, it was not injurious to the nation as a whole. 

It must be admitted that Norway's decline cannot be ascribed to 
the operations of the Hanseatic merchants ; but it can, nevertheless, 
not be doubted that a strong foreign commercial supremacy estab- 
lished at a time of transition and national weakness tended to 
prolong the weakness, and hindered the free unfolding of native 
enterprise which might have produced a new national development. 
Alexander Bugge shows that already at the time of Haakon Haakons- 
son and Magnus Lagab0ter a nev/ and quite numerous and enter- 
prising Norwegian merchant class was springing into existence, but 
its further development was cut short by the Hanseatic commercial 
and naval ascendency.^ In speaking of the Norwegian merchants, 
Bugge says : 

"Who, then, were the Norwegians who carried on trade and sent 
their ships to foreign lands? Here, as in regard to cultural life in 
general, the reign of Haakon Haakonsson forms a period of transi- 

^ "But if you acquire a great deal of goods on your trading expeditions, 
then divide it into three parts ; put one part into a partnership with men 
who always stay in the cities, and are trustworthy and well versed in trade." 
— The King's Mirror, ch. 4. Alexander Bugge, Handelen mellem England og 
Norge, Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie raakke, IV. 


tion. We learn from 'The King's Mirror' (written by a courtier at 
the time of Haakon Haakonsson) that it was customary for members 
of the chieftain class to make trading expeditions to foreign countries. 
But foreign ideas of knight-errantry and nobility gained a firmer 
hold, and according to these it was considered inconsistent with 
the dignity of a nobleman to carry on trade. Ever more seldom 
did the Norwegian chieftains trade in foreign lands, even though we 
find such instances even in the century following (the fourteenth). 
. . . There was, then, a place vacant for a real urban merchant 
class in Norway. But did no such class exist in the country ? The 
answer will, I think, be both yes and no. . . . There can be no 
doubt that at the time of Haakon Haakonsson such a class was spring- 
ing into existence in Norway, or rather, perhaps, in the city of Ber- 
gen. Trade was so brisk and extensive, and the concourse of stran- 
gers so great, that the townspeople could no longer be made amenable 
to the same laws with the country people, as hitherto. Under 
Haakon Haakonsson, and especially under his son, Magnus 
Lagab0ter, the cities (i.e. Bergen, Nidaros, Oslo, and Tunsberg) 
were organized as distinct communities, separate from the country 
districts; they received their own laws, and even a degree of self- 
government. And what we learn from unmistakable facts of his- 
tory points in the same direction — that in the cities, especially 
in Bergen, there was a class, a very numerous class, whose business 
it was to carry on trade with foreign countries, or rather with Eng- 
land ; a class of men who were not at the same time craftsmen and 
farmers, but merchants exclusively. The well-informed author of 
'The King's Mirror' tells us that there were men who resided per- 
manently in the cities and carried on trade. In the privileges granted 
the Norsemen in England, and in the treaties concluded between 
the kings of Norway and England, the merchants (mercatores) , but 
not the subjects of the king of Norway, are mentioned. In the time 
of Magnus Eiriksson there was in Bergen a separate guild of * Eng- 
landsfarere,' traders who were engaged in the regular traffic between 
England and Norway (no such guild of ' Tj^sklandsf arere or 
Hollandsfarere' is mentioned). Not only from Bergen, but also 
from other Norwegian cities, was trade carried on with foreign coun- 
tries. In 1225, for example, there came to Lynn a trader from Nidaros 


who called himself 'Skule Jarl's merchant,' who was permitted to 
buy 200 quarteria of grain in the city. But these sprouts were not 
allowed to thrive and grow. Had it only been a century earlier ! 
Now it was too late. The strangers had gained too great a power, 
and had become indispensable to the country." 

There is reason to believe that peaceful rivalry would have re- 
awakened the spirit of competition and stirred Norwegian commerce 
to new activity and growth. This rivalry would have been furnished 
by the uninterrupted intercourse with England, where native com- 
merce was developing. But the forcibly maintained trade monopoly 
of the German merchants removed every opportunity, and left 
Norwegian traders and ship owners helpless in the tightening grip 
of the Hanseatic League, which was not progressive in spirit, but 
which maintained its supremacy by coercion and force. 

6. Other Features of Haakon Magnusson's Reign 

When King Magnus and his queen died, the provinces which they 
had held in Norway were again placed under the administration of 
the Norwegian government, and various measures adopted show an 
earnest desire also to strengthen, as far as possible, the ties between 
the colonies and the mother country. In Iceland and the Orkneys 
the people, as well as the sysselmwnd, were required to take an oath 
of allegiance to the king, and Henry of St. Claire was made Jarl of 
the Orkney and Shetland Islands in preference to Alexander de le 
Ard, who failed to respond to a request to come to Norway, where 
he would be granted an opportunity to prove his title to the jarldom. 
St. Claire went to Norway, and did homage to the king, subscribing 
also to a document which imposed great obligations upon him, and 
placed strict limitations upon his rights and powers in the colony. 
But such agreements were more easily made than kept. There is 
no evidence that St. Claire did not intend to keep his word, but 
Scotch influence was growing, and as Norway's naval strength was 
broken, the Norwegian kings found it ever more difficult to exercise 
any real authority in the colonies. Even commercially the ties 
were weakening, as fewer ships now sailed between Iceland, Green- 
land, and Norway than formerly. Of nine ships scheduled for Ice- 


land in 1376, only six reached their destination, the others being 
driven back by storm. Greenland was visited but once a year by 
the " Greenland-knarre, " and if this failed to cross the stormy North 
Atlantic, the colony remained isolated from the rest of the world 
till the following year, or till the ship succeeded in making the voyage. 
That such periods of isolation grew ever more frequent and protracted 
was evident, and proves that Norway's hold upon her distant colony 
was weakening, but it is not strange that commerce with Greenland 
was maintained with difficulty. The fact that the Norwegians were 
still able to cross the Atlantic Ocean at more or less regular intervals 
proves that their old-time skill and daring in navigation was not yet 

The union with Sweden and the closer relations with Denmark 
and Germany, established through the altered foreign policy, brought 
a change also in the character and title of the higher officials in the 
kingdom. Norway had few castles, it is true; the chief ones, and 
in a strict sense the only ones, were : Akershus, Bohus, Bergenhus, 
and Tunsberghus, but these became of greater importance than for- 
merly. One or more herreds, or districts, were placed under the 
castle, and the income from these was collected by the officer in com- 
mand, who received the German title of mgt, foget (foged), and the 
district belonging to the castle was called fogetie (fogderi). Even 
the sysselmcBnd in districts where there were no castles were often 
called foget, and the gjaldkeri in the cities was sometimes called by- 
foget. In Norway this new system was of little real significance, 
however, when we compare it to that of Denmark or Sweden, where 
the whole kingdom was parceled out among the numerous castles of 
the nobles. Over cities and larger districts, and also over the colony 
of Iceland, the king placed royal governors called hirdstjdrar, whose 
duties are but imperfectly known. 

It has already been stated that Haakon married Margaret, the 
daughter of King Valdemar Atterdag, in 1363. She was reared in 
Norway by a Swedish lady, Marta Ulfsdotter, a daughter of St. 
Birgitta, and seems to have resided permanently at Akershus castle 
in Oslo, where her son Olav was born in 1370, when the young queen 
was in her eighteenth year. After peace had been concluded with 
the Hanseatic cities and Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg, in Stral- 


sund, 1370, King Valdemar returned to Denmark and devoted him- 
self to the reorganization of his shattered kingdom.^ Among the 
many problems which engaged his attention was also that of the suc- 
cession. As his only son had died some years previous, Albrecht,^ 
the son of his elder daughter Ingebj0rg, and Olav, the son of King 
Haakon and Margaret, were both eligible, but in order to obtain a 
favorable peace with Mecklenburg, Valdemar had promised to sup- 
port Albrecht.^ This seemed to give him the better chance of the 
two candidates, but when Valdemar died in 1375, Albrecht impru- 
dently assumed the title of " King of Denmark " before he had been 
elected. He thereby violated the principle of elective kingship, and 
offended the Danish nobles, while the gifted Queen Margaret, who 
seems to have been charming to a very unusual degree, and knew how 
to win their favor, secured the election of her five-year-old son Olav. 
The young king's parents should act as regents during his minority ; 
but as King Haakon always remained in Norway, the queen herself 
became the real regent and the guardian of her son.^ Olav was 
already crown prince of Norway, and his election to the throne of 
Denmark would ultimately lead to a union between the two kingdoms 
similar to that which had before existed between Norway and 

King Haakon VI. had been forced to cede the throne of Sweden to 
Albrecht of Mecklenburg, but he refused to acknowledge the German 
prince as rightful king. When his father, Magnus Smek, died, he 
seized the provinces which that king had been suffered to retain during 
his lifetime, and hostilities between Norway and Sweden continued, 
though no real campaigns were fought till shortly before King 
Haakon's death in 1380. 

1 Albrecht, also called Albrecht the Younger, was a nephew of King Al- 
brecht of Sweden. 

'^ C. E. Reinhardt, Valdemar Atterdag, p. 471 ; appendix 12 contains King 
Valdemar's letter regarding terms of peace with the Hanseatic cities and the 

^ Yngvar Nielsen, Det norske Rigsraad, p. 248. 

* C. Paludan-Miiller, Observationes Criticae, 198 f. Diplomatarium Nor- 
wegicum, III., no. 484. 

80 history op the norwegian people n 

7. The Union of Norway and Denmark. Queen Margaret 

The sudden death of Haakon VI. placed his ten-year-old son Olav 
on the throne. Queen Margaret, who was in Denmark at the time, 
hastened to Norway to arrange for the succession of her son, and Olav 
was proclaimed king at the ^rething in Tr0ndelagen, A formal act 
of union of the two kingdoms must also have been drawn up, but no 
such document now exists, nor is it anywhere mentioned. A union 
was thus brought about between Norway and Denmark which was 
destined to last for 433 years, but the future consequences of so im- 
portant a step seem to have caused no great concern. Margaret, 
who was very ambitious, hoped that the union would be permanent ; 
while the leading men of the two kingdoms seem to have regarded the 
union as a temporary expedient, as the two realms had nothing in 
common but the king. During Olav's minority Margaret was to 
act as regent whenever she was in Norway, but when she was not 
in the kingdom, the administration was to be directed byAgmund 
Finnsson as regent, assisted by the chancellor, Henrik Henriksson.^ 
This precaution was probably taken to prevent the queen from 
managing the affairs of Norway while she was staying in Denmark, 
as the situation in that" kingdom was still so difficult that it would 
absorb the greater part of her attention. Many castles and prov- 
inces were still in the hands of the allies, who had fought against 
Denmark in the Hanseatic war, and Margaret had to employ all her 
skill to win back what had been lost. A contemporary Liibeck 
chronicler writes : 

"In the year 1386 the queen of Norway gained possession of the 
kingdom of Denmark as completely as her father Valdemar had held 
it. This she did with great ability in that she first gained possession 
of Sk§,ne, and then negotiated with her enemies, the counts of Hol- 
stein, concluded a permanent peace, and granted them the duchy 
of Schleswig as a fief. When this was done, a fear and trembling 
seized all the nobles of the kingdom, as they saw the wisdom and 
power of this lady, and with their sons they now offered to serve her. 
She summoned before her all the fogeds of the kingdom, and she 

* P. A. Munch, Det norske Folks Historie, jMirt II., vol. II., p. 131. 


went from one castle to the other to be hailed as queen. She also 
transferred fogeds from one castle to the other, even as abbots move 
the monks from monastery to monastery. This happened even 
within a quarter of a year, before Candlemas, and it is quite aston- 
ishing that a woman, who before was so poor that she could give no 
one a meal except by the aid of her friends, because all her castles 
were encumbered, more by force than by debts, now, together with 
her son, became so powerful in a quarter of a year that she lacked 
nothing in the whole kingdom." 

Making due allowance for the metaphoric expressions of the chron- 
icler, it is, nevertheless, clear that Margaret was a worthy successor 
of her illustrious ancestors. Munch says : " The more closely we 
examine the political events in the North at this time the more 
prominently Margaret comes into the foreground as the one who 
surveys and controls events, and whose superior mind directs the 

The relations with Sweden continued to be hostile. In 1385 King 
Olav became of age, and with the advice of his mother he assumed 
the title of " King of Denmark and Norway and Heir to the Kingdom 
of Sweden," an open avowal that he would maintain his father's 
claim to the Swedish throne. Albrecht's power in Sweden was fast 
declining. He had attempted to place some restrictions on the grow- 
ing power of the nobles, and this caused such a resentment that a 
strong party wished to place Olav on the throne in the same manner 
in which Albrecht himself was made king in 1364. The repetition 
of this kind of couy d'etat was, however, averted for the time being 
by the sudden death of King Olav at Falsterbo castle, in Skline, 
1387.^ This was a great calamity for the kingdom of Norway as well 

1 The cause of Olav's sudden death is unknown. The belief that he had 
been killed or imprisoned by his own mother is wholly without foundation. 
An impostor claiming to be King Olav appeared some years later, but he was 
tried and executed. See H. C. Behrman, Beretning om denfalske Kong Oluf 
Hagens^n's Dfid, Copenhagen, 1846. Chr. Lange, Litter aturtidende, Christiania, 
1846, p. 298 ff. A. Fabricius, Minder fra Nordens Historie, p. 72, Odense, 

According to the law of succession, the heirs to the throne were divided 
into twelve classes. Albrecht, the son of Margaret's elder sister, Ingebj0rg, 
had no right to the throne, as neither of his parents belonged to the Nor- 



as for Queen Margaret personally. As Olav was her only living child, 
the royal family became so nearly extinct at his death that for the 
first time in centuries a successor had to be placed on the throne by 
election.^ King Albrecht of Sweden, a great-grandson of Magnus 
Smek, was the only heir to the throne of Norway according to the 
law of succession, but he was not even considered, owing to his great 
unpopularity and the enmity which had existed between him and the 
late kings of Norway, who regarded him as an usurper. Queen Mar- 
garet had no direct claim to the throne. She was not a member of 
the royal family of Norway, and hitherto no woman had ruled the 

wegian royal family. Professor Gustav Storm has made the following 
diagram of the situation : 

Valdemar King Magnus Eiriksson (Smek) 
\ +1374 I 

Ingebj0rg Margaret 

King Haakon oldest son oldest daughter 
+ 1380 (4) I 

(not 12) 

oldest son 
oldest son 


oldest son 

King Olav oldest son oldest daughter 
+ 1387 (3) 1 

oldest son 


oldest son 

oldest son illegitimate son oldest daughter 

(1) (7) I 

oldest son oldest son 

(2) (8) 

Albrecht, king of Sweden, was number nine in order of succession. Gustav 
Storm, Dronning Margretes Valg i Norge, Historisk Tidsskrift, fjerde rsekke, 
vol. I. 

1 The election of Queen Margaret was in harmony with the Norwegian 
law of succession which provided that, when no heir to the throne was 
found, the one who had the best claim according to the general law of in- 
heritance should be chosen. Since King Albrecht of Sweden was not con- 
sidered, no heir existed, and Margaret had the best claim as the heir of her 
son. King Olav. In the Norwegian letter of homage, issued Feb. 2, 1388, it 
was expressly stated that she was chosen because she was Haakon's queen 
and the mother of King Olav. Suhm, Nye Samling, III., 387. Norsk Tids- 
skrift for Videnskab og Litter atur, vol. I., p. 230, note 2. 


kingdom, but her ability and popularity counted strongly in her 
favor.^ Seven days after King Olav's death she was chosen ruling 
queen of Denmark, and when the Council assembled at Oslo she was 
also elected regent in Norway, while Eirik of Pomerania, a son of 
her sister's daughter, was chosen heir to the Norwegian throne.^ 
She also assumed the title of "Queen of Sweden," to show that she 
would continue the policy of her predecessors in her attitude to that 
kingdom. The Swedish nobles, who had intended to place Olav on 
the throne, now turned to Queen Margaret. At a meeting at Dals- 
borg castle, in Dalsland, where she was present, they chose her queen 
of Sweden, and she promised in return to aid them in driving Al- 
brecht from the kingdom, an agreement which was swiftly carried 
out. At Aalsed near Falkoping, the nobles met King Albrecht's 
weak forces, defeated him, and carried him and his son, Eirik, as 
prisoners to Lindholm castle, where they remained incarcerated for 
six years. King Albrecht's rule had ended, and the queen had won 
the throne which her son and husband had claimed, though the 
struggle was still protracted for a time. The novelty of a ruling 
queen, who had been able to unite all the Northern kingdoms, seems 
to have impressed the people deeply. A chronicler records with 
almost superstitious solemnity that " God placed an unexpected vic- 
tory in the hands of the woman." Queen Margaret had been able 
to accomplish, both in Denmark and Sweden, what her late prede- 
cessors had attempted in vain — a sufficient proof of her ability and 
diplomatic skill. In 1389 Eirik of Pomerania was formally elected 
king of Norway at a new meeting of the Council, but Queen Mar- 
garet should act as regent until the young king became of age,* 

1 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, III., no. 477. C. Paludan-Miiller, Obser- 
vationes Criticae, 106. Yngvar Nielsen, Det nor she Rigsraad, p. 259. T. H. 
Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge indtil 1814, P- 153. 

2 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, III., no. 484. C. Paludan-Muller, Obser- 
vationes Criticae, 108. Yngvar Nielsen, Det nor she Rigsraad, p. 261. 

' J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norshe Historic, vol. III., p. 64. Kr. Erslev, 
Danmarhs Historic under Dronning Margrcte og hendes Efterf^lgcre, p. 428 f., 
504. Danmarhs Riges Historic, vol. II., p. 358 ff. Christian C. A. Lange, 
Norsh Tidsskrift for Videnshab og Litter atur, vol. I., p. 217 ff. Bidrag til 
Norges Historic under Unionen, af Christian Lange. 

Arild Huitfeldt, Kong Olav, Dronning Margrcte og Eirik af Pommern, 
p. 135 ff. 

VOL. II — D 


and she secured from the nobles concessions which greatly strength- 
ened the royal power both in Sweden and Denmark. In Sweden no 
more castles should be built, and those that had been erected in 
Albrecht's time should be razed. More important still was the 
provision that all crown lands which had been alienated in Denmark 
in the reign of Valdemar Atterdag, and in Sweden in the reign of 
Albrecht, should revert to the sovereign, and the income from them 
should go to the royal treasury. In Denmark a new tax was levied 
to secure a better coinage, and in Sweden the queen received large 
personal possessions. It is quite evident that Margaret, the first 
great ruling queen in European history, possessed skill in adminis- 
tration as well as in diplomacy, but her system of statesmanship 
was, nevertheless, only a continuation of that of her predecessors, 
Magnus Smek and Valdemar Atterdag. It was her ambition to 
rule over a large realm, to gather the threads of administration and 
political power into her own hands. When the three kingdoms were 
finally united under her sway, she sought to perpetuate her dominion 
by strengthening the power and influence of the crown, and by in- 
creasing her revenues and private possessions. In these efforts she 
directed her attention to politics rather than to details of adminis- 
tration, and the local needs of each kingdom continued to be neg- 
lected. The efficiency of the local administrative authorities was even 
purposely weakened, to insure increased influence of the sovereign. 
Many of the highest offices both in Norway and Sweden were left 
vacant ; the queen was staying in Denmark, and the old administra- 
tive system in both kingdoms was falling into decay. In Norway 
many Danes were appointed to fill the highest positions in the church, 
until it awakened merited resentment. In Sweden the queen ap- 
pointed Danish fogeds, lawlessness increased, and for want of proper 
supervision by the royal authorities these foreign administrative 
oflScers became ever more arrogant and arbitrary, and wrung from 
the oppressed people loud and well-founded complaints. A contem- 
porary remarks: "The Germans were expelled {i.e. King Albrecht 
and his Mecklenburgers) ; the Danes then got the power in the land 
for many years, and then the Germans were lauded by the people." 
The Danish fogeds were called " tyrants whose cruelty, never to be 
forgotten, brings them eternal perdition." The three kingdoms 


were associated on equal terms under the same sovereign, but through 
Margaret's influence a foreign overlordship was even now being es- 
tablished both in Norway and Sweden, a feature which was to make 
the pohtical partnership with Denmark so expensive and profitless 
a business, especially for Norway. Even the defeat and imprison- 
ment of King Albrecht was not to pass without a most unfortunate 
sequel, which caused much loss and suffering both in the North and 
elsewhere. The city of Liibeck had sided with Queen Margaret, 
but the two Hanseatic cities Rostock and Wismar undertook to 
aid Albrecht. They issued a proclamation that any one who wished 
to undertake raids into the Northern kingdoms, and would aid in 
carrying provisions to the city of Stockholm, which was besieged by 
the queen, would be given protection in their harbors. The invita- 
tion proved very tempting to hundreds of lawless adventurers who 
gathered from all parts of the Baltic seacoast, and a league of pro- 
fessional buccaneers, known as the "Victual Brothers," sprang into 
existence, which gravely endangered all commerce, not only in the 
Baltic, but also in the North Sea. The demon of lawlessness once 
let loose ran its own riotous course. Without discrimination the wild 
corsairs robbed and plundered remorselessly. They seized Gothland 
and captured Wisby, which they made their chief stronghold. In 
1393 they captured Bergen, sacked and burned the city, and com- 
mitted the greatest outrages.^ Malmo and Nykoping were burned, 
Hanseatic merchant ships were everywhere attacked, and the danger 
to commerce finally became so great that the fisheries on the coast 
of Bohuslen and Sk&ne had to be abandoned for three years. In 
1395 Bergen was sacked and burned a second time, " and the robbers," 
says the chronicler, "gathered great stores, treasures of gold and 
silver, costly cloth, household goods, and fish, which they brought 
to Rostock and Wismar, and sold with great profit, as the people of 
those cities did not care whether the goods were gotten honestly or 
dishonestly." Because of constant losses and increased hazards 

' Gustav Storm, Vitaliebr^drenes Plyndringstog til Bergen i 1393, Historisk 
Tidsskrift, tredie rsekke, vol. IV., p. 428 ff . Yngvar Nielsen, Bergen, p. 221 flf. 
Voigt, Die Vitalienbriider in Raumers historischem Taschenbuch, 1841. 
Gustav Storm, Islandske Annaler, p. 422. Helen Zimmern, The Hansa 
Towns, p. 124 ff. P. A. Munch, Det norske Folks Historie, part II., vol. II., 
p. 338 ff. L. Daae. Historiske Skildringer, p. 18 ff. Vitaliebr^drene. 


connected with navigation, prices rose, and many districts suffered 
for want of supplies, but Queen Margaret was quite helpless against 
this enemy. The Hanseatic cities made determined efforts to sup- 
press the sea-robbers. Hundreds were captured and executed, but 
new bands appeared. In 1400 the cities of Hamburg, Bremen, and 
Liibeck thought that they had succeeded in sweeping the sea clean 
of pirates, but they soon had to send out a new expedition. In 1402 
the notorious pirate chief, Claus Stortebecker, and two of his asso- 
ciates, together with a large number of followers, were captured and 
put to death. Again the Hamburgers sallied forth and captured 
Goedeke Michelson, Wichman Wigbold, and eighty pirates, who were 
all promptly beheaded. 

Through such energetic measures the strength of the pirates was 
finally broken. They sacked Bergen a third time in 1428, and yet 
a fourth time in 1429, but after that their names disappear from 
history. The Victual Brothers destroyed the last remaining strength 
of the native Norwegian merchants, and when the Hanseatic cities 
revived their trade, they gained exclusive control. This marks the 
beginning of the period of their greatest prosperity and power in 
Norway, which lasted for about a hundred years. In 1395 Queen 
Margaret made peace with the cities of Rostock and Wismar, and 
Albrecht and his son were liberated. Thereby the war for the 
possession of Sweden was formally terminated, but the Victual 
Brothers still continued their ravages, and Stockholm did not open 
its portals to the queen till in 1398. 

8. The Kalmar Union 

After Eirik of Pomerania had been raised to the throne also in 
Denmark and Sweden, Queen Margaret took steps to bring about a 
formal union of the three kingdoms. In 1397 a meeting of magnates, 
councilors, and ecclesiastics of the three kingdoms was assembled 
at Kalmar in Sweden to negotiate about the formation of a union. 
At this council Eirik of Pomerania was crowned king of all the three 
kingdoms, and a joint seal was also prepared ; but the queen's hope 
of uniting the three realms in a federal union with an hereditary 
king was not realized. A rough draft of an act of union, a sort of 


constitution, was, indeed, drawn up, but it was never completed in 
the necessary documentary form, or supplied with the required 
seals. It was expressly stated in the draft that "for the greater 
assurance that all these points shall forever be loyally kept, the 
document shall be written on parchment, two copies for each king- 
dom, and to these shall be affixed the seals of the king, the queen, 
the councilors of the kingdom, the lords, and the cities." As this 
was not done, the first draft of the points on which an agreement had 
been reached could not be legally binding.^ It is possible that after 

* The Proposed Kalmar Act of. Union 
This document, which is written on paper, still exists. It contains the 
following points : 

1. The three kingdoms shall henceforth have one king and shall never be 

2. After the death of the king a successor shall be elected jointly by the 
three kingdoms. If the king dies without issue, a successor shall be chosen 
according to the best judgment and conscience. 

3. All the three kingdoms shall continue in love and unanimity, and one 
shall not withdraw from the others ; that which befaUs one, as war or attack 
by foreign enemies, shall be regarded as befalUng all three, and each king- 
dom shall help the other with full faith and energy. 

4. Each kingdom retains its own laws, and the king shall rule according 
to them. He shall not import from one kingdom to the other what has not 
formerly been law and justice there. 

5. One who has been outlawed in one kingdom shall be considered an 
outlaw in the others. 

6. If negotiations are carried on with foreign lords or states, the king has 
the power to decide the matter with the advice of the Council of the kingdom 
in which he happens to be, or with a few councilors from each kingdom. 

7. All these articles should be kept as prescribed, and they should be so 
interpreted that they will be to the honor of God and the peace and well- 
being of the king and the realm. If any one acts contrary thereto, then shall 
all the three kingdoms aid the king and liis officials to remedy the wrong. 

8. Queen Margaret shall have and hold with full royal right all that which 
her father and her son granted her in Denmark, her dowry in Sweden and 
what the Swedes have given her, together with what her husband and her 
son have granted her in Norway. At her death the castles shall revert to 
the crown, but otherwise she may, through her testament, dispose of what 
she has. 

9. These articles shall be embodied in a document written on parchment, 
two copies for each kingdom, and to these shaU be affixed the seals of the 
king, the queen, the councilors of the kingdom, the lords, and the cities. 

This preliminary draft, written on paper, was to be signed by seven 
Swedes, six Danes, and four Norwegians ; but only ten seals appear on the 


the queen had failed to carry the chief points of the proposed plan 
she abandoned the whole of it, and preferred to rule without being 
bound by a document which gave the union no strength, and the 
sovereign no increased power ; but it is also possible that, since the 
four Norwegian seals are lacking in the original document, the 
Norwegian councilors refused to sign, owing to the clause which 
made the king elective. This would change Norway from an hered- 
itary to an elective kingdom, a serious step to which the Norwegian 
councilors would not wilHngly subscribe. A union had, neverthe- 
less, been effected through the election of a joint king for the three 
kingdoms. This was solemnly ratified at Kalmar by the coronation 
of Eirik as king of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, and the new 
relation of the three realms was also betokened by the use of the 
common seal. But the principle of elective kingship was retained, 
and each kingdom kept its full sovereignty and autonomy, its system 
of laws and administration. With the exception of the king no cen- 
tral government for the united kingdoms existed, and nothing was 
specified as to any duties which they owed each other as members 
of the union, except what was found in the unfinished draft of the 
points on which an agreement had been reached. As to the out- 
ward evidences of the compact entered into, the three realms could 
not have been united by more slender ties. But what Margaret had 
failed to do directly might in time be done indirectly, since the 
council had failed to adopt a constitution defining the relation of the 
kingdoms to each other, or limiting the power of the sovereign. The 
kingdoms had become associated under the same ruler; the ever 
present force of circumstances might do everything else that an 
ambitious and autocratic ruler might wish, since no written consti- 
tution existed to remind the people of the limit of his power, or of 
the extent of their own rights. Even a poor constitution could have 
been amended, and would have taught the people the art of consti- 
tutional government, but the magnates assembled at Kalmar, who 

document. Three Danish and all of the Norwegian seals are lacking. Palu- 
dan-Miiller, Observationes Criticae de Foedere inter Daniam, Sueciam et Nor- 
wegiam Auspiciis Margaretae Reginae Icto. T. H. Asehehoug, Statsforfatningen 
i Norge og Danmark indtil 1814, p. 174 ff. R. Keyser, Den norake Kirkes 
Hislorie under Katholidsmen, II., 441 ft. 


seem to have guarded so jealously against any encroachments on 
their own liberties, failed with almost childish fatuity to safeguard 
those hberties for the future. 

When King Eirik was eighteen years old, he was declared of age 
by a council assembled at Vadstena, Sweden, in 1400 ; but Margaret 
continued to reign until her death. In 1401 negotiations were 
begun with the queen and King Henry IV. of England regarding the 
marriage of King Eirik to Henry's daughter Philippa.^ As Henry 
IV. was seated none too securely on the Enghsh throne, besought 
to strengthen his position through foreign alliances and by the 
marriage of his children to members of the royal houses. He had 
watched with much interest the growing power of Queen Margaret, 
and the consummation of the union of the three Northern kingdoms 
seems to have made him desirous of gaining the friendship of this 
new power. After prolonged negotiations Philippa finally came to 
Denmark in 1406, and the marriage was solemnized at Lund, in 
Skane. The young king is described as a man of fine appearance. 
"He had yellow or golden hair, large eyes, blond complexion, and a 
broad white neck," writes Enea Silvio Piccolomini, the later Pope 
Pius II. ; and an account to the English Council of the conditions 
in the North, dated August 8, 1400, evidently written by Enghsh 
envoys, states that "the three kingdoms, which have now been 
united, enjoy a hitherto unknown peace, whereas before, while they 
remained separated, they suffered much from war and unbearable 
evils. The young king is highly loved by his subjects because of 
his charming and noble personality. " ^ The English envoys had 
evidently not discovered that the gallant young king very early 
showed signs of that rashness, ill-temper, and lack of good judgment 
which made his reign so inglorious a failure. 

A new era seemed now to have dawned for the Northern peoples, 
or, rather, a new era might have dawned, if the rulers who were 
guiding their destinies had possessed the necessary wisdom and 

^ L. Daae, Erik af Pommerns, Danmarks, Sveriges og Norges Konges, 
Giftermaal med Philippa, Prindsesse af England, Historisk Tidsskrift, anden 
raekke, vol. II., p. 332 ff. A. Fabricius, Minder fra Nordens Historic, Filippas 
Giftermaal med Erik af Pommeren. 

* Samlinger til del norske Folks Sprog og Hiatorie, III., p. 481. 


foresight. The union of three peoples, so closely related in language 
and nationality that no appreciable difference yet existed, augured 
well for the future. By combining their strength, which had hith- 
erto been wasted in wars and rivalries, the united Scandinavian king- 
doms might have risen into new prominence as one of the powers of 
Europe. Careful amalgamation would soon have obliterated the 
existing differences, as a friendly feeling already existed between the 
three peoples. Commercially their interests were identical, and a 
wisely conceived public policy would have sought means to strengthen 
the love for the union, and to stimulate the spirit of cooperation 
against foreign rivals, which would soon have welded the neighbors 
into one nation. But no such idea seems to have dawned even upon 
the keen-witted and practical Margaret; her worthless successors 
were wholly incapable of conceiving it.^ 

After the kingdoms had been united, and cordial relations had 
been reestablished with England through the marriage of Eirik and 
Philippa, the opportunity seemed to have come to revive the naval 
strength of the Scandinavian realms, to throw off the Hanseatic yoke, 
and to reestablish commercial relations with England. But Margaret 
attempted none of these things. No steps were taken even to 
strengthen the navy or the coast defenses, though the whole realm 
lay exposed to the attacks of the Victual Brothers, against whose 
ravages the queen had been so helpless that she had asked permission 
of King Richard II. of England to hire three ships at Lynn for the 
defense of the kingdom. The lack of means could scarcely be urged 
as a reason for this strange neglect, as the queen constantly increased 
her revenues, so that in a single year (1411) she could donate 26,000 
marks to various religious institutions. Her failure to utilize the new 
opportunities in the right way was rather due to her system of states- 
manship, which was wholly guided by dynastic and personal interests. 
It was of the general type of the statescraft of the Middle Ages, 
according to which the sovereign did not regard himself as the ser- 
vant of the state, but as its owner. The realm was his private 
property, and it was his main care to secure as much revenue as 
possible, and to defend his title to the crown. 

The thought of developing a united Scandinavian nation was as 
* A. Fabricius, Minder fra Nordena Historie, p. 61 £E. 


remote from the mind of Margaret as the idea of nationahty was 
foreign to the whole age. The possibility of amalgamation of the 
three peoples was precluded from the outset by the queen's effort to 
make Denmark the principal country in the union, and to reduce 
Norway and Sweden to the position of provinces. Danish eccle- 
siastics were appointed to the highest offices in the church in both 
countries, and swarms of Danish officials were sent, especially to 
Sweden, while no Norwegians or Swedes were appointed to office 
in Denmark. We have seen how this policy awakened the bitterest 
resentment in both countries. The Danes were soon looked upon 
as oppressors and enemies, and Margaret was unjustly described 
as cunning and greedy. A Swedish monk calls her the daughter of 
the "Wolf" {i.e. King Valdemar). "Albrecht," he continues, 
"levied heavy taxes, but Margaret made them still heavier. What 
he left, she took ; the peasant's horse, ox, and cow ; in short, all his 
possessions." Another contemporary annalist states that she was 
very covetous. "With incredible craft she made herself ruler of 
all the three kingdoms, which she reduced to almost nothing, and 
no one could resist her cunning." ^ These outbursts of indignation 
do not serve to enlighten us as to the real character of the queen, for 
it is evident that the statements of these annalists are as unjust as 
they are incorrect. In her dealings with her subjects, she was in 
no sense the daughter of the "Wolf," as she was not harsh or tyran- 
nical, but cautious and generous. Her varied activity as ruHng queen 
bears the marks of moderation and good-will, and not seldom of true 
womanly kind-heartedness. But she had created a system of admin- 
istration, the pernicious character of which she probably never fully 
knew or understood ; and it is with some justice that the queen, who 
originated the system, should be made directly responsible for its 
attendant evils, which could neither be controlled nor abated. In 
Sweden the spirit of rebellion again raised its head. The Norwegians 
were more tranquil, not because they were better satisfied, but be- 
cause the weak Norwegian nobility were less able to resist oppression, 
or to take the reins of government into their own hands. 

In Norway the administration had been strongly centralized by 
the able kings of Harald Haarfagre's line. But the success of such a 
* Icelandic Annals, edited by Storm, p. 290. 




system depended on the continual presence of the sovereign, and the 
close supervision by the central government ; but as this supervision 
ceased when the Kalmar union was established, Norway might al- 
most be said to be without a government. During the last fifteen 
years of her reign, Margaret visited the kingdom only twice, and 
King Eirik came to Norway only once after he became of age. When 
the drotsete, or regent, Agmund Finnsson, died, no successor was 
appointed to this most important office for several years, and the 

Fig. 1. — Queen Margaret. 

chancellor's office was also left vacant for some time after Henrik 
Henriksson's death. The Council was seldom assembled ; the 
country was ruled from Denmark, and the foreign officials, who 
were constantly increasing in numbers, could disregard the laws, 
and practice their extortions with impunity. The queen erred when 
she established such a system, but it was, perchance, an error of judg- 
ment, not one of heart. 

Queen Margaret died quite suddenly on board her ship in the 
neighborhood of Flensborg, October 28, 1412. She was buried at 
Sor0, but her remains were later transferred to the cathedral of Ros- 
kilde, where her beautiful sarcophagus still stands. Nothing is 
known as to her personal appearance. The marble figure on her 


tomb is a decoration, not a portrait ; as it seems to have been made 
to order by some foreign artist who probably never saw the queen. 
But the noble and majestic face makes us feel that thus she must 
have looked, this great queen who once ruled the whole Scandinavian 

9. King Eirik of Pomerania 

When King Eirik assumed the duties of ruling sovereign, circum- 
stances gave promise of a most successful reign. The newly estab- 
lished union was winning favor in all the three kingdoms, the revenues 
were large, and the people were well disposed towards the king, as 
they hoped that he would prove to be a wise and kind ruler. But 
these fair hopes were soon shattered by the worse than worthless 
Eirik. The only question which threatened to produce complica- 
tions at the beginning of his reign was that of the relation of Schles- 
wig to the crown of Denmark, but this molehill of difficulty grew in 
King Eirik's hands into a mountain of trouble. Queen Margaret 
had been obliged to cede this province to the counts of Holstein in 
1386, but at the time of her death she was on the point of regaining 
control of the duchy. An armed conflict had been precipitated; 
but the queen had concluded peace, though the question was still 
left unsettled. Eirik was opposed to the queen's cautious policy. 
He would drive out the Germans, who had migrated in large numbers 
into the duchy, and would unite it permanently with the kingdom of 
Denmark. He submitted the question to a council (danehof) assem- 
bled at Nyborg, 1413, and this assembly decided, that as the counts 
had been in arms against their sovereign, they had committed felony, 
and had forfeited their fief to the king. Schleswig was thus reunited 
with Denmark, but the counts would not abide by the decision of 
the council, and a long and expensive war was the result. Hostilities 
commenced in 1416. Eirik gained some success, and captured the 
city of Schleswig ; but he was unable to take the fortified strongholds 
of the duchy, and the situation became critical when the Hanseatic 
cities, because of the damage done their commerce, cut off all trade 
with the North, and threatened to join the Holsteiners in active war 
operations against the king. In 1424 the question was finally sub- 
mitted to the arbitration of the German emperor, Sigismund, who 


decided that the duchy of Schleswig belonged to the king. Eirik, 
who had gone to Hungary to visit the Emperor, was so pleased with 
what he considered the happy termination of the quarrel, that he 
journeyed to Jerusalem to offer thanks to God for the victory. But 
upon his return from Palestine in 1425, he still found Count Henry 
of Holstein in possession of the duchy of Schleswig, and when he 
attempted to enforce the decision of the Emperor, the war was 
renewed. The Hanseatic cities now joined the Holsteiners. Through- 
out the whole struggle the Victual Brothers had carried on their 
raids, not only through the connivance, but even upon direct invita- 
tion of the Holsteiners, and such damage had been done to commerce 
that conditions became unbearable. But the united forces of the 
allies suffered serious defeats. King Eirik gained a notable victory 
over their fleet in the Sound, 1427. Many of their ships ran aground, 
many were captured, and the commander, Tidemand Sten, fled with 
the remainder. The great Hanseatic merchant fleet, which arrived 
shortly after the battle on its northward voyage, was captured. 
In an attack on Flensborg Count Henry of Holstein lost his life, and 
a second Hanseatic fleet failed in its operations against Copenhagen 
the following year. In two campaigns the allies accomplished noth- 
ing. In 1425 King Eirik had seized the opportunity to levy a toll 
(^resundstolden) on every ship which passed through the Sound, and 
he might now have concluded peace on very favorable terms, but he 
stubbornly insisted on enforcing to the letter Emperor Sigismund's 
decision with regard to Schleswig. His subjects, especially in Norway 
and Sweden, were tired of this war from which they could derive noth- 
ing but harm. Few reenforcements were furnished, and the king 
was not able to continue the struggle successfully. Flensborg fell 
into the hands of the allies, and in 1432 he was at length forced to 
enter into peace negotiations, in which he abandoned his plan of 
enforcing the Emperor's decision against the counts of Holstein. 
The peace was concluded at Vordingborg, 1435. 

Colonial affairs were not wholly neglected by King Eirik, but the 
commerce with the Norwegian island possessions was, nevertheless, 
falHng into decay. In 1410 the last ship of which any definite record 
is preserved came from Greenland to Norway, and no further com- 
munications with those distant settlements seem to have been main- 


tained.^ Holberg says that after Queen Margaret's time the kings 
were so occupied that they had no time to think about old Green- 
land.^ The trade with the colonies continued to be a royal monopoly, 
and all foreign merchants were forbidden to trade with them, but 
after Norway's sea-power was broken, and the Hanseatic merchants 
gained control of the trade, the kings could no longer successfully 
defend even this last remnant of Norwegian commerce. In 1413 
King Eirik protested to King Henry V. of England against the oper- 
ations of foreign merchants in the Norwegian colonies. In 1431 
he again complained to Henry VI., that for twenty years the English 
had carried on unlawful trade with "Norway's lands and islands" 
(Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Shetland, the Orkneys, 
Haalogaland, and Finmarken), that they had plundered and burned, 
that they had carried away many ships with fish and other goods, 
and that many people had been slain.^ In Eirik's reign EngUsh 
merchants were beginning to gain control of the trade with Iceland.* 
This trade had always been of some importance, as the Icelanders 
imported grain and other staple articles, while they exported wool, 
sheepskins, sulphur, etc. At this time great cod-fisheries, which 

^ The Norwegian nobleman Didrik Pining, who was hirdstjdri in Iceland, 
and commandant of Vard0hus about 1490, was a bold sailor and buccaneer. 
According to an old Icelandic source, Pining and his companion Pothorst, 
about whom nothing is known, "carried on trade with Greenland," but this 
statement seems to be a mere conjecture. Very httle is known about Pining's 
operations in the Arctic waters. The humanist Olaus Magnus says that 
"Pining and Pothorst were excluded from all intercourse with humanity 
by the severe decrees of the kings of the North, and they were outlawed 
because of their violent robberies and many wicked deeds committed against 
all sailors, which they would seize both far and near." "They then sought 
refuge in the mountain Hvitserk, which lies between Iceland and Green- 
land," he continues. 

Ludvig Daae, Didrik Pining, Historisk Tidsskrift, anden rsekke, vol. III., 
p. 231 ff. Daae thinks that after peace was concluded between England 
and Denmark-Norway in 1490 in King Hans' reign, all prejang on English 
commerce by Danish and Norwegian sailors had to stop. But Pining seems 
to have continued his buccaneering activity ; and, as a result, he was out- 

^ Ludvig Holberg, Danmark's Riges Historie, II., 531. 

^ Gr^nlands historiske Mindesmerker, III., p. 160 ff. 

^ The Libell of Englishe Policye, p. 93 f., a little English work, written in 
1436, states that so many English ships had sailed to Iceland that the goods 
brought back did not pay the expenses. 


gave this trade increased importance, were also developed near the 
coasts of Iceland. The commerce with Iceland was carried on 
especially by the Norwegian colonists of Bristol, who in eariier times 
had controlled this trade. They now ventured to disregard the 
restrictions which the kings had placed on the trade with the Nor- 
wegian colonies, hence their trading expeditions often turned into 
piratical raids; but whether these were extended to Greenland, as 
indicated in Eirik's complaint, is doubtful. In 1432 King Eirik con- 
cluded a treaty with England, in which King Henry VI. agreed to 
pay the damages which English traders had done in the Norwegian 
colonies. The people who, during the last twenty years, had been 
carried away by force, wherever they were found in the kingdom of 
England, should receive pay for the services they had rendered, and 
should be allowed to return to their homes. The interdiction of 
trade in the Norwegian colonies was renewed, but after this prohi- 
bition had been repeated by Henry VI. in 1444, and by a treaty be- 
tween Henry VI. and King Christian I. in 1449, the trade with Ice- 
land was finally made free, on certain conditions, in 1490.^ 

King Eirik continued Margaret's administrative policy. Nor- 
way and Sweden were still ruled from Denmark, leading public oflSces 
were left vacant, the Council always met in Denmark whenever it 
was assembled, and as the councilors from the two other kingdoms 
had to make long and expensive journeys, few attended its meetings, 
and they could exercise but sUght influence, as the Danish members 
were always in the majority. Norwegian and Swedish aflPairs were 
left in the hands of the king and his Danish councilors, who were 
neither familiar with local circumstances, nor much interested in the 
affairs which they were called upon to settle. The increased burdens 
of taxation resulting from the wars, the interruption of commerce,^ 

^Fridtjof Nansen, Nord i Taakeheimen (In Northern Mists), p. 377 fif. 
Alexander Bugge, Nidaros's Handel og Skibsfart i Middelalderen, Festskrift 
udgivet i Anledning av Trondhjems 9000 Aars Jubiloeum 1897. 

* During the war the trade with the Hanseatic cities had ceased ; but 
King Eirik had encouraged the English merchants, who sought to revive 
the trade with Bergen, and also the merchants of the city of Bremen, who 
had left the Hanseatic League. Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. V., no. 
580. Ludvig Holberg, Bergens Beskrivelse, Copenhagen, 1750, p. 126 f. 
Norges gamle Love, anden rsekke, vol. I., p. 91. 



and the ravages of the Victual Brothers, from which both Norway and 
Sweden had suffered much, especially in 1428-1429, soon made Eirik 
hated in both countries. The great popularity of Queen Philippa 
had hitherto been a saving feature of his reign. To her the oppressed 
could turn with their complaints, and her great kindness had won 
the people's heart. During the king's absence in Palestine she had 
acted as regent, and she had shown the same energy and high cour- 
age which distinguished her brother. King Henry V. of England. 
But no child was born to the royal pair, and in 1430 the good queen 
suddenly died at Vadstena in Sweden at the age of thirty-seven. She 
had been King Eirik's wisest councilor, the only person who could 
shield him against the growing wrath of his oppressed subjects. Now 
he stood alone, shortsighted, violent, hated, and always stubborn. 
In vain the people now complained of their wrongs. Twice the 
Swedish nobleman, Engelbrecht Engelbrechtsson, was sent to Den- 
mark by the people of Dalarne to obtain relief from the oppression 
of the Danish fogeds ; his pleas fell upon the deaf ears of the short- 
sighted and obstinate king. Engelbrecht's return from his last 
unsuccessful mission became the signal for revolt. The peasants as- 
sembled at Vester^s, and chose him their leader, and soon all Sweden 
was in arms to throw off the Danish yoke. On August 16, 1434, the 
Swedish Council, compelled by Engelbrecht Engelbrechtsson, issued 
a document in which they renounced their allegiance to the king,^ 
but on the 24th of the same month the Norwegian Council gave notice 
that it found this step to be untimely and ill-advised, and asked the 
Swedish Council to reconsider its action, as it was contrary to the 
happy union of the three kingdoms. The king, it continued, had 
not erred from ill-will, but was ready to right all real wrongs.^ On 
the 12th of September the Swedish Council issued a second docu- 
ment, addressed to the Council and people of Norway, in which 
they stated forcibly and in detail the reasons for renouncing their 
allegiance to King Eirik, and asked the Norwegians to join them in 
resisting oppression.^ No better opportunity could have been offered 
the Norwegians to sever the unprofitable partnership with Denmark, 

- Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. V., no. 644. 

2 /bid. 

2 Ibid., no. 647. Norges gamle Love, anden raekke, vol. I., p. 142 f. 


but the invitation of the Swedish Council eHcited no response. In 
Norway the hereditary kingship, and the strength and stabihty of 
the central government had, in course of time, created a spirit of 
loyalty to the king, which had ripened into a well-established tradi- 
tion. The Swedes, who had elected and dethroned their kings in 
rapid succession, could start a new rebellion without much com- 
punction; to the Norwegians such a course seemed violent and 

But Engelbrecht Engelbrechtsson continued the war against the 
Danes with great success. In three months he drove out the Danish 
fogeds, and destroyed a number of their castles. King Eirik finally 
came to Stockholm with a fleet ; but as the city was closely hemmed 
in by Engelbrechtsson's forces, he found the situation hopeless, and 
agreed to submit the whole question to the arbitration of a com- 
mittee of four councilors from each kingdom. On a Rigsdag assem- 
bled at Arboga, 1435, Engelbrechtsson was chosen regent until an 
agreement should be made with the king, and at a council assembled at 
Stockholm, where also many Norwegian councilors were present, Eirik 
agreed to the terms submitted. He had to give assurance that he 
would rule in conformity with the laws, that the castles of the king- 
dom should be granted only to native lords, and that Sweden should 
have its own government, at the head of which should stand the 
drotsete and the marsk, two new officials. For the former office the 
Council chose Kristen Nilsson Vasa; for the latter the king ap- 
pointed Karl Knutsson Bonde. All might now have been well, but 
King Eirik soon violated the agreement, and war broke out anew. 
Engelbrechtsson fought a second campaign as successfully as the 
first, but on April 27, 1436, this great leader was assassinated by a 
personal enemy, and Karl Knutsson Bonde, a dashing young noble- 
man, more ambitious than gifted, assumed the management of the 

The Danish misrule, and the failure of the king to listen to the often 
repeated complaints of the people, finally produced an uprising also 
in Norway.^ The successful rebellion in Sweden, and the concessions 

^ In a letter of June, 1424, the hinder of Skaun complained to King Eirik 
of the foged Herman Molteke, whose oppressions they could no longer endure. 
They report that they have to leave their homes unless the king sends them 


which Eirik had been forced to make at the council of Stockholm, 
inspired some noblemen of the southeastern districts with the hope 
that they might be able to compel the king to redress their grievances. 
The revolt which took place in 1436 was led by Amund Sigurdsson 
Bolt, from Borgarsyssel, and five other noblemen from neighboring 
districts.^ A letter written by Engelbrechtsson, dated March 19, 
1436, shows that Amund Sigurdsson and his associates sought an 
alliance with Engelbrechtsson and the Hanseatic cities against King 
Eirik, and the uprising seems to have been organized shortly after the 
Norwegian councilors returned from Stockholm.^ Amund Sigurdsson 
marched to Oslo, and seized the fortified bishop's residence, but after 
an undecisive fight with the garrison of the city, led by Svarte-J0ns, 
the Danish commander of Akershus castle, the rebels withdrew. 
King Eirik, who was notified of the uprising, seems to have been 
alarmed, and full and complete pardon was offered the leaders if 
they would submit. An armistice was concluded June 23, 1436 ; ^ 
and a council was summoned to meet at Tunsberg to negotiate with 
the leaders of the uprising. Amund Sigurdsson and two other leaders 
met, together with twenty-six of their followers, and presented to the 
council the demand that the foreign lords and fogeds should be 
expelled from the country before the 29th of July. This condition 
was accepted, and peace was formally concluded between Amund 

another foged. Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. II., no. 680. Later they 
notify the king that they have driven Herman Molteke from their district. 
Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. II., no. 681 and no. 683. 

1 Gustav Storm, Om Amund Sigurdsson Bolt og Urolighederne i det 
sydlige Norge. Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie raekke, vol. II., p. 101 fif., IV., 
395 ff. L. Daae, Nye Studier til Opr^rsh^vdingen Amund Sigurdssons 
Historic. Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie raekke, vol. I., p. 488 ff. 

2 The letter reads in part : "Likewise the kingdom of Norway has written 
us and asks to enter into alliance with private Hanseatic cities and with 
the kingdom of Sweden. We did not know that the kingdom of Norway 
would join us when our messengers visited the cities ; and they {i.e. the 
Norwegians) have now joined us to be allied with Sweden, living or dead. 
We ask you that you give them yoiu* assistance, that they may enter into 
the same relations with the cities." As the Norwegian Council was still 
loyal to King Eirik, the term "kingdom of Norway" can only mean Amund 
Sigurdsson and his party. The letter, which is printed in Hanserecesse, 
part II., vol. I., p. 525, is quoted by L. Daae, Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie 
raekke, vol. I., p. 490. 

3 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. III., p. 525, no. 733. 

VOL. II — E 


Sigurdsson and the council.^ The stipulations of the agreement 
were carried out to the letter, it seems, as the Danish lords andfogeds 
were expelled from Norway in July, 1436. The uprising had been 
successful to some degree, but as it gained no general support, it 
became a local affair of no great national significance. Professor 
J. E. Sars says of it : 

" The Norwegian uprising corresponded in many ways to the 
Swedish. Like the latter, it was especially directed against foreign 
lords and fogeds, and, like it, it proceeded chiefly from the common 
people, while the nobles kept aloof, or assumed a hostile attitude, as 
they regarded the movement with fear and ill-will. . . . But as 
closely related as the two uprisings — the Norwegian and the Swedish 
— seem to be in regard to origin and early success, so different were 
they in regard to historic importance and political consequences. 
The Swedish developed into a truly national movement, and forms a 
new epoch in the nation's history; the Norwegian was a mere epi- 
sode without any permanent or important result. . . . The chief 
reason why the Norwegian movement died away without results while 
the Swedish continued to grow, and placed state and nation upon 
new paths of progress, was that Sweden had an ambitious aristocracy, 
while the aristocracy in Norway had long been on the decline both 
politically and otherwise." ^ 

In 1436 a council was assembled at Kalmar to bring about a new 
reconcihation between King Eirik and the Swedes, but the Norwegian 
councilors were not present, owing, no doubt, to the uprising at home. 
The Danish councilors supported the Swedes in their demands, and 
King Eirik had to promise to abide by a new settlement to be made 
at a meeting in Soderkoping, September 29th. At this council the 
three archbishops of the united kingdoms, and one councilor from 
each realm drew up a new act of union, the "Draft of 1436," which 
among other things provided for a government when the king did not 
reside in the kingdom ; but this draft never got beyond the embryo 

^ Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. II., no. 727; vol. VI., no. 465. The 
peace agreement accompanied by a proclamation of the council is dated 
Feb. 18, 1437. 

' J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historie, vol. III., p. 128 f. 


King Eirik, who had sailed to Gothland, did not return to Soder- 
koping to receive a new oath of allegiance from his subjects. After 
spending the winter in the island, he went to Prussia to raise a mili- 
tary force for the purpose of compelling the Danes to accept his 
cousin, Duke Bogislaus of Pomerania, as heir to the throne. In the 
fall of 1437 he returned to Denmark, but acted more arbitrarily than 
ever before. In June, 1438, the Swedes assembled a new council at 
Kalmar, and urged the king to be present, so that a final settlement 
could be made, but this invitation he disregarded, and sailed again 
to Gothland, where he now established himself permanently. When 
it became apparent that he would not return, the council of Kalmar 
made the agreement that he should still be regarded as king of the 
three realms, and that perfect friendship should exist between the 
kingdoms ; but the Swedes summoned him to appear at Mora Stenar 
to declare that he would respect the laws and liberties of the kingdom, 
or he would be deposed, and in October, 1438, Karl Knutsson Bonde 
was chosen regent. 

Disturbances again broke out both in Norway and Denmark. In 
Norway the men of Telemarken and B amble, led by Halvard Graa- 
top, marched against Oslo, but they were defeated and scattered by 
Svarte-J0ns, the commander of Akershus castle.^ In Denmark the 
peasants rose in rebellion against the nobility and clergy. The 
situation was so alarming that the Council invited King Eirik's 
nephew, Duke Christopher of Bavaria, and promised him the crowns 
of the three kingdoms, an assurance which was contrary both to the 
spirit and the letter of the act of union. In 1439 King Eirik was 
formally deposed both in Sweden and Denmark ; Christopher of Ba- 
varia was hailed as king of Denmark at the Viborgthing in 1440, 
and the following year he was also elected king of Sweden, and 
crowned at Stockholm, but only after he had made such concessions 
to the Swedish nobles that he became the mere shadow of a king. 
The revolution in Sweden, which had been set on foot by the common 
people, led by Engelbrecht Engelbrechtsson, had been carried to 
completion by the aristocracy under the leadership of Karl Knutsson 
Bonde. The strong royal power established by Queen Margaret had 

1 Gustav Storm, Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie rsekke, II., p. 119 ff. Ludvig 
Daae, Historisk Tidsskrift, f0rste rsekke, IV., p. 86. 


been shattered, and the monarchic union established at Kalmar had 
been replaced by an aristocratic union. The nobles of Sweden and 
Denmark had agreed that the two realms should remain united under 
a shadow king, while the nobility in both kingdoms retained all real 

In this important revolutionary movement Norway took no 
part, aside from the two local disturbances mentioned, although 
King Eirik had virtually ceased to rule the kingdom. "The reins 
had slipped from his hands here as elsewhere, but there was no one 
to seize them." Though Sweden and Denmark had deposed King 
Eirik, and had chosen Christopher of Bavaria as his successor, the 
Norwegian Council adhered to their old worthless sovereign with 
a loyalty which would have been pathetic, if it did not furnish evi- 
dence of lack of national self-consciousness and clear-sighted political 
leadership. Time and again the Council sent messages to Eirik in 
his voluntary retirement, assured him of the loyalty of the Norwegian 
people, and asked him to help them, but the eccentric old king did 
not even answer. The only evidence that he still regarded himself as 
king of Norway was a few appointments which he seems to have made 
to please the Norwegians. In 1438, before he established himself 
permanently in Gothland, he appointed two Norwegian nobles, Olav 
Buk and Olav Nilsson, commandants, respectively, of Akershus castle 
and Bergen ; and in 1439 he finally appointed a new drotsete, Sigurd 
Jonsson, and also a new chancellor, Gunnar Holk.^ When it finally 
became evident that Eirik had altogether ceased to rule, the Nor- 
wegian Council consented to elect King Christopher. In 1442 the 
Councils of the three kingdoms assembled at Lodose, where Christo- 
pher was chosen king of Norway, and he was shortly afterwards 
crowned in Oslo. 

In his retreat in Visborg castle in the island of Gothland, King 
Eirik was now left alone to muse over the strange vicissitudes of 
human affairs ; but his spirit was not of the kind that is chastened 
by misfortune. He turned pirate and robbed without discrimi- 
nation Hanseatic merchants and his former subjects. In his castle 
he defended himself stoutly against attacks, but prudence finally 
led him to cede Gothland to King Christian I., Christopher's succes- 
* Samlinger til del norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. IV., p. 545. 




sor, and to retire to Pomerania, where he died at the age of seventy- 

The internal conditions in Norway during Eirik's reign reveal an 
increasing decadence, which was further accelerated through the 
maladministration due to foreign rule. This is, perhaps, most dis- 
tinctly noticeable in the church, which up to the period of union had 
retained a distinctly national character. The prelates, as well as 
the lower clergy, were native-born, and as the king exercised great 
influence over the election of bishops, the state church principle was 

Fig. 2. — Viaborg Castle 

maintained in practice, however vigorously it might be assailed in 
theory. Both Sverre and Haakon Haakonsson had successfully 
defended the principle that the king was the head of the Church of 
Norway. The bishops, who were elected by the chapters of the 
dioceses, had to be presented to the king to receive his sanction 
before they were consecrated by the Pope. It is true that at the 
council of Tunsberg, 1277, King Magnus Lagab0ter renounced the 
right to influence the election of bishops; but this act was not 
sanctioned by the Norwegian magnates, and during succeeding 
reigns the bishops who resisted the king were driven into exile. 
During the fourteenth century the king does not seem to have in- 
terfered with the election of bishops, but he received the right to 


appoint the priests of the royal chapels. Thereby was created a new 
class of clergy, the "chapel priests," who were wholly dependent on 
the king, and, hence, loyally attached to him. From among these 
priests the king could select his chancellor and other secretaries, and 
when the Council of the Kingdom came into existence, the leaders 
of this clergy also received a seat in that body besides the bishops. 
The Provost of the Apostle church in Bergen was member of the 
Council as magister capellarum, and the office of chancellor should 
always be held by the Provost of the St. Mary's church in Oslo. In 
this way the national character of the Church of Norway had been 
maintained prior to the union. Especially after King Sverre's time 
the clergy were quite loyal to the sovereign. The sagas of the kings 
of Norway, and other great works in the national prose literature, 
were written by them ; they were not only the spiritual teachers, but 
also the spokesmen and leaders of their people. 

When the Kalmar union was established, the process of denationali- 
zation of the Norwegian Church took its beginning. The union kings 
maintained with renewed energy the state church principle, and 
sought to influence the election of bishops, not for the sake of main- 
taining the national independence of the Norwegian Church, but in 
order to strengthen their influence in the Council of the Kingdom. 
Their chief aim was to secure the election of Danish ecclesiastics, 
who would, naturally, be staunch supporters of the king and his 
policy. This practice was begun by Queen Margaret, who in 1381 
made the Dane, Nicholas Finkenov, Archbishop of Nidaros, although 
the Norwegian ecclesiastic, Haakon Ivarsson, had been unanimously 
chosen by the chapter.^ Nicholas did not attend to the duties of 
his archdiocese, but returned to Denmark, taking with him the books 
and treasures of the church. In a similar way, a Danish monk, 
Benedict, was chosen Bishop of Bergen (1371), and later another 
Dane, Jacob Knutsson, was chosen bishop of the same diocese 
(1400), but in 1407 he was^transferred to the diocese of Oslo. King 
Eirik pursued the same poHcy, and meddled in church affairs in a 
much more arbitrary way than the more discreet Queen Margaret. 

* Chr. Lange, Bidrag til Norges Historie under Unionen, Norsk Tidsskrift 
for Videnskab og Litteratur, vol. I., p. 217 ff. Islandske Annaler, edited by 
Storm, p. 285. 



When Aslak Bolt, the Bishop of Bergen, was chosen archbishop. 
King Eirik named as his successor the immoral and wholly unworthy 
Arne Clementsson, whom he later forced upon the Swedes as Arch- 
bishop of Upsala. It seems, however, that Arne was never conse- 
crated Bishop of Bergen, In 1422 the king secured the election of 
another Dane as Bishop of Oslo, and he also made him chancellor, 
though that oJfRce belonged to the Provost of the St. Mary's church. 
This was a most important office, as the chancellor was the keeper 
of the seal, which had to be affixed to every royal document to make 
it valid. The practice thus originated by Margaret and Eirik of 
Pomerania was continued by their successors, who often used their 
power very arbitrarily to secure the election of Danes. The clergy 
became more and more foreign in character,' and the church lost its 
distinct national traits ; it grew apart from the people, and ceased 
to be the nation's intellectual leader. 

A similar downward trend is noticeable in all departments of 
administration. Prior to the union the authority exercised by the 
king and the Council had articulated well with the local administra- 
tive authorities, by whom the behests of the central government could 
be efficiently carried out. After the union was established, this first 
principle of good government was destroyed, not only through the 
negligence and lack of insight of the sovereigns, but even purposely 
in order to strengthen the royal power. With undisguised efforts 
the union kings sought to gather all power into their own hands, and 
to rule by issuing royal decrees to be carried out by fogeds whom 
they themselves had appointed. The old system of local adminis- 
tration was suffered to fall into decay ; the principle of government 
by the people and for the people was disappearing. Henceforth the 
nation was to be ruled by a wise and divinely inspired landesvater, 
who was rising to the position of a sort of benevolent despot. In 
Sweden and Denmark this march towards absolutism was arrested 
by the revolution of 1434-1440; Norway was unable to profit by 
this opportunity. The weakness of the nobility, which made it 
possible for the king to exercise full control in Norway, was further 
augmented by the appointment of foreigners to the highest positions 
of trust and honor both in church and state. Thereby the leading 
Norwegians were gradually excluded from public life, and forced 


into inactivity and obscurity, while the government, which became 
wholly extraneous to the people, grew paternal and despotic. From 
the beginning of the union both the sovereign and the Danish Council 
sought to increase their power and influence in Norway. The oflBces 
of the kingdom were treated as a royal possession, and donated at 
will to Danish nobles and courtiers, while no Norwegians were ap- 
pointed to office in Denmark. In 1415 the German Hans Kropelin 
had been made foged, or commandant, of Bohus, and Baltazar van 
Dem had received S0ndhordland as a fief. In 1424 Tideke Rust 
was commandant of Akershus, and later Svarte-J0ns was appointed 
to the same position. John Ummereise and Henrik Schacht, though 
they were foreigners, were made members of the Norwegian Council. 
From whatever side we view conditions in Norway, it becomes evi- 
dent that the Danes were gaining the ascendancy. Many Danish 
nobles and courtiers flocked to Norway, and married Norwegian 
heiresses.^ In this way they became the owners of rich estates, and 
as royal favors were always accorded them whenever an opportunity 
presented itself, these dashing foreigners with wealth and titles soon 
elbowed their way to the foremost positions in the land. As illus- 
trations of this kind of fortune seekers may be mentioned Diderich 
Wistenakker, who received as a fief the whole of Telemarken,'"and 
Hartvig Krumedike, who in the reign of Christian I. became the 
richest man in Norway. 

10. An Embryo Democracy 

The sources dealing with social conditions in this period are very 
meager, but an important document has, however, been left us by 
the Italian sea-captain Pietro Quirini, who wrote an account of the 
life and customs of the common people of the seacoast districts of 
northern Norway as he found them in 1432, Quirini was ship- 
wrecked in the North Sea on a voyage to Flanders, and with a few 
surviving companions he finally reached the islands off the north 
coast of Norway in a boat. They landed on the uninhabited island 
of Santi (Sand0), where they suffered much from hunger and cold ; 
but some men who came to the island to look after their sheep found 
the shipwrecked men, and they were brought to the island of R0st 
1 Samlinger til det norake Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. III., p. 608. 


where they spent the winter.^ Quirini says that R0st was only 
three (ItaHan) miles in circumference, and had 126 inhabitants, who 
supported themselves by fishing, as no fruit or grain grew there. 
They caught a great deal of codfish, which they salted and dried in 
the sun. This they prepared for the table by pounding it until it 
became tender, whereupon they mixed it with butter and spices, 
which made it very palatable. They also had milk and beef, and by 
mixing meal into the milk they made a dough from which cakes were 
baked. Usually they drank sour milk, which the strangers did not 
find to their taste, but they also had beer. Their houses were round, 
wooden structures with an opening in the roof through which light 
was admitted, and in winter the opening was covered with a trans- 
lucent membrane. Their clothes were mostly of coarse London 
cloth, but not of skin. The author speaks also of the vast number of 
wild birds, especially wild geese, which were so tame that they 
would make their nests close to the houses, so that when the people 
wanted eggs, they lifted the birds off the nests, and took as many 
as they needed, but otherwise they left the birds undisturbed. Their 
wealth, he says, consists, not in money, but in fish, two kinds of which 
were especially important; namely, halibut and codfish. In the 
month of May when the codfish is dry, they load it on ships, and sail 
with it to Bergen, which is an important trading center. Thither 
come ships laden with articles of food and clothing from Germany, 
England, Scotland, and Prussia, and these goods, such as leather, 
iron, cloth, and various articles of food, the inhabitants of R0st receive 
in exchange for their fish. The people, both men and women, he 
says, are well-built and good-looking, and they live together in the 
greatest innocence and brotherly love, and usually help one another 
without any thought of profit. They are good Christians; they 

^ R0st is a small island between 67° and 68° N. L. Quirini's account is 
found in Italian in Ramusio's Racolte della Navigationi, torn. II., and in 
German in J. R. Forster's Geschichte der Entdeckungen im Norden, p. 251 ff. 
Gustav Storm, Venetianerne paa R^st i 1432, Det norske Geografiske Selskabs 
Aarbog, VIII., p. 37 ff. 

Accounts of their stay in Norway were also written by two of Quirini's 
companions, Christopher Fioravante and Nicholaus Michele. Sch0ning, 
Det norske Videnskabers-Selskabs Skrifter, vol. II., p. 95 ff. Rasmus Nyerup, 
Historisk-statistisk Skildring af Tilstanden i Danmark og Norge i celdre og 
nyere Tider, vol. I., p. 303 ff. 0. A. Qverland Norges Historic, vol. V., p. 83 ff. 


attend church regularly, and keep the fast-days ; they never use 
profanity or mention the name of the devil ; they are so honest that 
they take no care to hide their property behind locks and bars, but 
leave all doors and drawers unlocked ; neither do they fear that their 
sons and daughters shall transgress against virtue. All of them, 
young and old, lead such virtuous lives, and live in such perfect 
obedience to the moral law that they do not know what incontinence 
is. They marry only to fulfill the commandment of God, and not 
from carnal appetite, which can get no power over them because of 
the cold air and the cold country in which they live. When their 
father, mother, husband, wife, children, or other near relatives die, 
they go to church and praise God because he suffered the deceased 
to dwell so long among them ; and neither in word nor deed do they 
betray any sorrow or sadness any more than if the dead were only 
sleeping. When a woman's husband dies, the widow makes a great 
feast for all the neighbors on the day of the funeral. They are then 
attired in their best clothes, and the widow encourages the guests to 
eat and drink heartily, and to be of good cheer in memory of her 
husband's departure into eternal rest and peace. 

In the month of May the people of R0st began to prepare for their 
yearly trip to Bergen, whither the strangers were to accompany 
them. A few days before their departure a noble lady, the wife of 
the governor of the district, who had heard that some strangers were 
staying on the island, dispatched her chaplain to Quirini and his 
companions with a present consisting of sixty dried codfish, three 
loaves of rye bread, and a cake. She also sent her greetings, saying 
that as she had learned that the people of R0st had not showed so 
great a hospitality as they should have done, they should report to her 
any wrong which they might have suffered, and full restitution 
would be made them. The inhabitants of R0st were also instructed 
to show the strangers the greatest courtesy and hospitality, and to 
bring them along to Bergen. Quirini and his men expressed their 
heartfelt gratitude to the lady for her kindness. They testified to 
the people's innocence of any wrongdoing, and praised them most 
highly for their great hospitality. Quirini sent the lady a pater- 
noster chain of amber as a present, and asked her to pray for their 
happy return to their own country. 


On the 14th of May they set sail for Bergen, and on the way they 
met Archbishop Aslak Bolt, who was making a tour of inspection 
in his diocese. When he heard the tale of the strangers, he was filled 
with compassion and gave them a letter of recommendation to the 
people of Nidaros (Trondhjem), where they were received with the 
greatest kindness. On Ascension day they attended mass in the 
great cathedral, and they were afterwards invited by the sysselmand 
to a banquet, where they were well entertained. After a ten days' 
visit in the city, they began their journey overland to Stegeborg in 
Ostergotland, Sweden, where an Italian, Giovanni Franco (called in 
Swedish John Valen), was commandant. Quirini gave the syssel- 
mand some small trinkets which he still had in his possession, and 
the sysselmand gave him in return a pair of boots with spurs, a little 
ax with the picture of St. Olav, a saddle, a hat, four Rhenish gulden, 
and a sack of provisions. The archbishop had given the people 
instructions to supply Quirini with a horse, and the sysselmand gave 
him two more. Thus provided, they started on their journey, accom- 
panied by a guide, and they traveled eastward for fifty-three days. 

The kingdom was thinly settled, says the author, and they often 
came to houses where the people lay sleeping, as it was nighttime, 
though the sun was shining. The guide, who knew the custom of 
the country, entered without knocking at the door, and they found 
the table decked, and chairs around it. There were also fur ticks 
filled with down or feathers to sleep on. Everything was open, so 
that they could eat what there was, and lie down to sleep ; and it 
often happened that the man of the house came and found them 
sleeping, and when the guide told them where they were from, and 
who they were, he became astonished and gave them food without 
pay, so that the twelve men with three horses did not spend more 
than the four Rhenish gulden, though they traveled for fifty-three 
days. On their way they found huge mountains and deep valleys, 
where they saw great numbers of animals which resembled roebucks, 
swarms of snow-white birds of the size of heath-cocks, and partridges 
and pheasants as large as geese. Other birds, as hawks and falcons, 
were all white, due to the very cold climate of the country. They 
had also seen in the St. Olai church a white-bear skin about fifteen 
feet long. 


In Stegeborg they were well received by their countryman Giovanni 
Franco. He sent them to Lodose, whence they went to England, 
and they finally returned to Italy in safety. 

Captain Quirini's account of the life and customs in these remote 
seacoast settlements is the more interesting since we still find in 
the country districts of Norway the same generous hospitality, the 
mutual helpfulness, the unsuspecting honesty, and with no great 
modifications, also the customs which he describes. The traits 
which attracted the captain's attention were not limited to a single 
locality or period of time, but are general characteristics of the Nor- 
wegian people in all ages. These traits bespeak a people leading a 
healthy rustic life, free from oppression or class struggles; whose 
simple virtues have been reduced to time-honored customs, the 
origin of which is hidden in a remote antiquity. Norway's com- 
merce and sea-power had fallen into decay, her national greatness 
had suffered a total eclipse, and even her political independence was 
being gradually sacrificed in the interest of an unprofitable union 
with Denmark; but the social and economic life of the people in its 
local environment was left almost untouched by these changes, and 
retained its former health and vigor. The growing weakness and 
inefficiency of the public regime, to which the rapid deterioration of 
the military and national power of Norway must be ascribed, reflects 
in no way any inner social decay. 

Nowhere did the people govern themselves in national matters 
in this period. The central government was either vested in a king 
and his advisers, as in Norway, or in an aristocracy, as in Sweden 
and Denmark. If this government was unwarlike and inactive, the 
state was weak, though the people might be relatively prosperous 
and well content. If the government was aggressive, and maintained 
an efficient military organization, the state was strong, as people at 
that time counted strength. Great wars could be fought, castles 
and palaces could be built, the nobles could display a dazzHng pomp, 
and the national greatness was commensurate with their number 
and power; but with the development of this intense military 
activity followed in the Middle Ages the feudalization of society, by 
which the people were deprived, not only of their local autonomy, 
but of their personal freedom. They were gradually reduced to 


serfdom, and forced to shoulder intolerable burdens, which left them 
in hopeless poverty and intellectual apathy. In Denmark, where 
the aristocracy was strong, the nobles owned two-fifths of all the land 
besides their large family estates. Serfdom and socage were intro- 
duced, and the binder were reduced to a most wretched condition.^ 
The nobles who devoted themselves to military exploits could place 
in the field well-drilled armies of mailed horsemen, capable of waging 
successful campaigns even beyond the borders of the kingdom ; but the 
burdens fell upon the unfree tillers of the soil, who were wholly at 
the mercy of their feudal masters. This kind of national greatness, 
though it produced a rather showy intellectual activity among the 
upper classes, and a few heroic and interesting personalities, was 
unquestionably attended with social retrogression and growing 
internal decay. The people's strength was gradually sapped, society 
was stratified into hostile classes, and difficult social problems were 
created which had to be solved before the life of the nation could 
be lifted to a higher plane. It is quite evident that national strength 
in the feudal, medieval sense must not be confounded with national 
progress, and it follows that national weakness, taken in the same 
sense, need not be associated with economic and social decay. In 
Norway the aristocracy had been almost destroyed by the king, 
and when the royal family died out, a vigorous government, which 
was tantamount to a strong Norway, was impossible. The people 
seem to have had no regrets. They welcomed cheerfully a Swedish 
or a Danish king, if he would not violate their laws, or infringe on 
their local autonomy. They had lost their kings and their nobility, 
which might have maintained their national greatness, but they 
had also been relieved of the classes which could oppress them and 
reduce them to serfdom, and Norway thereby escaped the evils of 

^The old historian Peder Friedrich Suhm says: "The great lords, clergy 
as weU as others, oppressed here as elsewhere the poor, who thereby were 
brought to despair, so that they frequently revolted. But in Norway this 
occurred much more seldom than in Denmark, because the lords were not 
so numerous there, and their estates were smaller, hence they demanded 
less service." Samlede Skrifter, VIII., p. 361. 

"Agriculture was declining, and likewise the population. The continual 
strife between the nobility and the common people was the cause of this." 
Samlede Skrifter, Vol. VIII., p. 359. 


the feudal system. The union government, which was exercised at 
a distance, was paternal and inefficient rather than oppressive, 
and although greedy fogeds might commit individual acts of injustice, 
they lacked the power, if they did possess the will, to oppress the 
whole people. Cut off from international conflicts, with the excep- 
tion of the wars forced upon them through their union with Den- 
mark, the Norwegians were left to themselves to lead an uneventful 
rustic life among their own fjords and mountains, where they pre- 
served their own laws, local institutions, love of freedom, and robust 
spirit of independence. With the disappearance of the court and 
the nobility a leveling of social conditions followed which gradually 
obhterated the old class distinctions, and consohdated the people 
into a hardy, plain-spoken yeomanry. In their homes around the 
fjords and in the mountain valleys, the Norwegians were as much 
their own lords in the period of union as they had been in the Viking 
Age ; and their irrepressible love of freedom was often whetted into 
violent resistance to oppression, and jealous hatred and distrust of 
the new upper class of Danish priests and officials which sprang into 
existence in the period of union with Denmark. Whatever the Nor- 
wegians might have lost through the disappearance of military power 
and national prestige, the unimpaired manhood and womanhood of 
the people, than which nothing is better worth preserving, remained 
to five and grow in a free and healthy domestic environment. It is 
true that the spirit of the nation no longer found expression in great 
achievements, but whenever opportunity was offered, it manifested 
itself in a way which created respect and admiration. We see it in 
the great naval heroes Kort Adelaer and Peter Tordenskjold, and in 
the great respect which the Norwegian soldiers always enjoyed in 
Denmark. The Danish kings in the union period surrounded them- 
selves with a Norwegian bodyguard, and the Danish naval forces 
were largely recruited in Norway. Molesworth says : " The best 
seamen of the King of Denmark are the Norwegians." ^ The rather 
bombastic patriotic songs of a later period praising the bravery, 
fidelity, and intense love of liberty of the Norwegians need not be 

^ Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark as It Was in the Year 1692, 
London, 1694, p. 130. Molesworth was an Englisli writer and diplomat. 
Anathon Aal, Henrik Ibsen als Dichter und Denker, Halle, 1906, p. 41 flf. 


taken literally, but we would wholly misunderstand them if we failed 
to recognize that they express in an almost stereotyped and conven- 
tional wa}^ a well-established general opinion. Anathon Aal says : 
" The people were always free, the binder (yeomanry) much more so 
than elsewhere in Europe, but they lacked poUtical leaders who 
could maintain the national principle." This was a loss, but it was 
also a gain. When the aristocracy and the national kingship dis- 
appeared, the defense of their rights and liberties, and the future 
destiny of the nation was placed for the first time in the people's 
own hands. Those who ruled and those who led were gone; the 
people had to rely upon themselves. However this may be inter- 
preted, it was a social revolution which necessarily marks the begin- 
ning of a new era in the people's social and political development. 
The yeoman class grew strong and numerous. They loved their old 
freedom, they cherished their rights, they were united by common 
customs and the equality of economic and social conditions. They 
lacked the means as well as the ability to seek the glory of military 
exploits or international poHtics, but they learned to act together 
in resisting encroachments, and in managing their own domestic 
affairs. They were not only freer than the people elsewhere, but 
they were also more independent economically. We have seen that 
natural conditions, especially the small and scattered areas of tillable 
soil, had hindered the growth of a feudal aristocracy in Norway. 
Few castles were built, and a fairly equitable distribution of land 
was maintained by the law of odel, which safeguarded the binder in 
the possession of their land. The absence of feudal lords, and the 
division of the land among the binder, who owned and tilled their 
own little farms, made the large class of freeholders economically 
independent, and gave Norwegian society a distinctive democratic 
character.^ Because they were left without such an aristocratic 
upper class, they also developed a love for independent action, and 
a spirited self-reliance which forms the theme of the patriotic national 
songs, and which won the admiration of the Danes in the union period. 
This was not national greatness, but it can safely be called social 
progress. The only trouble was that this development in Norway 
came in an age which was not yet able to profit by democratic con- 
^ See Bj0rnstjerne Bj0rnson's poem, "Norge, Norge." 


ditions, and make them a new force in national development. But 
although centuries were yet to pass before this life, under unfavor- 
able political circumstances, ripened into a new self-conscious nation- 
alism, we find in the Norwegian people after the completion of this 
great social and political change the future Norwegian democracy 
in embryo. We see nursed in the quiet the social conditions and the 
traits of character which so quickly placed Norway in the front rank 
of political and social democracies when the great awakening finally 

11. King Christopher 

When Christopher of Bavaria finally succeeded King Eirik of 
Pomerania on the thrones of the Northern kingdoms, the three 
realms were again united under a common king, but the idea of unit- 
ing them into a single Danish kingdom under the personal rule of the 
king, which had been Queen Margaret's plan, was now abandoned. 
Separate administration for each kingdom was emphasized, and the 
only frail strand of the union idea yet remaining was that of a com- 
mon sovereign, who under the new arrangement had but limited 
power. In Sweden and Denmark the nobility forced Christopher 
to subscribe to charters which greatly reduced his power and 
strengthened the influence of the Council. Sweden secured full 
autonomy. The kingdom should be left in full enjoyment of its 
laws, liberties, privileges, and ancient customs; the taxes collected 
should be used in the kingdom, the king should have only Swedish 
councilors and courtiers, the castles of the kingdom should be given 
to Swedes, and upon the king's death they should be turned over 
to a committee consisting of six of the leading men of the realm. In 
Norway no specific agreement was signed, but the king never visited 
the country after his coronation. The administration was left in 
the hands of the Council, which now acted with greater authority 
than it had ever done since the union was first established in 1397. 
Fortunately, King Christopher seems to have coveted peace and 
comfort rather than power. He is described as short and stout, 
merry, and good-natured, and he evidently sought to rule in full 
harmony with the conditions to which he had subscribed. But for 
all his good intentions, he was not popular in Sweden, where the 



powerful Karl Knutsson Bonde coveted the throne. It had become 
a fixed belief among the common people that Karl Knutsson would 
become king. An old clairvoyant woman had told him so, and a 
little girl had seen a crown settle on his head while he was sitting in 
church. The taxes were unjust, it was claimed, and the hard times 
due to crop failure caused great dissatisfaction. The people said 
that the grain was fed to the king's horses, while they had to make 
bread of bark, and they nicknamed him Christopher Barkking. In 
Norway there was also great unrest, especially in the southeastern 
districts. The people rose against their fogeds, and in Gudbransdal 
Bengt Harniktsson Gyldenl0ve, a member of the Council, was slain. 
The Hanseatic League still controlled Norwegian commerce, and 
the Hanseatic factory at Bergen enjoyed at this time its greatest 
prosperity and power. Its members treated the native population 
and even the city government with unbearable arrogance, and law- 
lessness and licentiousness passed all bounds, but the local authorities 
were unable to enforce the laws. The members of the Hansa had 
even entered the town hall, sword in hand, and had forcibly ejected 
the city council.^ In 1444 the Council of the kingdom met in Ber- 
gen to discuss the situation. The opinion prevailed that the German 
merchants should no longer be tolerated as a state within the state, 
that their privileges should be reduced to what they had been in the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.^ Some of the councilors went 
to Copenhagen, and placed this proposition before the king, who 
sanctioned it in a royal rescript of 1444 relative to the trade of 
foreign merchants in Bergen. Nothing was gained, however. In 
1447 the king granted the most unrestricted privileges to the Rostock 
merchants to trade in the city of Oslo and Tunsberg in southern 
Norway, while in Bergen the commandant, Olav Nilsson, the 
leader of the opposition to the Hanseatic merchants, struggled with 
determination, but under great difficulties, to enforce the new regu- 
lations. A most critical situation had been created when King 
Christopher suddenly died in 1448.^ 

^ Yngvar Nielsen, Bergen, p. 257. Diplomatarium Norwegicum, I., no. 801. 

'^ Bergens Fundats, written about 1580 ; published by N. Nicolaysen in 
Norske Magasin, I. Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. VIT., no. 417. 

^ The Hanseatic merchants resented the attempt to restrict their privileges. 
In 1447 they issued a document in which they accused Olav Nilsson of the 

VOL. II — F 


In Trondhjem the Hanseatic merchants had gained no foothold, 
as they were forbidden to trade north of Bergen. Trondhjem had 
always been the chief center of trade with the Norwegian colonies, 
especially with Iceland, but this trade declined with the decay of 
Norwegian commerce and sea-power, and in the later Middle Ages 
almost nothing is known of the city's commercial activity.^ The 
Hanseatic supremacy resulted, very naturally, in a stagnation of the 
Norwegian cities, as the native merchants were driven out of busi- 
ness, and the population could not grow while the trade was in the 
hands of unmarried foreigners, who were strictly confined within 
the precincts of the factory, cut off from all social intercourse with 
the townspeople. The attempt of Olav Nilsson and the Norwegian 
Council to assert Norway's sovereign authority over these foreigners 
was a move in the right direction, but their zeal was greater than 
their strength, and the effort ended in dismal failure. 

12. Christian I. of Denmark and Karl Knutsson op Sweden 

As Ejng Christopher left no children, the question arose who should 
be chosen his successor, if the union were to be maintained. Den- 
mark favored the union because it was considered to be the leading 
kingdom. In the late reigns the candidates for the throne had been 
selected by the Danish Council, and the kings, who resided for the 
most part in Denmark, had sought to give that kingdom great pre- 
ponderance in the union. This time the Danes selected Christian of 
Oldenburg, another German, as their candidate, but this created 
great ill-will among the Swedes, who claimed that the Danes had 
broken the union agreement by constantly selecting the royal candi- 
dates without conferring with the other kingdoms. A small party 
in Sweden were favorably disposed towards the union, but many 
Swedish nobles coveted the throne. In Norway some were in favor 

most arbitrary and unlawful procedure. The document is published by 
Professor Yngvar Nielsen in the Christiania Videnskabs-Selskabs Forhand- 
linger, 1877 and 1878. See also Yngvar Nielsen, Af Norges Historie, 
p. 110 S. Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. XVI., no. 160. 

1 Alexander Bugge, Nidaros's Handel og Skibsfart i Middelalderen, Fest- 
skrift udgivet i Anledning af Trondhjems 900 Aars Jubiloium, 1897, Trondhjem, 
1897. Alexander Bugge, Studier over de norske Byers Selvstyre og Handel, 
p. 131 S. Norges gamle Love, anden rsekke, vol. I., p. 116 S. 


of placing the native-born Sigurd Jonsson on the throne, but the 
majority were ready to abide by the choice made by the other king- 
doms. In the meanwhile Karl Knutsson had matured his plans. 
On May 23, 1448, he entered Stockholm with 800 armed men. A 
mild spring rain was falling, and this was interpreted by the common 
people as an auspicious omen; the great noble was the man of the 
hour. On June 20 he was elected king of Sweden, and he was soon 
after crowned at Upsala. The Danes were quite surprised to learn 
that the union had been dissolved, but they nevertheless chose their 
own candidate. Christian of Oldenburg, king of Denmark. 

In Norway great indecision prevailed. Sigurd Jonsson, the richest 
noble in the kingdom, had been chosen regent, but he would not be 
a candidate for the throne, though he descended from King Haakon 
V. The Council was divided into a Danish and a Swedish party. 
Archbishop Aslak Bolt and many of the councilors favored a union 
with Sweden, but Bishop Jens of Oslo, and the powerful baron Hart- 
vig Krumedike, both of Danish birth, were eager to maintain a union 
with Denmark. They even went to Denmark as representatives of 
their party, and acknowledged Christian of Oldenburg king of Nor- 
way. But Archbishop Aslak Bolt with the Swedish party met at 
Bohus in February, 1449, and chose Karl Knutsson of Sweden,^ 

In the meantime Bishop Jens of Oslo and Hartvig Krumedike had 
returned from Denmark with an armed force, and the Council was 
summoned to meet at Oslo. None of the Swedish party would meet 
under these circumstances, except Archbishop Aslak Bolt, who 
happened to be in the city. At this meeting June 3, 1449, the Danish 
party chose Christian of Oldenburg king of Norway, and at a second 
meeting at Marstrand in July King Christian granted the Norwe- 
gians a charter with the following main stipulations : 

1. The Norwegian people should retain their laws and liberties, 
and the Church of Norway its rights and privileges. 

2. No foreigners should receive fiefs in the kingdom, nor should 
they be members of the Council, excepting those who already resided 
in Norway, or those who in the future should acquire the right of 
citizenship through marriage within the kingdom. 

* Ludvig Daae, En Kr^nike om Erkebiskopperne i Nidaros, Festskrift 
udgivet i Anledning aj Trondhjems 900 Aars Jubilceum, 1897, p. 158 ff. 


3. No important matter touching Norway should be decided 
except with the advice of the Norwegian Council. 

4. Norway should henceforth be a free elective kingdom. 

5. The king should visit the kingdom every three years. 

6. The trade between Norway and Denmark should be free from 

7. Only in cases of emergency could the Norwegian Council be 
summoned to meet in Denmark, and its stay there should be as short 
as possible.^ 

The Swedish party would not recede from their position, as they 
resented the use of force by the leaders of the Danish party. In the 
fall of 1449 Karl Knutsson came to Hamar, where he was pro- 
claimed king of Norway. On November 20th, he was crowned in 
Trondhjem by Archbishop Aslak Bolt, after giving a charter in which 
he granted the prelates and the cathedral many privileges. ^ Fifteen 
Norwegian nobles were knighted, and the king even sanctioned the 
Tunsberg concordat of 1277 to please the archbishop. While affairs 
remained thus unsettled, Aslak Bolt died in 1450, and Olav Thronds- 
son was chosen to succeed him as Archbishop of Nidaros. 

After his coronation Karl Knutsson returned to Sweden, but 
shortly after New Year, 1450, he came to southern Norway with an 
army, and tried to seize Oslo, which was held by Christian's chief 
adherent, Hartvig Krumedike.' He was unable, however, to take 
Akershus castle, and an armistice was concluded until a council 
could be assembled at Halmstad, where all disputes should be settled.* 
When the Swedish and Danish councilors assembled in that city. 
May 1, 1450, the Swedish councilors sided with the Danes, and a 
treaty was concluded by which it was agreed that Karl Knutsson 
should surrender Norway to King Christian of Denmark ; ^ that 

1 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. VIII., no. 345. Arild Huitfeldt, 
Danmarks Riges Kr^nike, II., p. 845 ff. 

* Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. VI., no. 530 ; vol. V., no. 762. 

» Ibid., vol. X., no. 201 ; vol. IX., no. 308. Eirik Salmundsson, who had 
been made regent in Norway by King Karl Knutsson, labored hard to 
overcome the resistance of the Danish party in southern Norway. 

* Ibid., vol. v., no. 765. 

^ Ibid., vol. III., no. 809; vol. VIII., no. 340. This promise was later 
ratified by King Karl. See Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. III., no. 809, 
no. 810. 


when one of the kings died, the one surviving should be king of both 
realms, or a regency might be established, and the choice of a king 
postponed until both the kings were dead, when twelve Swedish and 
twelve Danish councilors should meet at Halmstad, and choose a 
king for both realms, who should be either a Dane or a Swede. About 
Norway it was stated, as a sort of afterthought, that " when it shall 
please God to unite again the three realms under one king, if it shall 
please the Norwegian Council and people to remain in the union, 
they shall enjoy with us, and we with them, all liberty and inter- 
course as stated." That Norway would remain in the union under 
all circumstances was, of course, taken for granted by the worthy 
nobles who directed the political affairs of the kingdoms. 

Christian I. was crowned in Denmark October 28, 1449, and on 
the same day he was married to the eighteen-year-old widow of King 
Christopher, Dorothea of Brandenburg. The following year he 
arrived in Norway, and the Hanseatic merchants of Bergen, who 
received the young king with great pomp, gave him an escort of 300 
men and five ships to accompany him to Trondhjem. After the 
Council had formally declared the election of Karl Knutsson to be 
null and void,^ King Christian was crowned in that city with elaborate 
ceremonies August 2, 1450. 

A new act of union drawn up in Bergen, dated August 29, 1450, 
specified the terms on which the two kingdoms should henceforth 
remain united. After a rather elaborate introduction the document 
goes on to say : 

"We have now with our gracious lord and high-born prince, the 
said King Christian's counsel, will, and consent formed a firm, per- 
petual, and unbreakable union between the said kingdoms of Den- 
mark and Norway, for us and many of our brethren, the Archbishop 
of Lund, bishops, prelates, knights and squires, the councils and in- 
habitants of both kingdoms, both those who now live, and those who 
will be born hereafter, both born and unborn, with such preface and 
conditions that both kingdoms, Denmark and Norway, shall hence- 
forward remain united in brotherly love and friendship, and one shall 
not lord it over the other, but each kingdom is to be ruled by native- 
born magistrates, as shown by the privileges of both kingdoms ; in 
1 Ibid., vol. VIII., no. 342. 


such wise that each kingdom enjoys, keeps, and uses freely its written 
laws, freedom and privileges, old and new, which they now have, or 
hereafter may receive, and that both kingdoms, Denmark and Nor- 
way, shall henceforth remain under one king and lord forevermore. 
And the Council of each kingdom, and its inhabitants, shall aid and 
assist the Council and inhabitants of the other. And one kingdom 
and its people shall give the other aid and consolation as the need 
may be. But neither kingdom shall make war without obtaining 
the consent of the Council of the other. But the kingdom which 
asks for assistance shall supply provisions and means of sustenance, 
and the king shall guarantee against loss. And when it shall please 
God to let so sad a thing happen that the king dies, then shall the 
kingdom in which the king dies at once invite the Council of the 
other kingdom, that the Councils of both may speedily assemble at 
Halmstad according to the stipulations in the earlier agreement regard- 
ing this place. If the king then has one legitimate son or more, 
then the Councils shall choose the one to be king whom they consider 
to be the best qualified, and the others shall be properly provided for 
in both kingdoms. But if such an unfortunate circumstance should 
occur, which God forbid, that the king has no legitimate son, then 
shall the Councils of both kingdoms nevertheless meet in said city, 
and choose the one for king whom, on behalf of both kingdoms, they 
consider to be best qualified. In these stipulated articles neither 
kingdom shall suffer any slight or neglect, and especially in the choice 
of the king the Council of each kingdom shall have full liberty, 
power, and free will, without let, hindrance, or deceit, and they 
shall not part until they have agreed upon the choice of a lord and 
king over both reahns, and only one; but in such a way that each 
kingdom retains its old laws and justice, liberty and privileges." ^ 
By this agreement an important change was made in the Nor- 
wegian constitution. The old principle of an hereditary monarchy 
was abandoned, and an elective kingship was substituted. This 
change had, however, already been made in practice. After the Nor- 
wegian royal line became extinct, circumstances had made it neces- 
sary to repeatedly place kings on the vacant throne by election. In 

1 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. VIII., no. 345. Samlinger til det 
norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. IV., p. 344 ff. 



theory the principle of hereditary kingship had, indeed, been adhered 
to, but as it could no longer be carried out in practice, it was 
becoming a mere tradition. It must be observed, however, that this 
tradition continued to live, and it was even strengthened by the 
union kings of the House of Oldenburg, who called themselves heirs 
to the throne of Norway, and spoke of Norway as an hereditary king- 
dom. If the impression could be created that, in spite of the Bergen 
agreement, the Oldenburg kings succeeded to the throne of Norway 
by right of inheritance, it would, naturally, tend to safeguard the 
union, and to bind Norway more closely to the kingdom of Denmark.^ 
In the articles of union the equality of the two kingdoms was 
strongly emphasized. One should not lord it over the other, but each 
should keep its laws, freedom, and privileges. The autonomy and 
sovereignty of Norway seemed thereby fully safeguarded, so far as 
this could be done on paper, but circumstances could not fail to 
operate against the maintenance of such an equality. The king 
resided in Denmark, where he was constantly surrounded by Danish 
councilors and officers of state, and in a not distant future he would 
naturally regard Denmark as the principal kingdom, if he did not 
already do so. Bygone events had already illustrated this so clearly 
that no doubt could exist as to the final outcome. The true char- 
acter of the poHtical situation soon revealed itself. Though King 
Christian had agreed to come to Norway once every three years, 
he did not visit the kingdom above four times after his coronation 
during a long reign of thirty-one years, but the administration of 
Norwegian affairs he, nevertheless, took into his own hands, and 
left the Council of the Kingdom almost wholly out of consideration. 
He even attempted to force upon the people the unscrupulous ad- 
venturer Marcellus as Archbishop of Trondhjem, though the chapter 
had already chosen Olav Throndsson. Only the refusal of the Pope 
to consecrate that unworthy candidate saved the Church of Norway 
from this humiliation.^ His royal edicts were always prefaced with 
the autocratic phrases : " We, Christian, by the grace of God, King of 
Denmark-Norway, of the Wends and Goths, Count of Oldenburg 

1 T. H. Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 1814, 
p. 197 f. 

* R. Keyser, Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, II., p. 548 ff. 


and Delmenhorst," etc. The Council is seldom mentioned in these 
documents, as if its advice or consent was a matter of slight impor- 
tance. The seal of the kingdom was kept by the Danish chancellor, 
while the Norwegian chancellor became a mere judicial officer, 
and the oflBce of drotsete, the highest in the kingdom, was 
virtually abolished. The Council, too, was allowing the control of 
public affairs to slip from its weakening grip. This became especially 
true after a number of immigrated Danes had become members. 
They had settled permanently in Norway, where they had gained 
wealth and social standing by marrying Norwegian heiresses, but 
they were still Danes in sympathy, and as they were not deeply 
concerned with affairs of local administration, their presence in the 
Council rapidly destroyed its last vestige of efficiency and usefulness, 
and it gradually became a mere appendix to the Council of Denmark. 
The Norwegian clergy was still native-born and national-spirited, 
but it had been weakened like the aristocracy, and could no longer 
assert its former independence. Coming events cast their shadows 
before. Christian, the king by divine right and the grace of God, 
had given the Norwegian people a first installment of Oldenburg 

King Christian's policy was wholly dictated by dynastic and Danish 
interests. In Bergen Olav Nilsson had struggled earnestly, though 
not with proper moderation, to enforce the laws against the Han- 
seatic merchants. Sometimes he had even used violent and lawless 
means to subdue them. While Christopher Hved, he supported 
Nilsson, but Christian changed this method. He needed the support 
of the Hansa towns in a war with Sweden, and he considered it more 
important to win their friendship than to compel obedience to the 
laws of Norway. In 1453 he arrived in Bergen accompanied by his 
queen, and sunmaoned Nilsson to answer to charges preferred against 
him by the merchants. Nilsson sought safety in flight, and only 
after the king had issued a safe-conduct did he return to Bergen to 
answer the accusations. King Christian confiscated all his fiefs, and 
appointed a Swede, Magnus Gren, commandant in Bergen. But 
the doughty baron would not submit. He seized the strong castle 
of Elfsborg at the mouth of the Gota river, and threatened to hand 
it over to the Swedes, if the king did not return to him his fiefs, and 


reinstate him as commandant. The king now found it advisable 
to yieldj and Olav Nilsson returned to Bergen. But while at Elfs- 
borg he had sent out privateers to prey upon Hanseatic merchant 
ships, and the merchants conspired to kill him. When he appeared 
at the city thing, he was attacked by an armed force, and when he 
fled to the monastery of Munkeliv, the merchants, to the number of 
2000, stormed the monastery, slew Bishop Thorleiv and several 
priests before the altar of the church, and killed in all sixty men. 
Nilsson had sought refuge in the tower, but they set fire to the build- 
ings. The monastery was destroyed, and he was seized and put to 
death.^ King Christian did nothing to punish the offenders, though 
they were sentenced to rebuild the monastery at their own expense. 
"The king did not care much about it, as it pleased him that Olav 
was killed, because he had opposed the king, and had offended him 
by sei2dng Elfsborg castle," says the chronicler.^ In 1469 he even 
granted them full pardon upon the request of the cities of Liibeck 
and Hamburg, and released them, on behalf of the kingdom, from 
any obHgation to pay damages. He had, indeed, earned the praise 
of the Liibeck chronicler, who calls him "ein gnadich, myldich, 
sachtmodich vorste."^ 

Other arbitrary and unstatesmanlike acts of the king were equally 
prejudicial to the interests of the realm. In 1469 his daughter 
Margaret was married to King James III. of Scotland, but Christian 
I., who spent money lavishly, and always was in financial difficulties, 
could not pay the stipulated dowry. In the marriage contract he 
agreed to annul the annuity payable to the kingdom of Norway in 

1 William Christensen, Unionskongerne og Hansestcederne. Munkeliv monas- 
tery of the Benedictine order was founded about 1110. It suffered much 
from the ravages of the Victual Brothers, and in 1421-1434 it was changed 
to a monastery of the order of St. Birgitta with double convent, one for 
monks, and one for nuns. With the permission of the Pope this was done 
by King Eirik of Pomerania and his queen, Philippa, who introduced this 
order in Norway and Denmark. Lange, De norske Kloslres Historic. Ludvig 
Daae, Kong Chrisliern den J^rstes norske Hislorie, 1448-1458, Christiania, 1879. 

