Saturday, December 28, 2013

Norway Unification. Religion, Politics, Force. Halfdan the Black through Olaf II.

What unified Norway:  What form of religion, politics.
Is there a difference, where rulers rule. 

Halfdan the Black to Olaf II Haraldsson, Saint Olaf
Harald I, son of Halfdan.

Details evolving at
 Harald I at Haraldshaugen
See both sites at all times. 
Where there is myth, there is inconsistency.
What anywhere in politics or religion, is myth.
Does it matter to nationalism, or religion-ego.

Imposing a Cultural Hegemony. 
 Who wins, how, and why?
And what happens to "fact"?

In Norway, follow the motivational idea of religion in change. This site provides an initial overview of the complex issue of how medieval Christianity, how the Originator's so-called love your neighbor idea, morphed into rules, convert or die, exclusionism.  The merit of allowing autonomy, while encouraging adherence to non-judgmental ideas, soon took a back seat. to rulers and politicians who used the hypothetetical appeal of Christianity as help for the poor, instead for power goals.

At our site, do searches for individual rulers, for how "Christianity" progressed as an institution of power, not its, perhaps, gnostic or more mystical, be there and help, roots.

  • Which ruler converted because of the love your neighbor message of Jesus? Rather, watch salesmanship, disaster through Charlemagne slaughtering 4500 Saxons who would not convert. Then came militaristic institutional threat as the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II flexed muscle moving into Denmark from Germany, and other force and trickery needed to impose the ruler's desired Christianity over time upon a disparate and highly autonomous population, and  in a such a wide-ranging territory. How to unify this gang?

  • Forced Christianization fit the bill, from early chieftains (and what they perhaps understood it meant) through Roman Catholic imperialism a la mode of Rome, with its hierarchy and dogma domination and disposing of perceived enemies, then revolt against that in Norway, and the Reformation with its own compulsions, to now -- no state religion at all.

 Of course, some who professed the new faith were other-directed: others considered themselves inspired, visionaries. How to see into dead hearts, except by their fruits. Was it convert or die, as to followers. Is any claimed belief free of manipulation by some interest, seeking its own goals. See politics undergirding change in Norway: Mission, Conversion, Indoctrination section on Scandinavia at http://www.ionahistory.org.uk/iona-conf-swift-pdf-version.pdf

Use and misuse of crosses: What was meant by the symbol at the time; what beliefs, what behavior was "Christian."

Krosshaug, early Christian cross at Haugesund, Norway. Said to commemorate death of Harald Fairhair's favorite son, Eric Bloodaxe,  in 945 in England*
* See http://www.stavangertravel.com/trip/haraldshaugen-haugesund.cfm  The cross broke in 1846, now repaired.


So: How was Norway ultimately unified, from fjord-by-fjord, valley by valley autonomous communities; provinces, to a broad area considering itself a nation. Without some framework for all these people, the monuments and barrows and other burial sites, and stave churches and Lutherans, and all, blur. Sometimes an introduction through somebody's term paper is useful, here author Roman Zakharii, vet this fast framework (the author seeking a divinity degree online, so vet details) http://www.personal.ceu.hu/students/97/Roman_Zakharii/norway-church.htm.

More detail, and many more kings: See Project Gutenberg Story of Norway, from 1886. Issues of migrations as posited there, in 1886, are probably superseded now with DNA, etc.

A CHRONOLOGY

1.  8th Century:  

Possible early contacts with Christian missionaries, Celtic (not Roman institutional) see difficulties in documentation, disagreement of evidence, at The Christianization of Norway, Dr. Sæbjørg WALAKER NORDEIDE, Enseignant-Chercheur, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Bergen 

Firmer contacts focus on the 9th century and following, see http://christianization.hist.cam.ac.uk/regions/norway/norway-contact-christ.html

  • Process 793 -1066. 
The year 793 is a late start for considering Viking warring activity.  They had engaged in trade before that, and warfare.

 This 793 year is known for starting off the Viking era, beginning with the famed attacks on Christian monasteries off Ireland and Scotland.

The techniques for building the famed Viking ships, however, began probably a century earlier, see war ventures, warships now found from earlier times, at The First Vikings, Archeology Magazine , re excavations 2012.  Even at that earlier stage, the structure of the warring group was not disorganized, or egalitarian, but clearly hierarchical, focused.  From the burials to the accoutrements, some of the persons buried in those earlier battle times were ranking, others not.  See site. These were not wild tribesmen. There were apparently noblemen, retinue, even perhaps a "king" judging from an item inserted in the skeleton's mouth, then there were the warriors, the laborers on board. the worker folk, on board and in the burial, on the  bottom.

