History Files

European Kingdoms

Northern Europe


Norway (Norge)

FeatureMuch of the area that makes up modern Norway has been occupied since the end of the last ice age by Sámi groups and the preceding hunter-gathers clans whom they absorbed. Following the arrival of Finno-Ugric tribes (providing the Kvens and Finns to the mix) and Indo-Europeans in the third millennium, the southern section became home to various Germanic groups. The birth of the modern Norwegian nation took place following the Viking Age, along with the simultaneous arrival of Christianity in Scandinavia and Fennoscandia. Before that, the Scandinavians were contained entirely within the southernmost third of Sweden and Norway. The rest was part of a poorly-defined territory known as Kvenland, which stretched all the way east into modern Russia (see the link, right, for an examination of the origins of 'Scandinavia' as a name).

What is known today as Norway (or Norge to its own inhabitants) began as Norvegr, meaning 'the way north'. After the country was united it came to be called 'Noregr'. During the Middle Ages this gradually became 'Noreg' before ending up with the current 'Norge'. Another, rarer name during the Viking Age was 'Norrmannaland', but this was used mainly by foreigners.

As with Denmark and Sweden, the rulers of Norway (the Norsemen) emerged from legendary origins. There are less ambiguities and contradictions in Norway's reignal list, though, probably because it starts much later in time. The only uncertainty here is over the first known ruler, who is ascribed two sets of dates by differing sources. It seems to be fairly certain that Norway's royal line was founded by a refugee king from the early kingdom of the Swedes, fleeing his homeland during a period of Danish superiority.

Alternative dates are shown in red text alongside relevant entries. Rulers with a lilac backing are semi-mythical. Halfdan the Black is the earliest confirmed ruler of large swathes of Norway, and his resting place is usually assigned to a large burial mound in Norway. Those kings who ruled before him are generally though to have controlled only limited parts of modern Norway, and sometimes only very small areas of territory. However, if the list of names is to be believed then the small, regional kingdom that was founded by the aforementioned Swedish exile was the birthplace of Norway's monarchy. This kingdom bordered the native inhabitants of Kvenland until late in the Viking age, when it began to expand northwards. The Norwegians assimilated the westernmost section of this territory much more quickly than the neighbouring Swedes could absorb 'their' part of it, although the people in Hålogaland may have been coastal migrant Norse from an early point, or possible early descendants of ancient Kvens, or a mixture of the two.

(Additional information by Andreas von Millwall, from working in conjunction with the Kvenland site, listed in the 'Northern Europe' section of the Sources page, from Gautreks Saga, from Fridthjófs saga ins frækna, and from The Origin and Deeds of the Goths, Jordanes.)

Nori / Nór / Norr

Son of Danp, who was the brother-in-law of Domar of Upsal.

Nori is the legendary founder of the kingdom of Norway. He is mentioned in several medieval Scandinavian texts, which establish that he is either the son of Danp (who himself is the brother-in-law of Domar of Upsal), or one of the sons of King Ypper of Upsal (the other two being Dan, who later rules Denmark, and Østen, who later rules the Swedes (possibly the Östen of the late sixth century)).

Nori is also claimed as a descendant of King Fornjótr of Kvenland. Perhaps he represents the beginnings of any notable kingship in Norway. However, apart from the tribes mentioned in the Old English poem Widsith, the first kingdoms are petty, coastal territories such as Agder, Hålogaland, Oppland (this being the exception in that it is inland), Ringerike, and Rogaland.

Geilo in eastern Norway
Norway's origins lie in regional petty kingdoms which were challenged in the mid-seventh century by an exiled member of the Swedish royal house, with full unification being the eventual outcome


The Swedish princes, Jorund and his brother Eric, remain on their warships while Hugliek is king of the Swedes, and they prove to be great warriors. They maraud in Norway where they fight and capture King Gudlog of Hålogaland, an early appearance of Norsemen in this northern territory which must have been occupied solely by Kvens until very recently. The princes hang Gudlog at Stomones and allow his men to raise a mound over him.


Heoden / Henden / Hjaðn

King of the Gloms.

The Germanic Gloms are mentioned in the Old English poem Widsith. They are probably located along the River Glomma (or Glåma) in south-western Norway - the country's longest river. Seemingly no sixth or seventh century Norse kingdom emerges which bears a variant of their name, making it possible that their tribal territory is later cut up into segments by various kingdom creations. The Heatho-Reams are also mentioned, who form the later kingdom of Raumarike.

early 6th century

Roduulf / Rodwulf

King of the Ranii. Abandoned them to join the Ostrogoths.


According to Jordanes, the tribe of the Adogit live in the far north, while the Grannii (Grenland), Augandzi (Agder), Eunixi, Taetel, Rugii (Rogaland), Arochi (Hordaland, possibly linked to the Charudes), and Ranii occupy central and southern Norway at this time, along with the Raumarici (the later kingdom of Raumarike) close to modern Oslo.

Roduulf rules the Ranii until, apparently despising his own kingdom and seeking adventure, he flees to join Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths. The Adogit of the far north could be a form of háleygir, possibly linking them to the later petty Norse kingdom of Hålogaland, which is probably still part of Kvenland at this time outside of a few coastal ports.

fl c.580s


(A) King of Norway, according to Saxo Grammaticus.

According to Saxo Grammaticus, Koll is killed by Horvendil, Danish governor or prince of Jutland. He appears to be only one of several minor kings in Norway. A series of petty kingdoms seem to have sprung up along the south-western coastline of Norway by this time. Many of the kings of these early kingdoms are known primarily from early Norse sagas, supplemented by patches of other surviving information. Some of this, such as the writings of Saxo Grammaticus, probably uses the sagas as their basis, or at least tries to make sense of some of the more mythological episodes in the sagas.

Petty Kingdoms (Norway)

The birth of the modern Norwegian nation took place following the Viking Age, along with the simultaneous arrival of Christianity in Scandinavia and Fennoscandia. Initial settlement and the spread of the early kingdoms largely followed the rivers, with inland areas being only sparsely inhabited. During this early emergence, the Scandinavians were contained entirely within the southernmost third of Sweden and Norway. The rest was part of a poorly-defined (and poorly understood) territory known as Kvenland, which stretched all the way east into modern Russia. As with Denmark and Sweden, the rulers of Norway (the Norsemen) emerged from legendary origins, but the royal house that eventually dominated was probably founded by a refugee noble from the kingdom of the Swedes, fleeing his homeland during a period of Danish superiority.

All of the kings of early Norway are known primarily from Norse sagas, supplemented by patches of other surviving information. Some of this, such as the writings of Saxo Grammaticus, probably used the sagas as their basis, or at least tried to make sense of some of the more mythological episodes in the sagas. Even so, through the mist an early list of petty kings of Norway and their various heroic deeds can be pieced together. Shown below are some names which cannot be placed in definite kingdoms, but where those kingdoms can be recreated, all of the relevant regional information will be shown there. These kingdoms include Agder, Alfheim, Finnmark, Firdafylke, Hadeland, Hallingdal, Hålogaland, Hedmark, Hördaland, Møre, Naumudal, Oppland, Ringerike, Rogaland, Raumarike, Sogn, Thelemark, Värmland, Vestfold, and Vingulmark.