2 Ditmars Chronik, edited by Grautoff, II., 180. Quoted by Lange. 

2 J. P. Willebrandt, Hansische Chronik, Liibeck, 1748, III., 81. See also 
Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historic, vol. IV., p. 300. Liibeckische 
Chroniken, edited by Grautoff, II., p. 429. Quoted by J. B. Sars in Udsigt 
over den norske Historic, III., p. 157. Ludvig Daae, Christiern den f^rstes 
norske Historic, p. 109 ; Historiske Skildringer, p. 33 ff. 


consideration of the cession of the Hebrides according to the treaty 
of Perth, and also the unpaid arrear of this annuity. Of the 60,000 
gulden to be paid as dowry only 10,000 should be paid immediately, 
and as security for the balance he mortgaged the Orkneys to Scot- 
land by a document dated September 8, 1468. When a fleet arrived 
in Copenhagen to bring the. bride home, he was not able to pay more 
than 2000 gulden, and as security for the remaining 8000 he also 
included the Shetland Islands in the mortgage, 1469. All this was 
done without consulting the Norwegian Council, and as these debts 
were never paid, the mortgaged islands were annexed to Scotland, and 
Norway was thus made to pay the whole expense of the marriage of 
the king's daughter.^ 

King Christian I. was a tall and stately man, fond of luxury and 
display. R. Keyser characterizes him as follows : " He was a shrewd 
statesman according to the standards of his times, but he lacked 
sincerity and mental depth. He was active, but cannot be called 
a good ruler ; he was brave without being a great general ; he was, 
finally, such a wretched manager of the finances of his kingdoms that 
the Swedes very aptly called him 'the bottomless purse.' " ^ In his 
administrative policy he was guided by family interests and love of 
power and dominion rather than by true concern for the welfare of 
his realm and the happiness of his subjects. The j'ear after his 
coronation as king of Norway, we find him engaged in a war with 
Sweden, which was begun for the most trivial reasons, the real cause 
being jealousy and rivalry between the two kings. An armed force 
from Norway attacked Vermland even before war had been declared, 
but in 1452 Karl Knutsson formally declared war against Christian 
I. and marched with an army into Skane. Tr0ndelagen was occupied 
by a Swedish force under Goran Karlsson, and another attack was 
directed against Bohus in southeastern Norway.^ An armistice was 
concluded in 1453, which lasted for two years, but in 1455 the war 
was renewed. 

Karl Knutsson was a weak and unpopular king. He had 

^Fredrik Soheel, 0rkn^erne og Hjaltland i Pantscettelsestiden 1469-1667, 
Historisk Tidsskrifl, femte rsekke, vol. III., p. 381 ff. 

* R. Keyser, Den norske Kirkes Hislorie under Katholicismen, II., p. 569 f. 
^ Ludvig Daae, Kong Christiern den J^rstea norske Historic. 


failed to secure the throne of Norway, Gothland had been taken 
by Christian L, and he had many powerful opponents among the 
nobles, who reluctantly had placed him on the throne. In 1457 
his old enemy, Archbishop Jons of Upsala, nailed a proclamation on 
the door of the cathedral, renouncing his allegiance to him. Stock- 
holm was quickly invested, and Karl Knutsson, who found the 
situation hopeless, fled to Danzig, where he was harbored by King 
Casimir IV. of Poland. Christian I., who by fair promises had 
gained strong support among the nobility, was placed on the throne 
of Sweden. In 1460 he was also elected Duke of Holstein and Count 
of Schleswig and Stormarn, whereby these provinces were united 
with the crown of Denmark. No king in the North had ever ruled 
so large a realm as the one now united under his scepter, but it was 
loosely knit together and badly governed. The outward greatness 
represented no corresponding internal strength. J. E. Sars says : 
"Never has Norway been governed so wretchedly as under the first 
king of a dynasty which, to such a remarkable degree, should become 
the object of the Norwegian people's loyalty and devotion. The 
thirty-one years during which this king ruled belong to the saddest in 
our history, not only because of the many harmful measures due to 
his weakness and recklessness, his lack of will and ability to do his 
duty to Norway, but also of the perfect tranquillity which continued 
to exist in spite of his maladministration. But that great ill-will 
had been quietly stored up became manifest when the king died." ^ 
In Sweden King Christian's government was no less unpopular 
than in Norway. His purse was always empty, and as he agreed 
to pay claims to the heirs of the former princes of Schleswig-Holstein 
to the amount of 103,000 gulden, he resorted to the levying of heavy 
taxes and loans, secured by mortgages in castles and crown lands, to 
increase his revenues. These heavy burdens created the greatest 
discontent. In 1463, while the king tried to levy an extra tax for 
an expedition against Russia, a revolt broke out, led by Archbishop 
Jons of Upsala, who was an irreconcilable opponent both of Karl 
Knutsson and the Danes. The uprising was suppressed with great 
severity, and the archbishop was brought captive to Dermaark, but 
King Christian returned home only to find that new trouble had 
1 J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historic, III., p. 159 fif. 


broken out. In the winter of 1464 he led an army into Sweden, 
but was defeated at Helleskog by the Swedish peasants under Sten 
Sture. When he also found that Stockholm was closely besieged, 
he abandoned the campaign and returned home. Karl Knutsson 
was recalled, but Archbishop Jons, who had returned from his cap- 
tivity, stirred up his partisans against him, and when he found the 
situation as hopeless as before, he formally abdicated, promised 
never again to aspire to the throne, and retired to his estates in Fin- 
land, 1465. The ambitious archbishop was now chosen regent, 
but he did not long retain the high office, as other nobles also aspired 
to the honor. The following year Eirik Axelsson Thott succeeded 
him, and the crafty prelate died soon after on the island of Oland, 
"poor and in exile; mourned by none, hated by many, and feared by 
all." ^ Karl Knutsson again became king of Sweden, but Christian 
I. would not give up the hope of regaining the Swedish throne, an 
aim which had become more difficult of attaining since the struggle 
was no longer a mere contest between rival aspirants to the throne, 
but a patriotic endeavor of the Swedish people to rid themselves of 
Danish overlordship. On his death-bed Karl Knutsson exhorted the 
people to fight to the utmost against the Danes, and Sten Sture, 
who was chosen regent by the Council, rallied the people round his 
standards to fight for the national cause. King Christian does not 
seem to have fully grasped the situation. In 1471 he arrived before 
Kalmar with a fleet of seventy ships, and advanced a little later to 
Stockholm. He still hoped to accomplish his purpose through nego- 
tiations, but if this failed, he trusted in his armed knights. He 
landed his forces, and took up a strong position at Brunkeberg, but 
on the 10th of October he was attacked by Sten Sture, and suffered a 
crushing defeat. Christian himself was brought to his ships severely 
wounded. The victory was decisive; Sweden had successfully 
maintained her independence. 

In 1474 King Christian made a journey to Rome with a large 
escort. In Rotenburg in Germany he visited Emperor Frederick 
III., who received him well, hoping to gain his support against 
Charles the Bold and the Turks. The Emperor united Holstein and 
Stormarn into a dukedom, into which he also incorporated Dit- 
^ O. A. Pverland, Norges Historic, vol. V., p. 161. 


marsken, which had hitherto been an independent repubhc, and this 
new duchy of Holstein he granted King Christian I. as a fief, evi- 
dently for the purpose of gaining his good will. Why Christian under- 
took this journey is not known, and little good came of it. His 
expenses were large, and when he came to Italy, he had to borrow 
money from the Hanseatic merchants, who were wilhng enough to 
grant him the necessary loans, knowing that they would be able to 
obtain charters and trade privileges in return. By a letter of Sep- 
tember 6, 1474, the king annulled all restrictions placed on the trade 
of the Hanseatic merchants in Oslo and Tunsberg, "for the good 
will and love which the Rostock merchants had shown him," and 
confirmed all the privileges which had been granted them by his 
predecessors. In 1469 he had issued a letter which insured them 
against competition from the Hollanders, by restricting the trade of 
Holland merchants in Bergen to one or two cargoes a year. King 
Christian had dihgently sought to please the Hanseatic merchants, 
and to maintain their hated commercial monopoly. In vain the 
people of Bergen complained of outrages committed by them. The 
king would not be annoyed. He suffered the laws to sleep and his 
own pledges to remain a dead letter, but the ill-will created by his 
wretched rule did not find expression until after his death, which 
occurred May 22, 1481. 

13. The Reign of King Hans (John) 

At the time of King Christian's death his son and successor Hans 
was twenty-six years old. As early as 1458 the Norwegian Council 
had made a written promise that he should succeed his father on the 
throne of Norway. "When it shall please God," says the letter, 
"to call our gracious lord from this world, then will we in love and 
obedience accept and receive his eldest son, if God lets him live ; but 
if he dies, then his gracious son who is the next oldest, son after son, 
to whom we now, one after another with this our open letter and 
power pay homage and receive as our rightful lord and king of Nor- 
way, and we will faithfully serve and obey him." ^ In 1480 this 

^ Diplomatarium Norwegicum, III., no. 842. Christian I. had four sons: 
Knut and Olav, who died in childhood, and Hans and Frederick, who sur- 
vived hina. 


promise was renewed by the Norwegian Council in Halmstad, where 
Hans was made coregent with his father.^ Even in his father's 
lifetime he had been in Norway, where he had exercised royal ad- 
ministrative authority, and had styled himself "The son of King 
Christian, elected King of Denmark, and rightful Heir to the throne 
of Norway," but when Christian died, the Norwegians showed no 
inclination to accept Hans as their king in spite of these promises. 
Misgovernment had made them cautious, and they were now fully 
determined to seek redress for past wrongs before another king was 
placed on the throne. On February 1, 1482, sixteen members of the 
Norwegian Council entered into an agreement with deputies from 
Sweden that the two kingdoms should aid one another in defending 
their rights and liberties, and that in the election of a king neither 
should take any step not sanctioned by the Council of the other. 
The Norwegian councilors at the same time issued a letter in which 
they recounted the injuries which the kingdom of Norway had suffered 
in King Christian's reign : the mortgaging of the Orkney and Shet- 
land islands, the outrages committed in Bergen by the Hanseatic 
merchants in 1455, when no attempt was made by the king to punish 
the guilty parties, the privileges granted by Christian I. to the Ger- 
man cities, the harmful journeys by which the Council had been 
compelled to leave the kingdom, the numerous wars which had been 
forced upon the people without the consent of the Council, that the 
revenues of the kingdom had been sent out of the country, that 
Bohus and other fiefs had been granted to foreigners against the advice 
of the Council, and that these foreigners had received greater powers 
and privileges in Christian's time than ever at any time before. 
" When we made complaints against the foreigners, we could receive 
no justice, but if one of our own citizens broke the laws, he was most 
severely punished." ^ This indictment of the late king breathes a 
bitter resentment which could not easily be appeased. 

In former elections the Danish Council had at times acted too 
hastily ; this time it proceeded with greater caution. The situation 

^ J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historie, III., p. 160. R. Keyser, 
Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, II., p. 570, 580. 

* Hadorph, Tv& gambla Rijmkrdnikor, Bihang, p. 302 fl,, quoted by J. E. 
Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historic, III., p. 161. 


was diflScult. Sweden had already broken away from the union, 
the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein were but loosely connected with 
the crown, and in Norway great dissatisfaction prevailed. Under 
these circumstances Denmark could not proceed to elect a king 
alone without incurring the risk of destroying the union. In August, 

1482, the Danish and Swedish councilors met at Kalmar, where they 
agreed that peace should exist between the two kingdoms, and that 
they should be united under the same king, but the Swedes would 
not elect a king, as the Norwegian councilors were not present. A 
new meeting was to be assembled at Halmstad,, January 13, 1483, as 
it was hoped that Norway would then be represented. In the mean- 
time the Danes tried to persuade the Norwegian councilors to join 
them in electing Hans, but this they would not do until they received 
full assurance of redress of grievances. They were especially ag- 
grieved, because a Danish noble, J0rgen Larensson, had been made 
commandant of Bohus castle without the consent of the Council. 
They determined to drive away the hated commandant by force, 
and the people of the neighboring districts rallied to their support. 
The Council wrote to their Swedish colleagues complaining of the 
humiliations and grievances which Norway had suffered. The 
Danes urged the Norwegians to desist from the siege of Bohus castle, 
but the councilors replied in a second letter to their Swedish brethren 
that " it would be a harmful peace if each realm did not maintain its 
rights at home, or defend its own thanes and territories. According 
to the terms of the act of union, each kingdom should aid the other 
herein instead of placing obstacles in its way." ^ The Swedes gave 
them no support in the attack on Bohus, but invited them to meet 
with the Swedish and Danish councilors in Halmstad, January 13, 

1483, to negotiate regarding the interests and welfare of the three 
realms.^ The besiegers were unable to capture the strong castle, 
and as the Danes removed the commandant, the Council found that 
under the circumstances they could do no better than to attend the 
Halmstad conference. Sixteen Danes and nine Norwegians met on 

^ J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historie, III., p. 162. Hadorph, Tva 
gambla Rijmkrdnikor, Bihang, p. 309 f. 

2 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, III., no. 939. Hadorph, Tvd, gambla Rijm- 
krdnikor, Bihang, p. 314 f. 


the date fixed. Two weeks later four Swedish delegates arrived, 
but as they had no power to participate in the election of a king, the 
Danes and Norwegians chose Hans to be king of Denmark and 
Norway, and issued a charter according to which he should rule 
both kingdoms. In this document, signed and sworn to by the king, 
every precaution seems to have been taken to safeguard the privileges 
of the church, to guarantee the laws, liberties, and full equality of 
the two kingdoms, and to secure full assurance of redress of griev- 
ances. The king promised to maintain the rights and privileges of 
the church and the clergy as they had been confirmed by the Pope, 
and to rule each kingdom according to its own laws and charters. 
No foreigners should be made members of the Council of the King- 
dom, nor should castles or fiefs be granted to foreigners, but the king- 
dom should be ruled by native-born men. No taxes should be 
levied, no city, castle, lands, or fiefs should be mortgaged or sold, 
no officials appointed, no one should be made a member of the 
Council, no privileges should be granted to foreign merchants except 
by the advice and consent of the Council of the Kingdom. Each 
kingdom should have its own archives and treasury, and each should 
mint its own coin, which should be of equal value. The king should 
spend an equal length of time in each kingdom, and when he was not 
present in the realm, a commission consisting of four members of the 
Council should have full authority to maintain law and order. The 
king also promised to redeem the lands and revenues belonging to 
the kingdom of Norway, which had been alienated in the reign of his 
father. King Christian I., and to see that full restitution was made 
for the outrages committed in Bergen against Olav Nilsson and others. 
The Norwegian Council, furthermore, was to meet once every two 
years in Bergen and Oslo alternately, whether the king was present 
in the kingdom or not, and the king pledged himself to sanction and 
enforce all its decrees.^ 

King Hans was crowned in Copenhagen, May 18, 1483, and in 
Trondhjem July 20 of the same year. 

1 C. G. Styffe, Bidrag til Skandinaviens Hislorie, IV., p. Ix. Yngvar 
Nielsen, Det norske Rigsraad, p. 341. Arild Huitfeldt, Kong Hans, p. 37 ff. 
King Hans' charter is found in Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og 
Historie, vol. IV., p. 347 flf. 


In Sweden the able Sten Sture was regent. He did not attempt 
to seize the crown, as Karl Knutsson had done, but he did not favor 
the election of Hans, and seems to have opposed a union with Den- 
mark on any conditions. The councilors had, indeed, agreed to a 
union with Denmark and Norway under a joint king, but in consent- 
ing to accept Hans as king of Sweden, they submitted a charter 
which would place all power in the hands of the nobles, and reduce 
the king to a mere name. As these terms could not be accepted by 
the Danish councilors, no choice was made, and the question con- 
tinued to be agitated. Sten Sture was supported by the common 
people, but the nobles opposed him, and in order to drive him from 
power, they organized a strong party of opposition against him, 
and turned to King Hans for aid. Sture, who still championed 
Swedish independence, would not yield, and war broke out in 1497. 
The struggle could not last long, as the forces placed in the field by 
King Hans and his supporters were too strong to be successfully 
resisted. Elfsborg was taken, and a large Danish army advanced 
against Kalmar. Sture hastened to Stockholm to defend the capital, 
but the Danes seized Brunkeberg, and after defeating a force of Dal- 
karlean peasants who were marching to his aid, they took Stock- 
holm; Elfsborg fell, and Sture was forced to give up the struggle. 
On November 25, 1497, Hans was proclaimed king of Sweden, and 
the union of the three kingdoms was again estabHshed, although 
Sweden, as represented by Sten Sture's party, had entered into the 
new compact as a most unwilling partner. In order to make the union 
stable and permanent, the Swedish Council agreed that Prince Chris- 
tian, the son of King Hans, should succeed his father on the throne, 
and he was formally hailed as heir to the throne of Sweden at Stock- 
holm in 1499. 

The commercial affairs of the North were at this time in a 
chaotic state. Hostilities had broken out between England and 
Denmark-Norway, because English merchants continued to trade 
with Iceland, although the trade with the Norwegian colonies 
was a crown monopoly. In Norway the ill-will against the Han- 
seatic merchants had been increased by the outrages in Bergen, and the 
murder of Olav Nilsson in 1455, to such a degree that in the charter 
issued by King Hans in 1483 most important trade regulations were 
VOL. 11 — a 


made, which, if carried out, would have destroyed the commercial 
monopoly of the Hanseatic League. Merchants from all countries 
should be allowed to trade in Norway without hindrance, and the 
Hollanders, especially, should enjoy the same freedom as of old, but 
the Hanseatic merchants should not be allowed to carry on trade 
with Iceland, nor should the king grant any privileges to foreign 
merchants, except with the advice of the Council.^ Liibeck and the 
other Hansa towns understood what the ultimate result would be if 
this provision was carried into effect, and a struggle began between 
Denmark-Norway and the Hanseatic cities, which resulted in the 
discomfiture of the Hanseatic League in the first part of the next 
century. The contest, which began as diplomatic negotiations, soon 
turned into a struggle between buccaneers, supported secretly or 
openly by both sides, and finally it developed into an open war in 
which large fleets fought great naval battles. During the buccaneer- 
ing activity in the early part of the conflict, the Baltic and the North 
Sea were swept by professional corsairs like Pining and Pothorst, 
and great damage was done to commerce. Loud complaints were 
made, especially by the Hanseatic merchants of London, of these 
freebooters, who preyed extensively on English commerce ; but peace- 
ful conditions gradually returned only after Denmark and Norway 
in 1489 modified the charter regarding trade in the interest of the 
Hanseatic merchants. On January 20, 1490, King Hans and Henry 
VIL of England concluded a treaty of peace and friendly intercourse 
between their realms. The trade with Iceland was made free, not 
only for the English, but also for the Hollanders and the Hanseatic 

King Hans had been willing enough to subscribe to charters, but 
in the keeping of them he emulated his father King Christian I. He 
had agreed not to grant castles or fiefs to foreigners, but in his reign 
Danish nobles held Akershus, Bohus, and Bergen ; the Dane Anders 
Muus became Bishop of Oslo,^ and another, Erick Valkendorf, was 

* B. E. Bendixen, Tyske Haandverkere paa norsk Orund i Middelalderen, 
Skrifter udgivet af Videnskabs-Selskabet i Christiania, 1911. King Hans' 
charter, Samlinger HI det norske Folks Sprog og Historic, IV., p. 347 ff. Arild 
Huitfeldt, Kong Hans, p. 9. 

" Diplomatarium Norwegicum, VI., no. 609. 

' R. Keyser, Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, II., p. 594. 


made Archbishop of Trondhjem. Now as before the charters re- 
mained a dead letter, though the king had pledged himself in the 
strongest terms to rule according to them. No such overt harm was 
done the kingdom in Hans' reign as in that of his predecessor, but 
the disappointment was, nevertheless, great and the dissatisfaction 
general. Danish lensmcend and fogeds still remained in charge of the 
local administration, though the charter stated that the kingdom 
should be ruled by native-born men, and as these foreign officials 
used their office to enrich themselves, they often treated the people 
with intolerable injustice. The binder knew how to resist. When 
their patience was exhausted, they seized the fogeds and put them to 
death.^ They lacked neither the will nor the ability to defend their 
rights, but there were no leaders like Sten Sture in Sweden to organize 
a general uprising, and give it a national consecration. The leading 
men of the kingdom were divided into two parties, one favoring Den- 
mark, and the other Sweden, but there was no national Norwegian 
party to maintain the autonomy of the realm and the chartered 
rights of the people. The leader of the Danish party at this time 
was Hartvig Krumedike, commandant of Bohus castle, and a special 
favorite of the king. The leader of the Swedish party was Knut 
Alvsson, commandant of Akershus castle, who on the mother's side 
was of Swedish descent. The fight between the nobles and their 
adherents has been interpreted by some writers as a national struggle 
in which Knut Alvsson represented the cause of Norwegian national 
independence, but this episode can scarcely be regarded as anything 
but a feud between rival factions without any deeper national sig- 
nificance. Alvsson lacked the qualities of a leader, and the struggle 
with Krumedike seems to have been inspired by personal enmity 
rather than by lofty ideas of an independent Norway.^ The direct 

^ O. A, 0verland, Norges Historie, V., p. 189 flf. 

2 "There is nothing to indicate that Knut Alvsson was prominent in any 
respect except through his wealth and family connections. In a contem- 
porary Danish chronicle he is characterized as a simple-minded man, a tool in 
the hands of Swedish traitors, i.e. the anti-union party in Sweden with the 
regent, Sten Sture, at its head, and there is reason to believe that this char- 
acterization agrees with actual conditions." J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den 
norske Historie, III., p. 171. See also R. Keyser, Den norske Kirkes His- 
torie under Katholicismen, II., p. 590. 


cause of this revolt was a local disturbance in Romerike, where the 
foged, Lasse Skjold, had so exasperated the people by his extortions 
that they rose against him, and put him to death. The uprising, 
although not dangerous, assumed such proportions that Knut 
Alvsson, who was commandant of Akershus, feared that he would 
be unable to cope with it, and he asked Henry Krumedike of Bohus 
for aid. Krumedike not only failed to respond, but it seems that 
he had succeeded in arousing the king's suspicion as to Alvsson's 
loyalty, and that he had been secretly encouraged by the king to 
watch his movements. Alvsson lost the king's favor; he was 
relieved of his command of Akershus, and a Danish noble, Peder 
Griis, was appointed to succeed him. A bloody feud ensued, and 
Alvsson turned to Sweden for aid. He raised an armed force in 
that kingdom, and made a raid into Norway, but he was driven 
back by the king's adherents. Those who were dissatisfied flocked 
to his standards, and Erick Gyldenstjerne, the Danish commandant 
of Elf sborg, joined him ; hkewise, also, Nils Ravaldsson of Olavsborg 
in Viken. Akershus, Tunsberg,^ Marstrand, and Sarpsborg were 
taken, and Krumedike was striving to hold his own at Bohus. King 
Hans could not come to Norway, but he sent his son Christian, now 
twenty-one years old, to take command.^ The prince showed a most 
resolute spirit, and soon got the situation under control. Bohus 
was relieved, and Gyldenstjerne surrendered Elfsborg after a few 
days' siege, though a Swedish army under Alvsson had arrived in 
the neighborhood to support him. When he arrived in the Swedish 
camp, he was killed by the angry soldiers, who looked upon him as a 
traitor. After an expedition into Vermland, Prince Christian re- 
turned to Denmark, leaving Krumedike in command. Timsberg 
was soon captured, and Knut Alvsson hastened to the support of 
Akershus, but as he feared the outcome of an armed conflict, he 
decided to try negotiations. Provided with a safe-conduct, he 
boarded Krumedike's ship. But a quarrel between the rivals ensued, 
and Alvsson was slain, 1502. For this misdeed Krumedike was 

* Ludvig Daae, Historisk Tidsskrtft, vol. I., p. 500 ff. The castle of 
Tunsberghus was destroyed in this feud. 

* Iver Hesselberg, Christian den anden i Norge, Samlinger til det norske 
Folks Sprog og Historie, II., p. 3 flf. 


compelled to leave Norway, and the uprising was not put down till 

In 1506 Prince Christian returned to Norway with full royal ^ 
power. ^ He was a man of great energy and ability, influenced by 
the new ideas of humanism and the Renaissance. Disposed by nature 
to brook no restraint, he paid little attention to conventionalities. 
In Bergen he became enamored with a fair damsel, Dyveke (the 
little dove), whose mother, Sigbrit Villums, was shopkeeper in the 
city. She was introduced to the prince at a ball, and being greatly 
impressed with her rare beauty, "he danced with her," says the old 
historian, "and this was the cause of his dancing away from these 
three kingdoms, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway." This is un- 
doubtedly an exaggeration, but Dyveke became his mistress, and 
the attachment of the prince for the girl and her mother plays an 
important part in his reign. In pubUc as in private life he was 
guided by his own impulses, which inclined him to favor the common 
people. He soon became their favorite, and many a goblet of ale 
was drunk to the health of the good Prince Christian. He sought to 
encourage Norwegian trade, and granted the merchants of Amster- 
dam permission to trade in Bergen and everywhere in Norway.^ 
In 1508 he annulled the special privileges of the Rostock merchants 
in Oslo and Tunsberg, and granted them the same rights as native 
citizens, when they settled permanently in the city, and bore their 
share of the public burdens. The following year he placed important 
restrictions upon the Hanseatic merchants of Bergen and increased 
the privileges of the native traders. The castle of the city was also 
rebuilt, so that the commandant ultimately became able to force the 
Hanseatic factory into submission. The people of the cities might 
have reason to be satisfied with Prince Christian's efforts to improve 
conditions, but in the country districts the Danish fogeds were still 
allowed to continue their extortionate practices unmolested. In 
1508 a new revolt broke out in southeastern Norway. Under the 
leadership of one of their own number, Herlog H0fudfat, the hinder 
of Hedemarken rose against the Danish fogeds, slew one of them, and 

^ C. F. Allen, De Ire nordiske Rigers Historie, I., p. 436, 674. 

2 Yngvar Nielsen, Bergen, p. 267 ff. Arild Hmtfeldt, Danmarks Historie. 

3 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, VI., no. 647. 


drove away another. Christian suppressed the revolt with the cruel 
severity usually practiced in those days, when the rulers knew better 
how to punish offenses than to remove thfeir cause. The leaders of 
the uprising were captured and brought to Akershus, where they 
were put to the torture and executed as traitors. The heads of the 
unfortunate offenders were put on stakes, and exhibited to the gaze 
of the multitude ; that of Herlog H0fudfat was placed in the center 
and crowned in mockery with an iron crown. Even Bishop Karl of 
Hamar, who on very slight evidence was held to be implicated in the 
uprising, was thrown into prison, and it is a singular manifestation 
of the growing weakness of the church that he was suffered to remain 
incarcerated till his death without being convicted of any wrong- 
doing, even without being granted a trial. ^ This unnecessary harsh- 
ness reveals in the prince an innate cruelty, an irresponsible fierce- 
ness of temper, which proved his undoing after years of struggles 
had fully awakened the bloodthirstiness of his savage heart. In 
his administration of state affairs Prince Christian was as despotic 
as he was hard-hearted in dealing with opponents and offenders. 
The Council was almost wholly disregarded, and could exercise no 
influence ; Norwegian nobles were deprived of their fiefs, and Danes 
were appointed in their place in open violation of the charters. The 
kingdom was not ruled by native-born officials according to the 
charters, but by the king with the aid of the Danish nobles, while 
the power of the Council was chiefly limited to judicial matters.^ 
But Christian's impulsive nature and democratic manners had gained 
for him a reputation as the people's friend, and he became a great 
favorite of the common classes,^ a distinction of which he was not 
wholly undeserving ; for though a tyrant at heart, he possessed an 
instinctive appreciation of justice, and as his habits inclined him to 
favor the common people, he often championed their rights, if for 
no other reason than out of spite against the nobles, whom he hated. 
The kingdom of Sweden was tied to King Hans and the union by 

^ Ludvig Daae, Biskop Karl af Hamar, Historisk Tidsskrift, f jerde rsekke, 
III., p. 327 £f. 

^ Yngvar Nielsen, Det norske Rigsraad, p. 305. 

' R. Keyser, Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, II., p. 595 ff. 
Danmarks Riges Historie, III., p. 116 ff. J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske 
Historie, III., p. 175. H. Behrmann, Kong Kristiern den andens Historie. 


very slender threads of loyalty, and these were suddenly rent by the 
king's unfortunate expedition to Ditmarsken. 

It has already been stated elsewhere that Emperor Frederick III. 
incorporated this province together with Stormarn in the duchy of 
Holstein, which he granted King Christian I. of Denmark in 1474. 
Ditmarsken was a marshy district between the rivers Elbe and 
Eider, protected against inundations by great dikes along the North 
Sea. The land had to be ditched and drained, but as the Ditmarskers 
were industrious and intelligent, their land was well tilled, and their 
country was a republic, where the people governed themselves. To 
the rapacious nobility and land-hungry kings this morsel was very 
tempting, but King Christian died before he could take possession 
of it. King Hans was determined to make good his claim, and the 
nobles joined his standards in unusually large numbers in anticipation 
of the rich booty which they were sure to secure. In 1500 Hans 
marched against Ditmarsken with an army of 15,000 men, consisting 
of nobles and German mercenaries.^ The Ditmarskers retreated 
before this large force, but on the road to Hemmingstedt, their 
leader. Wolf Isebrand, fortified himself with a force of 500 men, and 
placed some guns in position. When King Hans arrived on Feb- 
ruary 17th, rain was falling in torrents, and the Danish army was 
crowded together on the narrow road, on either side of which were 
broad ditches filled with water. The Ditmarskers opened fire. The 
Danes could neither advance nor retreat, and a fearful panic ensued. 
All order and discipline vanished, and the army was converted into 
a struggling mass of horses and men trying in vain to extricate them- 
selves. The horses sank to their knees in the mud, or tumbled head- 
long with their riders into the ditches. The spirited attack of the 
Ditmarskers sealed the doom of the entrapped army. The dikes 
were cut, and the North Sea rolled its billows over the marshy plains, 
while the peasants jumped around on their long poles, dealing death 
and destruction on every hand. The king escaped, but the army 
was destroyed ; the Danebrog banner was lost, and enormous quan- 
tities of suppHes fell into the hands of the Ditmarskers.^ 

^ The statement made by old writers that the army numbered 30,000 men 
has long since been discarded as erroneous. 

* Chr. Molbeck, Historie om Ditmarskerkrigen i 1500, Copenhagen, 1813. 


King Hans' defeat made a deep impression on the whole North. 
In Sweden, where the people had grown restive under his rule, because 
he had failed to keep his promise to rule according to the charters, 
his discomfiture caused great excitement, and soon a well-organized 
revolt was set on foot. Sten Sture was again chosen regent, and the 
castles through the country were seized in rapid succession until 
only Borghohn and Kalmar remained in the hands of the king's 
adherents. Stockholm was ably defended by Queen Christina. 
The city was treacherously surrendered to Sten Sture in the fall of 
1501, but not till in the spring, when all stores were exhausted, did 
the brave queen surrender the castle. King Hans himself arrived 
the day after with a fleet of thirty vessels, too late to be of any 
service. When Sten Sture died in 1503, Svante Sture was chosen 
to succeed him. An armistice was concluded, and the Councils of 
the three kingdoms should meet at Kalmar to negotiate a settlement 
of the difficulties, but Svante Sture did not appear, and in 1506 
hostilities were revived. 

As Denmark was again becoming a naval power, the campaigns 
of the next three years were largely waged on the sea. King Hans 
had hired ship-builders in Holland, and many vessels were added to 
the fleet every year. In 1502 he came to Stockholm with thirty 
ships ; in 1505 he arrived in Kalmar with twice that number. Den- 
mark was beginning to develop the royal navy which in future 
years was to be her main strength. The islands of Oland and Goth- 
land, which were still in the hands of the Danes, afforded them a 
most favorable vantage ground, whence their able sea-captains, Jens 
Holgerss0n, Otto Rud, and S0ren Norby whom the king had made 
chief commander of the royal fleet, harried the Swedish coasts, and 
swept the Baltic Sea clean of merchant vessels going to and from 
Sweden. S0ren Norby captured Kastelholm in the Aland Islands, 
and Otto Rud ravaged the coasts of Finland and sacked Abo. The 
plan was to destroy all commerce with Sweden, and starve the king- 
dom into submission. In 1509 the leaders of the Swedish uprising 
had to yield. They promised to pay the king 12,000 marks, and his 
queen, Christina, 1000 marks a year until the Councils of the three 
realms could assemble in joint meeting to place either King Hans or 
his son Christian on the throne of Sweden ; but the peace did not last 


long. In 1510 Liibeck declared war against King Hans, and Sweden 
seized the opportunity to join the Hanseatic cities on the Baltic 
coast in a coalition against Denmark. Jens Holgerss0n, who was made 
commander of the Danish fleet, fought a great naval battle with the 
Liibeckers off Bornholm, August 9, 1511. The combat was in- 
decisive, both sides claiming the victory. A second battle took place 
on the 14th of the same month near the coast of Mecklenburg with 
the same result. The next year Liibeck made peace on terms very 
favorable to Denmark; the Hanseatic cities could no longer claim 
naval supremacy in the North. 

The creation of a navy was the one great service which King Hans 
rendered the kingdom of Denmark. In his efforts to subdue Sweden 
he was unsuccessful. Svante Sture died in 1512, but Sten Sture 
the Younger was chosen to succeed him as regent, and when peace 
was concluded in 1512, Sweden renewed the promises of 1509, but the 
union was not reestablished. In 1513 King Hans died, quite suddenly, 
fifty-eight years of age. 

14. Literature and Intellectual Life in the Fourteenth 
AND Fifteenth Centuries 

In Norway, as elsewhere in the Middle Ages, the church was the 
custodian of the higher intellectual culture, as well as of the religious 
training of the people. As the kingdom had no university, the only 
seats of learning were the cathedral or Latin schools connected with 
the cathedral chapters. According to universal practice, each 
cathedral maintained a higher school (cathedral school) under the 
leadership of a scholasticus, or schoolmaster, where the students were 
instructed in the branches necessary for those who were to take 
holy orders. Most of the parish priests had received their training 
in the cathedral schools, aside from the private tuition by which they 
were prepared to enter the schools, and their own diligent study in 
the libraries connected with the cathedrals. Those who wished to 
get a university training had to go abroad. In the thirteenth and 
fourteenth centuries Paris, Orleans, Prague, and Bologna were much 
frequented by Norwegian students; and later Oxford, Cambridge, 
Louvain, Leyden, Cologne, Leipzig, and others were also sought. 


In 1418 the University of Rostock was founded, and because of the 
lively commercial intercourse which the Hanseatic merchants main- 
tained with the North, the Norwegian students found it most con- 
venient to go to Rostock, which in a sense became the University of 
Norway.^ The cathedral chapters maintained here a separate resi- 
dence for the Norwegian students, the Domus Sancti Olavi, and the 
university records show that they attended in considerable numbers. 
Even after the University of Copenhagen was founded in 1479, the 
Norwegian students continued to go to Rostock,^ until after the Refor- 
mation, when the University of Wittenberg became especially attrac- 
tive to Lutherans. Not till in the seventeenth century, when the 
kings by royal decrees made it difficult for Norwegians and Danes to 
visit foreign universities, did the stream of Norwegian students turn 
to Copenhagen. 

The union with Denmark only served to retard the development 
of learning and higher culture in Norway, as Copenhagen became the 
center of intellectual life of both kingdoms. Norway did not receive 
a university hke Denmark and Sweden, and while the art of printing 
was introduced very early in Denmark, it was not brought to Nor- 
way for some time, since the books used continued to be printed in 
Copenhagen or other Danish or foreign cities. The historian Suhm 
says : " In the time of King Hans the art of printing was brought 
hither. In 1486 the first Latin book was printed in the city of 
Schleswig, in 1493 in Copenhagen, and in 1495 the first Danish book 
was printed in the same city, both by Godfrid of Ghenen. In Latin, 

^ Ludvig Daae, Matrikler over nordiske Studerende ved fremmede Univer- 
siteter, Christiania, 1885. Chr. Lange, Matrikel over norske Studerende ved 
Rostocks Universitet, Norske Samlinger, vol. I., p. 72 ff. A. Chr. Bang, 
Udsigt over den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, p. 180 ff. 

Poor students could generally receive financial aid. In Catholic times 
the tithes were divided into foiu* parts, so that the king, the chiu-eh, the 
priest, and the poor should receive an equal portion ; but the hinder re- 
served the right to control the portion falling to the poor, hence it was called 
bondelodden, i.e. the binder's portion. By the statute of December 20, 1436, 
it was ordained that half of this portion should be used for the support of 
poor students. T. H. Aschehoug, De norske Communers Retsforfatning f^r 
1837, p. 83. 

* Pedeir Friedrioh Suhm, Samlede Skrifter, VIII., p. 23. Many students 
from the North also attended the University of Greifswald, founded in 1456. 
The University of Upsala, Sweden, was founded in 1477. 


Danish, and Low-German we have some chronicles from those times 
written in Denmark and Holstein. Christian Pedersen, Canon in 
Lund, was a remarkable man. He was the first to print Saxo Gram- 
maticus in Paris. Of the New Testament we received a few Danish 
translations, and Wormordius translated the Psalter into Danish. 
Christian 11. was a lover of medicine and alchemy, and he forbade 
any of his subjects to visit foreign universities until they had become 
baccalaurei in Copenhagen." ^ In Norway no such progress was 
made. A few books were, indeed, written, but they were either printed 
abroad — especially in Copenhagen, Paris, and Rostock — or they 
were left unpubhshed,^ The first Norwegian printing establishment 
was set up in Christiania by Tyge Nielsen in 1643, in which year he 
printed three small books, "Encke suck," "En merkelig vise," and 
"En ny almanach."^ 

After the Old Norse literary period came to a close about 1350, 
the Norwegian language underwent a rapid change, which, in the 
Middle Norse period, 1350-1525, transformed it in all essential re- 
spects into modern Norwegian. This change seems to have been 
due in part to the almost total interruption of the old literary activity, 
which had hitherto maintained a literary language more or less 
divergent from the spoken tongue. But in general the change 
parallels the development of other European languages, and must 
be viewed as part of a great linguistic movement. The new Nor- 
wegian was not destined, however, like other modern tongues, to 
become a literary language. This was prevented by the union with 
Denmark, which grew to be intellectual as well as political. The 
two kingdoms had, indeed, been united on equal terms, but the 
king and court resided in Denmark, and after 1450 Danish was 
exclusively used as the ofiicial language even in purely Norwegian 

1 Peder Friedrich Suhm, Samlede Skrifter, VIII., p. 357 ff. 

2 Suhm mentions two important books which yet remained unpublished 
in his day; one a record of the estates of the churches of Oslo, called the 
"Red Book," by Canon Hans Olson, 1521; and the other a work writ- 
ten about Norway, Norges Beskrivelse, by Absalon Peders0n Beyer about 
1550, and these were not the only ones. Suhm, Samlede Skrifter, VII., p. 
25 ff. 

^ Suhm, Samlede Skrifter, VII., p. 25. Norsk Konversations-Leksikon, 
vol. I., ^'Bogtrykkerkunsten." 


affairs.^ A Dane, Erick Valkendorf, became Archbishop of Trond- 
hjem, 1510, Danes were appointed to other high offices both in 
church and state, and Danish gradually became the written language 
of the upper classes. The University of Copenhagen, the Danish 
publishing houses, and, finally, the Reformation, in the interest of 
which Danish religious books were introduced in Norway, con- 
tributed to make Danish the church and school language, as it had 
already become the official language of the kingdom. In the cities, 
and among the clergy and upper classes, the Danish tongue in a 
greatly modified form became in time also the spoken language, 
while Norwegian became the despised vernacular of the common 
people. It continued to be spoken by the great majority, especially 
in the country districts, but the officials; the learned classes, and the 
burghers allied themselves with the Danish. To speak this language 
even imperfectly was henceforth regarded as a sign of culture and 
refinement, while the Norwegian tongue became a symbol of Arcadian 

But this Danish-Norwegian city language experienced a slow 
growth. Professor Halvdan Koht shows that it did not become a 
living tongue in Norway till towards the close of the eighteenth cen- 
tury.^ Through the unfortunate circumstance that higher culture 
in Norway began to look to Denmark as its source, and thereby 
became associated with a foreign language, a cleavage occurred in 
the intellectual life of the nation which has not yet been fully healed. 
Culturally the people were divided into two groups : the cities, who 
prided themselves in their Danish-Norwegian language and higher 
city culture, which was Danish in character, and grew to be clannish 
in spirit ; and the country people, who spoke their own vernacular, 
lived their own intellectual life, and had no share in the higher city 
culture. In course of time the Danish culture, as well as the Danish 
language, became nationalized through the constant influence of 

1 The difference between Norwegian and Danish can be seen by comparing 
the charter granted by Karl Knutsson in Trondhjem, 1449, written in Nor- 
wegian (Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. VI., no. 531), and the charter 
granted by Christian I. at Bergen, 1450, written in Danish (Diplomatarium 
Norwegicum, vol. VIII., no. 345). Karl Knutsson's charter was the last 
constitutional charter written in Norwegian. 

' Syn og Segn, September, 1907, Halvdan Koht, Bokmaal og Bymaal. 


environment, and assumed a Norwegian character, but this trans- 
fonnation was slowly consummated. 

The more prominent traits of intellectual life are reflected especially 
clearly in the literature of the period. The creative productiveness 
of the higher circles may be said to have ceased, but the educated 
classes possessed a certain diligent erudition, of which we find evidence 
in the numerous charters, letters, and public documents which have 
been published in a large series of volumes under the title " Diplo- 
matarium Norwegicum." Another large collection of laws and other 
legal documents has lately been pubhshed under the title "Norges 
gamle Love, anden rsekke." ^ In Iceland, where the interest in 
the sagas continued to live, some important saga compilations were 
made as the " Hrokkinskinna " and the "Flateyjarbok." A collec- 
tion of Icelandic public documents has also been published under the 
title " Diplomatarium Islandicum." This literature, produced by 
the classes representing the higher culture, shows an interest in juris- 
prudence, in political and commercial affairs, and learned activity, 
but none whatever in history, poetry, and story-telling, in a word, 
in literature properly so called. Love for the spiritless scholastic 
learning had replaced the old interest for history and literary art. 
But poesy was not dead. It continued to flourish, where it had 
always flourished even before the Old Norse literature was produced, 
among the common people. The poesy which blossomed forth among 
the unlettered and unlearned classes was a direct continuation of 
the best features and more popular elements of the Old Norse litera- 
ture. The old spirit of the Norwegian people reasserted itself in 
this new poesy, unguided, but also unhampered, by the arbitrary 
rules of art, which had finally enveloped the Old Norse poetry like 
a hard crust, completely arresting its development. In the Middle 
Period the upper classes ceased to cultivate literature. Thereby 
poesy emancipated itself from learning, and returned to its own 
haunts to frolic about the fresh fountain-heads from which it was 
originally led forth. It can scarcely be regarded as a misfortune 
that it deserted the halls and the court circles where it had been 
reduced to bondage, and fled back to the bosom of the common 

^ Norges gamle Love, anden raekke, edited by Professor Absalon Taranger, 
Christiania, 1912. 


people, where it could begin to live again, because it found its own 
necessary environment — freedom. The Middle Period of Nor- 
wegian literature can scarcely be called the Dead Period, as some 
critics have ventured to suggest. It is in many ways one of the 
most important formative periods in Norwegian literary history, 
when poetry for the first time enters fully into its own; when it 
acquires the true universality of the art, and begins to express with 
charming artlessness the native mysticism, the national dreams, the 
joys and sorrows of the people. Even when modern Norwegian 
literature began to develop, it had to turn back to this period, and 
tune the harp to its melodies to find again the fundamental chords 
of true poesy which the too learned poets had forgotten. The Middle 
Period has not only left us one of the richest treasures among the 
rich stores of poesy and prose narratives in the North, which is read 
and admired even now to an extent which might make the masters 
envious, but it has done Northern literature an even greater service 
by rediscovering and reopening the eternal fountains of poesy, 
without which the great triumphs in modern literary art might 
never have been won. Had the upper classes continued to control 
the literary production, their learning might have spoiled their 
poetry, and we should not have had a literature so expressive of 
the spirit and character of the age as the folk-tales, folk-songs, and 
ballads of the common people. It would have been a literature for 
the upper classes, lacking the truly national element, and it is doubt- 
ful if it would have possessed the high value of the folk literature 
even when measured by modern standards of art. 

The folk Uterature may be divided into three main groups : the 
folk-songs, the traditional and legendary tales (sagn), and the folk- 
and fairy-tales (eventyr). In all of these we find a new hterary form, 
as well as a new literary spirit. In the folk-songs the rhyme has 
replaced the old alliterative verse, and the refrain is generally, though 
not always, employed. The folk-song has adapted itself to two new 
arts — music and the dance, and it is generally held, no doubt cor- 
rectly, that this new poetic form had been imported together with 
the latter from southern Europe. In the song-dance, which gradually 
became the great diversion of the common people, the trio : poesy, 
music, and dance were again united, as they had been even among 


the Greeks of old. This form of the dance originated quite early 
in Norway, and in Iceland it is mentioned even in the eleventh cen- 
tury.^ It was a home dance performed in the house in winter ; but 
in the summer generally out of doors. All could take part ; young and 
old, men and women formed a circle by holding each others' hands. 
The leader sang the song, and the others joined in the refrain, while 
all kept time to the melody. " And as the song proceeded, all entered 
more and more into the spirit of it, and lived over again the saga 
which the song narrated; the dance became dramatic." The song 
was the chief thing in the dance, and all who took part were sup- 
posed to know it so well that they could accompany it with motions 
and facial expressions. Hulda Garborg says : " The song-dance 
strengthened and revived the interest in history, since the songs so 
often dealt with stories from the sagas. This pastime was especially 
entertaining and useful during the long winters when the people 
stayed mostly indoors. For the young people the dance also became 
a school, an introduction to the old life, and a strengthening of the 
love of home and kindred. The young people learned also through 
the singing of the songs the good traits which the song especially 
praised : courage and manhood, honesty and courtesy, chivalry, 
self-sacrifice in love, and friendship unto death ; but shame and dis- 
grace befell the coward and the one who was dishonest and faithless. 
Often the songs stimulated the people's minds by wit and sarcasm ; 
yes, the song-dance was used even as a judicial tribunal. If a man 
had done something wrong, two strong men took him between them 
into the dance, and let him listen to verses full of spite and mockery, 
sung about his conduct. But he was allowed to reply as well as he 
could, and when they thought that he had heard enough, the case 
was thereby regarded as settled." In the folk-songs the epic and 
lyric elements are most intimately combined. The song is usually 
epic, as it narrates a story based on the sagas or other traditions, or 
even on mythology. The background of the narrative is often dark 
and mystic, but through the softer undertones breathes a deep feel- 
ing of joy or sorrow which concentrates itself in the purely lyrical 
refrain. The Faroe Islands have the greatest collection of purely 

^ Hiilda Garborg, Norske Folkevisor, Norske Folkeakrifter, no. 8, Christiania, 
1903 ; Songdansen i Norderlandi, 1904. 


epic folk-songs found in the North. The oldest of them, and in fact 
the oldest folk-songs known, are the " SjurSarkvseSi " or songs about 
Sigurd Fafnesbane. In Iceland the folk-songs died out, because the 
dance was forbidden by the church, and only fragments are now in 
existence.^ From the Shetland Islands only one song has been pre- 
served, the "Hildinakvad," written down in the eighteenth century 
in a language half Norse and half English. Travelers who saw the 
song-dance in these islands at that time state that here, as in the 
Faroe Islands, the songs dealt especially with episodes from Nor- 
wegian history. In Norway many large collections of folk-songs 
have been published, and the work of collecting them is not yet 
completed. Hitherto the largest and most noted collection is the 
"Norske Folkeviser," by M. B. Landstad.^ 

The traditional tales may be divided into two main groups : the 
mythological and the legendary-historical. Those of the first group 
form a continuation of the myths in a disguised form, especially 
those of the more popular features of the old faith which had become 
most intimately connected with the people's everyday life. Thor, 
the most popular of the gods, the trolls, which are but a variation 
of the old j^tuns, the fairy, the mountain spirits, mermaids, elves, 
etc., are still met with in these tales. The old gods had ceased 
to be regarded as divinities, but they continued to live in the popular 
imagination as evil spirits who exerted a powerful influence on people's 
lives and destiny. The conception of the powerful Thor had been 
too deeply ingrafted on the minds of the Norwegian people to be 
suddenly eradicated even by a change of faith. Though no longer 

1 Olafur DavISsson, Islenzkir Vikvakar og Vikivakakvcedi, 1908. V. U. 
Hammershaimb, Sjurdarkvaedi, 1851. Fcer^isk Antologi, 1889. 

2 Of other Norwegian collections may be mentioned : Sophus Bugge, 
Gamle norske Folkeviser, 1858 ; and Viser fra ^vre Telemarken, 1859. J0rgen 
Moe, Norske Viser og Stev i Folkesproget, 1840. Hans Ross, Norske Viser og 
Stev. Thorvald Lammers, Norske Folkeviser med Melodier, 1901-1902. Bernt 
St0ylen, Norske Barnerim og Leikar, 1899. Rikard Berge, Slev jraa Tele- 
marki, 1908. 

The old folk-melodies to which the folk-songs were sung have been col- 
lected by Ludvig M. Lindeman, Catharinus Elling, and others. Ludvig 
M. Lindeman, SO norske Kjocmpevisemelodier, Christiania, 1863. Rikard, 
Berge, Norsk Visefugg, med Tonar nedskrivne af Arne Eggen, Christiania, 
1904. Catharinus Elling, Norske Folkemelodier, Christiania Videnskab»- 
Selakabs Skrifier, 1909. 


worshiped as a god, he continued to exercise a magic influence in 
their lives. Thursday evening had yet its own significance; the 
magic plants used in medicine had to be picked on Thursday evening 
to have heahng quahties, and food had to be placed by the barn on 
Thursday evening for the elves to gain their good will. Character- 
istic was also the belief in the Aasgaardsrei,^ a fearful caravan which 
was thought to ride through the air on dark, wild horses. This pro- 
cession consisted of the spirits of the dead who in their natural Hfe 
had not done evil enough to be condemned to hell, but who were 
unhappy and without peace after death. Thor, as a spirit of evil, 
Sigurd the slayer of Fafnir, and Gudrun, who has been substituted 
for Hel, are the most conspicuous figures of the procession as it rides 
through the air to places where fights and murders occur, to fetch 
the souls of the slain. People were afraid to stand outdoors after 
dark lest the A asgaardsrei should come and snatch them away; 
but the sign of the cross placed on the house door was a sure pro- 
tection. The legendary-historical tales are especially connected 
with the national hero St. Olav, and the ravages of the Black Death. 
In these stories the red-bearded St. Olav has been substituted for 
the red-bearded Thor of mythology. It is St. Olav with his battle 
ax who wages war against the trolls and other forces of evils, as Thor 
swung his hammer Mj0lner against the j^tuns of old. Some of the 
tales are religious and legendary, while others are so closely connected 
with history that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish 
facts from fiction. The tales relating to the Black Death have al- 
ready been mentioned. To these may be added the numerous hygde- 
sagn, or local traditions of more or less historic character, found in 
all parts of the country.^ Ludvig Daae says of these : " The stories 

1 The word Aasgaardsrei seems to be connected with O. N. gskranligr, 
meaning fearful, and rei a procession on horseback, hence the fearful pro- 
cession. But the meaning of the first part of the word is not clear, and 
it has been variously interpreted. The story of the Aasgaardsrei is told 
in a folk-song from Telemarken. See Sagnet om Aasgaardsreien by P. A. 
Munch in Annaler for nor disk Oldkyndighed og Historie, 1846. O. A. Over- 
land, Aasgaardsreien, " Amerika," Madison, Wis., February 27, 1901. Folke- 
sagn fra Sogn, Huldrefolket og Juleskreia, " Decorah-Posten," Decorah, la., 
July 10, 1903. 

2 Andreas Faye, Norske Folkesagn, 1833. P. Chr. Asbj0rnsen, Norske 
Huldreeventyr og Folkesagn, 1845, 1848. Ludvig Daae, Norske Bygdesagn, I. 

VOL. II — H 


which we still find preserved by the inhabitants of a certain guard 
(farm) through generations bear the closest resemblance to the sagas 
of all popular traditions. These old traditions have often a great 
value for the history of culture; even if the individual features of 
the stories themselves may seem insignificant, they are of so much 
the greater interest, because they have been preserved through 
centuries." Many traditions of a more poetic character are also 
found, some of which seem to be of foreign origin, while others orig- 
inated at home during the later romantic period of the saga litera- 
ture. Of such may be mentioned the tales about Hagbart and Signe, 
Aslaug Kraaka, King Bele and Torstein Vikingsson, and others.^ 
The resemblance which these tales bear to the sagas is especially 
conspicuous in the interest manifested for family relationship, and 
the love of historic narrative, which soon convinces us that they are 
pieces cut from the same cloth. But the old Norse art of story-tell- 
ing, which had been developed in the saga period, is found also in 
the folk- and fairy-tales (eventyr). As to contents these tales are 
pure invention. If traced to their obscure origin, many of the tradi- 
tions on which the stories are based may even be found to have been 
brought from foreign lands,^ but this is of secondary importance. 
The scenery, the character, temperament, and language of the 
persons depicted in the narrative are not only Norwegian, but typi- 
cally so. The very texture of the story is characteristic Norwe- 
gian art. In southern lands the adventure was the chief feature of 
the story. In the Norwegian tales the interest centers about the 
character of the persons depicted. Character-painting, psychological 
analysis, is as much the art secret in the folk- and fairy-tales as 
it was in the sagas, and so it continues to be in Norwegian prose 
narrative even to the present. The story-teller unveils to us 
a character, and starts him on his career. Everj'thing, even his 
boldest adventures, bear the impress of his personality and follows 

and II., 1870, 1872. Halvard Bergh, Segnir fraa Valdris. M. B. Landstad, 
Gamle Sagn om Hj ar td filer ne, 1880. Sir George Webbe Dasent, Popular 
Tales from the Norse; Tales from the Fjeld; and, Norse Fairy Tales Selected 
and Adapted from the Translation hy Sir George Webbe Dasent, by Elnowles, 
lippincott Co., 1910. 

* Svend Grundtvig, Gamle danske Folkeviser, vol. I. 

» J0rgen Moe, Samlede Skrifter, vol. II., p. 16 ff. ; Foriale og Indledning tU 
Norske Folkeeventyr, 2d edition, 1852. 


as a matter of course. Whatever he does, he must do, in a sense. 
He will do good, bad, great, mean, or foolish things, not because of 
circumstances, but because he is good, bad, great, mean, or foolish. 
His career is not a chain of romantic accidents, but the gradual 
unfolding of an inner law. 

The most typical characters created by the Norwegian folk- and 
fairy-tales are the three brothers Peter, Paul, and Esben Askelad. 
Esben, the youngest of the three brothers, seems to be the idealized 
Viking chieftain lifted into the realm of poetry. Like the Viking he 
is the younger brother who finds his fortune only by leaving home. 
He is young and inexperienced and has never done anything but 
dig in the ashes of the fireplace. His older brothers ridicule him. 
He encounters the greatest difficulties, but he finally triumphs be- 
cause of superior talents, patience, and perseverance, just as many a 
Viking chieftain had done, and wins the princess and half the king- 
dom. We can scarcely doubt that the Norwegian people were re- 
viving the memories of the Viking period in these stories about 
Esben Askelad, After they had quit seeking adventures with the 
sword, they began to live over again in literature the experiences of 
the nation. In the sagas these experiences had been narrated as 
history, in these tales they reappear as poetry. Esben becomes as 
typical a representative of the Middle Period as the Viking chieftains 
and warrior kings were of the Viking Age. He is no blood-stained 
warrior who goes forth to kill and plunder. He is not only brave, 
but also kind and sympathetic, and his very kindness is a secret 
source of power which helps him in the greatest trials. In this 
respect he forms a contrast to his older brothers, who have caught 
nothing of the new spirit. Esben's victories were moral and intel- 
lectual victories, giving promise of a new era when moral and intel- 
lectual forces should begin to establish their superiority over 
brute strength. This new spirit touched the heart-strings, and gave 
expression to the finer feelings which the scaldic poetry had refused 
to recognize. The rusty portals thereby swung open to new possi- 
bilities. For the first time the poet could sing about what he had 
never seen, about what might and ought to be. Poesy was no longer 
chained by rules of art to past events, for imagination and feeling 
had been set free. Poverty and labor, sorrow and hardships might 


continue to build their prison walls; the human spirit could 
rise on the wings of poesy to an ideal worid where no limitations 
existed, to that beautiful castle of its own creation, " The Castle 
East of the Sun and West of the Moon." ^ This enthroning of crea- 
tive imagination is the beginning of poetry in a modern sense, when 
it becomes a vehicle for bringing the ideal world into the realm of 
human experience as a new force of life. 

15. Local and General Administration 

When the lendermcend office was abolished in 1308, the adminis- 
tration of internal affairs was left wholly with the sysselmcend, who 
were royal officials. In the fourteenth century, as already stated, 
the sysselmcend were called the king's fogeds (vogt, from adwcatus, 
i.e. royal agent) and it became customary to farm out to them the 
royal revenues of the syssel, or district, in lieu of which they were to 
pay a certain sum to the royal purse.^ The syssel might also be 
granted them "kvit og frit," i.e. without returns. As the syssel- 
mcend were regarded as royal agents to whom the districts were in 
a way granted for administrative purposes, the syssels came to be 
called lens, and the sysselmcend lensmoend, or lensherrer, while the older 
term foged was applied to a class of inferior officials. The lens were 
divided into smaller administrative districts called fogderier, in each 
of which the lensherre appointed fogeds as the local administrative 
officers. But the fogeds had to swear obedience to the king, and were 
not the personal representatives of the lensherre. Under the fogeds 
stood the b^nder-lensmcend, two in each fylke, who served as tax 
collectors and police officials. It had been ordained by the law of 
1293^ that the sysselmosnd should appoint these lensmcend from 
among the most intelligent and upright hinder of the district, hence 
they were called b^nder-leTismcBnd, to distinguish ihem. from the 
lensmcend proper, or lensherrer. The lens were of two kinds, prin- 
cipal and inferior. The principal lens were ten in number: Bohus, 

^'i'Slottet 0stenfor Sol og vestenf or Maane," P. Chr. Asbj0rnsen, Norske 
Folke- og Huldreeventyr. See also P. Chr. Asbj0rnsen and J0i^en Moe, 
Norske Folkeeventyr, 1842. 

* T, H. Aschehoug, De norske Communers Retsforfatning f^r 1837, p. 13. 
Ebbe Hertzberg, Len og Veitzla, p. 308 f. 

» T. H. Aschehoug, De norske Communers Retsforfatning f^r 1837, p. 10. 


Akershus, Brunla, Bratsberg, Agdesiden, Stavanger, Bergenhus, 
Trondhjem, Nordland, and Vard0hus. The lensherre exercised 
both civil and mihtary authority in his len, but his office was appoin- 
tive, not hereditary. He was appointed for Hfe, for a fixed number 
of years, or for an indefinite period, but he might be removed by the 
king at any time. The royal lensmcend could only collect the fixed 
and customary dues. According to the laws of 1297, 1455,^ 1539 
they were forbidden to levy new taxes, or to change the tax rates 
except with the consent of the people. But this very important 
provision was often violated, especially by the greedy fogeds, who 
forced the people to pay more than their just dues, and if anyone 
resisted forcibly, he was in danger of being treated as a rebel. But 
when the people assembled at the thing, they might refuse to pay a 
tax even if the king had levied it. When Stig Bagge at the fylkes- 
thing, in Sogndal, in 1532, read a letter from the king announcing 
that a new tax had been imposed, the people took the matter under 
advisement, whereupon they declared with uplifted swords that, as 
they had paid heavy taxes the last year, they would pay nothing 
this year until midsummer, and this resolve they maintained in spite 
of the threats of the royal lensrruBnd.^ A similar action had been 
taken at the fylkesthing at Halsaa in 1484.^ As both personal and 
property rights were often infringed upon by the fogeds, the royal 
lensmoBnd, and even by the king himself,^ the people demanded that 
these rights should be safeguarded by the royal charters. By a 
royal decree of June 25, 1455, the king's lensmcend and other officials 
were forbidden to oppress the people, to impose unlawful taxes, or 
to seize or imprison any one without due process of law. Similar 
provisions are found in the Swedish charter of King Christian I., 
and in the charters issued by King Hans and his successors.^ 

^ T. H. Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 1814, 
p. 227; De norske Communers Retsforfatning f^r 1837, p. 84. 

^ T. H. Aschehoug, De norske Communers Retsforfatning f^r 1837, p. 81. 
Diplomatarium Norwegicum, II., no. 1108. 

^ Diplomatarium Norwegicum, IV., no. 997. 

* At times the king did impose taxes without the advice or consent of the 
Council, but this does not seem to have happened very often. See T. H. 
Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 181 4, p. 253. 

* T. H. Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 1814, 
p. 226 ff. ; De norske Communers Retsforfatning f^r 1837. 


The thing-system still existed, but the power of lawmaking had 
been gradually assumed by the king, who in such matters was suf- 
fered to act in conformity with the advice of the Council. The 
people's consent expressed through the thing was generally, though 
not always, asked for, but it had ceased to be anything but a mere 
matter of form. Perhaps the chief reason why the things ceased to 
take an active part in legislation was that the laws were considered 
permanent, and the king's lawmaking power was very limited. He 
could issue ordinances in regard to special matters, but he had to 
take an oath to obey and uphold the "Code of Magnus Lagab0ter," 
which was considered to be the essential and permanent laws of the 

The Council of the realm shared the sovereign power with the 
king, and in some respects it was even placed above him. It acted, 
not only as an advisory body, but the king had to obtain its consent 
in all important matters. The charter granted by Christian I. 
states that "no important errand shall be undertaken or fulfilled 
unless a majority of the Council consents thereto." When the king 
died, the Council assumed full sovereign authority, and acted as a 
regency, or it chose a regent to act in the interim until a new king 
was placed on the throne. But although the king's sovereign author- 
ity was thus divided and limited, the Council was no ministry repre- 
senting the will of the people, as in modern constitutional monarchies, 
and when we except the chancellor, who was the king's private 
secretary, the councilors did not assist the king as cabinet members 
in the routine work of his administrative duties. The members 
of the Council did not stay in the same place, but lived scattered 
through the kingdom, and because of the expenses and difficulties 
connected with travel in those days, they could meet only on special 
occasions when they were summoned by the king. How often these 
meetings were held cannot be determined with certainty. Accord- 
ing to King Hans' charter, the Council should be assembled once 
every two years in Oslo and Bergen alternately. Because of the 
slow and difficult process of assembling the Council, it was stated 
in Karl Knutsson's charter that the king should obtain its advice 
except in cases of emergency, when he might act without consulting 
it. This was a dangerous concession, as it became possible for the 


king to wholly ignore the Council on the plea of emergency, and we 
have already observed a growing tendency on the part of the union 
kings to wholly disregard the Norwegian Council. 

16. Christian II. The Dawn of a New Era 

Christian, the son of King Hans, was born July 1, 1481, and was 
at the time of his father's death thirty-two years of age. As a child 
he was so wild and untractable that his father placed him in the 
family of a well-to-do merchant, Hans Meissenheim, but after a 
month had passed, the merchant's wife, a very good and conscientious 
woman, refused to have the responsibility of keeping him. He was 
then placed in the home of his tutor, but after a short time he was 
brought back to the palace, where he received a new tutor, the hu- 
manist Konrad of Brandenburg. Under his guidance the young 
prince was made acquainted with the new ideas of the Renaissance, 
which seem to have greatly interested the wide-awake pupil. Chris- 
tian was a gifted boy ; and when he grew to manhood he was espe- 
cially well developed both intellectually and physically. He had 
lofty plans and a resolute will to accomplish great things. He was 
energetic and courageous, but suspicion and a tendency to faith- 
lessness and melancholy were serious defects in his character which 
early manifested themselves. At the age of twenty-one he was 
placed in command of the army sent to Norway to quell the upris- 
ing led by Knut Alvsson, and a few years later he again returned as 
the ruler of the kingdom, clothed with full sovereign power. That 
he would become his father's successor was no longer doubtful. In 
1487, while he was only six years old, the Danish Estates had hailed 
him as his father's successor on the throne of Denmark, two years 
later the Norwegian Council decided that he should succeed his 
father on the throne of Norway, and in Sweden he had been hailed 
as heir to the throne in 1499. But Sten Sture's revolt had created 
new difficulties.. Upon the death of King Hans in 1513 the Councils 
of the three kingdoms were summoned to meet in Copenhagen, but 
only nine Swedish councilors met, and they had received such limited 
power that they could not settle the one great question, the attitude 
of Sweden to the union. The Danish and Norwegian councilors 


then undertook to formulate their demands in charters which the 
king would be asked to sign. The Norwegian councilors prefaced 
their demands with a complaint that the king had called himself 
the rightful heir to the Norwegian kingdom, although Norway was 
now an elective monarchy, and, furthermore, that King Hans, con- 
trary to the oath which he had taken, had not redeemed the Orkney 
and Shetland Islands, or the annuities to be paid for the Hebrides 
and Man according to the treaty of Perth. Then follows a series 
of demands by which the councilors sought to safeguard the autonomy 
of Norway, and to maintain its equality with Denmark in the union. 
Towards the Danish Council the king was very condescending, but 
the demands of the Norwegian councilors he treated with haughty 
disfavor. Some he refused to grant, some he passed over in silence, 
and others he referred to the Danish Council. To the very reason- 
able request that the castles and lens of Norway should be granted 
to native lords he returned the answer through his chancellor that, 
since the nobility of Norway was almost extinct, he would grant the 
lens and castles of the kingdom to Danes and native-born lords. 
The ecclesiastical offices over which the crown exercised the right 
of patronage would be given to native-born Danes and Norwegians, 
and none but Danes and Norwegians should be appointed members 
of the Norwegian Council. This was tantamount to saying that 
Norway should be ruled by Danes, not by native-born officials. No 
special charter was granted Norway, but the Danish charter was to 
be considered as applying to both realms, a step which destroyed 
the equaUty of the two kingdoms in the union. This rather brutal 
disregard for the acknowledged rights of Norway he could show, 
because he knew that the kingdom lacked an efficient military organi- 
zation, and that the Norwegian Council had no means of enforcing 
its demands. " But it is a question," says Sars, "if it was poUtically 
correct for Christian II. to take the greatest possible advantage of 
this weakness in the way he did, or if it must not rather be said that 
by his conduct in this instance he showed the same violent greed for 
power, the political short-sightedness, and lack of true statesmanship 
which always characterized his conduct." ^ The charter was finally 

1 J. E. Sara, Udsigt over den norske Historie, III., p. 178. R. Keyser, 
Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, II., p. 616 f. Samlinger 


accepted, and the Councils adjourned to meet again in June, 1515, 
for the purpose of settling the difficult question regarding Sweden. 
On June 11, 1514, King Christian was crowned at Copenhagen, and 
a little later he was also crowned at Oslo as king of Norway. 

On the day of his coronation as king of Denmark, Christian II. 
was married to Isabella, or Elizabeth, the sister of Emperor Charles 
V. of Spain and Germany. At the marriage ceremony he was repre- 
sented by Mogens Gj0, who acted as his proxy, as the young bride, 
who was only thirteen years old, did not arrive in Denmark till the 
following year, when the wedding was celebrated at Copenhagen. 
The young queen soon found that her husband was cold and indiffer- 
ent. His heart still clung to Dyveke, whom he refused to give up. 
To the appeals which foreign ambassadors and others made to him 
on this point he answered with characteristic haughtiness that this 
was a matter with which they should not meddle. Queen Elizabeth 
bore her lot patiently, and proved herself a lady of such excellent 
quahties that she won the sympathy even of Dyveke's mother, 
Sigbrit, who, upon her daughter's death, transferred her motherly 
affections to the young queen; but many years passed before the 
king learned to properly esteem his legally wedded wife. In June, 
1517, Dyveke died very suddenly, and the story was told that she 
had been poisoned by some cherries which the nobleman Torbern 
Oxe had sent her. For a time the king was overwhelmed with grief 
and mental gloom. Suspicion pointed to Torbern, who indiscreetly 
said things which further aroused the king's anger, and his hatred 
once kindled was always deadly. He did not rest until Torbern 
was sentenced to death, and in spite of intercessions in behalf of 
the condemned man he caused the death sentence to be carried out. 
From this time forth Dyveke's mother, Sigbrit, enjoyed the king's 
confidence to the fullest extent, and exercised unlimited power and 
influence at court. She seems to have belonged to the plain towns- 
people of her native city of Amsterdam, but she possessed a degree 

til del norske Folks Sprog og Historie, I., Iver Hesselberg, Christian den anden i 
Norge. Karl F. Allen, De tre nordiske Rigers Historie under Kongerne Hans, 
Kristian II. og Gustav Vasa. Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historie, 
IV., p. 363 ff., Kong Christiern den andens norske og danske Haandfoestning af 


of learning quite unusual among those classes at that time. She 
was especially well versed both in alchemy and medicine, but the 
real secret of her power lay in the ability to control all who came 
under the spell of her influence. If the courtiers and nobles had 
hoped to destroy her power by removing Dyveke, they were now 
compelled instead to wait in corridors and ante-chambers until it 
pleased Madam Sigbrit to admit them into the royal presence, and 
she did not hesitate to treat them as truant school-boys, or, upon 
occasion, even to chide the king himself. But she used her power 
with discretion. She was instrumental in bringing about the best 
relations between the king and his young queen whom she had learned 
to love as her own daughter. In the affairs of government her 
influence was everjnvhere visible, and gives evidence of the practical 
ability and shrewd intrigue which enabled her to play her part so 
successfully. Archbishop Valkendorf of Trondhjem, who had sought 
to remove Dyveke, had to leave his archdiocese. He repaired to 
Rome to lay his case before the Pope, but died there in 1522,^ and 
the following year Olav Engelbrektsson, dean of the cathedral 
chapter in Trondhjem, was chosen his successor. Sigbrit gained 
full control of the customs and duties of the realm, and gradually 
assumed direction of all financial affairs, and she also acted in other 
matters as the king's chief councilor and assistant. The king did 
not fail to devote some attention to the Norwegian colonial posses- 
sions, but his efforts seem to have been the result of sudden and easily 
abandoned impulses rather than of a systematically pursuedfplan. 
For over a hundred years the colonies in Greenland had remained 
wholly cut off from all communication with Norway, and they were 
at this time well-nigh forgotten. Archbishop Valkendorf made the 
first attempt to reestablish communications with Greenland. He 
gathered what information he could find, and wrote very detailed 
directions for the captains who were to make the voyage to the colo- 
nies. The king aided him enthusiastically, inspired, no doubt, by 
the accounts of the great voyages which were being made to the new 

* Ludvig Daae, En Kr^nike om Erkebiskopperne i Nidaros, Festakrift, 
luigivet i Anledning af Trondhjems 900 Aars Jubilceum, 1897. H. G. Hegg- 
tveit, Trondhjem i Fortid og Nutid, p. 128 ff. Diplomatarium Norwegicum, 
vol. IV., no. 1080. 


world, but Sigbrit's opposition to the archbishop, and his flight from 
his diocese, put a sudden stop to the undertaking. 

The trade with Iceland continued to create complications requir- 
ing diplomatic negotiations. Commerce had not yet been reduced 
to the system of peaceful and well regulated intercourse between 
nations as in modern times, for although treaties were made for the 
regulation of trade, the merchants still retained too much of the 
spirit of belligerent navigators, or roving adventurers, to be bound 
by conventions either written or oral. The sixteenth century was, 
throughout, a period of hazardous enterprise, of sharp competition, 
and the use of the club-law in the harbors and upon the high seas. If 
Englishmen came in too close a touch with Germans, Spaniards, 
or other rivals, the treaty provisions were none too closely scrutinized, 
and many a violent encounter followed. Such brawls between Nor- 
wegian and English traders had not been unknown in the past, and 
they were reenacted in Iceland, where competition for the trade led 
to frequent outrages and serious troubles even after commerce was 
made free in 1490. From 1507 the complaints of the Danish and 
Norwegian merchants of their English competitors were constantly 
growing louder, until armed conflict broke out, and in 1510 or 1511 
the English who had established themselves in Iceland were driven 
away. The following year they returned with increased forces, 
captured one of the royal ships, and killed one of the king's secre- 
taries and several of the crew. When Christian II. ascended the 
throne, he complained of these outrages to King Henry VIII. of 
England, who was at that time engaged in a war with Scotland. So 
long as the war lasted, Henry was very polite and regretted deeply 
the acts of lawlessness committed by his subjects, but when peace 
was concluded, he suddenly changed. With a haughty air he told 
the ambassadors that the Icelanders had been treated as they de- 
served. He refused to pay any damages, and affected to be granting 
a special favor when he consented, in 1515, to a renewal of the treaty 
of 1490 by which further depredations were to be prevented. 
. The fifteenth century had been a time of intellectual awakening 
in Europe. Humanism and the Renaissance had gradually moved 
northward across the Alps like the coming summer, and the effect 
produced by the ferment of the new learning began to make itself 


felt, not only in art and literature, but also in the growth of new 
social ideas. In Germany the reform movement inaugurated by 
John Huss, and the subsequent wars of the Hussites, had created 
a religious revival tinged with a patriotic spirit. With this move- 
ment humanism allied itself on its northward march. In Germany 
the new learning was partly turned into religious channels, and as 
many of the humanists sprang from the common classes the new 
movement became both intellectually and socially antagonistic to 
the Roman hierarchy with its old scholastic learning and its aristo- 
cratic feudalistic ideas. This intellectual awakening prepared the 
way for the Reformation, which followed in the wake of the new 
learning. The reformers appealed to the common people in their 
own mother tongue, and proclaimed their right to govern themselves 
in religious affairs. The Protestant churches became national and 
democratic in conformity with the intellectual tendencies of the age. 
This important change, accompanied by greater freedom of the 
individual in matters of religious doctrine, finally broke the spell of 
the Roman incubus, and ushered in a new era of intellectual and 
social development. The new ideas of the Renaissance came also 
to the North. In Denmark, especially, very appreciable traces of 
humanistic activity are to be found ; but as the movement was late 
in appearing, it received no distinct development, but was soon fused 
with the Lutheran Reformation which followed in its wake. In the 
time of Christian II. Luther began his great church reformation in 
Germany. On October 31, 1517, he nailed his "Ninety-five Theses" 
on the church door in Wittenberg, in which he attacked especially 
the sale of indulgences, and urged the necessity of true repentance. 
The attention attracted by these theses astonished even Luther 
himself. "In fourteen days they ran through all Germany," he 
says, "for all the world complained of the sale of indulgences." In 
1520 Luther was excommunicated, a step which completed the rup- 
ture between him and the Roman Pontiff. Accompanied by the 
students of the university, he marched to the Elstergate of the city, 
where he publicly burned the papal bull, as a sign that he renounced 
all allegiance to the Pope. Luther's teachings soon became known 
in Denmark, and Christian 11, was favorably impressed with his 
doctrines.* He had been influenced from childhood by the liberal 
* R. Keyser, Den norake Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, II., p. 647. 


ideas of the Renaissance, and he hated the arrogant clergy, as well 
as the powerful nobility. He held quite advanced views with regard 
to the education of the common classes and the limitation of the power 
of the bishops and the monastic orders, but in his inclination towards 
the doctrines of Luther it is impossible to discover any motive but 
love of power and desire for gain. The new teachings would give 
him the longed-for opportunity to extend his power at the expense 
of the clergy. This would be scarcely less welcome than the oppor- 
tunity to increase his revenues by suppressing the monasteries, 
even as his contemporary Henry VHI. did in England. His attitude 
to the papal agents who were selHng indulgences in the North also 
points to this desire as the prime motive for his interest in church 
reform. In 1518 John Angellus Archemboldus came to the North 
as papal legate, ostensibly for the purpose of settling a quarrel 
between the Swedish bishop, Gustav Trolle, and Sten Sture the 
Younger, but it soon became evident that his real aim was to sell 
indulgences.^ Christian II. granted him permission to carry on this 
trade throughout his realms in consideration of the payment of the 
small sum of 1120 Rhenish gulden, the legate promising to use his 
influence in the king's behalf in Sweden. Agents were dispatched 
to Bergen and even to Iceland. His chief assistant, Didrik Slagheck 
of Westphalia, was sent to Sweden, whither Archemboldus himself 
soon followed. But Sten Sture, who knew the legate's mercenary 
motives, soon won him to his side by bribes, and the prelate's per- 
fidious conduct so angered King Christian that he ordered him and 
his assistants to be arrested. By timely flight they saved themselves, 
but the money and goods which they had collected and stored in 
various places were seized by the king's officers. Even a sum of 
3000-4000 marks which had been deposited with the Bishop of Bergen 
was swept into the royal coffers. This episode very naturally 
strengthened the king's sympathy for Luther and his teachings. 
He was persuaded to send for a Lutheran minister to introduce 
Lutheranism in Denmark, and Elector Frederick of Saxony sent 
Martin Reinhard to Copenhagen in 1520. But Reinhard could not 
speak Danish, and had to employ as interpreter Paulus EHse (Paul 

1 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. VI., no. 660, 662, 663, 664, also no. 


Ellisen), a monk from Elsinore (Helsing0r), who soon became dis- 
couraged, and again accepted the CathoHc faith. Reinhard could 
accompUsh nothing, and had to return to Germany. Christian 
seems to have continued to be well disposed towards the Reforma- 
tion, but grave political disturbances, and especially the war with 
Sweden, prevented him from introducing it in his realm. Norway 
had hitherto remained wholly untouched by the great reform move- 
ment, but the tyrannical king, who thought more of property than 
of faith, nevertheless secularized the two Norwegian monasteries 
of Dragsmark and Gims0. 

In Sweden the old feud between the rival families of Sture and 
TroUe was continued by Archbishop Trolle and Sten Sture the 
Younger. Hostilities broke out between the two factions, but Trolle 
defended himself successfully in his strong castle of Stake in Malaren. 
Meanwhile a greater danger threatened Sture from without. At a 
council in Arboga in January, 1517, he had declared that he would 
never recognize Christian II. as king of Sweden, and the people 
supported him with enthusiasm, but under the circumstances a 
war with Denmark was unavoidable. Christian II., who lacked 
funds, found difficulty in equipping an army for the campaign in 
Sweden. When at length he sent 4000 men and twenty ships to 
relieve Stake castle, where Gustav Trolle was closely besieged, the 
army was defeated, the castle was destroyed, and Archbishop Trolle 
was deposed and imprisoned as a traitor to his country. But Chris- 
tian II. would not give up the idea of conquering Sweden. On 
January 29, 1518, he landed an army at Stockholm, and laid siege 
to the city,^ but when Sture arrived with a large force, he had to 
resort to peace negotiations, as he lacked provisions and ammuni- 
tion, and his German mercenaries were deserting in large numbers. 
A year's truce was arranged, but the king planned to capture Sten 
Sture by treachery. He invited him to a conference and promised 
to give hostages, but Sture refused, and in turn invited King Chris- 
tian on the same conditions. Christian accepted, but as soon as he 
had the hostages in his power he annulled the truce and set sail for 
Denmark. One of the hostages thus abducted was the young noble- 
man Gustav Eriksson Vasa, the later Hberator of Sweden. 
1 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. XIV., no. 271. 


The increase of taxes due to Christian's warlike expeditions weighed 
heavily on the people, and caused much suffering and discontent. 
But such matters did not for a moment cause the tyrannous king 
to pause in the pursuit of his selfish aims. The toll paid by the Ger- 
man merchants in passing the Sound was increased in flagrant vio- 
lation of stipulated agreements with the German cities; soldiers 
were hired in Germany, France, and Scotland, and the Norwegian 
magnates had to furnish a certain number of armed men ; the king 
would not halt until Sweden was subdued. The Pope was per- 
suaded to sanction the excommunication which Archbishop Birger 
had already fulminated against Sten Sture; Sweden was placed 
under interdict, and Christian was commissioned to inflict the 
requisite punishment upon the kingdom. This gave Christian's war 
of conquest even a rehgious tinge, as he could now earn the blessing 
and gratitude of the Pope by winning the throne of Sweden. In 
1520 he entered Sm&,land with a large army. In Vestergotland the 
invaders encountered the Swedes under Sten Sture, who had sta- 
tioned himself in the neighborhood of Bogesund. In the battle 
which ensued, Sture was wounded, his army was thrown into confu- 
sion and fled from the field. At Tiveden a second engagement was 
fought, and the Danes were again victorious. The wounded Sten 
Sture was brought in a sleigh across Lake Malaren towards Stock- 
holm, but died from his wounds before reaching the city, only twenty- 
seven or twenty-eight years of age. Though young in years, he was 
as able as he was heroic, and he is justly regarded as one of the noblest 
characters in Swedish history. 

Under these circumstances many of the leaders lost courage and 
would have given up the struggle, but Sten Sture's widow, Christina 
Gyllenstjerna, who conducted the defense of Stockholm, refused 
to surrender the city. The struggle continued, and the invaders 
suffered heavy losses, but when Christian II. arrived with a fleet, 
and blockaded Stockholm, Christina was finally forced to surrender, 
September 7, 1520. 

17. Christian II. the Tyrant. The Stockholm Massacre 

From the moment that Sweden submitted. Christian II. treated 
the kingdom with the arrogance of a conqueror. The councilors were 


summoned to meet in the Gray Friars monastery, where Bishop Jens 
Beldenak explained to them that the king was the rightful heir to 
the Swedish throne according to the law of St. Erik. A trace of 
relationship between Christian II. and St. Erik might indeed be 
figured out, but the claim that for this reason he was heir to the throne 
of an elective monarchy was a self-evident prevarication, which only 
illustrates how the king would respect the laws and institutions 
of the realm which he was henceforth to govern. On November 1, 
1520, he was proclaimed king according to the principle of hereditary 
kingship which he had proclaimed. The coronation occurred Novem- 
ber 4 ; elaborate festivities were arranged for the succeeding days, and 
most of the Swedish nobility had assembled in the capital for the 
occasion. Now that the king had reached the goal of his ambition, 
and the crowns of the three realms had been united on his brow, 
nothing could seem more natural than to seek to win the support of 
all for the new order of things by a conciliatory poHcy. The more 
hideous is the thought that in the midst of the coronation festivities 
he was conceiving the plot for one of the darkest crimes which history 
has recorded. The despicable creature, Didrik Slagheck, and the 
revengeful Gustav Trolle, the archbishop, were constantly about the 
king, and filled his dark mind with most pernicious counsel. On the 
7th of November a large number of nobles, men and women, and a 
number of leading citizens were summoned to the royal palace. The 
doors were locked behind them, and Gustav Trolle stepped forward 
to accuse them of various crimes. They had driven him from his 
archdiocese, they had razed his castle, and had used violence against 
the servants of the church, he claimed. He demanded an indemnity 
of 500,000 marks for the losses sustained by himself and other bishops, 
a sum so enormous that it would have ruined all against whom he 
directed his charges. He further demanded that the assembled 
lords and ladies should be imprisoned until they could be sentenced 
by the king, who would receive God's reward and the praise of all 
Christendom for meting out punishment to these heretics. The 
assembled nobles were struck with consternation, as they realized 
but too well that a plot had been laid for their destruction. The 
only one who for the moment retained full composure was Sten 
Sture's young widow Christina Gyllenstjerna. She showed that 


the proceedings against Gustav Trolle had been decided by a general 
diet, and that if punishment should be meted out, the whole nation 
would have to be punished, and not only a few individual lords. 
But this gave the king a new opportunity. The action of the diet 
was interpreted as rebellion against the Pope, i.e. it was heresy, 
for which the king could punish them in the name of the church. 
All were hurried off to prison, and the next day, after a mock trial 
had been conducted, the king sentenced them to death as heretics. 
Now began the carnival of blood known as the Stockholm massacre, 
the direction of which was left to Didrik Slagheck. On the 8th of 
November eighty-two persons were beheaded on the public square 
of the city ; among others, the bishops of Strangnas and Skara, many 
aldermen of the city, and a large number of the leading men of Sweden. 
Sten Sture's body, as well as that of his dead child, was exhumed 
and burned with the bodies of the executed. The massacre spread 
also to the provinces, and it seems to have been the king's mad 
purpose to destroy the whole nobility of Sweden with one fell stroke. 
Sten Sture and his adherents had been excommunicated, and it was, 
therefore, possible for the king and his evil counselors to carry on 
their fiendish work of destruction without incurring the execration 
of all Christendom. When the king left Stockholm to return to 
Denmark, he left a trail of blood. In Jonkoping several persons 
were executed; at Nydala monastery the abbot and several monks 
were drowned, and Christina Gyllenstjerna, together with many other 
ladies, was carried into captivity in Denmark. Christian II. had 
well earned the title of Christian the Tyrant. Even among the Danes 
themselves the king's vile deed caused general consternation. The 
great sea-captain S0ren Norby did not conceal his ill-will even in 
the king's presence, and Otto Krumpen resigned as general of the 
army. The shock of abhorrence, which at first stunned all, was 
soon followed in all the realms by a storm of indignation so violent 
that it hurled Christian the Tyrant from the throne which he had 
so wantonly disgraced. 

The young Gustav Eriksson Vasa, one of the Swedish nobles 
whom Christian II. had kidnapped and brought to Denmark, es- 
caped from his captivity and fled to Liibeck, whence he returned to 
Sweden. His father was one of the victims of the Stockholm mas- 

VOL. II — I 


sacre, and the king engaged spies to seize the young nobleman, who 
henceforward bent his great energy and remarkable talents to the 
one great task of freeing his country from the tyrant's grasp. The 
accounts of his wanderings and hairbreadth escapes from his pur- 
suers read like a romance. In vain he tried to rouse his country- 
men. At Kalmar and in Sm&land he attempted it and failed, 
and even in Dalarne the peasants would give him no support, 
though they listened with reverence to his eloquent appeals. Hunted 
from place to place, wandering in disguise through remote settle- 
ments, despairing of success, he finally resolved to seek refuge in 
Norway. But when the Dalkarleans received proof of King Chris- 
tian's cruelties, they repented and sent messengers to bring Gustav 
Vasa back to Sweden. On his return they chose him "Lord and 
chief of Dalarne and of the kingdom of Sweden " in January, 1521. 
At the head of a few poorly equipped peasants Gustav Vasa resolutely 
raised the standard of revolt against the hated tyrant, and thanks 
to the incompetency of Didrik Slagheck, whom King Christian II. 
had intrusted with the administration of Sweden, he was rapidly 
increasing his forces. Not till April did Slagheck and Gustav 
TroUe take the field against him, and they were defeated at Bruns- 
bak, on the Dal River. Gustav Vasa's forces soon numbered 15,000 
men, and at Vester&s the government forces under Slagheck suffered 
a second defeat. At this critical juncture King Christian was in 
the Netherlands visiting his brother-in-law. Emperor Charles V., 
and his henchmen in Sweden were unable to cope with the rapidly 
spreading uprising. Gustav Vasa was unable to take Stockholm, 
but in the country districts .the revolution had great success. Did- 
rik Slagheck was recalled to Copenhagen,* and Gustav Trolle suc- 
ceeded him in the management of affairs in Sweden, but he was as 
unable to accomplish anything as his predecessor. Before the end 
of the year (1521) Stockholm, Kalmar, and Abo in Finland were 

^ Through Christian II. 's influence Didrik Slagheck was elected Arch- 
bishop of Lund, but when the king finally learned how he had been deceived 
by him, he caused him to be arrested. The hated royal favorite was tried, 
condemned to death and executed. C. T. Allen, De tre nordiske Rigers 
Historie under Kongerne Hans, Christian II., og Gustav Vasa, vol. III., part 
III., p. 225 f . Anders Fryxell, Gustav Vasa's Historie, oversat fra det Svenske 
af M. Birkeland, Christiania, 1856. 


the only larger cities which had not been surrendered to Gustav. 
As Stockholm could not be taken without the assistance of a fleet, 
since the redoubtable S0ren Norby, who commanded the Danish 
fleet, carried supplies to the city, Gustav turned to Liibeck for aid, 
and the merchants of that city responded by sending a fleet of ten 
ships to blockade the city. The king, who was hard pressed by the 
Hanseatic fleets, as well as by a revolt at home, could pay but slight 
attention to Sweden. Gustav Vasa was proclaimed king at a diet 
in Strangnas June 6, 1523, and shortly afterward the surrender of 
Stockholm ended the struggle which terminated for all times the 
unfortunate union with Denmark. The sufferings caused by Chris- 
tian's tyranny and the subsequent war of liberation had awakened 
a strong national spirit, which launched the Swedish people upon a 
new period of development — the era of national greatness, when 
Sweden under the guidance of a dynasty of great national kings rose 
to become one of the great powers of Europe. 

King Christian's tyranny and shortsightedness had not only cost 
him the throne of Sweden, but he had alienated the hearts of his own 
people, and had created an opposition which must have made him 
feel uncomfortable even on the throne of Denmark. The Hollanders 
had been offended by the arbitrary increase of the Sound-toll, and 
the Liibeckers, who had supported Gustav Vasa, fought resolutely 
for their naval supremacy in the Baltic Sea, and in defense of their 
trade, which Christian sought to check by creating a strong Scan- 
dinavian trade company which could compete successfully with the 
Hanseatic merchants. Against his foreign enemies he could get 
Httle support at home, since he had always been an enemy both of 
the clergy and the nobility. He summoned the Council to meet 
at Copenhagen in November, but instead of obeying this summons, 
the councilors from Jutland met at Viborg, and formed a conspiracy 
to drive Christian H. from the throne. On January 20, 1523, the 
councilors renounced their allegiance to him, stating as their reason 
for this act that the king had violated the charter to which he had 
sworn at his coronation; that he had disregarded the Council and 
the nobility, and had given preferment to ignoble knaves, and espe- 
cially to the wicked woman Sigbrit; that pursuant to the counsel 
of these he had beheaded many Swedish nobles, also, Knut Knutsson 


Baat in Norway, and had driven away the Archbishop of Trondhjem, 
and had ill-treated many other bishops.^ The disaffected councilors 
Raised an army of 20,000 or 30,000 men, while Frederick, Duke of Hol- 
stein, an uncle of Christian II., who was their candidate for the throne, 
took the field with a force of 6000 men. Yet the situation was far 
from hopeless. Christian could count on the support of the com- 
mon people, and he might also have raised forces in Norway, but he 
was as irresolute now that danger threatened him as he had been over- 
bearing and tyrannical while his subjects remained submissive. 
Duke Frederick was proclaimed king of Denmark at Viborg, March 
26, 1523 ; Jutland and Fyen joined him, Halland, Blekinge, and the 
Norwegian province of Viken were in the hands of Gustav Vasa, 
and the fleet, which the king had neglected, was unable to cope with 
the Liibeckers. Meanwhile Christian sat inactive in Copenhagen, 
nursing his own gloomy thoughts. On April 13th he sailed from 
the city with a fleet of twenty ships, accompanied by his family, 
Madam Sigbrit, and a few friends, to seek assistance in foreign lands. 
The occasion was a solemn one, and the people watched with tear- 
ful eyes the departure of their king. The reign of Christian 11. was 
ended. His remaining years proved but a doleful sequel to a mis- 
spent life. Some features of his rule are, however, worthy of com- 
mendation.^ As he was especially interested in education, he made 
the provision that better qualified teachers should be employed, 
that they should receive better salaries, and that cruel flogging of the 
children in the schools should be restricted. In the country districts 
where no schools were established, the people might send their chil- 
dren to be instructed by the parish priest, or some man of learning 
in the town. As lawmaker he sought to protect the common people 
against oppression. He prohibited the imposition of excessive 
fines, a punishment so often inflicted by the clergy for the smallest 
violation of the rules of the church, and the landlords were forbidden 
to oppress their tenants by increasing the rents. He encouraged 
trade, and attempted to limit the power of the Hanseatic merchants. 

^ Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. XIV., no. 287. Arild Huitfeldt, 
Danmarks Riges Kr^nike, II., p. 1196 f. 

* C. F. Allen, De tre nordiske Rigers Historie. J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den 
norske Historie, III., p. 178 ff. 


A uniform system of weights and measures was introduced, and the 
king also tried to create a postal system by hiring mail carriers, 
who should receive three skillings for carrying a letter a distance of 
seven miles. With his Renaissance and Reformation ideas and his 
solicitude for the welfare of the common people his reign might have 
become a new era of progress if his gloomy and bloodthirsty mind 
had not vitiated every nobler effort. 

The Norwegians took no part in the uprising against Christian 
II., as the king was generally well liked in Norway. But though it 
has been suggested that they might have retained Christian as their 
king, and dissolved the union with Denmark, such a step would, un- 
doubtedly, have been prevented by Sweden and Denmark, where 
he was feared as well as hated. The Norwegians were, moreover, 
unable to act independently at this moment. The principal cities 
were held by Danish commandants. Archbishop Valkendorf, the 
president of the Council, was dead, his successor, Olav Engelbrekts- 
son, was in Rome to receive the consecration of the Pope, and there 
was, virtually, no government in the country. When the news of 
Christian's overthrow reached Norway, Nils Henriksson Gyldenl0ve 
of 0straat and Olav Galle of Thom met with a few others to confer 
regarding the affairs of the kingdom. It was decided that Nils 
Henriksson should take possession of Bergen and assume control 
of the northern part of the kingdom, while Olav Galle should act 
as governor of the southern part.^ But Nils Henriksson was unable 
to take Bergen, which was defended by the Danish commandant 
Hans Knutsson, and Olav Galle was no more successful in southern 
Norway. Frederick I. soon gained the allegiance of the whole king- 
dom of Denmark, and as the three chief strategic points, the castles 
Akershus, Bergenhus, and Bohus, were held by the Danish com- 
mandants, who would transfer their support to the new king if the 
proper inducements were offered, it was quite certain that the union 
of the two kingdoms would be continued. King Frederick I. sent 
Henrik Krumedike to Norway to take charge of affairs in the southern 
part of the kingdom. The commandant of Bohus had already sub- 
mitted to the new king, and Krumedike succeeded in winning the 
magnates and the cities separately by making promises which he 
^ Diplomatarium Norwegicum, I., no. 1067. 


never intended to keep. The commander of Akershus submitted to 
King Frederick L, and before the end of 1523 nearly all of southern 
Norway had pledged its allegiance to him. Another prominent 
Danish noble, Vincence Lunge, was sent to the northern districts. 
He came to Bergen, where he met Nils Henriksson Gyldenl0ve, his 
noted wife. Lady Inger Ottesdatter of 0straat, and their daughters. 
Nils Henriksson, who was at this time an aged man, was anxious 
to shift the burdens to younger shoulders, as he had failed to take the 
castle of the city. A peaceful agreement could the more easily be 
arranged, since Vincence Lunge married Gyldenl0ve's oldest daughter, 
Margaret, who had been lady-in-waiting to Christian IL's queen, 
Elizabeth, and had become acquainted with Lunge in Denmark. 
Nils Henriksson was the wealthiest and most powerful magnate in 
the kingdom at this time. In 1515 he became drotsete, and he was 
also appointed one of the special envoys sent to the Netherlands to 
bring Christian H.'s bride to Denmark.^ His wife. Lady Inger of 
Pstraat, was a talented, but ambitious and covetous lady. Through 
the marriage of her daughters to immigrated Danish nobles who had 
high positions in the kingdom, she exercised a unique influence, and 
became a leading figure in one of the most tragic chapters in Norwe- 
gian history.^ 

King Frederick's representatives came to Bergen in 1523, and 
Nils Henriksson died the same year. Vincence Lunge planned to 
take the castle still held by Christian IL's adherents, and the king 
encouraged the Hanseatic merchants of the city to aid him in this 
undertaking. At a given signal in the still of the night the merchants 
sallied forth, not against the castle, but to attack their rivals, the 
Scotch and Norwegian merchants of the city. These were ill-treated 
and driven with their famihes into the streets; their homes were 
looted, and their charters destroyed. The attack was especially 
directed against the Scotch merchants, who suffered losses to the 
amount of 40,000 marks. Never since the time of the Victual Broth- 
ers, or the massacre of Olav Nilsson, had the citizens of Bergen been 

1 0steraat Herreacede fra det lite Aarhundrede til vore Tider, published by 
Axel Johannessen, Trondhjem, 1904. 

* Her second daughter, Eline, was married to Nils Lykke in 1528, and a 
younger daughter, Anna, had married Erik Ugerup in 1524. 


Ruins of the Hamar Cathedral. 



subjected to such indignities. But Vincence Lunge did nothing, 
and, probably, could do nothing to restrain his lawless allies.^ The 
castle, which was held by the incompetent Hans Knutsson, surren- 
dered, and the Norwegian Council granted Lunge the castle and royal 
len of Bergen. The new commander was a learned and able man. 
He had studied at several universities; he was a doctor of juris- 
prudence, and had been professor at the university of Copenhagen. 
As a member of the Norwegian Council, he naturally exercised 
great influence. After his marriage to Margaret Gyldenl0ve he 
accounted himself a Norwegian, and became for a period the most 
influential man in the kingdom, and the originator of an ultra Nor- 
wegian political policy which saved Norway from being wholly in- 
corporated in Denmark. "But his abihty," says Allen, "consisted 
chiefly in craft and cunning, in discovering the weakness of others, 
and when they had been indiscreet, he used the opportunity either 
to crush his opponents, or to use them for his own ends. He was 
flattering and ingratiating, and no one knew better than he how to 
act towards those whom he wanted to win, or to make it appear 
that he served those whom he wished to use as tools for his own 
purposes. As an enemy he was feared for his falsity and artifice." 
"To this must still be added," says 0verland, "that he was about 
the most covetous and greedy man of his age, and that he was proud 
and boastful when fortune favored him." ^ 

In the month of August, 1524, the Council renounced their alle- 
giance to Christian XL, and chose Frederick I. king of Norway. A 
charter, to which the king would be required to subscribe,^ specified 
that the king should protect the Catholic Church, its teachings, rights, 
and privileges ; that he should maintain the laws of the kingdom, 
renounce the title of "Heir to the throne of Norway," acknowledge 
that he received the Norwegian lens from the Council, and agree 
not to grant them to any but native-born lords, or to lords married 

1 Yngvar Nielsen, Bergen fra de celdste Tider indtil Nutiden, 270 flf. C. F. 
Allen, De tre Rigers Histone 1497-1536, vol. IV., 2, 222. N. Nicolaysen, 
Norske Magasin, I., 548. Norske Samlinger, vol. II., 481 ff. Diplomatarium 
Norwegicum, vol. V., no. 1039; vol. IX., no. 515, 517; vol. VI., no. 691. 

* Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. VIII., no. 526 ; IX., no. 532, 534. 
O. A. 0verland, Norges Historie, vol. V., p. 298. 

^ Samlinger til det norske folks Sprog og Historie, vol. I., p. 1 ff. 


to native-born ladies. The Orkney and Shetland Islands were to be 
redeemed, and the rights and privileges granted by former charters 
were reaffirmed . A letter was also addressed to the king complaining 
of Henrik Krumedike, and giving notice that he had been deposed 
from his len and banished from the kingdom.^ With these documents 
Vincence Lunge went to Denmark to King Frederick I. The king 
signed the charter, but Krumedike was declared innocent on the 
oath of twenty-four knights, and in 1529 he received again his posses- 
sions in Norway. 

18. The Struggle for Norway, Christian II. 

Frederick I. had been placed on the throne of Norway, but the 
kingdom was controlled by the Council, in which Vincence Lunge 
exercised the greatest authority. Olav Galle, governor of southern 
Norway, and Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson, who was president 
of the Council, were also influential members. The relations with 
Sweden were not cordial. Gustav Vasa had not evacuated Viken, 
though he had been requested to do so, and Swedish refugees, the op- 
ponents of King Gustav, had been well received in Norway. The 
hostile feeling grew still more intense when Vincence Lunge and Lady 
Inger of ^straat harbored and supported a Swedish pretender who 
claimed to be the son of Sten Sture, and sought to stir up a rebellion 
against King Gustav. The pretender, generally known as the " Dale- 
junker," was a worthless criminal by the name of Jons Hansson, who 
after having operated for a time in Dalarne fled to Norway to escape 
capture. He came to ^straat, and succeeded in winning the confi- 
dence of Lady Inger and Vincence Lunge. The story was circulated 
that Gustav Vasa was dead ; the pretender became engaged to one 
of Inger's daughters, probably EHne,^ and the ambitious mother 
was dreaming lofty dreams of finally seeing her daughter as queen on 
the throne of Sweden. Lunge's reasons for supporting the pretender 

^ Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. IX., no. 537, 538, 539. 