2.  9th Century

2.1  Halfdan the Black -- 810-860.  

Halfdan the Black was District-King of Vestfold, House of Yngling.

Vestfold is a small area,a few provinces, on the west shore of the Oslo fjord.  He is the subject of one of the Sagas, Halfdan the Black Saga, at http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/heim/03halfdn.htm.   Halfdan drowned when his sled and horses, and he and a great host with him, fell through the ice of Lake Rond.  Here is a sample sled from a cache of great riches found on a burial ship, in the ground at Oseburg. Speculation:  the wealthy woman buried here was the Yngling clan Queen Asa, mother of Halfdan the Black, but other theories also abound.



The head of Halfdan the Black is said to be in this small museum in Hadeland, the Hadeland Folkemuseum, but the building was closed. 


The body is said to be in a mound to the south, but we could not find the exact place, just spots that looked like the photographs.  One news article noted that there was local opposition to excavating -- the preference is to believe Halfdan is in there, and not to find out otherwise. Good. Some say the precise mounds for given rulers are unknown, see http://thornews.com/2013/10/18/where-are-the-great-viking-kings-buried/


Where did the name black" come from?

2.2  Harald Fairhair Halfdansson 850-933 -- A son of Halfdan the Black.

Harald Fairhair Halfdansson 850-933 -- A son of Halfdan the Black.  Harald Fairhair did unify the petty kingdoms of Norway.  There are legends of his love for and marriage to a Sami woman, Snoefrith, with bewitching powers. Other story traditions, from Iceland, cast him as a tyrant, a villain from whom some Viking groups fled, to Iceland.. See academia.edu at  Mythological Foundations of the Medieval Norwegian Dynasty.  Current scholars are untangling source materials, and early religious ramifications:  how did the association of Harald Fairhair with divinity transpire? See site.

The son of that union with the Sami woman, Sigurd the Bastard -- was the relationship a concubinage? Sigurd later became king himself.  Which?

Harald Fairhair: Many figures have multiple names. Harald Fairhair had been Harald the Unkempt. His future bride either before or after the Snoefrith would not marry him until he unified Norway, so he refused to cut his hair until that was done.  Then he did. And his name changed. And the new lady was on board.  See the True Myth site.

Memorial to Harald Fairhair, Haraldshaugen, at Haugesund.


Harald Finehair, or Harald Harfager. See rulers' timelines and events at  http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/timeline.shtml

Sons:  Include Erik Bloodaxe; Haakon the Good.  
  • Story A.  Erik Bloodaxe survived the father and ruled Western Norway until his brother Hakon the Good claimed the whole thing, and had support of Aathelstan of Wessex, England. Erik then went to Britain himself and became king of Northumberland.  
  • Story B.  Not so.  He was killed in the ill-fated Viking invasion of Britain in 1066 just before William the Conqueror Here is the memorial to Erik Bloodaxe at Haugesund:  who is right?  Do I have a brochure?


My understanding is that Erik Bloodaxe was killed in Britain, have to check notes on Battle of Hafrsfjord, as a result of which Norway was united.

Earl Hakon-- womanizer, Olaf I Tryggvason had come to topple him, but Hakon was killed by his own thrall (slave), see http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/britannia/anglo-saxon/maldon/olaftryggvason.html.  After the death of Earl Hakon, his heir Earl Erik, and the then King Svein Forkbeard and the King of Sweden returned to topple Olaf I Tryggvason, see below

Olaf I Tryggvason 960's - 1000 - (as pre-king) scourge of Britain, perhaps with Sven Forkbeard then king of Denmark, see Uchicago site, see ; was victorious. Olaf I then allied with British King Aethelred and converted; (aas king -- after Earl Hakon of Norway was killed in 995; the Hakon heirs went to Sweden to plan next moves); Olaf I sent contingent to Christianize Iceland; at sea battle of Svold, Olaf I beat back Svein Forkbeard and the Swedish King, but Earl Hakon ultimately defeated Olaf I, who sank beneath the water with his shield over his head to avoid capture.

  • British King Aethelred and accounts of further Viking harrying:  see topic Olaf II Haraldsson, Uchicago site.