None of the sagas are especially strict with their chronology, making any firm dating of kings next to impossible. As an example, Hrólf Kraki of the Danes is claimed in Gautreks saga as a contemporary of Adils of the Swedes. Vikar, king of Agder in Norway is also claimed as a contemporary, seemingly contradicting other mentions of him that seem to place him a century later. Gautrek himself, king of Götland, is also placed in the same generation as Adils, and is thought to flourish around the 620s. Chronology is clearly not especially strict in the sagas.

(Additional information by Andreas von Millwall and Edward Dawson, from Fridthjófs saga ins frækna, from Gautreks saga, from The Heimskringla: Or, Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, Volume 1, from Glymdrapa, Hornklofe, from Saga: Six Pack 6, A Scandinavian Sextet (various authors), and from External Links: Kvenland, and Visit Norway.)


Swedish control of areas of Norway comes at this time, suggesting increasing Swedish power, but also that there is something worth conquering and ruling in Norway. Many minor kingdoms are known, but little is recorded of their history or rulers outside of early sagas until they come into contact with the Yngling kings, and are subsequently conquered or absorbed.

623 - 647?

Ingjald Illrade

Son of Anund of Upsal. King of (part of) Norway and Sweden.

fl c.620s


King of Aatundaland. A minor king with no apparent successor.

fl c.620s

Yngvar / Ingvar

King of Fiadryndaland. A minor king. Successor?

c.600 - 630?

Following the death of Stóvirk (Stórvirkr), his son Starkad is brought up in the court of Harald, king of Agder, along with Harald's son, Víkar. King Herthjóf (Herþjófr) of Hördaland makes a surprise attack on the kingdom one night and kills Harald, taking Víkar hostage so that the young king's subjects remain subjugated. Herthjóf is the grandson of Fridthjóf the Bold, the main protagonist in Fridthjófs saga ins frækna. Vikar waits some years before gathering some men and striking back, killing Herthjóf and regaining his kingdom, along with some of the lands of his fallen oppressor.

Troll's Tongue (Trolltunga)
The 'Troll's Tongue' (Trolltunga) is a remarkable geological feature which lies in the Odda municipality of modern Norway, part of a county by the name of Hordaland - inherited from the Norse kingdom of the same name

Now that he has been restored to his rightful inheritance, Vikar of Agder kills Herthjóf's brother, King Geirthjóf of Oppland, at the First Battle of Telemark. He also gains Thelemark itself from Geirthjóf's other brother, Fridthjóf, after the Second Battle of Telemark. In this Vikar is aided by King Óláf the Keen-Eyed of Nærríki in Sweden and by Starkad. Unfortunately, Vikar is subsequently killed by Starkad in order that the latter might 'gain the blessings of Odin', which sounds suspiciously like an attempted coup.


At a time when the kings of the Denes are conquering his homeland, Olaf Tretelgia is said to flee the Swedish kingdom and, settling in Norway, founds its first (historical) royal house. However, although perhaps dominant in Norway, Olaf cannot be said to be the ruler of a single kingdom. Instead he creates a kingdom on the border between modern Norway and Sweden called Värmland. The historical existence of his descendants of the eighth and early ninth centuries is doubted by some scholars, but the names probably reflect real persons, even if the stories surrounding them may be fanciful. It is Olaf's line which soon marries into the ruling family in the nascent Vestfold kingdom to dominate Norway.

fl c.655 - ?

Olaf / Olav Tretelgia ('Tree-cutter')

Former king of the Yngling Swedes. Founded Värmland.


Hedmark borders the kingdom of the Swedes in the south-east of Norway, (the north-eastern section of modern Østlandet). The kingdom is now either conquered by Halfdan Hvitbeinn (son of Olaf Tretelgia) or he gains it following the death of his father-in-law, Eystein Haardaade, king of Oppland. On its western flank Oppland also borders Hedmark ('opp' or 'upp' meaning highlands or upper countries, the highlands next to Hedmark).

fl c.660s?

Ingjald Olafsson / Ingiald

Son. King of Värmland. Died.


Halfdan Hvitbeinn becomes one of pre-unification Norway's most powerful kings. Having obtained Hedmark and then Oppland, he also conquers Hadeland, Toten (a minor kingdom within Oppland), and part of Vestfold. In addition he inherits Värmland (which had been founded by Olaf Tretelgia on the border between Sweden and Norway about AD 655) upon the death of his half-brother, Ingjald Olafsson.

late 7th century

Halfdan Hvitbeinn / Halfdan I Whitelegs

Brother. King of Hedmark. m Åsa, dau of Eystein of Oppland.


The original line of 'kings' of Kvenland ends with the father of Gor Thorrasson 'Sea King'. The appellation of 'Sea King' to subsequent names, from Gor to his great-grandson, Sveidi, suggests that they lose or surrender their inheritance as Kven kings and rule the seas instead, eventually ending up as minor lords in Norway.


King of Varna. A 'great warlock'.

fl c.700s

Eystein I Halfdansson / Eystein Vart

Son of Halfdan Hvitbeinn. King of Raumarike. m Hilde, dau of Eric.

Eystein may inherit the thrones of Raumarike and Vestfold from his father-in-law, Eric Agnarson of the Vestfold kingdom. However, his own expansionist skills prove to be limited, and he is killed by Skjöld (apparently a great warlock) while pillaging in Varna (location unknown).


King of Vestmar/Grenland.

Vestmar (Westmare), otherwise known as Grenland, is a minor coastal kingdom which is part of the larger region of Grænafylket (or Grenafylket), situated within the modern county of Telemark in the south-west of Norway. Dag's daughter, Liv, marries Halfdan hinn Mildi, son of Eystein Vart and king of Raumarike and Vestfold. Vestmar is seemingly added to Halfdan's territory, probably upon Dag's death. Called 'the Mild' he apparently rewards his followers well with gold where other kings would use silver, but is a parsimonious host at the feasting table.

Map of Norway
This map shows a host of the many petty Norwegian kingdoms in eighth and ninth century Scandinavia, most of them arranged along the coastline, although penetration into the interior is clearly beginning (click or tap on map to view full sized)


Kvens and Norse cooperate in battling against the invading Karelians, according to Egil's Saga, written around 1240. This is not the same event as the battle of about 873 which includes Faravid of the Kvens.

late 8th century

Halfdan II hinn Mildi / Halfdan the Mild

Son of Eystein. King of Raumarike & Vestfold. Died in bed.


A series of rulers are ascribed to Jutland for this period, between the late eighth century to the mid-ninth, and seemingly following a gap in the known rulers of the region. It is unclear who they are and from where they originate until the title 'King of Vestfold-Jutland' appears in genealogies.

The Vestfold kingdom is Norse, lying almost directly north of Jutland across the Skagerrak strait which is fed from the North Sea. Also at this time the Danish kingdom is somewhat weak and fractured, not even having fully unified yet. It would seem likely that Vestfold has expanded its reach into territory which the Danes - to date - have never really controlled.

c.804 - c.810

Gudröd / Gudrod the Magnificent

Son. King of Raumarike and Vestfold.