* R. Keyser thinks that the youngest daughter, Lucie, was betrothed 
to the ''Dalejunker." Den norske Kirkes Historic, II., 679. A document 
later discovered states that it was Eline, but Ludvig Daae considers this 
to be an error, as Eline was at that time betrothed to the Danish knight, 
Nils Lykke, whom she married in 1528. Ludvig Daae, Fru Inger Ottesdatter 
og hendea D0tre, Historisk Tidsskrijt, vol. III., p. 224 £E. 


even after the fraud had been exposed must have been of the most 
sordid nature. Ludvig Daae thinks that he wished the young lady 
to marry abroad, in order that the estates which she would otherwise 
inherit might come into the possession of the remaining heirs. In the 
fall of 1527 the pretender proceeded to Dalarne to rally the people 
to his cause. But they had been warned by Gustav Vasa. He 
could accomplish nothing, and had to return with Lunge to Norway. 
Gustav Vasa demanded his surrender, but Lunge still claimed that he 
was Sten Sture's son, though Sture's widow, Christina Gyllenstjerna, 
had declared that he was an impostor.^ Lunge was finally obliged 
to send him away from Norway, but he did it in such a way that he 
escaped. It was the pretender's plan to join Christian 11. in the 
Netherlands, but in Rostock he was arrested and put to death. Vin- 
cence Lunge's conduct had offended, not only the king of Sweden, 
but also his own sovereign, Frederick I., who in 1528 entered into 
an alliance with Gustav against Christian II. King Gustav de- 
manded that Lunge should be punished, and Frederick complied 
by removing him as commandant of Bergen. He did not venture, 
however, to risk an open rupture with the powerful noble, but granted 
him other possessions as a compensation, among others the Nonnese- 
ter monastery, where Lunge erected a residence called "Lungegaar- 
den." Lunge's power was still unbroken, but a Dane, Eske Bilde, 
who was married to Krumedike's daughter, Sophia, became his suc- 
cessor in Bergen ; Claus Bilde was made commandant of Bohus, and 
Olav Galle was deprived of Akershus, which was given to Mogens 
Gyldenstjerne. Contrary to the charter, the three principal castles 
of the kingdom were granted to Danish nobles. As the king did not 
seem to take the charter seriously, he was no more conscientious as 
to its other provisions. He had agreed that he should not ask of the 
Council, or of the inhabitants of Norway, that any one, either his son 
or any one else, should be elected as his successor in his lifetime, but 
in 1529 he, nevertheless, sent his son, Duke Christian, to Norway to 
be hailed as heir to the throne. It was clearly the king's purpose to 
incorporate Norway in the kingdom of Denmark, or to treat it as a 

^ Diplomatarium Norwegicum, XIV., no. 585, 687, 588, 589, 602. Bidrag 
til Oplysning om Peter Kantsler og Mester Knut samt den saakaldte Dale- 
junker, Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historic, I., p. 478 ff. 


dependency. But this plan was frustrated by the Norwegian poHt- 
ical poUcy of Vincence Lunge and Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson, 
who had revived to some extent the power of the Norwegian Council. 
Though their motives were often sordid, and their methods repre- 
hensible, they were fighting for Norwegian autonomy, and the out- 
come depended on their willingness to cooperate. But a disinterested 
plan of united effort could not long be pursued by the two leaders, 
as other circumstances would have made this impossible, even if they 
had been men of more lofty and unselfish purposes. Archbishop 
Olav was undoubtedly a patriot, who sought to defend his country's 
freedom and honor, but he was unable to give the struggle even a 
tinge of the patriot's tragic ideaHsm, and history has unjustly veiled 
his name in obloquy. J. E. Sars says of him : "The name of Arch- 
bishop Olav Engelbrektsson grates unpleasantly on our ears. It is 
connected with the memory of Norway's deepest national humilia- 
tion in such a way that about the deepest shadow of this wholly 
dark picture falls upon him personally. Henrik Krumedike de- 
scribed him to King Frederick I. as a 'false man,' according to the 
statement of Vincence Lunge,^ and in later history he has received 
a similar testimonial. His political poHcy has been described as 
unwise and dishonest. It has been described as showing that he 
had slack moral principles, a weak character, and that he lacked the 
proper reverence for his calling, and the conviction of the truth and 
justice of his cause.^ It has even been said that such a motive as 
patriotism and a feehng for Norway's liberty and honor must have 
been wholly foreign to him, that he sought purely personal ends, or 
that, at best, he was only guided by a Catholic prelate's hierarchical 
zeal. This is evidently erroneous. Vincence Lunge would scarcely 
have appealed so strongly in his letters to the archbishop's patriotism 
if he knew that such an appeal would find no response; and the 
archbishop's own writings prove that his country's honor lay close 
to his heart, and that he deplored the state of dependency to which 
Norway had been brought. He did not possess the qualities of a 
hero or a martyr, but he was evidently not an insignificant personality. 

* Diplomatarium Norwegicum, VII., no. 600. 

• R, Keyser, Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, vol. II., 
p. 692. 


We see that he did not fail to understand what was necessary in 
order to defend the Norwegian kingdom and the Cathohc Church 
against the dangers and enemies which threatened both, and that, 
in a way, he was always active, though he received little support 
from his own people. In contemplating his ambiguous, equivocal 
conduct we must not forget the difficult situation in which he was 
placed. A man of his learning and ability — and he was, according 
to the circumstances of the times, a learned man and loved learning 
— ought to have accomplished something good and lasting, but the 
circumstances in which he was placed were such that even an extraor- 
dinary personahty would have failed. It became his duty to repre- 
sent the Norwegian Cathohc Church and Norway's poHtical inde- 
pendence at a time when both were tottering to their fall. His 
position presented problems which individually, perhaps, would have 
transcended the greatest power given a single individual, and which 
in many instances clashed with one another." 

Vincence Lunge inclined strongly to the Reformation movement, 
not only as a humanist, but also because he found an opportunity 
to gratify his covetousness through the secularization of monasteries 
and the confiscation of church property. King Frederick I., who 
favored the Reformation, prepared the secularization of the monaster- 
ies by appointing non-ecclesiastic managers, who should pay the 
king a yearly sum for this privilege, and at the same time provide 
the monks and nuns with the necessaries of life from the income of 
the estates of the monastery. Vincence Lunge had received from 
the king the monastery of Nonneseter, and he stretched forth his 
greedy hands for more. He conspired with the prior of the monastery 
of the Dominican Friars in Bergen, and the two plundered that insti- 
tution of all its valuables, and burned the buildings to hide the crime.^ 
Vincence Lunge and Archbishop Olav now became the bitterest 
enemies. The angry archbishop threatened to take Lunge's life, 
and seized all the estates belonging to Lunge and Lady Inger of 
^straat in northern Norway. The king's coronation was to have 
taken place at Oslo, but Archbishop Olav struggled hard to prevent 
it. No less determined was his opposition to Prince Christian when 

1 Christian C. A. Lange, De norske Klostres Historic i Middelalderen, p. 337. 
Yngvar Nielsen, Bergen, p. 274. 


he came to Norway to be hailed as successor to the throne, as the 
prince was even more outspoken in his adherence to the Lutheran 
Reformation than his father. In this matter the archbishop seems 
to have received the support of Lunge, who was also striving to 
maintain the political autonomy of Norway. The struggle became 
at once political and religious, but the quarrel between Vincence Lunge 
and the archbishop seems to have overshadowed all national issues. 
Lunge continued his seizure of church property, and was well assisted 
in this traffic by his greedy mother-in-law. Lady Inger. He failed 
in an attempt to take the monastery of Ulstein, but Lady Inger 
secured the cloister of Rein, and her son-in-law, Nils Lykke, gained 
possession of the monastery of Tautra. In Bergen the church was 
also suffering heavy losses. The new commandant, Eske Bilde, 
destroyed some of the finest edifices of the city : the Apostle church, 
the Christ church, the bishop's residence, and the chapter house, 
all built in the Gothic style of architecture. This wanton destruc- 
tion was done for military purposes, to give freer range to the artillery 
of the fortress, but the archbishop took no step, and probably could 
take none, to punish this grave offense. 

The Lutheran doctrine was spreading. The first Lutheran preacher, 
the monk Antonius, who came to Norway in 1526, seems to have 
received permission from King Frederick I. to preach in Bergen. 
Three years later two other Lutheran ministers arrived,^ and Vincence 
Lunge, Lady Inger, and their influential relatives gave the reformers 
active support. Bergen became the center of the Reformation in 
Norway, but the Lutheran preachers were active also in other dis- 
tricts. Bishop Hoskold of Stavanger wrote to Eske Bilde that he 
should not tolerate or protect the damnable Lutheran heresy which 
had led so many astray, but he should try with all might to stamp 
out the false doctrine. One of the archbishop's men complained 
that Lutheranism was spreading also in Finmarken. Even the 
Council of Liibeck became alarmed, and wrote to the archbishop 
and the Council of Norway to act with energy against the dangerous 
doctrines, destructive of all social order. ^ The Reformation could 
make progress because the CathoUc Church in Norway as elsewhere 
had lost its spiritual vigor. The monasteries had become hotbeds 

* Diplomatarium Norwegicum, VIII., no. 603. * Ibid., XI., no. 522, 523. 


of vice and corruption/ and the Latin church service, which consisted 
chiejQy of empty ceremonies, could no longer appeal to those who had 
caught the spirit of the new age. The fine scholar Geble Pederss0n 
became a convert to the Lutheran doctrine, probably in 1536.^ 
He founded the Latin school at Bergen, and became the first Protes- 
tant bishop of that diocese. 

In the midst of this process of disorganization Archbishop Olav's 
sole remaining hope was that Christian II. might return and seize 
the throne of Norway. The dethroned king had longed for an oppor- 
tunity to return, and he had done everything possible to gain the 
sympathy and support of the Emperor and other princes. At 
Wittenberg he had heard Luther preach, and had become converted 
to his doctrine, but for political reasons he renounced his Lutheran 
faith and returned to the bosom of the Catholic Church, which he 
probably did without much compunction, as he seems to have been 
incapable of a deeper religious conviction. But his whole conduct 
was not very reassuring, and Emperor Charles V. would do nothing 
to help him. As Christian could accomplish nothing by diplomacy, 
he boldly entered the Netherlands, collected ships, war supplies, 
and a sum of 50,000 gulden, and hired an army of 7000 mercenaries 
for an expedition to Norway. The archbishop would not immedi- 
ately declare himself for King Christian, though he had been secretly 
negotiating with him, but waited until he should land with his forces 
in the kingdom. In November, 1531, King Christian arrived on the 
southern coast of Norway after a stormy voyage, on which he had 
suffered great losses. Mogens Gyldenstjerne was asked to surrender 
Akershus, which he agreed to do if King Frederick I. did not send 
him reenforcements before the month of March, and Christian, who 
failed to see that the commandant was trying to gain time, agreed 
to a fatal armistice.' On November 29th he was proclaimed king 
of Norway at Oslo, and on the same date Archbishop Olav declared 
his allegiance to him. King Christian marched from Oslo with a 
part of his forces to Bohus, while J0rgen Hansson led another part 

^ A. Chr. Bang, Udsigt over den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen. 
* A. Chr. Bang, Kirkehistoriske Smaastykker, Bidrag til Geble Pederssfins 
Levnetsl^b, 204 ff. Norske Samlinger, I., p. 8, 11. 
' Diplomatarium Norwegicum, IX., no. 685, 688. 


of the army against Bergen ; but both were unsuccessful, and Chris- 
tian hastened back to Oslo when he learned that Gyldenstjerne had 
received reenforcements. A small Danish fleet, which had been 
sent to Oslo, could not reach the inner harbor, which was ice-bound, 
but a small force was landed, and succeeded in reaching the castle 
of Akershus. The following, day Gyldenstjerne attacked King Chris- 
tian's forces, set fire to his camp, and burned the Cistercian monas- 
tery at Hoved0. Soon an army of 6000 men, Danes and Liibeckers, 
arrived from Denmaric, Christian's fleet was destroyed, and he was 
obliged to resort to negotiations. It was agreed that he should go to 
Denmark to treat with Frederick I. in person, and if no agreement 
could be reached, he should be allowed to return to Norway, or to 
Holland. King Christian was brought to Denmark, but only to 
be imprisoned in S0nderborg castle as a rebel. He was finally re- 
leased from his close confinement in a lonely dungeon and brought 
to the castle of Kalundborg, where he was better treated. Vincence 
Lunge and Nils Lykke, who were instructed to quell the uprising in 
northern Norway, came to Trondhjem, and requested Archbishop 
Olav to submit. As he had no alternative, he renewed his oath of 
allegiance to King Frederick I., and became in a way reconciled to 
his enemies and opponents. He was allowed to retain his office, 
but had to pay a heavy fine. At a meeting in the city the members 
of the Council, who were present, renounced their allegiance to 
King Christian H., and affirmed again the union with Denmark on 
the condition that Norway should retain its rights and liberties as 
before.^ In theory the principle of equality of the two kingdoms was 
still maintained, but it could be nothing but empty phrases, as Nor- 
way was in reality a conquered country. The people had not even 
made an effort to defend their independence, and the leaders, who 
were animated by the destructive hatred engendered by party strife, 
had struggled more zealously to ruin one another than to save their 

In Denmark King Frederick I. had been placed on the throne by 

the nobles, and he had been obliged to sign a charter which made him 

wholly dependent on the magnates, who had stipulated, among other 

things, that the king should not interfere in the relations between the 

1 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, XIV., no. 714. 

ir THE count's war. christian III 127 

noble landowners and their renters. Thereby the nobility secured 
full jurisdiction over the peasants, who were gradually reduced to 
serfdom. The Reformation was rapidly gaining ground in the 
kingdom, and Frederick I. had secretly encouraged it, as he was him- 
self a convert to Luther's teachings. Hans Tausen, a learned 
man and eloquent speaker, who had studied at Rostock and Witten- 
berg, became the leader of the movement in Denmark, and set on 
foot a great religious revival, which spread irresistibly through the 
kingdom. In Copenhagen he preached with such power and per- 
suasion that the people flocked in large numbers to hear him, and 
when the clergy refused to permit them to assemble in the churches, 
they gained admittance by forcing the doors. Against such a move- 
ment the Catholic clergy soon felt themselves powerless, and their 
attempts at forcible resistance only aggravated the situation. Bishop 
J0rgen Friis sent an armed force to arrest Tausen, but the people 
drove them away. Monks were expelled, and priests who would not 
accept the Lutheran faith were discharged. King Frederick, who 
openly sympathized with the reformers, made Tausen his chaplain and 
placed him under his royal protection, but the movement was es- 
pecially encouraged by his son, Duke Christian, who was an enthusias- 
tic supporter of the Lutheran church reform. Many nobles also 
joined the movement, as they hoped to profit by the secularization 
of the monasteries, and the confiscation of church property. In 
the country districts they had already begun to take possession of 
estates belonging to the church, as the religious enthusiasm grew 
ever more fervid. In 1530 the citizens of Copenhagen submitted 
their Lutheran confession to a diet assembled in the city ; the Lady's 
church was broken open, and its altars and paintings were destroyed. 
Even before King Frederick I. passed away in 1533, the Catholic 
Church in Denmark was crumbling into ruins before the victorious 
assault of this new intellectual and spiritual force. 

19. The Count's War. Christian III. 

Frederick I. had been placed on the throne by the nobles, whose 
support he had won by liberal concessions, but religious strife and 
social discontent had piled high the easily ignited fuel of discord. 


which at any moment might blaze forth into a general conflagra- 

Under these circumstances the election of a new king was a matter 
causing great concern. The majority of the nobility supported Duke 
Christian, the oldest son of Frederick I., but as he was a Lutheran, 
he was opposed by a strong Catholic party led by the clergy, who 
favored King Frederick's younger son Hans, while the merchants 
and the peasants, who were sorely oppressed by the nobility, wished 
to place the imprisoned Christian II. on the throne. Ambrosius 
Bogbinder, Mayor of Copenhagen, and Jiirgen Kock, Mayor of Malmo, 
the leaders of this party, allied themselves with Liibeck, where the 
leader of the common people, Jiirgen Wullenwever, had been 
elected mayor. When the Council assembled in Copenhagen, 1533, 
to elect a king, little hope could be entertained of an agreement, and 
many important questions awaited settlement. Whether Lutheran- 
ism or Calvinism should be the future religion in Denmark, whether 
the union with Norway should be maintained, whether Denmark 
should take the side of Liibeck or of Holland in the struggle for 
supremacy in the Baltic, were among questions to be considered. 
As none of the candidates for the throne could be chosen, the election 
of king was postponed until the following year, but the disputes were 
violent, especially regarding the question of rehgion. Hans Tausen 
was summoned before the Council and sentenced to death, but the 
sentence could not be executed, because the angry populace threatened 
to mob the CathoHc prelates, and the persecution of the Lutherans, 
which was set on foot, stranded on the people's determined resistance. 
As to the question of supporting Liibeck or Holland, the Council 
decided in favor of Holland. Wullenwever, who hoped to save 
Liibeck's commercial prestige by gaining power and influence in 
Denmark, was keeping his fleet ready, awaiting the decision, and he 
immediately sent an army of mercenaries into Holstein in command 
of Count Christopher of Oldenburg. Owing to this circumstance, this 
war for naval and commercial supremacy, of succession, and re- 
ligious party strife is generally known as the " Count's War." Count 
Christopher quickly seized Seeland, Sk&ne, and the Danish islands. 
The people of Jutland rose against their lords, burned their residences, 
and proclaimed Christian II. king. Under these circumstances the 

II THE count's war. CHRISTIAN III 129 

Council again assembled and chose Duke Christian king, but it 
might now be a question if they had a throne to offer him. If he 
wished to rule, he had to win his kingdom from his opponents. Chris- 
tian III. resolutely took up the fight. As Duke of Gottorp he could 
rely on the support of the nobles of Holstein, who wished to become 
masters of Denmark. His general, John Rantzau, defeated the 
peasants in Jutland, and crushed the forces of the Liibeckers in Fyen, 
while Peder Skram, the Danish naval commander, destroyed the 
Liibeck fleet.^ 

King Gustav Vasa of Sweden, who was a brother-in-law and ally of 
Christian III., aided him in bringing Sk§,ne to submission. Copen- 
hagen was invested from all sides, and after a long siege, the city was 
forced to surrender in the summer of 1536.^ The Liibeckers had lost 
their control of the Baltic, the Lutheran party had triumphed, and 
the nobles had crushed the uprising of the peasants, who were now 
wholly subjected to the tender mercies of their angry lords. 

The situation in Denmark might have been an opportunity for 
Norway to establish her independence, but the people lacked organiza- 
tion and leaders. Archbishop Olav summoned a general council of 
the nobles and common people at Bud in Romsdal, 1533,' but his 
political prestige was gone, the religious situation made it impossible 
for him to unite the people politically, and the castles of the kingdom 
were in the hands of Duke Christian's adherents. Vincence Lunge 
and Archbishop Olav, who were divided both by religious and political 
views, could not agree to cast their country's lot with either party, 
or to disregard both and set up a national government. The arch- 

^ An account of the naval war written by Marx von Schley tz, found in 
Die ersten deutschen Zeitungen, p. 116 (Munchen library), has been pub- 
lished by Professor Ludvig Daae in Historisk Tidsskrift, f0rste raekke, vol. 
III., p. 447 ff. C. Paludan-Miiller, Grevens Feide, I., 430 ff. ; II., 184 ff. 
G. Waitz, Lubeck unter Jurgen Wullenwever. Joh. Grundtvig, Nye Bidrag 
HI S^magtens Historie i Grevens Feide, Danske Magasin, fjerde raekke, III., 
Bidrag til Oplysning om Grevefeidens Tid. 

^ The siege of Copenhagen lasted over a year, and is one of the most 
noted sieges in history. See Ludvig Daae, Om Kj^benhavns Overgivelse, 
Historisk Tidsskrift, f0rste raekke, vol. III., p. 463 ff. 

' Yngvar Nielsen, Det norske Rigsraad, p. 380 ff. Diplomatarium Nor- 
wegicum, IV., 101. C. Pahidan-Miiller, Grevens Feide, II., p. 47 f. T. H. 
Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 1814, p. 319, 349. 

VOL. n — K 


bishop passively watched developments. He was in favor of Count 
Frederick of the Palatinate, who had married Dorothea, a daughter 
of Christian II., but he did not venture to espouse his cause openly. 
Vincence Lunge would recognize Duke Christian in the hope that a 
charter might be secured which would guarantee Norwegian autonomy. 
He assembled a few councilors from southern Norway in Oslo, and 
these formally elected Duke Christian king of Norway. To the 
document declaring his election they attached the condition that " his 
royal majesty shall preserve to us and to the kingdom all Christian 
blessings, liberties, privileges, laws, and lawful customs, according 
to the charter granted by Frederick I." This charter should remain 
in force until King Christian III. should come to Norway to negotiate 
with the Council and grant a new charter, whereupon he should be 
crowned king of Norway.^ This proceeding was irregular and un- 
lawful, but it was, no doubt, the wisest policy, as subsequent events 
proved. But the unfortunate quarrel between Lunge and the 
archbishop had flared up with new violence which made all coop- 
eration impossible. Nils Lykke, Vincence Lunge's brother-in-law, 
was married to Lady Inger's daughter Eline. She died in 1532, and 
her youngest sister, Lucie, undertook to manage the household for 
her brother-in-law. He became enamored of the young lady, and 
wanted to marry her, but the Catholic Church regarded such a mar- 
riage incestuous, and Vincence Lunge, Lady Inger, and other relatives 
opposed the match. Archbishop Olav was for a time disposed to view 
it favorably, but when Lucie in 1535 gave birth to a son, he could no 
longer shield the unfortunate lovers. He caused Nils Lykke to be 
imprisoned in the castle of Steinviksholm, where the ill-fated 
noble was smoked to death. Lucie was later married to the Swedish 
nobleman Jens Tillufson Bjelke, who became owner of 0straat, and 
the forbear of a large and distinguished family.^ 
At Christmas time, 1535, the election of king was again to be con- 

1 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, XV., no. 606 flf. Archbishop Olav sanc- 
tioned the election in a letter to Bishop Hans RefiF and Vincence Lunge. 
Diplomatarium Norwegicum, XII., no. 555. C. Paludan-MUller, Aktstykker til 
Grevens Feide, II., no. 30, 32, 37, 40-42, 49. Norske Rigsregistranter, I., p. 43 f. 

* Axel Johannessen, 0steraat Herrescede. Fru Inger til Austraat og hendes 
Dfitre, ved Henrik Mathiesen. Yngvar Nielsen, Norges Historie, vol. IV., 
I., p. 6 s. T. H. Aschehoug, Statsjorjatningen i Norge og Danmark, p. 349 f. 








i h -liSBBftaini i ' 



Ruins of Steinviksholm Castle. 

n THE count's war. christian m 131 

sidered at a council in Trondhjem, where some of the councilors 
from southern Norway were present. Christian III. had also asked 
for a tax which was to be voted, and the people of the neighboring 
districts had been assembled, for the purpose, undoubtedly, of giving 
their consent to whatever the Council might do. But they became 
angry and refused to agree. Wild tumults followed. Vincence Lunge 
was killed, and the bishops of Oslo and Hamar were imprisoned in 
Tautra monastery.^ Thereby the Norwegian Council was practi- 
cally destroyed. Archbishop Olav had now no choice but to act. 
Since Vincence Lunge's policy had been shattered, no alternative 
remained but the abrogation of the act of the union with Denmark, a 
resolute attempt to gain possession of the fortresses of the country, 
and the election of Count Frederick as king of Norway. This plan 
was not a makeshift, but an ideal, for which the greatest sacrifices 
might well be made. But Archbishop Olav was wholly unfit to be a 
leader in a struggle of that nature, and he failed to take into account 
his absolute lack of preparation, organization, or resources. He dis- 
patched Einar Tjeld with a small force to take Akershus, and Christo- 
pher Trondss0n was to seize Bergen, but both attempts failed, and 
the national uprising collapsed utterly. Archbishop Olav lost 
courage, liberated those who had been imprisoned, offered to recog- 
nize Christian III. as king of Norway, and to assemble a general 
council to elect him, if pardon would be granted for the uprising. 

After the fall of Copenhagen King Christian was undisputed lord 
of Denmark. By a coup d'etat the old constitution of the kingdom 
was destroyed, many councilors were turned out of the Council, 
and all political power was taken away from the bishops.^ A diet 
was assembled at Copenhagen, where a new constitution was formu- 
lated, according to which the kingdom was to be governed by the 
king, the Council, and the nobility, and the Lutheran faith was formally 
accepted as the religion of the realm. These measures could have no 
force in Norway, which was still an independent kingdom, united 
with Denmark on stipulated terms, but a paragraph was, none the 
less, inserted in the charter which the king granted the Danish nobility, 

* Yngvar Nielsen, Det norske Rigsraad, 382 ff. T. H. Aschehoug, Stats- 
forfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 1814, P- 379. 

2 Arild Huitfeldt, Danmarks Riges Kr^nike, II., p. 1486 ff. 


in which he boldly asserts his intention of making Norway a province 
of the Danish kingdom. Norway was to be treated as a conquered 
country, and no attention would be paid to the documents guarantee- 
ing its autonomy. He says : " Since the kingdom of Norway is now 
so far reduced in might and power that the inhabitants are not able 
to support a king and lord alone, and this same kingdom is united 
with Denmark forever, and the greater part of the Norwegian Coun- 
cil, and especially Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson, now the leading 
man in that kingdom, has within a short time, with the greater part 
of the Norwegian Council, risen against the kingdom of Denmark, 
contrary to their own pledges, therefore we have promised the Danish 
kingdom, Council, and nobility, that if God Almighty has so ordained 
that we gain the power over Norway, or any of its provinces, castles, 
or syssels, which belong to it, that it shall henceforth be and remain 
under the crown of Denmark, the same as any of the other provinces, 
Jutland, Fyen, Seeland, or Skline, and it shall henceforth not be 
called a kingdom, but a province of the kingdom of Denmark, and 
subject to the Danish crown forever." ^ This was language which 
could not be misunderstood. Norway would have to accept the con- 
ditions dictated by Denmark. In a letter of March 5, 1536, the 
king threatens that if the Norwegians venture any uprising, they 
may be sure that he will send large numbers of warriors, both mounted 
and foot soldiers, and cause them to be punished as disobedient sub- 
jects, who resist their rightful king and lord, and that they must con- 
sider what injury and ruin will befall all the inhabitants if a number 

1 T. H. Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark, p. 351 f. 

R. Nyerup says of this article of the charter: '''By this article in the 
charter, the signal was given from above for that system of oppression 
which lensmcend, fogeds, clergymen, and other subaltern despots continued 
to practice in this and the succeeding reign, and which became so well rooted 
that it helped little or nothing that the people continually complained of 
extortion and wrongs, and that the kings from time to time by charters, 
laws, and regulations sought to limit the numerous abuses and vexations." 
Historisk-statisHsk Skildring af Tilstanden i Danmark og Norge i celdre og 
nyere Tider, vol. I., p. 319. 

How the union with Denmark was regarded by some people in Norway 
in later years can be seen from a letter to P. F. Suhm, where the writer says : 
"About the Kalmar union no Norwegian cares to read anything. It is the 
source of all later misfortunes." P. F. Suhm, Samlede Skrifter, part XV.f 
p. 358. Arild Huitfeldt, Danmarks Riges Kr^nike, II., p. 1316 f. 

II THE count's war. CHRISTIAN III 133 

of soldiers enter the kingdom to rob, murder, and use all sorts of 
tyranny, and how good it is to live in peace and quiet. That Chris- 
tian III. illegally usurped the power in Norway must have been mani- 
fest to all. He was not lawfully elected king, for as Norway was an 
elective sovereign kingdom, neither he nor the Danes had a right to 
determine who should be placed on the Norwegian throne. Arch- 
bishop Olav watched developments closely, but as he could see no 
ray of hope, nothing remained for him but to seek safety in flight. 
He gathered what money he could find, seized the treasures of the 
churches, and brought them on board his ships, and on April 1, 1537, 
the Httle fleet, carrying the archbishop and his goods and archives, 
left Nidaros for the Netherlands, where Olav spent his remain- 
ing years.^ The garrisons of Steinviksholm castle and Nidarholm 
monastery surrendered without much resistance to Truid Ulfstand 
whom King Christian had dispatched to Trondhjem. After the 
archbishop's flight, Ulfstand marched to Hamar, where he seized 
Bishop Mogens, and carried him as prisoner to Denmark, where he 
died in 1542.^ 

Christian III. was never elected king of Norway in a regular way. 
No charter was issued defining the relation of the two kingdoms, 
and he never came to Norway to receive the homage of the Norwegian 
people. He regarded the two kingdoms as so intimately and per- 
manently united that the election to the throne of Denmark made 
him legitimate ruler of both realms. Norway had lost her autonomy, 
but the Norwegian people knew nothing of the paragraph inserted 
in the Danish charter, and scarcely realized that any change had 
taken place, save that a new king had ascended the throne.' The 

^ The archives and valuables which Archbishop Olav carried with him 
from Norway occasioned protracted disputes. In 1548 these articles came 
into the possession of Count Frederick of the Palatinate. The archives 
were transferred to Heidelberg, and have at length been returned to the 
Norwegian government. Diplomatarium Norwegicum, V., no. 1090 ff. 
Ludvig Daae, Norsk Maanedsskrift, I., p. 270. Henr. Mathiesen, Stein- 
viksholm Slot og dets Bygherre. 

2 Hamar s Beskrivelse af 1553 eller 1 653. See articles about this chronicle by 
Ludvig Daae and Gustav Storm, Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie raekke, vol. I. 

' T. H. Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark, p. 343. Arild 
Huitfeldt, Danmarks Riges Kr^nike, p. 1491. L. M. B. Aubert, Norges 
folkeretslige Stilling. 


Norwegian Council disappeared, though it was not formally abolished, 
and the Danish Council assumed the power of acting for both realms. 
But since Norway had submitted to Christian III. almost without 
resistance, he did not carry out the threat contained in the mentioned 
article inserted in the charter. Norway continued to be styled a 
kingdom equal with Denmark. It retained its old laws and its 
chancellor, and its administration, which was kept separate from 
that of Denmark, was carried on in the old way with as little direct 
interference from the Danish authorities as possible. Christian III. 
might easily have established the hereditary principle in Norway, 
and thereby have strengthened his throne, but he lacked the states- 
manhke foresight to do so.^ 

20. The Reformation in Norway 

The overthrow of the Catholic Church in Denmark was, quite 
naturally, followed by a like change in Norway, where its power was, 
if possible, even more hopelessly shattered. Some of the bishoprics 
were vacant, and others had been vacated through the flight or im- 
prisonment of the bishops. The Lutheran Church was established 
in Norway as a state church, at the head of which stood the Lutheran 
king. The Danish church ordinance of 1537, which was written with 
the assistance of Luther's friend and fellow-reformer, John Bugen- 
hagen, became the temporary constitution of the Lutheran Church 
in Norway, though the king had promised to give the Norwegian 
church a separate ordinance, in which due consideration would be 
paid to local conditions. The priests should be allowed to remain in 
their charges, but the Catholic bishops were removed, and superin- 
tendents, or Lutheran bishops, were appointed to supervise the ref- 
ormation of the doctrines of the church. Geble Pederss0n, a native 

* R. Keyser, Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, p. 830. 

The Danish flag "Danebrog," a white cross in a red field, became the 
official flag of both kingdoms. The Norwegian flag, a banner with a golden 
lion in a red field, seems to have been used on the castles and fortresses of 
Norway in the sixteenth century, possibly also on Norwegian ships, but 
the Danish flag was used on the fleet, and became the flag of Norway during 
the period of union with Denmark. Yngvar Nielsen, Norges Historie, vol. 
v., p. 2L 


of Helgeland (Haalogaland) in northern Norway, was appointed 
superintendent of the diocese of Bergen, as already stated, and the 
Danish church ordinance was accepted at the Oslo lagthing for the 
dioceses of Oslo and Hamar in 1539, ^ but some time passed before 
superintendents were appointed for all the Norwegian dioceses.^ 
The estates which had hitherto belonged to the Catholic bishops 
were confiscated, one-half of the income from the tithes was paid to 
the crown, and the secularization of the monasteries, which had been 
begun by Christian II., was continued by Christian III. In 1555 it 
is mentioned as completed. The property of the monasteries had 
been seized by the crown, and after 1562 the last traces of Norwegian 
monks disappear.' The valuables belonging to the Norwegian 
churches and monasteries were seized and carried to Denmark. 
The king instructed Eske Bilde to see to it that nothing was removed 
"of chalices, plates, monstrances, jewels, silver, gilt tablets, and 
other such things which are and remain in churches and monasteries, 
that it may all be preserved, and thereby have due care for our in- 
terest and welfare." ^ In a second letter he instructs Eske to collect 
"articles of gilt copper belonging to churches and monasteries, 
whether they be basreliefs, candlesticks, or the like, and forward 
them to Denmark." ^ This kind of "preservation" was carried out 
so thoroughly that there was scarcely left sufficient of the sacred 
articles for the communion service. Peder Clauss0n Friis (born 
1545) writes : "But it is to be regretted, and it is not praiseworthy, 
that at the time of the introduction of the Evangelical faith they did 
not only take away from the churches and monasteries the articles 
of gold and silver, and other treasures which were used in the Catholic 
service, together with vestments and other such things, but they 
wantonly destroyed things from which they could derive no benefit ; 

1 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, I., no. 1091. 

^ The first Lutheran bishop of Trondhjem, Thorbj0rn Olavsson Bratt, 
was appointed in 1546. Of the first four Lutheran superintendents three 
were Norwegians; i.e. Thorbj0rn Olavsson Bratt, of Trondhjem, Geble 
Pederss0n, of Bergen, and J6n Guttormsson, of Stavanger ; while Hans Reff, 
of Oslo-Hamar, was a Dane. 

^ R. Keyser, Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, p. 834 ff. 
Chr. C. A. Lange, De norske Klostres Historie i Middelalderen, p. 174 fif. 

* Diplomatarium Norwegicum, III., no. 1147. * Ibid., I., no. 1087. 


they tore down buildings, and needlessly burned valuable books 
and letters, and destroyed the ornaments and decorations of the 
churches, making God's houses cheerless and barren, which they 
might well have left undone, nor did they derive any benefit there- 
from." ^ As a further illustration of this kind of vandalism may be 
especially mentioned the spoliation of the great national sanctuary 
of St. Olav at Trondhjem.^ The remains of the saint were incased in a 
triple coffin, the inner of gilt silver, the others of wood richly studded 
with jewels, the outer being the ornamented cover over the real 
coffin. When Archbishop Olav left Trondhjem, he placed the 
remains of the saint in the middle coffin, and carried the other two 
with him to Steinviksholm castle, where he left them when he fled 
from the kingdom. The Danish general Ulf stand, who captured 
the castle, did not return them to Trondhjem, but sent them to Den- 
mark for the profit of the royal treasury. 

While the king and his assistants chiefly devoted their attention 
to the pecuniary benefit which they might derive from the overthrow 
of the Catholic Church in Norway, the reform movement itself was 
making slow progress. The few Lutheran bishops, who had been 
appointed to superintend the introduction of the new doctrine, could 
not reach the masses of the people, who were as yet scarcely aware 
that a change had been made. The Reformation, which in other lands 
came as a great spiritual awakening, was suddenly forced upon the 
Norwegian people by royal edict, hence it caused no new intellectual 
awakening, no spiritual regeneration. It was an affair of state to 
which the people finally yielded a more or less willing consent. A few 
Lutheran priests and a number of Danish Bibles were sent to Norway, 
but nothing was done to provide instruction for the people, or even to 
maintain the schools which already existed. Previous to the Ref- 
ormation each cathedral had its school where students were pre- 
pared to pursue their studies at foreign universities, and the chapters 
supported a number of students who studied abroad. But shortly 
after the introduction of the Reformation, one of these schools, the 
Hamar cathedral school, was discontinued, and the prebends of the 

* Peder Clauss0n Friis, Samlede Skrifter, p. 350. 

* Ibid., p. 351 ff. Ludvig Daae, Et nordtysk Sagn om Olav den heUiges 
Ligkiste, Historisk Tidsskrift, f0rste rsekke, vol. I., p. 141 ff. 


cathedral from which they derived their income were seized by the 
king, who used the revenues derived from them to pay Danish cour- 
tiers and ecclesiastics.^ As a result the chapters were no longer able 
to keep students at the universities, and after the old priests died or 
became unable to serve, there was a deplorable want even of ministers 
of the gospel. Lutheran ministers had to be sent from Denmark, but 
the people clung to the old faith, and the new ministers were generally 
ill-treated, and not a few were killed.^ Peder Clauss0n Friis, clergy- 
man in Undal, in Stavanger stijt (1566-1614), writes: "But at the 
time when the old bishops in these kingdoms were dismissed, and the 
religion was altered and changed, and the pure word of God, which 
had long been obscured by falsehood and human invention, was 
again restored, the inhabitants of the country were so displeased that 
they were filled with spite and hatred towards the Protestant clergy- 
men and the whole ministry.' The tithes were not fully or regularly 
paid, and in some districts the people offered the government large 
sums of money if they would be left without ministers for some 
years." ^ The first effect of the introduction of the new teaching was 
a general deterioration of public morals, while papistical super- 
stitions continued to live for centuries. Crucifixes and pictures of 
saints were believed to possess heaUng qualities, and receive adora- 
tion which was akin to worship. Pilgrimages were made to them 
from far away. Even as late as 1835 pilgrimages were made to a 
crucifix in R0ldal.^ 

The dioceses of Oslo and Hamar were united under the superinten- 
dency of the Oslo bishop, Hans Reff, who had accepted the Lutheran 
faith. The ablest and in every way the worthiest of the early Lu- 
theran superintendents in Norway was Geble Pederss0n in Bergen. 
He was a devoted Lutheran, and exercised a true reformatory activity 

* J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historie, III., p. 302 ff. Norske Rigs- 
registranter, I., p. 242 ff. 

* Peder Clauss0n Friis, Samlede Skrifter, p. 235. Ludvig Daae, Norske 
Bygdesagn, I., p. 65. Vilh. Poulsen, FortcelUnger af Norges Historie, III., 
p. 162. Norske Samlinger, I., p. 10. 

' Peder Clauss0n Friis, Samlede Skrifter, p. 224. Gustav Storm, Om Peder 
Clauss^n Friis og hans Skrifter, introduction to Samlede Skrifter af Peder 
Clauss^n Friis. * Peder Clauss0n Friis, Samlede Skrifter, p. 235. 

^ Vilh. Poulsen, FortcelUnger af Norges Historie, III., p. 162. L. Daae, 
Norske Bygdesagn, R^ldals Kirke. 


in his diocese. He sought to secure Lutheran clergymen for the 
various parishes, and founded the Latin school at Bergen, which de- 
veloped under his supervision to become an eflScient institution of 
learning according to the new humanistic ideas. Efficient teachers 
were secured, and new buildings were erected through Geble's efforts. 
He sent students to Copenhagen, Rostock, and Wittenberg, among 
others Absalon Pederss0n, whom he kept at the University of Copen- 
hagen, and later at Wittenberg, at his own expense. On his return 
Absalon Pederss0n became clergyman and teacher at the Latin 
school in Bergen, where he labored with great distinction till his 
death in 1574.i 

The new principles which had been introduced by the Reformation 
even in church administration, though not immediately beneficial, 
proved an important factor in the future development. According 
to the church ordinance issued by Christian III., the bishops, or super- 
intendents, should be elected by the parish priests of the cities of the 
diocese. When a vacancy occurred, the priests of the cities within the 
diocese should assemble and elect four of their number to choose a 
new bishop. The bishop elect should be examined by the nearest 
bishop, and the election should be sanctioned by the king. The 
parish priests should be chosen by the members of the parish. The 
parishioners should choose seven of their number, who should elect 
"a pious and learned man to be a parish priest." He should be 
examined by the bishop, and the election should be sanctioned by 
the lensherre. In each parish there should also be a deacon, who 
should give the children instruction in the Christian doctrine, help 
the minister to sing, ring the church bells, keep the church clean, and 
render other services; but no provision was made for paying the 
deacon for his services, and the plan suggested was not carried into 
effect. In 1552 the king made the provision that of the lands be- 
longing to the church a farm (gaard) should be set aside for the deacon, 
and in the church ordinance of Christian IV. more specific provisions 
were made with regard to the service and pay of these officers. A 
special tax (klokkertolden) was to be paid to the deacon for his support, 
and he should instruct the young people in the catechism and the 

» Norske Samlinger, I., p. 3 fif. Yngvar Nielsen, Af Norgea Historie, 
De norske Humanisier, I., p. 115 ff. 


Christian religion once a week at such a time and place as the parish 
priest should designate. The deacon was appointed by the parish 
priest with the advice of the provost, and with the consent of six of the 
leading men in the parish. This was the first germ of the Nor- 
wegian public school system. The Reformation had given the people 
privileges and opportunities of such a kind that they could only 
gradually learn to understand their value and importance.^ 

If the Reformation was introduced in Norway without an accom- 
panying change in the people's religious views, it was forced upon Ice- 
land in a manner which recalls the scenes enacted when Christianity 
was first introduced in the island. The old spirit and customs still 
lived among the people, and the two bishops, Jon Aresson of Holar 
and Agmund Paalsson of Skalholt, were not only autocratic prelates, 
but proud and ambitious chieftains, who brooked no resistance or 
interference. Vilh. Poulsen says of them : " Agmund, strong and 
ambitious, proud, authoritative, willful, unable to tolerate resistance, 
munificent to extravagance, resembles in character and conduct the 
old chieftains rather than a priest or bishop. Jon Aresson was a 
chieftain to a still higher degree ; dignified in appearance, charming 
in manners, cheerful and spirited in good company, but a firebrand 
against his opponents. He knew no Latin, but 'this mattered 
not,' he said, 'as it was not the vernacular of the country.' But 
he could compose a song whenever he pleased, for he was a scald, at 
this time, perchance, the best in the land." ^ The two bishops 
had long been rivals and enemies. When they first met at the 
Althing, Bishop Agmund appeared]with a force of 1300 men, and 
Bishop Jon of Skalholt with 900. Their quarrel was on the point 
of precipitating civil strife, but they finally agreed to settle their 
difficulty by a duel between two of their adherents. The enmity 
between the two prelates subsided somewhat on the appear- 
ance of the Reformation. Lutheran books had been imported 
by the German merchants, who had carried on trade with Iceland 
since 1490. Jon Einarsson, a priest of Skalholt, had become a 
convert to the new doctrine by reading some of Luther's books, and 

* T. H. Aschehoug, De norske Communers Retsforfatning f^r 1837, p. 89 ff. 

* Vilh. Poulsen, Fortoellinger af Norges Historie, III., p. 163 f. R. Keyser, 
Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, II., p. 844 fif. 


Gissur Einarsson, whom Bishop Agmund had sent to school in Ham- 
burg, had also become a Lutheran by hearing the great reformers in 
Wittenberg. In 1539 he was appointed Lutheran superintendent 
at Skalholt, but he was successfully opposed by the blind old Bishop 
Agmund, who still had the undivided support of the people. Gissur 
saw that he could accomplish nothing for the Reformation while 
Bishop Agmund lived and ruled in the diocese. He reported the situa- 
tion to King Christian HL, as we may believe, with all the onesided- 
ness engendered by intense partisan spirit, and the king resolved to 
take measures for the introduction of the Reformation in Iceland, 
which proved to be far more drastic than Christian spirited. He sent 
Christopher Huitfeldt, the commandant of Steinviksholm, to Iceland 
with a military force. On his arrival Huitfeldt conferred with Gissur 
Einarsson, and the two seem to have agreed upon the plan to be 
pursued. The people were ordered to bring horses, ostensibly for 
the purpose of transporting goods to Skalholt, but thirteen mounted 
men were immediately dispatched to Hjalle, where Bishop Agmund 
was visiting his sister, and the aged bishop was seized and brought 
to Huitfeldt as a captive. Deprived of their leader, the clergy could 
make no resistance. The Lutheran church ordinance was accepted 
in the diocese of Skalholt, and after Gissur had paid a large sum of 
silver from the diocesan treasury in lieu of a tax demanded by the 
king, Huitfeldt sailed to Denmark, bringing with him Bishop Agmund, 
who died shortly after his arrival. As Lutheran bishop of Skalholt 
Gissur labored diligently to introduce the Lutheran doctrine and the 
new church service in southern Iceland. In the diocese of Holar in 
the northern part. Bishop Jon Aresson still held sway. The enmity 
between the two bishops became very intense, but an open clash was 
averted by the death of Gissur, 1548. The Lutherans and CathoUcs 
each chose their own candidates to succeed Gissur, but the ambitious 
Jon Aresson, encouraged by the victories gained by Emperor Charles V. 
over the Protestants in Germany, thought that he could seize the 
bishopric and make himself the lord of all Iceland. He marched 
against Skdlholt with a hundred armed men, but timely warning had 
been received, a force of three hundred men had been gathered, for- 
tifications had been constructed, guns were mounted, and when 
Bishop Jon arrived, he was unable to take the bishop's residence 


by force, as intended. But Jon Aresson was too much of a chieftain 
of the old school to yield because his plan had been foiled. In 1549 
he took the Lutheran bishop, Martin of Skalholt, prisoner, forced 
the bishop's residence to surrender, drove out the Danes from the 
monastery of Vedey, which had been secularized, and reinstated the 
abbot. The Catholic church service was reintroduced in the district 
of Borgarf jord, and the monastery of Helgafell, which had been made 
a royal estate, was reorganized. After having gained this notable 
success, the relentless Bishop Jon directed his attack against his 
personal opponents, many of whom were compelled to flee from 
Iceland. R. Keyser says of him : "Jon Aresson had been unscrupu- 
lous in his younger days when he sought to win the episcopal office, 
unscrupulous he showed himself now in his old age when the question 
was to hold fast with trembling hands the power once gained. He 
heeded neither threats nor counsel, but proceeded arrogantly in the 
once chosen course until the abyss of destruction yawned at his feet, 
and all revenues of retreat were closed." ^ He had still one powerful 
opponent, the chieftain Dade Gudmundsson, who was married to a 
sister of the imprisoned Lutheran bishop, Martin. The bishop 
collected an armed band of 120 men, and marched to attack Dade, 
but the wary chieftain met him at Saudafell with a force of trusty 
followers. After a determined fight. Bishop Jon and his two sons. 
Are and Bj0rn, were made prisoners in the church where they sought 
refuge. As the royal commandant had returned to Denmark, Dade 
turned his prisoners over to his assistant, Christian Skriver, but he 
feared the bishop's adherents, and did not know where the prisoners 
could be safely kept. One morning at the breakfast table the minister, 
Jon Bjarnason, said to him that although he was not very wise, he 
knew a good way of keeping the prisoners. When asked what plan 
he had in mind, he answered that the ax and the grave would keep them 
best. This suggestion was acted upon, and the old bishop and his 
sons were led to execution and beheaded. The people of Bishop 
Jon's diocese, Holar, bitterly resented this vile deed. They watched 
their opportunity, attacked Christian Skriver, and killed him and his 
armed escort. Later fourteen more Danes were killed, and a spirit 
of bitter hostility against the Danes had been kindled in all Iceland. 
* R. Keyser, Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen^ H., p. 868. 


Sigurd Jonsson, a son of Bishop Jon Aresson, sent thirty men to 
Skalholt to bring the bodies home for interment. Bells were fastened 
to the cojBSns, and as they journeyed along, the church bells were 
ringing, and the people flocked about them to touch the coffins of 
the dead bishop and his sons, who were revered almost like saints. 
They were buried with great honors in the cathedral at Holar. 

Christian III. had dispatched a military force to Iceland even 
before he had received notice of Bishop Jon's death. Two hundred 
men were sent to the southern districts, and five hundred to the 
diocese of Holar. After the bishop's death the people, who had 
been deprived of their leader, submitted without resistance, and took 
the oath of allegiance to the king at the Althing, July 1, 1551, and Olav 
Hjaltesson was appointed Lutheran superintendent at Holar. The 
Lutheran Reformation was thereby officially accepted, but Jon 
Aresson was still regarded as the national hero, and generations had 
to pass before Lutheran Christianity could become a regenerating 
force in the people's intellectual and spiritual life. 

Very little is known about the introduction of the Reformation in 
the Faroe Islands. The last CathoUc bishop was Amund Olavsson, 
who was appointed by Frederick I. in 1533. Jens Riber was the 
first Lutheran bishop in the islands. In 1557 he became Bishop of 
Stavanger as Jon Guttormsson's successor. The diocese of the Faroe 
Islands was discontinued, and the islands were incorporated in the 
diocese of Bergen, and later in that of Seeland in Denmark.^ 

21. The Reign of Christian III. 

The disappearance of the Norwegian Council, the gradual decay 
of the aristocracy, and, finally, the destruction of the Catholic Church 
and clergy left the Norwegian people without leaders, unable to 
assert their independence, or even to maintain their legal rights 
in the affairs of internal administration. The principal lens of the 
kingdom were given to Danes, with but few exceptions, bishops 
and ministers were sent from Denmark, the government was wholly 

1 R. Keyser, Den norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen, II., p. 838 f. 
Peder Clauss0n Friis, Samlede Skrifter, 328. L. Debes, Fcer^ernes Beskrivelse. 
Andreas Faye, Christiansands Stifta Bispe- og Stiftshistorie, Christiania, 1867, 
p. 120 ff. 


in the hands of the king and his Danish Council, and even the courts 
of justice were often presided over by Danish judges appointed by 
the king. The Norwegian codes of law were translated into Danish, 
and the church laws were annulled through the introduction of the 
Reformation. It became customary also to appeal from the deci- 
sions of the lagthings to the king, who, together with his council, acted 
as a court of higher jurisdiction. He also sent members of his Council 
to Norway to hold court together with the royal lensherrer and 
lagmcend in order to examine complaints against lensherrer, fogeds, 
and others. This tended to undermine the authority of the old courts, 
and exerted a deteriorating influence on Norwegian jurisprudence.^ 
The lawmaking activity was limited to the issuing of charters and the 
granting of trade privileges to the Hanseatic merchants, and the legal 
practice degenerated into a dull and formal routine, as the Danish 
judges were ignorant of the principles of Norwegian law as well as 
the detail of court procedure. During the union period Norwegian 
jurisprudence lost the high position which it had formeriy held. 
Foreign rule prevented its further development, and the people 
themselves became indifferent, and ceased to cultivate the knowledge 
of the old laws. 

Christian III., who was a judicious and practical king, avoided as 
far as possible all steps which would irritate the Norwegian people.^ 
The clause which he had inserted in the charter, possibly in order to 
humor the Danish nobles, he suffered to remain a dead letter. The 
charter remained deposited in the archives unknown to most people 
in Denmark and, probably, to all in Norway. Two kings were laid 
in the grave before it became known .^ The king's chief aim was to 
maintain peace, to improve the economic conditions in his kingdoms, 

1 J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historic, III., 294 ff. Gustav Storm, 
Haandskrifter og Oversoettelser af Magnus Lagab^ters Love; Christiania 
Videnskabs-Selskabs Forhandlinger, 1879, p. 22 ff. T. H. Asehehoug, Stats- 
forfatningen i Norge og Danmark, p. 382 ff., 462 ff. 

2 Christian III. has been pictured by Norwegian historians as a weak 
and worthless king, but Professor Oscar Alb. Johnsen has shown that this 
view is erroneous, that he was an able, clear-minded, humane, and conscien- 
tious ruler. Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Nogle Bemerkninger om Kristian den 
tredie som norsk Konge; Historiske Skrifter tilegnede og overleverede Professor 
Dr. Ludvig Dane, Christiania, 1904. 

* Yngvar Nielsen, Norges Historie, vol. IV., p. 40. 




and to increase the revenues for the purpose of paying the big debts 
which had been contracted in the late war. As he felt the crown 
resting securely on his brow, he was in a position to carry out his ad- 
ministrative policy with firmness. The nobility exercised far less 

influence than they had 
expected to do, and the 
Norwegians remained 
peaceful and loyal sub- 

In the Count's War 
King Christian had seen 
the importance of the fleet, 
and he aimed to make the 
dual kingdom of Denmark- 
Norway a naval power 
strong enough to control 
the Baltic. This would 
also tend to draw the two 
peoples closer together 
through a strengthened 
feeling of the necessity of 
cooperation in furthering 
common interests. Able 
sea-captains were not wanting. Men like Kristoffer von Truntheim 
(Christopher Trondss0n), Otto Stigss0n, Stig Bagge, and others 
had learned seamanship as bold corsairs and lawless rovers of 
the seas, but King Christian, who needed their services, was willing 
to condone past offenses, if they would enter the royal service in 
good faith, and this they were anxious enough to do. Stig Bagge 
of Kvinesdal in Norway was a very able captain, and the king granted 
him Lister len, but on an expedition, against the Netherlands, 1541, 
he was captured and put to death. He was succeeded by the no less 
valiant and able Christopher Trondss0n (Kristoffer von Truntheim). 
These two are the forerunners of a number of distinguished Nor- 
wegian naval heroes who later served in the fleet of the two kingdoms. 
The king devoted special attention to the development of mining 
in Norway. He seems to have thought, as did Absalon Pederss0n 

FiQ. 3. — King Christian III. 


Beyer, that the mountains of Norway were full of silver, gold, and 
other precious things. Alchemy had stimulated the search for 
precious metals, and the growing need for money and iron, caused by 
the wars and the enlargement of the navy, gave a new impetus to this 
industry. Hitherto iron had been gathered in bogs, where small 
quantities of native ore could be found. King Christian 11. had 
sought to introduce the more modern system of extracting metals 
from the rich mineral-bearing rock of Norway, but the attempt had 
led to no practical results. King Christian III. renewed this attempt, 
and imported miners from Germany, where the mining industry 
at this time was most highly developed. He made special regula- 
tions for the industry, based on German laws, and in 1537 several 
mines were opened in Telemarken.^ The undertaking was very im- 
portant as a first chapter in the development of a new industry, 
but no proper control was exercised over the rude foreign miners, 
whose lawless behavior so exasperated the people that a serious up- 
rising occurred in the mining districts. The general ill-will against 
the Danish fogeds added fuel to the flame. Several of these officials 
were slain, and the uprising spread rapidly. Christian HI., who 
never visited Norway after he became king, remained a stranger to 
all local conditions, and without inquiring further into the real cause 
of the disturbance, which he regarded as a rebellion, he ordered the 
commandants of Akershus and Bohus to suppress the uprising. They 
marched into Telemarken, where they met the armed binder, who 
were persuaded to lay down their weapons. After they had thus 
been disarmed, the hinder were surrounded and taken prisoners, and 
a number were sentenced to death and executed. The mines were 
operated with profit for some years, but a decline set in during the 
decade from 1542 till 1552, and a few years later the work was dis- 

The introduction of mining, though attended at first by little 
success, was nevertheless a harbinger of a new era of national de- 
velopment. Another manifestation of the awakening of the spirit 
of progress was the destruction of the Hanseatic trade monopoly in 
Bergen, and the coming into existence of a body of enterprising native 

1 M. Braun Tvethe, Norges Statistik, p. 74 JBF. Yngvar Nielsen, Norges 
Historic, vol. IV., p. 44 ff. 


merchants, who dared to enter into competition with the Germans. 
Though the^Hanseatic League had lost its former power in the Count's 
War, the German merchants in Bergen continued to act with their 
customary arrogance, and sought to intimidate ail whom they feared 
might become competitors.^ Lawlessness and corrupt practices had 
hitherto been the means by which they had maintained their power 
in Norway, but Christian IIL would tolerate no violence or overt 
disobedience. In 1556 he appointed as commandant of Bergen the 
resolute, calm, and fearless nobleman Christopher Valkendorf, who 
could neither be scared by threats, nor disheartened by open resistance. 
The Hanseatic merchants had mounted cannons on the tower of the 
St. Mary's church, and sought to frighten the new commandant, 
but he paid no attention to their meddling schemes. With unbending 
firmness he undertook to carry out the necessary reforms. Hitherto 
the German merchants had been a foreign nation maintaining an 
organized state of their own in Bergen. In order to prevent their 
clerks and apprentices from marrying and becoming domiciled in 
Norway, they encouraged immorality to the utter corruption of the 
social and moral life of the city. Valkendorf began his work of reform 
by bringing the corrupt social practices under strict control, and the 
merchants had to submit to the laws, and promise to live " honestly, 
Christian-like,*and well in all respects." ^ He summoned the German 
artisans, and demanded of them that they should take the oath of 
allegiance to the king, or leave the kingdom. Hitherto they had 
been a colony of foreigners subject only to their own laws ; henceforth 
they would have to become citizens amenable to the laws of Norway 
if they wished to stay in Bergen. The demand, though a very just 
one, was not heeded. The powerful merchant guild encouraged 
them to resist, and, emboldened by this support, they threatened 
that if the commandant attempted to enforce such a demand, there 
would soon be orphans and widows enough in Bergen. In answer 
to these threats Valkendorf ordered the windows of their shops to be 

* Yngr^ar Nielsen, Bergen fra de eeldste Tider indtil Nutiden, p. 29 f. Krag 
og Stephanius, Kristian Ill.'a Historic, I., 277 ft., 286 ff. Vilh. Poulsen, 
Fortodlinger aj Norges Historic, III., 175 f. Yngvar Nielsen, Norges Hi9~ 
torie, vol. IV., p. 108 ff. C. E. Secher, Christoffer Valkendorf. 

* Bergens Fundats, publishfid by N. Nicolaysen in Norske Magasin, I., 
p. 555-563, 587-603, Yngvar Nielsen, Bergen, p. 291 flf. 


closed, trained the cannons of the fortress upon them, and held his 
forces ready for action. The commandant's resolute action struck 
terror into the hearts of the artisans, and they begged for an oppor- 
tunity to negotiate. A meeting was arranged in the St. Mary's 
church, where Valkendorf appeared accompanied by two boys, and 
told the artisans of the order given the garrison of the fortress to fire 
upon their shops if he were harmed. No one ventured to resist, and an 
agreement was made by which the artisans pledged themselves either 
to take the oath of fealty to the government, or to leave the city 
before the next Michaelmas, unless the king should permit them to 
remain on the old conditions.^ But the king supported Valkendorf, 
and when the choice finally had to be made, they decided to leave 
Bergen (1559). The German merchants still remained, but their 
power was broken. Successful resistance could no longer be made 
to the laws and authorities of the city, and the time would soon come 
when they would have to submit to the government, and remain 
satisfied with sharing the legitimate privileges accorded all other 
merchants of Bergen. 

Christian III. and his queen, Dorothea of Lauenburg, were both 
devoted Lutherans. The king was a diligent student of the Bible, 
and was well versed in theology, medicine, history, and natural 
science; but he used the German language exclusively, and never 
learned to speak Danish. Though not gifted above the ordinary, 
he conducted the administration of the kingdom of Denmark with 
great ability and good judgment, but the affairs of Norway were much 
neglected, as the king never visited that kingdom throughout his whole 
reign. The great changes which made his reign the harbinger of a new 
era are, nevertheless, ascribable, in a degree, to his active cooperation, 
if not to his initiative. The Reformation, the rebuilding of the navy, 
the destruction of the Hanseatic trade monopoly, the introduction of 
mining in Norway were measures which not only showed an increased 

* Bergens Fundats, Norske Magasin, I., 519-563. Diplomatarium Nor- 
wegicum, V., no. 1133. Norske Rigsregistranter, I., p. 244. Yngvar Nielsen, 
Bergen, p. 295. Ludvig Holberg, Bergens Beskrivelse, p. 99 ff. R. Nyerup, 
Skildring af Tilstanden i Danmark og Norge, I., p. 357 ff. Paus, Samlinger 
af gamle norske Love og Forordninger, vol. III., p. 323 ff. B. E. Bendixen, 
Tyske Haandverkere paa norsk Grund i Middelalderen, Skrifter udgivet aj 
Videnskabs-Selskabet i Christiania, 1911. 


national vigor, but which gave promise of a new development 
born of the ideas of the Reformation and the Renaissance. King 
Christian's greatest merit was that he became an advocate of the 
new ideas, and helped to make them a factor in the national develop- 
ment. He died on New Year's day, 1559. His old rival. King 
Christian II., who had been liberated from prison in 1549, died the 
same month at Kalundborg in Denmark. 

22. Frederick II, The Seven Years' War with Sweden 

When Christian III. died, his son. Prince Frederick, who was 
twenty-four years of age, ascended the throne. He had been hailed 
as his father's successor in Denmark in 1542, and in Norway 1548, a 
step which shows a growing tendency to restrict the choice of king 
to the members of the royal family.^ The new king had inherited 
his mother's restless energy and imperious temperament, but his 
education had been neglected, as he cared little for books in his boy- 
hood. The religious tone prevalent at his father's court did not 
appeal to him. He quarreled frequently with his parents, loved 
pomp and display, and exhibited great fondness for military pursuits. 
In the administration of the affairs of the kingdom the careful and 
constructive course pursued by King Christian III. was abandoned. 
The public pohcy shaped by Frederick II. became a series of hasty 
impulses and of ill-considered adventures, terminating in failure and 
general distress. 

The king won his first military glory in a war with Ditmarsken. 
It had been constantly urged that the Danes should avenge the defeat 
suffered by King Hans in 1500, but Christian III. would not begin 
war. His two brothers, the dukes Adolph and Hans, who had always 
been in favor of renewing the attempt to take Ditmarsken, found no 

^ In the charter of 1536, which was to be regarded as a constitution for 
both kingdoms, the provision was made that if Prince Frederick should 
die before his father, and if King Christian should receive another son, the 
Council should elect that son as his successor, and, as heir to the throne, he 
should have the official title of "i' Prince of Denmark." It is not clear for 
what purpose this provision was made, as the Council still maintained the 
principle that Denmark should be an elective kingdom as before, but the 
king's oldest son was always chosen his successor till 1660. See T. H. Asche- 
houg, Stataforfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 1814, p. 359 flf. 


difficulty in persuading their nephew, King Frederick II., to join 
them in the undertaking. An army of 20,000 foot soldiers and 3000 
cavalry was raised, and the Ditmarskers, who could only muster a 
force of 7000 men, were finally overpowered in 1560 after a most 
heroic resistance. 

King Gustav Vasa of Sweden died Sept. 29, 1560, and was suc- 
ceeded by his son Erik XIV. The new king was of a wariike disposition, 
and, as many old grudges still existed between Sweden and Denmark, 
a contest for the supremacy in the Baltic was almost sure to come. 
King Frederick 11. asserted the old claim of Denmark to Esthonia and 
Osel, and sought to ward off Russian encroachments in Livonia, 
but Sweden took possession of Reval, and entered into open rivalry 
with Denmark for the control of the Baltic. The immediate cause 
of the Seven Years' War which soon broke out was the use of three 
crowns in the coat of arms both of Sweden and Denmark.^ The three 
crowns was the old coat of arms in Sweden, but in Denmark they 
had been adopted as a sign of union of the three Northern kingdoms. 
As Sweden had left the union, the continued use of the three crowns 
in the Danish coat of arms was an indication that the kings of Den- 
mark had not yet relinquished their claim to the throne of Sweden. 
Frederick I. had, indeed, dropped the three crowns from the Danish 
coat of arms, but they had been reintroduced by Christian III. and 
Frederick II. This led to protracted negotiations, but neither Erik 
XIV. nor Frederick II. would yield. In fact, both desired war. King 
Erik hoped to take Norway, and Frederick II. felt certain that the 
war would give him the longed-for opportunity to gain the throne 
of Sweden. In vain the older and more experienced men counseled 
him not to risk a war. He found support among the young nobles, 
who exercised great influence in court circles, and the torch of war 
was soon lighted. In the first naval engagement off Bornholm, 
the Swedes under Admiral Bagge, a Norwegian by birth, took the 
Danish admiral prisoner, and captured three of his ships. On 
August 9, 1563, Frederick II., who was the aggressor, issued a declara- 
tion of war. Liibeck, Poland, and Russia became his allies, and 
Sweden was politically isolated. The war became, to a large extent, 
a naval contest, as Frederick depended on the Danish-Norwegian 

^ Otto Vaupell, Den nordiske Syvaarskrig, 1563-1670, Copenhagen, 1891. 


fleet, which his father had created. The operations on land con- 
sisted chiefly in destructive border raids, in which Hves and property 
were destroyed, seemingly without any other plan than to swell the 
general sum of misery. Norway was the trophy for which King 
Erik XIV. was wilUng to do battle. In the days of Karl Knutsson 
and Christian I. there had been sharp rivalry between Sweden and 
Denmark for the possession of Norway, and although Denmark 
had succeeded in maintaining the union with the sister kingdom, 
the old jealousy was not wholly allayed. When the war broke out, 
the Swedes still hoped, as in the time of Engelbrecht Engelbrechtsson, 
that Norway would revolt and attempt to shake off the Danish yoke. 
This hope is expressed in the Latin poem *' Querelae Swedicae ' ' (" Swed- 
ish complaints ")j written at the court of King Erik XIV.^ The poem 
describes Norway's sad fate, criticizes the Danish kings and officials, 
and enumerates the misfortunes which Danish misrule had brought 
upon the country. "Oh, Sister, to be pitied art thou. After Den- 
mark with her sweet union bitterly hast brought thee under her feet, 
thou complainest too late; too late dost thou take the shield after 
the wounds have been inflicted. Too late thou grievest, because 
thou hast been brought under the tight reigns of oppression. Now, 
unfortunate one, thou finally seest that there has been black gall 
beneath so sweet honey." There seemed, indeed, to be an oppor- 
tunity for Norway to shake off Danish overlordship, and dissolve the 
union, but as nothing had been done for the creation of an efficient 
army, the country lacked the necessary means for the successful pur- 
suance of such a course. The sailors and marines in the Danish- 
Norwegian navy had been, to a large extent, recruited in Norway, 
the fortresses of the country had Danish commandants, and no 
central organization existed which could lead a national uprising. 
There seems, indeed, to have been at this time in Norway a sentiment 
in favor of Sweden, but such a sentiment could not be strengthened 
by the course pursued by the Swedish king, who, in spite of ex- 
pressed sympathy, sent armies across the border to raid and plunder 
in Norwegian territory. In the fall of 1563 a Swedish army occupied 
Jsemtland, but the province was recaptured by Evert Bild, the com- 

1 Professor Ludvig Daae thinks that King Erik XIV. is the author of the 
poem. Uiatorisk Tidsskrift, f0rste rsekke, vol. III., p. 492 f. 


mandant of Steinviksholm in Tr0ndelagen. The following year a 
Swedish army of 3500 men again entered] Norway. The Norwegian 
commander was pursued and slain, and the lagmand was captured and 
placed in fetters. " How cruelly they treated the people God knows," 
says an old writer. Both in Jsemtland and Herjedalen, which were 
held by the Swedish troops throughout the whole war, the people 
were so oppressed by the rude soldiers that they fled from their homes 
to Norway in large numbers.^ The commander of the Swedish army 
was a Frenchman, Claude Collart, who after subduing Jsemtland 
marched across the mountains to Tr0ndelagen, and laid siege to the 
strong fortress of Steinviksholm, which was surrendered by the com- 
mandant, Evert Bild, almost without resistance. The people 
welcomed the Swedes as friends ; the Danes were driven away, and 
Tr0ndelagen, M0re, and Romsdal accepted the Swedish king as 
their sovereign. This easy victory made Claude Collart (Claudius 
Gallus) very arrogant. He sent most of his forces back to Sweden, 
and began to rule in a most arbitrary and oppressive way. Heavy 
taxes were imposed, and gallows were erected throughout the province, 
as if it were his object to wreak martial vengeance on a conquered 
race. The Trondhjem cathedral was desecrated by his soldiers, 
who even carried away the body of St. Olav, evidently with the in- 
tention of bringing it to Sweden, but it was finally reinterred at 
Floan church in Tr0ndelagen.2 The pro-Swedish sentiment which 

^ Edward Bull, Bidrag til Joemtlands Historic fra Christian III. til Chris- 
tian IV., Historiske Afhandlinger tilegnet Professor Dr. J. E. Sars, Christiania, 

• Absalon Pederss0n Beyer, Om Norgis Rige, published by Guatav Storm 
in Historisk-topografiske Skrifter om Norge og norske Landsdele, p. 38. 

About the later history of St, Olav's remains. Professor P. A. Munch 
writes : '■' The middle shrine with the body remained, in the meanwhile, in 
the cathedral, and was even for some decennaries suffered to stand in its 
place on the altar till the above-mentioned war between Sweden and Den- 
mark from 1563 till 1570. The Swedes then occupied the city of Nidaros 
about 1564, and did great damage in the cathedral ; they took the shrine, 
stripped it of everything valuable, 'even to the smallest silver nail,' and 
biuried it at last with the body in a small country chxu-ch, no longer used for 
divine service since the Reformation. When they were driven back the 
following year, the people asked for and got permission of the Danish gov- 
ernor to bring back the body to the cathedral. This was accordingly done 
on the 8th of July, with great pomp ; the shrine was carried to the church 


the people had shown was ill rewarded by this rude soldier of fortune, 
and his undisciplined warriors. No course could have been more 
effective in turning friendship into hatred, and the people would, 
naturally, welcome with joy any aid which would rid them of such 
oppression. Aid soon came from Bergen, where the able and ener- 
getic Erik Rosenkrans had been made commandant. He dispatched 
troops under Erik Munk to Tr0ndelagen to assist the local forces. 
Collart was obUged to evacuate Trondhjem, and retreat to the for- 
tress of Steinviksholm. As the Swedes did not number above 
400 men, he was soon forced to surrender, and the angry binder of 
Nordland, Tr0ndelagen, Nordm0r, Romsdal, and S0ndm0r were 
summoned to Trondhjem, where they renewed their oath of allegiance 
to King Frederick II. 

The campaign on the southern theater of action resulted in the 
capture of Elfsborg by the Danes, and in 1564 the Danish admiral, 
Herluf TroUe, defeated the Swedish fleet commanded by Jacob Bagge 
in a noted naval battle off Oland. Hitherto the advantage in the 

in a procession of the clergy, the noblemen, the military officers, and the 
citizens, and deposited in a bricklaid grave or vault. In the spring of 1568, 
however, a Danish nobleman, who was in Trondhjem on a special errand 
from the king, caused earth to be thrown into the grave over the body, 
probably in order to prevent people from worshiping it, which they still 
were inclined to do in spite of the newly introduced Protestantism. Even 
then the body was tolerably well preserved. Mag. Absalon Pederss0n, 
who saw it himself, says in his ^Description of Norway' that 'it was not 
altered except the cartilage of the nose, and some parts of the eyes, which 
were gone, else the rest of the members were as they had been for many 
hundred years.' A judge in the south of Norway, who in his youth had 
attended school in Trondhjem, told the Rev. Peder Clauss0n Friis, the 
first translator of Snorre Sturlason, that 'the body of St. Olav, which he 
had seen himself, was rather long, well preserved, with a red beard, but the 
nose was somewhat sunken; the wounds inflicted upon the king in his last 
battle were still visible, for the rest it was dry and hard as wood.' This 
description, as will be seen, is at some variance with the more prolix one 
given above. The exact place where the aforesaid bricklaid grave is to be 
looked for is not known, but very probably it will be found when the repairs 
now contemplated are begun, that is to say, if there are any signs by which 
it may be identified. But whether the body be found or not, it is yet a 
satisfaction to know that it still rests in the same church which owes its 
origin to the saint, and from which, during five centuries, he spread luster 
over the whole kingdom." P. A. Munch og H. E. Schirmer, Trondhjems 
Domkirke, p. 38 f. 


struggle had inclined to the side of the Danes, but the tide turned in 
1565. In the naval battle of Femern, Herluf Trolle received his 
death-wound, and his successor. Otto Rud, was captured in a second 
engagement at Bornholm. The situation became so critical that Den- 
mark was persuaded to open peace negotiations, but King Erik XIV., 
who considered himself the unqualified victor, made demands which 
could not be accepted, and the struggle continued. The very able 
Danish general Daniel Rantzau defeated the Swedes at Axtorna, and 
the heroic Jens Holgerss0n had successfully defended Bohus against 
repeated attacks. In 1566 great efforts were made to increase the 
strength of the Danish army and navy. Soldiers were pressed into 
service, and the increased war contributions weighed heavily on the 
people both in Norway and Denmark. But of Httle avail were these 
sacrifices. A large part of the Danish-Norwegian fleet was destroyed 
on the coast of Gothland in a terrific storm, July 28-29. Between 
six and seven thousand men perished in a single night,^ but as the 
Swedish fleet was also damaged in the same hurricane, the relative 
strength of the two powers was not materially changed. In spite of 
repeated misfortunes King Frederick II. "did not allow his royal 
courage to be shaken." Again he undertook to build a fleet, which he 
hoped might retrieve the losses, and bring him the coveted victory. 
In 1567 King Erik XIV. directed his attack against Norway. 
This vain and ambitious king, who was inordinately licentious and 
void of any solicitude for the welfare of his people, was becoming 
mentally unbalanced. He still thought that the Norwegians would 
rise against the Danes, and he was encouraged in this belief by an 
adventurer, Eno Brandr0k, a son of the Norwegian naval hero Chris- 
topher Trondss0n. Eno advised Erik to attack Akershus. The 
Norwegians, he said, would rise in revolt as soon as the Swedes ap- 
peared, and the march from Akershus to Bergenhus would be a tri- 
umphal procession. Stories like these would, naturally, excite the 
diseased imagination of the almost insane king. An army under 
John Siggess0n was dispatched across the border into 0sterdalen, and 
a wicked raid, accompanied by the plundering of the churches and 
the devastation of defenseless settlements, was begun, ^sterdalen 
and Hedemarken were ravaged, Hamar was taken, and Hamarhus 
^ Otto Vaupell, Den nordiske Syvaarskrig, p. 113 £f. 


castle was plundered. But when the enemy reached Oslo, the people 
burned their city rather than see it fall into the hands of the invaders. 
The districts of southeastern Norway submitted, and the people were 
forced to swear allegiance to King Erik XIV., but the ravages did 
not cease. Swedish detachments roamed over Ringerike, Romerike, 
Hedemarken, Gausdal, and the districts east and west of the Chris- 
tiania fjord; Sarpsborg was burned, because the people refused to 
pay war tribute ; the same fate befell Konghelle. New forces ar- 
rived constantly, and it seemed as if the plundering and burning would 
nev^er stop. Akershus was invested, and Erik Rosenkrans of Bergen 
so'ght to aid the besieged fortress, but he experienced the greatest 
diflBculty in raising forces and supplies. The war had exhausted the 
resources both of Norway and Denmark, and loud complaints were 
heard on every hand. Erik Munk was, finally, sent to Akershus with 
reenforcements, and the Swedes had to retire. They marched north- 
ward from Oslo, " crossed seven large rivers which were in their way, 
and everywhere they broke down the bridges behind them, burned 
everything which they found, and killed both men and women, 
sparing no one." On their retreat they also destroyed Hamarhus 
castle, and burned the Hamar cathedral. The great church was not 
destroyed, but suffered serious damages, which were never repaired, 
and the cathedral gradually fell to ruin,^ 

After the termination of the Norwegian campaign, the struggle 
was waged principally on Swedish soil, and Norway was not seriously 
molested. The war, which had exhausted all three kingdoms, was 
gradually drawing to a close. King Erik XIV., who had become 
permanently deranged, was finally deposed, and his brother, Duke 
John, was placed on the throne as King John III. in January, 1569. 
About the same time a treaty of peace had been negotiated with 
Denmark, but as the king and the Estates of Sweden would not 
ratify it, hostilities began anew. Frederick II., however, had soon 
spent the last strength of his two kingdoms, and peace negotiations 
were renewed at Stettin, July 15, 1570, and the final treaty of peace 

* The cathedral, which was a structure in Romanesque style, was built 
in the second half of the twelfth century. Einar Orting, Hamar Domkirke, 
Symra, vol. VII., p. 95 f . N. Nicolaysen, Stor-Hamars Ruiner. L. Dietrich- 
son, Vore Fmdres Verk, Christiania, 1906. C. Ramseth, Hamar Bys Historie, 
Hamar, 1899. C. C. A. Lange, De norskt Klo8trea HUtorie t Middelalderen. 


was signed December 13 of the same year. According to the terms 
of the treaty, Denmark should surrender all claims to Sweden. The 
question of the three crowns in the Danish coat of arms should be 
settled by a court of arbitration; but as this court was never as- 
sembled, Denmark continued to use the three crowns as before. 
Elfsborg should be given back to Sweden on the payment of an in- 
demnity of 150,000 riksdaler. The Norwegian provinces of Jsemt- 
land and Herjedalen, which had hitherto belonged to the diocese 
cf Upsala, were joined to the diocese of Trondhjem. All ships and 
cannons which had been taken in the war should be returned to their 
respective owners, all conquered territory should be surrendered, 
and Liibeck should have the right to trade with Sv/eden. In the 
long struggle nothing had been gained by either power. Their rela- 
tive strength, both on land and sea, remained what it had been since 

23. Norwegian Internal Administration in the Reign of 

Frederick II. 

From 1536 till 1572 Norway had no central government which 
could represent the whole people, and serve as a connecting link be- 
tween the king and the royal oflBcials, as the Council had ceased to 
exist, but the need of a central administrative authority within the 
kingdom had been keenly felt in the war with Sweden. As each 
lensherre was the highest authority within his own district, an efficient 
use of the country's resources in time of danger was well-nigh im- 
possible. No army was maintained, and the Norwegians had been 
unable to defend themselves even against a small invading force. 
In 1572 the king created the office of statholder (viceroy) of Norway, 
to which position he appointed Paul Huitfeldt, commandant of 
Akershus. The statholder should have supervision of the church and 
clergy, the courts, and the royal demesne lands. He should exercise 
authority over the lensherrer, so that they should not oppress the 
people, and by a regulation of July 5, 1588, he was also placed in su- 
preme command of the Norwegian military forces.^ The central- 

Om Hammer och Hammer Kifibstadtz Bygning, old manuscript published by 
Gustav Storm in Historisk-topografiske Skrifter om Norge og norske Landsdele. 
^ T. H. Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Danmark og Norge indtil 1814i 
p. 389 ff. 


ization of administrative authority was especially necessary in order 
to bring better order into the finances of the kingdom, which had been 
reduced to a wretched state during the war. The lands belonging 
to the bishops had been confiscated by the state at the introduction 
of the Reformation, and all church lands should also be administered 
by the government, as the. Lutheran Church was a state church. 
But before the revenues could be made to flow in the proper channels, 
the administrative system had to be readjusted to the altered con- 
ditions. Three subordinate officers, stiftsskrivere, were appointed 
to supervise the buildings, property, rents, and incomes belonging to 
the churches, and rules were made regarding saw-mills and the 
lumber trade, the preservation of the forests, the keeping of all public 
property, and the building of war galleys. Paul Huitfeldt was per- 
sonally very active. He traveled about in the united dioceses of Oslo 
and Hamar, and compiled a census of the property of churches and 
clergymen. A copy of this document, usually called "Paul Huit- 
feldt's Stiftsbog," is still in existence.^ The lensherrer usually re- 
ceived the whole income of a small len, but only a relatively small 
share of the income from the principal len. The statholder, Paul 
Huitfeldt, received for his services the income of the len of Troms0, 
but only 10 per cent of the income of Akershus len. But besides this, 
he was granted, also, the necessaries for his large household, for which 
he might use three hundred chickens, ten barrels of tallow for candles, 
three barrels of salmon, and five hundred flounders. The cost of 
maintaining these great lords, besides the taxes which had to be paid 
to church and state, often made the public burdens alarmingly heavy. 
In 1571 every odelsbonde had to pay taxes to the amount of one-half 
of his whole income. This was, however, a war rate ; in 1576 it was 
reduced to half that amount, or 25 per cent of the income. The 
revenues of the crown were derived from the following sources : ^ 
The landskyld, or income from rented crown lands ; income from lands 
operated for the benefit of the crown, consisting chiefly of lumber 

1 Yngvar Nielsen, Norges Historie, vol. IV., p. 181 f . 

* The system of taxation at this time is found clearly illustrated in an 
old manuscript in the Norwegian royal archives, which contains an itemized 
account of incomes and expenditures of Akershus len for the years 1557-1558, 
and 1560-1561. Extracts from these accounts have been published by 
T. H. Aschehoug in Norske Samlinger, vol. I., p. 161 flf. 


sawed in the royal forests, the regular taxes, consisting of the leding 
tax for the coast districts and the vis^re tax for the inland districts ; 
foring, or the feeding of horses used by the government, which seems 
to have been a new tax, as it is mentioned for the first time in a 
statute of 1578 ; fines imposed by the court in punishment of crime ; 
tithes; duties, consisting of duty on goods exported, and a certain 
tax or toll on ships according to their size; sise (excise), or import 
duty on ale and prydsing ; and aid paid the crown by certain districts, 
probably a free donation. The taxes were collected by the provosts 
and fogeds, who usually employed the lensmcend (h^nder-lensmcend) 
for this purpose. As money was very scarce, the taxes were, usually, 
paid in sheep, cattle, and produce of various kinds, which had to be 
transported to Akershus, or some other central point, at the expense 
of the crown. A part was used for the household of the statholder 
or lensherre, and for the payment of servants and officials; the re- 
mainder was sent to Denmark.^ 

After the war the army was neglected both in Norway and Den- 
mark ; but considerable attention was devoted to the fleet, as Fred- 
erick II. wished to maintain Danish supremacy in the Baltic. The 
sea was also made insecure by numerous pirates, and it was necessary 
to keep a strong fleet in active service to keep them at bay. In- 
teresting incidents sometimes occurred in these pirate hunts. In 1567 
Captain Aalborg sailed from Bergen to look for pirates. At Karm- 
sund he discovered two suspicious looking vessels, which he brought 
to Bergen for inspection. One of the vessels was found to carry 
James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, the husband of Mary Stuart. 
Although a fugitive, he was courteously received by Erik Rosenkrans, 
commandant at Bergen, who entertained him at a banquet. In 
Bergen the earl met a lady to whom he had been untrue. This was 
Anna, the daughter of Christopher Trondss0n, who confronted him 
with evidence that he was her husband. In Norway she was known 
as "skottefruen" (the Scotch lady). She would have nothing more 
to do with the faithless Bothwell, and the earl was taken to Denmark, 
where he was imprisoned at Malmohus, and later at Dragsholm, 
until his death in 1578. 

* T. H. Aschehoug, De norske Communers Retsforfatning f^r 1837, p. 84 f. 
Yngvar Nielsen, Norges Historic, vol. IV. 


One of the most noteworthy characters whose names are connected 
with the pirate hunts of those times is Mogens Heiness0n, who was 
born of Norwegian parents in the Faroe Islands, where his name still 
lives in stories and traditions. He had sailed as merchant between 
Bergen and the Faroe Islands ; his ship had been robbed by pirates, 
and he had gone to Holland, where he enlisted in the navy. Later 
he returned and began again to trade with his native islands, though 
this trade had been made a royal monopoly. Sometimes he hunted 
the pirates, and at other times he was a Viking corsair, leading a life 
of romantic adventure, until his old enemy, Christopher Valkendorf, 
succeeded in throwing him into prison. Through Valkendorf's 
influence Heiness0n was sentenced to death and executed without 
proper trial. This unjust proceeding was later annulled, and Chris- 
topher Valkendorf had to pay Heiness0n's widow, and his old busi- 
ness partner, Hans Lindenow, a large indemnity.^ 

The problem of creating a just and efficient government in Norway, 
where the details of law and administration could not come under the 
direct control of the king and his Council, presented difficulties which 
were not solved even by the creation of the office of statholder. The 
old complaints of extortion and oppression by the fogeds and royal 
officials continued. Unlawful taxes were often collected, and the 
people felt aggrieved by many unjust and arbitrary acts on the part 
of the foreign royal officers, who neither understood the local condi- 
tions, nor enjoyed the good-will of the people. 

However well-meaning the paternal rule of a foreign monarch may 
be, it is always bad. His numerous subordinates may practice a 
most exasperating tyranny, which he cannot mitigate without de- 
stroying the very system of which he has become the representative. 
In order that the king through his Council might exercise a more 
direct influence upon the administration and the enforcement of the 
laws by the courts, councils of magnates, which had hitherto been 
assembled on special occasions, were held more frequently. From 
1568 such councils {herredage) may almost be regarded as a perma- 

^ Troels Lund, Mogens Heiness^n, Copenhagen, 1877. Ludvig Daae, 

Om Mogens Heiness^n, Christiania, 1869. Lucas Debes, Feroe et Feroa 

reserata, Ck)penhagen, 1673. J. H. 8chr0ter, Foer^iske Folkeaagn, Anti- 
quarisk Tidsskrift, 1849-1851. 


nently established institution. They were to act as a higher court, 
but administrative questions were also considered and settled. 
Some members of the Danish Council — not above five — were sent 
to Norway to hold such assizes. The measures adopted, and the 
decisions made were to be regarded as if they had been made by the 
Council itself, but an appeal could, nevertheless, be made to the king 
and the Council.^ The king thought that all irregularities and of- 
fenses could be investigated and adjusted by the statholder and the 
Councils, so that no complaints would have to be carried directly to 
the throne. But the Norwegians were accustomed from very early 
times to bring their grievances to the attention of the king directly. 
He, they thought, would not shield the offender, even if he were a, 
high official; he would give them justice, and instead of appealing 
to the statholder, they appointed committees to go to Copenhagen 
to lay their complaints before the king himself. The king was anxious 
to see justice done, but the officials and nobles against whom com- 
plaints were made, sought to revenge themselves upon those who 
ventured to seek justice in that way. In 1573 a committee, led by 
Rolv Halvardss0n, was sent to Copenhagen, and when they had 
presented their case, the king wrote a letter to Ludvig Munk, lens- 
herre in Trondhjem, requesting him to aid the binder, and to see to 
it that the matter was settled right. But when the committee re- 
turned, they got into trouble with Ludvig Munk and his foged, and 
Rolv Halvardss0n and his companions were unjustly condemned to 
death and executed.^ The constant struggle between tyrannical 
officials and an angry people, whose necks could not be bent, fills the 
centuries of the union period with tragic episodes, and constitutes 
one of its most characteristic and noteworthy features. The struggle 
was not a war for national hberty, conducted by great leaders ; it was 
not a general organized movement, but a dogged and persistent fight 
by the people for their legal rights and their freedom as individuals, 
without which a Norseman could not live, and out of which national 
liberty sprang full-grown when the union with Denmark ended. 

1 Yngvar Nielsen, Norges Historie, vol. IV., p. 171 and 198. T. H. Asche- 
houg, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 1814, p. 382 ff. 

* To Herredagsdomme af 1578 og 1679 angaaende nogle Binder i Guldalen 
tern var henrettede for Landraadesag, Norske Samlinger, II., p. 31 ff. Halvdan 
Koht, Fyrebuing til norsk Polilik, Hisloriske Afhandlinger tilegnet J. E. 
Sars, p. 132 £f. 

160 history of the norwegian people n 

24. Intellectual and Socul Conditions in Norway in the 
Sixteenth Century 

The literary life in Norway in the sixteenth century, though it 
shows a lack of creative ability, is not wholly wanting in intellectual 
energy, and many valuable works were written in this period by the 
Norwegian humanists. Humanism, which had spread over Europe 
from Italy, had been temporarily interrupted by the Reformation, but 
after Protestantism had been established in the North, it blossomed 
forth again with increased vigor. In Norway, as elsewhere, the 
clergy, who had studied, not only in the schools at home, but at the 
universities abroad, and had acquired the spirit and culture of the 
age, became devoted adherents of the new learning. Some noblemen 
of literary tastes and scholariy inclinations were also enthusiastic 
humanists. At the bishops' seats, and also at the parsonages, small 
libraries were collected, though books were rare and expensive. The 
prevalent cosmopolitan spirit, the Latin language everywhere used 
by scholars, and common intellectual interests bound the humanists 
in all countries together with fraternal ties. They felt themselves 
to be a sacred brotherhood, constituting the universal kingdom of 
learning, and theirs was the special privilege of exploring and bringing 
to light the great intellectual treasures and culture of classic antiq- 
uity. They turned their attention also to the past history of their 
own people, and dug from obscurity and neglect the sagas of the 
kings of Norway, translated them into the modern Norse tongue, 
and sought to open the eyes of the people to their own past greatness. 
In Bergen, where the talented humanist Geble Pederss0n became the 
first Lutheran bishop, a circle of learned literary men sprang into 
existence. In Nidaros, Stavanger, Hamar, Oslo, and other places 
humanists were poring over old books and dusty manuscripts in their 
eager search for knowledge. One of the leading Norwegian human- 
ists was Mag. Absalon Pederss0n Beyer of the Bergen Latin school, 
a pupil and prot6g6 of Geble Pederss0n. Mag. Absalon wrote the 
" Liber Capituli Bergensis," ^ a diary which gives a picture of Bergen at 

1 The work is published by N. Nioolaysen, Christiania, 1860, under the 
title Ldher Capituli Bergensis, Absalon Pederss^ns Dagbog over Begivenheder 
isaer i Bergen, 1552-1 57 S. 


that time with great distinctness of detail. He also wrote "Norges 
Beskrivelse," ^ a description of Norway which is especially remarkable 
because of the intense patriotic feeling expressed in it. The author 
bemoans in most pathetic words the loss of Norwegian independence, 
but he speaks with eloquent hopefulness when he refers to the coun- 
try's future. The following quotation will show the general tenor of 
the book : " Therefore begins here Norway's old age, since she has 
become so old, cold, and unfruitful that she cannot give birth to 
royal children of her own, who could be her rulers. Her nobility, 
good heroes, and warriors died from her, part by the sword, and 
part by the pestilence during the Black Death ... so that from that 
time forth the Norwegian nobility has constantly decreased in num- 
ber, year by year, and day by day, since their fathers either gave 
their property to monasteries or churches, or forfeited it, or they 
wasted it themselves through marriage, or a number of bastard sons 
inherited it. Furthermore, the Norwegian nobility receive no grants 
of land belonging to the crown or the dioceses, and their own suffice 
little or nothing to maintain the style and extravagance which are 
now so common, therefore they are becoming extinct." He compares 
Norway to an old widow who must lean upon a staff in walking, but 
she is only apparently, not really, weak. 

"Still Norway might awaken from her sleep if she could get a 
ruler, for she is not so degenerated or weakened that she could not 
regain her former power and glory; for these hard mountains are 
full of good butter, silver, gold, and other precious things. The 
people still possess some of the old virtue, manhood, and power, 
which should enable them to fight for their lord and native land, if 
they could daily see him and experience his favor." ^ The author's 
optimism regarding Norway's future development and the abiHty of 
the Norwegian people to retain their lost national greatness, rested 
on a correct anticipation, based on a thorough knowledge of local 

* Published by Gustav Storm in Historisk-topografiske Skrifter om Norge 
og norske Landsdele i det 16de Aarhundrede, Christiania, 1895. Yngvar 
Nielsen, Af Norges Hisiorie, De norske Humanister, p. 115 ff. 

* Gustav Storm, Historisk-topografiske Skrifter, Om Norgis Rige, af Mag. 
Absalon Pederss0n Beyer, p. 21 flf. Rasmus Nyerup, Historisk-statistisk 
Skildring af Tilstanden i Danmark og Norge i addre og nyere Tider, vol. I., 
p. 320 fif. 

VOL. 11 — M 


conditions. Unfortunate circumstances had, indeed, led to Norway's 
union with Denmark, in which perfect equality between the two 
sister kingdoms could not be maintained ; but the Norwegian people 
had never been conquered, their spirit had not been subdued or 
broken, sometime the irksome ties would be dissolved, Norway 
would wake from her slumbers, the spirit of the people would reassert 
itself, and a new era of national progress would begin. Modern 
Norwegian history proves the correctness of Mag. Absalon Pederss0n's 
views. We shall have the opportunity to observe how this new na- 
tional awakening began long before the union with Denmark was 

Peder Clauss0n Friis, clergyman in Undal in Agder, was a patriot 
like his contemporary, Absalon Pederss0n Beyer. He wrote a work 
about Norway, "Norigis Beskriffuelse," a Norwegian natural history, 
and a description of the Norwegian island colonies.^ He also pub- 
lished a translation of the " Sagas of the Kings of Norway," a most 
important work, through which the people learned to know their 
past history, as they were no longer able to read their books in the 
Old Norse language. Through this work Norwegian national feeling 
received a powerful stimulus. Mattis St0rss0n,2 who died in 1569 
as lagmand in Bergen, translated the " Sagas of the Kings of Norway " 
from the "Heimskringla" and the "Codex Frisianus," and for the 
lensherre in Bergen he wrote, about 1555, "En kort Beretning om 
K]'0bm8endene ved Bryggen" {i.e. a short account of the Hanseatic 
merchants in Bergen).' He complained of their encroachments, 
and proposed plans for improving the country's economic condition. 
Gustav Storm says : " He thought that Greenland in olden times had 
been a gold-mine for Norway, similar to what India was for the Span- 
ish monarchy, and we probably do not err in believing that he has 
translated the old *Gr0nlands Beskrivelse,' and has worked it into 

* Peder Clauss0n Friis, Samlede Skrifter, edited by Gustav Storm, Chris- 
tiania, 1881. 

> Mattis St0rs30n's work is the first translation of the sagas into modern 
Danish. It was published in Copenhagen, 1594, by Jens Mortensen, and 
was erroneously called ^'Jens Mortensens Sagaoversaettelse." See Gustav 
Storm, Et gjenfundet Haandskrift af Mattis St^rss^ns SagaoverscetteUe, His- 
torisk Tidsskrijt, anden rsekke, vol. V., p. 271 ff. 

» Printed in Norske Magasin, I., p. 43-46. _., 


Erik Valkendorf' s accounts of Greenland, to be used on the expedi- 
tions of discovery which were sent out from Bergen shortly after- 
ward." Laurents Hanss0n Bonde, who lived in the neighborhood 
of Bergen, translated sagas and wrote commentaries to the codes of 
church laws.^ Erik Hansson Sch0nneb0l wrote "Lofotens og Vester- 
aalens Beskrivelse." ^ " Bergens Fundats," written by some un- 
known author,^ 1559 or 1560, contains a history of Bergen till the 
time of Christopher Valkendorf and the subjugation of the Hanseatic 
merchants. "Bergens Rimkr0nike," by an unknown author, nar- 
rates the history of the city till the time of the Victual Brothers, and 
is of importance as an historical source.^ " Gandske Nommedals 
Lens Beskriifuelse Aar 1597," " Om Hammars KJ0bstads Bygning," 
1553,^ and "Norsk So " (" Die nordtsche Sau "), a bitter complaint 
of moral conditions in Bergen, written about 1584, are also of un- 
known authors.* 

In Oslo Bishop Jens Nilss0n became the center of a large circle of 

^ Grffnlands historiske Mindesmerker, III., p. 250-260, 490-494. Laurits 
Hanss^ns Sagaoverscettelse, edited by Gustav Storm, Christiania Videnskabs- 
Selkabs Skrifter, 1899. 

2 Published by Gustav Storm in Historisk-topografiske Skrifter om Norge 
og norske Landsdele. Storm has shown that Sch0nneb0l is the author, 
though the work was originally published anonymously. See Historisk 
Tidsskrift, tredie rsekke, vol. IV., p. 173 ff. 

' Herluf Lauritss0n has been regarded as the author of Bergens Fundats 
by Holberg, Nyerup, N. Nicolaysen, Yngvar Nielsen, and others; but 
Gustav Storm has shown thatJLauritss0n cannot be the author. G. Storm, 
Om Skriftet " Bergens Fundats " og dets forfatter, Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie 
raBkke, vol. IV., p. 418 ff. 

* N. Wicolaysen, and likewise Yngvar Nielsen ("Bergen," p. 328) have 
held that the author of Bergens Fundats has used Bergens Rimkr^nike as a 
source, but Gustav Storm has shown that Bergens Rimkr^nike is based on 
Bergens Fundats. See Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie rsekke, vol. IV., p. 418 flf. 

' Published by Gustav Storm in Historisk-topografiske Skrifter om Norge 
og norske Landsdele. 

« Norske So, printed in N. Nicolaysen's Norske Magasin, vol. II. The 
title was suggested by a deformed pig born at Oslo, July 7, 1581. This 
caused great alarm, as the superstitious people, and the no less superstitious 
humanistic scholars, regarded it as an evil omen signifying that the vengeance 
of God would fall upon the people, because of their wickedness. The poem 
is of importance as an historical source, as it gives us an insight into the 
moral depravity in Bergen at that time, though the author is guilty of ex- 
travagant exaggerations. 


learned and able humanists.^ Besides his knowledge of Greek and 
Latin he was well versed in Norwegian history and Old Norse. He 
copied the manuscript of the " Jofraskinna," and wrote Latin songs, 
in which he describes the scenery of Norway, and the life and customs 
of the people, especially in the district of Telemarken, where the life 
of the Middle Ages was still well preserved. His most important 
work is his "Visitatsb0ger," a record of his work as bishop of Oslo- 
Hamar diocese during a period of twenty-five years, in which he de- 
scribes the country, the roads, the lower nobility, clergy, peasants, 
and townspeople.^ Fredrik Gr0n says of Absalon Pederss0n Beyer, 
Peder Clauss0n Friis, and Jens Nilss0n : " In a larger sense the hu- 
manistic ideas were brought to Norway by these men. It was, at 
all events, principally these three who brought humanistic thought 
to the hitherto intellectually isolated educated circles in Norway, to 
whom these thoughts were hitherto unfamiliar." ' 

Regarding the population in the North in this period only meager 
data exist, as no census was taken till in the middle of the eighteenth 
century. The calculations based on tax lists and the old military 
system leave so much to conjecture that the results deduced by dif- 
ferent authorities diverge very radically. Professor P. A. Munch 
held that the population of Norway prior to the Black Death must 
have been about 560,000. Professor J. E. Sars states as a result of 
his investigations that prior to the great plague Norway had about 
300,000 inhabitants, and that during the plague the number was 
reduced to 200,000 ; at the beginning of the sixteenth century it had 
again risen to 300,000, and at the end of the same century the popula- 
tion of Norway numbered about 400,000.* Troels Lund has figured 
out that in the year 1600 Denmark had a population of about 1,400,000, 
and that the population of Norway numbered about 600,000. But 

^ Among those belonging to this circle were : Halvard Gunnarss0n, author 
of Latin poems and historical works, Rector Jacob Wolf, Doctor of Medicine 
Peder Fleml0se, Peder Alfss0n, Claus Berg, Provost Rasmus Hjort in Tims- 
berg, Povel Nilss0n of Sande, and others. 

* Biskop Jens Nilss^ns Visitatsb^ger og Reiseoptegnelser, published by 
Yngvar Nielsen, Christiania, 1885. See Yngvar Nielsen, Af Norges His- 
torie, De norske Humanister, p. 115 fif. 

* PVedrik Gr0n, Nogen medicinske Forholde i Norge i del 1 6de Aarhuvf 
drede, Historisk Tidsskrift, f jerde rsekke, vol. IV., p. 399 ff. 

* P. A. Mimch, Del norske Folks Historie, vol. IV., p. 439 ff. 


as Sars claims that this estimate is without foundation, we may 
take the lowest figures as the more reliable, i.e. the total population 
of Norway and Denmark in 1600 might be estimated to be about 
1,500,000.^ But relatively considered, this was a large population 
at that time, as Scotland did not have over 800,000 inhabitants, and 
the population of England did not number above 5,000,000. 

City life was but little developed, as the people lived for the most 
part in the country. Bergen was still the largest city in the North, 
and the most important commercial center. The population of 
the leading cities in the Scandanavian kingdoms about 1600 is esti- 
mated by Troels Lund as follows : Bergen 15,000, Copenhagen 13,000, 
Stockholm 7000, Malmo 6000, and Trondhjem about 5000. But this 
estimate, which is based on military service and tax lists, seems to be 
largely a result of conjecture.^ Yngvar Nielsen estimates the popu- 
lation of Bergen to have been six or seven thousand at the time of 
the introduction of the Reformation (1536) ' while J. E. Sars thinks 
that at this time the population of Bergen could not have been much 
above 3000, Trondhjem about 1000, Oslo about 1500, and the other 
cities probably had, on the average, about 500 inhabitants.^ Because 
of the Hanseatic trade monopoly, many of the smaller towns, such as 
Vaagen, V6ey, Borgund, Kaupanger, and Lillehammer, had either 
disappeared, or had become mere market places. 

From time to time foreign elements have been added to the native 
population in Norway, as in all other countries. This influx of new 
blood may, indeed, have been lighter in so distant a land than in 
the countries more centrally located, but in the Middle Ages the 
immigration became of great importance to Norway in several ways. 
After the union was established, a great number of Danes settled in 
the kingdom as officials, ministers, teachers, merchants, and even as 
laborers and artisans. During the Hanseatic supremacy the Ger- 
man merchants became an influential element in many cities, es- 
pecially in Bergen, where their colony at one time is thought to have 

* J. E. Sars, Folkemoengdens Bevcegelse i Norge 13-1 7de Aarh., Historisk 
Tidsskrift, anden raekke, vol. III., p. 282 fif. Troels Lund, Dagligt Liv i 
Norden i det 16de Aarhundrede, vol. I., p. 52 ff. 