Harald Fairhair is the same as Harald Finehair, see http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/254814/Harald-I.   Other story traditions, from Iceland, cast him as a tyrant, a villain from whom some Viking groups fled, to Iceland.. See academia.edu at  Mythological Foundations of the Medieval Norwegian Dynasty.  Current scholars are untangling source materials, and early religious ramifications:  how did the association of Harald Fairhair with divinity transpire? See site.

The son of that union with the Sami woman, Sigurd the Bastard -- was the relationship a concubinage? later became king himself.



Memorial to Harald Fairhair, Haraldshaugen, at Haugesund.



Harald Finehair, or Harald Harfager. See rulers' timelines and events at  http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/timeline.shtml

Sons carried on the line, including Erik Bloodaxe whose memorial cross stands nearby. He did not fight to retain his claim to Norway when seriously challenged by his brother, Haakon the Good, see below, and returned to England instead to rule York.

3.  10th-11th Centuries 

During this period, as earlier, conversions were not necessarily the result of inspiration, vision.  Instead, they were practical compulsory steps to take in building alliances, enabling a Norse ruler to muster support of the Holy Roman Empire if he engaged in conversion activities.  These were nor benign.  Force alone would not work in Scandinavia. Norway in particular was remote, how to enforce even edicts for change of religion, people rebelled.  The rulers seeking conversion in order to consolidate territory found that force plus an articulated cause worked better.  Put an army behind the cause, and a king could indeed emerge.
  • A benefit of a religious unifiying idea:  People can rebel against an overbearing ruler, for example;  but not so much if they have been persuaded that the ruler's god is their god, and that the god speaks through the ruler. 
  • How to fight god? And how to fight that god if an institution rallied behind it, not just a few missionaries.
  • Tools for imposing the ideology soon followed the path in mainstream Europe: those who questioned the institution's dogma soon were hereticized, such as the independent-thinking Pelagians, 5th Century, see http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/britannia/anglo-saxon/earlychurch/pelagianism.html/  Earlier meditative, righteous-life-and-teach Christians, retreated to the safety and isolation (at the time) of Ireland, and often independent monastic communities.
Some tour books will claim that indigenous Norse religion faded away in this short time frame, with the building of all the stave churches. Archeology in varying areas point to differing conclusions.  
  • One author, at See The Christianization of Norway, follows instead archeological findings of Tor's Hammer, a Norse god symbol, and ongoing differences in burial practices (who used cremations, who continued to use barrows, who set Christian graves apart, when were graves for Christians limited to the Christian churchyards, what of churches built on old sites, etc).  and sees a gradual, not abrupt changeover, with long periods in some places of co-existence, use of same graveyards. So, Christianity was no blitz.

3.1  Haakon the Good - 934-961; 
replacing brother Eric Bloodaxe  947-948 rule in England, and 952-954

Haakon the Good -- 934 (935?)-961.  On the death of Harald Fairhair, his favorite son, Eric Bloodaxe became King.  See http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/vikings_8.html  He was unpopular, having killed a brother, Bjorn the Merchant.  However, when another brother of Eric, Haakon the Good, converted while abroad, and returned with military and religious support to take over, Eric quietly left without a fight.  Eric was not popular, see this google book from 1899, Norway, by Sigvart Sorenson, at p.37 ff. Eric went to England where he became a king of Northumberland.  Eric died in England, apparently a routine death, nothing bloody-axed, and this cross is said to have been erected in his memory back in Norway, at Haugesund, where Harald Fairhair is also memorialized for winning a decisive battle in the Christianization of Norway:  the Battle of Hafrsfjord, as a result of which Norway was united. A good read, that Norway book.  [Also Gutenberg book, 1886, Story of Norway, at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34646/34646-h/34646-h.htm#Page_182 for Bloodaxe and Olaf)

For a highlighted framework of actions of various leaders, see http://christianization.hist.cam.ac.uk/regions/norway/norway-process-christ.html

