V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > B. The French Revolution and Europe, 1789–1914 > 7. Western and Central Europe, 1848–1914 > i. Scandinavia
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See Scandinavia) (See 1845)
i. Scandinavia
Relations among Scandinavian countries played a major role in this period. A declaration of neutrality by Denmark, Sweden, and Norway (1853) opened all but seven ports to the warships of any belligerent. This act helped to secure the countries' positions within Europe by gaining French and British support against German claims on territories.  1
Economics. Sweden was perhaps the most advanced of the countries; its enclosure movement had created a large number of medium-size farms and encouraged more modern agricultural techniques. In Denmark, land reclamation in Jutland boosted the agricultural economy. Danish industry also was encouraged by such reclamation as well as trade outside Europe through organizations such as the East Asiatic Company. Norway also adopted modern agriculture as more and more land was turned into pasture for dairy cattle. The milk industry was supported not only by the increase in pasturage but also by the development of railways, which made transport of such products much easier. Norway also increased its exports of fish, wood, and metals as well as introducing some processing for these products prior toshipping. Iceland was constrained by Danish control, which Icelanders felt drained them of their profits. However, they increased exports of fish and other products from the sea, which in turn helped to boost their economy. Finland suffered the greatest hardships during this period as it continued to depend primarily on grain production and timber. Free trade with Russia between 1859 and 1885 did help to stimulate iron and cotton industries, but the reintroduction of tariffs made sustained growth in this area difficult.  2
Society. With the exception of Finland, all these countries suffered from a labor shortage due to emigration. (Between 1870 and 1914, 1.5 million Swedes emigrated.) This emigration helped to remove excess labor, which in turn meant that wages were high and rising. The scarcity of labor also helped Scandinavia to avoid the problems of urban centers such as London and Paris because the demand for housing did not increase dramatically and the agricultural nature of the countries meant that urban growth was not as rapid. Finland, although it remained primarily agricultural, suffered from rural overpopulation, which depressed wages and led to hardship. (See The Scandinavian States)  3
1. Sweden and Norway
Revolutions of 1848 elsewhere resulted in King Oscar refusing to continue his support of liberal causes. Franchise reform was delayed until the 1860s.  4
Norwegian road building, under the direction of Christian Vilhelm Bergh, began. Bergh managed to create roads in the mountainous terrain that maintained a constant grade.  5
THRANE MOVEMENT. Joseph Thrane edited Drammens Adresse, a newspaper in which he demanded universal male suffrage and social reforms.  6
1849, May 5
Arbeiderforeningens Blad was founded by Thrane. This newspaper helped establish numerous labor associations, which gathered 30,000 signatures on a petition to the king. The government imprisoned Thrane until 1858.  7
Johan Sverdrup was returned to the Storting by the Thrane movement. Sverdrup became a leading reformer in his “battle of the fifties.” He backed an amendment that helped eliminate class favoritism in the army draft system and stopped plans to combine the Norwegian and Swedish regiments in a union army. He supported an amendment that increased the ratio of rural to urban representatives from three out of four to four out of five. Sverdrup failed to pass legislation for a jury system because he lost the support of Søren Jaabaek, who was leading the farmer group in the Storting.  8
Women's emancipation. In 1854, a law gave women equal rights to inheritance. It was followed by an 1863 law that eliminated all vestiges of unmarried women's status as minors. The new realist school in the novel, committed to depicting life devoid of any embellishment, was anticipated by the Norwegian Camilla Collett's The County Governor's Daughters. This novel depicted the problems that middle-class women faced because of the pressure placed on them to make good marriages.  9
Karl XV ascended to the throne. Complete religious freedom established.  10
Stadholder controversy. Karl XV had promised to abolish the position of stadholder in Norway. However, the Swedes denied this demand and argued that the Norwegians were bound to the Swedes under the Act of Union (See Nov. 4). As a result, the Swedes claimed the right to amend the Norwegian constitution and act in Norway's best interest. Karl XV supported the Committee on Revision for the Norwegian constitution. Norwegian nationalism grew in this period; musical and historical collections were gathered, the Young Norway Party was formed by Henrik Wergeland.  11
Riksdag reform. Engineered by Louis De Geer, prime minister, the reforms replaced the Four Estates with an annual two-chamber legislature elected by a common vote. The Second Chamber represented the common people, and thus suffrage was extended to all males at least 25 years of age who owned at least 1,000 riksdalers in real estate, rented farmland valued at 6,000 riksdalers, or had taxable income of at least 800 riksdalers per year. Each eligible voter could serve in the chamber, if elected, and had only one vote. The First Chamber had a more elaborate voting structure, which included all men who could vote for town and provincial councils but also had a system of plural voting for numerous enterprises. Women involved in those enterprises could vote. Karl XV supported these reforms because he recognized the great impetus for change within Sweden and because De Geer threatened to resign otherwise.  12
Wave of strikes. Trade unions had continued to organize in Sweden after the abolition of guilds in 1846. These organizations engaged in a number of strikes during the 1870s but to little avail. The paternalism of the employers resulted in scant progress for workers.  13
Oscar II ascended to the throne.  14
The problems of trade unions were emphasized by the strike at Sundsvall. Employers in Sundsvall planned to reduce wages in the sawmills. The workers demanded a restoration of their wages, and, when employers refused, they gathered in a nearby field to protest. The governor ordered them to return to work, but they refused. At this point, Oscar II deployed cannon and the military and telegrammed the governor. The workers returned without bloodshed, but their leaders were imprisoned as a result of the strike.  15
Taxation and tariff reform. Under Oscar II, Sweden reorganized its tax system. Taxes on land became less onerous under a compromise between conservatives and large landowners (1873), and numerous obsolete or cumbersome duties were removed between 1878 and 1911. Sweden enjoyed most-favored-nation status with France (1865), but it began to favor protectionism during the late 19th century. The Farmer's Party split, with the new party demanding protection and the old party continuing to support free trade. After a protracted struggle in the Riksdag, the government provided protection for grain and manufacturing interests in the last decade of the 19th century.  16
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.