* Troels Lund, Dagligt Liv i Norden i det 16de Aarhundrede, vol. I., p. 52 fif. 
' Yngvar Nielsen, Bergen, p. 285. 

* J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historic, III., p. 259 ff. 


numbered about 3000 persons. In the sixteenth century many 
Hollanders and Englishmen settled in Norway as merchants, and 
many Scotchmen, who had been brought over as mercenaries, re- 
mained permanently in the country.^ The most remarkable foreign 
element which came to the North in that century was the Gypsies. 
The origin of this people is veiled in impenetrable mystery. In 
course of time they have spread over the greater part of Asia and 
Europe, and they are also found in Africa and America. In southern 
Europe they appeared for the first time in 1417, and claimed to be 
Egyptian pilgrims who made a vow to wander about homeless for seven 
years to atone for the sins of their ancestors, who had refused to give 
Jesus, when a child, a drink of water from the Nile. By the Greeks 
they were called Gyphtoi, which has been changed in English to Gyp- 
sies. The story which they told of their origin created sympathy 
for them, and the Emperor and the Pope placed them under their 
special protection. But when it was learned that the Gypsies did 
not return to their own land, that they practiced witchcraft, and that 
they were not to be relied upon in word or deed, they soon became the 
object of hatred and persecution. In some countries they were called 
Tartars (N. Tater), as they were thought to be heathens from Asia. 
Led by their king or duke the Gypsies generally advanced in bands of 
three hundred persons or less. A few of the leaders were mounted, the 
rest of the band — men, women, and children — went on foot. They 
were seen for the first time in the North in 1505. A band led by Count 
Antonius Gagino, which had spent some months in Scotland, came to 
Denmark, bringing a letter of recommendation from James IV., stating 
that they had been peaceful. In 1511 another band led by "Junker 
J0rgen of Egypt" entered Schleswig.^ In the following year the 
Gypsies appeared in Sweden, and they must have entered Norway 

* The influx of foreigners into the Norwegfian cities can be observed in 
the Bergens Borgerbog, 1550-1751, edited by N. Nicolaysen, Christiania, 
1878. During two hundred years, from 1550 till 1750, 9279 persons had 
acquired the privileges of citizenship in the cities of Norway. The birth- 
place of 6526 is recorded. Of these 3352 were born in Norway or in the 
Norwegian colonies, and 2974 were foreigners : 1607 Germans, 758 Danes, 
353 Englishmen and Scots, 147 Swedes, 103 Hollanders, five Frenchmen, 
and one Spaniard. 

* Troels Lund, Dagligt lAv i Norden, p. 52 fif. 



about the same time. They were at first treated with kindness, 
but as they were given to theft and swindle, they soon became gen- 
erally hated. In 1536 they were outlawed and ordered to leave 
Norway within three months; any one might kill them and take 
their property ; people were forbidden to shelter them or give them 
any aid ; and the lensmand who did not arrest all the Gypsies within 
his district was made personally responsible for any damage which 
they might do.^ "The poor Gypsies were now in dire straits," says 
Troels Lund. " The foxes and wolves were better situated ; but they 
could not be expelled even by these measures. Adhering like burrs, 
homeless as migrating birds, shy and unsusceptible to kind as to 
harsh treatment, hungry as wolves, noiseless and keen-eyed like cats 
in the dark, they lived only for the moment. They could rejoice 
like children when they found a brief rest, but they could also endure 
hardships on their endless wanderings to a degree that no mercenary 
soldier had dreamt of. They did not depart ; they retreated every- 
where, but remained in the country. And whither should they go? 
If they went to France, they would be sentenced to the galleys ; in 
Germany and the Netherlands they were outlawed. The only 
thing accomplished by this order issued by King Christian III. was 
to split them up into smaller bands, which were chased without plan 
from one end of the country to the other, persecuted wherever they 
appeared, but gone at the moment when they were to be seized ; dole- 
ful, leaving no footprints, like children of the darkness." As the 
Gypsies had no religion, as they practiced magic arts, and were ac- 
cused, though unjustly, of sacrificing human beings, the church joined 
the state authorities in persecuting them. In Sweden an order was 

^ The Code of Christian V., a lawbook prepared for the kingdom of Nor- 
way, 1687, contains the following article regarding the Gypsies : Gypsies 
who run about and swindle people with their cheating, lies, theft, and sorcery 
should be seized by the local authorities wherever they can be found, and 
those who are captured by the people in the country shoiild be delivered to 
the nearest h^nder-lensmand, who, with the aid of the people, shall bring them 
to the foged; and all their belongings shall be seized, and their leaders shall 
be punished by death; the others shall leave the kingdom by the shortest 
route, and if they are afterwards seen or met with in this kingdom, they 
shall suffer death like their leaders, and whoever houses or shelters them 
shall pay to his lord for every night and every person Hke one who shelters 
an outlaw. Book III., chapter 22, article 3. 


issued to the parish priests in 1560 that "a priest must have nothing 
to do with the Taters (Gypsies). He must neither bury their dead 
nor baptize their children." ^ A similar order was issued by the 
Bishop of Fyen in Denmark, 1578. " If Gypsies come to the land, 
as sometimes happens, then shall no priest marry them, or give them 
the sacrament, but he shall let them die as if they were Turks, 
and they shall be buried outside of the churchyard as heathens. If 
they wish to have their children baptized, they must baptize them 
themselves." ^ But the united efforts of the church and state could 
not crush them.^ Under the worst persecutions they seem to have 
made no attempt to leave; they were not reduced in number, nor 
did they adopt a different mode of life. At last the more humane 
spirit of modern times freed even the despised Gypsies from perse- 
cution, and suffered them to walk their own paths unmolested. But 
the modern humane spirit accomplished what medieval persecution 
did not achieve. The Gypsies no longer felt the necessity of wholly 
isolating themselves from the rest of mankind. They accepted into 
their flocks tramps and idlers of various kinds, and thereby they 
gradually lost their language and their identity as a people. In 
Denmark they have already ceased to exist as a distinct nationality, 
and in Sweden and Norway they are fast disappearing. The Night- 
men in Jutland and the Fanter in Norway are the last mixed remnants 
of the Gypsies, who through the process of amalgamation will soon 
be totally absorbed by the native population.^ As to their influence 
on the native population Troels Lund says : " The Gypsies constituted 
a distinct ingredient in the life of the North in the sixteenth century, 
not only as viewed by themselves, but especially through their con- 
nection with the rest. Their sneaking, noiseless existence constitutes 
a mysterious ingredient in the motley mixture, and belongs to the 
shady side of its existence. They help us to understand the people's 
great aversion to being out after dark, the shudder which went through 
all when an unusual noise was heard at night, or a light was seen in 

* F. Dyrlund, Tatere og Natmandsfolk, p. 13. 

* Bloch, Den fyenske Geistligheds Historic, p. 43, quoted by Troels Lund, 
Dagligt Liv i Nor den, vol. I., p. 77. 

* Eilert Sundt, Fante- eUer Landatrygerfolket i Norge, Christiania, 1850- 
1865. * Ibid. 


the forest. One might think that the fact that they seldom appeared 
would have restricted this fear, but they gave name and example 
to a host of light-fearing tramps, crooks, loafers, and nighthawks, 
who even before had been a true scourge. The same was the case 
with the sorcery and demonolatry of the Gypsies. As they were too 
few to attract much attention themselves, they became the visible 
and tangible expression for the superstition and fear of the devil 
which characterized the age." 

Inland travel was still attended with great difficulty. The jour- 
neys through the mountain districts had to be made on horseback, 
as no wagon roads existed. The narrow mountain trails which 
wound across the mountains and through the dense forests were 
often as hard to find as they were difficult to travel. This was es- 
pecially the case in winter, when snow and ice made travel both diffi- 
cult and dangerous. Man's best friend on these lonesome and hazard- 
ous journeys was the strong Norwegian mountain pony, who might 
be trusted both to find the trail and to walk it with heavy burdens, 
and it is not strange that the Norseman from time immemorial has 
felt a most tender attachment for his favorite animal. The dangers 
and hardships of inland travel are referred to even in the Edda poems. 
The "Havamal" says: 

" Fire needs he 
who enters the house 
and is cold about the knees ; 
food and clothes 
the man is in need of 
who has journeyed over the mountains." 

And Skirnir, who is sent to J0tunheim by the god Frey to woo for 
him the fair Gerd, says to his horse: 

"Dark it is outside, 
methinks it is time to journey 
over the damp mountains 
to the J0tun hosts ; 
but both of us shall return, 
or both shall fall into the hands of the 
powerful J0tun." 



A couple of logs did the service of bridge across the roaring mountain 
torrents. The work of keeping the roads in repair consisted in t&- 
moving rocks and timber which obstructed the passage. The road 
overseer, appointed by the binder, rode on horseback along the middle 
of the road with a spear sixteen feet long with loops on each end. If 
he could pass with this spear so that the loops did not become at- 
tached to any obstruction, the road was considered to be in order.^ 
Two main routes led from eastern to western Norway over the moun- 
tains ; one from Oslo to Bergen through Valdres, across Filef jeld to 
Sognef jord, and the other to Trondhjem through Gudbrandsdal across 
the Dovre mountains. Until mountain stations were erected where 
wayfarers might find food and shelter, these routes could be traveled 
only with the greatest difficulty. But the stream of pilgrims which 
yearly visited the shrine of St. Olav in Trondhjem prior to the Ref- 
ormation made the erection of such stations a necessity. In speaking 
of the route across the Dovre mountains the old writer Peder Clauss0n 
Friis says : " But in the winter people of high estate, as well as mem- 
bers of the court, travel mostly that way, because however deep the 
snow may fall, it blows together on the high mountains, and becomes 
so hard that men and horses can walk on it, and the hinder run over 
it on ski and snow-shoes. And there are these three stations : Driv- 
stuen, Herdekinn, and Fogstuen, built on the same mountain, in 
order that travelers may find lodging there. And kings and arch- 
bishops have given cows and land to those who dwell below the 
mountains, in order that they shall keep the stations in proper order. 
And at Herdekinn dwells a man who has some cows which are given 
for his support, in order that he may keep the station properly, and 
show the travelers the way across the mountains in the winter ; and 
it is his duty always to keep a supply of fodder and dry wood ready, 
for there are kettles and pots in the house, and other such utensils. 
And at the other stations there are implements and dry wood for 
making fire, so that the travelers may build themselves fire, and not 
suffer from cold, when they have to remain over night, and cannot 
find the way across the mountains." ^ On the southern route were 

1 Historisk Tidsskrift, IV., p. 224 S. Troels Lund, Dagligt Liv i Norden, 
vol. I., p. 93 f. 

* Peder Claus80n Friis, Samlede Skrifter, published by Gustav Storm, 
p. 361 f. 


found Maristuen and Nystuen, and at these stations chapels were also 
erected for the pilgrims and travelers.^ Because of the great in- 
convenience connected with inland travel, it is natural that travel 
by water was preferred wherever it was possible. On account of the 
lack of proper means of communication the inland mountain dis- 
tricts were thinly settled, and made slow progress. But in the six- 
teenth century, as in days of old, the most generous hospitality was 
shown every wayfarer. In the monasteries the traveler always 
found welcome and free lodging for charity's sake, until these insti- 
tutions were closed on the advent of the Reformation. But the un- 
written law of hospitality was as carefully observed by the people 
at large. Mag. Absalon Pederss0n Beyer writes : " Truly a pious, 
godfearing, and virtuous person can journey from Bohus to Vard0- 
hus, which journey is more than three hundred miles,^ and he shall 
not spend above a riksdaler, yes, they are glad, and they consider it 
an honor when anyone wishes to eat and drink with them. They 
sometimes even give people presents if they will make merry with 
them. A Norwegian sailed from here to Danzig, and stopped at an 
inn. And when he was going to leave, the hostess asked him to pay 
for food and ale. He asked if he should pay for ale and food, and 
the hostess answered yes. He said that it was not customary in his 
country to receive pay for ale and food, but the woman said that it 
was custom in her country. Then said he : * O Norway, thou holy 
land 1 As soon as I touch thee again, I shall fall on my knees and 
kiss thee,' which he also did. And it is a strange thing that in 
other lands Norway is regarded as a barren kingdom, which it is in 
some respects, and still so much ale and food are given for nothing 
that many are astonished." ^ After the monasteries were abolished, 
the country parsonages became the hostelries for weary travelers, 
where free food and lodging were cheerfully given by the hospitable 
parson, who was usually an excellent host. In the cities numerous 
inns offered lodging, food, and ale for a small price, but they were 

*Yngvar Nielsen, Reisehaandbog over Norge, *>' Nystuen." Historiik 
Tidsskrift, IV., 231-232. Norsk Turistforenings Aarbog, 1874, p. 78. 

* Three hundred Norwegian miles = 2100 English miles. 

' Absalon Pederss0n Beyer, Om Norgis Rige, published by Gustav Storm 
in Historisk-topografiske Skrifter om Norge og norske Landsdele, p. 40 ff. a ., 


usually low dives, where thieves and drunkards had their haunts, 
and where no wayfarer could feel safe. These cheap inns were es- 
pecially numerous in Bergen, where they numbered four hundred 
in 1625. In Stavanger they multiplied so rapidly that in 1604 Chris- 
tian IV. made a regulation restricting their number, as " they aroused 
God's anger by drunkenness, murders, and otherwise." 

The chief means of inland transportation, especially of heavy goods, 
was the sleigh, and such transportation was carried on in the winter 
months when the fine sleighing facilitated traflSc. The wagon was, 
indeed, used in the more level districts, and had been used from the 
very earliest times, which can be seen, among other things, from the 
Oseberg find from about 800 a.d., where a four-wheeled wagon has 
been preserved complete. But the use of the wagon as a vehicle of 
transportation must have been very restricted until the time when 
more modern roads were constructed. 

The houses of the common people were much the same in the six- 
teenth century as they had been ever since the Viking period. On 
each gaard (farm) there were a number of houses erected for different 
purposes, the main one being the stue (0. N. stofa), or dwelhng house, 
which corresponded to the skaale. Instead of glass, which was very 
scarce and expensive, windows were usually made of translucent 
paper or membrane. The houses were built of logs, and the walls 
were low. The spacious roof, which was made of birch-bark, covered 
with sod,^ bore a rich crop of grass and wild flowers, and might at 
times serve as pasture for some nimble and enterprising goat. From 
the outside these houses presented no imposing appearance, but 
upon entering one might find the stiie large and cozy, though the 
conveniences known to modern times were wanting. The abundance 
of fine pine timber enabled the Norwegians to build large houses, 
and to erect separate buildings for all sorts of purposes, so that a 
large gaard would look almost Hke a small village. One notable 
change had taken place in the stue or skaale since earlier times. The 
open fireplace in the center of the room (arinn), and the opening in 
the roof above it (Ijdri), had disappeared, and an oven with chimney, 
built in one corner of the room, had come to serve the purpose of 
both. The room was lighted by burning sticks of pitch pine, or a 
* Qustav Storm, Peder Clau8S0n Friis, Samlede Skrifter, p. 136 f. 


^ ^^^^- --- — IM 




yf JH 

<~^ ^-^x-;^ -IMaaHHBMHH 

:;: T^^ 

»"' '^^' 


I^^V^^ ' H 


^^^^ Wmm • ' '■^ym 




Old Parsonage from Vaage in Gudbrandsdal, now at Lillehammer. 

Later Type. 




Pf '?'-* 








dat - Norge. 

■ -- ' 

Bondestue, Older Tvil. 

Old Church at Borgund. 


lamp filled with train oil. The large table at the upper end of the 
room was built of substantial pine planks, the benches were made 
of the same material, the dishes, vessels, and utensils were home- 
made, and so were the clothes, the shoes, and even the ornaments of 
gold and silver. The houses of the common man were plain even to 
simplicity, dark and poorly ventilated, but they had their charm 
when the floor was strewn with twigs of evergreen for holidays or 
festive occasions, and not less when the family gathered about the 
fireplace in the evening, each with his own work, knitting, sewing, 
mending, wood carving, or making vessels and utensils for the house- 
hold. Then songs and stories unlocked the stores of adventure of 
ages past, and young and old lived once more with Esben Askelad, 
and the heroes of ballads and the sagas. This simple rustic Hfe left 
few but strong impressions, and though its comforts were few, it 
fostered a vigorous and manly race. 

The cities of continental Europe originated for the most part as 
fortified strongholds, serving as a defense against the enemy ; but even 
in early times the Norsemen built commercial towns, and the cities 
of Norway are, as a rule, of commercial origin. Walls and fortifica- 
tions were of later construction, and with the exception of the castle, 
the city was never felt to be a fortress. But the general features of 
the European cities in the sixteenth century were, nevertheless, met 
with also in Norway, and a description of London or Copenhagen 
would, no doubt, apply in a general way also to Bergen, Oslo, and 
Trondhjem. The hmited space inside the city walls necessitated a 
crowding together of the houses. Not only were the streets narrow, 
but the second and third stories were often extended beyond the first, 
shutting out both air and light.^ The streets were poorly paved, 
dark, crooked, and filthy, as manure, ashes, garbage, and refuse of all 
sorts were thrown out of doors without much regard for comfort and 
well-being. Pigs were running loose, wallowing in pools of mud, and 
living off the garbage heaps, and when the late pedestrian sought to 
find the way home, he had to carry a lantern to avoid falling into the 
cellarways, projecting into the dark and narrow passage called the 
street. Numerous laws were passed to secure cleanliness and better 

^ Valdemar Vedel, By og Borger i Middelalderen. Troels Lund, Dagligt 
Liv i Norden. 


order in the cities, but these were not heeded. People regarded them 
as an infringement on their liberty, and continued in the old ways. 
New lessons could only be taught by great calamities, and nature 
applied the lash to dull humanity in the form of conflagrations and 
pestilence, until the instinct of self-preservation finally produced the 
needed improvements. Time and again the cities, consisting as 
they did of wooden structures, packed closely side by side, were al- 
most totally destroyed by fire. Patiently the suffering and impov- 
erished inhabitants rebuilt them in the same way, until fear, at length, 
gave birth to the idea of constructing wide streets and public squares, 
and of rearing the buildings of less combustible material. The filth 
in the narrow passages and ill-kept streets proved an even worse 
enemy than fire. The summer heat turned these filthy passages into 
breeding places of disease, exhaling their deadly contagion upon a 
people who failed to obey nature's great law of cleanliness. Violent 
epidemics harried the North in the sixteenth century with a frequency 
which filled all minds with dread, and caused untold sorrow and suf- 
fering. From 1550 till 1554 amahgnant pest harried the larger cities 
of Norway and Sweden,^ and especially Denmark, where the uni- 
versity and the schools were closed, the court fled from the capital, 
and so many people died that it was feared that the country would be 
depopulated. In 1563-1566 the same plague renewed its visit in 
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Bergen, Trondhjem, and Stock- 
holm suffered severely ; the dead were thrown into big pits by day 
and by night; even birds and animals were poisoned by the con- 
tagion. In 1568 the pest again visited Copenhagen, in 1572 Stock- 
holm, in 1575-1578 it harried both Denmark and Sweden, and in 
1580-1581 it renewed its ravages in the whole North. Copenhagen 
was again visited by the dread disease in 1583, and during the next 
two years it spread throughout all Denmark. In Stockholm it broke 
out anew in 1588, in 1592 it was brought from Livonia to Copen- 
hagen, in 1596-1598 it harried Sweden fearfully, and in 1599 it was 
again raging in Denmark. What sorrow and helpless misery these 
fearful epidemics left in their trail ! But at this great cost some lessons 

^Absalon Pederss0n Beyer, Liber Capituli Bergensis, 1552-1572, pub- 
lished by N. Nicolaysen, Christiania, 1860, p. 109. Norske Magasin, II., 
645. Troels Lund, Dagligt Liv i Norden, II., p. 67 f. 


were learned, and the instinct of self-preservation quickened human 
intelligence. The study of diseases, and the science of medicine and 
sanitation, which were to transform all human life, originated in these 
dark periods of human helplessness and woe. 

But if the suffering due to man's ignorance cast a dark shadow over 
human existence, the self-inflicted horrors arising from man's cred- 
ulity and superstition have often turned human society into a veri- 
table inferno from which reason itself, and all nobler instincts, for a 
season seem to have fled. The sixteenth century was a period when 
superstition sat enthroned in the minds of all classes, high as well as 
low. But of all delusions which haunted man's brain, the belief in 
witchcraft with the attending torture and burning of witches was 
undoubtedly the most abominable.^ It is not here the place to dwell 
upon the revolting horrors of the witchcraft craze, except so far as 
it has left its stain of stupid fear and brutality also in Norwegian 
history. As early as 1325 a witchcraft trial was conducted in Bergen 
against Ragnhild Tregagaas. After she had been kept in prison 
and chains for a long time, she was finally released on the condition 
that she should fast certain periods every year, amounting in all to 
over half the days in the year, and that she should make a pilgrimage 
to some sanctuary outside of Norway once every seven years. How 
many such cases occurred prior to the Reformation is not known,^ but 
witchcraft trials and executions were numerous, especially in the latter 
part of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth. 
The most noted case was the trial of the widow of Absalon Pederss0n 
Beyer, who was condemned to death, and burned as a witch in Ber- 
gen, 1590.' Any woman who knew more than the Lord's Prayer, i.e. 
who possessed literary culture above the average, was in danger of 
being persecuted for sorcery and secret association with the devil; 

* One of the chief works on the history of the witchcraft craze is Soldan, 
Oeschichte der Hexenprocesse, 2 vols., Stuttgart, 1880. Walter Scott, Letters 
on Demonology and Witchcraft, London, 1872 and 1884. Bsetzmann, Hexe- 
voesen og Troldskab i Norge, 1865. O. A. Overland, Norges Historic, VI., 
p. 125 ff. 

* P. A. Munch, To Breve af Biskop Audfin hetreffende en Hexeproces i 
Bergen Aar 1325, Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historic, vol. V., 
p. 479 ff. 

' The documents of the trial are printed in Norske Samlinger, vol. I., 
p. 529 £E. 


and after the craze was once started, any prank of imagination was 
suflScient cause for dragging the victims of suspicion before the 
courts, and subjecting them to the most cruel tortures to press from 
them an admission of guilt. From the years 1592 to 1594 the "Ber- 
gens Raadhus-Protokol " ^ gives accounts of several witchcraft trials. 
Oluf Gausdal was condemned to death as a sorcerer. He claimed that 
he had learned his magic art of two women, Marine Haldorsgaard 
and Mumpe Guron, and these were burned as witches some years 
later. He even implicated the bishop's wife, who was saved with 
diflSculty from sharing the fate of the others. Delis R0neke was tried 
for witchcraft and banished from Bergen; Johanne Jensdotter was 
burned at the stake, and, likewise, Anna Knutsdotter. In 1613 two 
women were burned, because "by their sorcery they had caused a 
mill in Sandvik to be destroyed," and several more women were 
burned at the stake, because they were thought to have caused ship- 
wreck upon the high seas by their magic arts. Anna, the widow of 
Herluf Lauritss0n, the supposed author of "Bergens Fundats," was 
also accused of witchcraft. She was thrown into prison and on the 
night of the 19th of July " her neck was twisted and broken by the 
devil," says the account. Who the devil was that committed this 
outrage is not recorded. One woman was tortured with red-hot irons 
until she died, and another died in prison after being tortured. From 
Finmarken to Oslo and Christiania witchcraft trials were carried on 
with torture and executions.^ As late as 1737 Ole Hoime in Shdre 
parish was tried as a sorcerer, but he escaped with a relatively mild 
punishment.' This seems to have closed the chapter of witchcraft 
trials, the ghastliest spectacle in Norwegian history, though com- 
paratively few were executed as compared with the thousands who 
suffered death in all parts of Europe. No worse outrage was ever 
added to the woeful list of wrongs against humanity even in those 
days of medieval darkness, and its effect upon the finer moral and in- 
tellectual sensibilities of society was the more pernicious, because it 

* Uddrag av Bergens Raadhus-Protokol for Tidsrummet Juli 1592- Mai 
1694, published by N. Nicolaysen in Norske Samlinger, vol. I., p. 321 ff. 
Daniel Thrap, Bergenske Kirkeforholde i del 17de Aarhundrede, Christiania, 

9 Norske Samlinger, I., p. 525 ff. 

• O. A. Pverland, Norges Historie, vol. VI., p. 125 fit. 


had been committed in the name of rehgion and justice. This reign 
of r^terror and superstition breeded general callousness and mental 
obtuseness, destroyed the regard for the sacredness of human life 
and the rights of man, and fostered a judicial brutality which reveals 
itself in all criminal jurisprudence of that period. The crude con- 
ception of the rights of the individual and his value to society is sadly 
conspicuous. In early days the freeman's person and honor were 
regarded as sacred, and this sacredness of person (mannhelgi) was 
guarded by the old laws. The greatest crimes were punished, not 
by straightway taking the life of the criminal, but by imposing a fine, 
or by declaring him an outlaw, thereby turning him over to the 
vengeance of those whom he had wronged, but also to the mercy of 
the community. In the sixteenth century the idea of sacredness of 
the individual seems to have disappeared. Human life had become 
cheap, and neither the body nor the honor of the individual citizen 
was any longer a sacred thing which the court was compelled to treat 
with respect. The trials were often accompanied by brutal torture, 
and capital punishment was inflicted with a frequency which made 
the hangman one of the leading city oflicials, and the public execu- 
tions the amusement, not only of the jesting rabble, but of the sedate 
city fathers. On passing Nordnes at Bergen one might have seen, 
almost at any time, several bodies dangling from the gallows, exposed 
even after death to the jeers of idlers, probably for no greater crime 
than for jumping over the city wall, or stealing a few pounds of butter. 
The records left by Mag. Absalon Pederss0n Beyer in his diary, 
*' Liber Capituli Bergensis," gives us an insight into the way in which 
crimes were punished in Bergen in the sixteenth century. A boy was 
beheaded for jumping over the city wall. A man who was suspected 
of having killed his wife was tortured till one joint of his thumb fell 
off. At times he admitted, but again he denied his guilt, but he was, 
nevertheless, executed. A baker was hanged because he had stolen 
butter. A honde (farmer) was hanged because he had stolen some 
train-oil on the wharf. Two young men of old noble families, rela- 
tives of Christopher Trondss0n, were hanged because they had picked 
locks and stolen. A young boy who served at the castle was also 
hanged for theft. Examples of this kind of legal justice need not be 
multiphed, nor need we mention the numerous executions for what 


we would consider more sufficient reasons, for these alone, it seems, 
might have satisfied the desire of judges to inflict the favorite death 
penalty. Fights and drunken brawls were numerous even at wed- 
dings and other social gatherings ; murders and other crimes were of 
frequent occurrence. When we read the descriptions of social con- 
ditions in the sixteenth century left by old writers, we feel that there 
was guilt enough,^ but no shadow in the picture is deeper than that 
of justice forgetting to be just, and allying itself with superstition 
and bigoted cruelty. It is the one great evil which especially darkens 
the physiognomy of the sixteenth century. 

But the century has also its brighter side looking forward to a new 
era, the first dawn of which had already broken through the medieval 
darkness. New elements of progress had entered the intellectual and 
spiritual life of the people with the Renaissance and the Reformation, 
while new inventions, a revival of commerce, and the growth of a 
native merchant class in the cities gave promise of a new develop- 
ment in the economic life of the nation. The destruction of the 
Hanseatic trade monopoly, and the development of Norwegian 
lumber export were the important factors in this commercial and 
economic development. Boards and timber had been exported, es- 
pecially to Iceland and England, in very early times. King Henry 
III. wrote to his baiUffs in Southampton, Nov. 13, 1253, instructing 
them to buy two hundred Norwegian pine boards, and deliver them 
to the sheriff of that city, to be used for wainscoting the room of his 
dear son Edward in the Winchester castle.^ At the same time men- 
tion is made of a purchase of 1000 Norwegian boards for the panelling 
of some rooms in the Windsor castle. "Norway planks," says 
Turner, "were largely imported into this country from the early 
period of the century (thirteenth), and perhaps, although it is not 
quite clear, at a still earlier term." The lumber export to England 

^Peder Clauss0n Friis, Samlede Skrifter, p. 381. Absalon Pederss0n 
Beyer, Liber Capituli Bergensis. Norske So. 

* Liberate Roll 37 Henry IIL, quoted in Some Account of Domestic Agri- 
culture in England from the Conquest to the End of the Thirteenth Century, by 
T. Hudson Turner, Oxford, 1851. See L. J. Vogt, Om Norges Udf^rsel af 
Troelast i aeldre Tider, Historisk Tidsskrift, anden raekke, vol. V., p. 86 ff. 
Alexander Bugge, Handelen mellem England og Norge indtil Begyndelsen af 
del IBde Aarhundrede, Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie rsekke, IV., p. 138 £f. 


did not become of great importance, however, till in the sixteenth 
century, when the EngHsh forests no longer produced the needed 
supply. A more important market for Norwegian lumber developed 
in Holland and the lower districts of northwestern Germany. In a 
letter issued by King Eirik Magnusson to the citizens of Hamburg, 
July 31, 1296, in which he grants them various trade privileges, he 
states that they shall have the right to carry from Norway in their 
own ships lumber and all other kinds of goods, upon paying a fixed 
export duty,^ On August 24, 1443, the city of Amsterdam received 
the privilege to trade in Bergen and elsewhere in Norway, except in 
the Norwegian colonies,^ and in the reign of Christian I. five similar 
letters were issued in six years (1452-1458), granting trade privileges 
to various cities in Holland,^ an indication of the rapid growth of 
trade with the Netherlands. This lumber trade with Holland led to 
an ever widening commerce with that country, as the Hollanders 
did not enforce a monopoly on trade like the Hanseatic merchants, 
but maintained an open market, and welcomed goods brought in 
Norwegian ships as well as in their own. L. J. Vogt observes that 
on December 4, 1490, the Norwegian Council issued an order for- 
bidding the common and ruinous practice found in many districts 
in southern Norway, that binder have and use their own ships with 
which they sail to foreign lands with rafters, boards, poles, salt, and 
other goods, and neglect agriculture.^ This shows that the lumber 
trade at this time must have been very lucrative. The boards were 
yet made by spUtting the logs into slabs and hewing them with the 
ax, and they were, therefore, called huggenbord (hewn boards). New 
possibilities for this trade were developed through the invention of 
the saw driven by water power, which was introduced from Sweden 
in the early years of the sixteenth century. Vogt shows that, while 
the plane had been used in the North from earliest antiquity, the saw 
was late in making its appearance, not only because of the diflSculty 
experienced in giving the teeth the proper shape and position, but 
especially in making a good saw-blade. Sawmills were soon in- 
troduced in every district, and by 1530 they seem to have been in 

1 Diplomatarium Norwegicum, vol. V., no. 33. * Ihid., vol. V., no. 720. 

' L. J. Vogt, Historisk Tidsskrift, anden raekke, vol. V., p. 99. 
* Diplomatarium Norwegicum, VI., no. 963. 


common use. But the old method of making huggenbord with the 
ax was not discontinued. 

The increasing traffic with Holland stimulated also other countries 
to enter into competition for the valuable Norwegian trade, as Scot- 
land, England, Denmark, and Germany were all in need of lum- 
ber. "At the beginning of the sixteenth century," says Vogt, "it 
seems to have been an established custom that the export of Nor- 
wegian lumber, without the intervention of any merchant, was free 
from every place on the coast of Norway where a ship could be an- 
chored and loaded." ^ The kings had sought to prohibit trade 
everywhere but in the cities in order to facilitate their growth.^ A 
statute given by Haakon VI. about 1380 states that all goods must 
be brought to the cities, and foreign merchants are forbidden to buy 
or sell in the smaller harbors along the coast. But no native mer- 
chant class existed which possessed sufficient capital to control trade. 
It has already been shown that the Norwegian traders in early times 
belonged to the old nobility, that with the introduction of the ideas 
of chivalry it came to be regarded as inconsistent with the dignity of 
a knight or of a man of high station to carry on trade. Commerce 
was, accordingly, left to the poorer classes, and especially in the 
fifteenth century the merchant class of the cities lost both its eco- 
nomic strength and its social influence ; the native aristocratic families 
disappeared, and the cities were turned over, so to speak, to the con- 
trol of foreign merchants. But a new merchant class in a modern 
sense began to develop at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and 
Norwegian cities, commerce, and navigation developed with it. Pro- 
fessor Alexander Bugge has shown that Norway had her own mer- 
chant class about 1300,^ but this class was almost totally destroyed 
by the Hanseiatic merchants. At the time of the Reformation the 

1 L. J. Vogt, Om Norges Udffirsel af Trcelast i celdre Tider II., Hiatorisk 
Tidsskrift, anden rsekke, vol. V., p. 273. 

* Ventilationer angacende den nordlandske Handel, etc., Samlinger tU det 
norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. V., p. 590 ff. 

* Alexander Bugge, Handelen mellem England og Norge indlil Begyndelsen 
af det 15de Aarhundrede, Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie rsekke, IV. ; Gotlcendinger- 
nes Handel paa England og Norge omkring ISOO, Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie 
rcekke, vol. V. Oscar Alb. Johnsen, De norske Stcender, p. 42 ff. {Christiania 
Videnskabs-Selskabs Skrifter, 1906). 


whole city population of Norway, according to Sars, numbered about 
9000, consisting chiefly of shopkeepers, fishermen, seamen, laborers, 
and a few foreign traders and artisans. Under these circumstances 
the cities could exercise no corporate strength at home, nor any com- 
mercial power abroad. A new foundation had to be laid for urban 
life in a more modern sense. The development was slow, but the 
disappearance of the old aristocracy facilitated progress, as the gov- 
ernment of the cities was thereby naturally transferred from a circle 
of aristocratic families with inherited class privileges to the towns- 
men, who could claim no other superiority than that given them by 
their own energy and business insight. The growing demand for 
Norwegian lumber created business activity and helped to centralize 
trade in the cities. The freedom from the restraining influence of a 
privileged aristocracy, the democratic conditions existing in the 
Norwegian towns, and the growing commerce, especially in the latter 
half of the sixteenth century, furnished the conditions necessary 
for the development of the Norwegian cities along new lines. 

Trade in the North was also stimulated by the attempt of the 
English to find a northeast passage to India. This plan was ad- 
vanced by the Spaniard Sebastian Cabot, who had entered the Eng- 
lish service. He had read Heberstein's account of Russia, and had 
studied his map, as well as Olaus Magnus' map of the North and of 
the Mare Scythicum. A company of Merchant Adventurers was 
formed under the patronage of the government, and three ships were 
dispatched under Hugh Willoughby to discover the new route. The 
expedition sailed from England May 22, 1553. On the northwest 
coast of Norway the " Edward Bonaventura," under Captain Chan- 
cellor, was separated from the fleet in a severe storm. Willoughby 
with the remaining two ships was driven far to the northeast, but 
finally he found a harbor, and landed on a barren and uninhabited 
coast, where he and his followers perished from hunger. Their dead 
bodies and Willoughby's testament were found later. Chancellor 
was more fortunate. He rounded the northern extremity of Norway 
which he called North Cape, and succeeded in reaching Vard0hus, 
where he was well received by the commandant. After spending 
a week as his guest, he sailed again to the northeast, and landed at 
the mouth of the Dvina, where he was received by the Russian voivod 


of the village of St. Nicolai. Chancellor received permission from the 
voivod to go to Moscow to visit the Czar, from whom he received a 
letter granting the Enghsh the right to trade at the mouth of the 
Dvina. The following year he returned to England with a cargo of 
Russian goods. The English lauded him as a great discoverer who 
had found a new route to northern Russia, though the expedition had 
failed to discover a new route to India. But this route to northern 
Russia was the old way traveled by the Norwegians ever since Oh- 
there first discovered it in the time of Alfred the Great. Both Den- 
mark-Norway and Holland entered into competition for this trade, 
and the search for a northeast passage continued for half a century.-^ 
The treaty of Speier, 1544, settled the political difficulties between 
Denmark-Norway and Germany, resulting from Christian III.'s ac- 
tive cooperation with the Schmalkaldic League, and a commercial 
treaty was entered into by the two powers, which gave Norwegian 
commerce a new foundation. By this treaty unobstructed trade be- 
tween Norway and Holland was assured, and Amsterdam became 
the chief market for Norwegian lumber, as the cities of Holland were 
fast becoming the center of the world's commerce, which had devel- 
oped after the discovery of America and of the new routes to India. 
The rapid development of commerce resulting from these discoveries, 
the increase in ship-building, and the growth of cities greatly enhanced 
the demand for lumber and ship-building material. In a few years 
after 1584 the English merchant marine was trebled in size, and a 
heavy export of Norwegian timber to England developed. Accord- 
ing to Vogt, the customs rolls show a demand for Norwegian products, 
and an increase in Norwegian trade to which there is no earlier par- 
allel. In 1567 Bergen exported 206 dozen boards, in 1597 2188 dozen. 
From the fogderi of Nedenes twelve ships were cleared in 1528, 
150 ships in 1560, and 277 ships in 1613. The lumber export is es- 
timated to have risen from 102 cargoes to 1650 cargoes in 1560.^ In 
the harbors where the shipping of lumber was carried on, new se»« 

* Gustav Storm, Om Opdagelsen af ">' Nordkap" og Veien til '^'det hvide 
Hav," Det norske geografiske Sehkabs Aarbog, vol. V., 1873-1894, p. 911 ff. 

» T. H. Aschehoug, Festskri/t for Oscar II., vol. I., p. 29 ff. A. Schwei- 
gaard, Norges Statistik, p. 125 ff. B. E. Bendixen, Et Omrids af Norges Handels 
Historie, Bergen, 1900. G. L. Baden, Et Udkast til en Historic af Danmarks 
og Norges Handel og N cEringskilder fra Oldtiden til Nutiden, Copenhagen, 1806. 


port towns (N. ladesteder) sprang into existence. Frederikshald, 
Larvik, Brevik, Krager0, Ris0r, Arendal, etc., owe their origin to the 
flourishing lumber trade. The nationahzing of trade, which had thus 
begun, was an important chapter, not only in the economic develop- 
ment of the Norwegian people, but also in their political and intel- 
lectual progress. A Norwegian bourgeoisie was thereby created which 
was to play an important part in the future struggles for political 
independence and intellectual emancipation from the Danish tutelage, 
which was forced upon the Norwegian people through the union with 

25. Christian IV. and his Age 

When Frederick II. died in 1588, his son Christian was only eleven 
years old. The Council assumed control of the government and ap- 
pointed four of their own number to act as a regency during the 
minority of the prince. In 1580 he had been elected heir to succeed 
his father as king of Denmark, and two years later a council of Nor- 
wegian nobles at Oslo acknowledged him successor also on the throne 
of Norway. Aksel Gyldenstjerne, member of the Council, and a 
prominent and able nobleman, was appointed statholder of Norway. 
As the personal representative of the king and regency he had royal 
power both in secular and ecclesiastical matters. He was instructed 
to exercise supervision over bishops and priests, so " that full concord 
might be maintained, and a good example might be set the parish- 
ioners." The military strength of the kingdom was to be carefully 
examined, and in case of war he should summon the lensherrer into 
service with the full quota of men, and assume supreme command. 
This attention to the military service was a laudable forethought 
at this time when the storm-clouds of the approaching European wars 
already obscured the political horizon. England's growing naval 
power had already encouraged her bold sea-captains to rob Spanish 
treasure ships, and to plunder isolated Spanish-American settlements. 
In 1587 Sir Francis Drake had even entered the harbors of Cadiz and 
Coruna, where he burned the ships and galleys which Philip 11. 
had fitted out for an attack upon England. The Invincible Armada 
was ready to sail in July, 1588, three months after the death of 
Frederick II. England, Spain's political, commercial, and religious 


enemy, was to be conquered. Even Danish and Norwegian ships 
and crews had been hired to join the great fleet when it arrived in 
English waters, but owing to a remonstrance from the EngUsh am- 
bassador in Denmark these ships were not allowed to leave the harbors. 
If Philip should succeed in crushing England, Denmark-Norway as a 
Protestant power could no longer feel safe, but the stormy sea and 
the bravery of the English sailors destroyed the great Armada. 
Many ships were driven so far north that they were wrecked on the 
northwest coast of Norway ; five ships are said to have stranded in 
the neighborhood of Trondhjem; England and the Protestant 
North was no longer endangered by Spanish aggression. 

Prince Christian, who was born April 12, 1577, was declared to be 
of age when he became nineteen years old in 1596. On August 29 
of that year he was crowned in Copenhagen as King Christian IV., 
and the following year he entered upon his duties as ruling sovereign. 
The superstition of the age had been brought into play in connection 
with the birth of the prince. A peasant had visited the king to 
inform him that a mermaid had foretold the birth of a son to the 
royal pair, who should "become an excellent king and lord in these 
Northern lands," a prophecy which gained general credence. The 
mother had the chief care of the boy's education and early training. 
She had been reared according to the strict rules of her German 
home, in Mecklenburg; she loved order and economy, and took 
great interest in household affairs and the management of the royal 
estates, a love for the practical which was inherited by the son. He 
was well educated in the learning of the age, and could speak and 
write several languages, but as a student he was only moderately 
successful, as his interest centered chiefly on architecture, ship- 
building, seamanship, and other practical pursuits, in which he ex- 
hibited energy and talent, and a desire to see and do things in his 
own way. In regard to his kingly duties he entertained views re- 
sembling those of the Stuart kings in England, or of the Tudor Henry 
VIII. He would not only be the highest power in the state, but he 
would give personal attention to all details of government, so that 
nothing, however unimportant, might happen which did not reflect 
his royal will. As he possessed great courage, energy, and practical 
insight, and was always ready to take an active part in all adminis- 


trative affairs, he instituted, at least in a practical way, a personal 
rule which bears the marks of his own temperament and character. 
He was a bold seaman, and visited Norway a greater number of times 
than all his predecessors together since the union was established. 
Professor Yngvar Nielsen has shown that he visited that kingdom 
not less than twenty-six times during his reign. ^ In 1599 he made a 
voyage to the North Cape to study conditions in northern Norway, 
in order that he might be able to regulate the growing commerce in 
those parts, and also to protect Finmarken, which both Russia and 
Sweden would snatch from Norway at the first opportunity. He 
made the voyage with a whole squadron of war vessels, and captured 
several Dutch merchant ships which sought to sail to Russia by way 
of Vard0hus. 

His firm hand was soon felt also in the internal administration in 
Norway, where the discontent was general because of the extortions 
practiced by the Danish lensherrer and their fogeds, who paid little 
attention to the laws, and increased arbitrarily their own income and 
the burdens of the people. The Norwegian binder did not patiently 
submit to injustice of that kind, but sent delegations to the king to 
ask for justice. The complaint was again directed against Ludvig 
Munk, lensherre in Tr0ndelagen, who had imprisoned and executed 
those who on a former occasion had served as messengers to the king. 
This time the old offender was made to feel the heavy hand of royal 
justice. He was dismissed from his office, banished to his estates in 
Jutland, and forced to pay a heavy fine. 

During the union period Denmark had gradually established an 
overlordship over Norway, which for military purposes, as well as 
in the eyes of the world at large, made the two kingdoms one united 
realm, and greatly increased Denmark's prestige and power. Not 
only was the central government Danish, but nearly all the local 
officials of any importance in Norway were Danes. The Norwegian 
laws had been translated into Danish, which became the official 
language of Norway, though it was never spoken by the common 

^ Historisk Tidsskrift, f0rste rsekke, vol. III., p. 502 ff. ; f jerde rsekke, 
vol. III., p. 369. 

Aage Skavlan, Historiske Billeder fra den nyere Tid i Norge, Danmark og 
tildels i Sverige. 


people. The threat made by Christian III. that the kingdom of 
Norway should be regarded as a Danish province had, indeed, not 
been carried out, but intellectually as well as poUtically Norway 
now stood under the egis of Danish supremacy. But the overlord- 
ship was formal and exterior, and did not deeply affect the people's 
everyday life. Now as before they led their own national existence, 
and were governed according to their own laws and customs, and as 
to social conditions the people of Norway and Denmark were more 
widely separated in the sixteenth century than in any earlier period. 
If the Danish lensherrer and fogeds attempted to practice in Norway 
what had been regarded as common usage in Denmark, they en- 
countered the firm resistance and vigorous protest of the people, 
who, though they could not place a son of their own on the throne of 
Norway, would defend to the utmost their individual rights.^ 

Denmark had not been able to get fully into the current of Euro- 
pean development, which tended to bring the lower classes into 
active participation in political life. In Sweden Gustav Vasa had 
sought the support of the common people, and had made them a new 
political factor; in France and England the commonalty had risen 
into prominence, and had added new vigor to the national develop- 
ment; but in Denmark the aristocracy alone grew in importance, 
while the common classes were constantly depressed in the social 
scale. The aristocracy isolated themselves from the rest of society, 
and instead of remaining a warrior class, they became an aristocracy 
of birth, wealth, and titles, who would not allow their sons and 
daughters to marry outside of their caste, a restriction which brought 
about their rapid degeneration as a class. Full jurisdiction over the 
enslaved peasants had been established.^ The will of the noble- 
born lord was the law to which they were held amenable. They had 
to render free service to their lords whenever they were called upon, 

* Halvdan Koht, Bondestrid, smaa"^ Segner og Upskrifter fraa Nordm^, 
Christiania, 1906. 

• Arild Huitfeldt writes in his Danmarks Riges Kr^nike, p. 1252: "Fred- 
erick I. granted the nobles jurisdiction over the peasant's boeslod, and all 
cases of forty marks, as free as the nobles of the principality of Schleswig 
enjoyed it, which is a very great privilege, the like of which no king of 
Denmark has before granted. In Norway the nobles have no such power, 
nor in Sweden either, except those who for a short period are made counts." 


and had to yield the most abject obedience, not only to the lord him- 
self, but also to his representatives of whatever sort, even to his 
servants and stable-boys. In the rules made by Chancellor Nils 
Kaas and Treasurer Christopher Valkendorf, June 5, 1578, for the 
service to be rendered the "honest and noble-born" J0rgen Marsvin 
by the peasants, it is stated that they shall not be forced to work 
more than one or two days a week, except in the fall, when they shall 
work three days a week.^ But this was the service rendered on a 
royal estate, which was much more moderate than that exacted by 
many an arbitrary and tyrannical lord, who could demand service 
of his peasants without any restriction as to time or amount. In 
many provinces the peasants lost even their personal liberty. They 
had to remain permanently on the farm where they were born, and 
they would have to rent such a piece of ground as the lord would 
grant them, and on the conditions which he prescribed.^ The cruel 
hunting-laws show even more clearly to what extent the poor Danish 
peasants were oppressed and done to scorn by the arrogant nobles. 
In the statute of Christian III. of 1537, any one who catches a p>oacher 
is instructed to put out his eyes, or hang him on the nearest tree. 
The king's officials are instructed to watch, so that no man from the 
cities kill animals, either large or small, or any hares ; and that no 
foged, or steward of a manor, or peasants shall keep greyhounds or 
retrievers, or shoot animals, large or small, on penalty of death, or 
the loss of their property.' In the statute of Frederick II., 1556, the 
people in the cities, preachers and peasants, are instructed that they 
must keep no dogs unless these are always tied, or that one of their 
front legs is cut off. In 1573 King Frederick II. wrote to the people 
of Kolding len that since he had learned that several of them kept 
many dogs, which ran about in the forests and fields, and chased away 
and harmed the wild animals, he wished them to take notice that no 
one should keep more than one dog, and that dog should have one 

1 Rasmus Nyerup, Skildringer af Tilstanden % Danmark og Norge i oddre 
og nyere Tider, vol. I., p. 368 ff. Nyt dansk Magasin, vol. II., p. 167. 

* Suhmske nye Samlinger til den danske Historie, vol. I., p. 197 ff., quoted 
by Nyerup. 

' Rasmus Nyerup, Skildringer af Tilstanden i Danmark og Norge, vol. I., 
p. 381 ff. Arnt Berntsen Bergen, Danmark oc Norgis frugtbar Herlighed, 
1656, p. 147 fE. 


front leg cut off above the knee. In 1577 the wild animals did so 
much damage that the peasants in Lem sogn were unable to pay 
their taxes. It is not strange that the Danish nobles, who were 
accustomed to look upon the peasants as a class possessing no rights 
which they were obliged to respect, should attempt also in Norway 
to override the laws, and oppress the people. But in Norway they 
did not possess the same privileges as in Denmark. Even Frederick 
I. had promised in his Norwegian charter to rule the Norwegian 
people "according to St. Olav's and the kingdom of Norway's laws 
and good old usages unchanged in all respects." ^ As already stated 
elsewhere, the freedom of the Norwegians was safeguarded in the 
first place by the law of odel, which maintained a relatively large 
class of free hinder who owned their farms.^ 

In the second place, the renters, who were more numerous, were 
protected by the laws as to their personal liberty and independence 
of their landlords. The amount of rent to be paid was fixed by law, 
and beyond this the renter owed no obedience or responsibility to 
the landlord. Since the old nobility had practically disappeared,' 
Norway had virtually become a democracy, while Denmark was the 
most typical exponent of aristocratic rule. This may have been the 
reason, also, why the principle of elective kingship was maintained in 
Denmark, while Norway always inclined to the hereditary principle, 
which had also been introduced in Sweden by Gustav Vasa. The 
aristocratic social organization, and the elective principle, proved a 
weakness which sapped Denmark's strength, and retarded her prog- 
ress, though at the time she exercised dominion over Norway. On 
the other hand, the democratic conditions in Norway, though they 
had pushed the Norwegians for a season into the background, fostered 
powers and possibilities for a new national development. 

The Danish lensherrer and fogeds, who looked upon the Norwegian 

* Kong Fredrik den f^rstes norske HaandfcBstning af 1524, Samlinger til 
det norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. I., p. 1 ff. 

* Professor J. E. Sars has shown that of the ca. 30,000 farms in Norway 
at the time of the Reformation about 10,000 were owned by odelsh^nder, 
and 20,000 were operated by renters. J. E. Sars, Norge under Foreningen 
med Danmark. Om [Folkemoengdens Bevcegelse, by the same author, in His- 
torisk Tidsskrift, anden rsekke, vol. III. 

* Yngvar Nielsen, Af Norges Historie, p. 77. 


laws as a restriction upon their privileges, sought to introduce the 
Danish system also in Norway. The crown-lands had been increased 
through the secularization of monasteries, and the confiscation of 
church-lands until the crown owned over one-fourth of all the taxable 
lands in the kingdom. The Danish lords began to demand service 
of the tenants living upon these crown-lands, and gradually also of 
the renters dwelling on their own estates. Many of the minor lens 
had been granted them in return for a fixed sum of money paid 
by them to the crown, or for service, i.e. for furnishing a certain 
number of men for the army. Some lens had been granted them 
" kvit og frit," i.e. so that each lord should have the whole income 
from his len. In this way the power of the lensherre had been greatly 
increased, and the king, who was far away, could have no intimate 
knowledge of the methods used by the lensherrer and fogeds to swell 
their income. 

Another and, if possible, greater power was given the lensherrer 
and fogeds in connection with the execution of the decrees of the 
courts of justice. Not seldom did they influence the fogeds to inflict 
the heaviest penalties, as death or banishment, upon the offenders. 
The lensherre would then, out of kindness of heart, commute the 
sentence by substituting a fine which was usually so large that the 
offender had to deed his property to the lensherre in order to escape 
a worse fate. In this way the lensherrer and fogeds could gradually 
increase their personal holdings. Statholder Aksel Gyldenstjerne 
wrote to the government in Copenhagen, October 9, 1590: "In like 
manner, if any poor man commits an offense so that he has to pay 
the foged or the lensherre for his neck, he is not executed for such a 
crime, but the lensherre or foged imposes so high a fine for the offense 
that he cannot pay it, and a poor fellow promises willingly, in order 
to save his life, more than he or his family at any time can pay. 
Then he has to give the lensherre or foged a deed on his farm and pos- 
sessions, as if the same had been bought. This has certainly happened, 
and it seems, therefore, advisable that a royal letter should be issued 
to all lensherrer, fogeds, and clergymen in all Norway that they 
should in no wise buy or confiscate any property, unless it is for- 
feited to the crown." ^ But with all their power and systematized 

^ Quoted by J. E. Sars in Udsigt over den norske Historie, vol. III., p. 333. 



injustice the Danish lords were unable to force their system upon 
Norway. Their most crafty schemes and their ruthless greed proved 
of little avail in a contest with the martial spirit of the Norwegian 
hinder and their uncompromising love of freedom. In their moun- 
tain homes the binder still retained their old character and customs. 
They came to the thing as well as to the church, armed as of old 
with sword, spear, battleax, shield, bow, and arrows. If they felt 
wronged, if their temper was aroused, the sword was their most 
convenient argument, and many a bloody tumult occurred at the 
things when they felt that justice had not been done. At times they 
assembled things and passed resolutions without paying any atten- 
tion to the government officials. Stiff-necked and turbulent they 
often were, impatient of all restraint, and utterly unwilling to sub- 
mit to the arbitrary rule of the Danish lords.^ Peder Clauss0n Friis, 
who as clergyman sympathized with the Danish officials, says of 
them in speaking of the origin of the Norwegian people : " However 
this may all be, the inhabitants of this country have their origin and 
descent from a hard people, because they have always been a hard, 
stubborn, disobedient, obstinate, restless, rebellious, and blood- 
thirsty people, which I cannot deny they still are, especially in places 
where they keep their old customs, that is, among the mountains 
far away from the sea ; there dwells still a wild and wicked people." 
In another place he calls the binder of Telemarken "a wicked, im- 
pious, hard, wild, and rebelHous people — some shameless, devilish 
fellows, guilty of adultery, murder, manslaughter, heresy, licentious- 
ness, fights, and other vices beyond any that live in this country. 
It was their greatest joy in olden times to kill bishops, priests, fogeds, 
and commandants, which is also shown by the fact that in one 
parish in that district seven clergymen have been killed, in other 
parishes one or two, and in some a greater number." Professor J. E. 
Sars remarks : " The many irksome schemes and impositions invented 
by the lensherrer and fogeds seem to have caused among the binder a 
restlessness and agitation in which their strength degenerated into 

1 Peder Clauss0n Friis, Samlede Skrifter, p. 225, 257 ff., 300. Fifty fogeds 
and clergymen are said to have been killed, and many others to have been 
driven away in Nedenes len. L. Daae, Historisk Tisskrift, f0rste rakke, 
vol. IV., p. 305. C. F. Allen, De nordiske Rigers Historie, vol. T., p. 251 ff., 


brutality, and their combative and head-strong character assumed 
traits of insubordination and resistance to all forms of restraint. The 
efforts of the lensherrer and fogeds to reduce them to a subordination 
akin to that of the Danish peasants, instead of frightening or sub- 
duing them, only increased their defiance. They employed force 
against force, and throughout the whole land they seem to have 
risen in arms against all officials who in any way sought to exercise 
authority over them. . . . These irregular outbursts of a spirit of 
liberty, which lacks guidance and a fixed aim, do not make a pleasant 
impression, but it must not be forgotten that they have played a 
part in the country's history which is by no means unimportant. 
We may view as a whole the endless variety of complaints of fogeds 
and other functionaries, of riots and assaults and the violent taking 
of justice into their own hands on the part of the people, of which 
the documents of our history from that period bring evidence ; where 
the issue seems to be trifling matters without any connection — real 
or imaginary injustice against some individual — and we can see in all 
these clashes between the binder on the one side, and the lensherrer, 
fogeds, and clergy on the other, a single long-continued struggle in 
defense of what must be called the chief product of the people's 
earlier pohtical development, and the most important condition for 
their national future — popular freedom and the right to own property. 
And in this struggle the Norwegian binder became the unqualified 
victors." ^ The spirited resistance of the binder compelled the 
lensherrer and fogeds to respect their rights, and to avoid, at least to 
some extent, more serious conflicts with them. The Norwegian 
people's bravery and love of liberty became proverbial in Denmark, 
and the government feared that a general uprising might take place, 
if the officials were allowed to unduly oppress the people. For 
this reason the king listened to the complaints made by the Nor- 
wegians, and many an offender, even of high rank, was severely 
punished. But many a just complaint was also left unheeded, 
and in too many instances the vindictive officials found opportunity 
to wreak vengeance on those who had sought to bring them to justice. 
King Christian IV. was especially anxious to win the good-will of the 
Norwegians. When J0rgen Friis succeeded Gyldenstjerne as stat- 
* J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historie, vol. III., p. 336 ff. 


holder, the king himself was present, and the new official had to 
pledge himself under oath that he would "listen and pay dihgent 
heed to the complaints of the poor people and help them to secure 
justice." Towards the Estates: nobility, clergy, citizens, and 
common people of the kingdom, he should so act that the king should 
not on his account hear any complaints from the people. In 1604 
the king himself held court in Bergen to decide a quarrel between 
the people and the lensherre, Peder Grubbe. Peder Clauss0n Friis 
was also involved in the trial, but both Friis and the people were 
held to be innocent, while Grubbe was found guilty, and was removed 
from his len. 

Even in the courts of law, justice often miscarried because the 
old codes were no longer understood by the lagmcend and officials. 
Since the union was established, the Norwegian jurisprudence had 
received no attention. Magnus Lagab0ter's code, which was still 
in use, had not been revised, and many new statutes, passed from 
time to time, had not been incorporated in it. A revision of the code 
was sorely needed, and in 1602 Christian IV. ordered the Norwegian 
lagmoend to prepare a new code, which should be printed and put in 
use throughout the kingdom. The new lawbook, known as the 
"Code of Christian IV.," was submitted to the king in 1604,^ and 
after he had caused it to be read before an assembly of nobles and 
lagmasnd in Bergen, it was formally authorized and printed. The 
new code was only a translation of Magnus Lagab0ter's laws, and 
the work was wretchedly done, as many old legal terms had been 
misunderstood; but it was, nevertheless, an improvement, as the 
laws were reduced to a code which could be read and understood, 
and which was everywhere accessible in printed form. The new 
code was also introduced in the Faroe Islands, but Iceland had its 
own laws, and did not adopt it, nor was it introduced in the Shet- 
land or Orkney Islands, where the old Norse laws were still in force. 
The church laws were not embodied in the code, but the king caused 
a new church ordinance to be prepared, which was formally pro- 
claimed at a council in Stavanger, 1607. 

The religious outlook was beginning to cause no small anxiety at 

* Kong Christian den fjerdes norske Lovbog af 1604, edited by Fr. Hallager 
og Fr. Brandt, Christiauia, 1855. 



this time. The CathoHc reaction against the Reformation, organized 
by the Council of Trent, had gained great strength, owing to the en- 
thusiastic propaganda of the Jesuits and the vigor of the inquisition. 
The CathoHc Church had risen to do battle for its spiritual supremacy, 
to regain what it had lost. Also in the North the Jesuits began a 
stealthy agitation, which did not escape the attention of King Chris- 
tian. A Norwegian Jesuit, Lauritz Nilss0n, with the latinized name 
of Laurentius Nicolai, also called Klosterlasse (Closterlassius) had 
found welcome in Sweden, where King John III. inchned toward 
Catholicism. A higher school was organized, where Closterlassius 
should teach. At first his church affiliations were to remain a secret, 
and he was to appear only as the learned scholar, a form of agitation 
adopted for the purpose of gaining influence in the schools, and of 
encouraging the students to attend the CathoHc universities. If the 
students, who would become ministers in the church, could be won 
for Catholicism, that faith could in time be reintroduced among the 
common people, and great efforts were, therefore, made to create the 
belief that the Catholic universities were better than the Protestant, 
and that they enjoyed a higher reputation for learning. But Clos- 
terlassius did not accomplish much in Sweden.^ He became arro- 
gant, forfeited the good-will both of the king and the people, and 
had to leave Stockholm. The Jesuits directed their attention also 
to Norway, where the Reformation had still wrought but an imperfect 
conversion of the people to the Lutheran faith. Disguised as mer- 
chants they traveled about in the country, and sought to persuade 
young men to go to Catholic schools in foreign lands. After these 
young men had completed their studies, they often returned to 
Norway to be ordained as Lutheran ministers in order to be able to 
carry on a secret propaganda among their parishioners. Closter- 
lassius wrote several works against Protestantism, among others, 
"A Letter from Satan to the Lutheran Ministers," and though he 
never returned to Norway, he actively supported the Jesuits there. 

1 Andreas Brandrud, Klosterlasse, et Bidrag til den jesuitiske Propagandas 
Historie i Norden, Christiania, 1895. M. Kubberud, Jesuiterne i Norge, 
Elverum, 1897. Bishop Nils Glostrups Visitatser i Oslo og Hamar Stifter 
161 7-1637, edited by Ludvig Daae og H. J. Huitfeldt-Kaas, p. 21. L. Daae, 
Bidrag til den katholske Reaktions Historie i Norge i Christian IV.'s Tid, 
Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie raekke, vol. III., p. 306 ff. 
VOL. n — o 


At a council in Bergen, 1604, the Norwegian bishops called the king's 
attention to the Jesuit agitation. He seems to have been alarmed 
by the reports, and issued a royal letter forbidding any one who had 
been educated by the Jesuits to serve in the church or schools of the 
kingdom. In 1606 Closterlassius was banished from Denmark,'where 
he had arrived on a visit, and in 1613 the Jesuit priests in Norway 
were summoned before a council in Skien, where they were sen- 
tenced to have forfeited their office and inheritance, and they were 
immediately banished from the kingdom. After this time but few 
traces of Catholicism were found in Norway.^ 

This episode had also opened the king's eyes to the necessity of 
improving the schools of the two kingdoms, so that Norwegian and 
Danish students would not need to go to foreign institutions. In 
1604 a new plan of instruction for secondary schools was prepared, 
and better textbooks were introduced. Gymnasiums were estab- 
lished at the Latin schools of Roskilde, Odense, Ribe, Aarhus, Lund, 
and Christiania, in order that the students could be better prepared 
for their university studies. Three or four professors were appointed 
for each gymnasium, who would give more advanced instruction 
in the classical languages, besides giving lectures on theology, logic, 
natural science, mathematics, botany, and anatomy. But this very 
laudable attempt to place secondary education on a higher level was 
unfortunately rendered abortive by later events. Only the gym- 
nasium of Roskilde existed towards the end of the sixteenth century, 
and that of Odense till towards the end of the eighteenth. The 
academy of Sor0 was founded in 1623, and the University of Copen- 
hagen was much improved. Seven new chairs were created, and 
the king donated to the university a large part of his own library, in 
all 1100 volumes. 

King Christian was a great builder and erected more castles and 
fortresses, and founded more cities, than any other king in the union 
period. In Norway he founded the city of Christiansand,^ and when 
Oslo was almost totally destroyed by fire, August 17, 1624,'he founded 

IN. Slange, Christian IVJ's Historie, p. 205 f. 

' Af Nicolai Wergelands utrykte Christiansanda Beskrivelse, edited and 
published by Ludvig Daae, Historiak Tidsskrift, anden rsBkke, vol. III., 
p. 44fiE. 


the new city of Christiania so near to the ruins that Oslo has long since 
been incorporated in the capital city of Norway. The castles of Akers- 
hus and Bohus were enlarged and surrounded by strong walls, and at 
Akershus he erected a palace which still Ufts its towers above the city.^ 

The ever active and energetic king showed a great interest also for 
the Norwegian mining industry, which in the reign of Frederick II. 
had been wholly neglected. So great an impetus was given to this 
industry in this reign that it may almost be said to have been founded 
by Christian IV. A large number of new mines were opened, but 
for want of the necessary skill and science they yielded no profit.* 
The most important were the R0ros copper mines, opened 1644, and 
the great Kongsberg silver mines, discovered in 1623, which led to the 
founding of the two cities, R0ros and Kongsberg. As many as 4000 
men were employed at Kongsberg, but the mines were often operated 
at a loss, till in 1830, when they began to yield profitable returns. 

Christian IV., who was intensely interested in navigation, enter- 
tained a fond hope of being able to reestablish communications with 
the Norse colonies in Greenland. Some attempts had been made 
also in the previous reign to reach the distant island. Frederick II. 
sent an expedition in 1579 under the Enghsh captain John Alday, 
and another in 1581 under Mogens Heiness0n, the great Faroe sea- 
captain, but both failed to reach their destination because of fog and 
icebergs. In 1585 the English navigator John Davis reached the 
west coast of Greenland, but he found no traces of white people, and 
thought that he was the real discoverer of the land. In 1605 King 
Christian sent three ships under the Danish nobleman G0deke Linde- 
now and John Cunningham, a Scotchman, with the Englishman 
James Hall as pilot. Cunningham succeeded in landing on the 
west coast, and took possession of the country for the king, while 
Lindenow made an unsuccessful attempt to land on the east coast.^ 

1 Gustav Storm, Akershus Slot fra Midten af 17 de Aarhundrede, Chris- 
tiania, 1901. Norske Samlinger, I., p. 633 ff. 

^ Ludvig Daae, Det gamle Christiania, Christiania, 1891. Joh. Dyring, 
Kongerigei Norge, p. 151 £f. I. Chr. Berg, Aktstykker til Bergverkernes 
Historic, Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. III., p. 1 ff, 
Arnt Berntsen Bergen, Danmark oc Norgis frugtbar Herlighed, p. 274 ff. 

* Af . M. Rosches Optegnelser fra Nordlandene 1581-1639, Norske Sam- 
linger, vol. II., p. 496. 


Two more expeditions were sent out, one in 1606, and another in 
1607, but as no traces of the colonists were found, the project was 
abandoned. The king turned his attention instead to the search 
for the northwest passage, and sent an expedition to the Hudson 
Bay under Jens Munk in 1619.^ In 1636 he organized the Green- 
land Company to trade with Greenland, and to carry on whaling at 
Spitzbergen, but the trade with Greenland fell mostly into the hands 
of the Hollanders and the English. In harmony with the practice of 
the age. Christian IV. created many similar companies with exclusive 
trade privileges in certain parts of the world. In 1616 he chartered 
the "East India Company" to trade with the East India Islands, 
China, and Japan. This company raised a capital stock of 190,000 
riksdaler, and secured Tranquebar on the Coromandel coast, which 
became the chief seat of its commercial operations in the far East.^ 
In 1619 a company was formed to trade with Iceland, and in 1625 a 
Danish "West India Company" was organized. 

It was King Christian's manifest ambition to increase his power 
at sea, and this desire was strengthened also by the necessity of 
being well armed both on sea and land because of the great wars 
waged by Philip II. in the Netherlands, and the strained relations 
between the Emperor and the Protestant princes in Germany. 
Much attention was therefore devoted especially to the navy. At 
his accession to the throne, Denmark-Norway had a fleet of twenty- 
two vessels, large and small, and some of these were very antiquated. 
The king hired Scotch ship-builders to assist the ablest men within 
his own kingdom in constructing a number of new warships of the 
best type, and in a few years the Danish-Norwegian fleet was by 
far the most powerful in the Baltic Sea. In time of war the sailors 
and marines serving on the new fleet seem to have numbered about 
six thousand. 

1 Daniel Bruun, Det h^ie Nord, Fcerfiernes, Islands og Gr^nlands Udforsk- 
ning, p. 182 ff. Two books about Greenland and the Norse colonies were 
written at this time : Relation om Gr^nland, by Jens Bjelke, an almost 
worthless product, and Lyscander's Gr^nlandske Chronica, a work of some 

' A riksdaler was at this time equal to a speciedaler (foMi kroner), or a 
little more than an American dollar. 

ii foreign relations. the kalmar war 197 

26. Foreign Relations. The Kalmar War 

In internal administration Christian IV. had shown great energy 
and talent. An earnest desire to increase his own personal influence 
and the power and prestige of his realm are features characteristic 
of his reign. He showed such quickness and originality of thought 
and such executive ability that the people regarded him as a truly 
great king, to be compared with the most illustrious monarchs in 
history. But this view represents nothing but the fondness with 
which people are wont to cherish a talented ruler who possesses 
charming traits, and knows how to win their admiration by a jolly 
straightforwardness and bold artlessness of speech and conduct. It 
is true that Christian IV. instituted many useful reforms, but he was 
not a true reformer. There is not to be found in his many praise- 
worthy undertakings and happy innovations any constructive prin- 
ciple aiming at the gradual uplifting of the people through a steady 
improvement of their social and economic condition. He did noth- 
ing to rescue the Danish peasants from the wretched condition to 
which they had been reduced by the nobility. He confirmed all the 
old statutes aiming at the preservation of the privileges of the aris- 
tocracy, and only increased the burdens of the poor by unnecessary 
wars and extravagant building projects, though in minor things he 
was so saving that, as he informed the Council, he could not afford 
to get properly married. Morally he was weak, and intellectually 
not much above the ordinary. Though a man of great courage, he 
was neither an able general nor a far-sighted statesman. His ambition 
often led him into undertakings which were beyond both his means 
and his ability, and which brought upon his kingdom suffering and 
disaster. He lacked the statesman's intuitive foresight. He spent 
much of his time in a multitude of details in which he was unable to 
distinguish the important from the unimportant, and his foreign 
policy was often dictated by personal pique and ambition rather than 
by a wise forecast of political events. 

In 1597 the king married Anna Catharine of Brandenburg, who bore 
him six children, three of whom died in childhood. The queen died 
in 1612, but even before her death he had formed illicit attachments. 
In 1615 he acknowledged Christine Munk, a daughter of Ludvig 


Munk, to be his legally wedded wife, though nothing is known of the 
marriage ceremony, and he never gave her the title of queen. She 
bore him twelve children, but the marriage was finally terminated by 
a divorce accompanied by a scandal.^ He had many illegitimate 
children with different mothers. His illegitimate sons. Christian 
Ulrik, Hans Ulrik, and Ulrik Christian, received the surname of 
Gyldenl0ve. Even in that age of no very delicate tastes, the 
king's moral laxity must have been a constant source of scandal and 

In Sweden serious clashes between the Protestants and the party 
representing the Catholic reaction had led to important changes. 
King John's son, Sigismund, an ardent Catholic, who had become 
king of Poland, succeeded his father on the throne of Sweden, but in 
1599 he was deposed because of his attempt to overthrow the Lutheran 
faith. The Duke of Sodermanland, a younger son of Gustav Vasa, 
and brother of King John HI., was placed on the throne as Charles 
IX. The new king possessed some of the ability of the great Vasa 
dynasty, which was to place Sweden in the front rank of European 
powers, but he assumed from the outset a very aggressive and un- 
compromising attitude towards Denmark-Norway, due in part, 
perhaps, to the fact that Christian IV. had shown himself a friend of 
Sigismund, if not an open supporter of his party. In 1610 Charles 
founded the city of Gottenborg, which would give the Hollanders a 
new harbor, where they could unload their cargoes, and avoid pay- 
ing the toll for passing through the Sound. The Swedish aggressions 
in Finmarken, which had caused trouble in the previous reign, became 
more pronounced than ever. Charles IX. called himself "King of 
the Lapps in Nordland," collected taxes as far as Malangen and 
Titisfjord, a distance south of Troms0, and gave the merchants of 
Gottenborg right to trade from Titisfjord to Varanger,^ Christian 
IV., who wished to maintain a naval supremacy both in the Baltic 
and the North Sea, resisted these encroachments vigorously, but 
neither protests nor negotiations could influence the independent 

^ Aage Skavlan, Historiske Billeder fra den nyere Tid. 

•Oscar Alb. Johnsen, De norske Sloender, p. 131. N. Slange, Christian 
IV.'i Hislorie, p. 256 ff. Amtmand G. Hammer, Hislorisk Underretning om 
Finmarkens Handel, Samlinger tU det norske Folks Sprog og Historic, vol. 

m., p. 261 ff. 


and haughty King Charles IX. The Northern Protestant powers 
were thus drifting towards open hostihties at a moment when their 
German brethren stood confronted by the Empire and the papacy, 
who were marshaling their forces for the last great assault on Protes- 
tantism, the Thirty Years' War. In 1608 the "Protestant Union" 
was formed with Elector Frederick of the Palatinate as Director, and 
the following year the "CathoHc League" was organized with Elec- 
tor Maximilian of Bavaria as commander-in-chief. The "Union" 
sought the support of Henry IV. of France, and of Christian IV. of 
Denmark-Norway, but King Christian chose to wage war with 
Sweden rather than aid his Protestant brethren in Germany. In 
1611 he finally forced the Council to declare war against Sweden. 
It appears that he did not only intend to protect his realm against 
encroachments, but that he entertained a hope of being able to con- 
quer Sweden, and to establish once more the union between the three 
Northern kingdoms. He invaded Sweden with an army of about 
6000 men, and while he laid siege to the city of Kalmar with the 
greater part of his force, he dispatched Sten Sehested with a portion 
of it against Elfsborg. The army was supported by the fleet, which 
was superior to that of Sweden. The Norwegian forces were stationed 
in the border districts, and were instructed not to enter Swedish ter- 
ritory unless special orders were given.^ On May 27 Kalmar, with 
the exception of the castle, was taken, an event which gave to the 
struggle the name of the Kalmar War, and on July 17 an undecisive 
battle was fought with the Swedish army under King Charles IX., 
who had arrived in the neighborhood of the city. The day after 
the battle Kalmar castle was treacherously surrendered by its com- 
mandant, and in a similar way Oland fell into the hands of the Danes, 
though Gustavus Adolphus, the brave son of King Charles IX., 
recaptured the island before the campaign was closed in the fall. On 
October 30 King Charles IX. died at Nykoping castle, and Gus- 
tavus Adolphus ascended the throne of Sweden. He wished to 
conclude peace with Denmark, but Christian IV., who dreamed of 
large conquests, would accept no reasonable terms, and the war was 
continued. In March, 1612, King Christian had greatly strengthened 
his army in southern Sweden, but he made the tactical mistake of 
^ Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. III., p. 221. 


dividing his forces, which proved of great advantage to Gustavus 
Adolphus, who had only a weak army of peasants, as the Swedish 
nobles took no part in the conflict. With his main force King Chris- 
tian turned towards the city of Gottenborg, which he destroyed after 
having taken the fortresses of Elfsborg and Gullborg. But the fleet, 
though superior to the Swedish, accomplished nothing, and he had 
won no decisive victories. After unsuccessful operations against 
Jonkoping, the king returned in August to Copenhagen, whence he 
again advanced with his fleet against Stockholm. But Gustavus 
Adolphus hastened to the succor of his capital, and Christian sailed 
away without venturing an attack on the city. This was the last 
important event of the war. Through the efforts of England peace 
was concluded at Knser0d, January 20, 1613. Sweden relinquished 
all claims to Finmarken, and agreed to pay a war indemnity of one 
million riksdaler. All conquered territory was relinquished, both 
countries should have the right to use the three crowns in their coats 
of arms, and they should both enjoy the same trade privileges and 
freedom from tolls. The war had produced no marked result except 
that of destroying lives and property, of creating bitter enmity 
between the closely related Protestant nations of the North, and of 
increasing taxes and public burdens. 

Some of the Norwegian forces seem to have taken part in the 
operations against Elfsborg, but the Norwegians were not much 
interested in the war. Some of the officers in charge of their forces 
were incompetent, and the soldiers were often disobedient and un- 
willing to fight. But two minor episodes occurred, one of which 
especially became of great importance to the Norwegian people. 

In the Kahnar War both Christian IV. and Gustavus Adolphus 
enlisted foreign mercenaries. A Flemish officer and colonel in the 
Swedish army, Jan von Monkhoven, was sent by Gustavus Adolphus 
to the Netherlands and Scotland, where he raised a force of 1200 or 
1400 men with which he hoped to capture Trondhjem. He lost one 
ship, but arrived at Trondhjem with the rest of the force, some 800 
men ; but the people defended their city well, and he sailed to Stj0i^ 
dalen, where he landed his troops. A force of 250 soldiers and 1000 
binder which had been assembled was scattered without difficulty, 
as the lensherre, Sten Bilde, was a cowardly and incompetent man, 


BEFORE 1645 




Williama Eniirsving Co., Sew York 


who did little or nothing for the defense of the country. Monk- 
hoven crossed the mountains into Herjedalen and Jaemtland, where 
he harried and plundered unmolested. He fought at Kalmar, and 
fell in the siege of Gdof in Ingermanland, 1614.^ The second corps 
of mercenaries, raised in Scotland for the Swedish service, met a 
different fate. The enlistment was intrusted to James Spence of 
Wormiston, who died later as a Swedish baron. He employed 
Colonel Andrew Ramsey to conduct the recruiting, and James I., 
king of England and Scotland, who was married to King Christian's 
sister, Anna,^ and probably would not have offended his brother-in- 
law, learned nothing of the recruiting until it was too late to prevent 
the enlisted soldiers from leaving. A small force, possibly 350 men, 
succeeded in departing, led by Lieutenant-colonel Alexander Ramsey, 
under whom served the captains Bruce, James Money penny, James 
Scott, George Hay, and George Sinclair. On the 19th and 20th of 
August, 1612, they came to anchor in the Romsdalsfjord, and landed 
their troops at Klungnes, near a cliff which still bears the name of 
Skothammaren. They forced two binder to act as guides, and began 
their march through Romsdal. The people fled at their approach, 
and as they were a small force, they did not venture to harass the 
settlements through which they marched,^ but hastened on their 

^ Chr. Lange, Nye Bidrag til Kalmar Krigens Historic, Norske Samlinger, 
vol. I., p. 262 ff. ; vol. II., p. 41 ff. Yngvar Nielsen, Nogle Notitser om 
Johan von M^nnichhofen, Historisk Tidsskrift, f0rste rsekke, vol. IV., p. 
109 ff. N. Slange, Christian IV.'s Historic, 312 ff. I. Chr. Berg, Bidrag til 
Historien af Christian den fjerdes Krig med Sverige i Aarene 1611 og 1612, 
Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historic, vol. III., p. 219 ff. Yngvar 
Nielsen, Jens Bjelke til 0straat, p. 40 ff. 

^ Norske Samlinger, vol. I., p. 454 ff., Bcrctninger af Prindsesse Annas 
Giftermaal med Kong Jakob den 6te af Skotland. 

^ The Norwegian statholder, Enevold Kruse, wrote to Christian Friis 
and Breide Rantzau, October 3, 1612: '''We have also since learned that 
those Scots who were defeated and captiired on their march through this 
country have absolutely neither burned, murdered, nor destroyed anything 
either in Romsdal or Gudbrandsdal, except only a Dane, S0fren Setnes by 
name, who dwells in Romsdal. From him they took a chest full of silver 
articles, etc." Norske Samlinger, vol. II., p. 288 ff. 

The Zinklar Vise, a popular ballad written about this battle by Edward 
Storm (1742-1794), is based on popular traditions, and abounds in exaggera- 
tions, as ballads usually do. See H. P. S. Krag, Sagn om Slagct ved Krin- 
gelen. The following stanza may serve as an example: 


way, and crossed the mountains into Gudbrandsdal. But news of 
their approach had been received, and the brave lensmand Lars Hage 
had assembled the men of Lesje, Dovre, Vaage, Fron, Lom, and 
Ringebu, who under the command of the foged Lars Gram took their 
position on a mountain side overlooking Kringen, where a road 
passes at the foot of the mountain along the Laagan River. Their 
exact number is not known, but in a song written shortly after the 
battle they are said to have numbered 500, which seems to be ap- 
proximately correct. The officers who were taken prisoners stated 
that the Scots numbered 350 men.^ The binder gathered piles of 
stone and timber on the mountain side, and everything was ready 
when the Scots arrived on August 26, 1612. The advance guard 
was allowed to pass, but when the main body arrived, the signal was 
given,^ and an avalanche of stone and timber swept down upon them. 
Many were killed outright, and many were swept into the river and 
drowned. The rest, attacked in front and rear, were forced to sur- 
render. The advance guard was also captured, but most of them 
were put to death after they were taken prisoners. Only eighteen 
were escorted to Akershus, among whom were the oflBcers Ramsey, 
Bruce, Moneypenny, and Scott, who were sent as prisoners to Copen- 
hagen. Hay and Sinclair had fallen. Some of the Scots remained 
in Norway, and some enlisted in the Danish army. Insignificant as 
this episode was from a military point of view, it was, none the less, 
the spark which kindled the national patriotism, and roused the 
martial spirit of the Norwegians. Hitherto they had been too in- 
different even to defend themselves ; henceforth their valor became 
proverbial. A stone slab was erected on the battlefield of Kringen 
fifty years later bearing the inscription : " Here Colonel Sinclair was 
shot on the twenty-sixth of August, 1612." This slab was replaced 

And with him fourteen hundred men : 
On mischief all that band were bent ; 
They spared nor young nor aged then, 
But slew and burnt as they went. 

The song has been translated by Thomas Michell, History of the Scottish 
Expedition to Norway in 1612, part II. 

1 Olav Kringen, Fra Snelandets Hytter, Decor ah-Posien, October 1, 1907. 

* The tradition says that a girl, Hilar Guri, was stationed on a mountain 
top, opposite Kringen, and that she gave the signal by blowing a trumpet. 


in 1733 by a wooden cross bearing a bombastic rhymed inscription 
which King Christian VI. read on his visit in Gudbrandsdal.^ A new 
stone slab with the inscription : " In memory of the bravery of the 
b0nder 1612 " was erected in 1826. This was again replaced by a new 
stone monument August 26, 1912. 

King Christian had learned two things in the Kalmar War. In 
the first place, that his army organization was antiquated and wholly 
inefficient, and secondly, that Denmark could no longer seek terri- 
torial aggrandizement in Sweden. As soon as the war was over, 
he began to improve the army both in Norway and Denmark. In 
1614 he issued an order for the creation of a small national militia, 
which should always be ready for military service. In Norway this 
force was to consist of 2100 men, but the order does not seem to 
have been systematically carried out, and the plan was soon aban- 
doned. In 1617 the firearms which had been provided for this 
army were finally sold to the people. Not till after Denmark's sad 

1 This inscription reads : 

Courage, loyalty, bravery, and all that gives honor, 

The whole world 'midst Norwegian rocks can learn. 

An example is there seen of such bravery, 

Among the rocks in the North, on this very spot : 

A fully armed corps of some hundred Scots 

Was here crushed like earthen pots ; 

They found that bravery, with loyalty and courage, 

Lived in full glow in the hearts of the men of Gudbrandsdal. 

J0rgen von Zinelair as the leader of the Scots, 

Thought within himself, "No one will here meddle with me." 

But, lo I a small number of b0nder confronted him, 

Who bore to him Death's message of powder and ball. 

One Northern monarch. King Christian the Sixth, 

To honor on his way we have erected this ; 

For him we are ready to risk our blood and life 

Until our breath goes out and our bodies lie stiff." 

This not very happy translation is found in Thomas Michell's History of 
the Scottish Expedition to Norway in 1612. The original is found in Bing's 
Norges Beskrivelse, p. 348. H. F. Hjorthoy's Beskrivelse over Gudbrandsdalen, 
ch. II., p. 27. H. P. S. Krag, Sagn om Slagel ved Kringelen, Christiania, 
1838. A. Fabrieius, Minder fra Nordens Historie. O. O. Olafsen, Skotte-' 
toget efter Folkesagnet og Hisiorien, Molde, 1877. Norske Samlinger, II., 
p. 288 ff. 


experience in the Thirty Years' War was the plan of a better mih- 
tary organization carried out.^ 

In 1618 the Thirty Years' War broke out, and nearly all nations 
of western Europe were drawn into its bloody vortex. Bohemia 
became the first theater of war. In 1620 the troops of the Emperor 
and the Catholic League defeated the Protestants in the battle of 
the White Mountain, near Prague, and Frederick V. of the Palat- 
inate, who had been chosen king of Bohemia, had to flee, and was 
later outlawed by the Emperor. Tilly, the general of the armies of 
the League, wasted the Palatinate with fire and sword; Bohemia 
was fearfully ravaged, and the Catholic religion was reestablished. 
This encouraged the fanatic Emperor Ferdinand II. to make a general 
assault on the Protestants in Germany. In order to make himself 
independent of the League, he placed in the field a new imperial 
army under Wallenstein. The Protestant princes were in dire 
straits. Spain had also joined the Catholic alliance, and, by dangling 
before the eyes of King James I. of England a possible marriage 
between his son Charles and a Spanish princess, succeeded in keep- 
ing him inactive. France, though hostile to the House of Habsburg, 
was a Catholic power, and Holland lay bleeding and exhausted after 
the wars with Philip II. In their distress the Protestants again 
turned to Christian IV. Elizabeth, the daughter of his sister Anna 
and King James I. of England, was married to the exiled King 
Frederick of Bohemia. He sympathized with the Protestants, and, 
what possibly weighed still more, he had for some time been trying 
to extend his influence in lower Germany in the hope that he might 
be able to obtain some of the secularized bishoprics for his sons, and 
also to gain control of Hamburg and Bremen. He did not fear the 
consequences of a war with the powerful Catholic coalition, but the 
Council would not embark on so hazardous and expensive an under- 
taking. The king, however, turned a deaf ear to their remonstrance. 
A promise of aid from England, and the fear that Gustavus Adolphus 
might become the leader of a Protestant aUiance, led him to decide 

^ A. C. C. Drolsum, Del norske Folk og dels Forsvarsvcesen, p. 25 ff. I. Chr. 
Berg, Aktstykker til den staaende Hcers Historie, Samlinger til det norske Folks 
Sprog og Historie, vol. III., p. 404 ff. ; vol. IV., p. 1 ff. Didrik Schnitler, 
Det f^rste Aarhundrede af den norske Hcers Historie, Christiania, 1874. 


Christian IV. 
Hannibal Sehested. Peder Griffenpeld. 


for war. In May, 1625, he entered Germany with an army of about 
20,000 men, and the reenforcements sent him by the Protestant 
princes increased his available forces to about 30,000 men, the 
greater part of which consisted of German mercenaries. But Chris- 
tian's operations were slow. He wasted much time in minor skir- 
mishes which could lead to no decisive result, and nothing was ac- 
complished in the first campaign. In 1626 Wallenstein defeated the 
Protestant forces under Mansfeld at Dessau, while Christian was 
facing Tilly with an army which was rapidly being reduced in num- 
bers through sickness and desertions. Money was scarce, and the 
aid given by England was of little real value. At length Christian 
risked a decisive battle, August 17, at the village of Lutter am Barn- 
berg, near Wolfenbiittel, but suffered a crushing defeat. The retreat 
turned into a rout; panic seized the fleeing army, and the king 
barely escaped falling into the hands of the enemy. When he reached 
Wolfenbiittel, he was accompanied by eighty horsemen, who had 
gathered about him in the flight. After this defeat Christian 
showed remarkable energy. He raised another army for the cam- 
paign of 1627, but the resistance which he could make proved use- 
less. In July Tilly crossed the Elbe, and united his army with that 
of Wallenstein, and the two generals began the invasion of Den- 
mark. The whole peninsula was soon overrun and subjected to the 
wildest ravages, not only by the lawless warriors of Tilly and Wallen- 
stein, but by the mercenaries in King Christian's own army, who 
turned brigands and marauders. Denmark was on the verge of 
utter ruin, and Emperor Ferdinand II. and Wallenstein were already 
laying plans for extending the borders of the Empire, and of estab- 
Hshing its control over the Baltic and the North Sea. This grave 
danger brought Gustavus Adolphus into the arena. The imperial 
forces laid siege to the city of Stralsund, but it received help from 
Sweden and Denmark, whose fleets controlled the Baltic, and Wal- 
lenstein failed to take the city, though he is said to have sacrificed 
12,000 men in the attempt. Gustavus Adolphus wished to form an 
alliance with Christian IV. for the defense of the North and the 
Lutheran faith, and nothing could have seemed more advantageous 
for Denmark at this moment, as Wallenstein offered Gustavus to 
partition the kingdom of Denmark and Norway in such a way that 


Sweden should receive Norway, while Denmark should be the portion 
of the Emperor. But Christian's suspicion and jealousy prevented 
an alliance of the Protestant kingdoms of the North at this critical 
moment. It may be urged in his defense, however, that by avoid- 
ing an aUiance with Sweden he could obtain more favorable tenns 
of peace. On May 12, 1629, he signed the treaty of peace with the 
Emperor at Liibeck. He had to reUnquish all claims to German 
possessions for his sons; he had to resign as commander of the 
Protestant forces in Germany, and had to promise not to meddle 
with German affairs in the future ; but he lost no territory, nor was 
he forced to pay any war indemnity. These easy terms were not 
granted by the Emperor and Wallenstein from any kindness of heart, 
but because they wished to have their hands free for the coming 
struggle with Gustavus Adolphus. But though Christian had suc- 
ceeded in making peace on better terms than could have been expected, 
Denmark had paid dearly for his participation in the war. The 
ravages and suffering brought upon the kingdom seem to have 
destroyed its vigor, and the battlefield of Luther am Barnberg marks 
the beginning of Denmark's national decHne. 

In 1628, while the realm was in its deepest distress, the king began 
in earnest the reorganization of the army. According to an order 
issued on January 18 of that year to the Norwegian statholder Jens 
Juel, four farms (gaards), or eight half farms, or sixteen quarter 
farms should form a IcBgd, which should furnish and maintain one 
soldier. According to this plan, an army was raised, consisting of 
five regiments : Trondhjem, Bergenhus, T0nsberg, Akershus, and 
Bohus, and three joenniker: Stavanger, Agdesiden, and Jaemtland. 
After peace was concluded at Liibeck, this organization was again 
abandoned, because of the resistance of the people to military burdens, 
but it was reestablished by the ordinance of September 19, 1641, 
which united the Stavanger and Agdesiden fcenniker into a sixth 
regiment. Each regiment numbered about 1000 men, and was 
divided into three companies, except the regiment of Bergenhus of 
1300 men, which was divided into four companies. Cavalry was 
organized through rostjeneste; i.e. mounted service demanded of 
nobility, clergy, and odelsb^nder. According to the military ordi- 
nance of 1641, the cavalry numbered 520 arquebusiers and 500 dra- 



goons, but the latter, which was selected from the infantry, might be 
regarded as mounted infantry. Through the ordinance of 1628 
fourteen city companies, each numbering about 100 men, were also 
organized ; two in Trondhjem, four in Bergen, two in Christiania* 
and one in each of the cities of Fredrikstad, T0nsberg, Skien, Kong- 
helle, Marstrand, and Udevalla. These companies totalHng 1400 
men were recruited among the citizens of these cities, and were to 
serve as a sort of garrison for their protection. The fortresses in 
Norway at this time were: Vard0hus, Trondhjem with Munkhol- 
men, Bergenhus, Akershus, Bohus, Fredrikstad, Marstrand, and 
the redoubts of Vinger, Fiekker0, and Fr0s0en in Jsemtland. These 
fortresses had permanent garrisons, which were greatly strengthened 
by Christian IV. The term of mihtary service was fixed at three 
years, and no one could rent land or own or operate a farm who had 
not rendered the required military service.^ Norway had thus 
received a national army, which in time became an invaluable aid 
in the struggle for national hberty, and which was of far greater 
value to the country in time of need than the lawless foreign mer- 
cenaries employed at that time in the wars in all countries. 

27. New National Growth. Hannibal Sehested. A New 
War with Sweden 

Immediately after the introduction of the Reformation, which 
destroyed what was still left of the old spirit of independence, Nor- 
way reached its lowest ebb of national weakness. But signs of a 
new social and economic growth soon began to manifest themselves, 
and before a century passed, considerable progress had been made 
towards a new and more vigorous national life, which was charac- 
terized, however, by a more distinct stratification of social classes. A 
Lutheran clergy had arisen, generally well educated, and imbued with 
the love of learning and the more advanced ideas of the Renaissance. 
A new merchant class sprang up in the cities, and a new nobility, 
springing partly from the old Norse nobiUty, and partly from im- 

1 Didrik Sehnitler, Det f^rste Aarhundrede af den norske Hoera Historie. 
Barstad, Norges Landforsvar 1604-1634- Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Hannibal 
Sehesteds Statholderskah, p. 30 ff. 


migrated noblemen, also came into existence.^ The growth of these 
new classes resulted, however, in increased burdens for the binder, 
who, prior to the Reformation, had enjoyed a very high degree of 
social and economic independence. Christian IV., who needed 
money for his expensive wars and buildings, increased the taxes, and 
augmented the military burdens through the new army organiza- 
tion, while the three upper classes, whose interests were not identical 
with those of the hinder, sought to increase their own privileges and 
powers.^ The binder, who up to this time had virtually constituted 
the whole nation, were gradually reduced to the fourth and lowest 
estate. But their freedom was not destroyed ; their spirit was not 
broken, nor was their economic well-being and independence seriously 
impaired, though they lost much of their former power and social 
prominence. Four distinct "estates" were gradually developed: 
nobility, clergy, merchants, and binder, and Assemblies of Estates 
replaced the old lagthings. From 1548 such Assemblies of the four 
Estates were summoned to do homage to a new king, but in the latter 
part of the reign of Christian IV. they also took part in the levying 
of taxes and in the making of laws. The new social classes, though 
often grasping and selfish, represented in many ways a more en- 
lightened patriotism than the binder, who loved intensely their rights 
and freedom, but who failed to understand the demands which new 
ages bring, and lacked the scope of vision necessary to develop the 
country along national Hues. The development of the four estates 
was a distinct organization of new forces which were to lift the 
nation to a higher plane both politically and intellectually. The 
new national army, the fortification of the cities, the creation of 
coast defenses, and other timely improvements were made possible 
through their support. 

Closely associated with the development of the estates was also 

* Oscar Alb. Johnsen, De norske Stcender, p. 27 ff. Christiania Viden- 
skabs-Selskabs Skrifter, 1906. 

' Lorens Berg says: "Christian IV. deserves to be branded as an op- 
pressor of the binder in spite of his many boastful phrases about 'guarding 
the interests of the common people.' For example: In 1640 he was on 
the point of stopping all the sawmills in the land by his letters of taxation. 
In great numbers the people sought 'gracious permission' at the things to 
shut down their sawmills." Historiak Tidsskrift, fjerde rsekke, vol. V., 
p. 60. 


the consolidation of the government officials into a distinct and influ- 
ential class — a bureaucracy. In 1547 Norway received again its 
own chancellor, who was the keeper of the seal, and exercised super- 
vision over the courts of law, and in 1572 the lensherre of Akershus 
was made statholder of Norway. Christiania, as his residence city, 
became the center of Norwegian administration, the place where 
the Assembly of Estates met, where kings were hailed,^ where the 
leading men of the kingdom assembled, a center from which social 
and political influence began to emanate ; the new city, though small, 
was becoming the capital of the kingdom. 

In 1642 Hannibal Sehested, a Danish nobleman, was made lens- 
herre of Akershus and statholder of Norway, and the same year 
he married King Christian's daughter Christiane. The new statholder 
was a gifted man of fine appearance and noble bearing. In company 
with one of the princes he had visited Rome, Naples, Paris, and 
London ; he had been sent on important missions, and had become 
acquainted with the leading statesmen, and especially as the king's 
son-in-law he could appear with royal dignity in his high oflBce, 
though he was yet only thirty-four years of age. On his arrival in 
Norway Sehested entered upon the important duties of his office 
with great energy and earnestness. He studied conditions closely, 
and aimed to make all possible improvements with the aid and ad- 
vice of the Estates, which he summoned to meet in Christiania. He 
sought to perfect the yet incomplete military organization, to secure 
firearms for the army, and to aid the mining industry, which was in 
great need of encouragement and able assistance. In these efforts 
he was aided chiefly by the nobility, the clergy, and the cities, while 
the binder held aloof or showed opposition, partly because their 
burdens were already heavy in proportion to their income, but partly, 
also, because they still lacked understanding of the value of national 
improvements. With his good judgment and administrative ability, 
Sehested might have done great things for Norway, if his work had 
not been suddenly interrupted by a new war with Sweden. 

The crushing defeat of the Danish army in Germany, and the 
phenomenal victories of Gustavus Adolphus, which shed the brightest 

1 Assemblies of Estates were held in Christiania, 1626, 1628, 1631, 1639, 
1643, 1648, 1657, and 1661. Ludvig Daae, Det Gamle Christiania, p. 98. 
VOL. II — p 


luster on Swedish arms, and filled all Europe with acclaim, suddenly 
changed the political aspect in the North and awakened the keenest 
jealousy of the ambitious King Christian. Not only was Sweden 
assuming pohtical leadership in the North, but the hitherto insig- 
nificant kingdom was becoming one of the great powers of Europe, 
while Denmark, which but recently had treated Sweden as a depend- 
ency, was sinking into obscurity. Gustavus Adolphus' brilliant 
career was closed on the battlefield of Liitzen, 1632, but the great 
Swedish generals still wielded the sword valiantly. The foreign 
policy of Sweden was wisely guided by the sagacious statesman Axel 
Oxenstjerna, and an alliance with France made her position quite 
secure. By pursuing a friendly poHcy King Christian might have 
profited by the new situation, but would he, could he admit that Den- 
mark-Norway had lost the coveted leadership in the North? No 
bitterer chaUce could be brought to the hps of so proud a king. He 
would still oppose Sweden ; not openly, but he began to systemati- 
cally annoy the Swedish government by posing as a peacemaker, 
and by trying to prevent Sweden from securing possessions in Ger- 
many. In the fall of 1637 he even offered the Emperor to resist 
with armed force any attempt of Sweden to secure German territory. 
In vain Peder Vibe, the Danish minister in Stockholm, warned him. 
The king thought that the course which he was pursuing was not 
dangerous. But Sweden was not in a humor at this moment to 
bear patiently with a jealous and meddlesome neighbor. The Kal- 
mar War and the indemnity which Sweden had been forced to pay 
by the peace of Kn8er0d were not forgotten, and Axel Oxenstjerna 
was much irritated by King Christian's duplicity. In 1643 orders 
were given the Swedish field marshal, Lennart Torstensson, to march 
against Denmark. The order reached him in Moravia in September, 
and he immediately put his army in motion. On December 12 
he entered Holstein, and by New Year he stood in Jutland. Both 
King Christian and the Council were taken by surprise. Before the 
end of January the whole Danish peninsula was in Torstensson's 
hands, and General Gustav Horn occupied Sk&ne with an army of 
eleven thousand men. Louis de Geer was sent by Axel Oxenstjerna 
to the Netherlands to attempt to secure an aUiance against Den- 
mark, as the Hollanders were opposed to the Sound-toll, which hin- 



dered their commerce in the Baltic. But they did not like to see 
Denmark annihilated, and Sweden too powerful, and de Geer only 
succeeded in collecting a fleet of thirty vessels, which was sent under 
command of Thijssen to cooperate with the Swedish forces. In 
Denmark all was consternation, and no one knew what to do ; the 
king alone retained his presence of mind. He placed his confidence 
in the fleet, and Norway might be able to give some assistance, since 
it now possessed an army. Statholder Sehested was in favor of 
an aggressive pohcy on the part of Norway, a plan also favored by 
King Christian, but the Norwegians strenuously opposed an attack 
on Sweden. The quarrel was not theirs. They would never, they 
said, attack Sweden, for their Swedish neighbors wished them no harm, 
and they well knew that if they touched Sweden, it would be to their 
own misfortune.^ Their opposition to the statholder in this matter 
grew very bitter, and it must be admitted that their view was justified 
by the situation, as it was proven to be correct by the issue of the 
war. But the Danish lords cared but httle for the public senti- 
ment in Norway. Jakob Ulfeld in Jaemtland had already opened 
hostilities by sending forces to raid the neighboring Swedish districts, 
but they had to withdraw before the Swedes, who occupied Jaemtland.^ 
Daniel Buschovius, a chaplain from Elfdalen, also advanced from 
Dalarne with 200 men into the districts of Indre and Sserna in 0ster- 
dalen, and persuaded the people to swear allegiance to Queen Chris- 
tina, the daughter of Gustavus.' The Norwegians again advanced, 
captured M0rsel redoubt, and recovered Jgemtland, which remained 
in their possession during the rest of the war. In the meantime 
Sehested had made preparations to invade Vermland with a force 

^In a letter to Admiral Gedde, January 30, 1845, Sehested wrote: "It 
is to be heartily deplored that the people of this kingdom are so refractory 
that they publicly swear and protest that they wiU not advance one foot 
across the border, neither have they been willing to be stationed here between 
Halland and the border of Sweden." Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog 
og Historie, III., p. 70. Statholder Hannibal Sehesteds Copiebog for Aarel 
1 645. This was an exaggeration at the time, as the Norwegians had already 
made several expeditions into Sweden, but in order to make pohtical capital, 
he bases this statement on the well-known fact that the Norwegians were 
opposed to the war. 

^ Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Hannibal Sehesteds Statholder skab, p. 55 flf. 