Haakon the Good is also known as Earl Hakon, and Haakon the Good was not so good.  Earl is a title of high rank -- and he had a reputation for womanizing that exceeded even contemporary standards. See Norway at 49.
  • 964 -- Other Haralds:  Dastardly deeds, the name crossing ethnic boundaries
    • In Denmark, the ruler at the time was Harald Bluetooth, who supported Haakon the Good. See Norway at 43.  His nephew was one Gold-Harald.  A plot was to lure the then-Norwegian King Harald Grayfall (I can't find him on Googld) to Denmark, and kill him, and then Gold-Harald could claim Norway instead of half of the Danish lands, as Gold-Harald originally wanted. 
    • However, after Gold-Harald had killed Harald Grayfall, then Haakon the Good had Gold-Harald killed. 
    • Harald Bluetooth, angered, sailed for Norway and had 720 ships and had Haakon the Good with him.  See Norway at 45.  Haakon wanted to reneg on his duty to Bluetooth for helping him. When the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II wanted to take over Denmark, Bluetooth prepared for war and ordered Haakon to help. Haakon did, for the first attack, but then headed for home. 
Boundaries were still fluid.


The second attack by Otto came soon thereafter, and Bluetooth agreed to convert in order to avoid full invasion.

Bluetooth agreed to introduce Christianity in Denmark and Norway, both, and under duress. He sent for Haakon to come get converted as well, sent priests to go aboard Haakon's ship, but at an opportune moment, Haakon put the priests back on shore, and he sailed off and declared Denmark his enemy.  That made Bluetooth angry again, there were shore burnings, but when Haakon appeared ready to engage, Bluetooth went back to Denmark.

3.2  Olaf I Tryggvason 960's - 1000 - (as pre-king).  

Olaf I Tryggvason, also spelled Tryggvesson, is not Saint Olaf, or Saint Olav.  Olaf I was raised in Novgorod, now Russia. See Norway at 50 ff. and Process of Christianization.   He was known as a scourge of Britain, perhaps with Sven Forkbeard then king of Denmark (and a son of Bluetooth), see Uchicago site.  He converted in the Scilly islands -- no clear chronological details, and questions as to what happened, see Christianization site.  See Norway at 53.  Olaf I apparently allied with British King Aethelred after Olaf I had beaten him soundly in England, and then the two became friends. Olaf was "confirmed". One forum thread notes that upon baptism, the newly converted got a new linen shift, and that also was a lure to the conversion.





















Olaf I Tryggvason then came to Norway to topple Haakon, see Norway at 50, but Hakon was killed in 995 by his own thrall (slave) instead, see http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/britannia/anglo-saxon/maldon/olaftryggvason.html.  After Earl Hakon, Haakon the Good, of Norway was killed,  the Hakon heirs went to Sweden to plan their next moves.  These were Haakon's son and heir Earl Erik and the then King Svein Forkbeard (son of Harald Bluetooth, see below) (see Norway at 27) and the King of Sweden.  They then returned to topple Olaf I Tryggvason, who had made himself king. 

In efforts to Christianize Norway, Olaf I, established several town as bases, but progress was slow.  See Christianization of Norway. Olaf I sent a contingent to Christianize Iceland. Message boards are interesting on Olaf I.  See http://msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=94;t=000143;p=1 This Olaf is not dead to memory. History is addictive to others as well. At the sea battle of Svold, Olaf I beat back Svein Forkbeard and the Swedish King, but Earl Hakon (Eric?) ultimately defeated Olaf I, who drowned with his shield over his head to avoid capture.

3.3  Olaf II Haraldsson 995-1030

Olaf II Haraldsson c. 995 -1030 is Saint Olaf -- http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/britannia/anglo-saxon/maldon/olafharaldsson.html/

Olaf II Haraldsson, Saint Olaf, Stiklestad, Battlefield, Memorial, Norway

Olaf II Haraldsson, also known as Olaf the Stout, or Olaf the Fat, Olafr Digri, or Olaf digre, see www.gutenberg.org/files/34646/34646-h/34646-h.htm#Page_182, although his girth has been radically reduced in statuary.  Overview of Olaf II Haraldsson:  Encyclopedia Britannica, Saint Olaf, killed at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030.


Olaf was a keen watcher and learner. Olaf in making his own plans was impressed with the hierarchy system, the organization and focused message of the Christians in England, and brought those tools to Norway with his conversion. Also with the support of those Christians from other lands.  He returned to unseat King Cnut, then ruling as the Danish King in Norway. Cnut, or Knut, or Canute, was the son of Svein Forkbeard; and his grandfather was Harald Bluetooth.