Alfheim is a minor entity between the Glomma and Göta älv rivers which also incorporates at least the southern section of the province of Bohuslän. It also seems to have gained all of Vingulmark (although possibly not until the accession of Alfarin Gandalfsson). Alfarin's daughter is Alfhild, who marries Gudröd, king of Raumarike and Vestfold. Thanks to this marriage, Gudröd inherits half of Vingulmark (bordering the settlement of Raumarike, although the use of 'settlement' would suggest that Raumarike is not yet sufficiently important enough to be labelled a kingdom). This territory also includes the site of the country's later capital, Oslo, and later archaeological finds suggest the region is an important centre of power.


Gudröd's wife dies during his reign, so he sends warriors to propose a marriage to Åsa, the daughter of King Harald Grunraude of Agder. Harald refuses, so Gudröd takes her by force, killing Harald and his son, Gyrd (or Gyrder), in the process. However, a year after becoming father to Halfdanr Svarti, Gudröd is murdered by Åsa's page boy (on Åsa's orders). The queen returns to Agder to raise her son while the boy's half brother by Gudröd, Olaf, inherits the southern half of Gudröd's kingdom, as well as the Vestfold. Álfgeir of Alfheim restores the full control of Vingulmark by his family and places his son, Gandalf, in command there.

There is a question over whether Åsa's father, Harald Grunraude, still reigns in Agder, as her son, Halfdanr has to conquer it in his early years. Harold is known to have been killed by Gudröd, so perhaps Halfdanr's elder half-brother, Olaf Geirstade, still rules it until the late 820s.

c.810 - 840

Olaf Gudrodsson Geirstad-Alf

Son by first marriage. King of Raumarike, Bohuslän, & Vestfold.


At the age of eighteen or nineteen, Halfdanr Svarti has already gained half of Vestfold, having divided the territory with his half-brother, Olaf Gudrodsson. Then he reconquers Agder before pursuing an aggressive policy of expanding his kingdom further. He subsequently persuades Gandalf of Vingulmark to cede him half of that kingdom (possibly through intimidation).

c.827? - 863

Halfdanr Svarti / Halfdan III the Black

Son. King of Agder & Vestfold. Died crossing a frozen ford.

c.830s - 840s

Over the course of his long reign, Halfdanr builds up an impressive list of conquests. He takes Sogn in the 830s, after the king's daughter, Ragnhild, becomes his first wife and mother to a boy named Harald. Ragnhild's father names the young Harald as his successor, but when all three pass away in succession, Halfdanr Svarti lays claim to the kingdom, and it is peacefully subsumed.

Raknehaugen (Rakni's Mound) lies in Raumarike, the last resting place of a possible late tribal leader named Rakni, although his connection to the later kingdom of Raumarike is entirely unknown

The minor kingdom of Raumarike is more forcibly incorporated into Halfdanr's domains. He attacks and kills its king, Sigtryg Eysteinsson, and then repeatedly attacks Sigtryg's brother in battle until he is also defeated. Raumarike is gained along with half of Hedmark. Then he raises a fresh army and attacks the brothers who rule Vingulmark, killing two and forcing the third to flee. Vingulmark is incorporated into the kingdom.

Following the death of Halfdanr's wife, the daughter of the king of Ringerike, Ragnhild, becomes his second wife after being kidnapped by one Hake (the same Hake who had been expelled from Vingulmark?). Halfdanr rescues her and together they become the parents of Haraldr Hárfagri, successor to this growing kingdom. (The apparent coincidence of names for Halfdanr's wives may simply be that, or two different stories of her origins are being told - both are entirely possible. Harald Fairhair's mother is also referred to as being one Gyda, daughter of an Eirik.)

863 - 872

Haraldr Hárfagri / Harald I Fairhair

Son of Halfdanr Svarti of Agder. United all of Norway.


There is internecine war between the minor Norwegian kingdoms. Haraldr Hárfagri (or Harfarger) of Agder slowly becomes dominant, forcing the kingdoms to acknowledge his rule which, by 872, is complete. He starts his campaigns in 866 by visiting the Oppland and Orkadal. Then, in a series of battles, Gaulardal and Strind districts are conquered, followed by Stjoradal, and then Veradal, Skaun, the Sparbyggja district, and Eyin Idre together. Some of their kings fall and some flee, but Haraldr is the victor. All of these victories take place in or near the Throndhjem district (modern Trondheim). Then falls Naumudal and its two kings, far to the north of the Throndhjem. Haraldr sets up a royal residence called Lade and marries Asa, daughter of Hakon Grjotgardson, the new jarl of Strind.

867 - 868

Haraldr Hárfagri of Agder opens the new campaigning year with a fresh attack on stubborn Orkadal before he sails south to attack the Møre region. The kings of North Møre, Raumsdal, and South Møre assemble an army and the two sides meet at Solskel. A great battle ensues in which Haraldr is the victor. Hornklofe's poem, Glymdrapa, records the action, and mentions two kings being killed. Solve Klofe, the son of Hunthjof of North Møre, escapes the defeat and flees south to join Arnvid of South Møre.

South Møre is attacked in the following spring (868). Solve has spent the winter raiding Haraldr's posts in North Møre, killing many of his men and burning and plundering. Now he heads south to Firdafylke to enlist the help of Audbjørn. The expanded joint army, together with Arnvid's forces, meets Haraldr's forces at Solskel again, although this time the Heimskringla describes ships being lashed together, stem to stem, marking this out as a naval encounter. In the end, Haraldr kills both Audbjørn and Arnvid. Solve flees again, this time to become 'a great sea king [who] often did great damage in King Harald's dominions'.

869 - 870

Late in 868, Haraldr has selected Ragnvald 'The Wise' to be jarl (earl) of North Møre, South Møre, and also Raumsdal. Ragnvald is the descendant of the original line of 'kings' of Kvenland who seem to have left their homeland in the time of Gor Thorrasson 'Sea King' in the late seventh century to find a new home amongst the Norwegians. In the following year, Jarl Ragnvald captures Firdafylke by burning down a house in Naustdal in which is King Vemund with ninety of his men. At the start of 869, Haraldr Hárfagri sails his own forces into the kingdom to subdue the rest of Firdafylke.

Haraldr Hárfagri and the giant Dofri
In his younger days, Haraldr Hárfagri ('Fairhair' or 'Fine Hair') cuts the bonds of the giant Dofri so that the giant can become his foster father in the Norse sagas - from the collection of Icelandic sagas, the Flateyjarbók

Haraldr learns that King Eric Anundsson of the Swedes has taken command of Värmland and is collecting scat (a form of land tax) from all the forest settlers. He has clearly taken advantage of the fact that Haraldr has been campaigning on the western shores for the past four years. Eric is also claiming Raumarike, the Vestfold, Vingulmark, and additional territory as a restoration of the eighth century Swede kingdom of Sigurd Ring. Many of the chiefs of these lands have already given obedience to Eric, so Haraldr summons them to face punishment or fines. He processes through Raumarike and Vestfold in the summer, restoring his hold over them. Then he advances into Värmland and seizes it, killing all of Eric's men that he can find and continuing to Vingulmark to restore his power there.