* Yngvar Nielsen, Om Indre og Scerna, Historiak Tidsakrift, III., p. 195 ff. 


of 2000 men, assisted by a similar force under Henrik Bjelke. But 
he was ordered to cooperate with the king, who had already spent 
some time before Gottenborg. On the arrival of Sehested King 
Christian departed to take charge of the naval operations. On May 
16, 1644, he met Thijssen's fleet, and defeated it in the battle of List 
Dyb, off the west coast of Schleswig, and after a second engagement 
a few days later, Thijsseh had to return to Holland. On July 1 
King Christian and Admiral Vind fought the great naval battle 
of Kolberger Heide, off Kiel, with the Swedish fleet under Klaes 
Fleming. The old king showed the greatest bravery. Even after 
he was so severely wounded that he lost the sight of one eye, he stood 
on the deck of his flagship, "Trefoldigheden," and encouraged his 
men. As a result of the battle the Swedish fleet was bottled up 
in the harbor of Kiel, but through the negligence of the Danish 
admiral Gait it managed to escape. Gait was sentenced to death 
and executed, and Eirik Ottess0n Orning, a Norwegian captain, 
became chief admiral. When Thijssen had repaired his ships, he 
again put to sea, sailed through the Sound under the thundering can- 
nons of the Kronborg, and joined the Swedish fleet. A Danish 
squadron of seventeen ships under the Norwegian admiral, Pros 
Mund, was attacked and destroyed; only three frigates escaped 
into the harbor of Copenhagen. 

Sehested did not engage in active operations till in June, when he 
attacked and destroyed the newly founded city of Vernersborg, and 
sent George von Reichwein across the border from Vinger and Eid- 
skog. Morast redoubt was taken, but the Swedes dispatched Gabriel 
Oxenstjerna to recapture it. Sehested now joined the Norwegian 
forces, which numbered 2825 men with eighteen field-pieces. A seri- 
ous battle was fought, in which the Norwegians were victorious; 
Henrik Bjelke entered Dalsland, and took the city of Am&l, but 
the Norwegian forces found it necessary to withdraw again to the 
border, and in May, Morast redoubt was the only point in Swedish 
territory in their possession. The newly organized Norwegian army 
had proven that it could render eflScient service, but the active part 
which Norway had been forced to play in the war could not avert 
the disastrous outcome. After the destruction of Pros Mund's 
squadron, Denmark's strength was so nearly exhausted that King 


Christian was compelled to negotiate for peace. The representatives 
of the two powers met at Br0msebro, on the border between Blekinge 
and SmMand, where peace was finally concluded August 13, 1645. 
Christian had to cede permanently to Sweden the islands of Goth- 
land and Osel, and Halland for a period of twenty-five years. He 
also had to cede the Norwegian provinces of Jaemtland and Herje- 
dalen. The districts of Indre and Sserna, where the people had 
sworn allegiance to the queen of Sweden, were not mentioned in the 
treaty, but they were retained by Sweden, as they were regarded 
by the Swedes as a part of Herjedalen.^ 

The Norwegians, who had been dragged into the, war against their 
will, and had defended their territory successfully, suffered the great- 
est loss, and might well regard themselves as the victims of Danish 
politics. But the peace was, none the less, welcomed with joy, 
because of the oppressive burdens caused by the war. In Bergen 
the news of peace was hailed with the firing of guns, the flying of 
banners, and thanksgiving services in the churches.^ 

King Christian's unfortunate wars not only destroyed Denmark's 
preponderance in the North, and transferred the leadership to Sweden, 
but they affected distinctly also the relation between Norway and 
Denmark, It became evident to a far-sighted statesman like Hanni- 
bal Sehested that Norway, which was making rapid commercial 
and economic progress, and was so near a neighbor to Denmark's 
powerful rival, could no longer be treated as a mere dependency, 
administered in the interest of Denmark, and defended by a few 
companies of soldiers, placed as garrisons in the leading fortresses 
of the kingdom. The altered situation had created new demands. 
Neither King Christian nor the Danish statesmen regarded the peace 
of Br0msebro as permanent; they would await the opportunity 
to regain what had been lost; but in a new conflict Norway might 
prove a source of weakness rather than of strength from a military 
point of view, if the old system was continued. Sehested would 

^ Yngvar Nielsen, Om Indre og Scerna, Historisk Tidsskrift, vol. III., 
p. 195 fif. L. Holberg, Danmarks Riges Historie, III., p. 48 ff., p. 229. Sam- 
Unger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. V., p. 478 ; vol. VI., p. 470. 
Yngvar Nielsen, De nordenfjeldske Begivenheder 1657-1660, p. 47 fif. 

* Norske Magasin, II., 211. Historisk Tidsskrift, vol. I., p. 28. Oscar Alb. 
Johnsen, Hannibal Sehesteds Statholderskab, p. 74 ff. 


institute a new policy. Norway was to be made a power with suffi- 
cient military and administrative autonomy to act of her own ac- 
cord ; the kingdom was not to be a weak dependency which had to 
be defended, but an active partner in the union. He had discovered 
Norway's strength in the war with Sweden, and saw that by a wise 
policy of administration the strength might be rapidly increased. 
He won the old king for his plan, and received such a plenitude of 
powers that he became virtually acting king of Norway. During 
the war the king had given him the supervision and highest authority 
over the Norwegian army, a power which was not curtailed even 
after the peace was concluded, and he soon succeeded in obtaining 
control also of the finances of the kingdom. He could use the money 
in the Norwegian treasury at his own discretion ; he was authorized 
to levy taxes in order to improve the defenses of the kingdom, and 
to borrow money in the name of the king and the realm. The reve- 
nues, which, to a great extent, had been sent to Denmark, were now 
largely used in the kingdom, and Sehested finally convinced the king 
of the wisdom of using all the Norwegian revenues at home. On 
July 2, 1647, King Christian issued an order that all the taxes should 
be used in Norway for the support of the militia and for the payment 
of the debt. Sehested sought the active cooperation of the Norwe- 
gian Estates, as he needed their aid to carry through his reforms as 
well as the information which they could give him as to conditions 
in various parts of the country, and he summoned them often to 
give advice in nearly all matters touching the administration of the 
kingdom.^ "At this point," says Professor Johnsen, "he appears 
as a third power in the government beside the king and the Council. 
He is more than statholder, more than viceroy, he is the representa- 
tive of a definite political policy, the representative of the interests 
of a whole kingdom in direct opposition to the one power, the Council, 
and in alliance with the other, the king ; but, in fact, the one in the 
alliance who takes the initiative, who is both the propelling and the 
guiding force." ^ In October, 1645, Sehested submitted a plan for 
a permanent military organization to the assembled Estates, and 

^ Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Et Aktstykke fra StcBnderforhandlingen i Christiania 
1646. Hiatorisk Tidsskrift, fjerde raekke, vol. IV., p. 81 ff. 

* Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Hannibal Sehesteds Statholderskab, p. 91. 


the result of the dehberation was that the German cavalry which 
had served in the war should be kept. This cavalry was, however, 
dismissed by royal order in 1647. The regiments should be kept 
up and strengthened, and able officers should be employed. Accord- 
ing to Sehested's proposition, sanctioned by the king, the regiments 
of Bohus, Akershus, and Trondhjem were to be maintained, and 
these were increased respectively to 2000, 3000, and 3000 men. The 
fortresses were to be repaired, and the garrisons strengthened, and 
as they were far apart, forts were also to be erected at other places. 
Sehested sought also to create a separate Norwegian fleet of thirty 
vessels, but failed to carry out the plan, as it received no general 

The Danish nobility, and the Council led by Korfits Ulfeld, another 
son-in-law of King Christian, were bitterly opposed to the policy 
pursued by Sehested and the king in regard to Norway. They 
scouted the idea that Norway should have a separate army and navy, 
that the finances of the kingdom should be administered for Nor- 
way's own benefit, and that no contributions were to be sent to the 
Danish treasury. This policy, they believed, would lead to Norway's 
complete independence. The king was now old and weak, and when 
he lost his oldest son. Prince Christian, who had been elected succes- 
sor to the throne by the assembled Danish Estates, the Council 
gained full control. The reform policy in Norway was abandoned, 
the expenditures for the Norwegian army were reduced, the Danish 
chancellor was given control of the Norwegian finances, and the 
lensherrer were instructed to send their contributions directly to 
Denmark. On the charge of malfeasance in office, to which he pleaded 
guilty, Sehested was dismissed, and lost all his possessions. But, 
though he was overthrown, his reform plans in Norway were 
destined to be revived. He had given the kingdom an army; 
he had organized a centralized administration separate from that of 
Denmark, and had placed autonomy as the goal towards which Nor- 
way should be striving. Such a lesson in self-government could 
not be wholly forgotten, and the Norwegian army remained as a 
result of what had been done, as a new repository of national strength 
to be used in future struggles. 


28. Frederick III 

King Christian IV. died at Rosenborg palace in Copenhagen, 
February 28, 1648, and as the elected successor to the throne, Prince 
Christian, had passed away in 1647, a new king had to be chosen. 
Prince Frederick, the king's next oldest son, born in 1609, seemed 
to be the logical candidate. He was statholder of the duchies of 
Schleswig-Holstein, to which he was the sole heir. During his broth- 
er's lingering illness both he and his ambitious wife, Sophia Amalie 
of Braunschweig-Liineburg, had made it their aim to obtain the 
throne, if a vacancy should occur, and the prince styled himself in 
all public documents "Heir to the throne of Norway," But the 
nobles opposed him, because of his pronounced autocratic ideas. 
There could be no doubt that if placed on the throne, he would at- 
tempt to strengthen the royal power to the greatest extent possible, 
but as he was the king's only legitimate son, his election could not 
be prevented. On the 18th of April, 1648, he was chosen king of 
the united realms, and on August 24 he received the homage of the 
Norwegian people in Christiania.^ 

According to usage, the king had to sign a charter by which the 
nobility safeguarded their privileges and powers.^ The attempt was 
made to introduce a stipulation with regard to Norway which would 
have revived the long-forgotten clause in the charter of Christian III., 
and would have once for all reduced that kingdom to a Danish prov- 
ince. The nobles proposed that Norway "shall forever remain 
an inseparable province under the crown of Denmark," and that 
the king "shall have no rights thereto either by inheritance or 
otherwise," but to this the king would not subscribe. The charter, 
as finally signed, created restrictions on the royal power which had 
never yet been imposed on a Danish king, but as a final compromise 
Norway was not mentioned. The charter became a purely Danish 
document. But while the Danish nobles would regard Norway as 

1 Andreas H0jer, Jus Publicum eller Statsforfatning og Rettigheder for 
Danmark, Norge og Fyrstend^mmerne, Christiania, 1783, p. 32 f. J. E. 
Sars, Udsigt over den norske Hislorie, vol. IV., p. 41. 

* Samlinger til del norake Folks Sprog og Hislorie, vol. I., p. 13 ff. Yngvar 
Nielsen, Frederik Ills Hylding i Christiania 1648, Historisk Tidsskrift, 
vol. I., p. 23 ff. 


a province of Denmark, the national spirit was again awakened 
among the Norwegians. Through the development of the Estates 
they had again received a national representation, after the Nor- 
wegian Council had disappeared.^ It is true that the Estates num- 
bered many Danish nobles and oflBcials, but it was, nevertheless, a 
representation which could speak in behalf of Norwegian interests. 
This they had done quite effectively when the question arose of 
using Norwegian revenues in the kingdom instead of paying them 
into the general treasury, and it is evident that the Danish govern- 
ment did not dare to disregard Norway's rights as a separate king- 
dom. When Frederick III. was to be hailed in Christiania, the 
Danish chancellor in a speech to the Norwegian Estates asked them 
to swear allegiance to the new king, but he did not mention with a 
word the clause which had been inserted in the " Code of Christian 
IV." that "whatsoever lord or prince the Danish Council, nobiHty, 
and Estates shall choose to be king of Denmark shall also be king 
of Norway." He offered an apology for the failure to summon the 
Norwegian Estates to take part in the election, but said that it was 
owing to the haste with which the election had to be made. The 
native-born Norwegian chancellor, Jens Bjelke, replied that the Nor- 
wegian Estates would take the oath of allegiance to King Frederick 
III. as heir to the throne of Norway, as no one had a better right to 
the throne than he.^ King Frederick's position in Norway was not 
made clear, but the Norwegians had feariessly maintained that 

^ Yngvar Nielsen, Norges Historie, vol. IV., 2, p. 269. J. E. Sars, 
Udsigt over den norske Historie, vol. IV., p. 41 ff. F. Hammerich, Fire 
kj^benhavnske Rigsdage, Nyt historisk Tidsskrift, vol. V., p. 396 f. 

* Yngvar Nielsen, Frederik Ills Hyldingi Christiania 1648, p. 40 f., Histo- 
risk Tidsskrijt, f0rste rsekke, vol. I., p. 23 ff. T. H. Aschehoug, Statsfor- 
fatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 1814, P- 361 f. Yngvar Nielsen, Jens 
Bjelke til 0straat, p. 365. Professor Alb. Johnsen shows that the use by 
various Danish kings of the title "Heir to the throne of Norway" gave them 
no hereditary right to the throne. He says concerning hereditary kingship 
in Norway: "The people clung to the hereditary kingship so long as it 
served their interests and the country's welfare, but they abandoned it and 
opposed the hereditary kingship and the hereditary principle when in the 
union period these were becoming a danger to the country and the nation; 
finally they again recognized the king's hereditary rights when, under altered 
conditions, the hereditary principle could promote the honor of the country 
and the people's happiness. When in 1814 the Norwegians refused to recog* 


their kingdom was an hereditary monarchy, a position in which they 
were supported by the king and the statholder, Hannibal Sehested. 
The Danish nobihty were clearly put on the defensive to maintain 
the old elective system with which their power was so closely identi* 
fied. The rent thus made in the antiquated Danish pohcy was 
still to increase until the system itself was overthrown. 

King Frederick III. was very unHke his father. He was quiet 
and given to reflection. He spoke little and wrote still less. He 
was much interested in literature, art, and science, and especially 
in alchemy, to which he devoted special attention.^ He loved power, 
and felt confident that his future success was preordained by des- 
tiny. He possessed a high degree of self-control; he was a keen 
observer, and kept impressions well in mind; but his anger was 
often of the vindictive kind which might prove dangerous to those 
against w^hom it chanced to be directed. When he ascended the 
throne, King Christian's sons-in-law had formed a political party, 
and had gained full control of the government. The leader of the 
party was Korfits Ulfeld, who was married to Christian's daughter 
Leonora Christina. Much more gifted and scarcely less influential 
was Hannibal Sehested, statholder of Norway. Korfits Ulfeld rose 
to the highest position in the realm through royal favor, but he pos- 
sessed also the royal favorite's pride and arrogance, and became 
generally hated by the nobility. Sehested's overthrow has already 

nize Christian Frederick's hereditary right, and when in 1905 they refused 
to retain an hereditary king who had become unable to perform his duties 
as ruling sovereign, they acted in reality in perfect harmony with the policy 
of their forefathers." Historisk Tidsskrift, femte rsekke, vol. II., p. 190 £E. 
Om del norske Folks Opfatning av Tronf^lgen f^r 1 660. G. L. Baden, Oprin- 
delsen til de Schleswig-Holstenske Hertugers Titel: Arving til Norge, AJhand- 
linger, vol. II., p. 61. 

1 King Frederick III. wasted large sums of money on the Italian alchemist 
Burrhi, who instructed him in alchemy. He gave this teacher a laboratory 
in the palace gardens at Rosenborg. To what degree Burrhi enjoyed the 
king's favor can be seen from an order which he issued to General Ahlefeldt : 
" It is our most gracious will and command that you hereafter daily let 300 
men with their officers accompany Burrhi to work in our gardens at Rosen- 
borg and elsewhere where he may need it for our service, and that to this end 
you gradually change the people as you deem it necessary." P. Brock, Den 
Oldenborgske Kongeslegt, isaer under Enevoelden, belyst ved den chronologiake 
Samling paa Rosenborg Slot, p. 55. 


been mentioned, but he humbled himself before the king, admitted 
his faults, received pardon, and was destined to rise again to the 
highest influence and power. Ulfeld, who was stiff-necked, pursued 
another course, and fell to rise no more. 

The relations between Korfits Ulfeld and Frederick III. were 
strained from the outset. The king well knew that Ulfeld was re- 
sponsible for the restrictions placed upon the royal power by the 
charter, and the proud magnate could not gracefully submit to the 
authority exercised by the new king. The ambitious Queen Sophia 
AmaUe also looked with jealous disfavor on the gifted and beautiful 
Leonora Christina, whom she regarded as a rival. Ulfeld secretly 
left Denmark, and went to Sweden, where he was well received by 
Queen Christina. King Frederick instituted an investigation into 
the way in which he had conducted his high office as steward of the 
kingdom, and Ulfeld, who refused to return to answer to the charges 
before the Danish Council, became more and more an open enemy of 
his king and his country. His foul treason and the long imprison- 
ment of his innocent wife cast a dark shadow upon the reign of Fred- 
erick III,^ The overthrow of such powerful magnates as Ulfeld 
and Sehested could not but weaken the Danish nobility, and render 
them less able to resist the king, who aimed to curtail their power, 
if not to destroy it. In 1650 his eldest son, Prince Christian, was 
elected successor to the throne, but the election was made only in 
behalf of Denmark, and when the royal successor was to be hailed 
in Christiania, 1656, the question again arose whether he was to be 
regarded as heir to the throne, or as elected crown prince. On this 
occasion a treatise entitled "Norges Rige Arve-Rige," written to 
prove that Norway had always been a hereditary monarchy, was 
submitted to the king. The author is thought to have been a Dane, 
Jens Dolmer,^ who had been the tutor of King Christian's ille- 
gitimate son Ulrik Christian Gyldenl0ve, and who at the time of the 

* Lenore Christine Ulfeldt, Jammers-minde, published by S. Birket 
Smith. Copenhagen. Lenore Christine Grevinde Ulfeldt's Levned, Copen- 
hagen, 1870. 

^ Gustav Storm, Om Forfatteren til del statsretslige Skrift fra 1656 "Norges 
Uige Arve-Rige." Historisk Tidaskrift, anden rsBkke, vol. IV., p. X14 ff. 
Dolmer also translated the Hirskrd, Hird-Skraa udi det gamle Norske 
Sprog retteligen oversat paa Danske, Copenhagen, 1666. 


festivities was granted a yearly pension from the royal purse. Pro- 
fessor Gustav Storm says : " When the document was submitted to 
the king at a Norwegian council by a man who was personally so 
well acquainted with him, and who a few days later received a pen- 
sion from the royal treasury, it is evident that the author has written 
it at the instigation of the king, and expresses the views of the king 
and his surroundings. The treatise is, therefore, a link in the chain 
of utterances by the king regarding the hereditary kingship in Nor- 
way, and reveals the plans which were maturing at the court." 
That King Frederick should welcome such a plan to increase his 
power is quite natural, but he was -less favorably disposed to a petition 
submitted by the Norwegian merchant class, or third estate, aiming 
at securing new improvements and privileges for Norway. The 
petitioners prayed that Norwegian officers might be employed in 
the army instead of foreigners; that Norway might get a chamber 
of commerce, a superior court, and a university.^ These were all 
timely and useful improvements, but no attention was paid to the 
petition, though it was renewed the following year. Even though 
hereditary kingship and absolute power were established, Norway 
might derive but slight benefit from the change. 

After the death of Gustavus Adolphus his gifted but eccentric 
daughter Christina succeeded to the throne of Sweden, after a regency 
had conducted the government during her minority. She became 
of age in 1644, and ruled till 1654, when she abdicated, and her cousin, 
Charles Gustavus, became king of Sweden as Charles X. King 
Frederick III. had been longing for an opportunity to regain the 
provinces lost in the late war with Sweden, and when Charles X., 
shortly after his accession to the throne, became involved in a war 
with Poland, he thought the time had come for the inevitable con- 
test with the rival power. Without much preparation, and without 
weighing carefully the possible outcome, the king signed the declara- 
tion of war, July 1, 1657. " Seldom has a war been.declared more from 
pure motive of revenge, and the feelings associated with it," says 
Professor Yngvar Nielsen.' In his work, " Adelsvaeldens sidste Dage," 

' Becker, Samlinger til Danmarks Historie under Fredrik III., vol. I., p. 
118. Quoted by Sars, Udsigl over den norske Historie, vol. IV., p. 43. 
• Yngvar Nielsen, Norgea Hiatorie, vol. IV., 2, p. 284. 


J. A. Fridericia says : " Weak and poor was the Idngdom (Denmark) 
when the war began, dismembered and ruined when it ended. No 
single man can be made responsible for its weakness and poverty, 
the reasons for which lie deep in the people's history, in exterior mis- 
fortunes, in unfortunate errors made by kings and statesmen, in 
the absence of a powerful merchant class ; but especially in the arro- 
gance, demoralization, and worthlessness of the nobility. Perhaps 
this weakness and poverty would sooner or later have led to the 
same dismemberment and devastation which the kingdom now 
suffered, but for the misfortunes as they happened in these years, 
that prince whose will was the war of 1657 cannot be wholly free 
from blame." ^ The Norwegian army was able to render able service 
during the war. Attacks were made against Sweden both from 
Tr0ndelagen and from Bohuslen. Peder Vibe was commandant 
of Trondhjem, but the expedition against Sweden in this quarter 
was to be led by J0rgen Bjelke, probably the ablest officer in the 
Norwegian army at that moment. His forces numbered 2000 men, 
who had been recruited chiefly in Tr0ndelagen. With this force 
he invaded Jsemtland and Herjedalen, drove out the Swedish garri- 
sons, and placed the two provinces once more under Norwegian ad- 
ministration. In the northern districts, Preben von Ahnen, com- 
mandant of Bod0gaard, raised a small force, and attacked and 
destroyed the Swedish silver mines at Nasafjall and Silbojocki. 
The expedition from Bohuslen was led by Iver Krabbe, commandant 
of Bohus. He was successful in a battle at Hjertrum, but failed to 
effect a junction with the Danish army, which had crossed the border 
further south. 

While Sweden was attacked by the Norwegians in Jsemtland and 
Bohuslen, and by a Danish force operating from Sk§.ne, the prin- 
cipal Danish army was assembled in Holstein to march against 
Sweden's German possessions. But King Charies X. Gustavus was, 
above all, a warrior. He was a great tactician and a resolute and 
energetic general, who was always ready for new military exploits. 

^ J. A. Fridericia, Adelsvoeldens sidste Dage, p. 260. Yngvar Nielsen, 
Kampen om Trondhjem, Festskrift, Trondhjems 900-aars Jubilceum, 1897. 
Yn^ar Nielsen, De nordenfjeldake Begivenheder 1657-1660, Cbristiania, 


When the declaration of war reached him in Thorn in Prussia, he 
put his army in motion, and advanced by forced marches to the 
borders of Holstein. The Danish commander, Anders Bille, had 
kept his forces scattered, and the unexpected encounter with the 
Swedish main army under King Charles's own command created 
such consternation and disorder that no effective resistance could 
be made. Charles Gustavus did not stop to take the scattered for- 
tresses throughout Holstein, but hastened forward, crossed the 
border of Schleswig, August 23, and pitched his headquarters at 
Kolding, as it was found necessary to lay siege to the important 
fortress of Fredriksodde.^ 

The Danish army operating in Sk§,ne under Aksel Urup met with 
no success. Urup was defeated in the battle of Genevad Bro, and 
although he succeeded in defeating the Swedes under Gustav Sten- 
bock at Kattorp, the advantage gained was of httle value, as he 
failed to make a junction with the Norwegian forces in Bohuslen. 
At sea Denmark was more successful, though no signal victories 
were won. After the undecisive naval battles, September 12-14, 
the Swedish fleet withdrew to the harbor of Wismar, where the Danish 
admiral, Henrik Bjelke, succeeded in keeping it shut up for the rest 
of the war. 

Denmark had already been placed in a most diflBcult situation, 
but new hope was created by an alliance with Poland. Austria also 
attacked the Swedish forces stationed in that kingdom, and Branden- 
burg joined the enemies of Sweden. King Charles succeeded in form- 
ing an alliance with the Duke of Gottorp, but the situation was, never- 
theless, so complicated that he consented to attempt peace negotia- 
tions. Councilor Sten Bjelke, and the traitor Korfits Ulfeld, who 
was now in the service of Sweden, were empowered to treat with 
Denmark, but it could scarcely be expected that the Danish govern- 
ment would treat with the traitorous Ulfeld, and the attempt was 
abandoned. Denmark received no aid worth mentioning from her 
allies. On October 24 the fortress of Fredriksodde was taken by 
storm ; 1000 Danish officers and soldiers fell, and over 4000 were 
made prisoners, a defeat so crushing that it filled the people with 

* Fredrik Ferdinand Carlson, Sveriges Historia under Konungarne af 
pfahiska Huset, part I., p. 270 fif. 


despair, and aroused their anger against the nobles, who were accused 
of incompetence and treason to the country. After the fall of 
Fredriksodde King Charles crossed the Little Belt on the ice to 
Fyen, defeated and captured the Danish army of 4000-5000 men 
at Tybring Vig, and seized the island. He did not tarry, but rode 
across the Great Belt with 2000 horsemen to Langeland, which sur- 
rendered without resistance. On the 8th of February he entered 
Falster, and on the 11th he stood in Seeland, where Gustav Wrangel 
joined him with the rest of the Swedish army. There was now noth- 
ing left for Denmark to do but to conclude peace, no matter how 
humiliating the terms. Peace negotiations were begun, and after 
a preUminary protocol had been agreed upon, the treaty was finally 
signed at Roskilde, February 26, 1658. Denmark had to cede Skane, 
Halland, Blekinge, and Bornholm; Jsemtland and Herjedalen had 
to be evacuated, and Bohuslen and Trondhjems len in Norway 
were given to Sweden. King Frederick III. was, furthermore, to 
give King Charles 2000 horsemen; he had to agree to abrogate all 
hostile alliances against Sweden, and to seek to prevent any foreign 
fleet, hostile to either of the two realms, from passing through the 
Sound.^ For the second time Norway had become the victim of a 
Danish foreign policy aiming solely at the maintenance of the power 
and glory of Denmark. Norway's interest had never been consid- 
ered, and the peace of Roskilde not only alienated great portions of 
Norwegian territory, but almost destroyed the kingdom by dividing 
what remained into two dissevered halves. But in those days war 
was still a royal sport, and Frederick III. did not appear to be very 
downcast by the overwhelming misfortunes which he had brought 
upon his realm. He invited King Charles to visit him at Fredriks- 
borg palace, where a great festival was arranged in his honor. For 
several days the two monarchs feasted, drank, chatted, and made 
merry; and when Charles departed from Denmark, the batteries 
of the Kronborg gave royal salute in honor of the victor. 

^ FVedrik Ferdinand Carlson, Sveriges Historia under Konungarne og 
pfalziska Huset, part 2, p. 324 ff. J. A. Friderioia, Adelsvceldens sidste Dage, 
p. 311 ff. Yngvar Nielsen, Kampen om Trondhjem 1657-1660; Freden i 
Roskilde. C. F. Allen, Haandbog i Fcedrelandets Historie, p. 408 f. Dan- 
marks Riges Historie, vol. IV., p. 394 £E. Sveriges^Historie, vol. III. Norges 
HistoHe, vol. IV., 2, p. 283 fE. 


Both kings were, however, dissatisfied with the terms of the treaty 
of Roskilde. King Frederick III., because he had lost so much terri- 
tory, and Charles Gustavus, because he did not take more when he 
had the opportunity. With regard to Trondhjems len the treaty 
was very vague, and King Charles claimed that the district of Romsdal 
as well as Nordland and Finmarken were included in the cession. 
Romsdal was recognized to be a part of Trondhjems len, but King 
Charles still planned to renew the war. In July, 1658, he decided 
in a meeting with his Council at Gottorp to attack Denmark, and Gus- 
tav Wrangel was instructed to begin operations against Copenhagen.^ 
The city was invested, and a siege begun. Kronborg was surrendered 
to General Wrangel without much resistance, but animated by the 
desperate situation, the Danes concentrated their forces within their 
capital, which they were resolved to defend to the last extremity. 
The unprovoked attack, and the fear that Sweden would gain abso- 
lute control in the North, soon moved other powers to intervene 
in behalf of Denmark. Holland sent a fleet of forty vessels and 
twenty-eight transports with a force of 2200 men under Jakob van 
Wassenaer Opdam to Danish waters. This fleet passed through 
the Sound in spite of the fire from the fortresses of Kronborg and 
Helsingborg, defeated the Swedish fleet, joined the Danish squadron, 
and sent the transports with provisions and reenforcements to Copen- 
hagen. Brandenburg and Poland also commenced war against 
Sweden, and sent an army into Holstein, which forced the Duke of 
Gottorp, King Charles's ally, to remain neutral. 

King Charles Gustavus had planned this time to take possession 
of all Norway, but the Norwegians were determined, not only to 
defend their country, but to recover the lost possessions. The people 
of Tr0ndelagen regretted bitterly that they had been forced under 
Sweden. The Swedish commissioner, Lorentz Creutz, who acted 
as governor of the province, was ordered by King Charles to raise 
a force of 3000 men for the Swedish army, but this was so violently 
opposed by the people that the order could be carried out only with 
the greatest diflBculty. Finally 2000 men were impressed to fight 

1 J. A. Pridericia, Adelsvcddens sidste Dage, p. 349 ff. Fredrik Ferdinand 
Carlson, Sveriges Historia under Konungarne af pfalziska Huset, part 1, p. 
354 ff. 


in Sweden's foreign wars. They were ordered to be sent to Livonia, 
and the king wrote to John Oxenstjerna to watch carefully so that 
the Norwegians did not desert. Many escaped, but about 1400 were 
transported to Livonia, few of whom ever saw their native land again. 
The Swedish king did nothing to win the favor of the Norwegians. 
His only thought had been to raise men and money in the conquered 
provinces. The taxes were increased, and the Tr0nders, who had 
hitherto been well disposed towards the Swedes, were now eager to 
aid in any undertaking which promised freedom from the foreign 
yoke.^ King Charles issued a manifesto to the Norwegian people, 
asking them to separate from Denmark and join Sweden, but such 
a thought did not exist in Norway at that moment. A new national 
feeling had been awakened ; the people would now fight for freedom 
from Swedish oppression, and J0rgen Bjelke, who had been placed 
at the head of the Norwegian army, undertook to recover Tr0nde- 
lagen. As soon as the war broke out. King Frederick III. sent word 
to Norway to statholder Nils Trolle and to J0rgen Bjelke that they 
should resist to the utmost. Communications with Denmark were 
soon destroyed, however, and Bjelke became the leader of the mili- 
tary operations. His father, the old chancellor, Jens Bjelke, en- 
couraged the people of Tr0ndelagen through private letters to break 
away from Sweden, "in which they also succeeded," says an old 
writer.^ A formal manifesto signed by the statholder, the chancel- 
lor, and J0rgen Bjelke, addressed to the Estates of the lost provinces, 
asking them to renew their allegiance to the old government, was 
also published. Bjelke would lead the campaign in southern Norway, 
and dispatched George von Reichwein to Tr0ndelagen. Reichwein's 
forces increased as he advanced, until they numbered about 2000 men, 
and another force from Bergen under Reinhold von Hoven was 
dispatched to Trondhjem by sea to cooperate with Reichwein. Nord- 
land also sent a detachment. The new Swedish governor, Claes 
Stjernskold, felt alarmed. Everywhere the people arose against 

^Yngvar Nielsen, Kampen om Trondhjem 1657-1660; Trondhjems Stad 
og Len under svensk Styrelse. 

* Yngvar Nielsen, Jens Bjelke til 0straat, p. 375 ff. ; Kampen om Trondhjem 
1667-1660. Om Trondhjems Tilbagetagelse af de Norske, Samlinger til det 
norske Folks Sprog og Historic, vol. VI., p. 195 ff. H. G. Heggtveit, Trondhjem 
i Fortid og Nutid, p. 187 ff. 

VOL. II — Q 


the Swedes, and the detachments which he sent out to reconnoiter 
met the advancing Norwegian troops, and were forced to fall back 
on Trondhjem. King Charles, who had not failed to understand 
the gravity of the situation in Tr0ndelagen, speedily sent a force 
of 500 men to reenforce Stjernskold. If this force had reached the 
city, the Swedish governor might have been able to successfully de- 
fend it, as he would then have had a garrison of about 1200 men. 
But Eilerik Visborg, who had been sent to Vserdalen with a part of 
the forces from Bergen, met and defeated the Swedish reenforcements,^ 
and the Norwegian forces, numbering about 4000 men, laid siege 
to Trondhjem. The garrison of the city numbered about 750 men, 
but as many of these were Norwegians, desertions occurred almost 
daily. The supply of provisions and war material in the city was 
small, and after a siege lasting from October 3rd till December 11th 
Stjernskold capitulated, and Trondhjems len again became Norwe- 
gian territory. 

J0rgen Bjelke was personally leading the defense of the southern 
districts, where he had raised an army of about 4000 men. Sep- 
tember 13, 1658, the Swedish general, Harald Stake, crossed the 
Swedish border with a force of about 1500 men, and marched upon 
Halden (Fredrikshald), which was defended by 900 men, of whom the 
greater part were volunteers. This force, led by Peder Nordmand 
and Mathias Bj0rn, took up a position in the hills east of the town, 
where they resolutely attacked the Swedes when they arrived. 
After a battle lasting from eight o'clock in the morning till three 
o'clock in the afternoon, the Swedish general was forced to retreat, 
and he led his army back to Sweden. A second attack was com- 
menced in February ; this time by an army of 4000 men, also com- 
manded by Stake. The town was defended by a force of 1800 men 
under J0rgen Bjelke and T0nne Huitfeldt, who defeated the Swedish 
general, and forced him to retreat to Bohuslen. After the attack 
had been repulsed, Huitfeldt began to construct more efficient forti- 
fications around Halden, and Bjelke advanced into Bohuslen in 
the fall of 1659, and attempted to wrest that province from the Swedes. 
But a Swedish army of 4500 men under Marshal Kagg was advancing 

^ Yngvar Nielsen, Eilerik Visborgs Kamp med de Svenske 1668, Historiak 
Tidsskrijl, f0rste raekke, vol. IV., p. 286 £f. 


to renew the attack on the small Norwegian fortress, and Bjelke 
had to return. He increased the garrison of the place to 2100 men, 
and placed Huitfeldt in command.^ In January, 1660, the Swedes 
attempted to take the fortress by storm, but the attack was success- 
fully repulsed. In the meantime Bjelke had raised an army of 
3800 men, with which he had hoped to reenforce the garrison of 
Halden. The army was attacked by Kagg at Hundebunden, and a 
stubborn battle was fought, in which the Norwegians were victori- 
ous. A second assault on the fortress on February 13th was like- 
wise repulsed, and a third attack on the 20th was also unsuccessful. 
On February 22d the siege was raised, and Kagg led his forces 
back to Sweden, where he received the news that the warrior king, 
Charles X. Gustavus, had died in Gottenborg, February 13, 1660. 

The defense of Halden and the capture of Trondhjem were events 
of the utmost importance to Norway, Even from a military point 
of view they were great achievements which awakened the people's 
self-confidence and national pride. Hitherto the Danes had looked 
upon Norway as wholly incompetent in mihtary affairs, but the late 
events had awakened such admiration of the bravery of the Norwe- 
gians that when Frederick IV. visited Norway about forty years 
later, he caused a coin to be struck, bearing the superscription : 
" Courage, loyalty, bravery, and all that gives honor, the whole world 
among the rocks of Norway can learn." This was, undoubtedly, 
done by the king to flatter the Norwegians, but they had shown in 
these wars with Sweden that they could defend their country, and 
that they could bring victory home from the fields of battle, even 
in struggles with experienced generals and the best troops of Europe- 
The disasters which had befallen Norway in the wars between Sweden 
and Denmark, and the struggles through which the people had to 
pass to throw off the Swedish yoke, and to defend their country, 
were instrumental in finally rousing them from their national lethargy. 
They had now regained the most important part of the lost terri- 
tory, and had become animated with a new self-consciousness. The 
Norwegian borders had been permanently fixed, and a national 
aspiration, born of the people's firm resolve to lead their own free 

1 H. J. Huitfeldt-Kaas, T^inne Huitfeldt til Throndstad, Historisk Tidsskrift, 
tredie rsekke, vol. II., p. 156 fE. 


existence, had become deeply rooted in all hearts. An efficient anny 
had been developed, and able and patriotic leaders had appeared. 
These distinct gains were doubly important since they would con- 
stitute the basis for a new national development. 

The war was still continued, but the end was, nevertheless, in 
sight. Copenhagen resisted bravely, and when the Swedes attempted 
to take the city by storm they were repulsed with heavy losses. As 
England and France as well as Holland were interested in preserv- 
ing Denmark's independence, Sweden's plan of subduing the whole 
kingdom was becoming ever more hopeless. Holland's great ad- 
miral, Michael de Ruyter, was dispatched to Danish waters with a 
large fleet, and when the Swedish army in Fyen was defeated and cap- 
tured, the three western powers, Holland, France, and England, finally 
came to an understanding as to the terms of peace to be offered the 
belligerents. Norway should retain Trondhjems len with Romsdal ; 
Sweden should keep Sk&ne, Halland, and Blekinge, together with 
Bohuslen; and Bornholm, where the Swedes had been driven out, 
should be returned to Denmark. These terms were at length agreed 
to, and the treaty of peace was signed at Copenhagen, May 26, 1660. 

29. Hereditary Kingship. The Introduction of Absolutism 

The peace of Copenhagen was hailed with joy, but the people both 
in Denmark and Norway had been brought to the brink of ruin, and 
suffering was intense in both kingdoms. An Assembly of Estates 
met in Copenhagen, September 10, 1660, to consider the difficult 
problems confronting the Danish people. The aristocracy still 
insisted on retaining the privilege of freedom from taxation, though 
the feeling against them had become very bitter ; but the clergy and 
the third estate united and demanded equal privileges. When the 
nobles were finally forced to yield, the opposition had become strong 
enough to control the situation.^ Under the leadership of Mayor 
Hans Nansen of Copenhagen and Hans Svane, Bishop of Seeland, 
they resolved to overthrow the rule of the aristocracy by means of 
a coup d'Hat. The city gates were closed, the harbor was blockaded, 
and the garrison was held in readiness ; if the nobles should refuse 

*T. H. Asohehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtil 18H, 
p. 464 ff. 


to submit, force would be used. Their resistance was soon broken, 
and on October 13th they signed a declaration that they would join 
the other estates in acknowledging the hereditary principle. The 
charter was returned to the king as a token that the restrictions on 
his royal power therein expressed were annulled,^ and on October 18, 
1660, Frederick III. was formally hailed as hereditary king of Den- 
mark. The right to the throne was vested in his family, both in 
the male and female hue. Under the date of January 10, 1661, a 
document was drawn up entitled " Instrument eller pragmatiskSank- 
tion om Kongens Arveret til Danmarks og Norges Rige," which made 
the king not only heir to the throne, but granted him all royal prerog- 
atives and sovereign privileges as absolute hereditary king. This 
document was circulated in the kingdom to be signed by nobles, 
bishops, chapters, priests, and cities, in order that formal sanction 
might be given to the introduction of absolutism in Denmark. 

In accordance with the power which had been granted him by 
the assembled Estates, the king undertook to prepare the new consti- 
tution, the "Kongelov" {lex regia), which should outline in detail 
the various powers which he was to exercise. This document bears 
the date of November 14, 1665. The author of the law was Peder 
Schumacher (Griff enf eld). ^ The document, which was long kept 
secret, was finally published, and remained the constitution of Den- 
mark and Norway till 1814. According to this document, the king 
had the right to change, make, and annul laws, to appoint all higher 
oflScials, to disregard all established customs, to declare war and make 
peace, to levy taxes and coin money. He is declared to be subject 
to God alone, and to be above all laws, except the fundamental laws 
of the realm. The second article states : "The king has the highest 
and most unlimited power, for he is the supreme head here on earth, 

^ The charters subscribed to by the Danish kings had long since ceased 
to be a guarantee for the people's liberty. Like the -pacta conventa of the 
kings of Poland, they had become documents by which the nobles gradually 
destroyed the royal power, and perfected and increased their own privileges. 
Molesworth, An Account of Denmark as It Was in the Year 1692, p. 44 ff. 

* A. D. J0rgensen, Peder Schumacher Griffenjeld, vol. I., p. 195 ff. Chr. 
Bruun, Enevceldens Indf^relse i Danmark, og Kongelovens Tilblivelse, p. 114. 
J. A. Fridericia, Kongeloven og dens Forhistorie, Dansk historisk Tidsskrift, 
femte raekke, vol. VI. O. A. Pverland, Norges Historic, vol. VII., p. 107 ff., 
contains thirty of the forty articles of the Kongetov. 


elevated above all human laws, and he recognizes no other judge, 
either in secular or spiritual matters, than God Almighty." The 
seventeenth article states further that " he can take no oath, or make 
any declaration of any kind whatsoever, either orally or written, as 
he, being a free and unrestrained absolute monarch, cannot be bound 
by his subjects through any oath or obligation," ^ The Emperor of 
ancient China could possess no more unlimited autocratic power. 

In introducing absolutism and the principle of hereditary kingship 
in Denmark, nothing had been said about Norway, but the king 
claimed that he was already heir to the throne of that kingdom. The 
Norwegian Estates were summoned to meet in Christiania in order 
to hail him as hereditary king, May 27, 1661, but as he could not be 
present, he sent the crown prince, Christian, together with Hannibal 
Sehested ^ and five commissioners to act as his representatives. A 
draft of a new fundamental law for the kingdom of Norway introduc- 
ing absolutism was submitted, and the Estates signed the same, 
August 7, 1661. This was a counterpart to the Danish act, and 
granted the king the same absolute power as he had received in Den- 
mark. The Norwegians had reason to be satisfied with the change. 
Hereditary kingship had been established, and Norway was freed 
from the rule of the Danish nobility, which had treated the kingdom 
as a province to be administered by the Danish Council for their 
benefit. Norway now had the same constitution as Denmark, and 
was, henceforth, regarded as equal in rank with the sister kingdom, 
as the basis for Danish supremacy, the usurped power of the Danish 
Council to choose a king for both realms, had been removed.^ The 
two realms were usually called the "Twin Kingdoms," and the citi- 

^ Andreas H0jer, Jus Publicum eller Statsforfatning og Rettigheder for 
Danmark, Norge og Fyrstend^mmerne forklaret ved private Forelaesninger, 
Christiania, 1783. O. A. 0verland says of the Kongelov that it had no proto- 
type in any European constitution. It was based chiefly on the ideas of 
Thomas Hobbes, expressed in his works De Give and Leviathan. 

' T. H. Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Danmark og Norge indtil 181^, p. 
464 ff. Hannibal Sehested had again won the favor of the king, who had 
appointed him royal treasurer. J. A. Friderioia, Adelsvaldens sidste Dage, 
p. 164, 478 fE. 

* E. Holm, Danmark-Norgea indre Historic under Enevcelden fra 1660 
til 1720, vol. I., p. 71 flF. T, H. Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og 
Danmark irtdtU 1814, p. 579. L. M. B. Aubert, Norges folkeretslige Stilling, 


zens of one realm might hold any oflSce in the other. Under the 
rule of an absolute monarch the Norwegians could hope that their 
affairs would be more fairly and impartially dealt with than under 
the old regime. This they found was also done to some extent, and 
it would possibly have been done to a much higher degree if the abso- 
lute kings of the House of Oldenburg had been gifted men and able 
rulers. But their incompetence and lack of ability often rendered 
them unable to exercise a power in any manner answering to the 
fullness of their authority. Professor Sars says of them : " The 
most gifted^of them did not rise above mediocrity ; those among them 
who devoted themselves most diligently to administrative duties 
became absorbed in official routine and trifles, and never developed 
to become what may be termed independent and capable rulers, 
howsoever low a standard we may establish. A couple of them were 
wholly unfit to govern, and their rule was purely a nominal one. 
Among those who formed the immediate surroundings of these kings 

— their favorites, councilors, and ministers in a more special sense 

— only two attempted to assume in the name of the king the power 
which according to the constitution belonged to him, namely Grif- 
fenfeld and Struensee, and both were overthrown after a short rule." 
" The place which through the constitution was given the king re- 
mained in many ways vacant throughout the period here mentioned. 
Contrary to what might have been expected, judging from the prin- 
ciples expressed in the new constitution (Kongeloven) , the govern- 
ment became of a very staid and impersonal character. According 
to the letter of the constitution, the government should have been 
distinctly monarchical, but in reality it became distinctly bureau- 
cratic. Its center was not formed by the kings personally, nor by 
their Council (Geheimeraad, Privy Council), or their ministers in 
a more limited sense, but by the Colleges, placed at the head of the 
administrative departments. The Danish-Norwegian government 
in the period 1660-1814 was, with the exception of a few interrup- 
tions, essentially a government by the Colleges with all the faults 
and advantages which usually characterize such a rule." ^ 

^ J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historie, vol. IV., p. 49 f . J. A. Fride- 
ricia, Adelsvceldens sidste Dage, p. 489 ff. Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Norges His- 
torie, vol. v., 1, p. 3 ff. 


Shortly after the hereditary kingship had been estabhshed, King 
Frederick III. created five Administrative Colleges (or committees) 
by the ordinance of November 4, 1660, among which the various 
administrative duties were divided.^ The Geheimeconseil (Privy 
Council) was also created, consisting of the five presidents of the 
Administrative Colleges. The Council convened daily in the pres- 
ence of the king, and exercised, quite naturally, a great influence 
upon his decisions. In his "cabinet" the king kept protocols and 
private secretaries for receiving petitions and communications. These 
matters would either be passed upon by the king personally, or he 
would turn them over to the Administrative Colleges.^ 

A new judicial tribunal, the H^iesteret, was also created. This was 
a court of final jurisdiction for Norway, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland, 
as well as for Denmark. It represents a very marked improvement 
over the old method, according to which the councils of magnates 
acted as a higher court. But it was an essential drawback that the 
new court was a purely Danish institution, which always convened 
in Denmark, where Norwegian cases could not be properly investi- 
gated. But the king, who exercised as absolute power in judicial 
matters as in other affairs, was superior even to this court, and could 
act as supreme judge. 

The oflice of Statholder of Norway was retained with about the 
same powers and duties as before. The statholder was to exercise 
supervision over all subordinate oflicials, and he should so encourage 
the economic development of the country that the royal revenues 
might increase. He had to watch the relations with Sweden, keep 
army, fortresses, and magazines supplied with the necessary stores 
and equipments, and guard against the violation of treaties with 
foreign nations touching Norway's commerce; but he retained no 
power over the revenues of the kingdom, as in the days of Hannibal 

As a result of the introduction of absolutism, the nobles lost their 
exclusive right to the lens, and these might now be granted to any 

* The five departments were : admiralty, war, treasury, commerce, and 
state, or foreign affairs. 

' T. H. Aschehoug, Statsforfatningen i Norge og Danmark indtU 1814, 
p. 582 ff. 


one whom.the king might see fit to appoint. In 1662 Frederick III. 
abolished the name len, which still reminded him of the time when 
the king's power was limited, and substituted the German name 
ami. As the name indicates, the amts became mere administrative 
districts, and over these he placed oflBcers called amtmoend, who were 
not always of noble family. They received a fixed salary, and had 
to render strict account of income and expenditures. Under Fred- 
erick's son and successor. Christian V., Norway was divided into 
four stiftsamter : Akershus, Christiansand, Bergenhus, and Trond- 
hjem, each of which consisted of one principal ami and two of subor- 
dinate rank, except in the case of Bergenhus, which had three sub- 
ordinate amts. The power of the amtmoend was much more limited 
than that of the lensherrer, who had exercised both civil and mili- 
tary authority within their len. The amtmcBnd were only civil 
oflScials, and their power was much curtailed, as they could not ap- 
point subordinate officials, such as fogeds, mayors, and councilmen, 
who were all appointed by the king. Their office was, nevertheless, 
one of great dignity and power, as they were the king's deputies 
and personal representatives in the local administration. The 
enforcement of the laws, the management of public property, and 
the supervision of the work of subordinate officials were some of 
the more important executive duties delegated to them. But they 
should also act as the guardians of the common people in protecting 
them from oppression and injustice. They were to be watchful 
in preventing fogeds from collecting excessive taxes, and merchants 
from cheating the binder, and they were given special instruction 
to see to it that the renters were not unjustly treated by their land- 
lords.^ The stiftsamtmcend were superior to the others in rank, and 
acted as superintendents over the amtmcBud, fogeds, and skrivere 
(judges) within their stiftsamt The oflBce of Stiftsamtmand of 
Akershus was connected with that of Statholder of Norway, that of 
Stiftsamtmand of Christiansand with the office of Vice-statholder, 
created in 1669, and in Trondhjem and Bergenhus the stiftsamt- 
rruBnd were respectively chancellor and vice-chancellor of the king- 
dom. The management of the finances was left to new fiscal officials 

1 Edvard Holm, Danmark-Norges indre Historie under Enevcelden fra 1660 
til 1720, vol. I., p. 84 ff. Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Norges Historie, vol. V., 1. 


called kammererer, later stiftsskrivere, who acted as local treasurers, 
and had to render account to the royal treasury in Copenhagen. 
But the collection of the taxes was left to the fogeds, as before.^ 

In conformity with the principles of absolutism, all officials of 
whatever rank, even the mayors and councilmen in the cities, now 
became royal officials, deriving their authority as well as their office 
from the king himself, who was the source and fountain of all official 
power. The local communities lost their autonomy. The parishes 
could no longer call their own ministers, and the University of Copen- 
hagen could not appoint its professors ; every change, in fact every 
public act, would henceforth depend on the royal will.^ Gradually 
the central government left more freedom and power to the local 
authorities, especially in the cities, where this became quite necessary, 
but the fundamental idea that the king was the source of all power and 
authority, that the will of the people no longer existed as a factor 
in administration and government, could not be altered. 

The transfer of political power from the aristocracy to the king 
and his officials resulted also in a new alignment of social classes, 
as the officials, especially in Norway, appeared as a new upper class, 
a bureaucracy.^ This class was partly recruited from the aristocratic 
families, who possessed learning and culture, and still wielded a great 
social influence; but as rank and birth were no longer necessary 
qualifications, many wealthy and influential men, especially from the 
cities, were appointed to various higher offices.* As the power and 

^ Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Norges Historic, vol. IV., 1, p. 15 ff. T. H. Asche- 
houg, De norske Communers Retsforfatning f^r 1837, p. 182 ff, 

* Ludvlg Daae, Trondhjema Stifts geistlige Historic, p. 113. 

' T. H. Aschehoug, Statsfor/atningen i Norge og Danmark indlil 1814, P- 601 ff. 

* "Certain it is that all sorts of places, civil and military, are filled more 
by foreigners than by gentlemen of the country : and in their disposal of 
of&ces it is remarkable that such as are of ordinary birth and fortunes 
are much sooner preferred than tho se of contrary qualities : so that there 
may be found several in the most profitable and honorable employments 
who have formerly been serving-men, and such like ; and these prove 
the best executors of the will and pleasure of arbitrary power, and therefore 
are caressed accordingly. There is one further advantage in the promotion 
of these kind of men ; that after they are grown rich by extortion, and have 
sucked the blood of the poor, when clamors grow loud against them, the 
court can with ease squeeze these leeches, laying all the blame of its own 
oppression at their doors; and this without the danger of causing the dis- 


influence of this new class depended on their office, and not upon their 
rank, the development of a new aristocracy was arrested, and the 
aristocratic families existing in Norway at that time were too few to 
exercise any real power. The royal officials were haughty and 
arbitrary enough in their dealings with the common people, but their 
origin as well as their interests bound them to the common classes, 
and in the future political struggles for national independence and 
political freedom they became the leaders of the people, and showed 
a devotion to their cause which could not have been expected of 
an aristocracy. 

A very important administrative reform in Norway introduced 
by Frederick III. was the taking of a census, and the registration 
and valuation of all taxable property, which should constitute a new 
basis for the levying of taxes. Hitherto the various taxes — land- 
tax, leding, faring, tithes, etc. — were levied upon each gaard (farm) 
without reference to its value, and a very unjust distribution of 
pubhc burdens resulted. Some property was taxed too low, and 
some too high, so high that it had to be abandoned. The king 
appointed a commission of fifty members, who were instructed to 
list every farm, its value, its occupants, and all notable advantages, 
and on the basis of this census new tax tables were to be prepared. 
In 1669 the work was finally completed, and it was decided that the 
taxes should be based on the valuation of the property found in the 
new tax-lists. The work had been very imperfectly done, however, 
owing largely to the unwillingness of the people to give the necessary 
information, as they feared that their taxes would be increased.^ 
But taxation had, finally, been based on a correct principle, and a 
great advance had been made towards an equitable distribution. 
The total income from all sources of revenue in the kingdom of Nor- 
way at this time has been estimated to be about 650,000 riksdaler 
($650,000). Of this amount about 200,000 riksdaler were used in 
Norway for the maintenance of the Norwegian army, and the pay- 
ment of officials. The balance, 450,000 riksdaler, was sent to Copen- 
hagen to be used for the support of the joint court and navy. "-^ 

content of any of the nobles upon the score of kindred or alliance." An 
Account of Denmark as It Was in the Year 1692, p. 75 f. 
1 Historisk Tidsskrift, vol. IV., p. 507. 




Hannibal Sehested's successors in Norway, Nils TroUe and Iver 
Krabbe, were men of mediocre talents, who showed no trace of orig- 
inality or special administrative ability. In 1664 King Frederick's 
illegitimate son, Ulrik Frederick Gyldenl0ve, was appointed stat- 
holder. He was a young man, accustomed to the splendor and excit- 
ing social life of the higher 
circles of the Danish capital, 
and people feared that he 
would be wholly unfit to 
shoulder the irksome bur- 
dens of this high office. But 
Gyldenl0ve, who possessed 
talents, as well as will and 
energy, became a worthy 
successor of Hannibal 
Sehested. He studied condi- 
tions in Norway very closely, 
and became the ardent advo- 
cate of many important re- 
forms. Some of these had, in- 
deed, already been suggested 
by Sehested, but through 
Gyldenl0ve's efforts the gov- 
ernment was finally persuaded to take action. He advocated 
the simplification of the system of taxation, and the valuation 
and registration of taxable property. He urged the creation of 
a Norwegian fleet of smaller war vessels for coast defense, the 
improvement of Norwegian fortresses, the creation of a Norwegian 
superior court, from which an appeal could be made to the king 
alone, and, finally, the revision of the " Code of Christian IV." After 
encountering much indifference and opposition, he finally succeeded 
in persuading Frederick III. to decide in favor of some of these re- 
forms. By royal edicts it was decreed that Norway should have a 
separate superior court, Overhofretten, from which, however, an appeal 
could be made to the H^iesteret in Copenhagen. It was also decided 
to revise the "Code of Christian IV.," a work which was done under 
Frederick's successor Christian V. Gyldenl0ve became very popu- 

FiQ. 4. — Ulrik Frederick Gyldenl0ve. 


lar, as he knew how to win the people's favor by straightforward 
manners and cheerful good- will. Karl Deichman has described his 
popularity as follows : " The Norwegians regarded Gyldenl0ve as 
their patron saint, and they had a peculiar veneration for this lord, 
because of his excellent conduct, democratic spirit, brave leadership, 
and gay life. He extended his protection to all, especially to the 
common people, whom he defended against seizures and unjust 
impositions. He could persuade the nation to do whatever he pleased. 
He listened to the people's complaints, and seldom did he leave them 
unconsoled. The binder in the mountain districts always addressed 
him "thou Gyldenl0ve." Many stories are told that he often trav- 
eled about in disguise in order to learn if the people's love for him 
was to be relied upon." ^ Molesworth says of him: "He is about 
fifty-six years of age, has been one of the handsomest, and continues 
one of the finest gentlemen that Denmark has produced." ^ 

The Faroe Islands retained their old judicial system of six syssel- 
things, and the Lagthing as a superior court. But appeal could be 
made from the Lagthing to the H0iesteret in Copenhagen. Frederick 
in. granted these islands as a fief to his favorite Gabel and his son 
Frederick. These lords and their fogeds oppressed the people sorely, 
and though the king would seek to redress the wrongs when the com- 
plaints grew loud, no marked improvement was made in th6 people's 
conditions till after the death of Frederick Gabel. 

Also in Iceland the old system of sysselthings and lagthings was 
suffered to remain ; but here as in Norway and the Faroe Islands the 
H0iesteret in Copenhagen became the highest court of appeal, while 
the administrative colleges and governmental departments in Den- 
mark gradually assumed the functions of government for the island. 
In 1683 a landfoged was appointed to receive the taxes and revenues, 
after these had been collected by the sysselmcBnd. The following 
year a stiftsamtmand was appointed, and two years later an amtmand 
was added to the list of crown officials, an indication that the adminis- 
tration was being directed from Copenhagen.^ But as the stiftsamt- 

^ Quoted by Ludvig Daae in Det gamle Christiania, p. 113. 

* Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark as It Was in the Year 1692, 
p. 145. Roar Tank, Ulrik Frederik Gyldenl^ve og Nordmcendene, Sproglige og 
historiske Afhandlinger viede Sophus Bugges Minde, Christiania, 1908. 

' Edvard Holm, Danmark-Norges indre Historic under Enevadden, vol. I., 
p. 88 ff. Jdn Sigurdsson, Om Islands statsretslige Forhold, Copenhagen, 1855. 


mand never visited the island, the royal government must have been 
limited principally to the collection of taxes and revenues, while 
the domestic affairs must have been largely left to the local authori- 

30. Foreign Relations 

Of the powers which had aided Denmark-Norway in the war with 
Sweden, only Holland maintained the alliance until peace was con- 
cluded. But the relations had grown less friendly as the war pro- 
ceeded, and Denmark began to look around for other allies. In 
1663 a treaty was formed with France, and Denmark joined the 
Rhenish alliance which had been formed between France, Sweden, 
and some of the German states for the defense of the peace of West- 
phalia. This step was taken by Frederick HI. in the hope of being 
able to force France and Sweden apart. In this he failed, but 
France promised to pay Denmark a subsidy in case it was again 
attacked by Sweden. In 1665 the great naval war for commercial 
supremacy, which Holland and England had waged with such fury 
in 1652-1654, was formally renewed, after hostihties had already 
lasted about a year. England was jealous of Holland's commercial 
superiority and extensive carrying trade, which she had sought to 
harm by navigation acts.^ Sweden concluded a defensive alliance 
with England, and the English king, Charles II., sought to form an 
alliance with Denmark-Norway against Holland, but Frederick III. 
hesitated ; different opinions prevailed among his councilors, and no 
definite step was taken, though he secretly favored England through- 

^ Molesworth says: "The exaotest computation that I have known made 
of the English, Dutch, and French trades to these parts in times of peace, 
ran thus: Of English there passed the Sound yearly, from two hundred 
vessels to three hundred ; of Dutch from one thousand to eleven hundred ; 
of French from ten to twelve, and the like proportion to Norway." An 
Account of Denmark as It Was in the Year 1692, p. 110. In 1656 the English 
trade was only one-fifth as large as Holland's, and still in 1696 Holland's 
merchant marine measured 900,000 tons, England's 500,000 tons, the rest 
of Europe 200,000 tons. O. A. 0verland, Norges Historic, vol. VII., p. 203. 
This agrees quite well with the figures given by H. von Treitschke, Die 
Republik der vereinigten Niederlande, in Historisch und politische Avjsdtze, 
neue Folge II., Leipzig, 1870, p. 608 ; quoted by Ludvig Daae in Nordmaends 
Udvandringer til Holland og England i nyere Tid, p. 21 f. 


out the war. This favor he even displayed in a manner which throws 
a dark stain upon his character. As a result of their naval victories, 
the English became masters of the North Sea, and in the summer of 
1665 a large fleet of Holland merchantmen sought refuge in the 
neutral harbor of Bergen. Sir Gilbert Talbot, the English ambassa- 
dor in Denmark, suggested to Frederick III. that he should cooperate 
with an English squadron in capturing this merchant fleet, and the 
booty should be divided between the two kings. Frederick should 
publicly protest his innocence, and Charles II. should reprimand 
his admirals for violating the neutrality of Denmark-Norway. 
King Frederick consented to this plot, and ordered his general Ahle- 
feld at Bergen to seemingly protest, but to do nothing to hinder 
the English from attacking the Hollanders. But Ahlefeld received 
the orders too late. He aided the Hollanders, and trained the can- 
nons of the forts upon the English squadron, which was defeated 
after a sanguinary battle. The plan had miscarried, and Denmark's 
peace was greatly endangered. But Frederick's vacillating foreign 
policy again changed. In 1666 he formed an alliance with Holland, 
but the hostilities which broke out with England in consequence of 
it were terminated by the peace of Breda, 1667. 

31. Norwegian Emigration to Holland, England, Russia and 
America in the Seventeenth Century and Later 

The great development of commerce and naval activity in Holland 
and England had created a great demand for seamen. As recruit- 
ing was not yet prohibited, sailors were enlisted in large numbers 
in Norway, especially for the fleets of Holland.^ So great was the 
number of young men who left their homes in the seacoast districts 
that it amounted to a veritable emigration. And though some re- 
turned, by far the greater number settled permanently in Holland, 
or lost their lives fighting her great naval wars.^ Robert Moles- 

^ J. C. de Jonge, Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Zeewesen, vol. II. This 
trafi&c was prohibited by article 7, chapter 4, book 6 of the Code of Christian 
v., for Norway, 1687, which imposed the penalty of death on any one who 
undertook to enlist seamen in Denmark and Norway without the king's 

2 When Jens Mimk made his voyage to Greenland, he went to Holland 
to hire seamen for the expedition; and Christian IV. sought to persuade 


worth says : " The best seamen belonging to the king of Denmark 
are the Norwegians ; but most of them are in the service of the Dutch ; 
and have their families established in Holland; from whence it is 
scarce likely they will ever return home, unless the Dutch use them 
worse, or the Danes better than hitherto they have done; for the 
Danish sea-provision is generally very bad." In 1670 Markus 
Gj0e, the Danish-Norwegian minister to The Hague, wrote to his 
government that a great number of the king's subjects lived in Hol- 
land, and that most of them were Norwegians. He added that 
they were sailors and officers of lower rank, as the Hollanders were 
too jealous to make them lieutenants or captains; but Admiral 
Nils Juel, who had been in the Dutch service for many years, stated 
a few years later that the officers who were good for anything were 
mostly Norwegians and Englishmen who had come to Holland to 
enlist.^ Even church history shows that many Norwegians and 
Danes settled in Holland. In 1634 King Christian IV. gave three 
hundred riksdaler to a Lutheran church in Amsterdam, and in 1663 
a Danish-Norwegian congregation was organized there, whose first 
clergyman. Christian Peders0n Abel, published a hymnbook for 
his congregation.^ Many Norwegians fled to Holland, either 
to escape punishment for crimes and misdemeanors, or because of 
religious intolerance at home ; in time of war also to avoid military 
service.^ But the greater number had emigrated with their families 
because of the higher pay and better opportunities offered in the 
service of the Dutch. With the growth of Norwegian lumber export 
to Holland, the communications with that country became very 
active, and young men of the seacoast districts found new oppor- 

the Norwegian and Danish seamen to return home. For this purpose he 
issued a general pardon for those who had committed any wrong, except 
those who were guilty of murder and incest. In 1700 Jens Juel went to 
Holland and hired 500 to 600 seamen, evidently Danes and Norwegians ; and 
Peter Tordenskjold hired 150 sailors in Holland in 1713. Ludvig Daae, 
Nordmcends Udvandringer til Holland og England i nyere Tid, p. 22 ff. 

^ Ludvig Daae, Nordmcends Udvandringer til Holland og England i nyere 
Tid, p. 14. Chr. Bruun, Curt Sivertsen Adelaer, p. 215 f. 

* Andreas Faye, Christiansands Stifts Bispe- og Stiftshistorie, p. 255. 
Holger Fr. R0rdam, Anders Christensen Arrebos Levnet og Skrifter, vol. II., 
p. 161. 

* Andreas Faye, Christiansands Stifts Bispe- og Stiftshistorie, p. 255 fl. 


tunities for adventure and profitable employment as Dutch seamen.^ 
Even in the early part of the seventeenth century many Norwegian 
sailors had gone to Holland, and in the war with England in the 
time of Cromwell (1652-1654) the Dutch had enhsted such a num- 
ber of Norwegian seamen that England's jealousy was aroused. In 
the war of 1658-1660 the Hollanders aided Denmark-Norway against 
Sweden, and sought to persuade Frederick HI. to cede to them Trond- 
hjem's len; but the English protested, because they saw the advan- 
tage which Holland would thus be gaining. In an official English 
document, the following comment is made upon this attempt: 

"If ye English should suffer ye Hollanders to become masters of 
Dronthiem there would thereby accrue to ye Hollanders an incredible 
strength at sea, seeing that province alone by ye occasion of ye great 
fishing, that is upon that coast, is able to set forth in short time some 
thousands of seamen, whereof ye English have the proof in ye war 
between ye Hollanders and them, at which time they had only ye 
King of Denmark's leave to leavy seamen there, and then wee may 
easily guesse, what is to be expected, if ye Hollanders should come 
to bee wholly masters there." ^ 

Also in the Dutch merchant marine a large number of Norwegian 
sailors had found employment, and took part in the voyages to 
the Cape Colony, East India, Greenland, and other distant countries. 
The same relations between Norway and Holland continued to 
exist also in the eighteenth century. The emigration to Holland 
continued, but the Dutch, nevertheless, deplored that a smaller 
number of Norwegian and German sailors flocked to their country 
than formerly, and recruiting officers were sent to Norway in spite 
of the drastic measures taken by the Danish government to stop 
the traflfic. The emigration to Holland was greatly deplored by 
Norwegian and Danish writers, as well as by the government au- 
thorities. Gerhard Sch0ning (1758) considered this emigration one 
of the chief hindrances to the development of Norwegian agri- 

^ P. Coucheron in Theologisk Tidsskrift, published by Caspari, vol. I. Lud- 
vig Daae, Nordmcends Udvandringer til Holland og England i nyere Tid, p. 18 f . 

* The passage is quoted by Ludvig Daae in Nordmcends Udvandringer til 
Holland og England i nyere Tid, p. 13, from Saga, et Fjerdingsaarsskrift, 
published by J. S. Munch, Christiania, 1806, vol. I. 

VOL. 11 — K 


culture, and regarded it as a calamity even worse than the Black 
Death. As to the number of emigrants who yearly left Norway 
but few and incomplete statistical data exist, but we get a general 
idea from the statements of contemporary writers. Erik Pontoppidan 
(1698-1764) states that when the merchant fleets returned from 
the East Indies, the West Indies, Greenland, and other countries, 
the Norwegian, Danish, and Holstein sailors assembled in Amster- 
dam numbered 8000 or 9000 "by a conservative estimate." ^ "Some 
of these visit their homes about every three years, and finally, in 
their old age remain at home to Hve on their earnings, but a great 
number remain abroad all their lives, not to speak of those who lose 
their lives in the service." ^ L. F. R0mer, who was born in Holland, 
says : " We have aided the Dutch in that many thousand Norwegian, 
Danish, and Holstein seamen and officers yearly have left their homes 
to earn something abroad, since we have nothing for them to do." 
Such yearly losses of the ablest youth of the country would naturally 
be felt as a calamity, especially in the districts along the seacoast, 
which were most directly affected by the emigration. The govern- 
ment bewailed the decrease in the quota of army recruits, a truly 
alarming thing for the Danish kings, who "esteemed soldiers their 
only true riches, " as Molesworth puts it. But the losses, real or " 
apparent, caused by the emigration were probably more than com- 
pensated for in other ways. What the Norwegians needed at this 
time was stimulus strong enough to stir them to mental and physical 
action ; experiences of a kind which could invigorate the phlegmatic 
and bloodless national organism. Such a stimulus was given by the 
life of adventure and enterprise in the Dutch maritime service. 
Many private accounts show that it was a hard service. Often the 
Norwegian sailors in the cities of Holland were kidnapped and 
brought by force aboard the ships, which were to sail around Africa 
to India, across the Atlantic to the West Indies or distant Green- 
land. The life on board was hard, and the punishments inflicted 
for offenses were barbarous. Often they were in danger of attack 

^ Erik Pontoppidan, Menoza en asiatisk Prinds; and Det f^rste Forsfig 
paa Norges naturlige Historic, vol. II., p. 380. 

* Ludvig Daae, Nordmcends Udvandringer til Holland og England i nyere 
Tid, p. 42 flf. L. F. R0mer, Tilforladelig Efterretning am Kysten af Guinea, 
p. 249 f., quoted by Ludvig Daae. 


by pirates, or of falling into the hands of Moorish corsairs, who would 
carry them into slavery. But this hard school again showed the 
Norwegians the path to greatness — the sea. Once again, as of 
old, they became skillful and daring navigators, inured to the hard- 
ships of the sea, and fascinated with its freedom and adventures. 
New ideas, capable seamen, a spirit of enterprise, knowledge of the 
world and its commerce, and a desire to go abroad were the returns 
which Norway received for her losses. The old spirit was rekindled, 
and the Norwegian merchant marine was created, largely through 
this new impulse. Ludvig Daae says : " Historical research re- 
garding the great, yea even remarkable development of our merchant 
marine will undoubtedly prove that it is due directly to the rela- 
tions with Holland, which I have here tried to elucidate." ^ Hol- 
land's sea power was declining, and in the war with England, 1780, 
and, finally, in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic period 
it was crushed. But Denmark-Norway rose to new significance as 
a maritime and naval power. As neutrals at the time of the 
American Revolutionary War, they developed a great carrying 
trade,^ and in course of the next century, Norway developed a 
merchant marine of which Joh. Dyring says that it is "of greater 
relative importance to the Norwegian people, even when we con- 
sider its size, than that of any other country on the globe." ^ In 
view of modern development we are able to see the question of the 
emigration to Holland in a new light, and to put the proper con- 
struction on the pessimistic views of old writers. 

The emigration from Norway was not wholly limited to Holland. 
Many also went to England, especially because of the flourishing 
lumber trade with that country. Ludvig Daae cites the following 
interesting passage from a book of travel written by Judge Christian 
Gram of Christiania, who visited England and France in 1757. 
While he was staying at Dover, says the judge, "a strange incident 
occurred. A Dutch ship was brought to that city by a British pri- 
vateer. The Dutch republic was indeed neutral in that war, but 

^ Ludvig Daae, Nordmoends Udvandringer til Holland og England i nyere 
Tid, p. 63. 

* Jacob Aal, Erindringer, p. 40 ff. B. B. Bendixen, Et Omrids av Norges 
Handelshistorie, p. 33 ff. ^ Joh. Dyring, Kongeriget Norge, p. 165. 


the Dutch refused to be searched by the Enghshmen, and a combat 
followed in which hard blows were dealt on both sides, until the 
English privateer was finally victorious." "The remarkable thing 
in connection with this occurrence," he continues, "was that the 
captain of the English privateer, as well as of the Dutch ship, were 
both native-born Norwegians, who under foreign flags had given each 
other a thorough drubbing. The captain of the Dutch ship was a 
somewhat old man from the west coast of Norway, who had estab- 
lished himself in Amsterdam thirty years before. . . . The captain 
of the English privateer was a young man from Christiania." ^ 
This incident illustrates the situation in a striking way. The Nor- 
wegians who had begun to seek remunerative employment abroad 
were also found in the English service in considerable numbers, and 
in these wars with Holland they often fought against their own 
countrymen. The lumber trade also brought many Norwegian mer- 
chants to England, and the sons of rich burghers came to London 
to study commerce, and to form friendships, which might be of value 
in the carrying on of trade. A Norwegian-Danish congregation 
was organized, and in 1694-1696 a Norwegian Lutheran church was 
built in the English capital, which was described as beautiful by a 
traveler at the time of the Seven Years' War. Early in the eight- 
eenth century a Norwegian-Danish club was organized in Lon- 
don, and towards the close of the century Det nordiske Selskab, a 
truly Scandinavian society with members from all three Northern 
countries, was founded. 

The war between England and France during the reign of Napoleon 
put a sudden stop to the Norwegian emigration to Holland and 
England. In 1806 Holland was made a feudatory kingdom by the 
French Emperor, with Louis Bonaparte as king, and Holland's mili- 
tary forces had to join the French armies. Through Napoleon's 
"Continental. System " Holland's commerce was destroyed, and 
when Louis Bonaparte abdicated in 1810, the kingdom of Holland was 
incorporated in the French Empire, and the Norwegian sailors in 
Holland were forced into the French service. The Danish diplomat 

* Christian Gram, En kort Journal eUer Reise-Beskrivelse forfattet udi 
et Brev til en god Ven, Christiania, ea. 1759 ; quoted by Ludvig Daae, Nord- 
moends Udvandringer til Holland og England i nyere Tid, p. 95 f. 


J. G. Rist writes that the transportation of seamen from Holland 
took its beginning in the winter 1809-1810, and that at Hamburg 
he turned about 2000 seamen over to the French authorities. "It 
pained me," he writes, " to see these healthy men, of whom the greater 
part were Norwegians, carried as prisoners to the unhealthy Vliesingen. 
A mutiny broke out among the men, because of the bad treatment 
accorded them, and several oflBcers who were implicated were sent 
home as prisoners, among others Hans Holsten. In the beginning 
of 1811 the crews for two warships were again sent, and these sea- 
men remained in the French fleet till 1815." ^ England's attack on 
Denmark-Norway led to a war which terminated all intercourse 
with Great Britain. When peace was established after the down- 
fall of Napoleon, the old relations were not reestablished either 
with England or Holland with regard to emigration. New condi- 
tions had been created, and the remarkable development of the 
United States of America soon offered far better opportunities to 
the Norwegian emigrants. 

Of the Norwegians staying in Holland not a few went to the Dutch 
colonies in America during the seventeenth century. Mr. Torstein 
Jahr of Washington, D.C., who has made special investigations 
of the Norwegian emigration to the Dutch New Netherland, shows 
that the great patroon Van Rensselaer, received a large tract of 
land near the present city of Albany, in the state of New York, on 
the condition that he should bring over fifty colonists within four 
years. In 1630, he sent nine colonists, of whom three were Norwe- 
gians. In 1631 he again made a contract with nine men to go to New 
Netherland. Four of these were Norwegians, but only two finally went 
to America. In 1636 Van Rensselaer made a contract with Albert 
Andriessen of Fredrikshald, Norway, who sailed from Amsterdam 
September 25 with the ship " Rensselaerwyck " and thirty-eight col- 
onists, of whom many were Norwegians. Among these colonists 
were six women, one of whom was Captain Andriessen's wife, Annetje, 
who on the voyage gave birth to a child, which was baptized in Eng- 
land, and received the very suggestive name of Sturm van der Zee. 
The colonists arrived safely at Manhattan, March 4, 1637, and many 

1 J. G. Rist, Lebenserinnerungen herausgegeben von G. Poel, Gotha, 1880, 
quoted by Ludvig Daae, in Nordmoends Udvandringer, p. 123. 


of Albert Andriessen's descendants still live in and about the city 
of Albany. Among the pioneers in Schenectady, New York, were 
also many Norwegians. Jahr says : " In all the Dutch settlements 
in New Netherland one can find more or less distinct traces of the 
Norwegians. Those about whom we have any knowledge were 
capable and honest people, who have done their share and deserve 
their part of the honor for the colonization of the new land, and they 
fostered strong and energetic descendants to continue the work of 
increasing the homesteads of their fathers." ^ 

Among the more prominent Norwegian settlers in New Nether- 
land the same author mentions especially Anneke Jans (Jansen) 
and her husband, Roelof Jansen, who came over in the ship "Een- 
dracht" in 1630. Roelof became overseer of Van Rensselaer's farm 
de Laetsburg in 1632, and in 1636 he received deed to a sixty-two- 
acre tract of land now included between Warren and Canal streets, 
Broadway and the Hudson River, in the city of New York. He built 
a house, and began to clear and cultivate his farm, but he soon died, 
and his widow, Anneke, married Rev, Eberhardus Bogardus, the 
first regular clergyman in the colony.^ Her mother, Trina Jonas, 
came to the colony in 1633 as practicing midwife in the employ of 
the Dutch East India Company. She received deed to a parcel of 
land near the foot of the present Pearl Street, where she built a 
house. Trina Jonas had also another daughter, Maritje, who also 
came to New Netherland with her husband, Tymen Jansen. These 
people became wealthy and influential, and Jahr observes that the 
New York families De Lancey, De Peyster, Gouverneur, Jay, Knicker- 
bocker, Morris, Schuyler, Stuyvesant, Van Cortland, and Van Rens- 
selaer became related to them through marriage, and that nearly all 
the old famihes in New York state, who pride themselves on being 
the genuine Knickerbockers, can trace their lineage to the Norwe- 

* Torstein Jahr, Nordmoend i Nieuw-Nederland, Symra (Decorah, la.), 
vol. v., p. 66 ff. 

* Torstein Jahr, Nordmand i Ny-Nederland, Anneke Jans fra Marstrand, 
hennes Farm og hennes Slekt, Symra, vol. IX., p. 9 ff. Nordmrnnd i Ny- 
Nederland, in Dagsposten (Norway), November 19, 1905, by the same author. 
Torstein Jahr, Nordmoend i Nieuw-Nederland, Ervingen (Decorah, la.), vol. 
II., p. 1 f . I. B. Frich, Bidrag til de Forenede Slaters Kirkehistorie, Evangelisk 
Luthersk Kirketidende (Decorah, la.), 1907, p. 211 ff., 237 ff., 265 ff., 321 ff., 
348 ff., 403 ff., 430 ff., 459 ff., 487 ff. 


gian midwife Trina Jonas, and her daughter Anneke Jans Bogardus. 
It is noteworthy in this connection that on April 7, 1909, Mrs. 
Mary A, Fonda began a lawsuit against the Trinity corporation of 
the city of New York for the possession of a part of the Trinity 
church property, of which she claimed she was the rightful owner, 
because she descended directly from Anneke Jans Bogardus.^ 

The new development of Russia in the time of Peter the Great 
and Catharine II. induced many Norwegians to enter the Russian 
service. The most noted of these is the Norwegian naval officer, 
CorneUus Creutz, formerly employed in Holland, who was engaged 
by the Czar to organize and equip the Russian navy. He received 
the rank of vice-admiral, and played a similar role in the Russian 
fleet as Kort Adelaer did in the navy of Denmark-Norway. He em- 
ployed so many foreign naval officers that a reliable writer states 
in 1715: "Most of the Czar's naval officers are Hollanders, Nor- 
wegians, and Danes." Creutz was a leader of the Russian fleet 
in the wars with Sweden, 1705-1713, and served with great dis- 
tinction. In the Russian army as well as in the navy a great num- 
ber of Norwegians were employed.^ 

32. The Close op the Reign op Frederick III. Christian V. 
The Gyldenljz^ve War 

On February 9, 1670, King Frederick III. died. His reign had 
been more eventful than successful. He had accomplished much 
in the direction of increasing his own power, which seems to have 
been his chief aim, as it was the passionate ambition of his proud and 
pleasure-loving queen, Sophia Amalie. But in war and diplomacy 
he had been unsuccessful, and he did not attempt to use his great 
power to improve the condition of his poverty-stricken subjects. 
Jf any reforms were instituted, they were wholly due to the energy 
and forethought of others. He basked with self-satisfaction in 
the glory of his own autocratic power, which only hardened his heart 
against the much-abused common people, whose misery, especially 
in Denmark, only served to fill him with unsympathetic pride and 

1 New York American, April 8, 1909, cited by Torstein Jahr, Nordmcend i 
Ny-Nederland, Symra, vol. IX., p. 34. 

^ Ludvig Daae, Nordmcend og Danske i Rusland i del attende Aarhundrede. 


arrogant disdain. During the latter part of his reign he devoted him- 
self to alchemy and fantastic speculation rather than to the care 
and development of his kingdom. He used unnecessary harsh 
methods in collecting taxes from his impoverished subjects. A 
sordid love of gain had led him into the vile bargain with Talbot, 
and it was probably avarice and superstition rather than true scien- 
tific interest which made him an enthusiastic alchemist. Auto- 
cratic power had isolated him from his fellow men, and he developed 
symptoms of the mental eccentricity and the suspicion and fear of 
others peculiar to autocrats. His people ceased to love him, and 
though they continued to show him the most humble courtesy, his 
heart must have felt that it was hollow mockery, empty ceremony. 
He would probably have retired more and more from the world, 
but the queen did not allow it. She needed him to grace her luxuri- 
ous carnivals, which were arranged with gaudy splendor. Enormous 
sums were spent in royal entertainments and other like wasteful 
and unprofitable ways.^ Some nobleman or favorite might receive 
a present of 200,000 riksdaler, while taxes were wrung from the peasants 
by selling their bedclothes, their wooden chairs, and the very coats 
on their backs at public auction. Molesworth says: "Yet upon 
the occasion of the late poll tax I heard that the collectors were forced 
to take from this and other towns (in lieu of money) old feather beds, 
bedsteads, brass, pewter, wooden chairs, etc., which they took vio- 
lently from the poor people, who were unable to pay, leaving them 
destitute of all manner of necessaries for the use of Hving." ^ But 
conditions were no better a decade or two earlier. King Frederick 
ni. and his proud queen seem to have entertained ideas of their 
duties as sovereigns akin to those of their younger contemporary, 
Louis XIV. of France, that the state existed for the monarch, not 
the monarch for the state. The common people had ceased to be 
thought of except as soldiers, taxpayers, and common drudges. 

King Christian V. was born in 1646, and was twenty-four years 
of age at his accession to the throne. In character and tempera- 

1 '•'Hannibal Sehested had a present of 200,000 crowns, Svan (Svane), 
the superintendent or bishop, was made archbishop, and had 30,000 crowns. 
The president or speaker Hansen, 20,000 crowns." Molesworth, An Account 
of Denmark, p. 68. An English crown was a little more than a riksdaler. 

'Molesworth, An Account of Denmark as It Was in the Year 1692, p. 78. 


ment he resembled his grandfather, Christian IV., but he was less 
gifted, and lacked his interest for intellectual pursuits. He was 
a great hunter, a fine horseman, lively and energetic, and though he 
was not good-looking, he made a good impression by his fine bearing. 
He was friendly and good-natured, well liked, but weak in character, 
and easily influenced by his surroundings. In 1667 he had been per- 
suaded to marry Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Cassel. She was very 
devoted to him, learned to speak Danish, and sought to win the good- 
will of all. She was one of the kindliest and most popular queens 
which Denmark-Norway ever had, but her wedded life became an 
unhappy one, for even before his marriage the king seems to have 
become attached to a young lady, Sophia Amalie Moth, daughter of 
his former teacher, on whom he bestowed all his affection. Her 
numerous relatives, who all sought promotion through royal favor, 
soon came to exercise great influence at the court. His mother, 
the proud and imperious Sophia Amalie, also continued to wield 
a great influence, especially during the early part of his reign. 

As a prince Christian V. had visited France, England, Holland, 
and Germany, where he had become acquainted with absolutism 
in all its splendor, and it became his aim to imitate as far as possible 
the great model of all autocrats, Louis XIV. of France. His corona- 
tion was celebrated with great splendor, and with all the devotional 
veneration and supplicant obeisance shown monarchs in that age 
of autocracy. Edward Holm says : " A new crown had been made, 
of another form than the old one, as a sign that the royal power 
had been changed, and it was so rich and elegant that it was at first 
estimated to cost 700,000 to 800,000 riksdaler. New were also the 
scepter, the orb, and the sword, and their value answered to that of the 
crown. As the royal power was the gift of God, and not of men, the 
king could not receive the crown and the symbols of royal authority 
and other regalia from human hands. He therefore placed the 
crown on his own head, and took the regalia before he went to church 
to be anointed, a ceremony which he said he regarded as an act of 
devotion by which he with the All-ruling God did more firmly and 
closely connect and unite himself. When a king was crowned in 
days past, the charter was read, and the king had to confirm it with 
an oath, but now the * Kongelov ' with its recital of the greatness of 


royal power was read. The one of the bishops present who took it 
from its cover made a deep obeisance before it. The language used 
by Bishop Vandel of Seeland in his speech in connection with the 
anointing was keyed in a lofty tone which corresponded to tliat used 
in his great work about absolutism written a few years earlier. * It 
is,' he said, 'the king's right and dominion, and the people's proper 
subjection, that the king shall rule over the persons of his subjects — 
likewise that he shall rule over their goods and possessions, their fields 
and vineyards, their best oliveyards, their grain, cattle, and asses.' " ^ 
With such phrases of cringing flattery, and disavowal of every right, 
the people welcomed the new custodian of their destiny and welfare. 

King Christian did not retain his predecessor's advisers, but chose 
new ones, the chief of whom were Ulrik Frederick Gyldenl0ve, 
Frederick Ahlefeld, and Peder Schumacher, the author of the " Konge- 
lov," a young man of rare ability, who soon became the real leader 
of the government. He was later raised to the nobility under the 
name of Griffenfeld, by which name he is generally known.^ Through 
his influence, the king was persuaded to organize the Order of the 
Danebrog and to create two new classes of nobles; the counts 
(grever) and the knights (friherrer), the purpose being to gradually 
destroy the old nobility, which was hostile to the monarch, and to 
create a new one wholly subservient to him. The new nobihty was, 
therefore, regarded as higher in rank than the old. A number of 
new titles were also introduced, and the royal officials were placed 
above the old nobility in rank. All honor and distinction was to' 
radiate immediately from the court, as in France. In Norway the 
new court nobility never became very numerous, but Ulrik Frederick 
Gyldenl0ve became Count of Larvik, and Peder Count of Griffen- 
feld received Lem, near Tunsberg, later also the barony of Rosendal 
in Kvindherred. 

The talented and popular Gyldenl0ve returned to Denmark when 
Christian V. mounted the throne, but his eagerness to suggest vari- 
ous reforms again manifested itself. In 1670 he was commissioned, 

^ Edvard Holm, Danmark-Norges indre Historie under Enevmlden fra 
1660 til 1720, vol. I., p. 12 f. R. Meiborg, Billeder fra Livet ved Christian 
den femtes Hof, p. 11. 

• A. D. J0rgensen, Peder Schumacher Griffenfeld, Copenhagen, 1893. 


together with J0rgen Bjelke, to propose plans for the betterment 
of Norway, and the two submitted a document advocating reforms 
in Norway's internal administration, in its defenses, in taxes and 
revenues, trade and commerce. The kingdom should henceforth 
consist of four stifts, four principal amts, nine subordinate amts, 
fifty-six fogderier, and nine chartered cities. They showed that by 
aboHshing many unnecessary civil offices, and reducing the salaries 
of others, 30,000 riksdaler a year could be saved. They complained 
of the excessive burdens which had been placed upon the people, and 
advocated a reduction of taxes. The importance of commerce was 
strongly emphasized, and the building of minor warships for defense, 
which could also be used as merchant vessels, was urged. It was 
pointed out how important it was to get foreign seamen into the 
kingdom, and especially to prevail on the thousands of Norwegian 
seamen in foreign service, chiefly in that of Holland, to return to 
their own country. The number of civil officials was reduced, and 
the taxes were lowered from 236,000 riksdaler to 156,000 a year, but 
many of the more important suggestions were passed by. In 1673 
Gyldenl0ve again returned to Norway as statholder} 

Griff enf eld's ambition led him to snatch for ever higher power. 
The system of administrative departments or colleges he found too 
cumbersome, especially since they checked his will and limited his 
influence. He persuaded the good-natured king that it would be 
more convenient to rule with the assistance of one "minister of 
quality" than with the Colleges, and in 1673 he was made count, 
and chancellor of the Idngdom. In this high office he exercised 
the supreme influence in administrative and diplomatic affairs, 
and no important matters could be decided except with his counsel. 
His political views, wrought into a permanent system, and carried 
out in diplomacy and administration, became the chief feature of 
the reign of Christian V. As author of the " Kongelov," Griffenfeld 
had already formulated the theory on which the new absolutism was 
based; it was left for him as chancellor and virtual head both of 
internal and foreign affairs to elaborate it into a fixed policy, which 

1 A. D. J0rgensen, Peder Schumacher Griffenfeld, vol. I., p. 288 £f . Roar 
Tank, Ulrik Frederik Gyldenl^ve og Nordmoendene, Sproglige og historiske 
Afhandlinger viede Sophus Bugges Minde. Historisk Tidsskrift, vol. II., p. 337. 


permanently effected Denmark's future political development. 
According to his views the people had no rights either as individuals 
or as a nation, except what the king would graciously grant them. 
To the king belonged all the power ; the kingdom and all its posses- 
sions were his. But how these possessions were originally acquired, 
by what rights they were held, the historical reasons for existing 
conditions, and the people's right as a nation to safeguard their 
own development and future destiny were ideas for which there 
was no place in the system of political science formulated by this 
astute politician, this keen but shortsighted statesman. He worked 
for the interest of the king ; the welfare of the nation and the realm 
he never clearly understood. For the future development of the 
Danish people it would have been of the greatest importance to join 
the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein more closely to the Danish king- 
dom ; but he did not attempt it, not because it was impossible, but 
because the king had some sort of title to them, and as everything 
was regarded as the king's personal possessions, it made no differ- 
ence by what title he held them. Neither do we find that Griff en- 
feld with his great talents and still greater power attempted to insti- 
tute any reforms which could serve to develop the nation socially 
and economically. He devoted his attention chiefly to diplomacy 
and foreign affairs, in which he had gained a great reputation and 
exercised great influence, but so far as Norway especially was con- 
cerned, the reforms instituted were chiefly due to the initiative of Stat- 
holder Gyldenl0ve. 

War clouds again obscured the political horizon of Europe. Louis 
XIV. was preparing to seize the Spanish Netherlands, and no one 
could doubt that an attack would also be directed against Holland. 
The danger of French preponderance had for some time alarmed the 
statesmen, and a triple alliance of England, Holland, and Sweden 
had been formed in 1668 to resist the ambitions of the French king. 
But Louis XIV. used his excellent diplomatic service and his treasury 
to destroy the alliance, an effort in which he was quite successful, as 
Charles 11. of England was induced by large subsidies to join France, 
and Sweden soon followed a similar course. In the meanwhile Wil- 
liam of Orange, Stadtholder of Holland, the most sagacious statesman 
of his time, sought to form a new coalition against France. Frederick 


William of Brandenburg and Emperor Leopold of Germany were 
persuaded to form an alliance with Holland, and Christian V. of 
Denmark-Norway was also strongly urged to join. An alliance with 
Holland under these circumstances would probably mean war with 
Sweden, the ally of France, but Christian V. nevertheless favored 
this course, while some of his advisers, notably Griffenfeld, advocated 
neutrality. The war party gained the upper hand, and on June 
30, 1674, Denmark formed an alHance with Holland, and promised 
to place 16,000 men in the field, if France received aid from any other 
power. As Brandenburg and Spain soon began war against Louis 
XIV., and Sweden rushed troops into Brandenburg to aid France, 
the die was cast, and the rival Northern powers were launched upon 
a new struggle. It seems that this war ought to have been averted, 
especially since Denmark had not recovered from the ravages of 
the wars waged in the previous reign, but the hope of recovering 
Sk&ne and other possessions tempted Christian V. to hazard a new 
armed conflict. 

As soon as circumstance pointed to the possibility of a new war, 
Gyldenl0ve was sent as statholder to Norway, 1673, to organize 
the military forces, and strengthen the defenses of the kingdom. 
He made a tour of inspection through the country, and found that 
neither the army nor the fortresses were in so good a condition as 
they ought to be, but the recommendations for improvements 
which he submitted were opposed, especially by Griffenfeld, until 
the war was on the point of breaking out, when some concessions had 
to be made. Griffenfeld seems to have feared that Gyldenl0ve was 
becoming too powerful in Norway, and he sent a trusted friend, Jens 
Juel, to assist him, and to watch his movements. But to Gylden- 
l0ve, who needed help in his many duties, Juel was not unwelcome. 
Together with the generals Russenstein and L0venhjelm the two 
formed a council of war, which henceforth directed all military 
preparations in Norway. In the summer of 1675, 1800 men were 
kept at work on the fortresses of Akershus, Fredrikstad, and Fred- 
rikshald, and the king authorized the creation of a war fund of 100,000 
riksdaler to be used in case of emergency.^ Instructions were also 

^ I. Giilowsen, Gyldenl^vefeiden 1676-1679, Christiania Videnskabs-Sel- 
skabs Skrifter, 1906. 


given in a royal proclamation regarding Bohuslen, that the people 
of that province should, be induced "by fair promises" to leave 
Sweden, and renew their allegiance to the government of Denmark- 

However faulty the mihtary organization might be in minor de- 
tails, Norway was much better prepared for the war at this time than 
m any of the previous conflicts with Sweden. The army numbered 
about 12,000 men, consisting of five regiments of infantry, six com- 
panies (800) of cavalry, and an artillery division of seventy-six 
field pieces. A sixth regiment of infantry, numbering 1000 men, 
had been sent to Denmark. The war between the Scandinavian 
countries was fought partly in Germany and partly in Sk§,ne and 
along the Norwegian border. In Danish history it is called the War 
in Sk^ne, in Norway it is generally known as the Gyldenl0ve War, 
because the statholder was commander in chief of the Norwegian 

Denmark had, especially, been making progress as a naval power 
under the able management of the great admiral Kort Sivertson 
Adelaer, who was placed in supreme command of the Danish-Norwe- 
gian navy by Frederick III. in 1663. Adelaer was a Norwegian by 
birth, but like many of his countrymen he had gone to Holland, 
where he enlisted in the navy, and became an able seaman. In 
time he became the owner of a ship with which he entered the ser- 
vice of the Venetian Senate, and upon his return to Holland he be- 
came very prominent. Frederick III. invited him to Denmark, 
made him chief admiral of the Danish navy, granted him a large 
salary, and finally raised him to the nobility. Adelaer possessed 
great administrative ability, and brought the fleet to a point of eflS- 
ciency which soon made Denmark-Norway a great naval power. 
He died shortly after the war broke out, and was succeeded by 
Admiral Nils Juel, the great Danish naval hero.^ Christian V. had 

^ Didrik Selmitler, Det ffirste Aarhundrede af den norske Hcers Historic, 
p. 52 ff. Osoar Alb. Johnsen, Norges Historie, vol. V., 1. I. Gulowsen, 
Gyldenl^vefeiden, Christiania Videnskabs-Selskabs Skrifier, 1906. C. O. 
Munthe, Fredrikshalds og Fredriksstens Historie indtil 1720, p. 321 ff. 

• Kort Adelaer' s achievements have been variously estimated. He has 
had his enthusiastic admirers and his bitter opponents among the histori- 
ans. See A. F. Fabricius, Minder fra Nordens Historie, "Kort Adeler." 


planned to direct his first attack against Sweden's German provinces/ 
and war began in August, 1675, when a Danish army of 16,000 men 
marched into Mecklenburg. The main part of this force advanced 
into Pomerania, while some minor detachments besieged Wismar, 
which was taken before the campaign closed for the year. In Bremen 
a smaller Danish force had cooperated with the alHes, and a greater 
part of the bishopric was taken. The operations along the Nor- 
wegian border had commenced with minor skirmishes in which 
the combatants tested each other's strength. The Swedish general 
Ascheberg had taken a position at Svarteborg with 2000 men, and 
a similar army of reserves was quartered in Vermland, while the 
Norwegians concentrated 4000 men at Fredrikshald under General 
Russenstein, and kept the mountain passes well guarded. No 
important battle was fought in this campaign. Gyldenl0ve sent 
a force of 1000 men on galleys along the coast of Bohuslen with orders 
to land at Saltkallan, and cut off Ascheberg's retreat, but the Swe- 
dish general had been informed of the plan, and both Swedes and 
Norwegians went into winter quarters in the border districts. The 
success gained by the Danes in Germany was undoubtedly due 
in a large measure to the superiority of the Danish-Norwegian fleet, 
which under Kort Adelaer had gained full control of the Baltic Sea. 
At this time the Swedish fleet was in such a wretched condition that 
it could not even seriously attempt to maintain communications 
with Germany, which had become the theater of war, and where its 
armies were in need of reenforcements ; a situation which shows that 
Sweden was ill prepared to expose her scattered dominions to the 
dangers of a new war. A young and untried king, Charles XL, 
had just ascended the throne, and the armies in the field had been 
hampered in their operations through jealous rivalry among the 

The success gained in the first campaign strengthened the influ- 
ence of the Danish war party. Duke John Adolph of Pl0en was 
chosen commander-in-chief of the army, and a vigorous campaign 

Chr. Bniun, Curt Sivertsen Adelaer. Axel Larsen, Dansk-Norske Heltehistorier, 
''Curt Sivertsen Adelaer," and "Nils Juel." 

^ By the treaty of Westphalia, 1648, Sweden received the city of Wismar 
and the greater part of Pomerania, together with Riigen, and the bishoprics 
of Bremen and Verden, but not the city of Bremen. 


for the conquest of Sk&ne, supported by an attack on the Swedish 
border provinces by the Norwegian army, was planned for the fol- 
lowing year. GrifFenfeld, being an advocate of peace, not only 
opposed the war, but he sought still through diplomatic negotiations 
to maintain friendly relations with France, the ally of Sweden. 
Great power, flattery, and royal favor had made him very arrogant, 
so that he even offended the king himself, and aroused the hatred 
of the nobles. He continued to take bribes in spite of continued 
warnings, and as his diplomacy and statesmanship began to take a 
course ever more opposed to the policy of the king and his generals, 
who were determined to push the war with vigor, it became easy for 
his enemies to undermine his influence, and bring about his over- 
throw. His most powerful opponents were General Frederick Arens- 
torf and the king's mistress, Sophia Amalie Moth, who was created 
Countess of Sams0, and became the head of a court camarilla, which 
virtually controlled the king. But Griffenfeld also had numerous 
personal enemies, especially in the court circles, and no man in so 
exalted a position possibly ever had fewer real friends. On the morn- 
ing of March 11, 1676, when the chancellor arrived at the palace to 
lay the latest letters before the king, he was accosted by General 
Arenstorf, who informed him that he had been ordered by the king 
to arrest him. His house was placed under guard, his papers were 
seized, and the distinguished prisoner was locked up in the citadel. 
After being tried on several grave charges, among others, perjury, 
simony, treason, extortion, and the taking of bribes, he was sen- 
tenced to be executed, and to have forfeited all his honors, titles, 
and possessions. He had already placed his head on the block, when 
he was pardoned by the king, and his sentence was changed to life 
imprisonment. Griffenfeld was undoubtedly innocent of many of 
the gravest offenses with which he was charged, and the sentence 
was manifesty unjust, but he had himself created the conditions 
which brought about his fall, and by his conduct in his high office 
he had made himself justly liable to severe punishment. For twenty- 
two years he remained imprisoned. In 1680 he was transferred from 
Frederikshavn to the castle of Munkholmen, near Trondhjem, where 
he stayed till 1698, when he was liberated from prison, and allowed 
to stay in the city, because of his failing health. He died in Trond- 


hjem, March 12, 1699, and his body was brought to Denmark, where 
it rests in the cemetery of Vaer church in Jutland.^ 

The Swedish king, Charles XL, exerted himself to the utmost to 
bring Sweden's military forces, both on sea and land, to the highest 
state of efficiency for the next campaign. He would send a fleet 
to Germany with sufficient reenforcements to protect his German 
provinces, while an army should attack Seeland, and carry the war 
to the very heart of the Danish kingdom. But Nils Juel, who had 
succeeded Kort Adelaer as admiral of the Danish-Norwegian fleet, 
seized Gothland and concentrated his whole fleet of twenty-six ships 
near Bornholm. The Swedish fleet of fifty vessels carrying 1100 
guns advanced to attack him, but as Juel had strict orders not to 
engage in battle with a greatly superior force, he retreated towards 
the coast of Sk§,ne, and anchored behind Falsterbo Reef, followed 
closely by the Swedes. Here he received reenforcements of five 
Danish and four Dutch ships, but had to turn over the chief com- 
mand to the Hollander Cornelius Tromp. After some maneuvering 
the two fleets finally joined in battle off Oland, June 1, 1676, where 
the Swedes suffered a serious defeat. Both flagships were destroyed, 
the two admirals, Creutz and Ugga, lost their lives, and many ships 
were captured. This defeat so crippled the Swedish fleet that the 
contemplated invasion of Sk&ne could be undertaken without fear of 
serious opposition. Gyldenl0ve fortified the pass of Kvistrum, and 
seized Uddevalla without encountering much opposition. Veners- 
borg was also taken after a sharp engagement. An attempt to 
seize Gottenborg was unsuccessful, but Gyldenl0ve turned towards 
Bohus, where he was joined by reenforcements under T0nne Huit- 
feldt, which increased his forces to 5000 men. In their operations in 
Skine the Danes were very successful, as their countrymen in that 
province welcomed them as liberators. Helsingborg opened its 
portals to the invaders, Landskrona was taken without great resist- 
ance, and Kristianstad was forced to surrender after a severe engage- 
ment. As the people of Sk§,ne also rose in arms, and organized bands 
of guerillas (Snaphanerne), who everywhere attacked the Swedes, 

lA. D. J0rgensen, Peder Schumacher Griffenfeld. Paludan-Miiller, Grif- 
fenfelds Stigen og Falden, Copenhagen, 1879. O. Vaupel, Rigskantsler Grev 
Griffenfeld, 1880. O. A. 0verland, Norges Historic, vol. VII., p. 226 ff., 348 ff. 