Olaf II was killed in battle against Canute and Norwegian farmers, peasants, with grudges against Olaf for his brutal rule, at Stiklestad, Norway. Canute had bought their allegiance, apparently, as well.  See http://stiklestad.no/praktisk-info/international/english/history/ There are many stories about his upbringing and valor, see the Gutenberg book, Story of Norway, at 182. His remains were taken by a roundabout route south to Trondheim, thereafter dispersed and probably somewhere, if at all, in wreckage of collapsed now Nidaros Cathedral (Nidaros old term for Trondheim). See post, Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim Cathedral.

 Timelines:  this one is too sketchy to be reliable, or to convey any sense of the times, do not see http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/europe/norway/notimeln.htm/  This site has an agenda to show Christianization was soft and fuzzy. Not so.  See The Vikings and Their Age, by Angus A. Somerville and R. Andrew McDonald.  Olaf II, Olafur the Stout, also played dirty tricks to get the job of conversion done, see A History of Icelandic Literature, vol. 5. by Vesteinn Olason, and Sverrir Tomasson.Almost nothing authentically medieval remains. Medieval:  Elements of the Nidaros Cathedral that survived from the period Romanesque, Norman, Transitional and Gothic periods.


FURTHER KINGS AND RULERS, DETAILS TO BE FLESHED OUT 

King Cnut of Denmark.  Defeated Olaf II, Cnut's son, also a Cnut, ruled Norway until defeated by son of Olaf II, the illegitimate Magnus

3.4  Harald Hardrada  1015-1066

3.5  Magnus

Magnus I had fled to Russia, was asked to return, did so in 1035, defeated Cnut (the son of Big Cnut), and also beame King of Sweden in 1042.


  • Need clarifications: Haraldsson; Hakon the Frenzied (battle reference, probably) 1170's -1214, son of Folkvid the Lawspeaker
Haakon Ericsson  ____-1030, king of Norway as vassal under Danish King Knut

==========================================
* Sources:  Unfamiliar rulers:  Learning a new cultural context takes time. Traditional European history often dismissed the "wild" north as merely tribal-heathen, and worse yet, violently Viking.  Chronicles are difficult to absorb, with the absence of written narrative records at the time of the events, and reliance on 13th Century recorders of tales, hundreds of years after the events and through the lens of contemporary religious and political interests, see http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/NORWEGIAN%20NOBILITY.htm The information recorded often came from those whose cultures had developed those writing skills, who enjoyed the power of the spinning pen over the malleable oral tradition, the pressing for adoption of religious and politial interests pressing up from mainland Europe. That group included the Brits who found themselves under Danish and other Norse rule.  There was no balance in recording the events with their cause: Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire forcing, through brutality, conversions to "Christianity with characteristics painted by the ones being attacked,  Power was exerted by various dynasties and moved about the board through marriages to royal daughters, mustering armies, intrigue and betrayal. Enter the north:   Austro-Brit-German-Italian-Spanish-Scots-etc-Crowned-and-Hopeful-Heads who intermarried or interbred and interfought.

Not so in Scandinavia.  There meet all the Olafs, the Haralds, the Magnuses, the Eriks, all wrapped up in sagas and recordings of Snorri Sturlson that may or may not be fact or fond tales embroidered to entertain the chilly during the cold long winter nights. For Scandinavian wannabes, those who could not thout the usual route open to power (marry up), the Scandinavians out of power had to turn to the Church for clout, and got it. Conversions to Christianity had ulterior motives, such as turf for the head seeking the crown.

How to figure out the royalty?  Take good notes, photograph explanatory stuff, and hope it enlarges later.
==================================================






1.2 

Olaf II Haraldsson c. 995 -1030 (Saint Olaf)-- http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/britannia/anglo-saxon/maldon/olafharaldsson.html/

Killed at  Stiklestad. Remains found way to Trondheim, thereafter dispersed and probably somewhere, if at all, in wreckage of collapsed now Nidaros Cathedral (Nidaros old term for Trondheim)


King Cnut of Denmark.  Defeated Olaf II, Cnut's son, also a Cnut, ruled Norway until defeated by son of Olaf II, the illegitimate Magnus

Harald Hardrada  1015-1066
Magnus: had fled to Russia, was asked to return, did so in 1035, defeated Cnut (the son of Big Cnut), and also beame King of Sweden in 1042. 

HaraldssonHakon the Frenzied (battle reference, probably) 1170's -1214, son of Folkvid the Lawspeaker
Haakon Ericsson  ____-1030, king of Norway as vassal under Danish King Knut, Knud, Canute, many spellings.