A final rebellion is organised against Haraldr Hárfagri's increasingly dominant control of Norway. The men of Agder (presumably under Haraldr's rebellious sub-king there), Hordaland, Rogaland, and Thelemark, along with chieftains from the Sognefjord region, are gathering under the leadership of their kings. They meet Haraldr's great army at the Battle of Hafrsfjord of 872 which seems to be the key point in Haraldr's various conflicts. Many are killed and all of the rebels are defeated.

The year given may not be strictly accurate (various scholars have calculated dates between 870-900 based on the number of winters recorded in the Heimskringla). Many surviving nobles who refuse to accept the defeat now emigrate to Iceland while the defeated states themselves are forced to join Haraldr's new kingdom of Norway. During this same period, King Faravid of Kvenland is said by later chronicles to ally himself to the Norwegians to fight the Karelians to the east.

Kingdom of Norway
AD 872 - 1905

Norway is on the western edge of Scandinavia, bordered to its west only by the North Sea. To its south is Denmark, while Sweden is to the east. Finland connects to Norway's far north-eastern border, as does Russia. By the time the kingdom was founded in the late ninth century, Norway still only comprised the southern third of the modern country, with the rest forming part of a vast territory known as Kvenland. It was only in the latter days of the Viking Age and in the medieval period that the westernmost parts of Kvenland began to be absorbed into the Norwegian territories. Migrants also arrived in Norway from the Finnic lands to the east in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At least a couple of hundred thousand citizens of modern Norway are known to be descended from the Forest Finns, migrants from a group that is distinct from the Kvens. In Sweden that number is much larger.

Norway's minor kingdoms were united by Haraldr Hárfagri during various wars of the 860s and early 870s. Upon the death of Haraldr's father, the kingdom of Raumarike submitted to Sweden, and had to be forcibly encouraged to join Haraldr's kingdom of Norway. This probably helped to complete Haraldr's control of all of that region after he inherited the remainder from his father. The area was also laid claim to by King Eric V Anundsson of Sweden, forcing Haraldr to invade Götaland to defend his own claim. In fact, many of Haraldr's opponents were forced to flee the country and seek refuge in various Viking outposts including the Faroe Islands, the Hebrides, Iceland, the Orkney Islands, and the Shetland Islands. Eventually he was forced to undertake an expedition to clear out some of them, including from outposts in Scotland itself. Independently-minded Hålogaland in the north of Norway continues to be a thorn in the king's side for quite some time.

Accepted wisdom translates the word 'viking' as someone who goes on a raid, but this is much more likely to be a later interpretation of the word based on their reputation for attacking the medieval kingdoms of England, France, and so on. The word was originally used to denote a trader, simply that and nothing more. Indo-European languages contain many cognates of the root word for trader, such as the Latin 'vic', along with 'wic' (primarily Anglo-Saxon) and 'wich' (Germanic), all of which relate to Scandinavian 'vik'. A Viking was more likely to be someone who goes to 'wics' or 'wichs' to trade. There is also the problem of 'vik' meaning an inlet in Norse, and this has created considerable confusion. Norway is called that precisely because it is the north way, a sea path. Without roads the only reliable travel is by water, so trading centres would be sited in protected inlets. This meant the use of 'vik' being transferred over time from the trade location or village to its location on inlets. In England, this usage did not go so far, but many Anglo-Saxon trading villages still retain their trading names, such as Harwich, Ipswich, and Norwich, while Hamptonwic has been modified as Southampton.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson, from working in conjunction with the Kvenland site, listed in the 'Northern Europe' section of the Sources page, from The Heimskringla: Or, Chronicle of the Kings of Norway, Volume 1, from Egil's saga, from Óláfs saga, from Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, from Saga: Six Pack 6, A Scandinavian Sextet (various authors), from Oppgjøret med røverstaten Algier 1769-72, Torbjørn Ødegaard (Marinemuseet, Horten, 2010, in Norwegian), and from External Link: The War in Algiers (in Danish).)

872 - 933

Haraldr Hárfagri / Harald I Fairhair

Son of Halfdanr Svarti / Halfdan III the Black of Agder.

late 800s

Haraldr marries Ragnhidr (Ragnhild), daughter of Eirik, prince of Jutland (who may be the same person as King Eric (I or II) of Denmark). The king's son by her is Eric Bloodaxe. During the same late ninth century period, battles take place as the Geats have to defend themselves against Haraldr. They receive no help from their Swedish overlords.

Haraldr Hárfagri Halfdansson of Norway
Haraldr Hárfagri united all the minor kingdoms of Norway in the later ninth century through a mixture of force of arms and diplomacy, although the former seemed to involve most of his time


It is only after Norway has been unified that the permanent presence of Norsemen is established in Finnmark, the borderland between Norse settlement or trading posts in the far north and the indigenous Sámi tribes. The Norse sagas state that the new Norwegian monarchy imposes tribute on the Finnmark. It remains unoccupied by Norsemen to any great or permanent extent but royal agents are appointed to collect the tribute from the region's Finno-Ugric tribes.

In this year, the Kvens and Norse cooperate in battles against the invading Karelians, again according to Egil's Saga. Thorolf Kveldulfsson, head of taxes for the king of Norway from 872 (and later the tax agent in the Finnmark), enters Kvenland, going 'up on the fell with a hundred men; he passed on at once eastwards to Kvenland and met King Faravid.' Based on medieval documents, this meeting takes place during the winter of 873-874.

874 - 875

Iceland is 'discovered' in 874 and is settled in increasing numbers (although it would appear that the island has been visited for some years by Norse Vikings). An independent republic governs it until 1262. During Haraldr's reign, Thorvald Asvaldsson of Jadar is exiled for murder. He settles in Iceland where he becomes the father of Eirik the Red, who himself goes on to settle Greenland and fathers Leif Eriksson, founder of the Vinland colony in the Americas.

At the same time, Haraldr is forced to take more permanent action against Norse exiles who have been raiding Norway's coast since their defeat in 872. Rather than carrying out regular summer expeditions against them, around 875 he pursues them to their western bases. Hjaltland (Shetland) is stormed, as are the Orkneys and Sudreys (Hebrides), Vikings are chased down across Scotland, and those on the Isle of Man flee before him.


The oldest known written use of the term 'Kven', with nearly that spelling, is made in the Account of the Viking Othere, a report of the geopolitical landscape of the North, based on the voyage by Ottar, the Norse Viking adventurer, as he makes his way through the oceanic coasts of northern Scandinavia and the extreme north-western of modern Russia. In this account, the Kvens are referred to as 'Cwenas' who live in 'Cwena land'. It is the first genuine and comprehensive account of the North, and is therefore a principle source in studies relating to Nordic history.


Ottar reports his findings to King Alfred of Wessex, who has his account included in the additions to the Universal History of Orosius, which the king republishes. The book is a shared work between Orosius and King Alfred. The Kven Sea is mentioned as the northern border of Germany. The location of Kvenland is also explained in the following ways: 'Ottar (Ohthere) said that the Norwegians' (Norðmanna) land was very long and very narrow... and to the east are wild mountains, parallel to the cultivated land. Sámi people (Finns) inhabit these mountains... Then along this land southwards, on the other side of the mountain, is Sweden... and along that land northwards, Kvenland (Cwenaland).