VOL. II — S 


Charles XL was obliged to withdraw from the province. Sweden 
had been placed in a most critical position. Its German provinces, 
with the exception of the strongest fortresses, were held by the armies 
of the allies, its fleet was unable to render efficient service, Gothland 
and Sk&ne had been seized by the Danes, and Bohuslen was occupied 
by the Norwegians under Gyldenl0ve. The time seemed to have 
come when Denmark would get revenge for past defeats and losses, 
but Christian V., who appears to have had a jealous and irritable 
temper, threw away the final victory at the moment when it seemed 
to be within reach. Having taken offense at Duke Pl0en's haughty 
bearing, he lent such willing ear to his opponents that the duke 
resigned as commander-in-chief of the Danish armies. The king 
himself assumed command, but proved to be wholly incompetent, 
and misfortunes befell the Danish arms in rapid succession. A force 
which had been sent into Halland under the Scotch general Duncan 
was destroyed by Charles XL at Fyllebro. Duncan fell, and only 
a few hundred men escaped from the field. This victory, which 
gave the Swedes new hope, and increased their confidence in their 
king, was of no slight military importance, as it prevented any further 
cooperation between Gyldenl0ve and the Danish army in Sk&ne. 
When he heard that a large Swedish army was approaching to attack 
him, Gyldenl0ve raised the siege of Bohus, and withdrew from Bohus- 
len. More disastrous still was the battle of Lund, December 4, 
1676. When Charles XI. learned that the Norwegians had left 
Bohuslen, he advanced into Sk&ne, and sought to surprise the Danes 
in their winter quarters. His movements were discovered in time, 
but a bloody battle ensued, in which the Danes were defeated with a 
loss of several thousand men, together with artillery and baggage.^ 
This victory reestablished the self-confidence and reputation of 
the Swedes, and gave the Danes a stunning blow from which it was 
difficult to recover. The people of Sk&ne submitted to King Charles 
XI., and Helsingborg received a Swedish garrison. But some 

* O. Vaupel, Den danske og norske Hcers Historie, vol. I., p. 136 ff. Abra- 
ham Cronholm, Skanes politiske Historia, vol. II., p. 181 £E. Fredrik Ferdi- 
nand Carlson, Sveriges Historia under Konungarne af pfalziska Huset, part II. 
I, Gulowsen, Gyldenl^vefeiden. G. Bj0rlin, Kriget mot Danmark 1676-1679, 
p. Ill flf. 


sinews of strength still remained to Christian V., his superior fleet 
and the undefeated Norwegian army. 

King Charles' plan for the campaign of 1677 was to strengthen 
his fleet to such an extent that he could reestabhsh communications 
with his army in Pomerania under Konigsmark, and by an attack 
on Seeland force the Danes to withdraw from Sk&ne. But Chris- 
tian v., who aimed to regain what had been lost by the defeat at 
Lund, hurried reenforcements across the Sound as soon as the cam- 
paign opened in the spring. During the winter the Norwegian army 
had been increased to 17,000 men. In July Gyldenl0ve with a small 
Norwegian force captured the fortress of Marstrand, and advanced 
to join General L0venhjelm, who was marching into Bohuslen with 
the main Norwegian army. At Uddevalla they encountered a 
Swedish army of 8000 men under General de la Gardie. In the 
battle which ensued the Swedish general was outmaneuvered, and 
ordered a retreat which soon turned into a disastrous flight. A great 
part of his force were made prisoners of war ; his artillery and nine- 
teen standards fell into the hands of the Norwegians, who gained 
control over the whole of Bohuslen with the exception of Bohus 
castle. This defeat also affected the campaign in Sk&ne, where 
the Swedes had continued to make progress. The siege of Kris- 
tianstad was raised, and Charles XL hastened into Halland to fore- 
stall an invasion by the Norwegian forces in Bohuslen. In August 
of the same year a force of 2000 men from Tr0ndelagen under Rein- 
hold von Hoven and Christian Schultz marched into Jsemtland, 
and drove out the Swedish detachments under Count Sparre. But 
though they were well received by their countrymen, no effort was 
made to take permanent possession of this old Norwegian province, 
as General von Hoven soon withdrew his forces in obedience to an 
order from the king. 

At sea the united forces of the two kingdoms were very successful, 
and won some of the greatest victories in Danish-Norwegian naval 
history. In the battle of Rostock, or M0en, Admiral Nils Juel almost 
annihilated a Swedish squadron under Admiral Sjoblad, and on July 1 
he fought the memorable naval battle of Kj0ge Bay with the Swedish 
main fleet under Admiral Horn. The Swedes suffered an overwhelm- 
ing defeat. Their admiral lost twenty ships with 700 cannons, and 


3000 men were killed or captured. After the great battle many of the 
foreign captains who served under the great admiral were court- 
martialed for incompetence or negligence. Jan Peppe was dismissed, 
Jan Vogel escaped a worse fate by timely flight, and three others were 
sentenced to pay fines. But the Norwegians had served with great 
distinction, notably Mickel Tennissen, Morten Pedersen, Hans 
Sch0nneb0l, Thomas Seerup, and Hans Garstensen Garde.^ These, 
and many other brave Norwegian oflBcers, had learned their seaman- 
ship in Dutch and English service, and their bravery and compe- 
tence to a large extent made these victories possible. The great naval 
wars between Holland and England had been a severe military school, 
in which the Norwegian sailors and sea-captains had been such apt 
pupils that they often surpassed their teachers in bold adventure and 
clever seamanship.^ 

The success gained by the Norwegian army and the fleet was, 
however, neutralized by new defeats inflicted on the Danish land 
forces in Sk§,ne. In a fruitless attack on Malmo Christian V. 
sacrificed 4000 men, and after a crushing defeat at Landskrona, the 
plan of capturing Sk&ne had to be abandoned. In the next cam- 
paign confidence would chiefly be placed in the Norwegian army, 
which was reenforced with Danish troops, and efforts would be made 
to occupy new Swedish territory in Germany. Already in September, 
1677, Christian V. seized the island of Riigen with an army of 6000 

' Ludvig Daae, Nordmcends Udvandringer til Holland og England i nyere 
Tid, p. 25 S. 

* Attempts were repeatedly made to induce the Norwegian and Danish 
seamen in Holland to return home. Daae says: "The same attempt was 
repeated diiring the war in Sk&ne, and from among those who returned, the 
officers for the fleet were chosen." 

In 1690 the higher officers in the Danish-Norwegian fleet, with the excep- 
tion of admirals, schoutbynachts, and cadets, numbered sixty-seven persons. 
In Nils Juel's Conduiteliste over Marinens Officerers Personale, Anno 1690 
four commander-captains, three second-class captains, two third-class cap- 
tains, one captain-Ueutenant, and seven lieutenants, in all seventeen, are 
especially mentioned as Norwegians. There was possibly a similar number 
of Danes ; the rest were foreigners. Ludvig Daae, Nordma;nds Udvandringer 
til Holland og England % nyere Tid, p. 28. J. E. Sars says: "The Norwegian 
marines constituted throughout one-half of the total complement of men in 
the fleet, and even more, and it is certain that they were not the least able 
and respected part." Udsigt over den norske Historie, vol. IV., p. 113. 


men, but General Konigsmark defeated the Danes, and recaptured 
the island. Gyldenl0ve entered Bohuslen, and laid siege to Bohus 
castle. All the outer works were carried, the stronghold would 
have been taken, but he was so embarrassed in his operations by orders 
from the Danish Council of War, and by the disloyal conduct of the 
generals Giese and Degenfeld, who commanded the Danish auxiliary 
forces, that the opportunity was wasted, and when a large Swedish 
army under Otto Stenbock approached, he raised the siege, and re- 
treated to Uddevalla. Hostilities continued also during the next 
year, but no important military event occurred. The two powers 
still held the same territory as before the war, but the border districts 
of Sk§,ne and Bohuslen had been severely harried by the plundering 
soldiers, both friend and foe. The hope which Christian V. had en- 
tertained of humbling Sweden, and recovering the lost provinces, 
gradually but surely vanished with the breaking up of the coalition 
against France. The peace of Nimwegen between Holland and Louis 
XIV. was signed July 1, 1678, after protracted negotiations, and in 
January of the next year the German Emperor concluded peace with 
France and Sweden. Only Elector Frederick WiUiam of Brandenburg 
now supported Denmark-Norway against France and Sweden, and 
it was certain that Louis XIV. would subscribe to no terms of peace 
derogatory to the interests of his ally. When Brandenburg also 
concluded peace with France, and a French army threatened the 
duchies of Schleswig-Holstein, the situation became critical. But 
the war spirit had finally ebbed away, and peace between Denmark 
and France was signed at Fontainebleau, August 23, 1679, stipulating 
that all territory taken from Sweden should be returned, and that the 
terms of the peace of Roskilde should remain in force. In September, 
1679, a peace between Denmark-Norway and Sweden was signed in 
Lund, reaffirming the conditions already established in the treaty of 
Fontainebleau, and providing also for a defensive alliance between 
the Northern kingdoms, which should remain in force for a period of 
ten years. The unfortunate war had ceased, but only after the three 
Scandinavian peoples had wasted the strength which they should 
have employed in peaceful development, or which they might have 
preserved for resisting more dangerous foreign foes. 


33. Internal and Foreign Affairs in the Reign of Christla.n V. 

In civil as in military affairs Christian V. sought to retain all power 
and influence in his own hands in conformity with the principles of 
absolutism, but he lacked the ability to develop an eflficient personal 
rule. He hated the old nobility, as he suspected that they would use 
any favorable opportunity to reestablish their former power, and 
after the overthrow of Griffenfeld, he was also careful lest any of his 
councilors should become too powerful. Among his advisers were 
many from the commons whom he had elevated to high positions be- 
sides the prominent men of noble birth like Ahlefeld and Gyldenl0ve, 
but no one enjoyed his full confidence. As he hated any restrictions 
upon his own personal influence, the Administrative Colleges were not 
allowed to exercise any independent activity, but in all matters the 
decision was to be left to the king. In military affairs he demanded 
an account even of the minutest details of the service, not even the 
purchase of necessaries for the fleet exceeding 500 riksdaler would be 
valid without royal sanction. In diplomacy and foreign affairs he 
was equally careful to centralize all influence in his own hands. After 
the fall of Griffenfeld his instructions to his new chancellor, Frederick 
Ahlefeld, were, that all communications with representatives of 
foreign courts, "how insignificant soever the matter may be," should 
bear his own signature, and that all dispatches from abroad should 
be placed before him without delay.^ The creation of commissions 
which gradually absorbed the greater part of the duties of the Admin- 
istrative Colleges was a part of the general plan to strengthen his 
own influence, as these commissions, which could be dissolved at 
any moment, would be in the highest possible degree subservient to 
the royal will. 

King Christian had a jealous dislike for those who could \\an popu- 
lar favor and exercise great influence. He would not only wield all 
power, but he could not bear any one who towered above him intel- 
lectually, a weakness not uncommon in small minds. Of Griffenfeld, 
the special object of his hatred, he could have said as Macbeth did of 
Banquo : 

* E. Holm, Danmark-Norges indre Historie under Enevadden, p. 51. 


" He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour 
To act in safety. There is none but he 
Whose being I do fear : and under him 
My Genius is rebuk'd, as it is said 
Mark Antony's was by Caesar." 

And Griffenfeld, the only statesman who possessed sagacity enough 
to guide the state through this stormy period, was overthrown at a 
moment when his experience and insight was most indispensable. 
Duke Pl0en, the general who successfully conducted the campaign 
in Sk§,ne, was dismissed, because the king did not like him. Chris- 
tian himself would be chief general, a position for which he was as 
little qualified as for that of diplomat. Armies were destroyed, and 
opportunities wasted through lack of competent leadership, until 
Louis XIV. could dictate the terms of peace. In matters of internal 
administration, his efforts to play autocrat and emulate the great 
French king only brings to light a lack of ability which forms a glaring 
contrast to his unlimited power. During a long reign of twenty-nine 
years he was unable to develop a well-systematized form of ad- 
ministration, and we look in vain for new ideas, or an effort to create 
better economic and social conditions. By the wars with Sweden, 
and the extravagance of the court, public burdens had been increased 
to an almost unbearable degree, and as the peasants were unable to 
pay the taxes, the government resorted to the scheme of making the 
larger landowners responsible for the revenues, in return for which 
they were exempted from taxation. The German-born nobles, who 
had emigrated to Denmark in large numbers, owned a great portion 
of the largest estates, but they resided in Copenhagen, and their es- 
tates were managed by overseers (ridefogeds) , whose business it 
became to extort the taxes from the peasants. The wooden horse 
and other instruments of torture were invented by them, and the 
condition of the peasants grew even worse under the rule of the 
nobles. Agriculture fell into decay, and no progress was made by 
the cities. Rather than to seek to ease the people's burdens, and to 
further economic and social development, he would maintain old social 
conditions, and play guardian of his people in minor domestic af- 
fairs, where his meddlesome interference could do nought but harm. 
The king showed no interest for scientific research, but his solicitude 


for the religious and moral life of his people was of the most anxious 
kind. He ordered that the daily hours of devotion in the city 
churches should be better attended, and that in the country districts 
the people with their children and servants should spend some time 
in prayer both morning and evening. If people did not go to church, 
it was to be regarded as sacrilege, and by the ritual of 1685 the deacons 
were instructed to be present and observe who went to communion, 
and to write their names in a book kept for the purpose. Against 
luxury of all kinds the king instituted a vigorous campaign,^ and 
sought to regulate in detail the people's daily life. Regulations were 
issued regarding funerals, describing in what sort of coffins people 
of the various classes should be buried, and the ceremonies to be used 
for each class. To give food and drink to those who carried the 
coffin to the grave was forbidden, likewise also the burning of candles, 
or excessive decorations of the house of mourning. Funeral orations 
could be delivered only if the deceased were persons of quality, and 
if the funeral took place in the evening, the oration should not last 
over fifteen minutes. 

Still more annoying were the royal orders issued by Christian V. in 
1683 regarding attire, weddings, parties, etc. In a solemn introduc- 
tion the king declares that he "perceives how the extravagance in 
attire as well as food and drink at weddings, confinements, and parties 
is carried to such extremes that God thereby must be highly offended, 
and as one will not be inferior to the other in such matters, they 
waste their means until they are utterly ruined." He then proceeds 
to lay down rules, says Holm, as to " who are to be allowed to wear 
gold and silver embroidery, precious stones, lace, gold, and silver 
brocade, flowered velvet, rings above a certain price, etc. Only 
those belonging to the highest classes were numbered among these 
especially favored ones. There was one kind of attire ; for example, 

^ Efforts to limit luxury had been made also in the previous century both 
by the kings and the clergy. The sixteenth century was especially the 
period of luxury-laws. France took the lead, and other nations followed her 
example. In thirty years, from 1545 till 1575, not less than eight statutes 
were issued against luxury in France. In Denmark Frederick I. began to 
legislate against luxury in 1528, and laws on this subject appeared at brief 
intervals, but usually to no piu-pose. See Troels Limd, Dagligt Liv i Norden, 
vol. IV., p. 130 ff. 


black or plain colored velvet, which all persons of rank, as well as the 
nobles, might wear. Regulations were also made how promoti doc- 
tores in theologia and promoti doctores in other faculties should be 
attired. Those who had studied abroad, the principal royal oflficers 
who were not of 'rank,' the thirty-two members of the city council 
of Copenhagen, etc., were regarded as equal to these. Those who 
belonged to this class might wear mantels of black velvet or other 
suitable attire of silk, grofgr0n, tersonel, ferandin, taffeta, and other 
plain silks manufactured in this country, and likewise, also, all kinds 
of India silks which are brought hither with the Company's ships, 
and rings to the value of a hundred riksdaler ; lynx, martin, and squir- 
rel, and other lining of reasonable price. All others were forbidden 
to wear silk, nor could they wear any rings save plain gold rings. 
Regulations were made as to the length of the train of ladies' dresses 
according to rank, what ornaments they should wear, what kind of 
braid people should use on the uniforms of their lacqueys, what kind 
of carriages they should drive in, etc. A series of regulations for 
weddings, banquets, and childbirth parties were made to correspond. 
It was stipulated how everything was to be done at engagement 
feasts and weddings, according to people's rank, and a fixed grada- 
tion was established regarding the decorations of the bridal bed, from 
gold and silver fringes for privy councilors, counts, and knights, down 
to craftsmen and servants, who were permitted to use ' woolen cloth 
which can be made in this country, but without fringes, tassels, or 
braids.' People were in general allowed to invite twelve couples to 
a wedding, besides their nearest relatives, but a limit was placed on 
the number of meals to be served, and it was expressly forbidden to 
offer the guests more than eight different dishes, and no pyramids of 
confectionery were allowed to be placed among the victuals. Crafts- 
men and servants should not invite more than six couples, and they 
should serve a frugal meal of only four dishes. Not more than eight 
couples should be invited to a country wedding, and not above six 
ordinary dishes should be served. A general provision, which was 
made binding upon all, specially forbade the giving or receiving of 
wedding presents by any one whatsoever ; but parents might give 
their children presents according to their means, and wedding presents 
might also be given to servants." ^ 

^ E. Holm, Danmark-Norges indre Historie under Enevoslden, vol. I., p. 300. 


But while the king sought to Hmit so strictly what he tenned the 
luxury of the common people, he would not in any way curtail his 
own pleasures, or the excessive extravagance of the nobility. The 
old hunting laws were kept in force, as it was the king's chief care to 
preserve the game and maintain the pleasures of the chase. Whether 
the wild animals destroyed the people's grain fields, or the fox killed 
their geese and chickens was a matter about which the royal con- 
science felt no compunction. But such barbaric punishments were 
inflicted on all poachers, i.e. any one outside the privileged classes 
who ventured to kill a bird or animal, that it seemed a less offense to 
kill a human being than a deer or a partridge. Ordinary poaching 
was punished by flogging, branding, or life imprisonment. If a land- 
owner who possessed the right to hunt, killed a deer on the royal 
hunting grounds, the fine was 1000 riksdaler, for a bird 200 riksdaler, 
but if the offender was a servant he would be punished by death even 
for shooting a snipe. 

In order to carry numerous provisions of this kind into effect it 
was necessary also to increase and extend the police service of the 
kingdom. In 1682 Christian V. appointed the first chief of police 
in Copenhagen, and delegated to him such a multitude of duties that 
it would have required a whole army of police officers to attend to all. 
He was not only to maintain general order in the city, but all servants 
were placed under his special supervision, and it was his duty to pun- 
ish disobedience, dishonesty, and carelessness on their part. The 
cleaning and lighting of the streets, the waterworks, and the fire 
department were also placed under his command. It was his duty 
to prevent strangers from staying in the city on an unlawful errand, 
and he should give good heed that no cheating was done with coin, 
weight, or measure; that the lawful prices were maintained, and 
that the rules for crafts and guilds were enforced. He should 
also watch over the Lutheran Church, so that no writings against re- 
ligion, or other forbidden books were offered for sale, and that no 
lampoons were published ; and he was especially delegated to insure 
the proper observance of the royal decrees regarding weddings, 
parties, funerals, rank, and wearing apparel. But his activity should 
not only extend to the city, but to the whole kingdom of Denmark. 
He should watch lest any unlawful trade was carried on in any city 


in the kingdom, that travelers were carried from place to place at 
the stipulated rates, that inns and taverns along the main routes were 
properly equipped, etc. In this way a police regime was created 
which possessed some good features, but which in many respects 
would have been intolerable if it had been in any degree efficient. 
The kind of administration created by Christian V. shows the king's 
own mental caliber, and illustrates in general the character of the 
seventeenth century absolutism. The government was chiefly oc- 
cupied with a multitude of trifles which ought to have been intrusted 
to the care of local authorities, if they could not be left, as they ought 
to have been, to the good judgment of the private citizen. Not only 
was all political liberty destroyed, but the most private domestic 
affairs were to be controlled by royal decrees to an extent which made 
the state resemble a well-regulated home for orphans. Society was 
stratified into ever more sharply demarcated classes, based on rank, 
titles, and special privileges, and as no encouragement was given to 
individual enterprise, as small room was found within this system for 
originahty and real abihty, the government suffered in nearly all 
departments from a dull incompetence which made it unable to 
meet a crisis with resolute energy. Royal favor was looked upon as 
the source of promotion rather than talent and energetic individual 
effort. Titles, pensions, or even a smile or nod from the absolute 
sovereign was esteemed of more value than solid achievements in art 
or industry, a most serious impediment to true social progress. Some 
improvements might occasionally be made, but they were happy 
accidents rather than part of a systematically pursued plan of 
national development. 

Among such improvements must especially be mentioned the " Code 
of Christian V.," a new lawbook prepared for the kingdom of Norway. 
The "Code of Christian IV." of 1604 which, as already stated, was 
but a wretched translation of the "Code of Magnus Lagab0ter" 
(Landsloven) of 1276, had become so antiquated that it had become 
almost useless, and the plan of preparing a new code had been con- 
sidered even by Hannibal Sehested and Jens Bjelke. Many changes 
had also resulted from the introduction of absolutism, and the need 
was more imperative than ever of bringing the laws into harmony 
with the new conditions. In Denmark the preparation of a new code, 


which had been begun in 1661, was finally completed in 1683. After 
some abortive attempts four Norwegians, among whom was the able 
and learned jurist Christian Stockfleth, were appointed to prepare a 
new lawbook for Norway.^ This was indeed an important concession, 
as the judicial affairs of the two kingdoms would thereby remain 
separated, and special attention would be paid to local social en- 
vironment in Norway. The work submitted by this commission was 
naturally based on the laws of Norway, but the king, who favored 
strongly a uniform system of laws for both kingdoms, subjected it to 
revisions which brought it into close harmony with Danish juris- 
prudence. But the law of odel and other laws governing the tenure 
of land in Norway were, nevertheless, retained, and in regard to 
hunting the Norwegian code contains few and very liberal provisions. 
The code was completed 1687. The following year it was put into 
use in Norway and the Faroe Islands and in part, also, in Iceland. In 
conformity with the spirit of the times it prescribed the most cruel 
punishments for crime. A long list of offenses was punishable by 
death, while maiming, banishment, and life imprisonment were fre- 
quently inflicted for no very grave crimes.^ But the code contains 
some good features. It attempts especially to maintain the prin- 
ciple of equality before the law, and to insure a degree of personal 
liberty quite uncommon in those times. The code was received in 
Norway with general good-will, as it met a long-felt want, but much 
confusion was caused by the introduction of Danish laws which were 
not adapted to Norwegian local conditions. It must also be regarded 
as a distinct national loss that the old system of Norwegian juris- 
prudence, the codes of St. Olav and Magnus Lagab0ter, had been 
discarded, and the Norwegian code had been based on principles 
largely foreign to the people. 

* N. Prebensen og Hj. Smith, Forarbeiderne til Kong Christian den femtes 
norske Lov. 

* "Whosoever is engaged to one and afterward marries another shall 
leave the king's realms and domains." Kong Christian den femtes norske 
Lov (Code of Christian V.), Christiania, 1883, book vi., eh. 13, article 23. 

"Whosoever is convicted of blasphemy against God or his holy name, 
word, or sacrament, his tongue shall be cut from his mouth while he lives, 
his head shall be cut off, and together with his tongue shall be placed on a 
stake." Ibid., book VI., eh. I., article vii. 


During King Christian's reign the Norwegian army and defenses 
were greatly strengthened. At the outbreak of the war in Sk§,ne, 
1675, the Norwegian army numbered 12,000 men, by 1683 it had been 
increased to 16,300, and in 1700 it had reached a total of 21,000 men.^ 

The joint Danish-Norwegian fleet experienced an even greater 
development under the efficient leadership of Kort Adelaer and Nils 
Juel. Through purchase, as well as by the building of new ships, a 
relatively strong fleet was created before the outbreak of the war 
with Sweden, and by encouraging the Norwegian merchants to con- 
struct ships which could be converted into war vessels, a valuable 
auxiliary squadron of "defense ships" had been created, which was to 
be used for the protection of the Norwegian coast. In 1674 the fleet, 
together with the "defense ships," numbered sixty-three vessels, 
of which seventeen carried fifty guns, and forty-six were "defense 
ships." By 1679 the fleet had been increased to 107 vessels, of which 
only seventeen were "defense ships." In 1700, after some reduction 
had been made in the number of vessels, it still numbered thirty-three 
ships of the line, carrying 2778 guns. Denmark-Norway had become 
one of the leading naval powers.^ 

The fortresses of the kingdom were much improved, and new forts 
were built under the direction of Gustav Wilhelm Wedel, a German 
by birth, who was made commander-in-chief in Norway, 1681, during 
the absence of Statholder Gyldenl0ve. Fredriksten was strengthened 
by the building of new forts, and the Glommen River was made a 
strong line of defense through the construction of several fortresses 
and redoubts, a work which proved to be of great value in the next 
war with Sweden. Vinger was completed in 1682, Kristiansfjeld, 
Blakjser, and Basmo were founded the following year, and the Kongs- 
vinger and Sponviken fortifications were also erected at this time. 

In 1685 Christian V. visited Norway, and the people welcomed 
him on all occasions with enthusiastic loyalty. From Christiania 
he journeyed across the Dovre Mountains to Trondhjem, and after 

1 J. Chr. Berg, Aktstykker til den staaende Hcers Historie, Samlinger til 
det norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. IV. Didrik Schnitler, Det f^rste 
Aarhundrede af den norske Hcers Historie. 

^ Edvard Holm, Danmark-N orges indre Historie under Enevoelden, vol. I., 
p. 455 ff. Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark, p. 131 ff. Oscar 
Alb. Johljgen, N orges Historie, V, 1, p. 127 ff. 


visiting Bergen, Stavanger, and the towns of southern Norway, he 
returned home. 

King Christian was neither broad-minded nor very gifted, but he 
was conscientious, and devoted himself with great diUgence to the 
numerous routine duties which devolved upon him as absolute ruler. 
He was a lover of moderation, always kind and good-natured, and by 
his gentle manners he won the hearts of the people to quite an unusual 
degree. Molesworth speaks of him as a prince of singular abihty 
and good nature, but adds that "he is often overruled by those 
about him, to whom he leaves the whole management of affairs, 
because he neither loves nor has a genius for business." ^ He died 
August 25, 1699, at the age of fifty-three. 

Touching his policy of internal administration in Norway Professor 
Oscar Alb. Johnsen says : " He regarded Norway and his other pos- 
sessions with a feeling akin to that with which a landed proprietor 
looks upon his estates and his subordinates. Everything existed for 
the benefit of himself and his family, and was to be administered in 
such a way that it yielded him and his family the greatest and most 
lasting profit. He sought to promote the interests of the binder, 
because they were good taxpayers. He was interested in shipping, 
for without it there would be no able seamen to serve in the wars. 
From his diary it is clear that it was principally the more elementary 
features of administration which interested him, — the defenses, taxa- 
tion, and economic conditions." ^ 

With regard to Norway, he pursued a policy of political amalgama- 
tion with a definite aim to obliterate as far as possible the national 
existence of the Norwegians, and to reduce the two kingdoms to one 
country. This policy comes to view especially in the Norwegian 
code of laws, which is based almost exclusively on the laws of Den- 
mark. He wished to introduce a uniform code for both kingdoms, 
and the same laws were henceforth made to apply as far as possible 
to both kingdoms, even when they were not adapted to Norwegian 
local conditions. In the administration the two countries were also 
treated as one estate, and the specific Norwegian interests were often 
ignored or neglected. Norway received no university or central ad- 
ministration, though an earnest desire for these very necessary im- 

^ An Account of Denmark, p. 139. * Norges Hiaiorie, vol. V., 1, p. 130 f. 


provements had long been expressed, neither did the kingdom have 
a bank or a capital city/ all features which would have tended to 
unite its scattered cities and separate communities into a more firmly 
consolidated state, and would have given a new impetus to the de- 
velopment of national patriotism. But the kings of the period of 
absolutism, like the kings during the union period from the time of 
Queen Margaret, wanted a strong Denmark, not a strong Norway. 
The kingdom united with Denmark should lose its own individuality, 
in the hope that it would gradually become an integral part of that 
realm. This short-sighted statesmanship, which was of no benefit 
to either kingdom, often resulted in a wanton neglect of Norway's 
most vital interests, and retarded, though it could not wholly arrest, 
the national development of the Norwegian people. The absolute 
kings, like their earlier predecessors in the union period, did not 
attempt to further the true development of either nation. Their 
interests were personal, dynastic, and wholly self-centered, which 
made their rule a monotonous routine, or a greedy desire for lands 
and revenues, usually barren of all good results. 

In Sweden the late wars had caused great losses. The fleet had 
been destroyed, cities burned, and the German provinces, as well as 
the border districts of the kingdom, had been devastated by repeated 
raids. A great public debt had been created, and the burdens upon 
the common people were excessively heavy, while the nobles were 
still exempted from paying taxes. A change had also taken place 
in the government. Though the old forms were to all appearances 
maintained, the Council had been pushed into the background, and 
the king had begun to act with more independence than before, partly 
because the stress of circumstances had made it necessary, but partly 
also because his growing popularity enabled him to assume more 
direct control of the affairs of government. In order to meet as well 
as possible the exigencies of the situation, the Estates were assembled 
at Stockholm in 1680. The commons demanded that the crown-lands 
which had been given or sold to the nobles should be confiscated and 
that the royal power should be strengthened. The Council and the 
nobles had to yield, and the king became virtually absolute also in 

* J. E. Sars, Historisk Indledning til Grundloven, p. 78 f. 

272 history of the norwegian people ii 

34. Economic and Social Conditions in Norway in the 
Seventeenth Century 

After the overthrow of the Hanseatic merchants, the Norwegian 
cities found new opportunities to develop, and they gradually as- 
sumed a character very different from the surrounding rural com- 
munities, from which they had at first been but slightly differentiated 
as to economic interests and mode of life.^ The development once 
begun struck a rapid pace, and soon wrought an important change in 
the social as well as the economic life of the nation. At the assembly 
of the Estates in Oslo, 1591, the burghers and the binder appeared 
for the first time as two distinct estates,^ and this division of the 
commons into two separate classes with diverging social tendencies 
and economic interests grew even more distinct, until it developed into 
a social struggle of far-reaching importance.' 

The cities had been regarded from the outset as a part of the dis- 
trict in which they were situated, and the rural communities had 
been the local units of government and religious life.* In course of 
time the new urban development inverted the order, and the cities 
through their growing influence and power became commercial, social, 
and cultural centers to which the rural districts were attached as 
tributary territories. The burghers were rapidly rising, and the 
binder were correspondingly depressed in the social scale. The 
growth of the cities was favored, not only by an increasing com- 
merce, but especially through privileges granted by the kings, who 
became their special patrons, and sought to force their development. 
Limited privileges had been granted the cities by various statutes from 
quite early times, and from 1299 the right of the rural districts to carry 
on trade was restricted in favor of the cities.^ But more radical 
measures were taken by Christian IV., who, among other things, 

* T. H. Aschehoug, De nor she Communers Retsforfatning f^ 18S7, p. 19 f. 
^ Oscar Alb. Johnsen, De norske Sioender, p. 112, 115 f. 

^ Halvdan Koht, Bonde mot Borgar i nynorsk Historie, Historisk Tids- 
skrift, femte rsekke, vol. I., p. 29 ff. 

* Absalon Taranger, Oslos celdste Byprivilegium, Historiske Afhandlinger 
tilegnet J. E. Sars. Alexander Bugge, Studier over de norske Byers Selvstyre 
og Handel. L. J. Vogt, Historisk Tidsskrift, anden rsekke, vol. V., p. 80 ff., 

273 ff. 

* T. H. Aschehoug, De norske Communers Retsforfatning f^r 1837, p. 19. 


issued a royal decree commanding the people of the neighboring 
towns to move into the new cities of Christiania and Christiansand, 
which he had founded.^ Each city was to have its own fixed district, 
inside of which it had a trade monopoly, and all harbors within a dis- 
tance of twenty-one miles should be abandoned. Christiansand 
was especially favored, as the kings were determined to make it a 
metropolis in southern Norway. The bishop's seat, the Latin 
school, and the stiftsamtmand were moved from Stavanger to Chris- 
tiansand by royal decree ; all the smaller towns in its neighborhood 
except Mandal, Arendal, Psterris0r, and Flekkef jord were abandoned, 
and Stavanger's city charter was revoked. In 1685 Christian V. 
even decreed that all inhabitants in Mandal, Arendal, 0sterris0r, and 
Flekkefjord who did not move to Christiansand before New Year 
should pay a double amount of taxes, " It was manifestly the plan 
of the government," says Holm, "that the four stift cities {i.e. Chris- 
tiania, Christiansand, Bergen, and Trondhjem) should be the trade 
centers of the kingdom. Bergen occupied the same privileged posi- 
tion in Bergens stift as Christiansand did in its stift, and farther 
to the north the four so-called "sj0-len" (naval districts) {i.e. 
Romsdal, Nordm0r, Fosen, and Namdalen) as well as the coast 
along the Trondhjemsfjord belonged to the trade district of Trond- 
hjem.^ In the privileges granted this city March 7, 1682, it was 
stipulated that the inhabitants of the thriving towns of Molde and 
Fosen (Christiansund), who lived as burghers, should either move to 
Trondhjem, or build within that city in a year a home as good as 
the one in which they were living. The villagers and those who 
dwelt by the harbors in the neighborhood were also ordered to 
move to the city." But although towns were not allowed except at 
a certain distance from the chief cities, the burghers were instructed 
to erect trading posts at convenient places within their district, in 
order to facilitate trade and to enable the people to reach a market. 
The government also issued regulations regarding the importa- 
tion of goods and the carrying on of trade. The wares should be 

^ Edvard Holm, Danmark-Norges indre Historie under Enevcelden, vol. I., 
p. 245 ff. 

" Ibid., vol. I., p. 253. I. Chr. Berg, Ventilationer angaaende den nordlandske 
Handel, Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. V., p. 655. A. 
Schweigaard, Norges Statistik, p. 126 ff. 

VOL. 11 — T 


bought directly from the producers, or where it was most natural 
and convenient to obtain them. Wine should be imported from 
Spain and Portugal, French wines and salt from France, Rhenish 
wine from Holland, iron and steel from Sweden and Prussia, etc. 
Any one could engage in wholesale trade who could handle the re- 
quired amount of goods, but the retail trade was governed in detail 
by a multitude of regulations aiming at the prevention of encroach- 
ment by one kind of merchants upon the other. In most cities the 
merchants were divided into classes having exclusive right to deal in 
certain specified commodities. The merchants of Trondhjem agreed 
to organize into fourteen classes. In Christiania a similar arrange- 
ment was made, but not in Bergen. This classification and close 
supervision was in harmony with the activity of the absolute govern- 
ment in all other lines, and coincided in general with the spirit of 
the cities where guilds and crafts still flourished; but it did not 
prevent the development of a powerful class of merchant princes, 
who sought to gain full control of all lucrative trade. In Christiania 
the complaint was made as early as 1643 that "there was not thirty 
solvent merchants who without debt could carry on their small 
trade," and in 1653 the cry was raised that " some of the rich burghers 
had usurped all the trade with feathers, elk skins, goatskin, butter, 
tallow, and caraway, by purchasing these articles in the country," 
and the city magistrate proposed that such purchasing in the coun- 
try districts should be stopped.^ It is natural that the more opulent 
merchant class, whose influence was increasing with their wealth, 
would not rest satisfied until they had gained control of the more 
important branches of trade. In 1656 and 1661 they formulated 
special demands for the whole burgher class of the kingdom, and as 
a result, a series of privileges were granted in 1662 to all Norwegian 
cities, which marks a new epoch in Norwegian commercial juris- 
prudence.^ The two chief articles of export on which Norwegian 
commerce largely depended were : the fish trade in the northern and 
western districts, and the lumber trade in the southern and eastern 
districts. The lumber trade with England was rapidly increasing 

*Ludvig Daae, Del gamle Christiania, p. 51. 

• Halvdan Koht, Bonde mot Borgar i nynorsk Historic, Historisk Tids- 
$krift, femte raekke, vol. I., p. 31. Ludvig Daae, Dei gamle Christiania, p. 55. 


at this time, as Norwegian pine lumber was in great demand for ship- 
building. Even Milton alludes to it in his "Paradise Lost" (1658- 
1665), where he says : 

His spear to equal which the largest pine 
Hewn on the Norwegian hills, to be the mast 
Of some great ammiral, were but a wand.^ 

A new stimulus was given this trade by the great fire in London, 
September 3, 1666, which destroyed eighty-nine churches and 13,000 
houses. Three hundred streets, about two-thirds of the city, were 
laid in ashes. Lumber for the rebuilding of the city was eagerly 
sought, and the greater part of it was imported from Norway. Bishop 
Jens Bircherod writes in his diary March 7, 1667: "I heard a cap- 
tain, who had come from Norway, tell of the great profit which the 
inhabitants of Norway had of the great fire which occurred in Lon- 
don last fall, and that their timber, which was needed for the re- 
building of the city, was constantly exported in unusual large quan- 
tities, so that the people could ask as high a price as they wished to 
demand. For although there should at present be war between us 
and England, our king, nevertheless, permitted such export of timber 
from Norway, because of the good money which was brought to the 
country. And it had already become a proverb among the Nor- 
wegians that the Norsemen have warmed themselves well at the 
London fire." "This communication with England," says Daae, 
"did not cease with the rebuilding of London, but continued unin- 
terrupted through ages, and became an important factor in the 
development of Norway." 

By the privileges of 1662 the merchants of the cities received 
exclusive right to carry on lumber trade, and clergymen, fogeds, and 
judges (sorenskriver) were forbidden to carry on trade. This tended 
to concentrate the lumber trade in the cities, and to give the mer- 
chant class greater solidity and strength.^ 

In order to gain still greater advantage, the merchants demanded 
that the hinder should bring the timber to the city, where they again 

* Paradise Lost, book I., v. 292 ff. 

2 Ludvig Daae, Nordmcends Udvandringer til Holland og England % nyere 
Tid, p. 100 fl. P. E. Bendixen, Et Omrids av Merges Handelshistorie, p. 23 ff- 


used the opportunity to pay a very low price. In order to protect 
the binder from this crying injustice, the king gave them pennission 
to sell their timber to foreign buyers, if the merchants would not pay 
the full value, and receive it at the customary places of delivery. 
Later fixed prices were established, but with the proviso that the 
right to the lumber trade should remain with the cities and their 
inhabitants, and the attempts to regulate the trade were generally 
lame and unsuccessful. 

In the northern districts the situation was still more unfavorable 
to the binder. We have already seen how the Hanseatic merchants 
of Bergen had gradually reduced the small native traders, the Nord- 
farer, who brought fish from Nordland to Bergen, to a sort of com- 
mercial serfdom by keeping them continually in debt, and these 
conditions were not improved when the native merchants gained 
control. They had learned from the German merchants how to 
take advantage of the fishermen from Nordland, who every year 
brought their catch to the great central market of Bergen, where 
they also bought their supplies for the coming year. In Peter Dass' 
descriptive poem of Nordland, the "Nordlands Trompet," from about 
1700, the swindle and extortion practiced by the Bergen merchants 
in their dealings with the fishermen of Nordland are described with 
great vividness, sometimes with humor, but always with characteristic 
sympathy for the oppressed.^ Occasionally the king sought to put a 
stop to their cheating and extortion. He even reduced the amount 
of indebtedness of the binder, ^ and sometimes even cancelled their 
old debts, but these attempts at regulation did not alter the general 
relation between the burgher class and the binder. 

In the early part of the seventeenth century until the loss of 
Bohuslen, Norway had ten chartered cities {kj^bstceder) , ranking as 
follows, according to a tax levied in 1599 to pay the bridal outfit 

* Halvdan Koth, Bonde mot Borgar i nynorsk Historie. A. E. Erichsen, 
Peter Dass* Sarrlede Skrifter, vol. I., p. 11 fif. Alexander Bugge, Nordlands 
skiftende Skjoehne, Historisk Tidsskrift, f jerde rsekke, vol. V., p. 423 S. Amund 
Helland, Nordlands Amt, p. 210 ff., Norges Land og Folk. Erik Hansen 
Sch0nneb0l, Lofotens og Vesteraalens Beskrivelse, Historisk-topografiske 
Skrifter om Norge og norske Landsdele, edited by Gustav Storm. 

* I. Chr. Berg, Ventilationer angaaende den nordlandske Handel, Samlinger 
til del norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. V., p. 659 ff. Edvard Holm, 
Danmark-Norges indre Historie under Enevoelden, vol. I., p. 168 f. 


for one of the princesses: Bergen (250 riksdaler), Christiania (125), 
Trmdhjem (100), Marstrand (100), Fredrikstad (37|), Tunsherg (25), 
Stavanger (25), Kongelv (25), Skien (12^), Oddevald or Uddevalla (12|). 
With the loss of Bohuslen in 1660 the number was reduced to seven, 
as Marstrand, Kongelv, and Uddevalla were located in that province ; 
but before the close of the century the number had been increased to 
eleven, the new cities being : Fredrikshald, Krager^, Drammen, and 
Larvik. Of the more important towns Moss, Holmestrand, 0sterris^r, 
Arendal, Molde, Lille-Fosen {Christiansund) , and Tr^ms^ became 
cities in the eighteenth century.^ The population of the cities at this 
time cannot be determined with any degree of accuracy. J. E. Sars 
has estimated that in the latter part of the seventeenth century 
Christiania had between 3000 and 3500 inhabitants,^ but Ludvig Daae 
considers this estimate too low.' Roar Tank holds that the popula- 
tion of Christiania in 1683 was about 4000,"* which agrees in the main 
with the estimate of A. CoUett, who thinks that the population of 
the city in 1654 was about 4000.^ The population of Fredrikstad is 
estimated by Tank to have been 900 in 1683.' According to the tax 
levied in 1599, Bergen would have 8000 to Christiania's 4000, and 
Trondhjem and Stavanger would have 3500 and 800, respectively. 
Oscar Alb. Johnsen estimates that before 1660 Marstrand had 1400 
inhabitants, Kongelv 500, and Uddevalla less, probably about 400.' 
Skien probably had a similar number. It is clear, however, that the 

^ I. Chr. Berg, Ventilationer angaaende den nordlandske Handel, Samlinger 
til del norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. V., p. 613 flf. Ludvig Daae. Bidrag 
til Christiansands Historie indtil 1814, Historisk Tidsskrift, tredie raekke, 
vol. II., p. 293 ff. Molde and Lille-Fosen were chartered as cities in 
1742, and Lille-Fosen was called Christiansund. In 1701 Lille-Fosen is 
estimated to have had 600 inhabitants. O. C. Bull, Adskilligt om Kj^b- 
staden Molde, Topografisk-statistiske Samlinger udgivet av Selskabet for 
Norges Vel, vol. I., p. 73 £f. 

2 Norge under Foreningen med Danmark, p. 99. 

^ Det gamle Christiania, 2d edition, p. 51. 

* Studier i Christiania Bys Folkemcengde % det syttende Aarhundrede, His- 
torisk Tidsskrift, f jerde raekke, vol. V., p. 478 fif. 

^ Gamle Christiania Billeder, p. 98. 

^Fredrikstad 1660-1699, Historisk Tidsskrift, f jerde raekke, voL V., p. 
284 ff. 

^ Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Befolkningsforholdene i Bohuslen f^r Afstaaelsen, 
Historisk Tidsskrift, fjerde rsekke, vol. III., p. 247. 


burgher class was rapidly growing in number, not only through the 
increase of the population of the old cities, but also through the rise 
of new ones.'^ 

A danger to the independence of the hinder, greater than any 
other, was the practice of the wealthy burghers to buy land in the 
country districts. After they had gained control of the lucrative 
lumber trade, their next attempt was to get possession of the forests, 
and when crown-lands were sold, they were the heaviest buyers. In 
the latter part of the seventeenth century a number of large private 
estates (proprietcergods) were created, and the areas of land owned 
by the burgher class was rapidly increasing. Lorens Berg has shown 
that in Brunla len they owned fourteen per cent of the land in 1661, 
and eighteen per cent in 1703, while the holdings of the binder did 
not increase.^ At this time not above one-third of the binder were 
freeholders, the rest were renters. A large part of the soil was 
owned by the crown, which had gradually acquired possession of the 
estates of the Catholic Church and of the old noble families who be- 
came extinct.^ The crown finally owned about one-third of all the 
land in the kingdom, while the rest belonged to the noblemen, officials, 
burghers, and rich landowners among the binder} During the wars 
with Sweden these opulent classes had loaned money to the crown, 
and the kings, who were generally short of funds, hit upon the idea 
of paying their creditors with lands. What remained after these 
debts were liquidated, they sold in order to replenish their treasury. 
From 1660 till 1670 crown-lands were thus disposed of for the amount of 
1,300,000 riksdaler, mostly to rich burghers, officials, and noblemen.^ 

^ Many towns which have later become cities arose at this time along the 
southern coast. Fredrikshald, Moss, Soon, Dr0bak, Bragernes, Holmestrand, 
Larvik, Brevik, Krager0, Ris0r, and Arendal owe their existence to the flour- 
ishing lumber trade. A. Schweigaard, Norges Statistik, p. 126. 

" Lorens Berg, Historisk Tidsskrift, fjerde rsekke, vol. V., p. 202 f. Ibid. 
Andabu, p. 56, 276, 327 ff., 336 ff. 

' Osoar Alb. Johnsen, Fraa Leilending til Sj^lveigar, Syn og Segn, 1910, 
p. 349 ff. L. J. Vogt, Om Norges Udf^rsel og Troelasl i osldre Tider, Historisk 
Tidsskrift, anden rsekke, vol. V., p. 306 fP. 

* Henrik Heliesen, Udsigt over Belfibet af offentlig Jordegods i Begyndelsen 
af det 17de Aarhundrede, Norske Samlinger, vol. I., p. 513 ff. 

' Osoar Alb. Johnsen, Fraa Leilending til Sj^lveigar, Syn og Segn, 1910, 
p. 281 fif. 


A class of rich landowners thus sprang into existence, and the 
binder, who were forced to rent lands from them, soon found that 
they were worse off under these greedy masters than they had been 
as tenants under the crown. In order to make their investments as 
profitable as possible, these landlords increased the rents, and intro- 
duced methods of oppression resembhng those in vogue in Denmark, 
and the bitterest resentment was awakened among the Norwegian 
b^Tider, who understood that they were threatened with complete 
subjugation. Their spirit of resistance was aroused, and according 
to old custom they brought their complaints directly to the king- 
Deputations were sent to Copenhagen to ask for redress of grievances, 
but as the request involved the redemption of the alienated lands, 
the king neither would nor could grant the reUef sought. Finally 
Statholder Gyldenl0ve, who foresaw that serious troubles might 
arise, espoused the cause of the binder, and urged the king to grant 
them relief by curbing the greed of the landowners. "In Norway," 
he said on a later occasion, "the government differs so much from 
that of other lands that there it consists of the binder, and is main- 
tained by them." — "The prosperity of the binder is the main thing, 
the root and basis for the preservation of the whole kingdom," ^ a 
statement pregnant with a fundamental truth, which had been clearly 
perceived by the statholder. So long as Griffenfeld remained in 
power, Gyldenl0ve's advice remained unheeded, as he was opposed 
by the powerful chancellor, but after the king assumed more direct 
control of affairs, he took steps to insure the Norwegian binder against 
oppression by the landlords. In 1684-1685 regulations were pub- 
lished fixing the rate of rent to be charged, and limiting the amount 
of free service to be Tendered by the peasants.^ The farm had to be 
leased with all its conveniences to the leaseholder for his whole fife- 
time, the rent had to be stipulated by mutual contract, and fixed 
prices were established for the products by which the farmer paid his 
rent. The jurisdiction exercised by Danish landlords over their 

^ Norske Samlinger, vol. I., p. 549, For slag og Betcenkning angaaende 
Lettelser for den norske Almue, Statholder Gyldenl^ves Forslag af 2den Januar 

* These laws remained in force only a short time, as they were replaced 
by the laws for tenants in the Code of Christian F., of 1687, book III., 
oh. 14. 


peasants was not allowed in Norway. Heavy fines were imposed on 
any landlord who charged excessive rents, or in any way wronged or 
abused the leaseholders, and the main provisions of these laws could 
not be abrogated even by contract. Some features of these laws 
were so favorable to the leaseholders that they could not be en- 
forced at once, but they served to insure the renters fair treatment. 
Under these conditions the landowners found it little profitable to 
own extensive areas, and they sold the greater part of their holdings 
in smaller portions to their renters, thereby increasing the number of 

"The struggle with the landlords had in general a wholesome 
effect upon the renters," says Professor Johnsen. "It roused them 
from their slumber. Now for the first time they understood the 
importance of owning their own farms, and they saved money so 
that they could buy land. After 1680 the king again began to sell 
land, but what he now sold was mostly separate farms, small places, 
and parts of farms, and the binder bought the greater share." 

The laws of 1684-1685 were also intended to protect the binder 
against extortion and injustice practiced by the royal officials. After 
the lensherrer had been replaced by amtmcBnd, who could exercise 
but slight control over their subordinates, who also ranked as royal 
officials, abuses of that sort had been increasing.^ In order to right 
these wrongs the laws established fixed rates of charges for clergy- 
men and other officials, and imposed other necessary restrictions. 
But as the laws were to be enforced by the selfsame officials whom 
they were supposed to govern, it is natural that in too many instances 
they were allowed to remain inoperative. The binder were hard 
pressed both by the officials and by the burgher class. They were 
not only reduced to a worse situation socially and economically than 
in any earlier period, as the burghers and officials gradually intrenched 
themselves in a position of power such as no class outside of the old 
nobility had hitherto enjoyed, but they were also forced into the 
background politically, after absolutism had eliminated all partici- 

1 T. H. Aschehoug, Aktstykker om Finmarken i Aaret 1667, Norske Sam- 
linger, vol. I., p. 120 ff. L. Daae, Fern Dokumenter til Oplysning om Avgift- 
emes Belfib i det syttende Aarhundrede, Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog 
og Historic, vol. V., p. 485 ff. These documents consist of supplications and 
complaints of the people of various districts in the kingdom. 


pation of the people in affairs of administration and government. 
But the binder had awakened to the reahzation of the situation, and 
a determined struggle began, which constantly increased in bitterness.^ 
Scattered uprisings grew more frequent, able popular leaders appeared 
in various districts, and the growing social conflict stirred the people's 
love of their rights and liberties, not to a momentary enthusiasm, but 
into a permanent attitude of mind, which was destined to shape all 
future national development in Norway. This school of adversity 
made the Norwegian hinder vigilant patriots, and their national 
independence was cradled in these bitter local struggles against 
oppression and injustice which were waged with ever increasing in- 
tensity, especially throughout the eighteenth century. 

The struggle between the binder and the new upper classes was 
aggravated, also, by the fact that the burghers, as well as the officials, 
consisted largely of foreigners, who came to Norway to seek new 
opportunities. They felt in no direct touch with the common people, 
and treated them with an offensive haughtiness, and not infrequently 
with an insolent arrogance which engendered the most innate class 
hatred. J. E. Sars says: "The Norwegian burgher class, which 
arose under the union with Denmark, was to a large extent of foreign 
origin. Danes, and still more frequently Germans and merchants 
from Schleswig-Holstein, moved to the Norwegian cities, and because 
of their good connections they were often able to play a leading r61e. 
Danish had become the spoken language in the cities after the Refor- 
mation, and thereby the burgher class, whether they were foreigners 
or native-born, became separated from the rest of society by a deep 
chasm, so that they stood over against the rest of the people as half 

" The same was true, even in a higher degree, of the oflScial class. 
In the period immediately following the Reformation the lack of 
higher schools in Norway, and the generally neglected and benumbed 
intellectual conditions, resulted in the frequent appointments of 
Danes to office in the kingdom. Afterwards when Norway was 
better able to shift for herself in this respect, it continued to be a 
general practice to give the Norwegian offices to Danes, while Nor- 

1 Nedenes Lens Opsoetsighed mod 0vrigheden 1 658-1 669, Norske Samlinger, 
vol. II., p. 81. 


wegians were frequently appointed to oflfice in Denmark. The 
government had a fixed purpose, which was constantly becoming 
more clearly defined, of commingling as far as possible the two 
peoples so that they might learn to feel as one. At every period of 
the union with Denmark the Norwegian ojfficial class was, therefore, 
strongly mixed with Danish elements, especially in the higher and 
leading circles. Of the Norwegian members of this class, as well as 
the Danish, it was true that they had studied at the University of 
Copenhagen; that they had spent their happiest and most im- 
portant years in the Danish capital, and had often formed friend- 
ships there which lasted through their whole lifetime. The higher 
they rose intellectually, the stronger they must have felt attracted 
by the memories of their youth spent among friends, both Danes 
and Norwegians, in study and in the intellectual pastime of the 
clubs, while they must have felt almost as strangers, as exiles, when 
they became established at home as officials in the lonely country 
districts, or in a small Norwegian town, where the people's minds 
were occupied with freight rates and lumber prices." ^ 

The new classes were, nevertheless, of great importance to the 
future development of the Norwegian people. They gradually came 
to represent the economic strength of the nation, and as they estab- 
lished close relations with the outside world, not only commercially 
but also intellectually, they were in position to transplant to Nor- 
wegian soil new ideas from abroad, elements of higher culture, intel- 
lectual interests, and taste for art and elegance which had an elevating 
and stimulating influence on the otherwise so democratic Norwegian 
society. After a generation or two those who were of foreign 
descent learned to feel as native-born citizens, and were ready to 
bear their full share in defending the kingdom, and in building its 
institutions; but the social conditions which have been outlined 
made them unable to deal justly with the binder, nor were they able 
to realize what secret strength lay hidden in the ardent love of free- 
dom and the unsubdued will of the common people. 

The commercial activity was chiefly controlled by three principal 
cities : Bergen, Trondhjem, and Christiania. Bergen especially had 
developed a considerable commerce and a strong class of merchants, 
* J. E. Sars, Historisk Indledning tU Grundloven, p. 88 f. 


who maintained trade with all western countries of Europe. They 
even ventured into the Mediterranean Sea in spite of the Barbary 
pirates, and attempts were made to carry on trade with the West 
Indies, Greenland, America, and the west coast of Africa. Trond- 
hjem retained the right to trade in the four "sj0len," Namdalen, 
Fosen, Nordm0r, and Romsdal, but the trade with Nordland was 
open to the merchants of both cities. Bergen received the trade 
monopoly and the control of the local administration in Finmarken, 
but this great power was so abused by the Bergen merchants that 
after six years of systematic extortion an amtmand was again ap- 
pointed for the province.^ 

In the southern towns and cities the lumber trade was growing 
rapidly. In the last decade of the seventeenth century, when Eng- 
land and Holland were carrying on war with France, the commerce 
of these powers decreased, and Norwegian trade received an impetus 
which marks a new epoch in the development of Norway's merchant 
marine. The trade with France increased steadily, as the Norwegian 
articles of export, tar, lumber, masts, iron, and fish,^ were in great 
demand. England and Holland sought to stop this trade, but in 
1691 the Northern kingdoms formed an alliance in defense of neutral 
trade, and both powers had to abandon their attempts at interference 
with the trade of neutral nations. Home industry was encouraged 
through protective tariff or the exclusion of foreign wares, and the 
high duties placed on goods imported in foreign vessels also favored 
Norwegian trade. Christiania had a fleet of twenty-three merchant 
vessels in 1696. Bergen's merchant fleet rose from forty-six ships 
in 1680 to 146 in 1690, and similar progress was made by other cities 
and towns. In 1707 the Norwegian merchant marine numbered 
568 ships,' a remarkable increase from fifty merchant vessels in 1648. 

Also in the fisheries considerable progress is noticeable in this 

1 Amtmand Frederik Sohort of Finmarken wrote in 1667 that besides the 
profit made in selling the fish, the Bergen merchants made 33 1 per cent in 
buying it from the binder; that they also cheated them on the weight, and 
that for these reasons the binder could not pay their taxes. Aktsykker om 
Finmarken, Norske Samlinger, vol. I., p. 120. 

* Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark as It Was in 1692, p. 63. 
B. E. Bendixen, Et Omrids af Norges Handelshistorie, p. 23 ff. 

3 Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Norges Historic, vol. V., 1, p. 106. A. Schweigaard 
Norges Statistik, p. 127 f. 


period. The catching of ling and halibut on the Storeggen banks, 
about a hundred and ten miles from the coast, was begun at this 
time, the gill net and other implements for the cod-fisheries were 
invented, and the export of lobster, especially to Holland, was begun. 
The whale-fisheries near the coast of Greenland and Iceland were 
encouraged, and stations for the manufacture of train-oil were built. 
The commerce with the East Indies, which had long been inter- 
rupted, was again revived through the organization of a new East 
India Company, and a West India Company was also organized. 

Industry was making slow progress for want of the necessary 
capital and experience, but some attempts were made which show a 
growing spirit of enterprise, and the influx of new ideas. J0rgen 
thor M0hlen of Bergen was especially active in originating new indus- 
trial enterprises in his home city. In 1684 he was also instrumental 
in founding the Bergen chamber of commerce. He erected rope, 
salt, soap, and train-oil factories in Bergen and neighborhood, canvas 
and woolen mills, tanneries and cooper shops, powder mills, and nail 
factories. He managed the trade with Finmarken and Greenland, 
and carried on commerce with Guinea and the West Indies. These 
attempts were in complete harmony with the mercantile economic 
ideas of the times, and he was generously encouraged by the govern- 
ment in the hope that factories might soon be erected in different 
cities to supply the demand for manufactured articles. But M0hlen 
engaged in too hazardous ventures. Before the end of the century 
he was financially ruined, and the enterprises which he established 
soon proved unsuccessful. Some lasting progress was, nevertheless, 
made. About 1700 the first oil mill was built in Norway, and about 
the same time the first paper mill was also erected. This marks the 
beginning of the paper industry, which was destined in time to be- 
come one of the best paying branches of Norwegian manufacture. 
In full accord with the mercantile spirit was also the encouragement 
of mining, as well as the restrictions placed upon the number of saw- 
mills in the interest of the preservation of the forests. These restric- 
tions would, naturally, tend to eliminate the small producers. Lum- 
bering became a monopoly controlled by rich dealers and mill owners, 
who grew to be a class of capitalists.^ 

* A. Sohweigaard, Norges Statiatik, p. 118 ff. Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Norges 
Historie, vol. V., 1, p. 117 ff. 

ii norwegian literature in the seventeenth century 285 

35. Norwegian Literature in the Seventeenth Century 

The seventeenth century or, more correctly, the period from 1620 
till 1720 was a century of lifeless formalism and unproductive learned 
pedantry in Norwegian Uterature as well as in that of many other 
countries of Europe. In Germany the literary and intellectual life 
which had begun to flourish at the beginning of the century was 
crushed by the ravages of the Thirty Years' War, and poetry became 
the servantmaid of Latin learning and Protestant theology. German 
had, indeed, replaced Latin as the literary language, but Latin learn- 
ing and classical mythology still constituted the chief contents of 
most of the poetry written. The pedantic metric laws formulated 
by Martin Opitz had gained an absolute authority,^ which checked 
all development of verse and meter, and the poets imitated, as well 
as they could, the empty bombast of the Italian poet Marino, and 
the hollow pathos of the Frenchman Ronsard, and the French 
tragedy, fostered in the atmosphere of the court of Louis XIV. A 
fine literature of hymns and religious songs was produced by poets 
like Spec, Scheffler, Gerhardt, Tersteegen, Rist, Dach, and others. 
Religious prose writers like Arnd, Spener, and Scriver wrote works 
which have exercised a lasting influence upon religious life and 
thought also in the North, but the secular poetry consisted largely 
of songs for birthday parties, weddings, funerals, or in congratulation 
of princes and persons of wealth and quality, whose favor was 
sought through the most servile flattery. At the same time the poet 
considered it essential to make a boastful display of his own learning 
through frequent classic allusions, the use of mythological elements, 
and phrases and expressions borrowed from classic authors. The 
drama was represented by traveling companies of entertainers who 
adopted to their own use selections from Italian, French, Spanish, 
Dutch, English, and Latin writers. 

In the North the German literature exercised a great influence? 
and in Sweden, especially, Martin Opitz was accepted as the great 
pattern and authority. In Norway local conditions did not favor a 
systematic adherence to foreign patterns, but German influence 
made itself felt both directly and indirectly, and the literary taste 
* Martin Opitz, Buck von der deutschen Poeterey, 1624. 


and spirit of the age gained full control. In 1664 sixteen Gennan 
comedians came to Bergen and acted almost daily near the custom- 
house, "and the students of the cathedral school played 'heathen 
histories' in the New Church." ^ During Lent mysteries and miracle 
plays were also presented in the churches. But the German literary 
influence was principally exerted indirectly through Denmark, where 
the Norwegian students received their higher school training at the 
University of Copenhagen, and where German intellectual culture 
had made a profound impression, especially after the introduction 
of the Reformation. We find, accordingly, also in Norwegian htera- 
ture of this period the customary varieties of poetic productions — 
didactic poems, lamentations, religious poems, songs for various 
occasions, and rhymed descriptions of different parts of the king- 
dom, much of it almost wholly devoid of poetic merit. By contem- 
poraries this kind of poetry must have been received with favor, 
possibly even with generous praise, but the interest which it awakened 
was transient, and a literary historian has aptly characterized it as 
"the forgotten literature,"^ as most of it has long since been rele- 
gated to oblivion. Few really gifted poets graced literature at this 
time. Most of those who devoted themselves to poetic production 
were mere rhymers, who might weave their couplets deftly enough 
into light verses for a festive occasion, or who, with infinite patience, 
tortured their muse in the vain effort to produce a great epic on a 
subject which could better be dealt with in a prose treatise ; but in 
most of these efforts we discover the author's erroneous idea that 
poetry is the art of making rhyme according to an acknowledged 
system of metric rules. 

But the "forgotten literature" of the seventeenth century repre- 
sents the first faltering steps in modern poesy, aside from the popular 
ballads and folk-tales, and it is not without its interest and value to 
the modern student who would understand the intellectual culture 
and social life of this period. 

The first poet of this period, and, in a sense, the originator of this 
class of poetry in Norway, was, characteristically enough, a Dane, 

^ L. Dietrichson, Omrids af den norske Poesis Historie, p. 58. 
^Ihid., p. 51 ff. Peter Friedrich Suhm, Samlede Skrifter, part VII., Om de 
Norskes Fortjenester i Henseende tU Videnskaberne. 


Anders Christensen Arrebo (1587-1637), a gifted and dashing young 
scholar, a favorite of King Christian IV., who had been made Bishop 
of Trondhjem, and according to J. H. Schlegel "deserves to be com- 
pared with his contemporary Opitz." ^ Arrebo could not at the out- 
set have been influenced by Opitz, as his "Kong Davids Psalter," a 
paraphrase of the Psalms of David, was completed in 1623, a year 
before the "Buch von der deutschen Poeterey" was published, but 
R0rdam says that "it is clear enough that Opitz' useful effort to 
purify his countrymen's taste and their poetic style has exerted a 
beneficial influence upon him towards the close of his career." ^ 
The socially inclined bishop with the poetic temperament mixed with 
unrestrained mirth in the frolicsome merry-makings which in those 
days were the chief features of weddings and social gatherings. He 
was guilty of no moral wrongdoing, but his powerful enemies Tage 
Thott, royal lensmand of Trondhjem, and Peder Lauritsen, the city 
foged, found an opportunity to accuse him of conduct unbecoming a 
bishop, and he was dismissed from his high oSice, 1622. After a 
few years he became clergyman in Vordingborg in Denmark, where 
he died in 1637, fifty years of age. The disgrace and sorrow which 
had thus darkened Arrebo's life brought his poetic gifts to full ma- 
turity. He completed his paraphrase of the Psalms of David in 
1623, and after 1629 he was persuaded to undertake a translation of 
Guillaume Barat's epic poem " La premiere Sepmaine." Arrebo did 
not translate the poem, but gave a free elaboration of its theme and 
thoughts in his "Hexaemeron," a poem about the creation, in Alex- 
andrine verse, which became very popular, and continued to be held 
in high esteem even in the following century. The poem was not 
published till twenty-four years after the author's death, but it 
gained for him a great reputation, especially among younger contem- 

Through Arrebo's works, especially his paraphrase of the Psalms, 
which was first published, a great stimulus was given to poetry. He 
found many imitators in Denmark, and in Norway numerous versi-. 
fiers appeared. Michel Mogenss0n (1590-1654), clergyman at N8er0 

1 J. H. ScWegel's Werke, vol. V., p. 267. 

* Holger Fr. R0rdam, Anders Christensen Arrehos Levnet og Skrifter, paxt 
I., p. 244. 


in Namdalen, wrote a lamentation over a storm which caused great 
loss of lives and property along the seacoast/ and poems of that 
type continued to grow in number. Hans Mortensen Maschius, 
engraver and clergyman at J0lster, has left an engraving of the 
Trondhjem cathedral, to which he has added a poem lamenting the 
ruin of the great church.^ Claus Hansen Gantzius, or Gaas, clergy- 
man at Ulvsteen in S0ndm0r, wrote a lamentation about a great 
avalanche,' and Dorothea Engelbrechtsdatter of Bergen wrote poems 
about the great fire in that city. 

Samuel Bugge (1605-1663), and Roland Knudson, city foged in 
Krager0, wrote didactic poems, and religious songs were written, 
especially by Samuel Olsen Bruun ^ and Dorothea Engelbrechts- 
datter ^ (1635-1716). By contemporaries Dorothea was lauded in the 
most extravagant terms. She was called the tenth muse, the wonder 
of the North, etc., but her productions are mostly dull and trivial 
rhymes expressing a fervent religious feeling, but lacking the qualities 
of great art. Only a few songs, or, rather, fragments of songs, in 
which she has succeeded in striking deep and true chords of religious 
sentiment, still continue to be numbered among the cherished Lu- 
theran hymns. Dorothea Engelbrechtsdatter was the daughter of 
a Bergen clergyman. At the age of seventeen she married her father's 
successor, Ambrosius Hardenbech, with whom she became the 
mother of nine children. But she experienced many sorrows, as she 
survived her husband and all her children. She died at Bergen in 
1716, eighty-one years of age. 

The barren monotony of the seventeenth century as to literary 

* Threnologia Numdalensis eller Numdal, Tenck derpaa. Del er et s^r- 
geligt Klagemaal om den store Haffsn^d oc S^skade i Numdah Len udi Thrond- 
hjems Slift, Copenhagen, 1627. 

* Norwegia religiosa eller Norrig gudelig tildreven beseer og beklager sin Herrens 
Huus, Christiania, 1661. 

* En Klage Dicht offuer del Tilfald i Bergenshuus Lehn paa Sundm^er d. 
6 Februar, 1679, Copenhagen, 1681. 

* Samuel Olsen Bruun, Siungende Tidsfordriv eller Korsets Frugt, 1695. 
The work appeared in many new editions in Copenhagen. 

* Dorothea Engelbrechtsdatter, Sjcelens Sangoffer, 1678 ; Taareoffer Jor 
bodfcerdige Syndere, 1685, together with a new edition of Sjcelens Sangoffer; 
Et christeligt Valet fra Verden og Lcengsel efter Himmelen, 1698, united with 
the two first works in a new edition, 1699. See Nordahl Rolfsen, Norske 
Digtere, and Henrik Jsger, Norsk Literaturhistorie, vol. I., p. 204 ff. 


life is, nevertheless, relieved by one distinguished name, Petter Dass, 
the first truly great poet in modern Norwegian literature. His 
father, Peter Dundas, fled from Scotland to Norway during the re- 
ligious persecutions in the time of Charles I., and settled in Bergen, 
where he became a merchant. After his marriage to Maren Falch, 
a daughter of the foged Peter Falch in Helgeland, he moved to his 
father-in-law in Nord-Her0, where his son Petter Dass was born in 
1647. Petter attended the Latin school at Bergen, and in 1665 he 
entered the University of Copenhagen. His father died, and as his 
mother was left with five children in straitened circumstances, he 
could continue his studies only two years, whereupon he received 
holy orders, and after serving for sixteen years as curate, he was 
appointed rector of the church of Alstahaug in Nordland in 1689.^ 
His whole life work both as rector and poet is inseparably connected 
with this part of the country. He was a born leader, a man of 
unique talents, who through his powerful personality and amiable 
traits of character became, not only the favorite poet, but the per- 
sonified ideal of the people of Nordland. He was a dignified and 
earnest rector, strong in faith, firm in convictions, unbending in 
authority, and exercised a powerful influence as spiritual adviser and 
moral teacher. He was also an eminently capable man in all prac- 
tical affairs, to whom the people could always turn for advice. The 
impression became general among his parishioners that he could con- 
trol even the powers of evil, and numerous tales were told of his 
struggles with the devil, in which he was always victorious. The 
custom still prevalent among the Nordland fishermen of fastening 
pieces of black cloth to their sails as a token that they mourn the loss 
of Petter Dass shows to what extent he had become the hero of the 
common people.^ As rector of the largest parish in Norway, an 
extensive region which at present embraces eight parishes with over 
30,000 inhabitants, he had many assistants and was in fact a real 

^ His biography has been written by his grandson, Albert Dass, in the 
introduction to his edition of the Nordlands Trompet, Copenhagen, 1763. 

* Petter Dass, Samlede Skrifter, edited by A. E. Erichsen, introduction, 
p. i-lxxv. J. S. Welhaven, Digteren fra Alstahaug, Petter Dass; Samlede 
Skrifter, vol. VI., p. 109 ff. Dr. A. Chr. Bang, Kirkehistoriske Smaastykker, 
p. 232 ff. L. Dietrichson, Den norske Poesis Historie, p. 76 £f. Henrik Jaeger, 
Norsk Liter aturhistorie, vol. I., p. 240 ff. 



chieftain. But in this large district, where all travel had to be done 
by boat among the shoals and breakers of a storm-swept seacoast, 
he had to lead a life full of hardships and hazards which taxed his 
strength and courage to the utmost, and he refers to it ironically by 
saying that " the clergymen of Nordland do not dance on violets and 
roses." He was always of good cheer, social and full of sparkling 
humor, but the constant struggles with the angry sea he describes 
in many places with touching pathos and powerful reahsm. He 
shows how the fishermen sail through the roaring breakers until their 
boats are upset, the usually unsuccessful attempts to ride the up- 
turned boat to safety, how the people gather on the shore where the 
empty boats have stranded, and count the knives which their dying 
fathers, husbands, and brothers have plunged into the upturned boat 
to learn how many have found a grave on the stormy deep. So 
clearly and truthfully are the social conditions, the environment, 
life, and character of the people of Nordland reflected in the poetry 
of Fetter Dass, that it becomes true of him in a very special sense 
that he who wishes to understand the poet must know the land 
which fostered him. But the converse is no less true, that he who 
wishes to become acquainted with Nordland and its people as they 
were in the seventeenth century must study Fetter Dass.^ 

His pastoral duties and the religious instruction of his parishioners 
were always his chief care, and he wrote several collections of re- 
ligious songs in order to give the Christian doctrines a pleasing and 
striking form.^ The most popular of these works are his " Kate- 
kismus Sange," i.e. Luther's Catechism turned into songs, which 
have remained the cherished reading of the common people. But 
his principal work, and the one on which his reputation as a poet 
chiefly rests, is the "Nordlands Trompet," which retains its place 

^ Bj0rnstjeme Bj0mson wrote after a visit in Nordland : "Every traveler 
in Nordland must own the 'Nordlands Trompet,' but it should not be read 
until one is on the return voyage, and knows how incomparably true it is." 
Petter Dass, Samlede Skrijter, edited by A. E. Erichsen, introduction, p. LV. 

* His principal works of this kind are : Aandelig Tidsfordriv eller bibelsk 
Vise-Bog; Dr. Morten Luthers lille Katekismus forfattet i bekvemme Sange 
under f^ielige Melodier; Epistler og Evangelier sangvis forfattet udi bekvemme 
Melodier; Trende bibelske B^ger, nemlig Ruth, Ester, og Judith, udi dansk 
Rim forfattet. 


among the classic productions in Norwegian literature. Although it 
is a description of Nordland and its people which pictures with the 
minuteness of a geography the nature and the climate, the economic 
and social conditions of the people, it is written with a taste and 
skill which makes it a true work of art. " It is a book more popular 
than any other secular work in our literature," writes A. E. Erich- 
sen; and Just Bing says that "the people's life and work has 
fascinated Petter Dass, and his description of nature turns into a 
picturing of the life of the people. It would be futile to attempt to 
distinguish between nature and the people in his works, as he has 
viewed them together, not apart. Yes, it is when nature bears a 
direct relation to human life that it becomes interesting, according 
to his opinion, and their point of contact is, so to speak, the basis of 
operation in his nature-description. At the point where nature 
begins to influence the lives and deeds of man, Petter Dass dwells 
upon natural phenomena, and the reader gets the full impression of 
the great might of nature, its activity and power. At this point, 
also, the reader's imagination forms a clear picture. It is not the 
description of nature itself which makes us shudder, however strong 
expressions the author might use, — but when we hear how the storm 
has caused death and sorrow in many families; when we see that 
all human power, as compared with the storm, is a mere nullity which 
is swept away ; when we see men's vain efforts to save their lives, 
how they strive convulsively to gain the bottom of the upturned 
boat, to cling fast to it, and that the waves, nevertheless, carry them 
away; when we see corpses and wreckage drifting in the sea, the 
picture becomes powerful. We feel the great might of the elements, 
we see them overwhelm men irresistibly, destroying the happiness 
of one generation after the other. In other words, the description 
of nature becomes impressive when we see the power of nature 
pictured in its effect upon the inhabitants of the country." ^ Some 
of Petter Dass' minor poems have become favorite folk-songs; as, 
"Norsk Dalevise" and " Jephtse L0fte." 2 

Of other poets who flourished towards the end of the period may 
be mentioned especially Povel Juul, an eccentric person of real 

1 Just Bing, Norske Digte og Digtere, p. 154 ff . 

« J. S. Welhaven, Samlede Skrifter, vol. VI., p. 147 ff. 


poetic talent, who wrote "Et lyksaligt Liv" and "En god Bonde 
og hans Gjerning"; and Ole Camstrup, who became known as the 
writer of humorous verses for various festive occasions. His most 
typical poem is a song written in the Norwegian dialect about a 
wedding. This song was later imitated very successfully by Nils 
Heyberg in the very popular ditty, "Bonden i Bryllaupsgarden," 
written in 1734.^ 

Norse history, literature, and runic inscriptions were diligently 
studied by the Danish scholar Ole Wormius, who in 1643 published 
his " Monumenta Danica, ' ' a large work on the runic inscriptions. In 
his study of old Norse literature he was ably assisted by Bishop 
Brynjulf Sveinsson of Skalholt, and the learned Icelander Arngrim 
Jonsson, "the Restorer of Icelandic Literature." In Sweden Olof 
Verehus (1618-1682), and Olof Rudbeck, the author of " Atlantica s. 
Manheim Japheti Sedes et Patria," were emphasizing with one-sided 
enthusiasm the importance of the Scandinavian countries in history. 
This revival of interest in Northern studies led to the creation of a 
new historical school in the North, whose most prominent members 
were the Icelanders Ami Magnusson, the originator of the great 
collection of Icelandic manuscripts which bears his name, and Thor- 
mod Torfseus, the most distinguished name in the prose literature 
of this period. In 1662 Torfseus was sent by Frederick III. to Ice- 
land to collect manuscripts, a work in which he was very successful. 
In 1682 he was made royal historiographer, and in 1711 he published 
his large and in many respects important work " Historia Rerum Nor- 
wegicarum," a history of Norway from the earliest times till 1387. 
The Dane Arnoldus de Fine also undertook to write a history of 
Norway in Latin, but left the work unfinished. Of great value to 
modern scholars are the historical typographical writings and shorter 
annals of this period, works which were left unpublished at the time, 
but which of late years have been edited and published in the interest 
of historical research. Edvard Edvardss0n, conrector of the Bergen 
Latin school, wrote an elaborate history and description of the city 
of Bergen.'^ Melchior Augustinuss0n wrote annals of Trondhjem 
and Tr0ndelagen, 1670-1705, and Hans LiUienskjold (1703) wrote a 

^ L. Dietrichson, Den norske Poesis Historie, p. 95 f . 

• Norske Samlinger, vol. I., Uddrag af Edvardss^ns Bergem Beskrivelae. 


large and still unpublished work " Speculum Boreale " an historical- 
geographical description of Finmarken. Gert Henriksen Miltzow is 
the author of several local personal-historical works dealing with Ber- 
gens stift, but most of his writings have been lost ; and Diderich Brinch 
in Nordland published in 1683 " Discriptio Lacefodse Norwegia." 
Hans Noble's " Indberetning til Kongen om Forholdene i 1716," 
"Aktstykker om Finmarken 1667," by Frederik Schort, and Johan 
Vilhelm Kliiver's " Beretning om den Norske Hsers Indfald i Sverige 
1719" may be classified as public documents.^ An extensive religious 
prose literature was also produced, consisting chiefly of sermons and 
devotional books. Among the common people the folk-poesy con- 
tinued to flourish, and throughout this dull period it maintained an 
untutored literary life, and fostered the true instinct for poetic art, 
which formed a healthful contrast to the pedantic rules and lifeless 
learning of the age. 

As true poesy in this period is chiefly to be sought in the folk- 
literature of the common people, so art was still found mainly as 
handicrafts among the hinder, who from very eariy ages had been 
skilled wood carvers, goldsmiths, etc. Fine embroidery, and especially 
the weaving of fine tapestry, which had been the pride and pastime 
of ladies of rank in eariy ages, was at this time, and still continues to 
be, a highly developed art in Norway. The carving of wood and 
ivory was brought to a state of perfection which has never been 
excelled in the North. Even country lads, using no other tools 
than their knife, were able to produce real pieces of art, which are 
still preserved as treasures in the art museums. The most noted 
name in this field is that of Magnus Berg of Gudbrandsdal (1666- 
1739), of whose wonderful carvings in ivory thirty-eight pieces are 
still preserved in Rosenborg palace in Copenhagen. Nearly every 
district had its own adepts in the various arts and handicrafts, who 
wrought with rare genius such works of beauty and imagination that 
many a trained artist would find difficulty in imitating them.^ 

1 Norske Samlinger, vol. I., p. 121 flf., 136 ff., 176 ff., and 153 ff. 

* See Kristofer Visted, Vor gamle BondekuUur, Christiania. O. A. 0ver- 
land, Norges Historie, vol. VIII., p. 113 ff. Erik Pontoppidan, Det J^rste 
Fors^g paa Norges naturlige Historie, vol. II., p. 392 ff. L. Dietrichson, 
Den norske Elfenbensskjcerer Magnus Berg, Christiania, 1912. 

294 history of the norwegian people h 

36. Education and the Church 

Norway had no university, but secondary or Latin schools were 
found in nearly all the principal cities in the kingdom. The main 
stress was laid on the study of Latin, which the pupils should learn 
to read, write, and speak ; but Greek was also read, and in the highest 
class Hebrew, logic, metaphysics, and rhetoric were studied. Much 
time was devoted to devotional exercises and singing, but mathe- 
matics and history were almost wholly neglected, and until 1668 no 
schoolbook existed in the mother tongue,^ and no attention was 
paid to it. The discipline was very severe. Corporal punishment 
was often inflicted, and fines were imposed on the scholars for various 
offenses. This bred a rude and insolent spirit in the pupils, and the 
school became the scene of constant jarrings between scholar and 
schoolmaster, who regarded each other as hostile forces. Ludvig 
Holberg says with the characteristic exaggeration of the humorist: 
"Every schoolmaster was at that time a sovereign, and the pupils 
lived in profound awe. Their lacerated backs, their swollen fore- 
heads, their bruised cheeks proclaimed that every school was like a 
Lacedemonian gymnasium." At the head of the school stood the 
rector, who was assisted by the conrector. According to royal 
decree of March 17, 1675, no one could become rector or instructor 
unless he had received the degree of baccalaureus artium.^ It has 
already been stated that one-fourth of the tithes, the hondelut, was 
used for the support of poor students, but at a meeting in Skien, 

1 Erik Eriksson Pontoppidan, Bishop of Trondhjem, 1673-1678, wrote 
Grammatica Danica in Danish, 1668. Nyerup og Kraft, Literatur-Leksikon. 
Andreas Faye, Christiansands Stifts Bispe- og Stiftshistorie, p. 266. R. 
Nyerup, Tilstanden i Danmark og Norge i celdre og nyere Tider, vol. III. 
The church ordinances of 1537 made the provision that there should be one 
Latin school in each city, and that all other primary schools should be closed. 
Only Latin shoidd be taught, "as the Latin schools are easily spoiled by the 
Danish and German schools, since those who have founded these schools 
have looked more to their own profit than to the welfare of the children." 
See W. Rein, Encyklopddisches Handbuch der Pddagogik, Langensalza, 1903, 
vol. I., p. 933 ff., Deutsches Schulwesen. A. V. Heffermehl, Folkeundervis- 
ningen i Norge indtil omkring 1 700, Christiania, 1913. 

2 Ludvig Holberg, Bergens Beskrivelse, p. 194 ff. E. Holm, Danmark- 
Norges indre Historie under Enevoslden, vol. I., p. 384 ff. A. Faye, ChriS' 
tiansands Stifts Bispe- og Stiftshistorie, p. 265. 



Church Door in Sogn. 


Portal at Hurum. 


1575, of the nobles, bishops, lagmcend, and leading binder it was 
decided that a spand ^ of grain should be paid for each mandsverk ^ 
for the maintenance of the school, while the hondelut should be 
kept by the hinder for the support of the poor. This was ratified by 
royal decree of 1578, but the binder were often unwilling to pay the 
school tax, and it could not always be collected. 

The Reformation brought no marked improvement in primary 
education, as the reformers both in Norway and Denmark were 
chiefly concerned with the education of ministers for the Lutheran 
Church. No public schools were organized, and the education of the 
common people was so far neglected that not above one-tenth could 
read and write.^ Some provision was, nevertheless, made for the 
religious instruction of the people. Bishop Palladius of Seeland says 
in his " Visitatsbog" : "The congregation has two servants, one 
especially for the older, and the other for the younger church. As 
the clergyman teaches and instructs the old, so the sexton should 
teach the young. When he has rung the church bell for the first 
time on Sunday, then he shall strike the bell fifteen or sixteen times 
as a signal to the children. The young people shall come to church 
and seat themselves on the first benches, and the sexton shall stand 
in the midst of them, and instruct them with pleasure and kindness 
according to a sexton's book published in Copenhagen, and he shall 
also teach them religious songs. But to those who do not dwell in 
a church village, the sexton shall come at least once a month, when 
the sun shines brightly, and the children can be out of doors. He 
shall encourage the parents to send their children to the sexton, but 
if they will not come, they shall then be forced with the whip to do 
so." This system of religious teaching, which was the same both 
in Norway and Denmark, must be regarded as the first "attempt at 
systematic public instruction, the germ of the common schools. As 
an aid to ministers and sextons in instructing the children. Bishop 

^ Spand = en sjaellandsk skjeppe (Faye, ibid., p. 174) = 17.372 liter, or 
about half a bushel. J. Brynildsen, Norsk- engelsk Ordbog. 

2 Mandsverk, a certain area of land. Norges gamle Love, anden raekke, vol. 
I., Ord og Sagregister by Oscar Alb. Johnsen. Daniel Thrap, Bergenske 
Kirkeforholde i det 17de Aarhundrede, p. 101 ff. 

' W. Rein, Encyklopddisches Handbuch der Pddagogik, vol. VI., p. 287 ff. 
A. V. Heffermehl, Folkeundervisningen i Norge indtil omkring 1700, 1913. 


Palladius published a translation of Luther's Catechism, 1538, to 
which he added, in 1542, " Brevis Expositio Catechismi pro Parochis 
Norwegiae," a work which was translated into Danish in 1546. But 
as the majority of the people could not read, and as they had diffi- 
culty in understanding the Danish language, they could not derive 
much direct benefit even from books of this kind.* The great dis- 
advantage of the prevailing illiteracy was keenly felt, especially by 
the clergy, and in the preliminary drafts of the church ordinance 
issued by Christian IV. the desire was expressed that the people in 
the larger towns should keep a school teacher, that they should build 
a schoolhouse, and that the more well-to-do citizens should make 
donations for this purpose. It is clear that there was a growing 
demand for popular education, and that some attempts were made 
to provide for the instruction of the common people, but because of 
frequent wars and oppressive taxes, slight progress was made in the 
seventeenth century. 

Through the introduction of absolutism changes had also to be 
made in the laws and ritual of the church. In 1685 a new ritual 
was published, which was introduced in Norway in 1688, and about 
the same time the Danish-Norwegian Church also received a new 
hymnbook, pubhshed by the great psalmist Thomas Kingo, Bishop 
of Fyen. In Catholic times, and even after the introduction of the 
Reformation, the old Latin hymns were sung in the churches, but 
Hans Thomiss0n's " Danske Salmebog " of 1569 had gradually come 
into general use, and so many additions had been made to it that it 
was deemed necessary to get a new hymnbook. Thomas Kingo 
was commissioned by the king to edit one. The first part of Kingo's 
hymnbook appeared in 1689, but the book was not authorized for 
general use till in 1699. 

The bishops and many other ecclesiastics were men of learning 
and high character, who wrote collections of eloquent sermons, devo- 
tional books,^ hymns and religious songs, and who labored earnestly 

* A. Faye, Christiansands Stifts Bispe- og Stiftshistorie, p. 138. 

' Bishop J0rgeii Erichsson of Stavanger published in 1592 a collection of 
sermons, 'I'Jonae Prophetes skj0nne Historia udi 24 Prsedigener begreben," 
about which A. Faye says : "This collection of sermons is not only the most 
remarkable religious work written in Norway in the century of the Reforma- 
tion, but it is one of the best collections of sermons which even till the present 


to improve the religious and intellectual life of the people, but the 
church as a whole was, none the less, in a rather deplorable state. 
"Everything was for sale," says Andreas Faye. "In Denmark not 
only the churches were sold to the highest bidder, but even the right 
to appoint clergymen for the parishes in which they were located. 
In Norway the king had at his free disposal the revenues of the 
church, which were often used for military purposes. The income 
of the church was farmed out, or granted, in part, as donations. 
Christian V. granted, among other things, the rich estates of the 
provosty of Tunsberg to Peder Griffenfeld, and after his downfall, 
to U. F. Gyldenl0ve, together with the right to make all ecclesiastical 
appointments in the counties of Jarlsberg and Larvik. At times one 
was granted the tithes of a church, another its fees or its estates. . . . 
The public church service was looked down upon, and this, together 
with the ridiculous passion for rank, led to private communion, to 
marriages and baptisms at home among the finer classes, who imitated 
French language, manners, and customs, while the attention of the 
common people was especially directed to the exorcising of the devil, 
to witchcraft, and other superstition." 

time has been written in this country." Christen Bang, clergyman at 
Romedal in Hedemarken, 1621-1657, published an explanation of Luther's 
Catechism in ten volumes, and many devotional books. Michael Leigh, 
rector of the Stavanger Latin School, and later clergyman at Thvet, wrote 
'•'Guds B0rns Herlighed her i Naaden og hisset i ^ren" (1680), and "Gileads 
Slave" (1682), books which were pubUshed in many editions. Of psalm- 
ists may be mentioned Niels Arctander, of Overnes, who became Bishop of 
Viborg, author of ^'Psalmer og aandelige Viser" (1607); Peder Mathieson 
Of rid, of Indherred, who wrote a collection of hymns called ^' Aandens GlsBde " ; 
Peder Olufsson Svenning, clergyman at Stord0en 1648-1671, left a collection 
of hymns " Aurora eller den nye Morgenr0de" ; John Brunsmand of Tr0nde- 
lagen, author of 'I'AandeUge Sjunglyst" (1676) and "Sjungende Himmellys" 
(1687) ; Erik Eriksson Pontoppidan, Bishop of Trondhjem, author of 
"Sjelens Opl0ftelse til Herren " ; Knud Sevaldsen Bang prepared a hymnbook 
for his congregation in Toten (1662). See Andreas Faye, Christiansands 
Stifts Bispe- og Stiftshistorie, p. 272 f. Erik Pontoppidan, Norges naturlige 
Historie, vol. XL, p. 397 ff. 

Translations of the Bible both into Danish and Icelandic had long existed. 
In 1550 the whole Bible, translated from Luther's German Bible by Chris- 
tiern Peders0n, was printed in Danish. A new revised folio edition of this 
translation was published in 1589. In 1607 a literal translation of the Bible 
from the original languages was published, and in 1633 a large folio edition 
of Frederick II.'s Bible of 1550, the Bible of Christian IV,, appeared. 


The period was one of general moral laxity and lack of religious 
spirit, and among the common people drunkenness and coarse man- 
ners were prevalent. Bishop J0rgen Erichsson of Stavanger says 
in his first sermon of "Jonae Prophetes skj0nne Historia": "What 
vices and offenses against God Almighty are to be found among the 
lower classes, the common people know well enough how to complain 
of; for there are very few married folks who live together in peace 
and good understanding. Parents and older people give the children 
poor training, and rather set them a bad example in everything 
which is contrary to God's holy commandments. Children and 
servants will not be governed by any one, but resent all chastisement 
and rebuke. Among the people cursing and swearing, immorality, 
theft, cheating, falsehood, and slander, and other such evils prevail ; 
for they are so wicked and perverse that we see among all classes 
sin and vice prevail in the highest degree and most damnable form, so 
that we must complain with the holy Poly carpus : O Lord, why didst 
thou suffer us to live in such pitiful and miserable times ? " Though 
this is a piece of pulpit oratory, other evidence shows that it can be 
taken more literally than is usually the case with religious complaints 
about the wickedness of mankind. Even the clergymen were often 
rude and violent, and not seldom intemperate and immoral. In the 
year 1594 four rectors in Christiansands stiff alone were dismissed 
for grave offenses of that kind. The seventeenth century was the 
age of orthodoxy. The Lutheran Church laid great emphasis on 
the purity of doctrine, and its teachings were adhered to by all 
classes with the firmest faith and conviction. But the spiritual life 
of the people was not deeply affected by the cold formalism and 
lifeless reiteration of dogmas into which the church service had 
degenerated. Bishop A. Chr. Bang says : " As people believed with- 
out scepticism, they also observed diligently all rehgious ceremonies. 
They had time and patience to listen to a sermon which lasted for 
five hours, but the faith and the religious exercises, which in a manner 
were sincerely enough meant, were able to exert but slight influence. 
The people of those times were all dualists to a greater or less degree. 
They were divided into two personalities, the pious and the licen- 
tious, and they seemed to live happily in this duahsm without being 
aware of its inconsistency. They were equally orthodox, equally 


pious, even if they were at times caviling and quarreling, and given 
to fighting and drunkenness, to barbaric rudeness and a moral licen- 
tiousness which, to say the least, was half pagan."/ But the church 
itself was largely responsible for these conditions. Bishop Bang 
continues : " As a people is, so are their priests, says the prophet. 
In the age of orthodoxy the clergy were in every way imbued with 
the spirit of the times, the character of the age. The sermons which 
they delivered can, as a rule, not be rated very high. They were 
often earnest in chastising the people for their sins and vices, but 
these legal philippics frequently degenerated into pure invective, not 
to mention the instances when the preacher would thunder the 
anathemas of his wrath upon his audience, and wish that the devil 
himself might take them all. ... On the whole, the sermon in the age 
of orthodoxy was unpractical, uncultured, pedantic, and long drawn 
out. The Christian truth which it undoubtedly contained was 
drowned in the circumlocutions, introductions, and subdivisions, the 
examples and learned quotations which belonged to the style of preach- 
ing in that age. . . . The views of religion, society, and government 
were largely that of the Old Testament, and the Bible was, therefore, 
regarded as one of the chief codes of law. People were sentenced to 
death, not only according to the civil laws, but also according to the 
Deuteronomy, and they also sought and found in the Deuteronomy 
the rules for waging war in a manner pleasing to God." That this 
type of preaching and Christian instruction should fail to produce 
a true spiritual regeneration is not strange, especially as the ministers 
themselves were often addicted to drunkenness and immorality. On 
March 27, 1629, an ordinance "Regarding the Office of the Church 
and its Authority over the Impenitent, together with some Conditions 
of the Clergy" was published. The complaint is made that the 
preaching of the gospel, the royal ordinances, and the sharpened 
threats and punishments had been of small avail, and that wicked- 
ness has so daily increased "that the people in the clear evangelical 
light kindled in these countries lead a more reckless, offensive, and 
godless life, a great number with the idea that the true service of 

^ A. Chr. Bang, Udsigt over den norske Kirkes Historic efter Rejormationen, 
p. 52 f . See also Edvard Holm, Danmark-N orges Historic Jra den store nordi- 
ske Krigs Slutning til Rigernes Adskillelse, vol. I., p. 556 ff. 


God consists in the exterior church service, the use of the sacraments, 
singing, praying, etc." Various remedies are prescribed by the ordi- 
nance. The rectors were to choose some of the best members of the 
congregation as assistants {medhjelpere), and in the country districts 
the lensmand and provost should appoint two of the best men as kir- 
keverger to assist the rector in his duties. Those who swore and 
cursed should be put in the pillory, and the ministers should preach 
according to the church ordinance, so that their sermons did not 
become too long and tiresome. Baptisms and marriages should be 
solemnized in the churches, and not in the private homes. This was 
a well-meant effort to remedy the evils in church and society, but 
there is no evidence that the conditions were improving in the seven- 
teenth century. Government regulations or other coercive measures 
have not the power to impart new life or to create new ideals. The 
forces which are to regenerate society and lift it to a higher intel- 
lectual and moral level must have a higher source, and the Nor- 
wegian people were destined to wait another century before the great 
spiritual awakening came which made faith a matter of the heart, 
and turned Christianity into a new spiritual and social force. 

37. Frederick IV. The Great Northern War 

When Christian V. died, August 25, 1699, his son, Frederick, who 
was twenty-eight years of age, ascended the throne as Frederick IV. 
The prince had taken little or no part in public affairs, and his edu- 
cation had been much neglected. A. H0jer says that King Chris- 
tian V. was persuaded by his ministers, Gabel, Knuth, and others, 
who had not much opportunity to study in their youth, that a prince 
did not need to be educated, that it only tended to obscure his 
natural ability if his brain was filled with too much learning, but 
these arguments only served to conceal the thought that they and 
their families would be more indispensable to the future sovereign 
if he remained ignorant and without understanding of his royal 
duties.^ Frederick's greatest fault, however, was not his scant educa- 

^ A. H0jer, Friederich des J^ten glorwurdigstes Lehen. G. L. Baden, De danske 
Kongers og del oldenborgske Hus Karakteristiker. Edvard Holm, Danmark- 
Norges indre Hiatorie under Enevoelden, vol. II., p. 15 f. Niels Ditlev Riegels, 
Fors^g til fjerde Friederichs Historie, vol. I., p. 48. 


tion or lack of literary interests, but his frivolity and disgracefully 
immoral life. In 1695 he married Louise of Mecklenburg, but his 
open cohabitation with various mistresses proved that he was devoid 
of moral feeling, a lascivious wanton, who wholly ignored the laws, 
which if broken by his subjects would bring upon the offender the 
severest punishment. The most noteworthy of his mistresses was 
Anna Sophia Reventlow, daughter of Count Reventlow, the king's 
chancellor. The king had met the young countess at a masquerade, 
and though her mother tried to prevent it, he enticed her from her 
home, and she became formally "wedded" to the king's left hand 
while his queen still lived, the marriage service being read by a 
conrector, who was liberally rewarded for his pHable conscience. In 
a similar way he had been "wedded" to Helen Viereck, who died 
not long after the marriage. This form of illegal polygamy could 
give the union neither legality nor sanctity, but this gave the king 
no concern, as he considered himself elevated above all laws. His 
queen, Louise, died in 1721, and he was formally wedded to Anna 
Reventlow on the day after the funeral.^ The reports of these events, 
following so closely upon each other, caused a great scandal. One 
day the funeral of the good Queen Louise, and the king's "profound 
grief" were described in eloquent terms; the next day the king's 
marriage and his "great joy" was heralded in glowing colors. His 
brother Charles and his sister Hedevig were so offended that they 
left the court, and a permanent estrangement resulted between the 
king and his son and successor. Christian. King Frederick IV. was of 
a weak and sickly appearance ; he was not very gifted, and he possessed 
no graces which could serve to distinguish him, but his goodness and 
great kindness of heart won for him the love of the common people. 
In his duties as king he was energetic, diligent, and conscientious, 
though somewhat stubborn and narrow-minded. "Frederick IV. 
belonged to those kings who, while void of any higher intellectual 
range, can view many relations soundly and ably, and he also had a 
marked interest for administrative matters, especially if they per- 
tained to financial and military affairs." ^ He wished to become 

^ Edvard Holm, Danmark-Norges Historie jra den store nordiske Krigs 
Slutning til Rigernes Adskillelse, vol. I., p. 34 ff. 

' Edvard Holm, Danmark-Norges indre Historie, vol. II., p. 25. 




personally acquainted with conditions in his realms, and he was 
actively engaged in introducing needed reforms. The not very great 
honor seems to be due him of being regarded as one of the best kings 
of the house of Oldenborg. 

In Norway Frederick's accession to the throne led to the retire- 
ment of Statholder Gyldenl0ve, who, because of advancing age, was 
no longer as energetic or mindful of official duties as formerly. He 

resigned from his office, and 
retired to Hamburg, where 
he spent the closing years of 
his life. No new statholder 
was appointed, but Frederick 
Gabel, who was made vice- 
statholder, was placed in 
temporary charge, and Q. V. 
Wedel was made command- 
er-in-chief of the Norwegian 

The first half of the eight- 
eenth century was a period of 
almost constant warfare, in 
which nearly all nations of 
Europe took part. The great 
struggle of England, Holland, 
and Germany against France 
was being waged for the Spanish succession and the maintenance of 
the principle of balance of power, and in eastern Europe Sweden 
fought the Great Northern War against Russia, Poland, and Den- 
mark-Norway for the preservation of her prestige as a great power. 
It is not strange that in so critical a period the chief features of the 
reign of Frederick IV. should be those of war and diplomacy rather 
than of administration. 

Ever since the wars with Sweden in the sixteenth century, when 
the princes of the part of Schleswig called Gottorp gained full auton- 
omy, a hostile feeling existed between these princes and the kings of 
Denmark-Norway. This hostility was intensified by the support 
which Sweden always gave the dukes of Gottorp. From Sweden's 


Frederick IV. 


German provinces armies might easily be sent against Denmark, 
and past experience had shown that Gottorp would serve as an open 
door through which they could enter. Christian V. had tried to 
establish Danish overlordship over Gottorp in 1675, but he was 
forced to acknowledge the full autonomy of the dukedom in the 
treaty of Lund, 1679, after the war with Sweden.^ The desire of 
Denmark to gain control of Gottorp seems a rather excusable am- 
bition, especially when we view it in the Hght of European politics 
of that age. It was not only in perfect accord with the general policy 
of land-grabbing, so universally practiced in the eighteenth century, 
but it would increase the king's revenues, and greatly lessen the 
chances of an attack on the southern border of the kingdom. If a 
favorable opportunity should present itself, the temptation to renew 
the attempt against the duchy would be very strong, and such an 
opportunity seemed to have come when the seventeen-year-old Charles 
XII., who was considered to be a gay and incompetent youth, as- 
cended the throne of Sweden in 1697. The relations between Got- 
torp and Denmark-Norway again became strained, and Sweden 
showed as active a sympathy with the duke as ever. In 1698 
Christian V. formed an aUiance with August II. of Poland, and 
Saxony, and in 1699 with Czar Peter of Russia against Sweden. No 
special cause of war existed, and no valid reason for an attack on 
Sweden at this moment could be given, but such considerations did 
not weigh much with eighteenth century monarchs. They found the 
moment opportune, and the negotiations were carried on with the 
greatest secrecy, in order that Sweden might be surprised and over- 
whelmed by an unexpected attack. If the plot proved successful, 
Poland should receive Livonia and other provinces which Sweden 
had seized, Russia hoped to get some Baltic seaports, and Frederick 
IV. would subjugate Gottorp, and probably recover some of the 
provinces lost in the late wars. 