===========================================

Sources:  Unfamiliar rulers:  Learning a new cultural context takes time. Traditional European history often dismissed the "wild" north as merely tribal-heathen, and worse yet, violently Viking.  Chronicles are difficult to absorb, with the absence of written narrative records at the time of the events, and reliance on 13th Century recorders of tales, hundreds of years after the events and through the lens of contemporary religious and political interests, see http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/NORWEGIAN%20NOBILITY.htm The information recorded often came from those whose cultures had developed those writing skills, who enjoyed the power of the spinning pen over the malleable oral tradition, the pressing for adoption of religious and politial interests pressing up from mainland Europe. That group included the Brits who found themselves under Danish and other Norse rule.  There was no balance in recording the events with their cause: Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire forcing, through brutality, conversions to "Christianity with characteristics painted by the ones being attacked,  Power was exerted by various dynasties and moved about the board through marriages to royal daughters, mustering armies, intrigue and betrayal. Enter the north:   Austro-Brit-German-Italian-Spanish-Scots-etc-Crowned-and-Hopeful-Heads who intermarried or interbred and interfought.

Not so in Scandinavia.  There meet all the Olafs, the Haralds, the Magnuses, the Eriks, all wrapped up in sagas and recordings of Snorri Sturlson that may or may not be fact or fond tales embroidered to entertain the chilly during the cold long winter nights. For Scandinavian wannabes, those who could not thout the usual route open to power (marry up), the Scandinavians out of power had to turn to the Church for clout, and got it. Conversions to Christianity had ulterior motives, such as turf for the head seeking the crown.

How to figure out the royalty?  Take good notes, photograph explanatory stuff, and hope it enlarges later.

First Installment.

Here:  Olaf II Haroldsson, Saint Olaf.

 was killed in battle at nearby Stiklestad trying to regain his throne against King Canute of Denmark in 1030, body secretly brought here by circuitous route. He was canonized for his efforts to Christianize Norway, although his methods were brutal during his first reign -- those who refused to convert were driven from the land, or maimed by having hands or feet cut off, or eyes gouged, or hanged or decapitated.  See p.4 at  http://userwww.sfsu.edu/epf/journal_archive/volume_XVII,_2008/kerrigan_r.pdf  He was unsuccessful in his lifetime; and construction here began in 1070. Sainthood not by what is done in life, but the claim of miracles by the body after.

Medieval, using the definition of what survived from the period Romanesque, Norman, Transitional and Gothic periods Olaf II Haraldsson, Saint Olaf, Britannica site, killed at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030.

  • Olaf -- search for both spellings) was king 1016-1028, and engaged in violent forced conversions to Christianity, with a religious code imposed in 1024.  Others before him had also pressed Christianity on the people, but Olaf was more effective in his force. This time Olaf went too far and lost the support of his subjects. He was exiled, King Canute of Denmark (and England) took over the Norwegian throne. Then back came warrior Olaf came back in 1030, to reclaim his throne and raise the cross for "Christianity," even though Canute also was Christian, and the religious cards for the new religion were already played.  At the same time, Olaf planned to use the new religious unity to forge his own empire of Norwegians, free of the Danes.  At the battle of Stiklestad, to the north of Trondheim, he lost -- and was killed. Canute prevailed. Olaf II's remains found their way to Trondheim, he was canonized (church ignoring his brutality in converting)  the center predating the later cross-shape of the later church. And even that only survived as medieval in part.  












Olaf II's  hallowed resting place has no idea where his remains are, or if they still are,  in the bowels of this largely destroyed place, that it displays not medieval but 19th Century caricature gargoyles and botoxed facade-saints.  Why not tell tourists up front that the only original part is the center, that once did house Olaf s remains, but the silver casket with his bits was melted down later elsewhere. And that this old section became only the downplayed cross piece of a later-addition full cross floor plan, once the crucifixion and its alleged meaning became such dogma. Olaf himself, long scattered  or his dust after the disasters, under this vast structure that fell all around?  Who will tell the tale, except a fine tour guide inside, who has some honesty about what is, and what is hype.

With all due respect to an officially canonized Saint, Saint Olaf, this Nidaros Cathedral is largely a 19th Century approximation of what is imagined to have been there.  Or, Nidaros Cathedral represents what people wished had been there, or thought should have been there, or perhaps was there, before centuries of sequential disasters. The middle section is the oldest (the cross piece of what is now a cross floor plan), and it better survived.  The big steeple atop that middle section toppled down, bam,
 on the nave at what is now the main entrance, fires, and all left open to the elements.

