Norway: Notes: 1319-2016


The development of "official" language in Norway shows considerably more fluidity and historic accident than other Scandinavian languages. Before 1814 the language shows large fluctuations and contrasts with more recent forms. For this record, the most visible contrast is the almost constant use of the old form konung for the current form konge; this record consistently uses the latter.

From c. 1450 to 1814 the official language is Dansk (Danish). After 1814, Dansk undergoes an evolution toward a historically more "Norwegian" character, leading to a form styled Riksmål (after Danish Rigsmål, i.e. "State Language"), which becomes the predominant form of the "Norwegian" language to this day.

In the 1870s an individual enterprise created, from a collection of local speech, a form of the language styled Landsmål, deliberately aimed at restoring greater "Norwegian" authenticity in opposition to the Dano-Norwegian Riksmål. Both forms of Norwegian, re-baptised Bokmål and Nynorsk, respectively, become official languages in 1929. Government business continues to be largely carried out in Bokmål.

In this record, an attempt is made to keep the styles in Bokmål or, as appropriate, in Danish. The one exception is the recording, in the title page, of the Nynorsk name Noreg for the polity, called Norge in Bokmål.

Hereditary and elective kingship

Initially, kingship was restricted to the notional descendants of Harald I Hårfagre (acc. 872), but with no clear rule of succession, and occasional joint rule. In 1163 the Law of Succession established succession by (male) primogeniture as the rule.

By the Treaty of Bergen (1450), the Danish/Norwegian rulers of the House of Oldenburg became elective monarchs, with frequent and sometimes extended interregna. Hereditary kingship was re-instituted de facto 18/28 Oct 1660 and is definitively established for Denmark and Norway by the Konge-lov or Lex regia of 14/24 Nov 1665. Hereditary succession was interrupted by the events of 1814 and of 1905, as noted in the record.

Last updated on: 26 Jun 2009 03:59:50