'The Cwenas (Kvens) sometimes make depredations on the Northmen over the mountain, and sometimes the Northmen on them; there are very large freshwater meres amongst the mountains, and the Kvens carry their ships over land into the meres, and thence make depredations on the Northmen; they have very little ships, and very light.'


During his reign, Haraldr divides responsibility for the management of the kingdom. The original holdings in the south-east are given to sons (at least twelve) and kinsmen, the south-west coastal region remains under Haraldr's direct control as high king, the long north-western coastal strip is governed by the earls of Lade, while the earls of Møre govern a much smaller region between Lade and the south-west. The earls of Lade prove to be important players in the rule of Norway later in the century.


Haraldr secures the succession by naming his favourite son, Eric Bloodaxe as his successor. They rule side by side for the three remaining years of Haraldr's life. This does not end the possibility of division within the kingdom, however, and it is not until about 1030 that Norway is unquestionably unified.


To keep the peace in the face of Viking attacks, Charles III of the Franks grants territory in the north to the Viking chieftain, Rollo. The resulting duchy of Normandy proves to be far more powerful than the king could have feared, but Rollo's origins are today disputed by Norway and Denmark. Norway claims him as the son of Rognvald Eysteinsson, earl of Møre, in western Norway. Records from the twelfth century claim he falls out with the king and migrates to Normandy.

930 - 934

Eric I Bloodaxe

Son. King of the Scandinavian kingdom of York (948 & 952-954).

Halfdan Haleg (Haraldsson)

Brother. King of Rånrike. Killed on Orkney.

Guttorm Haraldsson

Brother. King of Rånrike.

Halvdan Kvite (Haraldsson)

Brother. King of Throndhjem.

Halvdan Svarte (Haraldsson)

Brother. King of Throndhjem.

Sigrød Haraldsson

Brother. King of Throndhjem.

Gudrod Liomi Haraldsson

Brother. King of Hadeland.

Rögnvaldr / Ragnald Haraldsson

Brother. King of Hadeland. Killed by Eric.

Bjørn Farmann

Brother. King of Vestfold. Killed by Eric.

Olaf Haraldsson Geirstadalf

Brother. King of Vingulmark, to which he added Vestfold.

934 - 954

An apparently harsh ruler, Eric quickly falls out of favour with the Norwegian nobility. When Haakon returns from England, he is asked to take the throne. Eric is banished and flees the country to become an adventurer. In 946 he is invited to England to become ruler of the Scandinavian kingdom of York. He is rejected in 948, returns in 952, and is finally defeated in 954, although by then he has already killed many of his rivals (who also happen to be his brothers), including Bjørn Farmann, grandfather of Harald Gudrødsson Grenske, the later king of Agder and Vestfold. Even so, Eric's defeat on the other side of the North sea creates a fully unified kingdom of England.

Eric Bloodaxe silver penny
Shown here are two sides of a silver penny issued under the rule of Eric Bloodaxe following his exile from Norway and during his governance of the Scandinavian kingdom of York in England

934 - 961

Haakon I the Good / Hacon

Brother. First Christian king. Fostered in Wessex as a child.

961 - 977

Harald II Graypelt

Son of Eric Bloodaxe. Killed Gudrød Bjørnsson of Vestfold.

977 - 995


Danish jarl (earl) of Lade. 'Regent'.

976 - 977

The accession of Haakon may cause some disharmony in the Norwegian nobility. From about 976, Harald Gudrødsson Grenske, father of King Olaf II, can be found ruling Agder, Vestfold, and Viken, although it is not clear if he is claiming a kingship or remains subject to the king's authority.


Greenland is discovered by Eric the Red and is claimed for Norway.


The Battle of Maldon on the Essex coast of England is lost when the forces of Olaf Tryggvason (soon to be king of Norway and the main rival against Sweyn Forkbeard for the throne of Denmark) defeat those of the ealdorman of Essex. The Vikings begin to demand heavy tribute from the Saxon lands.

995 - 1000

Olaf I Tryggvason

Defeated in battle and disappeared (probably drowned).


Tryggvason is attacked by a united army under the command of Olaf III Skötkonung of Sweden and Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark. The pair have determined that Norway will be conquered and divided between them. They duly defeat Olaf I at the Battle of Svolder and divide the country. A Danish jarl of Lade, Eric son of Haakon, holds the Norwegian throne as regent from this point, while the Swedes gain border territories from part of Trøndelag and modern Bohuslän.

1000 - 1015

Eric Haakonsson

Son of Haakon. Danish jarl (earl) of Lade.

1016 - 1028

St Olaf II Haraldson / the Holy / the Stout

Son of Harald of Agder. First Christian king. Expelled. Died 1030.


The accession of Olaf II brings his own domain of Agder fully back under the control of the Norwegian crown (if it was not already under that control beforehand). In gaining the crown, he also restores Norwegian control of the land after the Danish interlude.

Map of Scandinavia AD 1000
St Olaf II Haraldson
Early in life Olaf Haraldson took part in Viking raids on England, before securing his election as a king of Norway and pursuing a passion to Christianise his countrymen, something that ended in the rebellion of his subjects, while above is a map of Scandinavia around AD 1000 showing the extent of the Norwegian kingdom (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1028 - 1035

Norway falls under the rule of Denmark, governed first by Haakon, then directly under Canute himself, and finally under Canute's son, Sweyn, and his mistress, Aelfgifu, in his name until his death. Olaf II returns in 1030 to reclaim his throne but is killed by the Norwegian lords who oppose him at the Battle of Stiklestad. Chief among these seems to be the independently-minded kings and lords of the north who largely refuse to accept Christianity even under torture. Thórir Hund of Hålogaland is marked out as the man who strikes Olaf the fatal blow, while Thórir himself is protected under his reindeer cloak, made invulnerable by the magic of his powerful friends in the north (largely Sámi natives who bind magic with paganism to an otherworldly extent).

1028 - 1029

Haakon Eiriksson

Regent. Danish jarl of Hålogaland.

1030 - 1035

Sven Cnutsson / Sweyn

Regent. Son of Canute II of Denmark.


Canute's death sees his great Scandinavian empire begin to break up. By the late 1020s he had been able to claim kingship over England, Denmark, Norway, and part of Sweden. Scotland had also submitted to his overlordship, and Viking raids against the British Isles had been ended. Now his brother Harold gains England, his son Hardicanute gains Denmark, and Sweyn gains Norway.

1035 - 1036

Sweyn / Sven / Svein

Former regent or governor of Norway.

1036 - 1047

Magnus I the Good

Also king of Denmark (1042-1047).

1047 - 1066

Harald III Hardrade ('Hard Ruler')

Killed by Harold II, king of England at Stamford Bridge.


The son of Sigurd Syr, sub-king of Ringerike in Norway, Harald III attempts to invade England with the help of King Harold's rebellious younger brother, Earl Tostig of Northumbria. The invasion is defeated at the Battle of Stamford bridge on 28 September, and both Harald and Tostig are killed.

1066 - 1069

Magnus II

1069 - 1093

Olaf III the Peaceful

1093 - 1103

Magnus III the Barefoot / Barelegs

Also king of Ynys Manau (1095-1102) & Dublin (1102-1103).

