Useful Notes: Norwegian Constituent Assembly
The Norwegian Constituent Assembly
It is then raised once more inside the ancient boundaries of Norway, the throne which was used by Håkon Adelstensfostre and Sverre, from where they ruled old Norway with wisdom. It is according to the wish of the entire people, that the wisdom and power that were over them, the great kings of our ancient past, also will lie over that prince which we, the free men of Norway, have chosen in gratefulness and acknowledgement, a wish that every real son of Norway surely shares with me. God save old Norway. (Georg Sverdrup, May 17, 1814).
was a elected body of 112 men who gathered at Eidsvold in eastern Norway with the purpose of making a constitution for Norway during the Napoleonic Wars
in 1814. They gathered there April 10, and was finished May 17, sitting in hard debates for a little over five weeks. During this time, they managed to get 112 paragraphs in place.
The premise for this, is clearly foreign politics. Denmark
had wavered slightly in support for Napoleon, and Great Britain
would like to see that Denmark would be unable to support the Emperor with ships. Hence, the Royal Navy hijacked and stole the Danish fleet in a surprise attack in 1807, thus crippling Denmark considerably. What was more dramatic from a Norwegian point of view: every contact with Denmark was broken. The British instigated a Naval Blockade
of Norway that same autumn, and in spite of still being in a union, Norway was on her own.
Denmark had to acknowledge this, and sent a trusted man north to rule in place of the Danish king. Christian August was quite Genre Savvy
, and called in a number of Norwegians to help him. At the same time, Sweden decided to attack. A mostly Norwegian army managed to beat the Swedes back in 1809, thus bolstering a Norwegian sentiment that they actually could manage on their own, while the Swedes, embarrassed by this lack of military achievement (being beaten by a farm milita nonetheless), ousted their own king Gustaf IV and elected another one, his uncle Charles the XIII. Problem was, the man had no children, so the Swedes had to look elsewhere for a royal heir.
While the war in Europe went on, Norway hardly managed it. The crops failed in 1809, and without imported grain, starvation was at hand. The Norwegian elite had now begun their own work for independence, and some of them pointed to the sore situation and blamed the Danes for it. Others saw an opportunity for better cooperation with the Swedes, if the Swedes wished to comply. In a way, they did. They asked Christian August to fill in as heir for the Swedish king, and Christian took the opportunity. He left Norway in 1810, held a grand party, entered Sweden and died suddenly and inexplicably, falling from his horse after a stroke. Conspiracy Theorists
(Norwegian ones) blame the Danish government for this, as the king in Denmark went sour over it. He felt Christian August had betrayed him. Danish conspiracy theorists tend to blame Gustavian forces in Sweden, because he was Danish. Anyway, Sweden had to take another round of looking for a royal heir. While Sweden wavered in their support for Britain, Russia used an opportunity to invade Finland
in 1809, then a part of the Swedish kingdom in spite of the fact that Sweden was an ally
. At the same time, and for good reason, Sweden decided to make Norway a priority, something that suited Russia well, seeking to avoid a confrontation with Sweden.
1812 was the worst of the bad years in Norway. People died of starvation all over the place, unless they had hunting to fall back on, or lived by the coast. At the same time, Napoleon tried to invade Russia and failed splendidly, while a good lot of his soldiers froze to death. Russia decided to make up for the annexation of Finland by giving Sweden Norway. In a meeting the following summer (1813), Russia and Great Britain asked Sweden if Norway was OK with them, and Sweden said yes. The Treaty of Kiel was under way. A problem soon rose when it was clear nobody asked Norway about it. Let alone Denmark - although the British took time for some Cannon Boat Diplomacy
during summer 1813.
The Battle of Leipzig in november 1813 was crucial. Napoleon was stalled again, and by now, Sweden had gotten their new designated heir to the throne: Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, former general under Napoleon, who made a Face-Heel Turn
or otherwise, to find himself being in charge of the Swedish army. After the victory of Leipzig, he felt he had support enough for a northward turn, and set his army on the border of Denmark. Denmark negotiated desperately for a month to no avail, trying to convince Sweden to take parts of Norway as a "deposit" until the real peace negotiations were about to take place, thus involving all the greater European powers. Sweden, with Carl Johan as spokesman, rebuffed every Danish attempt with harsh words and more threats. Austria tried to intervene for the sake of good will, and for the Danes, but Russia, interested in keeping Finland, convinced Austria to stay out of the matter, which she did. Denmark was invaded by a force consisting of Swedish, Prussian and Russian soldiers, and gave in quickly. The Danes complied to the treaty, which was signed January 14, 1814. Norway was to be handed over to Sweden in the spring of 1814. So far so good.
But Denmark had other plans as well. In lack of a man in charge, the Danish king sent his cousin, Christian Frederik, to Norway, to act as ruler from the spring of 1813. His job was to oversee that Norway and Denmark should not part ways, but as the summer went on, and winter approached, he found himself in a beehive. When 1814 came, Norwegian leaders already assembled to discuss their situation, and among commoners, rumors of a Swedish invasion had stirred people to action, and they called for arms. During the winter, Christian Frederik found he could have a serious uprising on his hands. How to handle this? First, he travelled around Norway for support. After that, he gathered a small group of prominent men at Eidsvold to discuss what to do. Latest arrival was Georg Sverdrup, the principal of the new Norwegian University. He had to travel at night at full speed. History tells that locals, living not that far from the Swedish border, knew what was afoot, and the man who carried Georg Sverdrup the last part of the trip, adviced him to be cautious: "We would rather died in battle than to let the Swedes have us. Whatever you do or say, remember God supports".
