History of Norway

Discover the history of Norway

Norway first became a proper kingdom in 872 after the battle of Hafrsfjord. Prior to this, the area had been divided into a number of small kingdoms and various clans. The grouping of these smaller kingdoms into one united one soon brought on the age of the Vikings. During this time the Norwegians began a process of national unification and expansion, colonizing Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and some of the British Isles. They even ventured as far as the Americas and attempted to settle in Canada. In the United Kingdom they are accredited with establishing Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick. Their renaming of Eoforwic to Jorvik also lead to the eventual naming of York. Closer to home the invaded Normandy and France under the leadership of Rollo.

In 1387, the Norwegian royal line faded completely. The country had just been ravaged by the black plague and Queen Margrethe's son died at the tender age of 17 before he could even claim his seat on the throne. As a result, Norway entered into a union with Denmark and Queen Margrethe also became Queen of Denmark and Sweden. Up until the introduction of Protestantism in 1537, there had always been a constant supply of pilgrims to Nidaros shrine. When this stream faded and eventually ceased, Norway lost much of it's contact with the rest of Europe resulting is a dreary period of isolation and a lack of development.

Norway was later ceded to the King of Sweden in 1814 after siding with Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars. They soon declaired their independence though and adopted a constitution similar to that used by the Americans and French. Some time later, Norway was forced to unite with Sweden but they kept their laws and constitutions by and large. However, the Norwegian people soon became dissatisfied with the union and it became disolute in 1905. The Danish Prince Carl was elected King afterwhich he took on the name of Haakon VII. Voting was officially opened to woman in 1913.

Norway remained neurtral in the First World War but, though they claimed neutrality, the country was invaded by German forces during the Second World War. They managed to keep a firm hold on the country until 1944 when they started to evacuate the provinces of Finnmark and Troms. The Russians kept the Germans in their place and happily returned the land to Norwegian control when the war was over. The experiences suffered during the Second World War lead to the Norwegians adopting a policy of collective security instead of neutrality. The signed the North Atlantic Treating in 1949 and helped to found the United Nations. Though the people of the nation have voted against becoming a member of the European Union, they have become members of the European Free Trade Association.


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