Christianity, as fostered by the Roman institution, appears to have spread into Norway primarily a political force, not an inspirational one.  Christianity offered kings and others an ideological justification to force a hierarchical power structure, with all its efficiencies.  And a hierarchical power structure, rather then mere force on its own, better enabled consolidation of disparate groups and otherwise autonomous communities. After the initial centuries of reactive raids by the Norse against the institutional church pushing north through figures such as Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Emperor, the Norse saw the organizational advantage of an ideology -- and followed suit. They even converted, usually abroad.  If a leader could not gain power by marrying in, for example, an ideology was next best thing. Is that so?

 The hierarchy enforced by Roman institutional Christianity also brought with it feudalism's power divisions -- king, church, military, merchant.  This further fragmented the traditional culture, more egalitarian, individual, not so role-driven.  Enforced loyalty against bound serfs in a castle-town setting was not  prevalent, but the concept emerged:  Ideology combined with force brought results more efficiently than mere force; and mere ideology without force could be overcome, in the short run.  Voluntary Christianity, conversions fostered by example and teaching -- was a loser.  See http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/britannia/anglo-saxon/earlychurch/earlychurch.html

Charlemagne seems to have initiated those concepts, in his move north to force Christianization and his ultimate brutal subjugation of the Saxons.  Raise high the cross and all is forgiven, is that so.  The Norse reacted finally against those incursions by attacking the church though its wealthy monasteries. They absorbed the lesson of Christian ruler success, however, in turning back to Norway and desiring to consolidate power there.  As had Charlemagne and other Christian kings, the learned that ideology is the answer, not just force. Find an ideology and use it to justify the force. Could Christian stories of miracles and divine will supersede the broadly disparate, tolerant, and non-unified Norse religious culture setting?  They could and did, but gradually, with the kings on their missions establishing centers for the spread of their new religion, and not all the Norse abandoning their old ways at once.

Norway.  Norway had been an area of autonomous communities, each acting in its own interest, a broadly common religious framework but with varying rituals, fjord by fjord, valley by valley, and fostering obligations within the immediate community, not beyond. Leaders used force opportunistically, even against each other.  The pattern, however, was to go home afterwards, or if a raid had been in a fruitful land, settle in, and trade and farm there, as in Ireland and places farther afield, the Mediterranean, elsewhere. Libertarians.

Mainland Europe.  Mainland Europe, however, had evolved beyond individual leader-follower turf, to implement broad-ranging political ideas of ecclesiastical and imperial authority.  Even where the Norse were victors on the mainland in retaliating against institutional Christian incursions north (Charlemagne's brutal forced conversion of the Saxons, for example), or where the Norse liked the new area and settled in as traders and farmers, the Norse saw first-hand the strength in combining institutional, hierarchical authority in religion and in civil governing. This was new.

Back in Norway:  So Norse kings and other leaders converted to the institutional form of Christianity, often while abroad and while the Norse still controlled much of mainland Europe, and not necessarily with any personal inspiration, but equally likely as a means to a new weapon to further their own power goals. They also avoided future invasion by converting, they got the support of the ecclesiastical and imperial forces (Holy Roman Empire, for example), and could engage their own desires to forge a "nation" out of Norway.

There had been early Christian missionaries, Celtic contemplatives, or those who believed in conversion by modeling a righteous life plus teaching, but not force. That was not enough to meet the power needs of kings. Instead of that soft touch, raise high the cross, the ideology plus the sword, the alliances that produces, and power might just be unstoppable. See The Christianization of NorwayDr. Sæbjørg WALAKER NORDEIDE, Enseignant-Chercheur, Centre forMedieval Studies, University of Bergen.

Would hierarchical Christianity as we know it, with its inclusions and exclusions and inquisition behavior, have spread at all into the north, or even in Europe, without force plus dogma formula. Christianity:  the ultimate expedience tool for nationalism. The Norse were slow to take to Christianity in more than a patchwork way, until forced by laws to do so. Enter force of law, and Christianity became the It religion.