When arriving, Sverdrup learned that the prince vouched for totalitarian rule, and some of the men gathered there were of the same mind. Sverdrup on the other hand was not. He reminded the prince that he had forfeited his inherited rights for the Norwegian crown at the treaty of Kiel, and therefore, the crown had "fallen back to the Norwegian people". The prince would be wise to choose a popular sovereignty over totalitarianism. Christian Frederik complied to this. A constitutional assembly had to be called in. By March 25, churches all over the country held a popular oath to defend the national freedom, and men were elected: farmers, priests, officers and merchants, other officials beside. They were to gather at Eidsvold, where the proprietor Carsten Anker would see to their needs. He had a house big enough.
Carsten Anker was sent to London to vouch for the Norwegian cause at the end of March. He had a meeting with Lord Liverpool
, first secretary of state, and had a long discussion on the subject. Liverpool argued that since Norway effectively had been at war with England for some time, it was not a question at all for the British to lend the country a hand. He could not understand why Norway opposed a union with Sweden. Anker argued for full independency, but Liverpool answered:
: Mr Anker, there is nothing I would wish more than telling you the truth. If the Norwegians want Prince Christian to travel to Denmark, we will help you all we can, to make good terms with Sweden. But if you keep this Danish Prince, and will not abandon independence, we have to help Sweden conquer you
Anker: "Is this your lordship`s ultimatum?"
Liverpool: "Yes it is, sir."
It so happened that the house of commons later brought the issue to debate, but the Norwegian cause fell. This made the Assembly at Eidsvold speed up their work.
The assembly and the nature of it
The assembly gathered at the appointed day, April 10, which was a sunday. The delegates assembled from all the southern parts of Norway. Because of long distances, Northern Norway was unable to send any delegates in time - a fact that part of the country still resents. Because the day of meeting was a sunday, the assembly attended mass, and then a dinner, before actually going to business monday morning. The Prince regent adressed the delegates, and they used a couple of days on stating how the meetings should progress. Twelve delegates were then called forth to form a constitutional comitee, among them Christian Magnnus Falsen
and Nicolai Wergeland
, both with their own drafts written in advance. The main lines of the constitution were presented soon after.
Tensions rose after a week, when two fractions seemed to form. Disagreement rose around the role of the Prince Regent, and how the Assembly should continue after the constitution was finished - or if they should dissolve itself. One party supported the Prince. They were later called "the independents", or the "Danish Party". They were led by Falsen and Georg Sverdrup. The other fraction was labeled "unionists" because the argued for a loose union with Sweden as a last resort. Hence the name "Swedish party". In reality, all of them vouched for full independence, but pragmatism and realpolitik
were always on the table. The parties stood more prominently out after the debates on those issues April 19. One proposition, which fell, argued for a clause that Norway should "never again" enter a union with Denmark. This did not pass because of fear it would insult the Prince Regent. Even worse, seven delegates were actually Danish, and they pulled their weight on behalf of the Prince. But it is stated that they all saw the sake of Norway in the situation at hand. The defition of "foreign" became a problem later, when Danes actually had to be defined as such - and the delegates ended in a discussion over whether or not Danes had a right to vote (because of tight connections from the union time).
A full draft of the constitution was delivered the assembly at the end of April, and the following days saw discussions on different and separate issues: How to handle national debt, the national bank, and of course the question of Jews. This last one came to haunt the assembly, and Norwegian politics for many years. The original draft vouched for full religious freedom, but this was gradually narrowed down to state religion, and the exclusion of Jews altogether. The question was raised again a generation later, when Henrik Wergeland
made a heroic effort to get the parliament change the clause.
On the case of voting rights, the assembly turned out to be surprisingly liberal for their time. In one draft, full voting for all was implemented, but pragmatism led to voting rights for everyone who possessed property. Unlike the United Kingdom
, where only people with a certain amount of property had voting rights, Norway extended it to all who owned land whatsoever. This was reckoned a bold democratic manoevre at the time. Of course, only men had the right to vote, for anoher 99 years.
Because of limited time, the assembly had to work fast. On May 10, they manage to establish 33 paragraphs in a rather heroic effort to get work done. They finally managed it a week later, and assembled to officially elect the Prince regent as a Norwegian king, a position he held to the middle of August. He was elected by all of them, although with reservations by some. The final signing came the day after, and so the assembly dissolved acknowledging a job well done.
It so happened that the Prince had support because he was a soft spoken and quite handsome guy, willing to give in on important points. The people following him did so because they meant a union with Sweden could be no good. What they failed to realize, was that they came to vouch for a possible reunion with Denmark. The lesser party at the assembly decided that full independence, or a loose union with Sweden might be a better idea. Much of the assembly had to face realpolitikal
choices more than once, and this had considerable impact on the lines Norwegian politics have followed ever since: Dependancy on the greater powers, dependancy on Denmark or Sweden, and how this dependancy were supposed to work. Other issues, like the rift between the farmers and the officials, were already visible, and came to haunt the internal policies for over a century or longer.
Historians have debated this issue ever since. The fallout between certain members of the assembly, from the different fractions, was so serious they never actually forgave eachother, and some were frozen out of further political discussion. The questions at hand were serious enough, concerning the question of independence, trade, foreign policies, propriety rights, voting rights, how to deal with democratic power, and then there was the issue of time. While sitting there, rumors went that Sweden assembled an army at the border, and would invade in the second half of may. Sweden also had the support of Prussian troops. News like this could make the assembly panic at times, and the constitution was made pragmatic and brief, to be finished as soon as possible.
