Reformation in Denmark Reformation in Sweden

The Reformation in Norway

Norway is a mountaineous, thinly populated country located on Europe's northern fringe. It had few urban centers and the corruption of the church was less evident here, than elsewhere in Europe. Norwegian late medieval society is depicted in the movie KRISTIN LAVRANSDATTER, based on a novel by Sigrid Undset. Norway having no university of her own and a small intelligentsia capable of reading Latin, no book printing shop. On the eve of the reformation, the Norwegian church administration seemed rather firm in control.
Danish King CHRISTIAN III. ordered the introduction of the Lutheran reformation in Norway in 1536; the DANISH CHURCH ORDINNANCE introduced in 1537. A Norwegian church council officially adopted the Lutheran reformation in 1539. Monasteries were dissolved, much church property confiscated by the state, the Catholic bishops replaced by Lutheran superintendents (who often were referred to as bishops). The bishops still adhering to Catholicism were deposed, Archbishop Olav of Nidaros (Trondhjem) had fled the country in 1537, Bishop of Hamar Mogens Lauridsen died in prison (1542); the implementation of the Reformation on the Norwegian dependancy of ICELAND took even longer (1541); here the Catholic Bishop of Holar, JON ARASON, was executed for sticking to his faith (1550). In remote Norwegian communities, Catholic practices were continued for decades.
The church of Norway was treated as an extension of the Church of Denmark; Norway had no university of her own; the Norwegian clergy received her education at the University of København (Copenhagen); Norway was to get her first university in 1813.
The strong Danish influence had a strong influence on the development of the Norwegian language. In Norway, the Danish bible translation was used, as were Danish catechisms and hymns. In 1660 Absolutism was introduced in Denmark-Norway; the Church of Norway was placed under royal control.

A Short Bibliography on Norwegian Church History, compiled by Svein Helge Birkeflet (Univ. Oslo)
The Church of Norway, its Independence, European Influences and Interrelations, by Olav Fykse Tveit
Lutheran Church of Norway, from OWR
Article Norway, from Catholic Encyclopedia
The History of the Catholic Church in Norway, from Kirken i Norge
Officials and Clergy in Middle Norway and Northern Norway from 1536 to 1700, a review of books by S.T. Dahl and K. Hasselberg
Article Hamar from Catholic Encyclopedia
Katolske Biskoper i Norge før Reformasjonen (Catholic Bishops in Norway prior to the Reformation), from Kirken i Norge, in Norwegian

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 22nd 2003, last revised on November 15th 2004

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