At the beginning of the year 1700 a Danish army of 18,000 men 
was concentrated at Rendsburg in Holstein. The Norwegian army 
was also mobilized, and four regiments were sent to Denmark, partly 
to reenforce the Danish army, and partly to render service on the 
fleet. When spring came, a Saxon army invaded Livonia, and the 

1 Robert Molesworth, An Account of Denmark, p. 184 ff. 


Great Northern War, destined to continue for over twenty years, had 
begun. The Danes took the forts of Husum and Stapelhohn, but 
failed to take the fortress of T0nningen, and when an army of Swedes 
and Liineburgers arrived, they had to raise the siege and withdraw. 
But the war now took a raither unexpected turn. As both England 
and Holland were greatly concerned about maintaining peace in the 
North, they viewed with alarm and resentment this unwarranted 
attack on Gottorp, and sent a large fleet of thirty-nine ships under 
the English admiral Rookes to the Baltic. This fleet joined the 
Swedish fleet numbering thirty-eight ships, and a naval force thus 
suddenly appeared with which the Danish-Norwegian fleet was un- 
able to cope. Seeland and Copenhagen were almost wholly un- 
protected, and Charles XII. seized the opportunity to land a force of 
10,000 men in the neighborhood of Copenhagen. But before he 
could begin the bombardment of the city, Frederick IV., who had 
already begun peace negotiations, succeeded in concluding the peace 
of Traventhal in Schleswig, August 18, 1700. He agreed to pay the 
Duke of Gottorp an indemnity of 260,000 riksdaler, and to acknowl- 
edge his independence. To these terms Charles XII. had to accede, 
and the war between Sweden and Denmark-Norway was terminated 
without much loss or gain to either side. The administration in Nor- 
way had been severely criticized by Commissioner of War Hans 
Rosencreutz in a report to the king, and later by Vice-statholder 
Gabel, who pointed out that the administration of Norwegian affairs 
was wholly dictated by the regard for the interests of Denmark and 
a few royal officials, whereas it ought to be conducted in such a way 
that it could subserve the best ijiterests both of the king and the 
realm. King Frederick realized that some change ought to be made 
in the Norwegian administrative system, and in 1704 a commission 
was created in Chri^tiania called "Slotsloven paa Akershus," con- 
sisting of one military and four civil members, who should assist 
the vice-statholder, and in general perform the duties which the 
statholder had hitherto had. The military member was a German 
officer, Tritzschler, and three of the civil members were Norwegians, 
who might be supposed to have more direct knowledge of Nor- 
wegian affairs. But Slotsloven showed little competence or 
interest. They were satisfied with adhering to the old system. 


and no improvement could be noticed either in the miUtary or 
civil service. 

The same year King Frederick also visited Norway, where he was 
received with great honors. On the souvenir coins struck in honor 
of his visit he caused the following motto to be inscribed : Mod, 
troskab, tapperhed og hvad der giver csre, al verden han hlandt norske 
klipper loere. This was, perhaps, done in acknowledgment of the 
efficient service which the Norwegians had rendered in past wars, 
but possibly also to stimulate their warlike spirit, so that military 
service should be more willingly rendered when the gates of war 
should again swing open, or when the king should deem it prof- 
itable to sell more mercenaries to fight in the bloody wars raging 
on the Continent. 

In 1701, when England, Holland, and the German Empire began 
the great struggle against France, known as the War of the Spanish 
Succession, both sides sought the support of Denmark-Norway. 
Frederick IV. avoided any active participation in the war, but he 
favored the opponents of France. In return for a yearly subsidy 
and the promise of aid in case of need, he hired 20,000 mercenaries 
to the English king, about 6000 of whom were Norwegians. This 
system of sacrificing the young men of the kingdoms on foreign battle- 
fields for no worthier purpose than to secure a few million crowns for 
the royal treasury was quite universally practiced at that time, and 
had been resorted to also by Christian V. Molesworth says that 
the Danes sent 7000 soldiers to England "which are yet in His 
Majesty's pay." ^ These were losses far exceeding those caused by 
the emigration to Holland and England, but none raised a voice 
to bemoan it as a calamity "worse than the Black Death," or to 
proclaim it the "cause of the decHne of Norwegian agriculture." 
We cannot but feel the truth of Molesworth's rather bitter words : 
"At present soldiers are grown to be as salable ware as sheep and 
oxen, and are as little concerned when sold ; for provided the officers 
be rendered content by the purchaser, in having liberty to plunder 
the laborious and honest country people in their marches, and a fat 
winter quarter, with a permission to defraud their own men of their 
pay ; the common soldier goes with no more sense than a beast to 
^ An Account 0/ Denmark, p. 200. 

VOL. II — X 


the slaughter ; having no such sentiment as love of honor, country, 
religion, Uberty, or anything more than fear of being hanged for a 
deserter." ^ Even during the intervals of peace the nation's best 
blood was being shed on distant battlefields, and these poor mer- 
cenaries could not even feel that they were giving their lives for 
their country. 

After the peace of Traventhal Charles XII., "the Swedish lion," 
turned against Russia and Poland, and fought a series of brilliant 
campaigns which dazzled Europe. After he had crushed the Rus- 
sians at Narva, he marched into Poland, drove out August II., and 
placed Stanislaus Leszczynski on the throne. He then entered 
Saxony, and forced August II. to conclude a humiliating peace at 
Alt-Ranstadt. In 1707 he again turned against Russia with an 
army of 40,000 men, probably the best drilled and officered army in 
Europe at that time. The situation became critical, and both 
Czar Peter and August II. implored Frederick IV. to come to their 
aid. Frederick was still hostile to Sweden, and he continued to 
quarrel with Gottorp, but he would not risk a new war with Charles 
XII. until the situation should be more favorable. He made instead 
a pleasure trip to Italy, which was prolonged till 1709, when he re- 
turned by way of Saxony. He met King August II., and an alliance 
was now concluded between the two kings. August II. should again 
receive the throne of Poland, and Frederick IV. should seek to recover 
the provinces which Sweden had taken from Denmark-Norway. 

While hard pressed by the Swedish armies, Czar Peter of Russia 
had offered Frederick IV. the sum of 300,000 riksdaler and a yearly 
subsidy of 100,000, if he would come to his aid, but Frederick, who 
hoped to get still more, did not accept the offer. Now the situation 
was wholly changed. On July 8, 1709, Charles XII. was defeated 
at Pultava, and his army was destroyed. Russia replaced Sweden 
as the leading power in the North, and the Czar withdrew his offer. 
Frederick, who realized that he had lost his opportunity, nevertheless 
entered into an alliance with him, on the best terms obtainable, and 
began war with Sweden in November of the same year by sending 
an army of 15,000 men under Count Reventlow into Sk&ne. The 
Norwegian army was also mobilized, and received orders to support 

^ An Account of Denmark, p. 118. 


the Danes by invading the Swedish border districts. Seven thou- 
sand men were concentrated at Fredrikstad, but after Gyldenl0ve's 
retirement, the Norwegian army had been so woefully neglected that 
it was in no condition to render active service. Not only were sol- 
diery, cavalry, and commissariat in a deplorable state, but all effi- 
cient leadership had disappeared through the mischievous practice 
of appointing to the higher military offices in Norway old men who 
were incapable of active military service, and considered their 
appointment only as a sinecure. In the Swedish wars at the time 
of Sehested and Gyldenl0ve the Norwegians had distinguished them- 
selves, but this time they had to take the field without proper arms, 
equipments, or leaders. The vice-statholder, Vibe, was a sickly man, 
over seventy years of age. H. E. Tritzschler, who was appointed 
commander-in-chief, was utterly incompetent, and General Schultz, 
who commanded the forces in northern Norway, was an aged man, 
over seventy-seven years old. The campaign became a ludicrous 
example of hesitation and procrastination. All opportunities were 
wasted, and nothing was accomplished. So wholly incompetent 
were the commanders that the Norwegian troops spent all their 
time in camp, and could not even hold in check any of the Swedish 
forces who under the able general Magnus Stenbock advanced against 
the Danes in Skane. In the battle of Helsingborg, February 28, 
1710, the Danes suffered a crushing defeat, losing 5000 men dead 
and wounded, and 2600 who were made prisoners of war. Sk&ne 
was speedily evacuated by the remnant of the Danish army, which 
retreated across the Sound to Seeland. Even after this defeat 
Frederick IV. would have sent a new army into Sweden, but he was 
prevented by the Swedish fleet. 

Not many important naval engagements occurred in this war, 
but on October 4, 1710, an undecisive naval battle was fought in 
Kj0ge Bay, which was made memorable by the death of the Nor- 
wegian naval hero Ivar Huitfeldt, who anchored his burning ship, 
"Danebrog," so as not to endanger the rest of the fleet, and con- 
tinued to fight until the vessel was destroyed by the explosion of its 
powder-magazines. The attempt of seizing Sk§,ne was not re- 
newed, and Frederick was prevented by various circumstances from 
taking further active part in the war till 1712. 


The utter incompetence of the Norwegian administration, which 
had been one of the contributory causes of the disastrous defeat at 
Helsingborg, had been brought to the king's attention in various 
ways. H. C. Platen, whom he sent to Norway to examine conditions, 
wrote : " There is not the proper energy and vivacity in the adminis- 
tration, nor the subordination which there ought to be, for though 
there is much talking and arguing, very little is done." The king, 
therefore, appointed a new statholder, U. F. V. L0vendal, an able and 
experienced general, son of the former statholder Ulrik Frederick 
Gyldenl0ve. L0vendal soon brought new order and energy into the 
Norwegian administration, and persuaded the king to send more 
warships to Norway for the protection of the Norwegian coast and 
commerce.^ In 1711 he was instructed to make an attack on Sweden 
for the purpose of holding in check the Swedish forces, and of pre- 
venting reenforcements from being sent to Pomerania, where the 
allies intended to make their next attack on Charles XII. These 
instructions he carried out successfully by leading an army of 7000 
men into Bohuslen, which was occupied by a strong Swedish force 
under Burenskjold. No battles of importance were fought, but the 
object of the expedition was, none the less, attained. In popularity 
as well as ability L0vendal resembled his noted father, but he did 
not remain long in Norway. Already in 1712 he was recalled to 
Denmark, and he soon returned to Poland, where he became King 
August II. 's minister and lord high steward. 

After the battle of Pultava Charles XII. sought to fight his adver- 
saries with the assistance of the Turks, and Magnus Stenbock at- 
tempted to come to his aid with an army of 17,000 men. But the 
transportation of such an army across the sea and through territory 
occupied by the enemy was connected with insurmountable obstacles. 
At Gadebusch in Mecklenburg he defeated the Danes, but large 
armies of Saxons and Russians blocked his way. Turning west, he 
burned Altona, and entered Holstein, but mild weather made the 
roads impassable, and he retired to the fortress of T0nningen, which 
was opened to him by the Duke of Gottorp. On May 16, 1713, 
he was forced to surrender with his whole army, and after four 

^ I. Gulowsen, Fra Valdemar L^vendals Tid, Historisk Tidsskrift, f jerde 
raekke, vol. VI., p. 90 ff. 


years of close confinement the great general died in a Danish prison, 

Stenbock's defeat and capture exhausted Sweden's last strength, 
and made further resistance impossible. Charles XII. was a prisoner 
in Turkey, and after the situation became so critical that the Estates 
threatened to conclude peace if the king did not return, Charles left 
Turkey, and reached Stralsund in November, 1714. He hoped to 
defend Pomerania against his enemies, but Frederick IV. formed an 
alliance with George I. of England-Hanover, and Frederick William 
of Prussia, and while the Danish-Norwegian fleet made it impossible 
to send reenforcements across the Baltic, a Danish-Prussian army 
besieged the city, which was forced to capitulate, December 23, 1715. 

38. King Charles XII. in Norway 

Two days before Stralsund capitulated. King Charles XII. boarded 
a Swedish man-of-war and set sail for Sweden. He succeeded in 
eluding the Danish-Norwegian fleet, and landed at Trelleborg at 
daybreak on Christmas eve, 1715. The homecoming was not a 
joyful one. The condition of the kingdom was deplorable in the 
extreme, and the people desired peace at any cost, but King Charles 
had not yet abandoned hope of success, and refused to listen to any 
proposals of that kind. Through proscriptions, forced loans, and 
other coercive methods he succeeded also this time in raising the 
required forces. The attack was to be directed against Frederick 
IV., against whom he felt a special resentment. Had the winter been 
cold enough, he would have crossed the Sound on the ice, and in- 
vaded Seeland, but this plan had to be abandoned because of mild 
weather, and he decided to seize Norway, which he hoped to take by 
a swift and energetic attack. 

After the departure of L0vendal, the Norwegian administra- 
tion, directed by Slotsloven and the new vice-statholder, Frederick 
Krag, had relapsed into its old inactivity and incompetence. General 
Hausman, the commander-in-chief of the army, and the military 

1 Felttoget i Skaane 1 709-1 710, ved den danske Generalstab, Copenhagen, 
1903. Paludan-Miiller, Omrids af Kong Fredrik IV's Kamp med Grev 
Magnus Stenbock og Baron Gorlz, Dansk historisk Tidsskrift, fjerde reekke, 
vol. VI. Still, Kriget i Skane, Stookholm, 1903. 


member of Slotsloven, who had proven himself both able and 
conscientious, and had brought the army into a fairly high state of 
efficiency, was dismissed shortly before the war broke out, because 
the government feared lest his warlike spirit should lead him to act 
with too much haste. The country was ill prepared for war, though 
the military burdens, as well as the size of the army, were continually 
augmented until they passed all reasonable limits.^ The treasury 
was empty, and the army, which numbered 24,000 men, of whom 
4000 had been sent to Germany, lacked clothes, medicine, tents, and 
provisions. The officers were, to a large extent, foreigners, often 
without military experience, and devoid of interest for the country's 
welfare. The new commander-in-chief, Lutzow, was a German by 
birth, but he had married a Norwegian lady, and had settled per- 
manently in the kingdom. He was upright and competent, but 
extremely cautious, and not very energetic. When the report was 
received that Charles XII. might attack Norway, some efforts were 
made to mobilize the Norwegian army, but there was a conspicuous 
lack of promptness and energy. Lutzow and his assistants, as well 
as Slotsloven, felt convinced that Charles would not begin a new 
campaign in the winter, and nothing of importance was done to safe- 
guard the country against invasion. But Charles XII. was used to 
take advantage of situations of that kind. His army of invasion, 
consisting of 12,000 men, was ready to march at any moment, and 
in the beginning of March he started from Vermland with a corps 
of 3000 men, infantry and cavalry. It was his aim to march straight- 
way upon Christiania. General Carl Gustav M0rner, governor of 
Bohus, was ordered to advance to his support with a force of 4000 
men, and General Aschenberg was instructed to operate against 
Fredrikshald and Fredriksten with a third division. On the night 
before the 9th of March, 1716, the burning varder on the mountain- 

^At the beginning of Frederick's reign the Norwegian army numbered 
10,000 men. In 1727 it was increased to 18,000, and through new enlist- 
ments, and especially by adding a force of reserves of 9300, it was raised to 
30,000 by 1742. The length of the required term of military service was 
increased from three to ten years, so that many remained in the army from 
sixteen to twenty years. J. E. Sars says that scarcely a government in 
Europe drew so heavily on the people's strength for military purposes. Sars, 
Udsigt over den norske Historie, vol. IV., p. 68 S. J. C Berg, Om Land- 
voernet, p. 32 ff. A. C. Drolsum, Del norake Folk og dels Forsvaravcesen, p. 40 ff. 




tops suddenly announced that the enemy had entered the country. 
Charles XII. had crossed the border with a force of 1000 men, and 
as he found all strategic points unguarded, and the road open, he 
hastened forward with a cavalry troop of 600 men to H0land parson- 
age. The Norwegian troops stationed there under Lieutenant- 
Colonel Briiggemann and Colonel Kruse were quartered on different 
farms in the neighborhood. 
Briiggemann was surprised 
and captured with eighty-two 
men without being able to 
make resistance, but Kruse, 
who had collected 200 men, 
attacked the Swedes, and a 
bloody battle ensued, in 
which King Charles' favorite. 
General Poniatovski, and his 
brother-in-law. Prince Fred- 
erick of Hessen, were severely 
wounded, and Charles him- 
self barely escaped being 
captured. But the tide of 
battle soon turned. Kruse 
was wounded and captured, 
and his small band was scat- 
tered. He was treated with 
the greatest courtesy by the chivalric Swedish king. His bravery was 
admired by all, but he had acted in too precipitous a haste. Had 
he waited a few hours, and collected all his forces, which numbered 
700 to 800 men, he might have won an important victory, and King 
Charles might have been made prisoner. Kruse was tried by a court- 
martial, and sentenced to pay a fine, but Frederick IV. accorded him 
full pardon.^ 

^ A. Faye, Carl XII. i Norge. O. A. 0verland, Borgerne paa Fredrikshald. 
Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Norges Historic, vol. V., 1, p. 164 ff. Fredrik Ferdi- 
nand Carlson, Sveriges Historia under Konungerna af pfalziska Huset, part II. 
Voltaire, Histoire de Charles XII. Robert Nisbet Bain, Charles XII. and 
the Collapse of the Swedish Empire. King Oscar II., Charles XII. Anders 
Fryxell, Carl den tolftes Historia. 

FiQ. 6. — Charles XII. 


King Charles' unexpected approach caused the greatest conster- 
nation in Norway, where the members of Slotsloven had neglected 
to take proper steps even for protecting Christiania. King Charles 
was now only thirty-five miles away, but cold and stormy weather 
prevented him from pursuing his march for some days. This delay 
enabled the government to collect an army of about 7000 men in the 
city, but when King Charles had effected a junction with M0rner, 
who was advancing from Bohus, General Lutzow and other members 
of Slotsloven considered it prudent not to risk a battle. A garri- 
son of 3000 men was placed in the fortress of Akershus, Lutzow evacu- 
ated Christiania, and retired to Gjellebek, in the neighborhood of 
Drammen, and the Swedes occupied the city without resistance, 
March 21, 1716. 

So far Charles had been successful. Christiania had been taken, 
and he had found ample stores of provisions, and good quarters for 
his soldiers during the inclement season of early spring. But serious 
obstacles were soon thrown in his way. For want of artillery he 
could not besiege Akershus castle, which trained its guns upon the 
city, and killed many of his men by firing along the streets. The 
people were everywhere hostile, a circumstance which soon made all 
his operations diflBcult. Foraging parties had to fight with the 
binder, and the smaller isolated detachments were often attacked and 
destroyed. A force of over 400 men which he had left at Moss in 
charge of the commissariat was annihilated by Henrik J0rgen Huit- 
feldt, and large quantities of ammunition were taken, though the 
greater part of the stores had already been removed. In the latter 
part of March a cavalry force of 600 men under Axel L0ven was dis- 
patched by King Charles into Hakedal, Hadeland, and Ringerike to 
burn stores, and also to destroy the rich silver mines at Kongsberg.^ 
They were everywhere opposed by the hinder, who felled trees across 
the roads, and offered what resistance they could without fighting 
any pitched battle, and they were so delayed that they did not reach 
Norderhov parsonage till ten o'clock in the evening, March 28. 

* A. Paye, Bidrag til den nor she Krigs-Historie under Kong Fredrik IV, Sam- 
linger til del norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. III., p. 182 fif. Haakon H. 
Breien, Svensketoget til Norderhov i 1716, Historisk Tidsskrift, fjerde rsekke, 
vol. v., p. 454 ff. 


Here they were surprised by the Norwegians under Oetken. Colonel 
L0ven and a large number of his men were taken prisoners, and the 
rest of the force was scattered. A fairly well founded tradition 
relates how the parson's wife, the brave Anna Colbj0rnsdatter, 
entertained the Swedish officers while word was sent to the Nor- 
wegians to hasten to Norderhov.^ Through these and similar mis- 
haps King Charles' position soon became critical. General Aschen- 
berg had retreated across the border, his line of communication had 
been broken, and the Norwegians destroyed roads and bridges. The 
Norwegian forces were constantly increased, and when the regiments 
which had been sent to Germany returned, and Danish reenforce- 
ments had been received, the commanders resolved to block King 
Charles' line of retreat, and to isolate him in the district between 
Christiania and the Glommen River. An attempt which Charies 
made to turn the flank of the Norwegian army failed, and Moss was 
taken by Vincence Budde and Henrik J0rgen Huitfeldt. Falken- 
berg, the Swedish commander, was mortally wounded, and the garri- 
son of 800 men were killed, captured, or scattered. Charies now 
found the situation so critical that he suddenly left Christiania in 
the night of April 29, and marched across the Glommen River to 
Fredrikshald. The townspeople of that city made a determined 
resistance under the leadership of the brothers Peter and Hans 
Colbj0rnsen, half-brothers of Anna Colbj0rnsdatter, but King Charles 
seized the city, and hoped to capture the citadel, the fortress of 
Fredriksten.^ On the night of July 3 he sought to take it by storm, 
but the citizens fired the town, so that the enemy could find no 
shelter, and the attack was repulsed. King Charles losing 500 men 
and many of his best officers.' He now decided to lay siege to the 
fortress, as soon as his fleet of transports should arrive with the 

^ Bernt Moe, Aktstykker til den norske Krigshistorie under Kong Fredrik 
den fjerde, vol. II., p. 3 ff. A. Faye, Carl XII. i Norge, p. 48 ff. Oscar 
Alb. Johnsen, Norges Historie, V., 1, p. 171. Haakon H. Breien, Svensketoget 
til Norderhov, Historisk Tidsskrift, fjerde rsekke, vol. V., p. 455 ff. 

* C. O. Munthe, Fredrikshalds og Fredrikstens Historie indtil 1720. Offi- 
cielle Raporter og Meldinger, Norske Samlinger, vol. I., p. 403 ff. Bernt 
Moe, Aktstykker til den norske Krigshistorie under Kong Fredrik den fjerde, 
vol. II., p. 37 ff. 

» The whole city was burned. In all, 330 houses were destroyed. Only 
a few houses in the southern part of the city remained. 


necessary siege guns and war material, but this hope was shattered 
by the Norwegian naval hero Peter Tordenskjold. 

This remarkable man, the son of John Wessel, a sea-captain and 
later innkeeper and alderman in Trondhjem, was born in 1690, and 
was at this time about twenty-six years of age. In his boyhood he 
was placed in school, but he loved adventure and the sea more than 
books, and several episodes from his school-days reveal the temper 
of the future sea-fighter. One day a larger boy had given him a 
beating, but Peter Wessel vowed that he would have his revenge. 
The next day he returned to the combat with his hair cut close and 
his head greased, and this time he worsted his opponent. When 
Frederick IV. visited Norway in 1704, the restless youth found an 
opportunity to follow his retinue to Denmark, where he hoped to 
become a cadet. Failing in this, he hired out as a sailor, and later as 
mate on a ship going to the East Indies. On his return to Den- 
mark, the war with Sweden had begun, and he became officer on the 
fleet, with the rank of lieutenant. A little later he was sent to Nor- 
way with dispatches to Baron L0vendal, who liked the young officer 
so well that he made him captain of a small privateer, an opportunity 
which enabled Wessel to develop his talents unhampered by superiors. 
He rendered such valuable service that L0vendal soon placed him 
in command of a new ship of some size, "L0vendals Gallei," 
of eighteen guns, and on his first cruise he captured a Swedish ship 
of nine guns, which was also placed under his command under the 
new name of "Norske Vaaben." He was soon ordered to rejoin 
the Danish fleet under Admiral Gyldenl0ve, and he distinguished him- 
self to such a degree that he won the admiral's lifelong friendship and 
the special favor of the king. Again he was allowed to return to 
the coast of Norway to fight the enemy. His remarkable exploits, 
his distinguished service in the regular fleet, the number of prizes 
which he captured cannot be dwelt upon in detail, but the king so 
admired his rare talents that in spite of powerful opponents and 
jealous rivals who sought to harm the young officer, he raised him 
to the nobility with the name of Tordenskjold, February 24, 1716, 
before he had reached the age of twenty-six years.* In the month of 

^W. Caratensen og O. Ltitken, Tordenskjold. Constantinus Flood, 
Tordenskjold. Jacob B0rresen, Kontreadmiral Tordenskjold, Christiania, 
1901. W. Coucheron-Aamot, Tordenskjold. 


June of that year Tordenskjold submitted to the king and the ad- 
miralty a plan for the defense of Fredrikshald, and for an attack on 
the Swedish coast squadron, which was bringing supplies to Charles 
XII. The plan was accepted, and the king ordered a small squadron 
to be placed under Tordenskjold's command for its execution. On 
July 2 he weighed anchor, and sailed for the Swedish coast with 
seven small vessels, including his flagship the "Hvide 0rn," which he 
had captured from the Swedes, and a small frigate, " Vindhunden," 
commanded by his chief companion in arms, Lieutenant-Captain 
Grip. .When he approached the coast of Bohuslen, he learned from 
some fishermen that the whole Swedish squadron of over forty sail 
under Rear Admiral Stromstjerna lay anchored in the harbor of 
Dynekilen, about twenty miles from Fredrikshald. This was the 
fleet transporting siege guns and supplies to Charles XII., on which 
the outcome of the Swedish king's attack on Fredrikshald and 
Fredriksten at this moment depended. But could Tordenskjold 
with seven small vessels attack so formidable a fleet, anchored in a 
harbor where the narrow entrance was well defended both by in- 
fantry and shore batteries? It was a daring adventure of the kind 
which always tempted Tordenskjold. At daybreak, July 8, he set 
sail for Dynekilen, and had almost passed the narrow entrance, 
which is about three miles long, before the signal of his approach 
reached the Swedish fleet. But before he could enter the inner 
harbor he was met with a brisk fire from the fleet, and also from the 
battery of six twelve-pound guns planted on an island in such a way 
that its fire could rake the entire mouth of the harbor. Tordenskjold 
did not return the fire till he could place his vessels as close as pos- 
sible to those of the enemy. The real combat then began, and the 
ships were soon enveloped in a thick smoke of gunpowder which 
made all maneuvers difficult. After the incessant roar of cannons 
had continued for about three hours, the fire from the Swedish fleet 
began to weaken, and when Captain T0nder at about one o'clock 
captured the battery on the island, Tordenskjold closed in on the 
enemy, and at three o'clock in the afternoon, after a battle lasting 
seven hours, he was master of the harbor. The Swedes ran their 
ships aground and fled, leaving only a few men on each vessel to set 
it on fire, or to blow up its powder-magazines. But the situation was 


still critical, as Swedish troops and artillery had been stationed along 
the narrow entrance channel, which is only 160 to 180 paces wide. 
Also the capture of the ships, even after they had been abandoned, 
could be accomplished only with the greatest difficulty, as most of 
them had been mined or set on fire. But the work was undertaken 
by Tordenskjold's men with the most resolute daring. Nine war 
vessels and five transports with ammunition and supplies were towed 
out of the harbor; the others had been sunk, beached, or crippled.^ 
The proud squadron had been destroyed, and with it disappeared 
King Charles' hope of taking Fredrikshald. Upon receiving the dis- 
couraging news he withdrew from Norway. His campaign had 
failed, not because of any great ability shown by General Lutzow 
and Slotsloven, who had distinguished themselves chiefly by their 
inactivity, but because a nation had risen against him to fight for 
their country and their homes. 

39. King Charles XII. 's Second Invasion op Norway 

The unsuccessful Norwegian campaign and the losses it entailed 
would in themselves have been sufficient at this moment to create a 
critical situation in Sweden, but new dangers now threatened to 
overwhelm the kingdom with general ruin. Before King Charles 
retreated from Norway, he had received the news that Wismar, his 
last German possession, had fallen into the hands of his enemies, 
Finland and the Swedish Baltic provinces were in the hands of Czar 
Peter the Great, and both Russia and Denmark were ready to invade 
Sweden with large armies. Charles' available forces did not exceed 
20,000 men, of whom many had endured the greatest privations, and 
his country seemed to have exhausted its last strength in a hopeless 
and uneven struggle. But neither dangers nor misfortunes could 
make the king yield to peace proposals. His mind was of that 
strange kind which under the pressure of ill fortune becomes more 
rigidly fixed in its resolves even to a point of eccentricity. Victory, 

^ Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Norges Hiatorie, vol. V., 1, p. 175, and O. A. Over- 
land, Norges Historie, vol. VIII., p. 251, state that nine war vessels and five 
transports were taken. The statement made by W. Coucheron-Aamot, 
Tordenskjold, p. 15 ff., and A. Faye, CaH XII. i Norge, p. 7, that eleven 
war vessels were captured, seems to be incorrect. See also W. Carstensen 
og O. Liitken, Tordenskjold, 1902. 


which in his early career had accompanied him on many a battle- 
field, continued in his hours of adversity to buoy him up as a hope, 
but it had long since changed into a mad delusion which goaded him 
onward to his tragic end. With incredible energy, which was only 
equaled by the harshness of his methods, he succeeded in a short 
time in raising an army of 60,000 men, of which 48,000 should be 
used in an attack on Norway. In order to secure well-protected 
depots for supplies, he fortified Stromstad, which together with 
Marstrand and Gottenborg would constitute a line of communica- 
tions easily defended. Neither the Danish government nor the higher 
military authorities in Norway understood the significance of this 
step, but the alert Peter Tordenskjold saw it, and tried to frustrate 
the plan. On May 14, 1717, he made an attack on Gottenborg, and 
July 19 on Stromstad, but at both places he was repulsed, though the 
attacks had been well planned. 

The situation now seemed more hopeful for Charles XII. As Czar 
Peter had ceased to cooperate with Frederick IV., there was no 
immediate danger of an attack from Russia ; he could turn his whole 
army against Denmark-Norway, and a second invasion of Norway 
was begun in the fall of 1718. An army under General Armfelt was 
sent into Tr0ndelagen with instructions to seize Trondhjem, and the 
main army of invasion under the king's own command advanced 
a little later towards Fredrikshald.^ The city was invested, fort 
Gyldenl0ve fell December 6th after a bloody struggle, and trenches 
were dug towards the main fortress. But on December 11th, while 
watching the progress of this work, the king was hit by a bullet from 
the fortress and instantly killed.^ 

1 The size of these armies has been variously estimated. O. A. 0verland 
in a treatise, Armfeldts Tog nordenfjelds 1718, Historisk Tidsskrift, anden 
rsekke, vol. II., p. 193 ff., shows that Armfelt's forces, according to the gen- 
eral's own statement, numbered 14,540 men. See also Danmarks Riges 
Historic, vol. V., p. 77, and H. G. Heggtveit, Trondhjem i Fortid og Nutid, 
p. 233. Sveriges Historia, edited by Hildebrand, vol. III.-2, p. 365, and 
Oscar Alb. Johnsen, Norges Historic, V., 1, p. 177, state that Armfelt's 
army numbered 7500 men. Danmarks Riges Historic says that Armfelt 
should march into northern Norway with about 14,000 men, and Charles 
would soon advance with 30,000 men into southern Norway. See also A. 
Faye, Carl XII. i Norge, p. 129, footnote. 

2 The story, which was given some credence by older historians, that Charles 


The grief which filled the hearts of his brave soldiers and com- 
panions when the news of his tragic death passed from mouth to 
mouth was accompanied by a sigh of relief and a feeling of satis- 
faction that the fearful drama of war, perchance, was over, and that 
thoughts of home and peace might again be entertained. The words 
attributed to the Frenchman Megret, who was with the king when 
he fell, seem expressive of a general sentiment : " La piece est finie, 
allons souper!" The body was brought back to Stockholm, and 
buried in the Riddarholm church. In 1860 a fine monument was 
erected by the Swedish army at the place where he fell. 

In northern Norway General Armfelt had advanced against 
Trondhjem, which was held by Vincence Budde, who commanded 
an army of 6900 men. His march had been slow, as he had been 
opposed at every turn by the people, as well as by the Norwegian 
military forces. Provisions could be secured only with great diffi- 
culty, the Swedish soldiers were dissatisfied to a point of mutiny, and 
the long northern winter was at hand. He reached Trondhjem 
and laid siege to the city, but sickness decimated his ranks, and 
reduced the efficiency of his forces to such a degree that instead of 
risking an attack on the fortifications he felt compelled to withdraw 
into Vserdalen, where he could await reenforcements and supplies. 
King Charles gave the brave general a sharp reprimand, and ordered 
him to take the city immediately, but when he again advanced, the 
garrison had been reenforced, and four warships had anchored in 
the harbor.^ Armfelt isolated Trondhjem by cutting off all com- 

XII. was slain by an assassin, is now considered to be wholly unfoxmded. 
Henrik Wergeland, Notitser om Carl den iolvtes Felttog i Norge 1716-1718 
Jra E. M. Fant, Samlinger til del norske Folks Sprog og Historie, vol. III., 
p. 193 ff. Bernt Moe, Aktstykker til den norske Krigshistorie under Fredrik 
den fjerde, p. 248 ff. C. O. Munthe, Fredrikshalds og Fredrikstens Historie 
indtil 1720, p. 696 ff. P. A. Munch, Den sidste JJnders^gelse af Kong Carl 
XII.'s Lig tilligemed Bemerkninger om hans D^dsmaade, For Hjemmet, vol. II., 
p. 385. Illustreret Nyhedsblad, vol. VIII., p. 161. Langes Tidsskrift, vol. IV., 
p. 317. Paludan-Miiller, Nyl historisk Tidsskrift, I. S. A. S0rensen, Karl 
XII.'s Fold ved Fredriksten, Historisk Tidsskrift, fjerde rsekke, vol. II., p. 158 
ff. Norske Samlinger, vol. II., p. 560 ff. 

1 0. A. 0verland, Armfelts Tog nordenfjelds 1718, Historisk Tidsskrift, 
anden rsBkke, vol. II., p. 193 ff. Yngvar Nielsen, De gamle Kampe om 
Trondhjem, Trondhjem i Fortid og Nutid, edited by H. G. Heggtveit. Norske 
Samlinger, vol. II., p. 517 ff. 


munications with the inland districts, but supplies could reach the 
city from the sea, and General Budde sent out light detachments 
which constantly harassed the enemy. The final assault had to be 
postponed from time to time, and sickness reduced Armfelt's avail- 
able forces to 4000 men, who were compelled to camp in the open, in 
want of clothes, food, and proper shelter. The besieged city also 
suffered severely, and of the garrison alone 1500 are said to have 
died. When Armfelt received the news of the death of Charles XII. 
during the last days of December, he immediately began his retreat 
across the mountains to Sweden ; but severe storms and cold weather 
made his passage across the pathless mountains in the middle of the 
winter resemble Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. His sick and 
hungry soldiers dropped from cold and exhaustion, and a large part 
of his force perished on the way.^ Emahusen, who led a detachment 
of Norwegian ski-runners in pursuit of the enemy, says : " I am un- 
able to describe the destruction of the Swedish army as I saw it. 
On the whole mountain no wood was to be found, and when the last 
companies arrived there, a storm began which lasted three days. It 
was a sad and fearful "sight I The soldiers lay dead in groups of 
thirty, forty, fifty, or more, in full uniform, with their knapsacks 
on their backs, some with their guns in their hands; others lay 
dead by the wayside with food in their hands and even in the 
mouth ; the cavalry-men stood on their heads in the snowdrifts, 
as they had been thrown from their horses. Some had broken the 
stocks of their muskets to build a fire, — no, I cannot describe it ! 
The farther we came up the mountains, the more dead men and 
horses we saw. Only a few either of the cavalry or the infantry 

^ The number of those who perished on the homeward march has been 
variously estimated and often grossly exaggerated. Yngvar Nielsen says : 
"The probability is that the statement is correct which gives the following 
figures: 600 dead, 200 injured by cold, 300 sick, besides the drivers of the 
baggage wagons. It has been said that 4000, and even 7000 perished on the 
mountains." De gamle Kampe om Trondhjem, Trondhjem i Fortid og Nutid, 
by Heggtveit, p. 239. Professor Oscar Alb. Johnsen thinks that probably 
2500 men perished. Norges Historic, vol. V., 1, p. 182. Sveriges Historia, 
edited by Hildebrand, says: ''More than 2200 men, almost a third of the 
whole force, froze to death. Horses, artillery, and baggage were totally 
destroyed. Only remnants of the army, partly unfit for further military 
service because of frozen limbs, retiirned to Swedish soil." 


could have gotten across the mountains, and those who did must 
be hurt, of what rank soever they may be, for the weather and 
the cold were too penetrating." ^ 

With the retreat of the Swedish armies from Norway, military 
operations ceased for a time, as neither Norway nor Denmark were 
prepared to follow up the discomfiture of the enemy with an aggres- 
sive movement. 

In Sweden the fall of Charles XII. led to important changes. 
That Sweden's dream of empire had vanished had to be admitted, 
and the sentiment of the whole nation was united in a desire to 
obtain peace on any acceptable terms whatsoever. The absolute 
power of the sovereign was abolished, and King Charles' younger 
sister, Ulrika Eleonora, was placed on the throne with very limited 
power; not through the recognized right of inheritance, but by 
election, the guidance of state affairs being intrusted chiefly to the 
Rigsdag, or Estates of the realm, in which the nobility exercised marked 
preponderance. The allies which had hitherto fought against Sweden 
were no longer on friendly terms. England's jealousy of Russia's 
growing power had developed into open hostility, a circumstance 
which enabled Sweden to conclude peace with England by ceding 
Bremen and Verden, November 20, 1719. Peace was also made with 
Prussia, which received the larger part of Swedish Pomerania, Usedom, 
Wollin, Damm, and GoUnow, by paying Sweden two million crowns. 
But no such concessions were offered King Frederick IV. of Den- 
mark-Norway, who was instead asked to make concessions to Sweden, 
a rather strange demand under the circumstances. The war was 
continued, and Frederick now planned a new invasion of Sweden 
to be undertaken from Norway, where he collected an army of 34,000 
men. In June he came to Norway accompanied by the crown 
prince, and in July, 1719, he led his army into Bohuslen. When the 
king had established his headquarters at Stromstad, Tordenskjold 
succeeded, through a brilliantly executed attack, in capturing Mar- 
strand with its citadel Carlsten. Securing entrance to the fortress 
disguised as a vender of fish, he found opportunity to examine the 
fortifications, and to determine the strength of the garrison. The 
attack was as skillfully carried out as it was daringly planned. On 
* Heggtveit, Trondhjem i Fortid og Nutid, p. 241. 




June 23 he seized the five batteries defending the harbor, captured 
the city, and destroyed the Swedish squadron of warships stationed 
under its guns. Four warships and one merchant vessel were 
taken, and the remaining vessels were sunk in the harbor. The 
citadel of Carlsten could not be taken by assault, but by a ruse 
Tordenskjold prevailed on the commandant to surrender the strong- 
hold. King Frederick was so pleased that he made Tordenskjold 

The capture of Marstrand was the only important event of the 
campaign. Frederick IV. had become politically isolated through 
the breaking up of the coali- 
tion against Sweden, but as 
England exerted her influ- 
ence to bring about peace, 
both powers finally yielded 
to her solicitations, and a 
treaty of peace was signed 
at Fredriksborg, July 3, 
1720. Sweden was to pay 
600,000 riksdaler, and Den^ 
mark-Norway was to evac- 
uate the Swedish possessions 
Riigen, Pomerania, Wismar, 
and Marstrand. Frederick 
IV. retained the possessions 
of the Duke of Gottorp in 
Schleswig, and united these 
with the duchy, and Sweden 
promised never again to aid the duke against Denmark. The 
peace treaty with Russia was signed at Nystad, 1721. Russia 
received Ingermanland, Esthonia, Livonia, Osel, and southeastern 
Karelen, with Viborg len in Finland. Sweden had lost her position 
as a great power ; her warrior king, who made her final struggle for 
supremacy so dramatic, had met his death in a foreign country in 
the darkest hour of national misfortune. But Peter Tordenskjold, 
his great antagonist, was also snatched away in the noonday of life, 
in the height of his glory. At the age of thirty he fell in a duel in 
VOL. 11 — y 

Fig. 7. — Peter Tordenskjold 


Hamburg, four months after peace had been concluded at Fredriks- 

Throughout the war the Norwegians had distinguished themselves 
both on sea and land. The attack on their country had been repulsed 
at every point, and not a foot of territory had been lost; but eco- 
nomically the kingdom had suffered a noticeable decline. The great 
military burdens, together with heavy taxes, exhausted the energy 
as well as the means which should have been employed in industry 
and trade. The flourishing export trade which had been developed 
before the war, though not destroyed, was greatly reduced, and all 
business was crippled, as all available means were employed for 
military purposes. The city of Fredrikshald had been burned; 
Tr0ndelagen and the districts of southeastern Norway, the most 
productive sections of the country, had been harried by hostile armies 
until the people were reduced to beggary. Still, these hardships 
were borne with patience and fortitude, as the war had developed 
into a national struggle. The invasion of the country by large armies 
made a deep impression, and an intense patriotism was engendered, 
as the people felt the war to be their own cause. For the first time 
in centuries the nation had been stirred to heroic efforts, and great 
leaders showed the way to victory and national honor. Norway had 
received a new national hero, Tordenskjold, who, like another Olav 
Tryggvason, came from the unknown, dazzled with his brilliant 
achievements, and died young. Deeds of valor, and heroic sacrifices 
like the burning of Fredrikshald, which made those days memorable, 
have continued to live in song and story till the present. If Norway 
lost in national well-being, she gained in national regeneration. 
Time and again the Norwegians had been compelled to fight battles, 
and to suffer losses for the sole interest of their partner in the 
union, but the Great Northern War taught them the lesson of 
patriotism, which became the starting-point of a new national 

* Kong Carl og han, de skulde f0lge8 sammen 
i livets tvedragt og i d0dens fred, 
i daadens glans og rygtets evighed ; 
thi de var tvilling-skud af asastammen. 

(C. Ploug.) 


40. The Closing Years of the Reign of Frederick IV. 
Social and Economic Conditions 

The Great Northern War closed an epoch in the history of the 
Scandinavian kingdoms. Sweden had succeeded Denmark as the 
leading power in the North, but her preponderance, which had lasted 
since the Thirty Years' War, was now destroyed, and an equilibrium 
had been established which would be the best guarantee for the 
maintenance of peace. Both Sweden and Denmark had been reduced 
to their natural boundaries, and their old rivalry for supremacy 
would have to be abandoned. Russia had become a powerful and 
dangerous neighbor to the east, and as conditions had so changed 
that they could no longer hope to play a prominent part in European 
affairs, an opportunity would be given for the development of the 
pursuits of peace. When the dream of empire had vanished, and the 
paths to martial glory had been closed, the people's energy and 
talents could be devoted to the improvement of economic and social 
conditions, and the creation of the high intellectual culture, which 
was destined to shed a more benign luster upon the three sister 

Frederick IV. was in no respect a great ruler. He was very sus- 
picious, and entertained an almost superstitious fear of the nobility, 
but he lacked the ability to free himself from the influence of in- 
triguing officials and court favorites. The Norwegian binder, how- 
ever, enjoyed the king's special good-will. They had won his heart 
by their bravery and fidelity in the war with Sweden, and he was 
always inclined to favor them, and to take their part against the 
grasping and unjust officials. 

After the war with Sweden some changes were made in the Nor- 
wegian administration. "Slotsloven paa Akershus," which had 
proven ineflBcient, was abolished, and Ditlev Vibe was appointed to 
succeed Baron Krag as statholder. Vibe was a man of ability and 
fine character, but as he was inclined to favor the common people 
when he found that they suffered injustice, he was opposed by the 
corrupt bureaucracy, and especially by the rather unscrupulous 
Bishop Deichmann of Christiania. The bishop succeeded for a while 
in ingratiating himself with the king by arousing his suspicion against 


Vibe, and a commission was appointed to examine conditions among 
the royal officials in Norway. Vibe was shown to be wholly inno- 
cent, but corruption was revealed on every hand. Malversation 
and the taking of bribes had become a common practice among the 
under-paid royal officials, who could urge in their defense that their 
salaries were too small to afford them an honest living. Among 
those who were guilty of these corrupt practices was Bishop Deich- 
mann himself, who seldom refused a bribe. The king sought to 
remedy these defects by increasing the salaries of many officials, 
and by restricting the sale of public offices which had hitherto been 
so common. 

The king had placed Deichmann at the head of a commission to 
prepare a new tax register for Norway, a work which involved the 
listing and valuation of all real estate in the kingdom. It was an 
important undertaking, but as it was done with little care, the work 
when completed suffered from many serious defects, and it was not 
accepted. It is, nevertheless, important as a document throwing 
light on the conditions of agriculture in Norway at the time. 

During the last ten years of his reign King Frederick devoted 
special attention to the revenues of the kingdom, and the paying of 
the national debt, which had been increasing during the long war. 
The war indemnity of 600,000 riksdaler paid by Sweden, and the 
acquisition of the Gottorp provinces in Schleswig, had been a wel- 
come aid, but as the king succeeded in reducing the debt by several 
million riksdaler, besides maintaining a large standing army, he 
found that the revenues were too small in spite of the very heavy 
taxes, and the sale of property belonging to the crown was again 
resorted to. In Norway the remaining crown-lands were sold in 
smaller parcels, and as the purchasers usually were the renters and 
tillers of the lands, the class of freeholding binder was increased by 
these sales. The king's chief care, however, was to replenish his 
treasury ; the care for the well-being of the individual citizen seemed 
to be purely accidental. Not only were the crown-lands sold, but 
also the church-lands and the churches themselves. With the intro- 
duction of the Reformation the state assumed control of all church 
property, the idea being that the state should administer it for the 
benefit of the church. But the kings soon swept the incomes from 


the church-lands into their own coffers. The absolute kings regarded 
themselves even as the owners of the churches, and when the sale of 
crown-lands was resumed, Frederick IV. sold the churches with their 
lands and revenues to the highest bidder. In all, 620 churches were 
sold, some to the congregations, but the greater number were bought 
by private individuals who wished to get possession of the lands and 
incomes belonging to the churches. The understanding was that 
the purchasers should spend a part of the revenue in keeping the 
churches in repair, but as the kings themselves had been remiss in 
the performance of this duty, it could scarcely be expected that the 
individual purchaser should be more conscientious, and the churches 
were most deplorably neglected. A great change was, nevertheless, 
taking place in religious life and thought. Pietism, which had been 
developed in Germany by pious and able men like Johan Arnd and 
Christian Scriver, was finally promulgated as a regenerated system 
of Christian faith by Philip Jacob Spener and August Hermann 
Francke. It demanded that Christianity should not consist only in 
orthodox Christian faith, but that faith should express itself as a 
living force in human life and conduct, a truth which, together with 
the strong appeals to the heart and the feelings, and the often undue 
emphasis laid on the sentimental side of religious life, made Pietism 
appear as a violent reaction against the dead formalism of ortho- 
doxy. The time for such a reaction had come, and Pietism swept 
through the North as a spiritual tidal wave which culminated in 
the reign of King Frederick's successor, Christian VI. The first 
important manifestations of the change are noticeable in King 
Frederick's reign in a tendency among many of the ablest men to 
emphasize especially the ethical side of Christianity. Even the king 
himself inclined towards Pietism during his later years, though his 
lax morals conformed little to the cardinal principles of the new 
teaching. Pietism awakened a new religious life, which soon mani- 
fested itself in a very earnest and successful missionary activity. 
The two great missionaries whose work was of special importance 
were Hans Egede, who carried Christianity to the Eskimos in Green- 
land, and Thomas v. Westen, who began missionary work among 
the Finns in northern Norway. 

Egede was born on the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway, 


January 31, 1686. He became a clergyman in these islands, but very 
early he became enthusiastically interested in a plan to reestablish 
commercial relations with Greenland, and to become a missionary 
in the old Norse colonic, which he thought still existed there. In 
1721 he finally succeeded in obtaining from people in Bergen the 
necessary aid to fit out an expedition. On May 3d he set sail for 
Greenland, and landed two months later on the island of Imeriksok, 
where he founded the colony of Godthaab. The Council of Missions 
had appointed him a missionary, and the Greenland Company of 
Bergen had made him manager of the commerce with Greenland, 
but neither the government nor any one else understood the impor- 
tance of his undertaking, and he received but little assistance. Aided 
by his faithful wife, Gertrude Rask, Egede labored for fifteen years 
among the Eskimos under the greatest privations and difficulties. 
His own words may be placed as a motto over the self-sacrificing 
life-work of this devoted couple. "God's honor alone, and the en- 
lightenment of the ignorant people has been, is, and shall ever be 
my sole aim, yes, my heart's constant desire until my death." His 
hope of finding the old Norse colonists was not realized. He dis- 
covered the ruins of their homes and churches, but not a white man 
was found in the island. But his work was crowned with success 
both religiously and commercially, and led to the recolonization of 
Greenland. The Greenland Company was dissolved in 1727, but 
the king had become interested in the undertaking, and sent other 
missionaries to Greenland to assist Egede. When his wife died in 
1735, Egede left his son Paul Egede in charge of the mission and 
returned to Denmark. He was created bishop and devoted his 
remaining years to the writing of several works about Greenland.^ 

Hans Egede was an adherent of orthodoxy, but his contemporary, 
Thomas v. Westen, born in Trondhjem in 1682, was strongly in- 
fluenced by Pietism. In 1709 Westen was appointed rector of 
V^y church in Romsdal, and found opportunity to cooperate with 

^ Hans Egede, Det gamle Grfinlands nye Perlustration eller Naturhistorie, 
Copenhagen, 1741. Omstcendelig Relation angaaende den gr^nlandske Mis- 
sions Begyndelse og Fortsoettelae, Copenhagen, 1738. Kort Beretning om den 
gr^nlandske Missions Beskaffenhed, Copenhagen, 1737. Eilert Sundt, 
Egedes Dagbog i Udtog, Christiania, 1860. Hans Penger, Hans Egede og 
den gr^nlandake Missions Historie 1712-1760.;, Gustav Nieritz, Hans 


several other Pietist ministers of that district. This little fraternity, 
known as " Syvstjernen, " constituted a sort of collegium pietatis. 
They met to discuss ways and means for improving the people's 
moral and religious life, they distributed hymnbooks and collections 
of sermons among their parishioners, and urged the government to 
sell Bibles and catechisms so cheap that* the people could afford to 
buy them, an appeal which led to the reduction of the price of Bibles 
from ten to one riksdaler. They pictured the ignorance and moral 
depravity of the people in the very darkest colors, and urged that 
schoolmasters should be employed, at least one in each parish. 
Thomas v. Westen writes as follows : " The common people are for 
the most part so little versed in Christian knowledge that they do 
not even know who Christ is. Many do not believe in the im- 
mortality of the soul or the resurrection of the body, while others, 
who are educated, are usually given to pride, drunkenness, covetous- 
ness, hardness of heart, disregard of God's word, cursing, and break- 
ing of the Sabbath .... All this is the kingdom of the devil ; 
therefore we demand, and Christ through us, that, for the sake of the 
first named, catechizing and schools be everywhere instituted, and 
that, for the sake of the others, church discipline be revived in its old 
apostolic vigor ; that, for the sake of both, priests be appointed who 
are filled with the spirit of God, and can set their flock a good ex- 
ample." ^ The demand raised by the Pietists for better popular 
education bore no immediate fruit, but their suggestion and agita- 
tion brought the matter to the attention of the government in such 
a way that steps were soon taken to improve conditions. 

In 1716 Thomas v. Westen began his missionary work among the 
Finns (Lapps). From 1716 till 1722 he made three trips to Fin- 
marken to bring the gospel to these nomads. The efforts which had 
hitherto been made to Christianize them had been of small importance, 
and they were yet almost wholly heathen. Thomas v. Westen urged 

Egede, Missionary to Greenland, translated from the German by Rev. Wm. H. 
Gotwald, Philadelphia, 1873. Daniel Bruun, Det h^ie Nord, p. 188 ff. Ed- 
vard Holm, Danmark-Norges Historie fra den store nordiske Krigs Slutning 
til Rigernes Adskillelse, vol. I., p. 563 ff. De norske Findlappers Beskrivelse, 
Copenhagen, 1790. J. Quigstad, Historisk Oversigt over Oplysningsarbeidet 
blandt Finnerne i Finmarken, 1907. 

^ Daniel Thrap, Thomas von Westen og Finne-missjonen, Christiania, 1882. 


strongly that missionary work among them should be done in their 
own language, and he succeeded in organizing a Seminarium Lap- 
ponicum in connection with the Trondhjem Latin school, where 
missionaries might be properly educated. When he died in 1727, 
no one was found who at once could continue his work, but he had 
opened a new field for missionary activity, and had laid foundations 
for successful work in the future. 

In his old age Frederick IV. was wholly converted to Pietism, 
which in his gloomy mind developed into religious pessimism, and a 
fanatic solicitude for the spiritual welfare of his subjects. He felt 
that the state ought to take more drastic measures to make people 
pious and moral, and in 1730 he issued his notorious Sabbath ordi- 
nance, which virtually destroyed every vestige of religious freedom. 
Fines were imposed for not attending church, and those who failed 
to pay the fines should be pilloried; "for which purpose pillories 
shall be provided by the church-owners for all churches where none 
such are found," says the ordinance. This is the beginning of the 
reign of fanaticism, and the violent interference with people's private 
life in the interest of religion which characterizes the age of Pietism. 
King Frederick IV. died October 12, 1730, at Odense, and was suc- 
ceeded by his son. Christian VI. 

41. Christian VI. The Age of Pietism 

Prince Christian was thirty-one years of age when he ascended the 
throne of Denmark-Norway. He had been reared according to the 
strict precepts of Pietism, and was morally better trained and also 
better educated than his father. He was of a retiring disposition, 
pious and moral, and as his queen, the German princess Sophia 
Magdalena of Kulmback-Baireuth, shared his views and tastes, 
they led a felicitous married life. Both physically and intellectually 
Christian VI. was undersized, thin and small of frame, with a shrill 
and piping voice. He became easily excited, and blushed and 
stuttered in company, but towards his companions and subordinates 
he showed his authority even to harshness and pedantry. He was, 
on the whole, better qualified to enter a monastery than to ascend a 
throne. He had not traveled, he knew little about military affairs, 
and still less about finances, and as he had assumed an almost hostile 


attitude to his father, because of his moral laxity, and especially 
because of his marriage to Anna Sophia Reventlow, he reversed as far 
as possible the policy hitherto pursued, even to the extent of discard- 
ing its good features. A number of discontented nobles and men of 
rank who had gathered about the crown prince during his father's 
reign were now appointed to the highest offices, and became promi- 
nent as the king's chief advisers. Baron Iver Rosenkrans was made 
chancellor, though without special title, since the office had been 
abolished. Kr. Ludvig Plessen was placed at the head of the ex- 
chequer, Paul L0ven0rn became secretary of war and navy, and 
Count Christian Rantzau was appointed statholder in Norway. King 
Frederick's widowed queen, Anna Sophia Reventlow, and all 
his adherents were made to feel the king's displeasure. Bishop 
Deichmann of Christiania was dismissed from his office, and a Nor- 
wegian, Peder Hersleb, was appointed as his successor. Anna Sophia 
Reventlow was given a pension, but had to retire from court to her 
private estate, Klausholm. 

Christian V. and Frederick IV. had developed a sort of cabinet 
system of government, and the Colleges created by the ordinance 
issued by Frederick III., November 4, 1660, had been reduced to 
mere administrative bureaus. Christian VI. revived the old system, 
and raised the Colleges to their former importance. In administra- 
tive affairs he seldom deviated from their recommendations, though 
in his relation to his advisers he maintained an independence which 
seems out of proportion to his limited talents. Men of real ability 
he could not tolerate. Many of those whom he had himself ap- 
pointed to high offices had to withdraw, and even Christian Rantzau, 
Statholder of Norway, a generous and highly cultured nobleman, 
who had become very popular because of his affability and sense of 
justice, was soon retired on a pension, and the office of statholder 
was abolished. 

In 1733 King Christian and his queen, accompanied by a large 
retinue, made a journey through Norway, and the people received 
the royal pair with great enthusiasm. In the cities triumphal arches 
were erected, songs were written to their honor, and everything pos- 
sible was done to express the profound veneration and loyalty accorded 
royal personages in those times. The journey across the mountains 


was made with wagons, but as the roads were still very poor, the 
progress was slow and difficult. To the people along the route the 
entertaining of such a large retinue became a heavy burden, and 
though the king was highly pleased with his successful and only 
visit to Norway, the people remembered him as the ruler who took 
their property without paying for it, and whose visit had only brought 
them labor and loss. 

Christian VI. evidently meant to rule well. He began his reign 
by reducing the taxes, but as he knew nothing about economy, he 
spent with lavish hands the surplus in the treasury which his father 
had created, and when the money was spent, he was again forced to 
increase the taxes. His reign was a period of unbroken peace, but 
the diplomatic relations with foreign nations became a strange 
medley of weakness, vacillation, and ambitions unrealized, as the 
king was unable to formulate a clearly defined foreign policy, or to 
adhere with firmness to a position once taken. His advisers often 
disagreed; some preferring an alliance with England, others with 
France, and no one seemed to possess the ability or authority to act 
with energy at the critical moment. 

In order to safeguard the Gottorp provinces in Schleswig which 
had lately been acquired. King Christian formed an alliance with 
Russia, and signed the Pragmatic Sanction, promulgated by Em- 
peror Charles VI. of Austria in favor of his daughter Maria Theresa. 
Thereby he won the favor of both these powers, who had hitherto 
favored Gottorp, but an attempt to secure an alliance with Sweden 
failed. Between France and England a very hostile feeling was 
developing, which finally culminated in the War of the Austrian 
Succession, and the struggle between the two rival powers for su- 
premacy in India and America. In 1734 an alliance with England 
was concluded for three years, but some of the king's advisers favored 
France, and labored to secure a closer friendship with that power. 
This made matters complicated, as both powers had guaranteed to 
Denmark the possession of the Gottorp provinces, and had a claim 
to the Danish king's friendship and gratitude. But though the 
relations of the two western powers were delicate, it was of less vital 
importance than the question which developed in connection with 
a new struggle between Sweden and Russia. 


After Czar Peter's death, the Russian fleet had been neglected, 
and rival candidates for the throne were maintaining a struggle 
which paralyzed the arm of the government. In Sweden the patriotic 
war party, hatterne (the hats), had gained the power, and they found 
the moment opportune for a war with Russia, in which some of the 
lost provinces might be recovered. In 1741 General Levenhaupt 
was sent into Finland with an army, and war against Russia was 
declared. Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, who was 
plotting to wrest the throne from the child Czar, Ivan VI., solicited 
the aid of the Swedes, and Levenhaupt crossed the Russian border ; 
but before he reached St. Petersburg, Elizabeth had been made 
Empress of Russia, and she immediately ordered him to withdraw 
from Russian territory. Instead of acting with energy, the Swedish 
general concluded an armistice, and retreated to Finland, and the 
opportunity for obtaining any concessions was lost. After a cam- 
paign in which they suifered many losses, the Swedes were forced to 
withdraw even from Finland, which was overrun by the Russians. 

Under these circumstances the Swedes had turned to Denmark- 
Norway for aid, and suggestions were made which filled Christian 
VI. with high hopes. His son, Crown Prince Frederick, might be 
chosen king of Sweden to succeed Ulrika Eleonora, who died in 1741, 
and Denmark, Norway, and Sweden might again be united. After 
the expiration of the treaty with England, 1742, King Christian had 
concluded a treaty with France, and received from that kingdom 
400,000 riksdaler as a yearly subsidy. He raised the Danish-Nor- 
wegian army to war-footing, and held the fleet ready for immediate 
service to cooperate with Sweden in case Frederick should be chosen 
king. The Swedish peasants were enthusiastically in favor of the 
Danish-Norwegian crown prince, but Russia supported Adolph 
Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp, and promised to return nearly all of 
Finland to Sweden, if he were elected. When the Riksdag assembled 
at Stockholm, the Dalkarlean peasants marched in force to the city 
to secure the election of Prince Frederick of Denmark-Norway, but 
they were dispersed by the military forces of the city, and Adolph 
Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp was chosen king of Sweden, July 3, 
1743. Christian VI. now demanded that Adolph Frederick should 
formally relinquish all claims to the Gottorp provinces which had 


been given to Denmark, but even this simple plan of safeguarding 
his kingdom against undue encroachment of united Sweden and 
Gottorp he was persuaded to abandon. His diplomacy had failed 
at every point ; his numerous alliances proved to be harmless stage 
thunder accompanying a political farce, and his enemies had restored 
the relations existing between Gottorp and Denmark prior to the 
Great Northern War. 

But if King Christian was no statesman, financier, or warrior, he 
had at least the satisfaction of knowing that he excelled in piety. 
Frederick the Great had remarked that as Frederick IV. attempted 
to conquer Sweden, Christian VI. sought to conquer heaven. In his 
father's time Pietism had been gaining a foothold in the North, and 
during the early years of the reign of Christian VI. it waged a final 
contest with orthodoxy, which resulted in a complete triumph for 
Pietism, owing largely to the support of the king, who was an adherent 
of the new movement. Queen Sophia Magdalena was of a pious and 
melancholy disposition, and as the king himself became devotedly 
absorbed in religious matters, the gayety of the court circles soon 
gave way to the grave and joyless austerity of Pietism, which forced 
all social and religious life into stern forms and somber colors. The 
king considered it to be his special mission to drive all his subjects 
into the sackcloth and ashes of repentance, that as many as possible 
might escape eternal perdition, and he instituted a vigorous cam- 
paign against all forms of amusements which were considered sinful. 
According to the views of the Pietists, nearly all public pastimes 
were regarded as worldly pleasures. Dancing, smoking, comedies, 
and operas were categorically condemned, and even laughter was 
regarded as sinful. August Hermann Francke says : " All laughter 
is not forbidden, for it happens, indeed, that even the most pious 
may so heartily rejoice, not over worldly, but over heavenly things, 
that his lips may show evidence of his mental delight in a faint 
laughter. But it easily becomes sinful, and paves the way for great 
distraction of the mind, which soon discovers that it has become too 
unthoughtful when it again wishes to meekly turn to God." ^ Accord- 
ing to these principles Christmas parties were wholly interdicted, 

* Christen Brun, Pietismens Begreb og VoBsen, p. 59, quoted from Francke's 
Schriftmdssige Lebensregeln. 


amusements on Sundays and holidays were prohibited, and the 
playing of comedies on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays was for- 
bidden. It is true, as Edvard Holm points out,^ that the king did 
not forbid comedies, dances, and masquerades except on the days 
mentioned, but it is very doubtful if we can infer from this that the 
people could dance as much as they pleased on the remaining five 
days of the week. The king created a church college {kirkeinspec- 
tions kollegiet), which possessed most extensive powers in matters of 
church discipline, and the bishops and clergy labored hard to suppress 
all such amusements. Finally, in 1738, the king issued an order that 
"no comedians, funambulists, jugglers, or operators of games of 
hazard must henceforth appear in Denmark or Norway to show their 
plays or exercises." ^ The king's attitude to the players of comedies 
may also be seen from his letter to J. S. Schulin, dated August 30, 
1735, in which he says: "In Gluckstadt there are said to be some 
comedians who puU money out of people's pockets. It would be 
well if the magistrate were instructed to get rid of them, for nothing 
good comes of it." In 1735 the king published a new Sabbath ordi- 
nance very similar to the one issued by Frederick IV. in 1730. Per- 
sons who without valid reason remained absent from public worship 
were fined, and if they were hinder, they should be put in the pillory. 
That this attempt to teach people Christian piety and good morals 
by means of the pillory and the police force would breed deceit and 
hypocrisy is quite natural. Conversation and conduct assumed of 
a sudden a religious tone which in too many instances only seemed 
to hide moral corruption and intellectual dishonesty. 

Pietism had come as a violent reaction against the moral laxity 
of the age of orthodoxy, and such a movement usually passes the 
bounds of fairness and good policy. It is like a fever which reacts 
against the disease, and saves life, but destroys tissue and reduces 
the vitality. Orthodoxy had failed to lay proper stress on the moral 
side of Christian life, and moral corruption and rude manners had 
flourished to an almost intolerable degree. To cure this evil. Pietism 
raised moral life into a prominence which made a deep impression on 
the age, and greatly elevated its moral tone, but it arrested the 

1 Danmark-N orges Historie, vol. II., p. 644 fif. 

2 Georg Brandes, Ludvig Holberg, et Festskrift, p. 278. 


growth of dramatic art, destroyed many of the finer features of 
intellectual and social life, and robbed society of the spirit of opti- 
mism and the sense of beauty. It cannot be denied, however, that 
viewed against the background of what preceded it. Pietism repre- 
sents progress along many lines. It was the first religious revival 
which the Norwegian people had ever experienced, and through the 
emphasis which it laid on piety and moral conduct it chastened the 
people's moral feelings, and taught them gentleness, temperance, 
and a higher regard for things spiritual. It gave also a new impetus 
to intellectual development through a keen interest for popular 
education. If the people were to become truly pious, they would 
have to read the Scriptures, and learn the chief Christian doctrines. 
The religious instruction which the people had hitherto received had 
been so meager that few understood even the cardinal Christian 
teachings, and among the common people it was regarded as a 
wonder if a person could read. In 1736 confirmation was introduced 
by law both in Denmark and Norway. In Akershus stijt it had 
been introduced in 1734 by Bishop Peder Hersleb. The young com- 
municants were now required to formally renew their baptismal vow 
before their first communion, after being catechised in church in 
presence of the congregation to prove that they possessed the re- 
quired Christian knowledge. About the same time the important 
religious textbook. Bishop Erik Pontoppidan's "Sandhed til Gud- 
frygtighed," an explanation to Luther's Catechism arranged in ques- 
tions and answers, was introduced. As the children were expected 
to commit these answers to memory, they would have to learn to 
read, and steps were taken to provide the necessary instruction. 
By the ordinance of January 23, 1739, "About the country schools 
in Norway" the government attempted to establish a system of 
public schools, and to enforce compulsory attendance of all school 
children between seven and twelve years of age. Instruction should 
be given from six to seven hours daily, at least during three months 
of each year ; the schoolbooks should be Luther's Catechism, Pon- 
toppidan's Explanation, the Bible, and the hymnbook. The bishops 
and stiftsamtmcBnd were instructed to appoint teachers, and the people 
were encouraged to build schoolhouses. If no schoolhouse could be 
provided, the school was to be kept in private houses by itinerant 


teachers. If this law had been enforced, it would have marked a 
great advance in popular education, but the people did not under- 
stand the value of the reform, and offered such resistance that the 
government had to substitute a new ordinance in 1741 which made 
it optional for the congregation to provide instruction for the children. 
Opposition and indifference had retarded progress, but the bishops 
and priests could bring great pressure to bear on the people, as they 
could refuse to confirm the children who did not possess the required 
knowledge. The resistance was gradually broken, and several public 
schools were organized before the close of the reign of Christian VI. 

42. Mercantilism and Commercial Stagnation 

With regard to the economic conditions in Denmark-Norway in 
the time of Frederick IV. and Christian VI. we may observe the 
futile attempts to increase the wealth and revenues of the realms by 
enforcing the arbitrary principles of mercantilism by means of des- 
potic royal power. The government assumed the initiative and 
direction of industrial enterprises, sought to encourage their growth 
by various artificial stimuli, and exhibited an activity and paternal 
solicitude which resembled wisdom and generosity, but which was 
so selfish and narrow that it produced stagnation where it sought to 
foster new life and activity. Companies organized to trade with the 
West Indies, Guinea, Morocco, and other distant lands were granted 
monopolies and other special privileges, but at the same time a 
system of protective tariff, export duties, and the exclusion of various 
foreign goods subverted the most fundamental laws of trade. Im- 
portation of grain to Norway from any other country than Denmark 
was forbidden, though the supply was often inadequate, the quality 
poor, and the prices exorbitant. This restriction was especially 
damaging to Norway's commerce with England, as Norwegian lum- 
ber and fish had been exported to England in exchange for grain. 
The carrying trade was obstructed by the English navigation laws 
and the mercantile system of political economy everywhere adhered 
to. Prices on lumber and fish fell, and Norwegian commerce suffered 
a serious decline. The commercial companies proved to be of com- 
paratively little importance, as the few individuals constituting 


tiiem used their monopoly chiefly to plunder the colonies with whom 
they were trading. The Iceland Company paid 8000 riksdaler, and 
later 16,000 riksdaler, for their privileges, and they used their oppor- 
tunity to fleece the Icelanders. The Asiatic Company carried on 
trade in India and China; the West-India-Guinea Company with 
Africa and the West Indies. The trade with Greenland was granted 
to a single man, Jacob Severin, who founded the colonies of Kris- 
tianshaab, Jakobshavn, and Fredrikshaab. The small and preca- 
rious trade carried on by these Danish companies at the ends of the 
earth could in no way compensate for the general decline in Nor- 
wegian commerce. In 1736 the merchant fleet of Bergen was scarcely 
one-third of what it had been in 1700, and even the carrying of Nor- 
wegian articles of export to foreign markets was largely in the hands 
of the Dutch and English. 

The efforts of the government, in harmony with the mercantilistic 
ideas of the times, to encourage manufacture by protective tariff, 
monopolies, and the subsidizing of various industries failed to pro- 
duce the results desired. Several minor factories were started, but 
the depressed economic conditions, and the lack of capital and enter- 
prise, rendered the attempt to produce a new industrial development 
an almost fruitless experiment. 

In Denmark the peasants were more severely oppressed, especially 
in the reign of Christian VI., than in any previous period. Frederick 
IV. had abolished serfdom in 1702, but this very praiseworthy reform 
was rendered nugatory by the revival of the old system of compul- 
sory military service which made it possible for the landed pro- 
prietors to virtually enslave the peasants under the pretext of fur- 
nishing the required number of men for the army. Christian VI. 
reestablished villeinage in all Denmark, and increased the burdens 
of military service to such an extent that Riegels calls the 900 
Danish manorial estates "plantations with white negro slaves." 
No peasant between fourteen and forty years of age was allowed to 
leave the estate to which he belonged, and the proprietor could even 
inflict the most severe corporal punishment upon him at will. "The 
lash was in constant activity," says Sars. "The system of beating 
the peasants was so well established that it was practiced even on 
the estates of humane and kindly disposed proprietors as something 


necessary which could not be otherwise. It was regarded as a matter 
of course that the proprietors had the right to inflict corporal punish- 
ment on the peasants ; cudgeling was even the least ; he could cause 
them to be thrown into the dungeon; he could put them into the 
pillory; he could place them in the 'Spanish cloak,' or compel 
them to ride the wooden horse; in short, the greater number of 
Danish peasants were reduced to the condition of slaves." With 
good reason the same author calls the reign of Christian VI. "one 
of the worst which Denmark ever had." ^ 

The freeholding Norwegian binder could not be subjected to such 
oppression. It has already been shown that the number of free- 
holders had been greatly increased in Norway through the sale of 
crown-lands, and the kings had even shown them special favor, 
though the old feuds continued to be waged between the binder and 
the royal officials. The economic well-being of the binder would, 
probably, not have been impaired, but in 1740 and 1742 crop failures 
produced a famine, which was also accompanied by serious epidemic 
diseases, so that in the latter year the number of deaths exceeded 
the births by 16,000. These calamities, together with a serious 
decline of commerce, made the period one of general depression. 

43. Development of Modern Danish-Norwegian Literature 
The Age of Ludvig Holberg 

The Reformation had been accompanied by no spiritual awaken- 
ing in Norway, and the Renaissance had reached the North only as 
a faint swell caused by the great revival which it had produced in 
southern Europe. No new intellectual life had been kindled in the 
Scandinavian countries, and literature still slumbered in its old dusty 
folds. In the universities and the secondary schools the learning 
was chiefly limited to Latin grammar and disputations, a lifeless 
pedantry from which no new impulses could come, and the same 
unprogressive stolidity and vain love of display which characterized 
learning might be observed in all higher social classes. Every 
imagined preeminence was displayed with arrogant self-conceit; 
jealous rivalries, love of empty titles, narrow-mindedness, snobbish- 

' J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historie, vol. IV., p. 77 ff. 
VOL. II — z 


ness, and a crude imitation of everything foreign and hon ton had 
become distinct features of the intellectual life of the age, especially 
in Denmark, where society had become most thoroughly stratified 
into distinct classes. The native Danish culture was held in slight 
esteem, and the mother tongue was so far neglected that persons of 
quality seldom used it except when talking to their servants. Robert 
Molesworth, who speaks from personal observation, says: "The 
king, great men, gentry, and many burghers make use of the High 
Dutch in their ordinary discourse, and French to strangers. I have 
heard several in high employment boast that they could not speak 
Danish." ^ It was the time of Louis XIV. and Louis XV., the era 
of affectation and long wigs. In literature Petter Dass had, indeed, 
relieved the general dullness, but with this exception scarcely a note 
of true poesy found its way into the lifeless pages of the verse-makers. 
"Few or no books are written," says Molesworth, in speaking of Den- 
mark. "Not so much as a song or a tune was made during three 
years that I stayed there." In this age of dullness and affectation 
Holberg appeared to found in Denmark-Norway, not only a new 
literature, but a new intellectual life. Parallel with the religious 
awakening which found its expression in the Reformation and the 
revival of literature, learning, and art in the Renaissance, a new 
astronomy and natural science had been developed, which demanded 
freedom of thought and respect for human reason as the ultimate 
authority in scientific investigation. These new movements were 
parts of the same general progress of the human mind, but as they 
advanced along diverging paths, scientific thought not only sought 
to free itself from religious control, but it soon became hostile to 
revealed religion, and challenged its genuineness and authority. 
This school of thought, generally known as deism, because it postu- 
lated the existence of God, originated in England, and is traceable 
in its inception to the philosophical writings of Francis Bacon (1561- 
1626), though its most prominent representatives were John Locke 
(1632-1704) and David Hume (1711-1776). From England deism 
was brought to France, where Voltaire and Rousseau became its 
chief representatives. It had directed its attack especially against 
the dominion of the church in the field of scientific investigation, 
» An AoeourU of Denmark, p. 91. 


but a similar revolt against religious authority also took place in 
other fields. Throughout the Middle Ages philosophy had been 
regarded as the handmaid of theology, and jurisprudence had been 
dominated by the principles of the Old Testament and the canon 
law. The emancipation of these branches of learning marks an 
important step in the victorious progress of scientific thought. In 
Holland and Germany Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), Pufendorf (1632- 
1694), and Thomasius (1655-1728) developed a new system of juris- 
prudence, the Naturrecht, based on reason and man's innate sense of 
justice, and Christian Wolff (1679-1754) elaborated the critical 
thought of the age into a rationalistic view of life in his philosophic 
system, based on the work of Leibnitz. The ground had thus been 
well prepared, and the influence of English deism, both directly 
from England and indirectly through France, soon made itself strongly 
felt. This system of critical scientific thought, and rationalism in 
religion and ethics, which dominated intellectual life in the latter 
half of the eighteenth century, is probably best known by the Ger- 
man name of Aufkldrung. Its influence extended to every field of 
intellectual activity, and expressed itself as clearly in literature and 
statescraft as in science and philosophy. Frederick the Great applied 
its principles in his aufgekldrte despotismus, according to which he 
ruled as a benevolent despot.^ Lessing, the founder of modern Ger- 
man literature and intellectual life, became one of its chief represent- 
atives, but passed beyond it in spirituality and broadness of view.^ 
In America Benjamin Franklin became its most noted representative, 
and no one has expressed the common-sense utilitarian view of the 
Aufkldrung in a more popular way than America's statesman- 

In the North Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) became the pioneer in 
this field of thought. He was a native of Bergen, and received his 
early school training in his home town. In 1702 he was sent to the 
University of Copenhagen, where he completed the required course, 
and after spending two years at the University of Oxford, and travel- 

1 Other benevolent despots were : Catharine II. of Russia, Gustavus III. 
of Sweden, Charles III. of Spain, Archduke Leopold of Tuscany, and Emperor 
Joseph II. of Austria. 

* Christen Brun, Oplysningens Tidsalder, Christiania, 1886. W. E. H. 
Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe. 


ing for some time on the Continent, he returned to Copenhagen, 
where he spent five years in writing a number of historical works, 
through which he introduced into history-writing the rationahstic 
thought of Grotius, Pufendorf, and Thomasius, whom he declares 
to be his "constant pattern." The most important of these works 
are: "Introduction til de europseiske Rigers Historier," and "In- 
troduction til Naturens og Folkerettens Kundskab, uddragen af de 
fornemste Juristers, besynderlig Grotii, Pufendorf og Thomasii 
Skrifter." In 1714 he was appointed titular professor without 
salary. Again he spent almost two years abroad studying, especially 
in Paris, and, finally, in 1717 he was made regular professor of meta- 
physics, a branch which he especially hated, because of the pedantry 
of Latin disputations and learning. But it was the only vacancy, 
and he accepted the position. "There he stands," says Georg 
Brandes, "the poor professor of metaphysics, against his will, and 
teaches, to make a living, things in which he does not believe, and 
with which he can associate no thought, and the black-gowned stu- 
dents in front of him write down the wisdom, and commit it to 
memory, while round about in the lecture rooms the learned corps 
with profound gravity defends, demonstrates, concludes, and proves 
the arrant nothing. Is not the situation ironical, Mephistophelian, 
or tragicomic?" Holberg was a keen observer, a deep and critical 
thinker, and a dramatic talent of the first rank. On his mind the 
burlesque of the situation was not lost. He, the representative of 
the most advanced scientific thought, who had returned from the 
greatest centers of learning with rich stores of the best knowledge of 
the age, was not allowed to teach his students anything worth know- 
ing, because the learned circles loved the shadow rather than the 
substance of knowledge. And was not all society blinded by pedan- 
try and conceit ? Did he not meet it on every street corner ? Did 
not snobbishness and pretense make themselves broad in every 
thoroughfare? He knew but too well the intellectual pride, the 
mental dullness, the bigotry, the snobbishness and conceit which 
masqueraded as civic virtue on every hand. "Is it a wonder," 
continues Georg Brandes, "if irony becomes the predominant mood 
of this soul ; if a smile, a suppressed smile, curls these lips ? or is it 
not quite natural that the new professor gets a peculiar impression 



of this temple of learning, and the land, of which it is the intellectual 
center ; yea, of the whole world ? It is comical, this world which 
he now sees." ^ The great master of comedy has seen the foibles and 
inconsistencies of the age; it stirs his poetic talents, and launches 
him upon his career as a poet. From this time forth he enters upon 
his life work with as high a purpose as any other reformer, though 
he undertakes his task with no fervent enthusiasm, but rather with 
a fixed purpose founded on reflection. The pedantry, the conceit, 
the social foibles must perish; mental sobriety, love of truth, and 
true esteem of the real value rather than the outward appearance of 
things must be substituted. This is a lesson which the whole people 
must learn before the professor can mount his cathedra and teach 
his students anything worth while. With superb humor he began 
to show the people the comedy of their own lives. If ever a poet 
held the mirror up to nature it was Holberg, and human foibles have 
never been delineated by a more clever pen. He wrote the bur- 
lesque epic " Peder Paars, " showing the humorous inconsistence of 
the pretended greatness and the real ability and achievements of his 
countrymen. It aroused a storm of indignation, but the king was 
amused by the poem, and refused to imprison the author to appease 
the wrath of the angry citizens. But though the poem created a 
veritable sensation, Holberg knew that it would be read by few, and 
he chose the comedy as the more popular and suitable vehicle for his 

Before Holberg's time no dramatic literature and no real theater 
existed in Denmark. The old school comedy had gone out of use, 
and at court only light operas and French tragedies were performed. 
In 1721 King Frederick IV. dismissed a company of players, two of 
whom, Montagu and Capion, received permission to build theaters. 
Montagu hit upon the idea of building a Danish theater, hoping that 
this would be more popular and bring a larger income, and in 1722 
the first Danish theater was opened, an event which proved to be of 
more than ordinary importance, as it marks the beginning of dramatic 
literature and art in Denmark-Norway. During the first year Hol- 

1 Georg Brandes, Ludvig Holberg, et Festskrift, p. 99. J. S. Welhaven, 
Samlede Skrifter, vol. VI., p. 155 ff. H. Lassen, Oplysninger til LUeratur- 


berg gave the new theater his five first comedies which were all per- 
formed ; and before the end of the following year he wrote ten more. 
In six years (1722-1728) he wrote no less than twenty-eight plays, 
the masterpieces which have made his name immortal. But the 
theater yielded small returns, the owners labored under great financial 
difficulties, and when Christian VI. ascended the throne, and Pietism 
gained full control, it had to close its doors. It was reopened in 
1747, and Holberg wrote his last five comedies. What he might have 
written in the interval under favorable circumstances may be in- 
ferred from his productivity during the years when the theater was 
operated. But even during that period he was not inactive. He 
wrote "Nils Klim," a satire on European society in the strain of 
"Gulliver's Travels," a church history till the time of the Reforma- 
tion, and a history of Denmark in two volumes. His work in this 
field marks the beginning of a new epoch in history-writing in the 
North, but Holberg was not a great historian. He describes events 
and social conditions without prejudice, in a clear and lively narra- 
tive, but he did not devote himself to historic research. He fails to 
judge each age by its own standards, and establishes the standards 
of his own time and his own good judgment as the criterion accord- 
ing to which he estimates the value of past institutions and events. 
He was a dramatist and reformer of the first rank. He gave the 
intellectual life of the North the first great impulse which it had 
received since the Viking Age, destroyed the old idols of pedantry 
and conceit, founded modern Scandinavian literature and dramatic 
art, and launched his people upon a new era of intellectual progress. 
"He began by being a lonely stranger who was against all and all 
against him, who was unlike all his surroundings, and who differed 
from them in all respects, but he ended as the master whom all 
followed, and to whom all submitted. What he consigned to forget- 
fulness was forgotten, and the new which he introduced became the 
foundation on which Danish-Norwegian intellectual life has since 
been building." ^ 

The events of the late war with Sweden, in which the Norwegians 
had successfully resisted the attacks of Charles XII., and the fact 
that Norway could produce men like Ludvig Holberg and Peter 
» J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historic, vol. IV., p. 124. 


Tordenskjold proved a great stimulus to the national self-conscious- 
ness, and helped to kindle a new patriotism. Throughout the union 
period Danish influence had dominated all higher culture in Norway ; 
now the tide had turned, and Norway was giving to Denmark new 
vigor and intellectual life. After centuries of dormant inactivity, 
the Norwegian people were regaining their national and intellectual 
strength. It was the beginning of a new awakening. 

44. Frederick V. 

When Christian VI. died, August 6, 1746, his son, who was twenty- 
four years of age, ascended the throne as Frederick V. The prince 
had been educated by foreign teachers who had not only neglected 
to interest him in the language of his own people, but had even sought 
to prevent him from learning it, an effort in which they had not 
succeeded. Frederick had learned to speak Danish, and he even 
regarded that language as his native tongue, to the chagrin of his 
German mother, who considered it too common. Also in other 
respects the labors of his teachers had borne little fruit. The Fietistic 
gloom and rigor which surrounded the prince from childhood made 
him averse to all restraint, and when he could escape the watchful 
eyes of his parents and teachers, he abandoned himself to licentious 
pleasures in company with profligate courtiers, who visited low dives, 
and taught him even from youth to lead a life of debauchery. In 
1743 he was married to Louise, the daughter of George II. of Eng- 
land, a very charming princess, but even then he was unable to 
abandon his vicious habits, though the marriage does not seem to 
have been an unhappy one. Both King Frederick and Queen Louise 
were very popular, as they surrounded themselves with a Danish 
court and mingled freely with the people. The restrictions which 
had been placed on public amusements were removed. The theaters 
were reopened, the people were allowed to return to their old merry 
ways, and the court circles were again made bright by balls and 
soir6es, a welcome change from the joyless gloom of the preceding 

The relations to Gottorp, which had again become a political 
question of importance in his father's reign, caused the young king 


some anxiety, especially since the successors to the thrones of Russia 
and Sweden were both princes of the House of Gottorp. It became 
his first care to bring about a final settlement of this question, and to 
trade Oldenburg and Delmenhorst for the Gottorp part of Holstein, 
so that the southern boundary of the kingdom could become properly 
rounded out. After prolonged negotiations this was accomplished 
by the treaty of 1750, in which the heir to the throne of Sweden, 
Adolph Frederick of Gottorp, renounced for himself and his heirs 
all claims to the island of Femern and the part of Schleswig which 
had belonged to his family. The Gottorp part of Holstein should be 
ceded to Denmark in return for Oldenburg and Delmenhorst, and 
200,000 riksdaler, if Karl Peter Ulrik, successor to the Russian throne, 
should die without heirs. This treaty practically eliminated the 
troublesome Gottorp question from politics, and made it possible to 
maintain friendly relations with Sweden. The boundary dispute 
between Norway and Sweden was also settled. Norway retained 
Kautokeino and Karasjok in Finmarken, and a commission was 
established to survey and mark the boundary line throughout its 
entire length. 

The people had hoped that their liberal-minded and popular king 
would institute many needed reforms, but his suavity of manners 
was associated with moral weakness and mental ineptitude rather 
than with originality of thought. His irregular life sapped his 
physical strength, and enveloped his mind in the intoxication of 
sensual pleasures. He gradually became unfit for systematic work, 
and the direction of state affairs devolved upon his ministers. In 
1751 Johan Hartvig Ernst Bernstorff became minister of foreign 
affairs, a position for which he was eminently qualified. He was a 
man of great ability and high character, and though only thirty-nine 
years of age he was an experienced diplomat. In the administration 
of domestic affairs he sought to realize the liberal and benevolent 
ideas of the Aufkldrung to a moderate degree, and in his foreign 
policy he was an avowed friend of peace. "War," he said, "if begun 
without valid reason, yea without necessity, is one of the most 
deplorable steps which a human being can take." During the naval 
war between France and England in 1755, caused by the rivalries 
of these powers in India and America, and during the Seven Years' 


War, 1756-1763, in which Prussia and England were pitted against 
Austria, Russia, France, and Sweden, Bernstorff maintained the 
neutrality of Denmark-Norway, though with great difficulty. Thir- 
teen thousand five hundred twenty men of the Norwegian army 
were stationed in Holland for the defense of the duchies of Schleswig- 
Holstein, and an alliance of neutrality was concluded with Sweden, 
according to which the two powers agreed to keep a joint fleet in 
the North Sea to protect their commerce, while the Baltic Sea was 
to be closed to the war vessels both of England and France. This 
alliance, however, proved of little value, as Sweden, in 1757, joined 
Austria, Russia, and France in their war against Frederick the Great. 
The protection of commerce against English privateers proved a 
most difficult task, as England regarded nearly all products exported 
from the neutral kingdoms as contraband of war, and the government 
was loath to resort to drastic measures for fear of becoming involved 
in the war. But with remarkable tact and prudence Bernstorff suc- 
ceeded in saving Denmark-Norway from being drawn into the vortex 
of the great struggle.^ 

The new ideas of the Aufkldrung began to exert their influence 
on the more progressive minds, and the charm of discovering that 
there was something besides war and diplomacy which was worth 
while turned the attention of many to the pursuits of peace. Bern- 
storff devoted special attention to the development of trade, manu- 
factures, arts, sciences, and agriculture. Treaties were concluded 
with Turkey and the Barbary States, which enabled Denmark- 
Norway to develop an extensive carrying trade in the Mediterranean 
Sea, and the trade with the West Indies began to flourish when the 
monopoly of the West India Company was annulled. In 1753 
only seven vessels were engaged in the commerce with these islands, 
but in 1766 the number had been increased to thirty-eight. The 
neutrality maintained during the Seven Years' War contributed 
greatly to the growth of Danish-Norwegian commerce, and the East 
India Company developed a flourishing trade during the war. 

In order to develop manufacture, foreign artisans and skilled 

1 Regarding Bemstorflf's policy see Dansk historisk Tidsskrift, R. TV., 
p. 672 ff. Danske Samlinger, vol. IV., p. 292 ff. Danmarks Riges Historie, 
v., p. 203 ff. 


laborers were employed, monopolies and special privileges were 
granted, and the importation of manufactured articles was greatly 
restricted. In these measures the ideas of mercantilism are still 
clearly noticeable ; but more attention was also paid to agriculture 
than hitherto, as the ideas of the French Physiocrats were gaining 
ground.^ This new economic doctrine, which was tinged with the 
ideas of Rousseau and other French political philosophers, who main- 
tained that government exists for the good of the governed, that 
freedom and equality are man's birthright, and that a return to 
nature was necessary if man wished to find true happiness, gave the 
agricultural classes a hitherto unknown importance. New socio- 
logical ideas were being developed which were destined to produce 
great changes. Hitherto these ideas had been scouted as dangerous 
theories, if they had not been regarded as idle dreams, but already 
in the reign of Frederick V. they were beginning to exert a distinct 
influence. In 1757 King Frederick appointed a commission to 
examine the conditions of husbandry, and to submit recommenda- 
tions for the encouragement and improvement of agriculture. The 
king's mother, Queen Sophia Magdalena, abolished villeinage on her 
estate of Hirschholm, Bernstorff followed her example, and before 
the close of the reign the liberation of the peasants in Denmark 
had been adopted as the future program of the government. 

In Norway the national awakening created new activity, and 
shaped new demands in many fields. In 1760 the first scientific 
society in Norway, Det Trondhjemske Videnskabs-Selskab, was founded 
in Trondhjem by the three distinguished scholars : Peter Friedrich 

1 The Physiocratio School of poUtical economy was originated in France 
by Francois Quesnay (1694-1774). According to their views the govern- 
ment should only administer justice and defend the rights of the citizens. 
The liberty of the individual should not be restricted, nor should the govern- 
ment exercise any control over commerce and industry. Their economic 
doctrine was based on the cardinal principle that nature is the source of 
all good. Since all wealth comes from the soil and the atmosphere, agri- 
culture ia the great productive employment. Manufacture, being only a 
change in the form of the material, does not change its value. Commerce, 
being only an exchange, does not add to the value of things. As an economic 
system it was one-sided and wholly unscientific, but it rendered good serv- 
ice through the importance it ascribed to agrioxilture, which had hitherto 
been generally n^leoted. 


Suhm, a Dane by birth, who had settled in Trondhjem, and the two 
native-born Norwegians, Gerhard Sch0ning and Johan Ernst Gun- 
nerus. The historical writings of Suhm, especially his "Historie af 
Danmark," from the earliest times till 1400, reveals a new scholarly 
spirit in history-writing, a love for scientific inquiry which comes to 
view even more plainly in Sch0ning's "Norges Riges Historie," in 
three volumes, from the earliest times till 955. Sch0ning has written 
his work from a Norwegian point of view, and has advanced a theory 
of the earliest migrations into Norway, which was elaborated seventy 
years later by R. Keyser and P. A. Munch, the founders of the Nor- 
wegian historical school, — a theory which has served as the general 
basis for the views of Norwegian scholars as to the origin and early 
antiquity of the Norwegian people. Gunnerus was a theologian, 
and became Bishop of Trondhjem, but he distinguished himself also 
in philosophy and mathematics. It is noteworthy that this society 
of scholars devoted much attention to the discussion of agriculture, 
and that several treatises on this subject appeared in the society's 
journal. The stimulus imparted by this new organization to the 
interest for higher intellectual culture was accompanied, also, by an 
active agitation for the founding of a Norwegian university. Suhm 
wrote, 1761, in " Trondhjemske Samlinger," a periodical published 
by him in Trondhjem : " In no land in Europe are the conditions 
for the development and spread of the sciences more unfavorable 
than here, since we have not even a university." ^ And in 1768 
Bishop Gunnerus said in an address before the society : " There is 
no want in Norway of patriotic thoughts, or of the desire, courage, 
and high spirit to do useful and praiseworthy things, even at the cost 
of personal loss, but there is lack of effectual encouragement and 
necessary guidance and direction in many ways. We have four 
cathedral schools, but there is in the whole kingdom no public library 
and no university. The journey to Copenhagen is long and expen- 
sive. The greater number of students are, moreover, poor, and how- 
soever many rich foundations there be at the said university for the 
benefit of such students, all cannot be supported there. This is the 
reason why so many Norwegians of this class, who, on account of the 

^ Trondhjemske Samlinger, udgivet af Philaletho, vol. I., p. 41, quoted by 
J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historiey vol. IV., p. 183. 


public examinations, have been at the university two or three times, 
have scarcely remained longer than a few months. This can, indeed, 
be called to visit, but not to study at the university, and every one 
will understand what great harm this is to the cultivation and de- 
velopment of higher learning in Norway." In 1771 Suhm published 
an anonymous pamphlet, in which he indulges in bitter invective 
against the Danish government for failing to make provision for 
higher education in Norway. "It seems to me," he says, "that the 
Danes from mean-spirited jealousy and unfounded fear seek to 
perpetuate ignorance in this country. There is no academy, no 
university, no public library. The Norwegians who wish to study 
must go to Denmark." Several pamphlets appeared, urging the 
founding of a Norwegian university, and Ove Gjerl0v Meyer sub- 
jected the question to a more systematic examination in two treatises 
published in 1771. He argued that though the two kingdoms were 
so firmly united that they could never be separated, yet the question 
of a university was a matter of national concern to the Norwegian 
people. The agitation for a university was becoming somewhat of 
a national cause, but the Danish government failed to grant the 
demand. During the following reign the liberal Struensee favored 
the plan, but when he was overthrown, the government again be- 
came reactionary, and the matter was dropped.^ The strict censor- 
ship of the press, which was still maintained in spite of the king's 
otherwise liberal views, also stood in the way of carrying through 
important measures of reforms. Two newspapers had been founded 
in Norway : " Norske Intelligenssedler," which began to appear in 
May, 1763, and " Ef terretninger fra Adresse Contoret i Bergen," 
first published in 1765, but neither paper ventured to speak a word 
in behalf of national issues or to criticize the course pursued by the 
government. The press had not yet become a factor in political 
life. If the people wished to express their opinion on public measures, 

1 Det kongelige Fredriks Universitet 1811-1911, vol. I., p. xii ff. Ame 
Bergsgaard, Striden for Universitetet, Syn og Segn, September, 1911. Halv- 
dan Koht, Universitete og det norske Folk, Syn og Segn, September, 1911. 
Essay sur Vetat present des sciences, des belles lettres et des beaux arts dans le 
Dannemark et dans la Norwhge. Suhm, Samlede Skrifter, vol. VI., p. 422 fif. 
O. A. 0verland, Norges Historic, vol. IX., p. 319 ff. J. B. Sars, Udsigt over 
den norske Historie, vol. IV., p. 43 f., 183 ff. 


they still had to avail themselves of more drastic means, such as the 
riots caused by the new tax levy of 1762. The armed neutrality 
which had been maintained during the Seven Years' War had cost 
large sums, which, together with the support given to manufacture 
in the form of loans and subsidies, as well as the great extravagance 
of the court, had placed the government in great financial difficulty. 
In order to pay the interest and term payments on large loans, a new 
tax of eight skilling was imposed on every person twelve years of 
age. In Norway this caused the greatest ill-will, and serious dis- 
turbances occurred. In Bergen a force of binder, which was estimated 
at two thousand, attacked the residence of the stiftsamtmand, in- 
sulted and ill-treated him, and forced him to refund them the tax 
which had been collected.^ In Stavanger and Christiansund, in 
Romsdal, and many other places serious riots occurred, as the hinder, 
who suffered because of high prices and hard times caused by the 
war, refused to pay the extra tax. 

No very noteworthy changes had been effected during this reign, 
but Bernstorff's policy in administration and diplomacy had been 
liberal-minded as well as prudent, and he had given the awakening 
national feeling an opportunity to grow without exploiting it in the 
interest of a radical liberalism. 

King Frederick V. paid a brief visit to Norway shortly after his 
accession to the throne, but instead of studying the needs and cus- 
toms of the kingdom, he spent the time in gambling and making 
merry with his courtiers. Any higher conception of his duties to his 
realm and his subjects he never seemed to have entertained. He died 
in 1766, forty-three years of age. 

45. Christian VII. and Queen Carolina Mathilda 
The Struensee Period 

When King Frederick's son and successor. Christian VII., ascended 
the throne amid the plaudits of the populace, the truckling seekers of 
royal favors pronounced the most extravagant panegyrics upon the 
virtues of the prince, whom they declared to be wiser than Augustus 
and better than Trajan. But thoughtful men, who knew the young 

* Yngvar Nielsen, Bergen, p. 449 fif. 


king, shook their heads and mused upon what the future might bring. 
They knew that he was a moral degenerate; that his mild appear- 
ance and frail physique hid the most unbridled passions ; that his 
weak mind might even be wrecked by excess, and leave him a mental 
imbecile if not a helpless maniac. Christian had not had the good 
fortune to enjoy proper care in his childhood. His mother, Queen 
Louise, died December 19, 1751, before he was three years of a,ge, 
and JuUane Marie, who became King Frederick's second queen 
half a year later, does not seem to have had much affection for the 
motherless child. The king was as unfit to watch over his son's 
early training as he was to govern his kingdoms, and the education 
of the prince was intrusted to Count Reventlow, an honest and up- 
right, but rude and brutal man. The little prince was forced to go 
to church twice every Sunday, and to recite at home the contents 
of the sermons which he had heard. If he failed to satisfy the stern 
count, he received a thorough flogging. The philosophy of Wolff 
and the deism of Matthews Tindal were the subjects which his 
teachers tried to force into his child-mind by diligent application of 
the rod. In free hours he was left without proper care to associate 
with corrupt courtiers, who led him into a life of moral degradation 
which he learned to hide with falsehoods and deceit.^ The sudden 
change from a helpless pupil under the dominion of tyrannous masters 
to an absolute monarch, to whom all showed the most obsequious 
homage, did not inspire the seventeen-year-old prince with any feeling 
of responsibility, but only made him feel that the hour of freedom 
had come at last, when he could throw restraints to the winds, and 
plunge into wild pleasures without being obliged to hide his way- 
wardness by clever lies. To his physician Wallert he declared shortly 
after his accession to the throne that he would " rage for two years,'* 
and rage he did like no other king that ever wore the royal purple 
in Denmark. In 1766 he married Princess Carolina Mathilda of 
England, daughter of Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of 
George II. ; but this political marriage of the seventeen-year-old 
king to a princess who was only fifteen years old, and whom he had 
never before seen, did not in any way improve his wayward private 

^ Chr. Blangstrup, Christian VII. og Caroline Mathilde, Copenhageu, 1894. 
Karl Wittich, Struensee, edited by Blangstrup. 


life. "The society which was found assembled inside the palace 
walls of Christiansborg," says his biographer, Blangstrup, "endeavored 
to the best of their ability to become a copy of the world whose fame 
spread from Versailles over all Europe. One meets here the same 
kind of characters and thoughtless persons, the same forms of cul- 
ture, the same frivolous social tone, the same moral laxity. And 
this circle of richly attired lords and ladies of the court, who move 
about with the graceful steps of the dance, accost one another with 
flattery and compliments, and an affected French esprit, despising 
thoroughly the language and culture of their own country, seek to 
live, also, according to the rules of convenience, and to imitate their 
model in feelings and ideas, as well as in costumes and demeanor. 
It was especially necessary to make marriage the object of ridicule 
and wanton remarks. One cannot read memoirs or accounts of 
court life of those times without meeting cynical expressions which 
show how little marriage was esteemed in all higher society. Love 
and fidelity in married life was regarded as narrow-mindedness and 
foolish prejudice." ^ Christian VII. had acquired this view of life 
in the court circles where he had been reared, and he openly con- 
fessed that he regarded marriage as a burden.^ In company with 
the mischief-loving and dissolute nobles, who became his friends, he 
roamed about in disguise at night, visiting low dives, breaking win- 
dows, throwing furniture into the streets, fighting with the police, 
and reveling in disorder like the rudest vagabond. The capital was 
horrified, but Christian smiled in complacent glee over every new 
escapade like a wayward child. His education, though apparently 
thorough and profound, was of the most superficial and useless sort. 
He had learned nothing about statesmanship, military affairs, or 
finances, nor of the conditions of the kingdoms which he was to 
govern. His ministers, instead of aiding him to become acquainted 
with the work of the administration, preferred to keep matters in 
their own hands, and Bernstorff continued to conduct the affairs of 
government until he was overthrown by the intriguing Struensee in 
1770. As absolute monarch King Christian was the personification 

* Christian VII. og Caroline Mathilde, p. 87. 

• Friedrioh von Raumer, Europa vom Ende des siehenjahrigen bis zum Ende 
des amerikanischen Krieges, vol, I., p. 138. 


of sovereignty, in whose name every act of government was per- 
formed, but he exercised no direct influence either on diplomacy or 
domestic administration. In life and thought as well as in manners 
and appearance he was more like a French coxcomb than a real king. 
The young queen, who had been brought to this corrupt court at 
so tender an age, and had been married to a young voluptuary for 
whom she could entertain no other feeling than aversion and disgust, 
felt lonesome and unhappy. After the birth of Crown Prince Fred- 
erick, January 29, 1768, the king treated her with studied disrespect, 
and even dismissed her duenna and first lady-in-waiting, Lady Plessen, 
who attempted to guide the young queen, and sought to shield her 
from the corrupting influences of the court. The unhappy relation 
between the royal pair developed into an open hatred, and the ennui 
and feeling of unhappihess' were undermining the queen's health. 
In the spring of 1769, when she became really ill, the king finally 
advised her to consult his physician, Struensee. At first she refused 
to see the doctor, as she feared that he was like the rest of the king's 
companions and favorites, but she finally consented to an interview. 
Struensee, a German by birth, was thirty-two years of age, a man of 
fine learning and appearance, who knew the art of being agreeable.^ 
His culture, intelligence, and sympathy made a most favorable im- 
pression on the queen. His visits were repeated, and she soon found 
in his company and conversation the understanding which she had 
so ardently longed for. He brought about a reconciliation between 
her and the king, a help for which she was very grateful. She 
learned to regard him as her true friend, and the friendship soon 
ripened into passionate love. The king was rapidly sinking into 
mental imbecility, and Struensee, who had gained full control over 
him, was in position to seize the reins which were dropping from 
his enervated hands. On September 15, 1770, Bernstorff was dis- 
missed from office at the instigation of Struensee, who now assumed 
full control of the government, together with his two friends, Rant- 
zau-Ascheberg and Enevold Brandt. The king's special favorite 
and companion, Count Conrad Hoick, was banished from the court, 

1 Reverdil, Struensie et la eour de Copenhague, p. 151, calls him ^'un homme 
aimable et insinuant," ''un trfes bel homme, renomfi par ses succSs aupres 
des femmes, chasseur et voyageur infatigable." 


a number of the highest officials were dismissed, friends of the usurper 
were appointed to the most important positions, and Brandt was 
placed in Hoick's former position as the king's companion, with the 
duty of arranging all festivities and amusements at court. The 
Geheimekonceil was abolished, the Colleges lost their importance, 
and a''government by cabinet orders, i.e. orders issued by Struensee 
and signed by the king, was substituted. In 1771 Struensee per- 
suaded the king to appoint him cabinet minister, a position which 
virtually made him regent with unlimited power. He now super- 
seded King Christian as ruler, as he had already superseded him in 
the affections of Queen Mathilda. That he was her paramour was 
no longer a secret, but the imbecile king, who was as incapable of 
jealousy as he was of love, seems to have been well satisfied. 

Personal ambition was, undoubtedly, the chief motive in Struen- 
see's daring usurpation of royal power, but it is quite clear that he 
hoped to justify his course in the eyes of the world by doing great 
things for the realms over which he exercised dominion. He was an 
adherent of the Aufkldrung, and as soon as he assumed control of 
the government, he introduced a series of reforms embodying liberal 
and progressive ideas. The press was granted complete liberty, 
patriotic and able men were appointed to public office, the number 
of empty titles was restricted, and many useless offices and pensions 
were abolished. Greater economy was practiced at court, so that 
the public expenditures should not exceed the income, a stricter 
control was exercised over public officials, and Struensee was an 
avowed friend of religious toleration.^ To us these and similar 
reforms seem very praiseworthy and necessary, but as they were in- 
troduced into a society which was as yet unable to understand their 
value, they proved to be in many cases worse than useless, productive 
of nothing but grief and harm to their author. Reverdil seems to 
state it correctly when lie says of Struensee's activity as a reformer 
that his aims were high and noble, but his methods were often ill 
chosen, and his worst fault was that he believed that people can be 
reformed by ordinances.^ It is evident that Struensee had launched 
his reforms without duly considering his chances of success. The 

^ Jens Krag H0st, Struensee og hans Ministerium. 
* Struensee, Memoirs de Reverdil, p. 160 f., 227. 
VOL. II — 2 a 


old bureaucracy was offended by the stricter control of officials, the 
cutting down of pensions, and the abolishing of old and useless offices ; 
the idlers at court, by the introduction of a system of stricter economy 
and fewer titles, the clergy, by Struensee's religious toleration, while 
the common classes, steeped in superstition and illiteracy, were none 
the wiser, and, probably, none the happier because of the attempted 
reforms. The dissatisfied were those who could speak, those who 
shaped public opinion, and they took advantage of the freedom of the 
press to publish lampoons against Struensee, and to stir up public 
sentiment against him by giving publication to insipid gossip and 
malignant falsehoods, until he found it necessary to restrict again 
the freedom of the press. 

The Norwegians had remained rather indifferent to Struensee's 
attempts at reforms, especially since he had wounded their feelings 
by dismissing the popular statholder, Jakob Benzon. But they had 
formulated certain specific demands which seem to have been favor- 
ably regarded by the cabinet minister, and after he had remained 
in power long enough, there is reason to believe that they would 
have been granted. To the agitation for a university they added a 
demand for a separate Commercial College for Norway, and the 
privilege to found a Norwegian bank with a capital of 500,000 riks- 
daler, an institution which must have been sorely needed, when we 
consider the volume of Norwegian commerce. They also demanded 
the abolition of the extra tax which had been levied in 1762 without 
the people's consent, and the revocation of the laws prohibiting the 
importation of grain to Norway from any country but Denmark. 
Struensee favored the plan of establishing a Norwegian bank, but 
as the directors of the Danish-Norwegian bank in Copenhagen 
opposed it, he dropped the matter. The laws restricting grain im- 
port were not revoked, but by special order free importation of grain 
was allowed for a limited period. None of the requested reforms was 
carried through at this time, but they had been formulated as a 
distinct demand, and we cannot fail to see in them an effort to 
separate Norwegian internal affairs from direct Danish control. 

Struensee's measures of reform reveal clearly the weakness and 
short-sightedness characteristic of the]Aufkldrung. As social progress 
was not to originate in the intelligeuce and patriotism of the people 


at large, but was to be brought about artificially by ordinances issued 
by an enlightened and benevolent despot, no regard was had for the 
conditions of the society which these reforms were intended to 
benefit, and the sympathy and national spirit of the people were not 
enlisted in their support. Struensee was wholly unnational. He 
despised Danish, and used German exclusively. Like many other 
despotic reformers of that age, he failed to realize that a people's 
social and intellectual progress must spring from their own national 
life, that the incorporating of new ideas as a living force in the old 
social organism can be accomplished only by the slow progress of 
moral and intellectual growth. Largely because of his misconcep- 
tion of the true nature of reform he failed to carry through even the 
most moderate and useful measures. But his work was not wholly 
in vain. He had brought the liberal views of the Aufkldrung from 
the realm of speculation into the more practical one of statescraft 
and social reform, and had thereby given valuable aid to the progress 
of liberal political ideas. 

That Struensee would be able to exercise permanently his usurped 
power could not be expected, even if he had been a man of far greater 
prestige and more influential connections; but as a mere foreign 
adventurer he could receive no support from the upper classes, who, 
aside from the king, exercised all power in the realm. He lacked, 
moreover, many of the qualities which make men truly great, and 
his lack of prudence and real courage hastened his downfall.^ He 
had won to his side one important person, the young queen, who, 
prompted by love, hazarded all for his sake ; but others who might 
have been won were repelled by his arrogance, or offended by his 
recklessness. The moral tone of the court was not improved by 
Struensee, and he took no care to conceal his relation to the queen. 
Emboldened by her affections for the usurper, and the spirit of the 
circles in which she moved, she abandoned her former modest ways, 
and indulged in imprudent frolic, which gave great offense, and 
became the topic of damaging gossip. She appeared in public in 
male attire, she rode her horse ci califourchon, and played other gay 
pranks which were little in keeping with the dignity of a queen. 
Struensee, who was now guiding both her destiny and his own, 
1 Karl Wittich, Struensee, p. 94 ff. 


ought to have been her mentor, as the preservation of her good name 
should have been a matter of great concern to him, if for no higher 
motive than the promotion of his own selfish aims. But instead of 
wisely restraining her, who would gladly have yielded to any sug- 
gestion from him, we are forced to believe that he was responsible 
for her conduct, that it conformed to his peculiar ideas of liberty, 
and his utter disregard for all institutions, ideas, and conventionali- 
ties which did not represent his own views. In the treatment of 
the king he showed the same lack of foresight and true nobleness. 
Though all his great powers were still delegated to him by the king, 
he even encouraged Brandt to illtreat the imbecile and helpless 
monarch. These things were soon noised abroad, and became 
effective weapons in the hands of his enemies. The rumors that the 
king was being illtreated, and that the royal family was being dis- 
graced by Struensee, created a storm of ill-will which emboldened his 
opponents. A plot was formed to overthrow him, the leader of 
which was his own faithless friend Rantzau, who was aided by Ove 
H0eg-Guldberg and Queen Juliane Marie. In the early morning of 
January 17, 1772, after a ball at the court, the conspirators gained 
entrance to the palace, and placed Struensee, Brandt, and the queen 
under arrest. The success of the plot was hailed with general de- 
light, and the only thought of the leaders was to punish the offenders 
as severely as possible. Struensee and Brandt were condemned to 
death and executed after a trial which was declared by many to be 
a travesty on justice.^ It is true that the charge of crimen laesae 
majestatis could be but lamely maintained against Struensee, since 
the king himself had placed him in power, and the cabinet minister 
had performed every official act by order of the king. It is also true 
that Guldberg, one of the conspirators, should not have been made 
one of the judges at the trial. The king might, indeed, have good 

^ H. Walpole says in his Journal of the Reign oj King George III., vol. I., 
p. 115: '''The sentences . . . instead of satisfying the public have excited 
a general compassion for them, and an abhorrence of their barbarous exe- 
cution ; and, in short, they are now looked upon as victims of the state, sacri- 
ficed to the ambition and hatred of their enemies." 

In a letter of July 6, 1772, the Danish diplomat. Count Rochus Fr. Lynar, 
condemns the execution of the count in the strongest terms, and says that 
Vin all Europe they ridicule this decision, which, to Denmark's disgrace, has 
been translated into nearly every language." 


reason to feel offended at the prisoners, but he had made no com- 
plaint, though he was finally prevailed upon to sign their death 
warrants. The vindictive character of the prosecution, and the 
barbaric punishment inflicted, shows that the conspirators were bent 
on destroying their opponents rather than securing even-handed 
justice. Queen Carolina Mathilda was placed in Kronborg castle, 
where she was allowed to communicate only with persons selected 
for her company. Her marriage to Christian VII. was annulled by 
the court, a decree which was not only harsh, but impolitic and un- 
wise. If she had erred, she was still infinitely better than her worth- 
less husband, who was long since unfit to marry again. She had 
come to the Danish court while very young ; she was given in mar- 
riage to a worthless rake ; she was surrounded from the outset by the 
evil influences of an immoral court, and had fallen into the snares of 
an artful seducer, who in the hours of trouble had won her con- 
fidence as a friend and adviser. Her misfortunes should have pal- 
liated many of her mistakes, but the obdurate judges, who could 
spell wisdom only from the dull letters of the law, rendered a decision 
which could not garnish the corrupt Danish court with a virtue 
which it did not possess, but only served to offend her brother. King 
George III., and to awaken among the English people a hostility to 
Denmark-Norway which may have been responsible for many later 
unhappy events. Her divorce and imprisonment were regarded in 
England as a violation of English national honor, and a storm of 
indignation was aroused. A letter in the "Public Advertiser" 
demanded that a fleet should be immediately dispatched to Copen- 
hagen to frighten Queen Mathilda's enemies, and Junius, the anony- 
mous author of the famous "Letters of Junius," plied his eloquent 
pen in violent criticism of the "Northern Vandals" and the "shame- 
ful remissness" of Lord North, who, according to the writer, failed 
to take energetic measures for her protection.^ It had been the 
plan of the conspirators to keep the queen in a mild imprisonment 
at Aalborg, but when the English government protested, they decided 
to turn her over to the English authorities. Her dowry of £80,000 
should be refunded her, she should retain the title of queen, but she 
had to part with her children, who were regarded as members of the 

1 Karl Wittich, Struensee, p. 146. 


Danish royal family. Two English frigates were sent to Copenhagen 
to carry her from Denmark. On May 30, 1773, Queen Carolina 
Mathilda sailed away from the land which had witnessed her mis- 
fortunes, but which still harbored the treasures of her heart. She 
was carried to Celle in her brother. King George's, Hanoverian 
possessions, where she was to reside. In that city she died May 10, 
1775, twenty-four years of age. "Thus ended this drama of which 
she had been the heroine," says Professor Wittich. "History could 
have numbered this high-minded and lovable woman among the 
worthiest of princesses, if destiny had not linked her to so miserable 
a prince without consulting her heart. But even in her delinquencies 
she rose to a self-denial and a nobility of soul which make her tower 
high above her surroundings, and especially above the man who 
betrayed her." 

46. Prince Frederick and Ove Hjz^eg-Guldberg 
A Period of Reaction 

After the overthrow of Struensee, Prince Frederick, a half-brother 
of Christian VII., the son of Queen Juliane Marie, became regent, 
but the leading spirit in the government was Ove H0eg-Guldberg, 
one of the conspirators. He was a man of small ability, a pedant 
and reactionary, who was carried into power on the crest of the wave 
of loyalty to the king, and opposition to reform which culminated 
in the palace revolution of January 17, 1772. Like every pedant 
he had a system, and it happened to be very acceptable to those who 
had now gained control, and sought to undo every reform which had 
been introduced by his fallen predecessor. He considered the pro- 
gressive and liberal ideas of the age as idle vagaries, and regarded 
education of the common classes as harmful and dangerous. "Hu- 
manity," he said, "can bear only a certain amount of knowledge, 
and each class must, therefore, have its proper share. More than 
that intoxicates. The peasant children," he continues, "acquire 
knowledge of Christianity and their duties ; they become acquainted 
with the Bible ; they learn to write, and, if they must do so, to figure 
a little. Other knowledge they do not need, neither is it profitable 
for them. I shudder for everything else which these flatulent times 


have taught, and with which they would spoil everything." ^ He 
did not openly proclaim the maxim that the subjects exist for the 
sake of the king, but this is the standpoint from which he generally 
reasoned, says Sars. On the whole, his theory of statesmanship was 
of the most antiquated sort, and it is true, as his son observes, that 
he was a product of the spirit of 1660.^ The first concern of the new 
government was to bring everything back into the old conditions. 
The Geheimekonceil was reestablished, and the step taken by Struen- 
see to abolish serfdom, and to limit the amount of free service to be 
rendered by the peasants, was annulled, and the aristocracy were 
again allowed to lord it over the peasants, "according to old usage." 
A strict censorship of the press was reestablished, and at court the 
old abuses and extravagance were reintroduced with the granting of 
titles, pensions, offices, gifts, and gratuities to truckling seekers of 
royal favors. The old mercantile protective system, which Struen- 
see had sought to abolish, was again adopted. Monopolies and 
special favors were freely employed to encourage various private 
undertakings, and large sums were expended to aid useless com- 
mercial and industrial enterprises in the old mercantile spirit. The 
reaction was thorough in its work, enthusiastic in its efforts to stop 
every wheel of progress, and to turn the clock of the ages back to 
the "good old days," when liberal ideas had not yet disturbed those 
who possessed all privileges and power. 

But even this reactionary government granted one important 
reform. As Struensee was a German, and the German language was 
always used at court, the overthrow of the foreigner was regarded 
as a sort of national victory, and the use of Danish, which had been 
so forcibly brought to the people's attention through the comedies 
of Holberg, was now urged as a patriotic demand. Suhm wrote to 
the king : " Let us again hear our own dear language in your com- 
mands. You are a Dane, and I know that you can speak Danish. 
Let the foreign language be a sign of the vile traitor who was too 
indolent to learn our language, too scoffing to show us so great a 

1 Dansk historisk Tidsskrift, IV. R., vol. I., p. 184, quoted by J. E. Sars, 
Udsigt over den norske Historic, vol. IV., p. 194. 

* Edvard Holm, Nogle Hovedtrcek af Trykkefrihedens Hiatorie 1770-177S, 
p. 129, quoted by Sars. 


condescension." ^ On February 3, 1772, the German words of 
command in the army were aboHshed by royal order,^ and by an 
order of February 13th of the same year it was ordained that Danish 
should be the official language of the realm. Another important 
measure sustaining the awakening national spirit was the ordinance 
of January 15, 1776, Indf^dsretten, by which it was decreed that only 
native-born citizens, and those who could be counted equal to them, 
should be appointed to office, or to positions of honor in the kingdom. 

But while the government aided and encouraged the national 
spirit in Denmark, it pursued the very opposite policy in Norway, 
where the national awakening was manifesting itself in many ways. 
When P. F. Suhm wrote a brief history of Denmark, Norway, and 
Holstein, Guldberg himself examined the manuscript, and canceled 
or changed every passage in which the author referred to the equality 
of Norway and Denmark, returning the mutilated work with the 
remarks that " no Norwegian exists. We are all citizens of the king- 
dom of Denmark. Do not write for the despicable Christiania 
raisoneurs." Such insolent disregard for a people's sentiments and 
honor can only awaken resentment, and strengthen their national 
feeling. In Norway Guldberg became generally hated. His name 
is enrolled in the index to "Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og 
Historic" with the remark that he "was a learned and narrow- 
minded statesman." The former epithet is probably accorded him 
from courtesy, that the truth of the latter may appear with better 

While Guldberg was the leading spirit in the government, A. P. Bern- 
storff, a nephew of the older Bernstorff , was placed in charge of foreign 
affairs. Besides the ill-will which had been created in England by the im- 
prisonment of Queen Mathilda, the attitude of Sweden was also causing 
alarm. King Gustavus HI., who succeeded his father, Frederick 
Adolph, on the throne of that kingdom, February 12, 1771, made 
the royal power almost absolute by a successful coup d'etat, August 19, 
1772, and although he hastened to assure the neighboring powers that 
he desired to maintain peace and friendly relations, it soon became 

1 Quoted by O. A. 0verland, Norges Historie, vol. IV., p. 449. 
» Dansk historisk Tidsskrift, IV. R., vol. II., p. 738. See Kaxl Wittich, 
Struensee, p. 216. 


evident that he planned to gain possession of Norway. The Nor- 
wegian army and defenses had been neglected since 1763, and the 
Danish government was well aware that dissatisfaction was widespread 
in the sister kingdom. General Huth was, accordingly, dispatched to 
Norway to take charge of the military preparations, and Prince Carl 
of Hessen, who was married to King Christian's sister Louise, was 
made commander-in-chief of the Norwegian army, with the under- 
standing that he should reside in Christiania, where he should main- 
tain a court in order to stimulate the loyalty of the Norwegian 
people.^ The hated extra tax of 1762 was also abolished to gain 
their good-will. Active war preparations were now carried on both 
in Norway and Sweden. In 1773 Denmark-Norway formed an 
alliance with Russia for joint operations against Sweden, but Empress 
Catherine II. was at that time at war with Turkey, and no aggressive 
step could be taken until this war was ended. The peace was not 
interrupted, and friendly relations were again established when the 
Northern kingdoms had to defend their rights as neutrals in the 
great naval war precipitated by the American Revolution (1775- 

As soon as the war with America began, English privateers seized 
neutral merchant vessels, and brought them to English ports on the 
charge that they were carrying contraband of war. As no rules had 
yet been established as to what should be considered contraband of 
war, this threatened to destroy neutral commerce, especially after 
France became the ally of the American colonies, and the English 
privateers extended their operations to all parts of the world. Sweden 
and Holland, as well as Denmark-Norway, protested against this 
infringement on the rights of neutrals, and the principle that a " free 
ship makes a free cargo" was advanced with so much greater force, 
because the English themselves had maintained it against the Bar- 
bary States. It was also urged that a port should be considered 
blockaded only when all traffic with it was cut off by warships actually 
present, and that all neutrals should be treated alike. Fearing that 
an alliance between England, Russia, and Denmark-Norway might 
be brought about by the negotiations carried on relative to these 

^ Prins Carl af Hessen, Optegnelser, translated from the French by C. J. Anker, 
Christiania, 1893, p. 77 ff. 


points, Sweden proposed a defensive alliance between the three 
Northern kingdoms in defense of their trade, but Bernstorff, who 
feared that this might lead to war with England, did not favor this 
plan. In 1780 Catherine II., acting upon the advice of her minister 
Panin, issued a declaration that she would organize a league of all 
the neutral states for the support of the following points : Ships of 
neutrals should have the right to enter ports and harbors of the nations 
at war, a free ship should make free cargo, excepting articles which 
should be regarded as contraband of war, and these should be defined 
according to the existing treaties. No port should be regarded as 
blockaded unless the blockade was made effective by warships 
actually present, and the decision as to whether a neutral ship had 
been rightfully seized should be based on these principles. These 
were the same points which Bernstorff had already urged, and 
Sweden, Holland, Denmark-Norway, Prussia, Portugal, the two 
Sicilies, and even the German Emperor joined Russia in the proposed 
league. But Bernstorff nevertheless signed the treaty with reluc- 
tance, as he knew that the coalition was directed against England. 
Five days before Denmark-Norway entered the league, he concluded 
with England a special treaty, in which more favorable rules were 
made relative to contraband of war ; but this step offended Catherine 
II., and he was forced to retire from office. England did not venture 
to resist this powerful league of neutrals, and the principles which 
they had laid down were respected throughout the war, but they 
were not accepted as a recognized part of international law. 

The great naval war had, none the less, produced for the neutral 
nations quite extraordinary commercial advantages, in spite of the 
losses and impediments due to the operations of privateers. The 
Norwegian merchant marine nearly doubled its tonnage during the 
war, and while the total export in 1773 was estimated at 1,370,492 
riksdaler, it amounted in 1782 to 2,084,913 riksdaler. But the 
flourishing times due to this sudden increase of traffic could not last, 
as the return of peace and normal conditions was sure to produce a 
serious reaction. 


47. Crown Prince Frederick and A. P. Bernstorff. 

Increasing Unrest in Norway. Chr. J. Lofthus. 

War with Sweden, 1788 

When Bernstorff resigned, the reactionary government conducted 
by Prince Frederick, Ove Guldberg, and Queen JuHane Marie became 
more pedantic than ever, and forfeited the respect of all thinking 
people. The support of those who enjoyed the benefits of such a 
regime created a feeling of security among those in power, but a 
desire for a change was rapidly growing, even though the strict press 
censorship prevented any expression of the spreading feeling of dis- 
content. In order to retain their power they delayed the confirma- 
tion of Crown Prince Frederick, and planned to keep him under the 
control of the Council, which consisted of their own partisans. But 
the day came, April 14, 1784, when the crown prince, being sixteen 
years old, should take his seat in the Council. As soon as the king 
was seated, the prince read a paper in which he asked him to abolish 
the Council, and to appoint as his advisers A. P. Bernstorff, Rosen- 
crants, Huth, and Stampe. Amid the violent protests of Prince 
Frederick, the regent, the king was persuaded to sign the document. 
The old regime was overthrown by this well-planned coup de theatre, 
and the greatest excitement prevailed in the palace. But the Eng- 
lish government, as well as a majority of the people of Denmark, 
probably felt a secret satisfaction that Queen Caroline Mathilda's 
son had driven from power those who had imprisoned and banished 
his mother. 

Crown Prince Frederick, who now became regent, was inex- 
perienced, not very gifted, and but indifferently educated, but he 
loved fairness and justice, and his choice of ministers shows that he 
favored progressive and liberal ideas. The leadership in the new 
government naturally devolved on the experienced statesman A. P. 
Bernstorff. Assisted by his able associates, E. Schimmelmann, C. D. 
Reventlow, and Christian Colbj0rnsen, he inaugurated an era of 
reform which may be characterized as a period of social reconstruc- 
tion, though the changes were made with due caution and moderation. 
Even as to the theory of government, Bernstorff entertained very 
liberal views, maintaining that the will of the people should be the 


king's law, a principle which, if carried out, would make the king the 
servant of the people instead of the virtual owner of the state. But 
this could be done only by creating a national legislature where the 
will of the people could be expressed by their chosen representatives, 
and such a reform he probably never thought of, or even desired. 
In his work as reformer he was still the benevolent despot, whose 
phrases about the will of the people only indicate his wish to improve 
their social condition. 

With regard to industry and commerce, Bernstorff abandoned the 
old mercantile system, and abolished monopolies and special privileges. 
The freedom of the press was reestablished, and censorship of litera- 
ture was done away with. In his most important reforms, which 
aimed at the emancipation of the Danish peasants, he was ably 
assisted by the very competent and liberal-minded Christian Col- 
bj0rnsen. This gifted statesman was a Norwegian by birth, a relative 
of the Colbj0rnsen brothers of Fredrikshald, who won fame in the 
Great Northern War. He had come to Denmark in his early youth, 
and became intensely devoted to the doctrines of the rights of man 
and the liberal ideas of the age. "Liberty," he said, "is nature's 
first and most glorious gift to the noblest of her creatures." "No 
feeling is more deeply imprinted in human nature than the love of 
liberty." It is natural that these ideas should make him a friend of 
the oppressed Danish peasants, and when he was made secretary of 
a commission of sixteen members, appointed in 1786 to examine the 
whole relation between landlords and peasants, he became their 
ablest spokesman. As a result of the recommendation of this com- 
mission serfdom was abolished in Denmark, and the amount of free 
service to be rendered by the peasants was limited and defined by 
ordinances issued June 20, 1788, and June 24, 1791. These reforms, 
which freed the almost enslaved peasants, had a tendency to alter 
social conditions fundamentally. They represent the first important 
step in a new social and economic development in Denmark.^ 

In Norway no serfdom had existed, and as the binder enjoyed 
great social and economic independence, there was no need of the 
kind of reforms instituted in Denmark. But the struggle which had 

* E. Holm, Kampen om Landreformerne i Danmark. J. A. FVidericia, 
Den danske Bondestands Frigj^relse. 


always been waged between the people and the greedy Danish officials 
grew more intense as the national spirit developed, and liberal ideas 
were disseminated. The Norwegians had at all times been very 
loyal to the king, whom they fondly regarded as their king, but 
they had also been very intolerant of oppression at the hands of 
royal officials, who were often guilty of extortionate and unlawful 
practices. Excessive taxes imposed against the will of the people, 
and harmful trade monopolies which increased the prices on the 
necessities of life, added fuel to the smoldering discontent, and when 
the hinder gathered about their hearthstones they had many griev- 
ances to complain of, and many a violent clash with the officials to 
narrate. But these clashes never assumed the dimensions of a revolt. 
They were isolated occurrences produced by local conditions, violent 
resistance to oppression, but no national uprising aiming at inde- 
pendence; for even the leaders lacked the scope of vision to con- 
ceive such a plan. Among the many tragic episodes in this more 
intense than dramatic struggle was a movement in Nedenes ami in 
southern Norway in 1786 and 1787, led by Chr. J. Lofthus. 

The people in that mountain district felt grievously oppressed by 
the heavy taxes, and the rapacity of the officials, as well as by the 
laws governing the importation of grain, which had increased the 
prices on that commodity. A commission appointed to examine 
into the causes of the almost incessant complaints gave a very gloomy 
picture of the situation. A report in which the popular foged, 
Weidemann, also concurred, states : " We unite our prayer with 
that of the foged, and recommend the people to your Majesty's 
favor. As long as they could, they willingly paid, but inability is no 
crime." The commission also found that the royal officials had 
oppressed and wronged the people by extortionate charges, and two 
judges, sorenskrivere, were removed from office, a sufficient proof 
that the complaints were well founded. With the return of peace 
after the American Revolution, Norwegian commerce decreased, 
hard times followed, and the large numbers of unemployed in the 
coast districts helped to swell the general discontent. The oppressed 
people soon found a leader and spokesman in Chr. J. Lofthus, a honde 
in Moland. Among his neighbors he was highly respected, and well 
known for his energy and intelligence, but also for the tenacity with 


which he defended his legal rights.^ Lofthus would go to Denmark 
and complain to Crown Prince Frederick of the government officials 
in his district. But although Bernstorff had said that the people's 
will should be the king's law, the ordinance of 1685, forbidding the 
Norwegian binder to petition the king, on the penalty of loss of 
liberty and property, and the royal edict of 1744, which threatened 
any Norwegian who came to Denmark with a complaint or petition 
not signed by the amtmand with imprisonment in the citadel, still 
threatened with destruction any one who ventured to bring the 
people's will to the attention of the government in Copenhagen. 
But the Norwegians had confidence in the king's good-will; for it 
had often happened that he had heard their complaints, and had 
granted them relief without paying attention to the unjust laws. In 
1785 the people of Telemarken and other districts sent three represen- 
tatives to Copenhagen to petition the king for redress of grievances, 
and the following year Hans Kolstad was sent on a similar mission. 
The government did not punish them. The tall men in uniform 
who served as the king's bodyguard were their countrymen; the 
Norwegian people's courage and love of liberty had inspired respect 
in Denmark. They were allowed to return home, and the govern- 
ment instructed the fogeds in Norway that they should be guided in 
their charges by the tax-lists and the rules regulating fees. In 1786 
Lofthus went to Denmark with a written complaint bearing 329 
signatures. The crown prince received him in audience, and after 
having heard the complaint, told him that more conclusive proof 
would be required. Lofthus returned home, had a meeting with 
those who had signed the complaint, and received from them a cer- 
tificate of the genuineness of the signatures, and of his own appoint- 
ment as a special delegate to the king. With these documents he 
returned to Copenhagen, but he met the same objection as before. 
The crown prince, however, gave him his word of honor that if 
he could furnish adequate proof the matter would be investigated. 
Lofthus returned home, and, acting as a self-constituted tribune of 
the people, he assembled meetings of the binder in his own home, 
and traveled about from place to place to collect evidence, and to 

1 Henrik Wergeland, Samlede Skrifter, vol. VIII., p. 150, Almuestals- 
manden Christian Jensen Lofthus. 


secure new signatures. This activity was considered by the authori- 
ties of the districts to be rebelHous, and steps were taken to arrest 
him. But as he was aided by the binder, he was able to elude the 
officers, and to continue to hold secret meetings with the people. 
At the meeting with the amtmand the binder demanded that Lofthus 
should not be arrested, and that he should receive a passport to go 
as their representative to Copenhagen, a request which was finally 
granted. In October Lofthus started for Copenhagen with the 
signed document in company with thirty men, who should act as 
witnesses. But the amtmand notified the government about what 
had happened, and said that Lofthus had organized a very dangerous 
uprising. The government immediately issued orders to the amt- 
mand to arrest Lofthus, and place him in the fortress of Christian- 
sand, and the chief of police of Copenhagen was instructed to seize him 
and his band, if he had already arrived in that city. In the mean- 
time Lofthus and his thirty companions marched along the Swedish 
coast towards Helsingborg, where they would cross the Sound to 
Denmark. When they arrived in that city, they learned of the 
orders issued for their arrest. Lofthus sent a number of his men to 
Denmark to secure a safe-conduct, but before their return he decided 
to start homeward with a few followers. As soon as he arrived in 
Nedenes, the amtmand made strenuous efforts to arrest him, but 
through the people's aid Lofthus always evaded his pursuers. The 
bfhider gathered in large numbers to defend him, but no acts of vio- 
lence were committed, and there is no evidence that they had any 
rebellious intentions. In the meantime Lofthus' companions who 
had been sent to Copenhagen had secured a safe-conduct for their 
leader, and a royal commission was appointed to investigate the 
troubles in Nedenes. This commission assembled in Christiansand, 
and Lofthus, together with a large number of binder, met and sub- 
mitted their complaints, supported by most damaging evidence against 
the accused. The commission found the charges to be true. They 
found the people to be peaceful and loyal, and they did not get the 
impression that Lofthus was a dangerous character. But Judge 
Smith and Captain Hammer, together with a lawyer, Salvesen, 
formed a secret plot to arrest Lofthus, who wandered about in the 
neighborhood, and sometimes returned to his own home for a short 


visit. Watching their opportunity, they fell upon him with a band 
of armed men, bound him, and threw him into a boat. In a raging 
storm they escaped from the angry binder who pursued them, and 
succeeded in carrying their prisoner to Christiania, where he was 
imprisoned in the fortress of Akershus. Five years he spent in this 
dungeon before the court finally decreed that he should remain in 
prison for life ; probably as unjust a decision as a judicial tribunal 
ever rendered. An appeal was made to the superior court, and that 
tribunal, after deliberating seven years upon the final verdict, sus- 
tained the decree of the lower court, two years after the defendant 
had breathed his last in his prison cell at Akershus. The unjust 
officials, who were the cause of the deplorable affair, escaped with 
light punishment. Two of the worst offenders, the judges Smith 
and Br0nsdorph, had to pay a fine together with the expenses of the 
trial; the diocesan prefect, Adeler, was removed from office and 
pensioned ; the rest escaped all punishment. Those who had arrested 
Lofthus were liberally rewarded. Such a miscarriage of justice is 
explainable when we bear in mind that the government officials of 
whatever title constituted a bureaucracy, consolidated by inter- 
marriage, friendship, and common interests into a distinct social 
class. The extortion and corruption of which some might be accused 
were, perchance, practiced in a greater or less degree by all, and 
when an offender was made to answer in a court consisting of his 
own friends and colleagues, the procedure was usually a hollow 
mockery. When the hinder were goaded to open resistance, the 
officials used their power with vindictive harshness to terrorize them, 
and keep them at bay ; hence the deep-rooted hatred and the intense 
struggle between the two classes, which never ceased until the Nor- 
wegian bureaucracy had disappeared. 

The disturbance in which Lofthus had become the central figure 
made a deep impression in Norway. It was a local affair, like many 
a similar episode, but it occurred at a time when the national spirit 
was awakening, when the atmosphere of despotic Europe was sur- 
charged with ideas which struck at the very root of the old regime, 
and when destiny had brought the hour of national freedom closer 
to the Norwegian people than they supposed. It took place even 
within the dawn of the great national daybreak, some light of which 


was later reflected upon it. The episode ended in a groan of pain, 
but it stirred the people's spirit, and taught them to understand the 
value of independence. The political situation might have given 
it an even greater significance, if the moment had been opportune. 
We have observed that the desire for national autonomy in educa- 
tional and business affairs had grown strong in Norway, that liberal 
ideas were spreading among the upper classes,^ and that the hinder 
were growing more restive than ever under the irksome burdens 
placed upon them by the bureaucracy. Gustavus III. of Sweden 
had long entertained the hope that he might be able to profit by 
these circumstances, and some day gain possession of Norway. He 
had for many years carried on a secret agitation in the eastern dis- 
tricts of the kingdom, but at the time of the mentioned episode he 
was inactive. "Had the Lofthusian movement happened fourteen 
years earlier, or four years later," says Overland, "there might have 
been danger for the Danish-Norwegian state." ^ 

Gustavus HI. watched events in Norway very closely, and even 
appointed a consul-general in Christiania to act as a secret diplomatic 
agent for the purpose of strengthening the pro-Swedish sentiment. 
But a visit of Crown Prince Frederick in 1788, and the removal of 
the restrictions on the importation of grain by the ordinance of 
January 6th of that year, tended to satisfy the always loyal Nor- 
wegians, though their demand for a bank and a university had not 
been granted. King Gustavus IH. was now planning to attack 
Russia, in the hope of regaining southern Finland, as Catherine II. 
was engaged in a war with the Turks. Denmark-Norway had formed 
an alliance with Russia in 1773, but without being able to secure the 
neutrality of his near neighbor, Gustavus invaded Finland, and laid 
siege to Nyslot and Frederickshamn. The Russian troops had been 
withdrawn from the northern provinces, and even St. Petersburg 
had been left without a garrison, but no attack could be made on 
the capital after the Swedish fleet had failed to gain a decisive victory 

^ Ludvig Daae, Det gamle Christiania, p. 185 ff. Yngvar Nielsen, Gustav 
Ill's norske Politik, Historisk Tidsskrift, anden rsekke, vol. I., p. 5 fif. 

2 Norges Historic, vol. X., p. 32. Yngvar Nielsen, Gustav Ill's Politik, 
Historisk Tidsskrift, anden rsekke, vol. I., p. 1 ff. J. Hellstenius, Konung 
Gustaf den tredjes danska politik, Nordisk Universitets Tidsskrift for 1861- 

VOL. II. — 2b 


over the Russians at Hogland, July 17th. This undecisive battle 
and the tiresome siege of Frederickshamn caused great dissatisfaction 
in the Swedish army. The higher officers organized a mutiny, and 
Gustavus was forced to give up the campaign. He returned to 
Sweden, punished the offenders, and by a new coup d'etat he gained 
even more absolute power than before. 

By the treaty of alliance Denmark-Norway had engaged to assist 
Russia in case of war, but it was now recognized that any increase in 
the power of that steadily growing Empire would be prejudicial to 
the safety of the whole North. Bernstorff was aware of this, and 
granted grudgingly the least assistance possible under the terms of 
the treaty. A Norwegian army of 12,000 men under Prince Carl of 
Hessen was sent into Bohuslen to make a diversion on the Swedish 
border. Crown Prince Frederick, who had become enthusiastic 
over the opportunity of participating in a war, accompanied the army. 
After a minor engagement at Kvistrum Bro, where a Swedish detach- 
ment was captured, Prince Carl intended to seize Gottenborg, but 
as England and Prussia threatened to intervene, the Norwegian army 
was withdrawn from Swedish territory, and peace was restored in 
November, 1788.^ 

The struggle between Sweden and Russia was renewed in 1789, 
but although Gustavus won a great naval victory in Svensksund, 
July 9 and 10, 1790, where he captured thirty ships and 6000 men, 
he was unable to pursue his advantage, and the outcome of the 
war was doubtful. The events of the French Revolution had also 
made a deep impression on the imaginative king. He hastened to 
conclude the peace of Verela on the basis of statu quo, and proposed 
an alliance with Russia against the Revolution. 

Gustavus ni. was bitterly offended at the Danish government 
because of the aid which it had given to Russia, and when peace 
was restored, he renewed his agitation in Norway. Through his fa- 
vorite, Armfelt, and his secret agent, Manderfelt, who was stationed 
in Copenhagen, he entered into negotiations with a few Norwegians 
who desired independence of Denmark. Carsten Tank and three 
others met the Swedish agents, March 11, 1790, but their meeting, 

' Chr. Blangstrup, Begivenhederne t Nor den i Efteraaret 1788. E. Holm 
Ddnmarka Politik under den svensk-rnssiske Krig fra 1 788-1 790. 


which was repeated later at Karlstad, produced no definite result.^ 
Arm felt said of Tank that he was a man whose head was full of 
political sophisms and enthusiastic ideas of liberty, and King Gus- 
tavus suspected, undoubtedly with a good reason, that what the 
Norwegians desired was not union with Sweden, but independence 
and a republican government. The ideas of the French Revolution 
had found adherents also among the Norwegians, who desired sepa- 
ration from Denmark, not for the purpose of joining another foreign 
kingdom equally despotic, but in order to establish republican free- 
dom according to their own ideas. Why, then, should he support 
them when he had made it his special aim to combat the French 
Revolution. In 1792 King Gustavus was shot down by an assassin, 
and all Swedish agitation in Norway ceased. 

48. Danish-Norwegian Literature in the Second Half of 
THE Eighteenth Century 

The separatistic tendencies and growing national spirit in Nor- 
way, of which distinct manifestations have been observed especially 
in connection with the agitation for a university, comes even more 
clearly to view in the literature of the later half of the eighteenth 
century. Ludvig Holberg, who by his reformatory activity and great 
genius became the founder of modern Danish-Norwegian literature, 
had introduced the new thought and liberal ideas of the Aufkldrung, 
and had brought intellectual life in the North under the influence of 
French and English thought. In his day the new movement was 
still in its beginning, but in the field of history, philosophy, and 
politics a school of young writers, such as J. S. Sneedorff and P. F. 
Suhm, followed the paths which he had discovered, and became the 
disciples of the great French writers, especially of Montesquieu. So 
sudden was the change that Holberg in his old age grew somewhat 
alarmed over the movement which he had started, and began to 

1 ^'The family Anker were regarded as Swedish sympathizers," says 
Prince Carl of Hessen in his Optegnelser (Memoires de mon temps), 1744- 
1784, p. 84. Carsten Anker was prominently connected with the events of 
1814. When the prince states that there were some leaders who wished 
to make Norway an independent kingdom and choose him king, he is prob- 
ably guilty of a misunderstanding. 

372 msTORY OP teto Norwegian people n 

revise some of his earlier expressions regarding the placidity and 
moderation of his countrymen. Sars points out that in one of his 
epistles Holberg refers to an earlier description of the Danes as a 
people who do not easily go to extremes, but generally walk in the 
middle of the road, a description which was considered true at 
the time, as the Danish people actually possessed such a trait. But 
if the work should again be published, says the author, we would 
have to add a foot-note stating that in the last twenty or thirty 
years they have changed character so completely that they are no 
longer recognizable.^ That the leaven had begun to work became 
manifest in the growing unrest and increased intellectual activity; 
and as it produced a new era of development, it also brought to light 
a difference in temper and character in the peoples of the two king- 
doms which would soon bring about a dissolution of the literary 
partnership which had hitherto existed. Holberg, who was a Nor- 
wegian by birth, but had done his great life work in Denmark, had 
pointed out this difference with characteristic keenness of observa- 
tion. The Danes, he thinks, have a "strange modesty" and are 
inclined to follow the middle path, while the Norwegians are haughty, 
and, like the English, inclined to go to extremes. That the free im- 
folding of the native traits and tendencies of each people should 
produce an ever-increasing divergence between them is quite natural. 
Holberg's cosmopolitan interests and broad scope of vision made 
him look upon Danish-Norwegian literature as a possession common 
to both peoples, in which a slight difference in national spirit could 
be left out of account. But these irreconcilable traits of national 
character soon entered into the new development as a most im- 
portant factor. The trend of literary progress was soon to be deter- 
mined by two distinct kinds of foreign influence which divided the 
writers into two camps, as they associated themselves with one or 
the other of the two prevailing tendencies. In 1751 the German poet 
Klopstock was invited to Copenhagen, where he stayed for twenty 
years, and became the center of a large circle of German and Danish 
admirers. Many sought to imitate his bombastic odes and his 
declamatory pathos. Such homage was paid him by his enthusi- 
astic adherents that he exercised the influence of a literary monarch. 

^ J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norake Historie, vol. lY., p. 162. 


His most important disciple was the gifted poet Johannes Ewald, 
who became the chief exponent of German influence in Denmark. 
Ewald and his followers organized Det danske Literatur-Se skab, and 
this circle of young poets sought to give the views of their leader full 
currency in Danish literature. But while the German influence gained 
preponderance among the Danish poets, the Norwegians continued 
to look to England and France for their models. The first English 
novelists, and especially the fervid and imaginative description of 
nature in the "Seasons" of James Thomson, had kindled an enthu- 
siastic love of nature which in Germany, Norway, and elsewhere 
created a new literary taste.^ Even Rousseau had gathered ideas 
from this source, and his slogan, "return to nature," was in perfect 
accord with the views of the English poets. In Norway Christian 
Braunmann Tullin wrote a long descriptive poem, "Maidagen," in 
the strain of Thomson's " Seasons." Measured by modern stand- 
ards it is a production of no exceptional merit, but in the midst of 
the insipidity and dullness of the literature of that day it was hailed 
with enthusiasm as a literary event of the first magnitude. Tullin, 
who represented the English-French influence as truly as Ewald rep- 
resented the German, had hoisted the standard about which the 
Norwegian poets were to rally in opposition to Ewald and his party.^ 
In Copenhagen the Norwegians organized in 1772 Det norske Selskab, 
a literary club which numbered among its members Johan Nordahl 
Brun, Nils Krog Bredal, Claus Fasting, Johan Herman Wessel, Claus 
Frimann, and his brother Peder Frimann, Jens Zetlitz, Jonas Rein, 
and others. Even the names of the two societies which had suddenly 
appeared as rivals show that national spirit, no less than literary 
taste, tended to bring about a gradual separation of Danes and Nor- 
wegians in the field of literature, and the poetry written in the two 
clubs was soon to dispel all doubt on this point. Ewald chose for 
many of his productions national themes, as in the drama "Rolf 
Krage," and pointed the way to Danish heroic tradition and early 
history. The Norwegians lauded in patriotic songs the freedom and 

^ Knut Gjerset, Der Einfluss von James Thompson's '' Jahreszeiten" auf die 
deutsche Literatur des achtzenten Jahrhunderts, Heidelberg, 1898. 

2 J. S. Welhaven, Samlede Skrifter, vol. VIII., Om Betydningen af det norske 
Selskabs Opposition mod den Ewaldske Poesi. 


grandeur of their country. Johan Nordahl Bran, the most ardent 
patriot, said in a song to "Norway the motherland of heroes" that 
the Norwegians would some day awaken and break all chains and 
fetters. These fetters could only be the union with Denmark, but 
it is possible that extravagant expressions of this sort were little 
more than rhetorical flourishes. The Norwegians prided themselves 
no less on their loyalty to the king than on their love for their father- 
land, whose ancient glory they had just begun to discover. But an 
era of storm and stress had come, when great feelings were expressed 
in vehement language, while the ideas had not yet clarified them- 
selves into definite principles. A higher intellectual life had been 
kindled, a new patriotism had been awakened among the higher 
classes, who possessed learning and ability enough to speak for the 
whole nation, who could view the life of their people in its historic 
aspect. They knew that Norway had been great in the past, and 
felt sure that its vigor would return, that it would rise again from 
dependency to new national greatness. The thought was inspiring, 
intoxicating. Their patriotic songs grew as vehement as their en- 
thusiasm was intense. They had no specific aim, no definite plan, 
but they felt their own worth, and knew that their countrymen, if 
given a fair opportunity, would attain a position no less honorable 
than that which they had occupied of old. This conviction found 
support, not only in memories of the past, but in conditions of their 
own age. Were not the Norwegians a free people throughout the 
whole union period, as compared with the Danes, and were they not 
lauded for their courage and their irrepressible love of liberty ? Had 
they not shown that they possessed both vigor and talent ? ^ The 
members of Det norshe Selskab had not forgotten that Tordenskjold, 
Adelaer, and Huitfeldt were Norwegians, that Ludvig Holberg, the 
greatest genius of his age in the North, was their countryman, that 
in the Danish capital their own club embraced, with the single excep- 

^ In conformity with the Rousseauan ideas current in the latter half of 
the eighteenth century, thinkers and poets had pointed to the Norweg:ian 
binder as a model people owning their own farms and leading a healthful 
rustic life in freedom and contentment. There was some truth in this, 
though the picture was generally overdrawn. Tyge Rothe, Denmark's 
leading thinker at that time, says: " Praise worthily proud are the sons of 
Norway, and who wonders that the binder are so, when he knows that among 


tion of Ewald, the best poetic talent in the realm. There was the 
incomparable satirist Wessel, the rare epigrammatist Fasting, the 
fine lyric poet Claus Frimann, the noted Johan Nordahl Brun, and 
many others who added luster to the literature of this period. As 
they were fully conscious of these things, there was from the start a 
ring of victory, yea often of boastfulness, in their lines. They might 
write dramas according to French models, as did Bredal and Brun, 
or they might, like Fasting, use their keen wit in epigrams, or in biting 
satire, like Wessel, who destroyed the French dramatic influence in 
Danish-Norwegian literature by his incomparable parody "Kjser- 
lighed uden Str0mper." ^ These things were of importance in litera- 
ture, but their songs to liberty and Norway, their poems about the 
Norwegian people, about mountain scenery and country life in their 
own native land touched the hearts of their countrymen in a different 
way. They gave the people the opportunity for the first time to 
sing out in bold triumphant tones their love of liberty and fatherland. 
The verses lived in their lives, and traced deep sentiments on their 
hearts. It was the first lesson in true patriotism. Though often 
offensively bombastic, and faulty enough when measured by the 
highest literary standards, these songs were of greater importance 
than the more sumptuous literary efforts of the age. 

Besides the patriotic songs, a new kind of popular poems began 
to appear, written in the strain of the folk-songs. Many of Brun's 
best productions, and several collections of songs by Claus Frimann, 
belong to this kind of popular lyrical poesy. Especially noteworthy 
is also the collection of poems, " Gudbrandsdalske Viser, " by Edward 
Storm. These poems are written in the Norwegian vernacular, and 
describe home, love, and nature with fervent sentiment and great 
accuracy of local coloring. The author also wrote many popular 
ballads, of which the best known is "Zinclars Vise." Many songs 

their number are those who descend from kings, and that they through suc- 
ceeding generations have dwelt on their farms, which they own by right of 
odel; that they have been true warriors and defenders of their country. Is 
it a wonder that also the Norwegians of other classes understand what national 
honor is. He who lives in the pure mountain atmosphere ; he with his 
traditions of the past ; he with the thought that his country has been a land 
of freedom, not of aristocracy or serfdom." Quoted by J. E. Sars, His- 
torisk Indledning til Grundloven, p. 108. 

1 Introduction to J, H. Wessel's Samlede Digte, edited by J. Levin. 


written by these poets are so truly national both in spirit and con- 
tents that they have continued to live among the people as real folk- 
songs. Of such may be mentioned : Brun's " Bor jeg paa det h0ie 
Fjeld," "For Norge Kjsempers F0deland"; Claus Frunann's "Ondt 
ofte lider den Fiskermand," "Saa knytter jeg Traad"; Edward 
Storm's "Os ha gjort, kva gjerast skulde," "Markje gr0nnast, 
Snjogen braana," and many others. Though linked to Denmark 
with every tie of loyalty, the new school of poets had become ardent 
Norwegian patriots. They had rediscovered the true fountains of 
song, and had expressed with beauty and truthfulness the inmost 
thoughts and feelings of their people relative to home, nature, and 
fatherland. In Denmark they had exercised so predominant an 
influence upon literary life, and had developed in their poetry 
so distinct a national spirit, that, as L. Dietrichson says, "it must 
have been evident to all at the end of the period that a nation, not 
a province, spoke through the Norwegian poets." 

The growing national sentiment received support, also, in the 
Norwegian press, which began to develop in this period. The first 
Norwegian paper of any importance was the "Christiania Intelli- 
gentssedler, " founded in 1763. The paper was a weekly, but prior 
to 1814 it took no definite stand in political matters. In 1805 it 
began to appear twice weekly, and in 1830 it became a daily.^ 
" Trondhjemske Samlinger af Philaletes," a literary and scientific 
periodical, published in Trondhjem by P. F. Suhm, was founded in 
1767, and in 1775 Hans Storm in S0ndm0r began to publish "Til- 
skueren paa Landet," a periodical which was printed in Copenhagen. 
In Bergen a number of periodicals were founded, but they were 
generally short-lived and of little real importance.^ A publication 
of high merit was Claus Fasting's "Provincial-blade," published 
in Bergen from 1778 to 1781. In 1808 the poet Jonas Rein became 
clergyman in Bergen, and together with Christian Magnus Falsen 
and Herman Foss he began the publication of "Den norske Til- 

* Dagbladet, Christiania, May 25, 1913. 

• Decorah-Posten, Decorah, la., June 13, 1913. L. Dietrichson, Omrids 
af den norske Poeais Historie, p. 146 ff. 

n revolution and despotism 377 

49. Revolution and Despotism. Denmark-Norway's Foreign 

Policy, 1792-1814 

The liberal ideas which had broken through the crust of eighteenth 
centurj' despotism had created a feeling of unrest which was rapidly 
spreading over all Europe. Serious attention had been paid to the 
conditions of the common classes, who were yet drudging under 
feudalistic oppression, and a desire had been awakened for greater 
freedom and better social conditions. The neglected and enslaved 
masses had begun to feel that the hour of liberation was approaching, 
and poets and thinkers were dreaming of the millennium which would 
be ushered in when liberty and justice should regenerate the world. 
The charm of the new ideas regarding liberty and equality, of social 
regeneration and the rights of man ; the self-evident truths regarding 
the injustice and iniquity of oppression and corrupt social insti- 
tutions, so eloquently and fearlessly proclaimed, had for a moment 
touched all hearts, as if a new revelation had suddenly burst upon 
the age. Even the despots themselves had become benefactors of 
the people. The French Revolution brought this feeling to a climax. 
Gray-haired scholars became enthusiastic, and those who possessed 
learning and foresight enough to interpret the meaning and possible 
results of political events hailed it as the coming of that new era of 
which poets had dreamed and sages prophesied. But the crowned 
heads, and the privileged classes, who were intrenched in power, 
suddenly grew alarmed when they realized that the first sacrifice 
demanded for the attainment of this new social felicity would be 
their own privileges and despotic power. To them the Revolution 
was a rude shock which awakened them from their dreams. The 
cherub of liberty had suddenly changed into the demon of rebellion. 
They forgot their quarrels, and hastened to unite to arrest the spread 
of so dangerous a movement. Revolution became the terror of 
the age, and every liberal idea, yea every useful reform was soon 
classified as revolt against established authority. 

No one felt more alarmed than Gustavus III. of Sweden. He 
hastened to terminate his war with Russia, and on October 19, 1791, 
he concluded a treaty with the Russian Empress, Catherine II., 
for joint operation against the French Revolution. His untimely 


death prevented him from carrying out his plans, and Catherine II. 
was rather indifferent, as she was still occupied with the war with 
Turkey. But Austria and Prussia had also formed an alliance to 
oppose the Revolution, and on April 20, 1792, King Louis XVI. was 
persuaded to begin war against these powers. The two allies tried 
to prevail on the lesser powers to join them in a general coalition against 
France, and Denmark-Norway was also invited. But Bernstorff 
declined, as he held that every nation ought to have a right to deter- 
mine for itself its form of government, and that foreign powers had 
no right to interfere with the internal affairs of France. An invita- 
tion extended by Catherine II. of Russia was also declined. The 
fate of Poland convinced Bernstorff that the great powers would 
not hesitate to swallow up the smaller states at the first opportunity, 
and he saw that their only safety lay in neutrality in the great struggle 
which had begun. But to remain neutral became difficult enough, 
especially after England and Holland joined the enemies of France 
after the execution of Louis XVI. Commerce was exposed to the 
greatest dangers, and slight regard was paid by the belligerent 
powers even to the limited rights which neutrals were supposed to 
have. Catherine II. of Russia, who had maintained that the flag 
protected the ship and its cargo, that the blockade of a port, in order 
to be respected, must be made effective ; who in 1780 had organized 
the great coalition for the protection of the rights of neutrals, now 
boldly announced that she had discarded these principles, that the 
neutrals would be given the choice of discontinuing all trade with 
France, or of joining the coalition against that country. France 
was to be starved into submission. It was a piece of perfidy char- 
acteristic of that age of dishonest diplomacy and disregard of pledges 
and treaties. In order to enforce her demand, Catherine sent a 
fleet of thirty war vessels to Denmark, and announced both in Stock- 
holm and Copenhagen that this fleet would cruise in the North Sea, 
and seize all ships sailing under the French flag; that the ships of 
neutrals, sailing to French ports, would be searched and turned 
back. England took a similar stand, but Bernstorff could not be 
intimidated. He told both England and Russia that their demands 
would not be complied with, and Danish-Norwegian ships continued 
to sail. The Russians did not molest them, in spite of the threats 


which had been made, but the EngHsh continued their old practice 
of sending out privateers to prey upon neutral commerce. 

After the death of Gustavus III. the relations between Sweden 
and Denmark became more friendly. Duke Carl of Sodermanland, 
King Gustavus' brother, who became regent during the minority 
of the crown prince, was less gifted but more careful than his brother, 
and as he was anxious to maintain the neutrality of Sweden, a treaty 
of alliance was concluded between Sweden and Denmark-Norway 
in 1794. They agreed to make the Baltic Sea neutral waters, and 
to place a joint fleet in the North Sea for the protection of their com- 
merce, but the treaty should not include the German provinces of 
the two powers, as these could not be kept neutral. The relations 
with England grew very strained, as the English continued to annoy 
the allied Northern kingdoms with all sorts of unreasonable demands ; 
among others, that proof should be given that the cargoes carried 
by their ships were their own property, that French privateers should 
be excluded from Norwegian harbors, etc. The English ambassador 
to Denmark-Norway, Hailes, was also a very impudent and disagree- 
able gentleman. But the presence of the joint fleet of the neutrals 
had a tranquilizing effect, and as the English became gradually more 
reasonable, a hostile collision was averted. 

The results obtained through Bemstorff's wise policy of neutrality 
and alliance with Sweden, and the evident danger to weaker states, 
as illustrated by the fate of Poland, changed the hatred and mistrust 
between the Northern kingdoms into a feeling of friendship. The 
idea that the three sister nations should draw closer together had 
long been growing, and eloquent political leaders advocated a dis- 
tinct Scandinavian policy, which should secure the permanent cooper- 
ation of the three kingdoms for their own protection. In an address 
before the Scandinavian club, "Nordiske Forening, " in London 
January 28, 1792, the Danish historian F. Sneedorff said in speaking 
of the political situation in the North : " You will notice that Russia 
has gained control of the commerce of the Black Sea, and it is no 
imagined danger if you fear the same in the Baltic." "When 
Germany and Russia," he continued, "join hands across the Baltic 
Sea, it will be too late for us in the North to unite. There will then 
be nothing left for us but to die, or to hide among the mountains. 


even as our fathers hid behind their shields, and to disappear as 
states. But what power can be dangerous to a united Scandinavia ? 
Our mountains, our islands, our united fleets, our severe climate, our 
love of liberty, of our fatherland, and our kings will make it impossible 
for any power on earth to deprive us of our independence." ^ Simi- 
lar thoughts were expressed by many others, notably by the Danish 
statesman Ove H0eg-Guldberg, the Norwegian poet Zetlitz,^ and 
the Swedish poet Franzen. In 1796 Bet skandinaviske Literatur- 
Selskab was organized to foster a closer literary fellowship in the 
North, but it numbered only forty members ; and although it con- 
tinued to exist till 1840, it was never popular, and did not exer- 
cise any important influence. This Pan-Scandinavian movement 
had emanated chiefly from Denmark. The Swedes remained rather 
indifferent, and among the military officers and the higher classes 
the old jealousy and ill-feeling had not wholly disappeared. Even 
the relations between the two governments were not as cordial as 
might have been expected, since the Swedish regent seemed unable 
to avoid political indiscretions by which he irritated both Catherine 
II. and England. The most serious of these was the recognition of 
the French Republic in 1795, a step which greatly increased the 

* O. A. 0verland, Norges Historic, vol. X., p. 90 ff. Julius Clausen, 
Skandinavismen historisk fremstillet, p. 7 flf. 
' In a song to the united fleet Zetlitz says : 

Vi Danmarks msend, vi Sverges msend, 

Vi Norges msend, 

Vi havets msend, vi krigens msend, 

Vi hsedersmaend, 

Vi li0rte vore fyrsters bud 

Om ledingstog, 

Vi l0d, omfavned far og brud 

Og fro bortdrog ; 

Thi se, vore f yrster er f sedre ! 

Paa h0ien mast det danske flag 

Ur0rt skal staa I 

Paa h0ien mast det svenske flag 

Ur0rt skal staa I 

Thi gother elske vaabenbrag, 

Kjsekt cimbrer slaa, 

Og nordmaend ingen, ingen dag 

Forsagte saa ; 

Thi er vore fyrster ei fsedre? 

II denmark-norway's foreign policy, 1792-1814 381 

gravity of the situation for the neutrals. The first coaHtion against 
France was broken up that same year, and Prussia and Spain with- 
drew. But England, Austria, and Sardinia still continued the 
struggle, and Catherine 11. of Russia declared her willingness to 
join them. Under these circumstances it was as necessary as ever 
for the Northern nations to cooperate in the defense of their neu- 
trality. Catherine 11. sought to force them apart. She attempted 
to persuade Denmark-Norway to join the coalition, and made very 
tempting offers, but Bernstorff declined, though the situation was 
growing more difficult than ever. In 1796 he recognized the French 
Republic, but this proved to be of no advantage, as the French also 
began to send out privateers to prey upon neutral commerce. The 
right of search claimed by the English, and the slight regard for the 
precarious rights of neutrals, made the situation almost unbearable, 
but Bernstorff, who regarded war as the greatest calamity which 
could befall a nation, clung tenaciously to his policy of peace. The 
foreign policy of Sweden, which was now conducted by the minister 
of state, Reuterholm, continued to be vacillating. He abandoned 
the policy of Gustavus III., and sought an alliance with France. 
When this failed, he attempted to win the friendship of Russia by 
the marriage of the crown prince to Alexandra, a granddaughter of 
Catherine II., but the match failed because of a disagreement regard- 

Vi krigens msend, vi havets msend, 

Vi hsedersmaend, 

Vi Sverges msBnd, vi Danmarks msend, 

Vi Norges maend, 

Vi all stolte Nordens msend 

Er et igjen ; 

Vi se det : Gud i himmelen 

Er Nordens ven. 

O, er vore f yrster ei fsedre ? 

Som dug for sol alt indbildt had 

Er svundet hen ; 

Se cimbren favner gothen glad 

Som gammel ven. 

Trohjertig nordmand begge ta'r 

Med lyst i haand : 

"Gud signe den, som tvundet har 

Det skj0nne baand, 

De tvillingrigernes faedre." 


ing the right of the future queen to worship according to the Greek 
faith. In November, 1796, the Swedish crown prince became of 
age, and ascended the throne as Gustavus IV. Catherine II. died 
the same month, and no further attempt was made to estabhsh closer 
relations between the two nations. 

In 1797 the great statesman Bernstorff died, an irreparable loss 
for Denmark-Norway in those critical times. The crown prince 
appointed as his successor his son Christian Bernstorff, an able and 
humane man, who lacked his father's experience as a statesman. 

By his remarkable Italian campaign Napoleon Bonaparte forced 
Austria to conclude peace at Campo Formio, 1797, but England con- 
tinued the struggle, and a second coalition was formed the following 
year. The war was renewed, and the commerce of the neutral 
Northern nations was so harassed by the English, French, and 
Spanish privateers that every merchant vessel had to be convoyed. 
The eccentric Emperor Paul of Russia, who had succeeded his mother 
Catherine II. on the throne, also assumed a most threatening attitude 
towards Denmark-Norway, and the government finally yielded to 
his demands, and joined the coalition against France. Actual hos- 
tilities were, however, avoided. Bonaparte, who at this time re- 
turned from Egypt, and made himself first consul, maintained 
friendly relations with the Northern kingdoms, and also with Emperor 
Paul of Russia, who had already changed his mind, and had suddenly 
become very hostile to England. The situation, though not much 
improved, was no worse than before, and prudent statesmanship would 
have adhered to the course so successfully pursued by A. P. Bern- 
storff. But the government arranged instead a new alliance of neu- 
trality between Denmark-Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Prussia, 
and reaffirmed the principles of the rights of neutrals which had 
been formulated by A. P. Bernstorff and Catherine II. The step 
proved to be a mistake, as it aroused the resentment of the English 
government, which regarded the new alliance as a coalition hostile 
to England. In March, 1801, an English fleet of fifty-three war- 
ships under Admiral Hyde Parker, with Lord Nelson second in com- 
mand, was sent to the Baltic. That war was imminent was now 
apparent, but Sweden had neglected to make preparations, and Den- 
mark-Norway had to meet the attack of the great English fleet 


alone. On March 30th the fleet passed the Sound, and took up a posi- 
tion before the Copenhagen roadstead, where the Danish-Norwe- 
gian fleet was anchored, wholly unprepared for active service. On 
April 2, 1801, was fought the battle of Copenhagen, one of the most 
memorable strtiggles in the history of Denmark-Norway.^ Admiral 
Nelson with the main fleet of thirty-five ships, 1192 guns, and 8885 
men, was ordered to attack the Danish-Norwegian fleet, which was 
much smaller both in size and armament. The part of the fleet 
retained by Parker under his own immediate command should act 
as reserve. The battle grew furious, as the combatants fought at 
close quarters, and no attempt was made to withdraw a vessel from 
the battle line until it was almost demolished. The Danes and Nor- 
wegians suffered terrible losses, but they entertained no thought 
of yielding. Seven English vessels ran aground, and many were 
severely damaged ; the outcome of the struggle seemed very prob- 
lematic, and as the whole English fleet was in the gravest danger, 
Admiral Parker signaled to Nelson to stop the battle and retreat. 
But this humiliation Nelson would not suffer. He put the field glass 
to his blind eye, said he could see no signal, and let the battle con- 
tinue. In order to bring the combat to a speedy close, he resorted 
to a clever stratagem. He dispatched an officer with the following 
letter to the crown prince, who was watching the battle from the 
shore: "Lord Nelson has instructions to spare Denmark when no 
longer resisting, but if the firing is continued on the part of Den- 
mark, Lord Nelson will be obliged to set on fire all the floating bat- 
teries he has taken, without having the power of saving the brave 
Danes who have defended them." ^ A second letter was dispatched 
immediately after the first, in which he stated that he made this 
appeal from humanitarian motives, that he would regard it as the 
greatest victory he ever won, if his flag of truce might be the signal 
for a permanent and happy union between his sovereign and the 
king of Denmark. The threat in the first letter was, of course, only 
a ruse, but he succeeded in disheartening the crown prince, who 
immediately ordered a flag of truce to be hoisted. The last great 

1 Jacob Aal, Erindringer, p. 20 ff. 

* The letter, which is dated on board the ship "Elephant," April 2, 1801, 
is found in the Danish archives, Danmarks Rigea Historie, vol. V., p. 502. 


battle in which the Danes and Norwegians were destined to fight 
side by side was over, and a prehminary peace was concluded April 9th. 
The alliance with Russia had only brought war and disaster, and 
Denmark-Norway had good reasons to feel that they had been left 
to shift for themselves at a critical juncture. On March 23 Emperor 
Paul was assassinated, and his successor, Emperor Alexander I., con- 
cluded a treaty of alliance with England without consulting the 
other allies, waiving nearly every right claimed by the neutrals. 
But even under these circumstances Denmark-Norway felt compelled 
to join the new alliance in order to recover their lost American and 
Asiatic colonies, which had been seized by England. 

In 1802 peace was concluded between France and England at 
Amiens, but both powers felt that it could be nothing but a truce, 
and a year had scarcely passed when hostilities were renewed. The 
danger to Denmark now became more imminent, as Bonaparte seized 
the Electorate of Hanover, which belonged to the king of England. 
The theater of war had thus been moved closer to the Danish border, 
and the crown prince advanced into Holstein with an army of 16,000 
men to protect the kingdom. The mounting ambition of Napoleon, 
manifested by his proclamation as Emperor of France in 1804, made 
all Europe regard him as a common enemy, and a new coalition was 
soon formed against him, consisting of England, Russia, and Austria. 
Napoleon crushed the Austrians at Uhn, and the united forces of 
Russia and Austria at Austerlitz, but England dealt his naval power 
a deadly blow at Trafalgar. In 1806 the Confederation of the Rhine 
was organized under the protectorate of the Emperor, and the old 
German Empire ceased to exist. Prussia declared war, only to be 
crushed at Jena and Auerstadt, and Napoleon occupied Berlin. In 
rapid succession the continental powers had been vanquished, but 
England was still defiant, and as her proud navy controlled the sea, 
he would have to strike at her only vulnerable spot — her commerce. 
In 1806 he issued his noted Berlin Decree, declaring the British Isles 
to be in a state of blockade, and interdicting all trade with England, 
not only in France, but in all ports of Europe over which he exercised 
authority, including the Netherlands, western Germany, Prussia, 
and Italy. After the treaty of Tilsit, 1807, he also subjected Russia 
to his " Continental System." In December, 1807, he issued a second 


decree from Milan, in which he threatened to seize any ship which 
touched at a British port. The English retahated by Orders in 
Council, declaring the ports of France and her allies to be in a state 
of blockade, but allowing neutral vessels to carry on trade between 
these ports and Great Britain. The crown prince, who had been 
stationed in Holstein, where he had gathered an army of 20,000 men, 
finally withdrew the greater part of his force across the Eider. It 
seemed to have been his purpose to maintain neutrality as long as 
possible, and to cast his lot with England if he were finally forced 
into the struggle. The situation was constantly growing more 
critical, as any move which the government might make was inter- 
preted as unfriendly either by Napoleon or England. In direct 
contravention of the concessions which had been made to neutral 
powers in 1801, the English government issued new Orders in Council, 
forbidding neutral ships to trade between the ports of France or her 
allies. This new restriction would damage Danish-Norwegian com- 
merce very seriously; but although sharp diplomatic encounters 
followed, no redress of wrongs could be obtained. The ultimate 
rupture with one or the other of the belligerents could evidently not 
long be averted even by the most watchful prudence. After the 
battle of Friedland and the peace of Tilsit, Napoleon succeeded in 
winning to his side the imaginative Emperor Alexander I. of Russia. 
Alexander promised to attempt to negotiate peace between France 
and England, but if the English government should refuse to accept 
the terms on which the two emperors had agreed, Russia should 
join France. Denmark-Norway, Sweden, and Portugal would be 
requested to close their ports to English commerce, and if they re- 
fused, they should be treated as enemies. This cunning stroke of 
Napoleon shattered the policy of neutrality, and forced the smaller 
nations to choose sides in the conflict. 

The news of the alliance between France and Russia and their 
plans regarding the neutral nations caused the greatest alarm, not 
only in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Lisbon, but also in England. 
The English government imagined that Denmark-Norway was a 
secret partner to the compact, and without even taking the time to 
ascertain the real state of affairs, a large fleet was immediately dis- 
patched to Denmark. On August 6th the English diplomat Sir 

VOL. II — 2 c 


Francis Jackson arrived iii Kiel, where the crown prince and Chris- 
tian Bernstorff were staying, and presented an English ultimatum. 
As a guarantee that Denmark-Norway would be the ally of England 
they should turn their fleet over to the English, who would use it 
during the war, and return it to the owners after the peace had been 
concluded. Forty thousand English troops should cooperate with 
the Danes against France, and in return for the aid which Den- 
mark-Norway should give England, they might receive a few Eng- 
lish colonies. The crown prince and Bernstorff were so taken by 
surprise that they lost their presence of mind, and the negotiations 
became a scene of almost pitiable confusion. So much they, never- 
theless, succeeded in making clear to the English ambassador that 
the ports of the realm would not be closed to English commerce, 
and that Denmark-Norway would enter into an alliance with Eng- 
land. But the English demanded the fleet, as if they were negotiating 
with criminals, whose words and pledges could not be relied upon. 
Even an alliance would not be accepted as sufficient guarantee. 
No more humiliating terms could have been offered an independent 
people, but it was folly for the crown prince to make open resistance. 
The English forces concentrated on Seeland under Lord Cathcart 
numbered 31,000 men, commanded by the most experienced English 
generals, among others General Wellesley, the later Duke of Wel- 
lington. The fleet commanded by Admiral Gambler consisted of 
twenty-five ships of the line, forty frigates, and a large number of 
smaller vessels and transports. To subject the capital with its 
antiquated defenses to the bombardment and attack of such a force, 
when it was defended only by some 14,000 men, of whom not above 
6000 belonged to the regular army, appears like a Don Quixotic 
adventure, even under such circumstances. From the second to the 
fifth of September Copenhagen was bombarded until it looked like 
a sea of flames. Large portions of the city were laid in ruins, and 
between two and three thousand people were killed. The com- 
mandant, General Peymann, was forced to capitulate, and the Danish 
fleet, of seventy vessels, which was lying in the harbor wholly unpre- 
pared for active service, was taken.^ 

1 Jacob Aal, Erindringer, p. 29 fl. Constantinus Flood, Under Krigen 
i807-1814y p. 127 fit. 


But England had gained nothing and lost much by her precipitate 
haste. The unprovoked attack on Denmark was not only an out- 
rage on a friendly nation, but it was a political mistake of the worst 
sort. The assumption advanced by English historians that Napoleon 
planned to seize the fleet of Denmark-Norway to use it against Eng- 
land, and that his plan was frustrated only by the prompt action 
of the English government, must be dismissed as pure hypothesis. 
Napoleon was taking steps to coerce Denmark-Norway to submit 
to the demands of France and Russia. If the English fleet had not 
arrived when it did, a rupture with France would have followed, and 
Denmark-Norway would have become the ally of England; their 
fleet would have cooperated with that of England, and their army, 
which was already stationed on the southern border to protect the 
kingdom against French attack, would have been ready to cooperate 
with whatever forces the English government could have placed in 
the field against Napoleon. But by this ill-starred event the Danish- 
Norwegian fleet had been destroyed as a fighting force, and in her 
despair Denmark formed an alliance with France. The English 
government was much disappointed at the outcome of the expedition 
to Copenhagen. Even after the capture of the fleet, attempts were 
made to persuade the Danish government to enter into an alliance 
with England. This might have been the wisest policy for Denmark- 
Norway even at that moment, but it must be granted that such a 
step would require a degree of self-abnegation which is not usually 
given to human nature. The English attack had not only brought 
about the destructive bombardment of Copenhagen and the loss 
of the fleet, but by forcing Denmark-Norway into an alliance with 
Napoleon it resulted in still greater disasters to the twin kingdoms. 

By a treaty of alliance concluded at Fontainebleau, October 31, 
1807, Denmark-Norway agreed to cooperate with France and Russia 
and to close all ports against English commerce. On November 
4th England declared war against the two kingdoms. It was a 
dark moment for Denmark-Norway. The English had not only 
taken the fleet, but all the military stores in Copenhagen, and be- 
cause of the suddenness of the attack, they were also able to seize 
about a thousand Danish and Norwegian merchant vessels in their 
own harbors and elsewhere. They had also occupied the island of 


Helgoland, a step which Denmark-Norway could not prevent, as they 
had been deprived of all means of defending themselves at sea. The 
interruption of commerce, and the destruction of lives and property 
incident to the war, brought upon the North a period of intense suf- 
fering. This was especially the case in Norway, where the necessary 
quantity of grain cannot be produced, and where the cessation of 
import trade finally added famine to the many trials of those dark 
years. But the otherwise gloomy picture is brightened by the in- 
tense patriotism and high courage with which the peoples of both 
kingdoms waged the long struggle with their powerful enemy. 
The English had estimated that the fleet and supplies seized at 
Copenhagen represented a value of £2,000,000. During the war 
they captured about 1500 Danish-Norwegian merchant vessels 
and smaller craft, but in balancing accounts at the end of the 
war, they still found that the struggle had netted them a con- 
siderable loss. 

After the loss of the fleet Denmark-Norway still had two ships 
of the line which were not at Copenhagen at the time of the bom- 
bardment, and with resolute energy they set to work to create a 
fleet of small vessels, each carrying a couple of guns. With this 
flotilla of gunboats manned with experienced seamen they began a 
guerilla warfare at sea which proved destructive to English commerce 
in the Baltic. The lighthouses remained dark, and the buoys were 
moved to misguide the stranger, while the gunboats and privateers ^ 
lay in ambush behind the rocks and skerries of the dark coast, ready 
to swoop down upon the enemy at any given opportunity. The 
dangers became so great that the English merchant vessels had to 
unite into fleets under convoy of men-of-war. But these naval 
caravans moved slowly, as the whole fleet had to stop whenever a 
vessel was to make port, and even such convoys were in danger of 

* On September 14, 1807, before the English had left Copenhagen, a 
permit was issued to the stiftsamtmcend and the chief military officers in each 
stif t to license privateers to any extent which they might deem advantageous, 
and these should be permitted to seize English property on land or sea wher- 
ever they might find it. Swarms of privateers were sent out, and the traffic 
became so profitable that stock companies were organized to promote 
it. Constantinus Flood, / Krigaaarene, p. 95. Ludvig Daae, Det gamle 
Christiania, p. 306 ff. 


being attacked by the gunboats. In 1808 the gunboat flotilla at- 
tacked an English convoy at Malmo, and captured or destroyed 
eleven merchant vessels. Many valuable prizes were taken from 
time to time. According to documents in the Danish archives the 
value of prizes brought into Danish-Norwegian harbors amounted 
to 28,081,013 riksdaler, and the value of those which were actually 
confiscated amounted to 14,933,119 riksdaler.^ In all, 2000 English 
merchant vessels were seized by the Danes and Norwegians during 
the war. At times successful battles were also fought with English 
men-of-war. On March 14, 1808, the Norwegian brig "Laugen" 
defeated the English brig " Childers," and on June 19th the same year, 
the "Laugen" captured the English brig "Seagull," which was 
incorporated in the Norwegian fleet. But such moments when 
victory brightened the melancholy aspect of the unequal struggle 
must have been few and far between. The English men-of-war 
swept along the coast and picked up every little craft which sought 
to steal across to Denmark to fetch food for those who were starving 
at home, and the daring voyagers who would risk all to relieve the 
growing distress were carried off as prisoners of war, and huddled 
together with like unfortunates in the dreadful English prison-ships. 
The Norwegian privateers did valiant service in the guerilla warfare, 
but officers and crew would often pay for their daring by languishing 
for years in the unsanitary military prison-pens, which sometimes 
harbored whole armies of those unfortunate victims of war. The 
English themselves disliked this war with Denmark-Norway, which 
was waged for no definite purpose, which proved so expensive, and 
so destructive to their commerce, and which cut off their supply of 
Norwegian lumber and ship-building material. 

The old insane king Christian VII. died March 13, 1808, and the 
crown prince, who had long acted as regent, ascended the throne at 
Frederick VI. The political situation was so extremely difficult 
that he might have needed the assistance and advice of the ablest 
men, but he preferred to exercise unlimited autocratic power, even 

1 Constantinus Flood, Under Krigen 1807-1814, p. 131. Constantinus 
Flood, / Krigsaarene, p. 93 ff. S. C. Hammer, Da del gjaldt, Christiania, 
1909. Constantinus Flood, For otti Aar siden. H. P. Holmboe, Briternes 
Krigsforetagender langs Norges Kyster fra 1808 til 1814, Samlinger til det 
norske Folks Sprog og Historic, vol. II., p. 246 ff. 



to an extent hitherto unknown. Not till in 1813, when utter ruin 
threatened the realm, did he summon his ministers for consultation. 
He sought with great earnestness and uprightness of purpose to 
promote the welfare of the people, but he entertained very extrava- 
gant notions as to his own ability as a ruler, and looked with jealous 
disfavor upon any minister who exhibited any independence of mind, 

and ventured to offer sugges- 
tions or advice. His over- 
weening self-esteem, which 
made him unnecessarily des- 
potic in affairs of govern- 
ment, was fully equaled by 
his confidence in his military 
ability and his love for 
martial adventure and dis- 
play. These traits of char- 
acter, which rendered his 
statesmanship venturesome 
and ill-advised, were partic- 
ularly unfortunate at a crit- 
ical juncture, when the state 
policy should have been 
dictated by the greatest wis- 
dom and prudence. 
To the Norwegians the war with England was ruinous. Their 
coasts were blockaded, and their lucrative commerce destroyed; 
yet the struggle, which was as useless as it was hopeless, was, never- 
theless, waged for a cause. But when King Frederick also declared 
war against Sweden, 1808, as it appears, for no cause whatever, 
except that Sweden opposed France and Russia, it must be regarded 
as sheer madness. It was clear that the Norwegians would also 
be compelled to bear the brunt of this war, though they lacked, not 
only military stores, but the necessities of life. While their unpro- 
tected coasts were ravaged by the English, they would also have to 
guard their extensive borders against the Swedes ; and it must have 
been evident to the king that any hope of aid from Denmark was 
precluded from the outset, as the Danes had no navy, and the Nor- 

FiG. 8. — Frederick VI 

n DENMARK-NORWAY's foreign policy, 1792-1814 391 

wegian coast was patrolled by English warships.^ It had, further- 
more, been evident for a long time that the Swedish kings sought 
to gain possession of Norway, and no better opportunity could be 
offered than a war under such circumstances. The immediate dan- 
ger was, however, less than might have been expected, as Gustavus 
IV. of Sweden, who was tottering on the brink of insanity, brought 
upon his country such disasters that its very existence was threat- 
ened. He could not be persuaded to submit to the Continental 
System. He regarded Napoleon as the beast of the Apocalypse, 
against whom relentless war ought to be waged, and as he believed 
himself to be a reincarnation of Charles XIL, he did not hesitate 
to join England against France and Russia. By a war against these 
powers Sweden would gain nothing, and with a blindness which 
finds an explanation only in his insanity he thereby exposed Finland 
to the attack of Russia, which was becoming an ever greater danger 
to the Scandinavian kingdoms. On February 21, 1808, Alexander I. 
sent an army of 16,000 men to occupy Finland, without the formality 
of a warning or a declaration of war. On February 29th King 
Frederick VI., persuaded by his French and Russian allies, declared 
war on Sweden. Regarding the feeling which this step created in 
Norway the contemporary Norwegian statesman Jacob Aal says 
in his memoirs : " It was regarded even by those who were most de- 
voted to the Danish government as a great mistake in Danish politics, 
and a presentiment was felt of the possible results which in the full- 
ness of time might reveal themselves. This war prepared the way 
for the separation of Denmark and Norway, and some Norwegians 
began, though vaguely, to think of the advisability of a union with 
Sweden, the very possibility of which had hitherto wounded their 
innermost feelings." ^ 

On account of the interruption of communications with Denmark, 
the king was now obliged to create a special government for Nor- 
way, a Government Commission {Regjerings-Kommissionen for 
Norge), at the head of which stood Prince Christian August of August- 
enborg, commanding general in southern Norway.^ Count Wedel- 

* Ludvig Daae, Det gamle Christiania, p. 306 f . 

* Jacob Aal, Erindringer, p. 136. 

* Yngvar Nielsen, Lensgreve Johan Caspar Wedel-Jarlsberg, vol. I., p. 116. 


Jarlsberg was placed at the head of a subsidiary commission which 
should seek to provide the country with the necessary supplies, a 
most difficult task under the circumstances. A superior court was 
also created in 1807, Overkriminalretten, which should meet in Chris- 
tiania, and should be the highest court of appeal in all criminal 
cases. This gave Norway an autonomy in judicial and adminis- 
trative affairs which it had not enjoyed for centuries. 

While Russia attacked Finland, Napoleon ordered Marshal 
Bernadotte to march through Denmark and attack Sweden. In 
1808 an army of about 23,000 men was sent to Jutland. A Danish 
force of about 14,000 men was to join it in Seeland, but what might 
easily have been foreseen happened. The army could not be trans- 
ported across the Sound, which was patrolled by English warships, 
and the plan had to be abandoned. Denmark was cut off from both 
her adversaries, and Norway was left to fight her battles alone. 

The Swedish forces in active service at this time numbered about 
100,000 men. But owing to the war with Russia in Finland, and 
a possible attack on southern Sweden, only the western army of 
13,400 men under General G. M. Armfelt, and a smaller detachment 
in Jsemtland of 2000 men under Colonel Bergenstr^le, could operate 
against Norway. The Norwegians could mobilize only about one- 
half of their southern anny of 17,000 men, and so poor were the equip- 
ments that the soldiers had to wear old uniforms which had been 
in use in the war of 1788.^ Ragged and half naked these defenders of 
their country were sent against the superior invading force. But the 
people resolved to hold the enemy at bay, and from their scant 
supplies they provided the soldiers with food and clothing, as far as 
this could be done under the circumstances Well-to-do citizens 
organized volunteer companies, and equipped them at their own 
expense, and many hinder reenlisted as volunteers when the term of 
required military service had expired. Enevold de Falsen, Count 
Herman Wedel-Jarlsberg, and other leading men labored with un- 
tiring zeal to provide means for carrying on the defense of the country, 

Jacob Aal, Erindringer, p. 105 ff. Gustav Peter Blom, Norges Statsforandring 
i Aaret 1814, ch. I. ff. Erik Vullum, Hvorledes Norge blevfrit, p. 16 ff. 

1 J. E. Sars, Udsigt over den norske Historie, vol. IV., p. 302. Jacob Aal, 
Erindringer, p. 135 ff. Didrik Schnitler, Episoder fra Krigen 1808-1809. 
Constantinus Flood, / Krigsaarene. O. A. 0verland, Norges Historie, vol. XI. 


and Prince Christian August, commander of the military forces, 
gained the love and confidence of the soldiers by his democratic ways 
and true soldierly spirit. The patriotism and love for their leader 
which inspired the Norwegians made them fonnidable in a border 
war of the kind which had just begun, and as the Swedish general, 
G. M. Armfelt, divided his forces into different columns instead of 
concentrating them for a main attack, it became possible for Chris- 
tian August to meet and defeat each detachment in turn. On April 
15th General Armfelt attacked the Norwegians at Lier, not far from 
the Glommen River, south of Kongsvinger, and drove them back 
across the river.^ But this was to be his only success. At Toverud 
one of his flying columns under Count Axel Morner was defeated 
and captured, April 20th, by a Norwegian force under Major Weibye, 
and at Trangen another detachment under Major Gahn was cap- 
tured by Major Staffeldt. These victories aroused great enthusiasm, 
and the people contributed liberally to the support of the army. 
Jacob Aal writes : " Every one hastened to place his offering on his 
country's altar. Provisions, money, and clothing poured in for 
the army on the border, and the merchant John CoUett in Chris- 
tiania distinguished himself especially by collecting or sending pro- 
visions, and by personally contributing to the maintenance of the 
army. Nearly every number of 'Budstikken' ^ published lists of 
contributions of this kind. In that first war with Sweden private 
charity made good the deficiency in the provisions made by the public 
authorities, due to the lack of means and the depleted and impover- 
ished condition of the country. After the war had lasted two weeks, 
CoUett could announce that fifty-five, mostly two- teamed, wagons had 
been sent to the army. " ^ 

The unsuccessful engagements already fought made it clear to King 
Gustavus IV. that further operations against Norway with the forces 
then available would prove unsuccessful, and he ordered General 
Armfelt to retreat to the border. The Swedish general concentrated 
his forces at Enningdalen, but he suffered new losses in an engagement 
at Prestebakke, June 10th, where over 400 men and twenty-seven offi- 

^ Jacob Aal, Erindringer, Bilag 24. 

* A newspaper published in Christiania by Enevold Falsen. 

' Jacob Aal, Erindringer, p. 14. 


cers were taken prisoners. This was the last engagement of any 
importance between the Swedes and Norwegians in this war. Sweden 
had to employ all her strength against the advancing Russians in 
Finland, and the Norwegians did not wish to carry on an offensive 
war against Sweden. The friendship which had been developing 
between the two peoples had manifested itself quite clearly at the 
time when they sought as allies to defend their neutrality, but in 
the present war it was shown in a still more emphatic way. The 
Norwegians would defend their country with every possible means, 
but they made it quite clear that, although they had been forced 
into war, they entertained none but the kindliest feelings for their 
Swedish neighbors. 

The war with Finland had brought Sweden into great peril. Her 
armies, indeed, won brilliant victories at Lappo, Juntas, and other 
places, and several of her generals, as Adlercreutz, Dobeln, and 
Sandels, had greatly distinguished themselves ; but the lack of proper 
support from home, and the treasonable surrender of the strong 
fortress of Sveaborg with military stores, a hundred vessels of the 
coast fleet, and a garrison of 7000 men made the situation critical. 
On September 14, 1809, General Adlercreutz suffered a crushing 
defeat at Oravais, and before the end of the year the Swedes were 
expelled from Finland, which was turned into a Russian province. 

In 1809 the Russians prepared to follow up their advantage by 
an invasion of Sweden. National peril and disaster intensified the 
growing ill-will against the incompetent and mentally unbalanced 
King Gustavus IV., who had involved the kingdom in this disas- 
trous war. It had long been evident that he was mentally unfit 
to direct the affairs of government, and a conspiracy was formed to 
depose him. One of the leaders of this movement was George Adler- 
sparre, commander of the right wing of the Swedish army operating 
against Norway.^ He determined to lead his forces against Stock- 
holm, but the situation was so critical that this could not be done 
without the greatest hazard, unless he could persuade the Norwe- 

* Armfelt was removed after his many failures, and Cederstrom was made 
chief commander of the army. Carl Henrik Posse, commander of the left 
wing of the army, did not cooperate actively with Adlersparre, but promised 
not to oppose him. 


denmark-norway's foreign policy, 1792-1814 


gians to suspend operations. Christian August was expected to 
attack Sweden at the same time that the Russians were preparing 
to advance from the east. The Russian general Schuvaloff had 
already entered northern Sweden by crossing Tornea River, Barclay 
de Tolly occupied Umea, and Russian cossacks from the Aland 
Islands had appeared in Stockliolms len.^ Prince Christian August 
hesitated. He saw Sweden's plight, and reflected upon the conse- 
quences to the North if the 
kingdom should be over- 
whelmed by Russia. 
Would not the Scandina- 
vian peninsula share the 
fate of Finland? When 
Adlersparre turned to him 
with the request to refrain 
from aggressive operations 
against Sweden, he prom- 
ised that he would not 
cross the border unless 
he received peremptory 
orders from Frederick VI . 
to do so, and even then he 
would not enter Swedish 
territory without giving 
a ten days' notice. This 
was more than a courtesy ; 
it was rendering an enemy a service so important that it might 
have been construed as treason if it were not for the exigencies 
of the situation and the friendship which really existed between 
the two peoples. In Sweden it was ojBScially stated that Prince Chris- 
tian August had shown the country a greater service than had ever 
been rendered it by a foreigner. ^ The prince had risked this step 

Fig. 9. — Prince Charles August 

^ Yngvar Nielsen, Wedel-Jarlsberg, vol. I., p. 191. Gustaf Montgomery, 
Kriget emellan Sverige och Ryssland 1808 och 1809, vol. II., p. 208 fif. Gustav 
Peter Blom, Norges Statsforandring i Aaret I8I4. 

2 Handlingar rorande Sveriges Historia, vol. IV., p. 59 ff. ; quoted by Yngvar 
Nielsen, Wedel-Jarlsberg, vol. I., p. 189. 


for Sweden's sake, and no one has ever questioned his patriotism 
and loyalty. 

Frederick VI. failed to comprehend the situation. Time and 
again he ordered the Norwegian army to invade Sweden and join 
the advancing Russians on Swedish soil, but Christian August, who 
saw that such a step would be suicidal, always found new pretexts 
for postponement, and the army never crossed the border. As soon 
as Adlersparre had received assurances from Christian August, he 
hastened to Karlstad, where he raised the standard of revolt, and 
new troops constantly joined him on his march. But even before 
he reached Stockholm the king was arrested by General Adlercreutz, 
who had just returned from Finland.^ The Estates were summoned, 
Duke Charles of Sodermanland was placed on the throne as King 
Charles XIIL, and a constitution was adopted which made Sweden 
a limited constitutional monarchy. 

The victorious advance of the Russians, which, as Frederick 
Sneedorff had predicted in 1792, had become more than an imaginary 
peril to the North, revived again the Pan-Scandinavian sentiment. 
Swedish politicians began to consider the advisability of choosing 
Frederick VI. of Denmark-Norway Swedish crown prince, as the 
newly elected King Charles XIIL had no heirs. The plan, which 
would lead to the union of the three kingdoms, was supported by 
Prince Christian August and many leading men in Norway, espe- 
cially by Count Herman Wedel-Jarlsberg ; but King Frederick him- 
self soon defeated it by his prejudice and narrow-minded absolutism, 
as he would not accept the crown if Sweden had a constitution limit- 
ing the power of the king.^ In the meantime Adlersparre, who at 
this moment was the most influential man in Sweden, was endeavor- 
ing to secure the election of Christian August as heir to the Swedish 
throne. The prince was very popular in Norway, and it was hoped 
that the Norwegians could easily be persuaded to make him their 

1 King Gustavus IV. and his heirs were declared to have forfeited the 
throne. The king and his family were sent to Germany, and were not al- 
lowed to return to Sweden. He received a pension of 10,000 riksdaler, 
and was allowed to keep his private property. He assumed the name of 
Gustafson and spent the rest of his life in Germany and Switzerland. 

* Carl Th. S0rensen, Fredrik den ajettes fortrolige Breweksling med, Norge 
i Aaret 1809, p. 64. 

11 denmark-norway's foreign policy, 1792-1814 397 

king, and a union between Norway and Sweden would thus be es- 
tablished.^ For this plan he received the enthusiastic support of 
Prince Christian August's chief adviser. Count Wedel-Jarlsberg, 
who soon abandoned his Pan-Scandinavian ideas, and developed a 
political policy which aimed at a united Scandinavia. That the 
position taken by the count strained to the breaking-point the ties 
of loyalty to King Frederick VI. seems quite apparent, but Norway 
had paid dearly enough for the political blunders of the Oldenborg 
kings. The time had come when the Norwegians would safeguard 
the interests of their own country in any way which they might 
deem expedient. To protect Norway against possible Russian aggres- 
sion, to secure peace with England and Sweden, and to save the 
country from impending famine seemed more important to Count 
Wedel-Jarlsberg and his associates than to earn the compliments and 
good-will of the king. The count proposed to Christian August 
that the Norwegians should declare themselves independent of Den- 
mark, and elect him king of Norway ; but the Prince would agree to 
no plan which seemed treasonable. He promised the Swedish mes- 
sengers, however, that he would accept the election as Swedish crown 
prince if King Frederick VI. would grant him leave to do so. In 
July, 1809, he was elected crown prince of Sweden as Charles August, 
and King Frederick granted him permission to accept the proffered 
honor. On September 17th of that year a treaty of peace between 
Sweden and Russia was signed at Fredrikshamn, by which Finland 
was ceded to Russia, and Sweden had to submit to the Continental 
System. On December 10th peace was also concluded between 
Sweden and Denmark-Norway at Jonkoping. The war with Eng- 
land continued, but in order to appease the Norwegians, King Fred- 
erick agreed to a proposal made by the Council of Regency to raise 
the embargo on commerce between Norway and England by a mutual 
agreement with the English government, according to which Nor- 
wegian merchant ships could sail to English harbors, if they purchased 
in London a license which would insure them against attack by 
English privateers and men-of-war. This "license trade," or "neu- 
tral commerce," helped greatly to relieve the distress in Norway, 

^ B. von Schinkel, Minnen ur Sveriges nyare Historia, published by C. W. 
Bergman, vol. V., p. 118 fE, 


as grain and other commodities could be imported, and the export 
of timber and other articles could be resumed.^ 

In 1810 Prince Charles August left Norway for his future king- 
dom. His departure was celebrated with great festivities, and the 
people showed him the most devoted affection. Count Wedel- 
Jarlsberg, who accompanied him across the border, had been unable 
to persuade the prince to head a Norwegian uprising, but he had not 
relinquished the hope of bringing about a union between Norway 
and Sweden.^ 

At the time of his election as crown prince, Charles August was 
less than forty-one years of age, but he was not destined to ascend 
the throne of Sweden. On May 28, 1810, while attending military 
maneuvers in SkS,ne, he died suddenly of an apoplectic stroke. 
This opened anew the difficult question of the election of a Swedish 
crown prince, destined to produce such important political changes 
in the North. 

50. The Gradual Dissolution of the Danish-Norwegian 


The demand for national autonomy created by the suffering which 
Norway had to undergo during the war with England and Sweden 
did not culminate in an attempt to sever the bonds of union with 
Denmark by a revolutionary uprising, but the growing love of inde- 
pendence nevertheless effected a thorough change in the relations 
between the two kingdoms. The old idea that Norway sustained 
a quasi provincial relation to Denmark both politically and intellec- 
tually had vanished in the powder smoke of the great wars. Forced 
to rely on themselves in a most critical period, the Norwegians had 
become conscious of their own ability to defend themselves, and of 
the necessity of relying on their own strength in days of trial. A 
wave of patriotism swept over the country, due in part to the experi- 
ences in the war, but partly also to the nationalism which had been 
kindled throughout Europe in the struggle against Napoleon. The 
French Revolution had endued nationality with a new meaning, 

1 Yng^var Nielsen, Wedel-Jarlsberg, vol. I., p. 305 ff. 

2 Jacob Aal, Erindringer, p. 190. Yngvar Nielsen, Wedel-Jarlsberg, vol. 
I., p. 332. 


as it had fundamentally changed the conception of the rights of man. 
With the rights of the individual, so vehemently proclaimed, was 
associated as a necessary corollary the right of every people to lead 
their owii independent national existence, and this principle was 
being employed as a new weapon against Napoleon in Spain, Ger- 
many, and Italy. "And the idea, once proclaimed, spread with 
astonishing rapidity," says Alison Phillips; "till in all Europe there 
was not a race with a grievance, real or fancied, against the established 
order but based its resistance on the national right of a nation to be 
mistress of its own destinies." ^ The Norwegian leaders were enthu- 
siastic adherents of these ideas, and the national struggle which had 
hitherto been a dogged resistance of the binder against the oppres- 
sion of Danish officials, an eifort of the common people to preserve 
their personal freedom, now entered upon a new stage. New leaders 
from the upper classes had appeared, men of learning and high cul- 
ture, who united the ideals of liberty and national independence 
with the old spirit of personal freedom, and aimed to rear the Nor- 
wegian state once more on its own foundation. They would hence- 
forth control the destinies of the nation, and were determined to 
secure for it sufficient autonomy to insure its unhampered develop- 

When Prince Charles August left Norway, they seized the oppor- 
tunity to organize, after the pattern of the German Tugendbund,^ a 
national society of which a Swedish contemporary writer has given 
the following account: "As soon as Count Wedel, after several 
unsuccessful attempts, realized the impossibility of persuading Prince 
Augustenborg to agree to the plan of separating Norway from Den- 
mark, and uniting it with Sweden, he determined to act independently. 
For this purpose he originated the plan for Selskabet for Norges 
Vel, a sort of masonic order which extended its ramifications to all 
parts of the country and to nearly all classes. The apparent aim 
of the society was to promote agriculture and different branches of 

^ Modern Europe, p. 6. 

» The Tugendbund was organized in Konigsberg, Prussia, in 1808. Its 
aim was to work for the reorganization of the Prussian army, and for the 
proper physical and moral training of the yoxing men of the country; to 
encourage patriotism, and to prepare the way for the throwing off of the 
French yoke. 


Norwegian industry, but Wedel had in reality no less a plan than 
to make it the nucleus of a representative body, to prepare the minds 
of the people for the new order of things which he would establish in 
his country. . . . None but the principal leaders of the society knew 
the secret purpose of its organization." ^ 

Not till after the society had been organized did Count Wedel 
and his father-in-law, Peter Anker, ask King Frederick to grant it 
his royal protection. This the king did, though he disliked the spirit 
of independence shown by the Norwegian leaders. Before a year 
had passed, the society had 2000 members. It still exists, and 
continues to be of great service in aiding and encouraging under- 
takings of national importance. 

In 1809 a new agitation for a Norwegian university had been set 
on foot, as the need of a higher institution of learning had become 
more pressing than ever, since the war had destroyed the communi- 
cations with Denmark. The demand for such an institution had 
been so long and urgently pressed that it had become a national 
issue, and as soon as Selskabet for Norges Vel was organized, it 
gave this cause its earnest support. "This time such large means 
were made available, the nation's demand was expressed in such 
vigorous terms, and the desire was backed with such large subscrip- 
tions that the Danish king, who loved Norway, found it hazardous to 
postpone the granting of so reasonable a request. . . . Furthermore, 
there had been formed in the kingdom a body of men who took it 
upon themselves to speak about important matters, who stood 
united with regard to plans which they considered beneficial to the 
country, and who, on approaching the government authorities, had 
to a certain degree dispensed with the formalities of an absolute 
monarchy," writes Jacob Aal.^ 

Selskabet for Norges Vel offered a prize of 1000 riksdaler for the 
best treatise to be written on the question of a Norwegian university. 
Nine were submitted to the judges, who awarded the first prize of 
800 riksdaler to the author of "Mnemosyne," who proved to be 
Nicolai Wergeland, the father of the later poet and patriotic leader 

* B. von Schinkel, Minnen ur Sveriges nyare Historia, vol. V., p. 88. Yng- 
var Nielsen, Wedel-Jarlsberg, vol. I., p. 344 f. Erik VuUum, Hvorledes Norge 
bkv frit, p. 88 £f . » Erindringer, p. 228. 


Henrik Wergeland.^ "Mnemosyne" was much praised by some. 
The king gave the author 300 riksdaler as a token of his esteem ; the 
people of Drammen presented him with 1200 riksdaler, and in Tuns- 
berg the people gave him a church offering of 900 riksdaler. But 
his treatise has been severely criticized, among others by the Norwe- 
gian historian Ludvig Daae. In Denmark the learned jurist A. S. 
^rsted assailed it because of the bitter criticism of Denmark indulged 
in by the author. This only served to intensify Nicolai Wergeland's 
anti-Danish feelings, and on a later occasion he found an opportunity 
to express it in an even more acrimonious way. The Danish govern- 
ment found that they could no longer wholly disregard the demand 
of the Norwegians, but they would compromise, and offered to grant 
them permission to establish a sort of seminary. This offer was not 
accepted, and the solution seemed as distant as ever when matters 
suddenly took a new turn. 

It had been rumored at court that Count Wedel was a traitor 
who planned to separate Norway from Denmark, and the king, who 
gave credence to these reports, summoned Wedel to Denmark. The 
count hastened to present himself