Sweden invaded in the summer, and the Norwegians had to beat them back once again. But this time, Carl Johan was in charge, and a savvy tactician with experience from the Napoleonic army, who had beaten the french at Leipzig, was not an easy match. The Prince Regent soon had to face the facts, and by august, he packed his bags and left quietly, leaving the Norwegians to settle matters with the Swedes. As was the situation in January, central powers intervened, and through shrewd diplomacy the constitution was respected, with some amendments to please the Swedes. Carl Johan, who had been a french general, could not for the sake of shame overrule a constitution that was built on the principles from the french revolution
. This saved the day to some extent, and the union with Sweden became as loose as you could possibly get it - ratified at Moss in August. Charles XIII was elected king of Norway by November 4, but the union with Sweden was so shaky it rattled considerably every tenth year over one issue or another. Local farmers and veterans who had been at the front in 1809 and again in 1814, complained, and even 40 years afterwards, and as long as there were veterans alive, they claimed they could have won "had not the great ones bailed out". On the other hand, the compromise secured peace in Northern Europe, which apparently was a good thing.
Use in media
A number of tropes to be found in the Constitutional Assembly:
- Afraid of Blood: Christian Frederik, to the point where he fainted at the sight of it. In other words, no Warrior Prince.
- Arch-Enemy: Sweden, of course. This spilled over to the way history handled the subject.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Johann Caspar Hermann, count of Wedel-Jarlsberg was the only true nobleman present at the assembly. His leanings towards a loose union with Sweden has carried him into history as a mole for the Swedes, although he never was evil per se. Reading the sources closer, reveals a cunning and quite Genre Savvy politician, Blessed with Suck because of his title. New seats for nobility was never erected in Norway after 1814. Wedel inverted the trope himself by supporting and even proposing this for the constitution, effectively making himself the last count in Norway.
- The trope carries even more weight when considering that his main opponent was the Prince Regent, something that apparently has a melodramatic ring to it (the evil aristocrat scheming to take over the kingdom from the rightful heir). As the prince regent/king elect himself was an aristocrat, closely connected to the king of Demnark, the trope may be used on him as well, Depending on the Writer.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Sweden. First towards Denmark, later towards Norway.
- Badass Baritone: Georg Sverdrup. According to popular tradition, he singlehandedly managed to convince the prince regent to get his support from a Norwegian constituent assembly - in one sentence - as quoted under the Wham Line entry. The prince had been a hardliner on his inherited right to rule Norway, until Sverdrup arrived on the scene and set him straight. True or not, the scene is a Moment Of Awesome in Norwegian history.
- Badass Boast: Several. Most notably the farmer mentioned above: "We would not go under Sweden. Before that happens, we will leave only women and children at home, and send every man to the border... including me!". This man was already reaching 60.
- The final sentence from Carsten Anker towards the British secretary of state also counts, pitting Norway against the might of the British army. Of course, everybody managed to avoid that.
- And of course the Gudbrandsdal farmers: If the enemy comes this way, we will handle them the way we handled the scots! (who had been massacred in a Curb-Stomp Battle 200 years earlier).
- Berserk Button: The treaty of Kiel had a clear stipulation on the Danish. No heir of the Danish king should try to pursue power in Norway - ever!. When the British realized that the Danish prince regent still held sway in Norway, they issued several warnings. Also for any Norwegian living close to the Swedish border. The mere suggestion of Sweden taking the fortresses had them up in arms in no time.
- Big Damn Heroes: As far as the principle of popular sovereignty is concerned. The meeting of VIP s on February 16 could have ended in a statement for absolutism. Then Georg Sverdrup arrived as the last man to the meeting, conveniently turning the tables completely, opening the way to a general assembly and a constitution.
- Boomerang Bigot: Swedish nobles towards Norwegians in general. The general assumption was that Norwegians were easily persuaded and conquered, and if they resisted conquest, the blame lay on Danish scheming against them. Count von Essen, the designated Governor of Norway, stated rather bluntly that Norwegians were "unenlightened". This prejudice becomes hilarious for every other nationality around the world, who hardly see any difference at all between the peoples in question.
- Both Sides Have a Point: Played historically straight with the two constituent fractions. Over time, it seems both sides gained some points, and the justice between them is evened out.
- The Bully: Russia towards Denmark come the middle of May. Russia bullied Denmark in excess, because Norway didn`t comply fully.
- Bullying The Dragon: The assembly knew full well that the Swedish army was on the border, and Norway had to deal with them in summer 1814. The Swedish monarch never quite forgave the Norwegians for the constitution, which he regarded as a personal offence, and he tried to overrule it time and again without success.
- Butt Monkey: Nicolay Wergeland, the priest from Christiansand. He was slandered after the assembly, never to be elected to politics again. He remains a Butt Monkey to this very day.
- Cassandra Truth: The Norwegians who warned Christian Frederik on the way things were going were rebuffed. Many of those saw a union with Sweden as inevitable, and tried to make the best of it. Too bad the prince regent never listened to them.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Loyalty to Denmark or to the Norwegian cause was the main problem of Christian Frederik. Apart from him, people struggled with it all over, and accusations rose of loyalty or disloyalty towards or against the constitution, Sweden, Denmark, the treaty of Kiel. And this still haunts historians who discuss the subject.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Trying to claim independence with every major power working against you by making a democratic constitution to secure power for an ambitious prince who already had plans of a coup d`etat? It just might work...
- Crowning Moment Of Awesome: To Norwegians, the spring of 1814 up to and including the actual drafting of the constitution is treated as such in history. The later events, like admitting defeat to Sweden and revising the constitution to fit in a loose union, is usually downplayed, and treated as less interesting history. Thus, the fall of 1814 is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and not so thoroughly related - as noted, the "king who left in a hurry" never spoke of his Epic Fail again, for the rest of his life.
- Consider this: Sweden actually gave in and accepted the Norwegian constitution with a few amendments, which even strengthened the popular sovereignty over the power of the king. That was probably even more awesome than making it in the first place. This tactical move to preserve the union and prevent more bloodshed secured the Norwegian constitution for posterity, and it is still in use.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The trek done by the Swedish Army through Jutland in January 1814, once and for all stating who had the actual power. Denmark finally ratified the treaty of Kiel after that experience. They had hardly any defences left, and gave in after two days.
