By SRO Kjell Michelsen

History has always interested me. I moved to Atlanta in 1996, and later my wife and I moved to Maryland, where we lived for a total of 10 years.

During those years we made several trips to various Civil War battlefields and museums. It was truly fascinating to explore the history of our young nation, the trials, and tribulations this country went through and to where we as a nation are today. Although on a much smaller scale, but with a longer historical perspective, is the history of my birth country, Norway.

Most people are familiar with the Vikings, and from the last decades of the 8th century, Norwegians started expanding across the seas to the British Isles and later to Iceland, Greenland and beyond. The Viking age also saw the unification of Norway, which up to that time had been divided up with several chieftains and kings who often would be fighting for land and influence among themselves.

In 995 Olaf Tryggvason became King Olaf I of Norway. Olaf had raided several European cities and fought in many wars, and got wounded in one of them. After he healed up, he decided to get baptized and returned to Norway, where he made it a priority to convert the country to Christianity using all means at his disposal. The new religion, however, was met with some stiff resistance from Norwegians who for centuries had worshipped Pagan gods.

In 1397 Norway entered into the Kalmar Union with Sweden and Denmark, but when Sweden decided to leave the union in 1523, Norway became the junior partner with Denmark.

In 1537 Norway and several other countries went through what is known as the Reformation. Many nations broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and the authority by the Pope (in particular) which brought forth the Protestant movement and the Lutheran Church.

1814 turned out to be a significant year in Norway’s history. Norway, which was under Danish rule at the time, was forced to cede Norway to Sweden since Denmark found itself on the losing side after the Napoleonic Wars as a result of the treaty of Kiel.

Norway, however, declared its own independence and adopted a constitution on May 17, 1814, which to this day is celebrated as the Independence day of Norway.

The union with Sweden was in many ways an uneasy one and the union came to an end in 1905. The newly independent Norwegian Parliament offered the Norwegian crown to Denmark’s Prince Carl. He later became King Haakon VII. He would be the first Norwegian King since Olaf IV Haakonson who died age 16 in 1387. A new, truly independent country was born. (Partial Souce, Wikipedia, History of Norway.)

Until next time, be safe, be happy, and be a student of history.