Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)

Norway (Norge)

Capital : Oslo

Akershus fylke, Aust Agder fylke, Vest Agder fylke, Baskerud fylke, Finnmark fylke, Hedmark fylke, Hordaland fylke, Møre og Romsdal fylke, Sogn og Fjordane fylke, Telemark fylke, Nord Trondelag fylke, Vestfold fylke, Østfold fylke, Oppland fylke, Nordland fylke, Troms fylke

Size: 125 000 sq m Popn: 4 286 000


The original inhabitants were Saami (Lapps) and other nomads and Norway was gradually invaded by the Goths. Vikings from the Norwegian fjords made some of the longest voyages of exploration recorded in the C9th and C10th. They invaded and colonised much of Ireland, western and island Scotland and northern England as well as reaching Iceland, Greenland and probably America. Large numbers left Norway at this time, possibly due to overcrowding and poor harvests resulting from climactic variations. Norwegians founded the Kingdom of Dublin in 841 and the Orkney and Shetland Islands, with part of northern Scotland, were the Norse Earldom of Orkney. King Erik Bloodaxe also ruled the Viking Kingdom of York but this did not survive his death in 964 although Scandinavian settlers remained in the area, influencing placenames and customs until modern times.

Norway was ruled by local chieftains until Harald Finehair gained control of most of the south and unified it as a feudal country after the battle of Hafrsfjord in the 890s. The rise of Denmark in the C10th led to Norway coming under occasional Danish rule, including that of King Cnut (Canute) of Denmark, who also ruled England. After Cnut's death, a Norwegian king succeeded him but there were still periods of Danish control. Olaf II had introduced Christianity in the C11th but was defeated by rebel chiefs backed by Canute in 1030. Haakon IV (1217-63) who established crown control over the church and nobility and made the monarchy hereditary.

The crown of Norway was united with Denmark by marriage in 1380 and under the Union of Kalmar (1397-1523) Norway, Sweden and Finland joined Denmark in an alliance with one ruler, Erik. As Sweden challenged Denmark for supremacy in the Baltic, Norway became gradually smaller and disputes with the powerful merchants of the Hanseatic League caused further problems. Sweden broke away in 1523 but Norway was under Danish rule until it was ceded to Sweden in 1814. Norway rebelled and Sweden invaded but a compromise was made which allowed Norway to keep its own parliament but was united with Sweden under one monarchy. Conflict between the Norwegian parliament and the Swedish crown continued and Norway declared itself entirely independent in 1905. This was confirmed by plebiscite and Carl, a son of the Danish king, Frederik VIII, was elected as the new ruler, Haakon VII.

Norway abandoned its tradition of neutrality after it was occupied by Germany during WWII and joined North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949, the Nordic Council in 1952 and the European Free Trade Association in 1960. It was accepted into the EC in 1952 but the application was withdrawn after it was rejected by a referendum. A series of coalition governments have provided stability. Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland was given the Third World Prize for work on environmental issues in 1988 but lost many seats in the elections of September 1989 and resigned in October after a vote of no confidence. The government of her successor, the Conservative Jan P. Syse, collapsed in October 1990 and she returned to power as leader of a minority Labour government.

Norwegian Names

Although there has been a revival of the Old Norse names during the last century, until about 1900 their use was discouraged by the church due to their heathen connotations. There were quite strong regional variations until spelling was standardised in the 1890s so some of the different versions of names in use today may result from this. Many girls' names were formed by adding the feminine suffix '-e' (pronounced like English '-a') to a male name.

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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