- Later, the attack on Fredrikstad.
- Darkest Hour: Remembered as such later, famously in the Norwegian national anthem: "We endured harsh times, eventually became outcasts, but in our direst hour of need, Freedom was born to us..."
- David Versus Goliath: Norway played it straight at Matrand in August, but the trope was mostly inverted because of Swedish manpower. At the defence of Fredrikstad, the Norwegians defended an island with 1100 men against 6000 Swedes. They fought bravely and lost, also being overpowered by immense cannon power from the Swedish ships.
- Deadpan Snarker: Georg Sverdrup, university principal, most prominently. Others as well.
- Decided By One Vote: The dramatic votation of April 19, discussing how far the Assembly should have power, or whether or not disassemble after the concluded constitution. The debate ended in a tie, with 55 pro and 55 against. The speaker had to decide. As it happened, much sweat was wasted, a lot of bad blood was instigated, and the case fell flat. The assemble dissolved in may anyway. Much of Nicolai Wergeland`s Butt Monkey status began in those debates.
- Depending on the Writer: Historians have tried to make heroes of every single member of the assembly, and at the same time put one of the parties in a less flattering light. The usual way of telling it makes Christian Magnus Falsen The Hero, and Georg Sverdrup The Lancer, while Count Wedel is the Big Bad and Løvenskjold The Dragon. Matters seem to have been more complicated than that, but this version has been standard for several years.
- Distant Finale: In the runup to the bicentennial, the Danish choose to celebrate with Norway, sending their queen. Sweden, however, decided that their king should not attend. Old scores that should be settled have left their scars.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: The basic Norwegian reaction when the treaty of Kiel was published. Note that no other nation in Europe regarded Norway as a legal state, let alone a nation. So, they had to define themselves on the spot - using the old norse definition, as can be seen from the citation on top of the page.
- Dysfunctional Family: The Anker family and their relations: Jacob Aall, who supported Count Wedel against the Prince, was the son-in-law of Peder Anker, who was the cousin of Carsten Anker, the proprietor of Eidsvold and The Obi-Wan of the Prince. The fact that Wedel was married to Peder`s other daughter, making him an in-law of Jacob Aall as well, makes this even more interesting. The Norwegian elite was so small that everybody knew eachother or were related. Thus, the assembly had shades of a family feud. Carsten Anker was not present, being on a diplomatic mission to London - and thus avoiding more conflict on his home turf.
- Elephant in the Living Room: Foreign politics and relations. All of the elected constituent men knew they had to adress the problem sooner or later, but preferred not to talk about it. Nicolai Wergeland made a bold gesture when proposing a comitee for foreign affairs, and was scolded for it. A scrap of dialogue from the assembly could go like this:
Løvenskjold: But the prince himself addressed our relation to Sweden in his opening speech...
Many others: HUSH!
- Enemy Within: Any significant person who disagreed with the other fraction. Wedel to Christian Frederik and otherwise, Sverdrup to Wergeland and otherwise. Christian Frederik was arguably a huge Enemy Within if his hidden agenda is plausible.
- Evil Brit: The British attitude towards the problem stirred some understandable sentiments in Norway.
- Failure Is the Only Option: The plans of Christian Frederik failed, as far as his kingship is concerned. He took it pretty hard.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Christian Frederik the prince regent. Somewhat depending on how he handled, or if he was solely responsible for calling in the Constituent Assembly.
- False Reassurance: The official statement from the Swedish king to the Norwegian people dated february 8. This statement boils down to "Norwegians, we are about to invade you, and we come as friends. Please embrace us".
- Fatal Flaw: Christian Frederik seems to be a tad too self confident in hindsight. He was also prone to be pushed on by sycophants, which is never good.
- Nicolai Wergeland was a bit too rash for his own good.
- Georg Sverdrup was rather proud, which made him a jerkass at times.
- Nobody ever saw the big picture. No wonder history has a tendency to make the whole thing seemingly depend on luck.
- Gambit Pileup: Of course. Christian Frederik had one agenda, the Danish king had another, the Swedes yet another, and then there was the conflicting views of the Norwegian fractions, pro and contra the position of the prince, the Swedes, the Danish. Luckily, they all got together and talked it over.
- At Eidsvoll, people suspected the prince regent to play Sverdrup and Falsen to his own benefit. On the other hand it may not be evident whether Falsen and Sverdrup also played the prince to their benefit as well.
- Game Changer: The Popular Sovereignty principle, as stated by Rousseau. After The French Revolution, nobody actually dared to ignore it when put to use. It is, however, clear that not even the British saw it coming early on - they actually thought the Norwegians would happily embrace a union with Sweden.
- The Norwegian constitution itself was a game changer. When this became known for the greater powers, England actually gave Norway a chance to maneuvre in the negotiations, and secured a far more loose union between the countries than Sweden had wished for in january (also because England saw the dangers in a strong Sweden in tight alliance with Russia. Reducing the Swedish power was just what England wanted, and the Norwegians came in handy).
- To follow this narrative a bit further, Britain saw it fit to support Norwegian independence from Sweden in 1905, and that paid off some 35 years later, when the Norwegian commercial fleet helped securing the lifeline for a Britain under German blockade during World War II (although with a high personal cost). If Norway had been an "unseparable" unit under Sweden from 1814, Britain might as well have been starved out by Nazi Germany.
- Sadly inverted later in the case of Poland in 1830, when the British turned their heads away and let the Russian army crush the Polish rebellion, effectively putting the Poles under martial law all the way up to 1917. Resulted in a What the Hell, Hero? statement from many authors, among them, not surprisingly at all, Norwegian Henrik Wergeland.
- General Ripper: In July, Carl Johan showed himself more and more from this side, to the point where he had to recall orders for attack twice, gaining scolds from Great Britain, and heavy chiding from Russia! He got his war eventually, declaring it on July 25.