1093 - 1095

Haakon Magnusson Toresfostre


1103 - 1115

Olaf IV Magnusson

1103 - 1122

Eystein II (I)

1103 - 1130

Sigurd I the Crusader


A period of prolonged civil war erupts in Norway, partially due to muddy succession laws but also due to various oppositions groups with their own interests in claiming the crown. Conflict is frequent and prolonged but there are periods in which it subsides to the level of a mere feud.

1130 - 1135

Magnus IV the Blinded

Died 1139.

1130 - 1136

Harald IV Gillechrist


Sigurd Horrid

A deacon, held the throne for one day.

1136 - 1161

Inge I Crookback

1136 - 1161

Sigurd II the Mouth

1142 - 1157

Eystein III (II)


The world atlas by the Arabic geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, which is commissioned by the Norman king of Sicily, Roger II, mentions that the king of FMRK has possessions in Norway. 'FMRK' refers to Finnmark ('Finn land'), the name for the northernmost part of Fennoscandia, which is still part of Kvenland. In the modern northern Norwegian county of Troms alone there are at least twelve prehistoric Kven place names, and Finnmark retains its name as Norway's northernmost county.


In his geographical chronicle, Leiðarvísir og borgarskipan, the Icelandic Abbot Níkulás Bergsson (Nikolaos) provides descriptions of the lands near Norway: Closest to Denmark is little Sweden (Svíþjóð), there is Öland (Eyland); then is [the island of] Gotland; then Hälsingland (Helsingaland); then Värmland (Vermaland); then two Kvenlands (Kvenlönd, perhaps Kvenland itself and Finland to the south, on the northern shore of the Baltic Sea), and they extend to north of Bjarmia (Bjarmalandi, the land of the Bjarmians).

1161 - 1162

Haakon II Broad-Shoulder


By this time Erling 'Skakke' ('the Jolted', named as such after a war 'accident') has claimed much of the country on behalf of his son, Magnus V Erlingsson. Essentially two power blocs now exist in the civil war; the 'Baglers' (the church and the nobility led by Magnus V and his father), and the 'Birkebeiners' (shown in green, a motley crew of brigands, 'ravers', and other outcasts lead by King Sverre who holds his claim via his mother's side of the family).

1161 - 1179

Erling Skakke

Regent for his son.

1162 - 1184

Magnus V Erlingsson

Leader of the 'Baglers'. Killed at the Battle of Fimreite.

1162 - 1163

Sigurd III

A Bagler.

1168 - 1170


A Birkebeiner.

1170 - 1173


A Birkebeiner.


The Historia Norvegiae (History of Norway) mentions Kvenland, stating that the Kvens serve pagan gods.

1174 - 1177

Eystein the Maiden

A Birkebeiner.

1177 - 1202

Sverre the Priest

A Birkebeiner, in Tronheim, their main stronghold.

1184 - 1194

Once Magnus V is killed at the Battle of Fimreite in this year, Sverre is sole king of Norway. He also proves to be a great king, and perhaps one of the country's most important. In 1194, following a disagreement with the church (which supports the opposing Baglers), he is excommunicated by the Pope. Despite this, he continues to receive support both from Knut VI of Sweden and from Prince John in England, and relations with the Pope become insignificant with the resurgence of Bagler opposition.

1185 - 1188

Jon Cuvlung

A Bagler.

1193 - 1194

Sigurd Magnusson

A Bagler.

1196 - 1199

Inge Magnusson

A Bagler.

1202 - 1204

Haakon III

A Birkebeiner.



A Birkebeiner.

1204 - 1207

Erling Steinvegg

A Bagler.

1204 - 1217

Philip Simonson Steinvegg

A Bagler, in Opland & Viken, two main strongholds.

1204 - 1217

Inge II Baardson

A Birkebeiner.

1203 - 1208

The four sons of Knut VI of Sweden have been living at King Sverker's royal court, but in 1203 they begin to stake their own claims for the throne. Sverker has them exiled to Norway, but they return with troops in 1205, supported by the Birkebeiner faction of Norway's nobility. Sverker is victorious at the Battle of Älgarås in which three of Knut's sons are killed. The surviving son, Eric Knutsson, retires back to Norway until 1208, when he is able to try again with further Norwegian support, and defeats Sverker at the Battle of Lena. Sverker is forced into exile in Denmark while Eric seizes the Swedish throne.


Agreement is reached between the two warring factions. Inge rules the country while Philip Simonson rules in Viken in a nominally independence guise.


The long-running period of civil war is finally ended following the deaths in this year both of Inge II and Philip Simonson. The thirteen year-old Haakon is chosen as sole king, with Skule Bårdsson acting as regent. The regency does not go smoothly, however, with Skule eventually rebelling against the king. Skule proclaims himself king in 1239 but is killed the following year, and with that country is finally at peace.

1217 - 1263

Haakon IV the Old

Son of Haakon III.

1217 - 1240

Skule Bårdsson

Regent. Rebelled and was killed.


The Norwegians and Karelians engage in combat.


The Icelandic Althing (Assembly) votes for union with Norway.


King Alexander III of Scotland successfully defeats an invasion by Haakon the Old at the Battle of Largs in 1263 (the 'Last Viking Invasion' of the British Isles). An old man, Haakon winters in Orkney and dies there. Following this, the Treaty of Perth transfers the Hebrides and the Isle of Man to Scotland from Norway. From this point the Isle of Man is controlled directly from either Scotland or England, as the two nations vie for power. As part of the peace-making, Alexander's daughter marries Haakon's grandson, Eric II. Their daughter Margaret later becomes queen of Scotland.

1263 - 1281

Magnus VI Lawmender


Icelandic annals report the following to have happened in the mid-northern area of modern Norway: 'Then Karelians and Kvens pillaged widely in Hålogaland'.

1281 - 1299

Eric II / Eirik II

His dau. Margaret, became queen of Scotland (1286-1290).

1299 - 1320

Haakon V


Torkel Knutsson, constable of Sweden, governor of Finland, and virtually king during the early years of the young King Berger, is arrested and, in February 1306, he is executed. Prince Waldemar, duke of Finland, divorces his wife, the late constable's daughter, and in 1312 marries Ingeborg Eriksdottir, daughter of the late King Eric II of Norway.

Map of Scandinavia AD 1300
By around AD 1300 the Swedes and Norse had taken full control of southern Scandinavia and were starting to extend their influence northwards, while the Swedes were also becoming heavily involved in what is now southern Finland (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1320 - 1365

Magnus VII of Norway

Also Magnus II of Sweden (1320-1365).

1343 - 1380

Haakon VI



Upon the death of Valdemar of Denmark, his daughter immediately secures the election of her infant son as his successor. The daughter is Margaret, wife of Haakon VI, having been engaged to him since the age of six. As Olaf is a baby, Margaret rules in his stead, proving to be an able and accomplished queen regnant.

1380 - 1387

Olaf IV

Son. Also Olaf V of Denmark (1376-1387). Died aged 17.

1380 - 1387

Queen Margaret I

Mother and regent. De facto ruler of Denmark & Norway.


