Norway before 1814

The first men to appear in what is now Norway emerged from dim pre-history when the great inland ice sheets were retreating over Scandinavia. Ten thousand years ago the forefathers of today's Norwegians hunted reindeer and other prey on their long trek north. The land they came to had for centuries borne the weight of the icecap, so the ocean met the shore 200 metres higher up than is the case... Read more

The Viking era marks the termination of the prehistoric period in Norway. No written sources of knowledge exist, so what is known about this period is largely based on archaeological finds. The Sagas also shed some light on this age. Although they were written down later, the Sagas were based on tales passed down orally from one generation to the next. Viewed as a whole they reveal that the... Read more

The year 1130 represented a watershed in Norwegian history. A period of peace was disrupted by conflict and civil war lasting until 1227. But 1130 was a special year in other ways too. It is regarded as the start of the High Middle Ages, a period of population growth, consolidation within the Church, and the emergence and development of townships. As the Crown and Church brought district after... Read more

The late Middle Ages were a period of marked economic decline in Norway. The population had been decimated by the plague and other epidemics during the fourteenth century. Many farms in the marginal areas were deserted, and incomes shrank. Some historians claim that a worsening of the climate and the grip of the Hanseatic League on Norwegian economy were the cause of the downward trend. Others... Read more