- Genre Blindness: Henrik Wergeland at least accuses some parts of the assembly for being too blind on behalf of Christian Frederik. The Prince Regent himself was pretty genre blind at times, especially when underestimating the Swedish army (as was Carsten Anker, as mentioned above. He and the Prince were best friends). Managing to underestimate Sweden after the Curb-Stomp Battle in January really invokes the trope. The trope also involves the Danish king, who staked a lot on the belief that Sweden would not attack.
- Even Carl Johan has some shades, when he actually believed that a Swedish army could march straight into Norway, expecting to be hailed as friends on arrival, when the Norwegians had been attacked by the Swedes only five years before. Somebody should alert the Swedish prince on the lack of savviness.
- Genre Savvy: The greater lot of the assembly. The count of Wedel-Jarlsberg may get special attention, as well as the central 12 to make the first proposal for the constitution. The farmers also count, with the Telemark Farmer Huvestad as the most savvy. He lay forth the claim for property rights after the fashion of the old Norse standards. He got his will.
- Half Truth: The Danish king sent information to the Norwegian regent, his cousin, regarding the treaty of Kiel. But the crucial article IV, stipulating that Denmark had handed Norway over to Sweden, was edited out. Thus, Christian Frederik was misled by the king, and acted accordingly. One wonders why the Danish king wished to keep the regent in the dark about this - ahem - important point of the treaty...
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: Count Wedel vs Georg Sverdrup. Nicolai Wergeland vs Georg Sverdrup. Sverdrup vs Jacob Aal... And so on, and so on...
- Christian Frederik and the count Wedel had a famous one in march, with both of the yelling to the point that everybody heard them Volleying Insults. The count arguably challenged the prince on "who retreats first" when the Swedes attacked.
- Honor Before Reason: Sweden actually proposed a more liberal union than Norway ever had with Denmark, up to and including a drafted constitution. The Norwegian majority flatly refused this offer, because they would not, for the sake of honor, go under Swedish rule. Sweden, on the other hand, was honorably bound to her own expansionism, and could not easily conceive that Norway actually wished for another solution than offered. The entire war in august boils down to this trope, for both countries, as well as for Carl Johan personally.
- Humiliation Conga: Denmark, or at least their king, had a serious one because of the greater powers. By the middle of may, the Russian and Prussian demands had turned so harsh the Danish prime minister allegedly splurted out:
What do you want of us? Do you wish to humiliate the king in the eyes of his people? Du you wish to make Denmark a Swedish province? You might as well do it, to get this crisis over with...
- I Am the Noun: Christian Frederik came pretty close to set his personal crusade for kingship and the Norwegian cause for independence as one and the same. Although he did not say "I am Norway", the sources tell us he said he was "inseparable" from her. He actually got a good lot of people to rally for him personally, to the point where accusations of treason were used if the Prince`s motifs were put under scrutiny. On the other hand: when the question of totalitarian rule came up, a good lot of people, including the army(!) had second thoughts.
- The prince regent was so good at this, he is prone to get more honour than he rightfully deserves, even today, Depending on the Writer.
- Idiot Ball: The most important ball holder would be Danish king Frederik VI, who trusted his divine role as a totalitarian ruler Up to Eleven, and was a bit late when reality knocked at the door. Denmark had also made herself dependent on military forces from Norway over most of the union times. When Denmark found that army unavailable, Denmark was screwed big time, being short of other reserves, which they mustered. When the Swedes attacked over land and invaded Jutland, the Danes managed to have 20 batallions for them - on the wrong island, Funen. Without any naval power to their disposal, that was a drastic misplacement.
- The army placed at Funen was had actually a very narrow sound between them and Jutland, at the city of Midelfart, to be crossed in hours. This geographical fact makes january 6, 1814 (being the day of invasion) one of the greatest strategic mishaps in Danish history. Because this was January, the strait would be covered with ice, and therefore passable for an army. What an Idiot.
- Even better: King Frederik ordered Christian Frederik to attack Sweden with the entire Norwegian army. Needless to say that even Christian Frederik thought that was a bad idea.
- And then there was the Swedish king, who believed that the Swedish army could march into Norway and be welcomed there. When he got his proclamation printed in Norway by February, it just stirred up sentiments against the Swedes even more. In this case, the We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill trope was inverted to "We come in peace - why are you shooting at us?"
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: A revision of the constitution had to be done when it was evident a union with Sweden was unavoidable come september. An extraordinary parliamentary session was called in to do the revision, but the two most prominent leaders of the "independence" fraction at the actual assembly that same spring were suddenly unavailable. Sverdrup excused himself and went to Denmark for books for his university chores (he was a professor in Latin). And Falsen, he probably ironed his dog in a secluded place.
- Insane Troll Logic: Occurred time and again. The most blatant example is Carl Johan. When he understood a rebellion was brooding in Norway, he decided to attack Denmark, reasoning that this was their fault. The Danes, according to Carl Johan, had to persuade the Norwegians to keep quiet. At the time, Denmark had handed Norway over long ago, and the Norwegians couldn`t care less if Denmark was attacked.
- Insufferable Genius: Georg Sverdrup, at least when debating with Nicolai Wergeland. In the 1989 TV special, he arguably was portrayed as such, always bearing himself in a way that it seemed he looked down on everybody else, up to and including the Prince, which looked timid next to him. Well, it takes an Insufferable Genius to stare down a prince inherent.
- Intrinsic Vow: The "popular oath", taken by almost every Norwegian present in all churches across the country, starting on february 25, 1814. As close as one gets a Norwegian declaration of independence. Elections for the Assembly was held at the same time.
- "Faithful and united until Dovre falls". Said by most of the assembly before finally breaking up May 19. Even more awesome as they made a "chain of brotherhood" at the same time.
- I Take Offence To That Last One: Georg Sverdrup was really annoyed by a couple of things Nicolai Wergeland had said in passing, and by May 18, after the work was finished, he craved that Wergeland should apologize publicly for his statements. This led to a new and heated discussion, until Jacob Aal famously arose and said: "No, Mr Sverdrup. I did not take offence of reverend Wergeland`s statements".
- It Has Been an Honor: All of the assembled afterwards. Altough tensions lingered (Nicolai Wergeland never got promoted to Bishop although qualified, or elected to parliament afterwards), this was the rule.
- It's All About Me: Christian Frederik, the prince regent. Although a decent fellow in many respects, he used a lot of time stressing his own importance in the matters at hand. His famous journey through Norway was a rally for support, and "to tie the knot between the Norwegians and myself".
- It's Personal: Carl Johan, after seven months of delay, took personal offence to the Norwegian "rebellion", and waged war almost for personal issues at the end of July. Note that Christian Frederik had offered negotiations to the point of leaving Norway already in the middle of June. So, when war came anyway, Carl Johan wanted Christian Frederik put to shame pretty bad - he hated Christian that much.
- This personal grudge lagged on for years, to the point that he took offence every time the Norwegians celebrated their may 17 (and he actually forbid the celebrations a couple of years).
- Knight, Knave and Squire: the Power Trio consisting of Falsen, Sverdrup and the Bergen clerk Wilhelm Frimann Koren Christie, with Falsen being the idealistic, Sverdrup the pragmatic. Christie showed his true colors during the summer diplomacy, and while not being inexperienced, he was the shrewd diplomat of the trio.
- Knight Templar: A couple of the men was quite eager in their cause. The merchants Rosenkilde and Stoltenberg seem to be the worst. The latter was a "raging anti Swede", the other was just "without his wits".
- Large Ham: It is easier to find the few who weren`t. When the debates heatened up in april, the whole area reeked of ham.
- The Laws and Customs of War: The Swedes played it straight. Notes had to be exchanged and formalized, and declarations had to be ratified by the right people. This came out to the advantage of Norway, who played a delaying gambit (Christian Frederik was good at this). This is the reason why Sweden didn`t invade at once. When they eventually did, a Curb-Stomp Battle ensued.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Christian Frederik in his later years. The whole Danish population was effectively ordered by the king to change their history books in school. Officially, the union with Norway never happened - for a very long time.
- Life of the Party: Christian Frederik was good at this, and gained some points in popularity over it. As well as chicks. After coming to Trondheim, he partied with the city officials and high ranking burghers for five nights in a row, which is something of a Moral Dissonance, considering his trek through rural Norway, where he met a lot of commoners and farmers begging for food (which he couldn`t give them).
- Loophole Abuse: The entire argument for calling a national assembly can be seen as one. According to international law at the time, Norway just had to comply. The argument presented by Sverdrup made quite correctly a stir in the British political debate.
- The "loophole" is actually to be found in the Treaty of Kiel as written January 14, 1814. The stipulations referring to the Norwegian people and their connection to Sweden gave the Norwegians room to manoevre. And they used it accordingly. This loophole was actually created by Carl Johan himself, stating that Norway should be a "kingdom united with the Swedish". Referring to Norway as a separate kingdom did the trick. The swedish prince did it to secure the Norwegian crown in case of a fallout with the Swedish nobles. Way to go, Carl Johan.
- It is also a point that the Danish "law of the King" was set aside. The king had "dissolved all bonds of obedience" for the Norwegian people. That, and the rather fresh principle of "popular sovereignty" made the whole thing possible.
- Denmark used another loophole to secure domination over Iceland, The Faroe Islands and Greenland, because the Swedish negotiator was in the dark about whether or not those areas had been Norwegian at all. They had, but Sweden didn`t know, so Denmark cheated.
- Magnificent Bastard: Carl Johan. First, he managed to maneuvre the entire set of greater powers to accept that Sweden just snatched Norway under Denmark`s nose. Then, he effectively managed to throttle both Denmark and Norway in a quick military defeat, and later on gained enough trust with the Norwegian political elite to establish a union that would last for the rest of the century. Bonus points for getting the main street of Oslo, capital of Norway, to bear his name, and the most visible statue in that capital, the only equestrian statue in that city, is a depiction of him (no other king of Norway has a similar monument). The may 17. promenade passes through the street of Carl Johan every fricking year!
- Mediator: The factory owner Jacob Aal, who always seemed to soften Knight templars on both sides.
- Memetic Mutation: Over the years, the actual story has fallen victim of this. Christian Frederik has often been cast as a royal hero of sort, on a heroic mission to save Norway from Sweden. In this respect, the "independence party" and their leaders are lancers for him, while Count Wedel is The Mole or the Evil Chancellor. For this to work, one has to oversee the fact that Christian was actually heir to the Danish crown and would be king there in time, effectively bringing Norway back to a union with Denmark. In Real Life, the Prince Regent was close to pull a british Berserk Button as well as the Swedish one, and could have made matters worse, had he stayed on. Most of his Fairy Tale qualities come from the fact that he left as soon as he did (not unlike the Scottish Bonnie Prince Charlie - although Christian Frederik was as far from a Warrior Prince as you could possibly get him).
- Mentor Archetype: Carsten Anker to Christian Frederik. The former was The Obiwan to the latter, as Christian was merely 26 years of age when coming to Norway, and Anker was an old, experienced diplomat who knew what was to be learned about Norway and foreign relations. Taken even further because Anker had known Christian since he was a little boy, having him on his lap and telling him stories about how he one day would become king of Norway... This may have passed over in Lover and Beloved territory, although history keeps quiet about it. It was also Anker who provided the facilities for the Constituent Assembly to use, being the owner of the iron mines at Eidsvold (The Prince had been a house guest there for a year at the time). Anker was arguably The Man Behind the Man in many respects.
- The Mole: One delegate sympathized so much with Sweden that he was rumored to send them reports on what happened during negotiations. It is also implied that Christian Frederik the Prince Regent served as a mole for his father, the king of Denmark, with a stated goal in mind: To keep Norway as close to Denmark as possible. This is justified by the fact that he never rescinded his claim to the Danish throne after taking the Norwegian one. The suggestion that he should rescind his inheritance to Denmark fell.
- To make matters even more interesting, all the people who followed the Prince kept him up to speed on the developments and negotiations, although he was not present there. His party did a good mole work for him.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: After the fall of Napoleon, all the greater powers gathered in Paris to establish a "new order": Great Britain, Prussia, Austria, Russia... and - ahem - Sweden. Justified by the fact that Great Britain had a low opinion of the Swedish because of their little unilateral "adventure" in Holstein. The only power who really put her weight behind Sweden was Russia.
- The only thing the Swedish ever talked about, seemed to be international support for securing Norway. The British regarded them, in spite of their treaty with Sweden, as something of a pain in the ass. And Carl Johan, being French of birth, was reluctant to wage war on his original countrymen.
- This resentment is partly a reason why Great Britain never asked for Swedish (let alone Russian) assistance when calling for external help prior to the Battle of Waterloo one year later. Britain and Prussia managed it all by themselves.
- Never Learned to Read: Only one of them, the midshipman Even Thorsen from Mandal. All the others were literate. Thorsen "did not do the fleet any shame", Henrik Wergeland later reported.
- Never My Fault: King Frederik of Denmark. Period. His final letter to the Norwegian people relies heavily on this trope. The blame is England`s, and then all the other powers. Justified in the fact that he was raised a totalitarian king, with a stipulated law that actually told him he was faultless.
- Christian Frederik, leaving Norway in August, made a statement that fits the trope in spades. He pointed out how the Norwegians had wanted him to be their king, conveniently forgetting how hard he worked for it himself. And pissed off som major powers on the way. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
- No, Except Yes: Carstensen, a merchant and rather bumbling comic relief from the town of Risør, managed this when it came to a pivotal point of negotiations. His vote covered the trope to a T.
- No Indoor Voice: Georg Sverdrup was known for his strong voice. That does not mean the others didn`t bellow considerably when they got the chance.
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now: The attitude of the Swedish. They had it all planned, and then came the Constituent Assembly. Parts of the Swedish establishment never got over it.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Denmark had a serious change in self confidence, evolving into the easygoing and affable character we know and love.
- Oh Crap / Heroic BSOD: Christian Frederik when he realized the fortress in Fredrikstad had fallen to the Swedes in August. He promptly made peace with Sweden, abdicated and left - to avoid more bloodshed. Sources tell he had a fit of depression at the time, and really fell ill for a period. The Heroic BSOD was Serious Business for him.
- Peace Through Superior Firepower: The bombardment of the island of Kråkerøy close to Fredrikstad on august 4. The Swedish firepower was immense, and the treaty of Moss followed ten days later, securing peace in Scandinavia for posterity, and a union between Norway and Sweden for 99 years.
- Poor Communication Kills: For all practical reasons, this is 1814. No telecommunication, and every letter sent will take at least two days to reach destination, if at all. And for Norway the matters were even worse - the country was cut off from all information for most of January, leaving only rumors to do the job. Full winter with icy waters and storms did not make it easier for anyone. And there was a war going on, of course.
- Pretext for War: Great Britain made it pretty damn clear that they would wage war on Norway if Norway insisted on keeping Christian Frederik as King elect. As it happened, Christian Frederik made a Heel Realization in the nick of time.
- Pretty Boy: Prince Christian Frederik of Denmark. Said to have had his way with more than one woman in his days as regent.
- Prince Charming: Christian Frederik again. He was quite a charmer in his youth◊.
- Punch Clock Villain: Great Britain. Although the official British policy was to support Sweden, and to set up a Naval Blockade around Norway, they weren`t very strict about it. It so happened that the British navy, which Sweden expected to block incoming ships, actually helped Norwegian boats passing through, and at one point they actually defended the Norwegian ships from a Swedish caper. Thus, the 1814 blockade was not very thorough.
- The Quiet One: Hornemann, a city official who almost never said anything during the course of the assembly.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Norwegian army, put together in no time, with a lack of rifles and ammunition, and being vastly outnumbered by the Swedish. They held their own at Matrand, incredible as it sounds.
- The Constituent Assembly likewise. One wonders how they managed to come to terms at all...
- Realpolitik: The whole story from beginning to end. The British parliamentary under-secretary of state lamented the moral problem on january 5. 1814: "The morals are all on the side of Denmark. We have accepted a violation just to save Europe." The "violation" mentioned was the Swedish forceful smashing of the weak Danish defences January 6 and 7.
- Fridge Logic: The British official is mentioning Denmark, not Norway.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: A good lot: Anker, Wedel Jarlsberg, Sverdrup.
- Rebel Leader: Christian Frederik, Depending on the Writer. Subverted if he is acknowledged as The Mole for Denmark. In that case, the Norwegians would have had to rebel against him in time, rather than rally for him.
- When rumors were leaked that the prince vouched for a totalitarian rule, the army was close to rebellion against him, and the bailiff in Follo, Falsen, later present at Eidsvold, considered raising his own armed men against the prince. Ironically, he became one of Christian`s most loyal supporters later on.
- The sheer irony of the matter is, nobody was close to take leadership in Christian`s place. He had an easy match.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Due to the standard of the times, all of them (with a possible exception for the farmers).