Haakon dies, leaving Queen Margaret to ensure that their son, Olaf, is proclaimed king in Norway, adding it to his territories. This creates the Union of Denmark and Norway, while Denmark also gains Greenland and Iceland. In reality, Margaret is again the de facto ruler, as Olaf is still a minor.

1387 - 1388

Olaf's sudden and unexpected death at the age of seventeen puts Margaret firmly in the driving seat as queen regent of Denmark and Norway. In effect, Norway is ruled as an appendage of Denmark. The nobility of Sweden, already unhappy with their own King Albert, invite Margaret to invade and take the throne. In 1388 she is accepted, at her own insistence, as 'Sovereign Lady and Ruler' of Sweden.


Queen Margaret I

Queen of Denmark, Norway & Sweden.


Having promised to find a ruling king for the Scandinavian nations under her control, Margaret proclaims her great-nephew, Bogislaw of Pommern-Stolp, king of Norway with her ruling alongside him as specifically agreed for Norway. He receives the more acceptable Scandinavian name of Eric as he takes up his new position, although he is still a minor, so Margaret returns to the role of regent.

1389 - 1439

Eric III of Pomerania

Also Eric VII of Denmark, XIII of Sweden, and I of Pommern-Stolp.

1389 - 1412

Queen Margaret I

Regent and former queen. Remained de facto ruler.


In order to fully unite the three kingdoms under her control and promote her aim of securing peace and prosperity for Scandinavia, Margaret convenes the Congress of the Realm at Kalmar in June 1397. Eric is crowned king of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under the terms of the Union of Kalmar. Margaret remains regent for the rest of her lifetime so that even when Eric reaches his majority, she remains in control. (Eric is removed by the nobles in 1439, although Norway waits until 1440 to ratify this decision) and returns to Pommern-Stolp.)

1439 - 1440

Sigurd Jonsson

Regent in Norway until the selection of Christopher.

1440 - 1448


Son of Eric III. Also Christopher of Denmark and III of Sweden.

1448 - 1450

Sigurd Jonsson

Regent for a second time in Norway.

1448 - 1450

Christopher dies suddenly. In Norway, Sigurd Jonsson becomes regent in Norway for the second time while the nobles of the three nations (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) decide who to elect as the new king. Sweden selects Karl while Denmark chooses Christian of Oldenburg. Norway debates selecting a third candidate for its own throne but eventually it also goes with Christian of Oldenburg (in 1450), although a portion elects Karl in opposition to Christian. Karl and Christian now jostle for supremacy in Scandinavia, and Karl is soon forced by the nobility to relinquish his claim on Norway. Christian remains Norway's king for the rest of his life.

1450 - 1536

The kings of Denmark rule Norway directly, largely in their minds as hereditary kings, but Norway often insists on a formal election process, confirming the king some time after he has been proclaimed in Denmark. From 1536, governors (statholders) are appointed to manage the country's internal interests.

1536 - 1551

Peder Hansen Litle


The map of Scandinavia by Olaus Magnus shows a Kven settlement to the south of modern Tromsø in northern Norway, named 'Berkara Qvenar'. Integration is continuing, but Kvens are still easy to pick out in northern Scandinavia.


The first known Norwegian tax records mention Kvens. These records are stored at the Norwegian national archives (Riksarkivet). This is at a time, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, that the Swedish government is encouraging settlement in many wilderness and border areas in order to secure territories against fears of expansionism by the Russians. Even Sweden proper has its wilderness areas which require settlement.

Thanks to this policy, many Finns migrate westwards across Scandinavia. Thousands of farmers from Savonia and Northern Häme make the journey as far as eastern Norway and central Sweden and become known as the Forest Finns. They help to turn forests to farmlands using slash-and-burn agriculture, and in return they are given land. More of them head north to Ostrobothnia and Kainuu, east towards Northern Karelia, and south towards Ingria (Swedish land at this time, but now within Russia). An estimated ten or fifteen per cent also cross the Baltic Sea in search of largely uninhabited land fit for their needs.

Those Kvens who settle in Norway prior to the twentieth century - and in some cases prior to the Second World War - and their descendants are called Kvens today, as they had originated from the medieval area of Kvenland. Also, the descendants of all the native Kvens in northern Scandinavia continue to be known by that name.

Map of Scandinavia AD 1581
In the near-three centuries since 1300 the Norwegians and Swedes had massively increased their dominance of the once-uncharted northern depths of Fenno-Scandinavia, although Denmark now dominated Norway (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1551 - 1556

Jesper Friis

1556 - 1572

Christiern Munk

1572 - 1577

Pouel Ottesen Huitfeldt

1577 - 1583

Ludvig Ludvigsson Munk of Norlund

1583 - 1588

Ove Juel

1588 - 1601

Aksel Gyldenstjerne

1601 - 1608

Jørgen Friis of Krastrup

1608 - 1618

Enevold Kruse of Hjermislov

1618 - 1629

Jens Hermansson Juel

1629 - 1642

Christopher Knudsson Urne of Asmark

1642 - 1651

Hannibal Sehested


One of the first acts of Queen Christina of Sweden is to negotiate the peace with Denmark. She does so successfully, gaining all of modern Estonia when the Danes hand over the island of Ösel (Saaremaa) under the Treaty of Brömsebro, along with the island of Götaland. As a constituent of Danish holdings, Norway also has to concede territory, this being the districts of Härjedale and Jämtland which remain part of Sweden to this day.

1651 - 1655

Gregers Krabbe

1656 - 1661

Nils Trolle Trollesholl Gauno


The Treaty of Roskilde sees Denmark-Norway hand over Bohuslän in south-eastern Norway and Skåneland (Scania) in southern Sweden to the kingdom of Sweden. At least part of Bohuslän had formerly been part of the Norwegian pre-unification kingdom of Alfheim, while Scania had been a Danish minor kingdom.

Map of Scandinavia AD 1660
The Swedes had removed themselves from the Union of Kalmar with Denmark and Norway in 1523, and since that time had built up a Nordic empire of their own which now dominated the eastern lands and Baltic territories (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1661 - 1664

Iver Tageson Krabbe

1664 - 1699

Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve

Count Laurvig-Tønsberg.

1669 - 1675

Ove Juel

Acting statholder.

1675 - 1682

Jens Juel

Acting statholder.

1682 - 1694

Just Högh of Fultoffe

Acting statholder.

1699 - 1708

Frederik Gabel

1708 - 1710

Johan Vibe

1710 - 1712

Ulrik Frederik Valdemar

Baron Løvendal.

1712 - 1713

Claus Henrik Vieregg

1713 - 1722

Frederik Krag

1716 - 1718

Karl XII attempts to break the threat of attack on Sweden by Denmark, England, Hannover, Russia, and Saxony by attacking Norway, a vital part of Denmark's war effort. However, Swedish efforts are largely rebuffed. A repeat with greater numbers in 1718 ends prematurely when Karl is killed by a shot through the brain, and under potentially suspicious circumstances.

Map of Scandinavia AD 1721
The Great Northern War of 1700-1721 was Sweden's undoing as it had stretched itself too far - Russia was able to secure Livonia, Estonia, and Ingria, and Prussia gained Nearer-Pomerania in 1720 (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1722 - 1731

Ditlev Vibe

1731 - 1733

Patroclus Romeling

Acting statholder.

