Norway under Danish Rule, 1525-1790

Norway's Decline, 1340-1490

Norway is a country depending very much on climatic conditions. Located far north, Oslo having the geographical latitude of the neck of Kamchatka peninsula and the central Hudson Bay. The gulf stream made life possible in Norway. The mountaineous nature of much of the country made it highly depending on the sea (fishing and sailing).
The middle ages saw a drop in the annual average temperature, the "Little Ice Age", a term which is exaggerating. The northern tree limit moved considerably southward, and the climatic change had an impact on the country's agriculture.
In addition, Norwegian sailors from ca. 1050 onward could not use the option of raiding Viking style any more, and around 1250 the Hanseatic League, with the bulky shiptype of the cog, proved a mighty competition in trade which ruined many of Norway's merchants; Norway's economy came to depend on the Hanseatic League. To make matters worse, the Bubonic Plague struck Norway harder than any other country in Europe, taking an extraordinary high toll on the population. Entire villages were given up, much land which had been used for farming or pasture was retaken by the forest. The country went through a severe crisis.
In 1380, Danish king Olaf IV. age 10, was elected King of Norway (-1387), establishing a dynastic union between Denmark and Norway which would last, with the exception of the years 1448-1457, until 1814. The union kings would reside in Kopenhagen (Denmark) and few of them ever visited Norway. Norway was reduced to a Danish sideland. In 1387 the last Norwegian coin for over 100 years was minted.

Norway's Numismatic History : 1387, from Univ. of Oslo Coin Cabinet
Article Olaf IV., from Wikipedia
REFERENCES Svend Gissel et al. (ed.), Desertion and Land Colonization in the Nordic Countries ca. 1300-1600, Stockholm : Almqvist & Wiksell 1981

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 8th 2004

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