- Sleepyhead: Some of them, most prominently Tvedten, a bailiff who supported the prince both asleep and awake
- Stockholm Syndrome: Norway towards Denmark in many respects. Four centuries of union and suppression had, of course made it`s way into the Norwegian collective unconsciousness. Nicolai Wergeland felt it particularly hard, because he had the audacity to point out all the atrocities made by Denmark over the years. A good lot of officials never forgave him.
- Tempting Fate: Christian Frederik all the time. Somewhat less blatant after the Assembly, but during the winter months... hoo boy.
- Take a Third Option: All the greater powers, plus Sweden and Norway, by accepting the legal rights of the new Norwegian constitution, and at the same time make Norway comply to the treaty of Kiel by accepting a union with Sweden.
- And, of course a rather obvious one at Eidsvoll. The constituents knew they actually were choosing between a Danish prince and a Swedish one. In a heated discussion between the prince regent and chamberlain Løvenskjold (who did not agree with him), the words covered the trope to a T:
Christian Frederik: "But you have to admit that the choice stands between being Danish or Swedish!"
Løvenskjold: "I admit this, but there is a third option you should be aware of".
Christian Frederik: "And what is that, I pray?"
- Take That: The Danish king had it on good intelligence that insurgency was brooding in Norway. The Swedes never got that information, and the Danish authorities wrote a carefully chosen declaration to Norway. The Danish totalitarian kings had suppressed many rebellions in the past, and knew the Norwegians had rebelled time and again. So, when Frederik of Denmark knew a Norwegian movement towards independency was well under way, he seems to have handed Norway over to Sweden with the statement: "Now you can handle this, Sweden. Not our problem anymore. And good luck."
- When making amendments to the original constitution of Norway, to make it fit for a loose union with Sweden, the parliament managed to fit in a new word in the first paragraph: "Norway is not to be handed over". This was a serious kick to the whole treaty of Kiel, and the phrasing still stands - something that makes every discussion on the matter of EU membership rather ...interesting.
- Too Dumb to Live: Christian Frederik, being sure of his right to be king of Norway, started to write dispatches for every single European court, making them ready even before he was officially sworn in or elected. He also sent dispatches to Sweden, who sent the letters back unopened. This is even more hilarious when considering that Sweden at the time was about to attack!
- Also when regarding the defences at Fredrikstad. Military experts a mite more Genre Savvy than Christian Frederik had warned him on the poor condition of the fortress. His solution: to move the cannon batteries away from the fortress, finding better use for them another place, leaving the town more or less defenseless. He reasoned that the Swedes would go around the city. Of course, they went straight for it, and the "summer kingdom" of Christian Frederik was doomed. What an Idiot.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Georg Sverdrup. After heckling Nicolai Wergeland in April, he actually tried to convince the Assembly to force the same Wergeland to withdraw his statements. Sverdrup, already a badass of some renown, really earned the jerkass label after that one. History shows he resented Wergeland for years afterwards.
- Tsarist Russia: Supported Sweden to the point that Carl Johan actually fawned for the tsar after the securing of Norway. When a proud Warrior Prince turns sycophantic for the Tsar, it`s pretty damn serious.
- Underestimating Badassery: Sweden towards Norway all the way. Even when becoming aware of the growing rebellion, they blamed the Danish. And as far as the constitution is concerned, well, Didn't See That Coming.
- Upper-Class Twit / Sheltered Aristocrat: All things considered, and regarding some of his more stupid decisions, Christian Frederik fits the tropes. History shows he may have been too sheltered to embrace all the facts.
- War Hawk: Most prominently the Swedish count von Essen, who was assigned to lead the attack on Norway, and had to wait patiently for a diplomatic solution, for months without any action. When Carl Johan came up with a usefull strategic plan, he leaped with joy. But he had to wait almost two months more.
- Warrior Prince: Christian August, later Carl Johan.
- We ARE Struggling Together: The Assembly. At odds on many levels, not least over the role of the Prince Regent, and the position of Norway. One wonders if they had been more in agreement without Christian Frederik present (he was in the area, not present in the negotiations. His friends told him everything he needed to know).
- Wham Line: Several. "God Supports (Gud er attåt)" is written on a memory tablet close to the Eidsvold building. But the most important Wham Line came later the same day, when the Prince Regent proposed totalitarian rule (which he was used to at home). Georg Sverdrup promptly answered: "Your Royal Highness has no more right to the Norwegian Crown than I have!"
- What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: The two week war waged by Sweden against Norway seems utterly senseless, when considering the proposal for peace given in July, before the war, was exactly the same as was negotiated in August, after the campaign. Thus, a good half thousand men, Swedes and Norwegians alike, died for nothing.
- What the Hell, Hero?: When the Norwegians learned that the Danish king had given up Norway almost without any fighting at all, they got a bit - resentful - towards him.
- Count Wedel almost kicked down the doors in the beginning of March, stating exactly this when he learned what was brooding in Norway (knowing full well what the Swedish army actually could manage).
- When the Danish king learned of the progress in Norway, he actually said, and thought the same on behalf of Christian Frederik (especially after the international pressure began).
- While Rome Burns: When Kråkerøy and Fredrikstad came under fire, the elderly Swedish king Carl XIII oversaw it personally from a safe distance. Arguably, he had been looking forward to this all year.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Either the prince regent, or at least some of his followers, who declined to listen to reason.
- World of Ham: When the debaters raged at their worst.
- Worthy Opponent: Count Wedel towards the Prince and likewise. The fractions also saw eachother as such, rather than Evil Counterparts. As everybody worked for the same basic cause, none of the delegates present were interested in obstructing it.
- Yes-Man: The counsellors of the Prince Regent. His advisory council was naturally sycophantic, being trained to treat Danish royals with utter respect. This caused some problems when reality ensued.
- Younger than They Look: Naval lieutenant Konow, being 19 years of age, was the youngest representative present. Another Loophole was used, as the representatives was meant to be 25 and older.