1733 - 1739


Count Rantzau.

1739 - 1750

Hans Jakob Arnold

Acting statholder.

1750 - 1771

Jacob von Benzon


For the past two centuries, Forest Finns have been settling a swathe of land in Norway from a point about 150 kilometres north of Oslo and covering a long stretch of border land between Norway and Sweden. That border is only now properly established between the two countries.

1766 - 1768


Acting statholder. Son of Frederick II, landgrave Hessen-Kassel.

1769 - 1772

Soon after becoming the dey of Algiers, Muhammad V demands that the Danish increase their annual tribute. They refuse but three Danish-Norwegian vessels are hijacked shortly afterwards. The Danish-Algerian War results, otherwise known as the Algerian Expedition, or The War Against Algeria. The outcome is not especially favourable for the Scandinavians once Algiers proves that it can defend itself.

1771 - 1809

The post of statholder is vacant.

1778 - 1790

Having secured the Swedish throne through force, Gustavus reintroduces an absolute monarchy, forcing parliament to accept a secondary role. Despite two failed military campaigns in 1788-1790, first to capture Norway and then to recapture the Baltic Provinces from Russia, he is still able to restore Sweden's military power and restore to the country some of its former sense of greatness.

1809 - 1810

Christian August

Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg.

1810 - 1813


Son of the landgrave of Hessen-Kassel.

1813 - 1814

Christian Frederik of Denmark


Marcus Gjøe Rosenkrantz

1814 - 1905

Denmark loses Norway, which then comes under the rule of Sweden from the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The post of statholder is retained, but now with Swedish nobles fulfilling the duties of office. From 1818, Sweden's new king is Karl XIV, but in Norway he is known as Karl III John.

1814 - 1816

Hans Henrik

Count von Essen.

1816 - 1818

Carl Carlsson

Count Mörner.

1818 - 1827

Johan August

Count Sandels.

1827 - 1829


Count von Platen.

1829 - 1836

The post of statholder is vacant.

1836 - 1840

Johan Caspar Herman

Count of Wedel-Jarlsberg.

1841 - 1856

Severin Løvenskiold

1856 - 1873

The post of statholder is again vacant, and is abolished in 1873. Full rule of Norway returns to the kings of Denmark until 1905.


Tension has been building between Sweden and Norway, which are joined in personal union under the king. The possibility of war is in the air, so it is with tactful negotiation and understanding that Sweden withdraws from the union on 7 June 1905. King Oscar of Sweden renounces his claim to the Norwegian throne, formally dissolving the union. On 12-13 August a plebiscite is held in which male voters agree to formally end the union with Sweden while only 184 vote against the move. Women collect 250,000 signatures in support of the move. Prince Carl of Denmark is asked to become the country's new king, and he arrives on 25 November to take his seat on the throne of a newly independent Norway.

Kingdom of Norway (Restored)
AD 1905 - Present Day

Norway is on the western edge of Scandinavia, bordered to its west only by the North Sea. To its south is Denmark, while Sweden is to the east. Finland connects to Norway's far north-eastern border, as does Russia.

Norway's minor kingdoms were united by Haraldr Hárfagri during various wars of the 860s and early 870s. By this time Norway still only comprised the southern third of the modern country, with the rest forming part of a vast territory known as Kvenland. It was only in the latter days of the Viking Age and in the medieval period that the westernmost parts of Kvenland began to be absorbed into the Norwegian territories. Migrants also arrived in Norway from the Finnic lands to the east in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At least a couple of hundred thousand citizens of modern Norway are known to be descended from the Forest Finns, migrants from a group that is distinct from the Kvens. In Sweden that number is much larger.

From 1450 the kings of Denmark ruled Norway directly, largely in their minds as hereditary kings, but Norway often insisted on a formal election process, confirming the king some time after he was proclaimed in Denmark. From 1536, governors (statholders) were appointed to manage the country's internal interests. Following the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, Sweden took over as the senior partner, but the system started to break down in the second half of the nineteenth century, and direct rule by Sweden was not especially welcomed by Norwegians. Instead, the country moved further and further towards breaking away from over four hundred years of union with the other Scandinavian countries.

Norway gained full independence from Sweden on 7 June 1905. On 12-13 August a plebiscite was held in which 368,392 male voters agreed to formally end the union with Sweden. A total of 184 voted against the move. Women, unable to vote, collected 250,000 signatures in support of the move. The Norwegian government then asked Prince Carl of Denmark to become the country's new king. Following a highly successful vote on 12-13 November 1905 to establish whether the Norwegian people themselves wanted the prince, he arrived during a blizzard on 25 November, with his wife Maud (daughter of King Edward VIII of England), and his son Alexander. Carl changed his name to the more acceptable Haakon, and was welcomed as the first wholly Norwegian king for six hundred years. The royal anthem is sung to the same melody as that of Britain's 'God Save the Queen' and Liechtenstein's anthem, albeit with different words.

(Additional information from External Link: Gáldu Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (also available in English), and Why does Liechtenstein use 'God Save the Queen' as its national anthem? (Guardian Notes).)

1905 - 1940

Haakon VII

Formerly Prince Carl of Denmark.

1914 - 1918

When the First World War erupts on Continental Europe, all three of the Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, remain neutral. Sweden asserts its right to continue trading with the countries of its choice, whatever side they have taken in the war. In practice this favours Germany so the Allies, especially Great Britain's Royal Navy, blockade Sweden, causing a severe food shortage in 1916.

Map of Scandinavia AD 1917-1944
The twentieth century wrought great changes on the borders of the Nordic countries with Finland, controlled from Moscow since 1809, now becoming a battleground between Soviet and German interests, while Denmark and Norway were occupied by Germany (click or tap on map to view full sized)


Haakon's son, Crown Prince Olaf, marries the Swedish Princess Märtha on 21 March.

1940 - 1945

As in the previous war, Sweden manages to remain neutral throughout the Second World War. Despite this, there are unofficial breaches of that neutrality on behalf of both sides in the war. German troops are shipped along Sweden's railways during their invasion of Russia in 1941, while the Allies are allowed to use Swedish airbases from 1944. There are several further examples. Neighbouring Denmark and Norway are both invaded and occupied by the Nazi Germans. During this period a fascist regime rules the country.

1945 - 1957

Haakon VII



Crown Princess Märtha dies on 5 April.

1957 - 1991

Olaf V

Son. Prince Alexander of Denmark. Died 16 January, aged 87.

1991 - Present

Harald V



Following almost thirty years of disputes with the Norwegian government over the management of Sámi native land in Finnmark, a satisfactory agreement is reached. Beginning as 'the Finnmark' a border region which had come under increasing Norwegian control since the ninth century, the region had been formalised as Norway's northernmost county. In 1978 plans to inundate a Sámi village as part of a new dam and hydroelectric plant met with vociferous Sámi protests. Now, in 2005, the government agrees the Finnmark Act. It signs over to the inhabitants of Finnmark approximately ninety-five per cent of the county's total land, to be managed as part of the Finnmark Estate.

Crown Prince Haakon Magnus

Son. m Mette Marit.

Crown Princess Ingrid Alexandra

Dau. Born 2004.