Bookmark (0)
ClosePlease login

No account yet? Register

Before I start, I am currently dealing with a writer’s block… So uhh plz comment some ideas.

Velkomenn and Välkomenn to yet another lesson in Scandinavian History (A Kidztalk blog about Scandinavian history).  This time on the Norway-Sweden Union, because that is apparently a meme here on KidzTalk. My name is Carly, and I am a self-proclaimed Nordic history enthusiast… so yeah. (Also, I was at school doing this. I have more important things to do than talk about Nordic history on a kids’ social media site).

 Norwegian constitution at Eidsvoll on 17 May 1814

Now, the year is 1814. It is in Christiania (Modern-Day Oslo), Norway.  Sweden invaded Norway due to the desire to form a larger empire. Sweden lost some of their land earlier, but got some more land (Jämtland, a state in Northern Sweden which was formerly Norwegian, and Skåne, a state in Southern Sweden which was formerly Danish).  Norway also wanted to be free from Denmark, as they’ve been nearly half a Millenium (500 years) with. Both sides were happy, so the union was founded on 1814… After a fight which ended peacefully.

Sweden-Norway Union Flag

Now, I do want to clarify that a lot of people believe that Norwegian Independence day is May 17, which was when the constitution was declared and that Denmark was given independence. This is all wrong. Norwegian independence day is actually June 7, 1905. But let’s talk more when we get there.

maroon house near dock and mountain

At This time, a lot of European countries where getting into the modern era, however Norway and Sweden were both behind due to most of the population being rural.  The capitals are the same as those of Independent Norway and Sweden today, Christiana (the reason why it wasn’t called Oslo is because the  name changed to fit in with Norway’s new religion during the Kalmar Union era)  and Stockholm.

Now, a lot of interesting things happened in the union. If you lived in this union, then living conditions may vary. Here’s a chart I created to show what I think living conditions were like at the time.

Urban areas, NorwayHigh living conditions. Government already helps middle-class and higher-class. Healthcare is good, with little to no affiliation to rural law
Rural Areas, NorwayPoor or average living conditions. The rural law was made to clear out land and limit the sizes of farms, which affect large families (most of these families were large)
Urban areas, SwedenHigh to average living conditions. Kids get access to school, adults have high-paying jobs, government helps higher class and middle class families
Rural areas, SwedenPoor (and sometimes even extremely bad) conditions, espiecally in Småland, Kalmar and other southern areas due to constant famines and floods.  Similar to Norway, most people lived in houses too small to support their families. As a result, about a 1/4 of Swedes and 1/3 of rural Swedes emigrated, mostly to Midwestern USA.
Norway, Sweden, Finland on map

Despite the very slow time, things got a little better for both countries. In Norway, a building industry was getting a lot of attention. Secretly, Sweden and Denmark formed a union with each other to help with the economy (Norway was not mad, they actually joined a few years later) and by law, boys who are between 16 and 24 must have 2 years of military training, which was ironic knowing that Sweden was barely at war with anyone (except their fake wars with Denmark :p)

white and red flag on pole
Denmark Flag

Now, this was all the good stuff… However, there’s more bad stuff than good stuff. Most of the population lived in rural areas. If you lived in Norway, the conditions may be ok or bad, but not the absolute worst. There were laws that affected how you could live. For example, there was a population law that said that if you lived on a farm, you couldn’t live in a really large area. Most farmers had large families, so this law made living conditions very harsh, but not as harsh as Sweden, so there was a bit of potential to work together with them.

a plant sprouts from the ground in the dirt

Sweden is basically the same thing, just much worse. There was a 4-year famine in the 1860’s that affected millions of Swedes. If you lived in areas like Dalarna, life could be ok due to the environment of Dalarna (Dalarna is one of the few Swedish areas in which rural lifestyle is still very dominant), but if you lived in southern areas like, Småland, Skåne or Kalmar… Well, I feel kind of bad for you, and good luck if you survive. As a result, 1 million Swedes and an estimated 800,000 Norwegians, among with a lot of Danes and Icelanders immigrated. Most of them Immigrated to Midwestern USA (states like Minnesota. Wisconsin, The Dakotas, Illinois, etc).

Now, The Union came to it’s final days in 1905. Norway was like “I’m so sick and tired of this horrible union,” and Norway magically disappeared throughout the void of being ruled over by 2 different countries and having the residents suffering for years. It turns out, on June 7, 1905, Norway secretly left without Sweden’s knowledge. Sweden got mad, but they later got their independence 90 years after the union’s start (You know it was bad if they didn’t even last a century).

The Norway-Sweden Union was really hyped up, but it turned out to be bad. However, there were still good things to every negative. The moral of the story is that you should never form a union with Sweden. 

Comment below with any questions you have about today’s history lesson.

Rating: 5.00/5. From 6 votes.
Please wait...
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments