History.—The early history of Norway is comprised in that of the other Scandina vian countries, and is, like theirs, for the most part fabulous. It is only towards the close of the 10th c., when Christianity was introduced under the rule of Olaf I., that the mythical obscurity in which tile annals of the kingdom had been previously plunged begins to give place to the light of historical truth.
The introduction of Christianity, which was the result of the intercourse which the Norwegians had with the more civilized parts of Europe through their maritime expe ditions, destroyed much of the old nationality of the people with the heathenism which they had hitherto cherished, although the sanguinary feuds which had raged among the rival chiefs of the land can scarcely, be said to have lost their ferocity under the sway of a milder religion. Olaf II., or the Saint (1015-30), who zealously prosecuted the conver sion of his countrymen, raised himself to supreme power in the land by the subjection of the small kings or chieftains, who in the times of heathenism had subdivided the kingdom among them. The wariktween Olaf and King Knuathe Great of Denmark, which terminated in 1030 with the battle of Stricklestad, in which the former was slain, brought Norway under the sway of the Danish conqueror; but at his death in 1036, Olaf's son, Magnus I., recovered possession of the throne, and thenceforth, till 1319, Norway continued to be governed by native kings. The death in that year of Hakon V. without male-heirs, threw the election of a new king into the hands of the national assembly. who, after many discussions, made choice of Magnus VIII. of Sweden, the son of Hakon's daughter. He was in turn succeeded by his son Halton, and his grand son Olaf IV., who having been elected king of Denmark in 1376, became ruler of the sister Scandinavian kingdoms on the death of his father in 1380. This young king, who exercised only a nominal sway under the guidance of his mother queen Margaret, the only child of Valdemar III. of Denmark, died without heirs in 1387. Margaret's love of power and capacity for government brought about her election to the triple throne of the Scandinavian lands, and from this period till 1814, Norway continued united with Denmark; but while it shared in the general fortunes of the latter state, it retained its own constitutional mode of government, and exercised its right of electing to the throne, until, like the sister-kingdom, it agreed of its own free will to relinquish this privilege in favor of hereditary succession to the throne. See DENMARK, flisTonv OR The Napoleonic crisis may be said to have severed this union, which had existed for more than 400 Denmark, after having given unequivocal proofs of adhesion to the cause of Bonaparte, was compelled, after the disastrous war of 1813, to purchase peace at the cost of this long united partner of her state: Crippled in her resources, and almost bankrupt, she saw herself constrained to sign the treaty of Kiel in 1814, by which it was stipulated by the allied powers that she should resign Norway to Sweden, receiving in return, by way of indemnity, some portion of Swedish Pomerania and the island of Rogan, which were subsequently exchanged with Prussia for Lauenburg on the pay ment by that state of two million rix-dollars. The Norwegians, having refused to
admit the validity of the treaty of Kiel, nominated Prince Chri:etain, the heir-presumptive to the throne of Denmark, regent and subsequently king of Norway, The nomination was made by the national diet, or storthing, which met at Ejdsvold, where they drew up a constitution based on the French constitution of 1791. These measures found, how ever, neither supporters nor sympathizers among the other nations; and with the sanc tion of the great allied powers, Charles John Barnadotte, crown-prince of Sweden, led an army into Norway, and after taking Frederickstad and Frederickshald, threatened Christiania. Denmark being unable to support the cause of prince Christian, and Nor way being utterly destitute of the means necessary for prosecuting a war, resistance was of no avail, and the Norwegians in this untoward conjuncture of affairs, were glad to accept the proposals made to them by the Swedish king for a union with Sweden, on the understanding that they should retain the newly promulgated constitution, and enjoy full liberty and independence within their own boundaries. These conditions were agreed to, and strictly maintained; a few uniinpartant alterations in the constitution, necessitated by the altered conditions of the new union, being the only changes intro ducc..1 in the machinery of government. Charles XIII.was declared joint king of Sweden and Norway in 1818, and while the latter has become an almost independent state, it is questionable whether the former has found in its nominal acquisition an equivalent for the loss of Finland. which was the price exacted for it by the allied powers, and made over to Russia. Since the union, Norway has firmly resisted every attempt on the part of the Swedish monarchs to infringe upon the constitutional prerogatives of the nation; and during the reign of the first Bernadotte dynasty. the relations between him and his Norwegian subjects were marked by jealousy and distrust on both sides; but, since his death, the people generally have been more contented, and Norway has continued to make rapid progres towards a state of political security and material prosperity far greater than it ever enjoyed under the Danish dominion.—See T. Thorlak, Mstoria reruin Nor teg karain (Copenh. 1711); &honing, .2Yorges Biges lEstoric (Soroe, 1771); Munch, _Mt Noreke h'ulk's viols. 1 to 8 (Christ. Bridrag tit Norges °Jidda Statidik, 1871.