II.  Course of religious history in Norway 

A.  Paganism: Pagan means "person of the country."  See http://www.etymonline.com/.  Norse indigenous religion was a patchwork, a common basic pagan oral tradition of sacred etiology, of pre-literate folk beliefs, that were not recorded until long after the events referenced: the 12th Century or so.  Even then, the recorder (largely one Snorri Snurelson) was  until shared ideas of beginnings, of oral traditionss interactions between gods and humans; broad tolerance of varying and voluntary rituals, practices, fjord by fjord, valley by valley

B.  Christian

Christian  I.  Scandinavia receives some Christian missionaries, monks,  as did Europe:  two competing tracks. 
1)  Quiet Christianity, meditative individuals and groups, as well as those oriented to group practice, the Church; who fostered voluntary belief in living the righteous life, the sacred etiology finally recorded by many and unknown writers long after the topic events, focus on spiritual power, and spreading the Word by teaching; the Celtic world, see http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/sbook1g.asp; Broad tolerance of pagan practices, no killing the pagan practitioner (but there were martyrs, priests and monks rejected in the ultimate way by the pagans, among the earliest Christian missionaries to Scandinavia);  and 
2) Noisome Christianity, institution-building as the priority, persecutions and power struggles and history's invasions of tribal groups into the old Roman Empire, from which many fled the emerging monolithic institution for autonomous monastic Ireland; and from there back to Europe. Many of the earliest "saints" took that route, from Patrick 390-461 , see http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/basis/goldenlegend/GoldenLegend-Volume3.asp#Patrick; to Anskar 801-865, see http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/anskar.asp to Columba, 521-597, see http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/source/columba-rule.asp.

All versions of  Christianity, however, like the pagan views before them, resulted from oral traditions of sacred etiology, multiple pre-literate folk stories leading to varying beliefs about events and meaning.  Reliance on self-proclaimed visions and inspiration, however, seem to have made the difference between ongoing quietude, and the drive to conquer.  These earliest folk stories were not recorded by the literate among believers until well after the topic events, but by a shorter time frame than the pagan.  The time gap was even by a hundred years later and more.  Still, the writers remain unknown, and many other accounts of the events were rejected by the emerging institution as it firmed up its stance.  Then came the forging of a narrative to support the power needs of the inheritors of the old stories.  The old Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire, and ff.

Christian II. Say 1000-1537.  Norway's introduction to noisome Christianity. Forced ideology.  This was a highly selected system of sacred etiology, taking some recorded accounts from Christian I and suppressing others. Institution-imposed force, entrenching one viewpoint, on pain of death. Doctrinal, crusading, hierarchical, exclusionist, forced sacred etiology that intentionally fostered temporal power in the one power-church. Popes with armies, and  inquisitors, and in league with rulers soon cast as divinely inspired to buttress their claims of legitimacy over people. Forced acceptance of dogma and set practices for the new compulsory interpretation of who could believe what.   
D.  Christian III. 1537-1850. Norway's Reformation Christianity, but again forced in one mold, the Lutheran as state church.  Regulation by church laws enacted by the state. See the Lutheran presentation of church history in Norway at http://www.kirken.no/english/engelsk.cfm?artid=5730

Further reforms and democratization of Lutheranism in Norway, until:




I.  Course of religious history in Norway 

A.  Paganism: Pagan means "person of the country."  See http://www.etymonline.com/.  Norse indigenous religion was a patchwork, a common basic pagan oral tradition of sacred etiology, of pre-literate folk beliefs, that were not recorded until long after the events referenced: the 12th Century or so.  Even then, the recorder (largely one Snorri Snurelson) was  until shared ideas of beginnings, of oral traditionss interactions between gods and humans; broad tolerance of varying and voluntary rituals, practices, fjord by fjord, valley by valley

B.  Christian

Christian  I.  Scandinavia receives some Christian missionaries, monks,  as did Europe:  two competing tracks. 
1)  Quiet Christianity, meditative individuals and groups, as well as those oriented to group practice, the Church; who fostered voluntary belief in living the righteous life, the sacred etiology finally recorded by many and unknown writers long after the topic events, focus on spiritual power, and spreading the Word by teaching; the Celtic world, see http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/sbook1g.asp; Broad tolerance of pagan practices, no killing the pagan practitioner (but there were martyrs, priests and monks rejected in the ultimate way by the pagans, among the earliest Christian missionaries to Scandinavia);  and 
2) Noisome Christianity, institution-building as the priority, persecutions and power struggles and history's invasions of tribal groups into the old Roman Empire, from which many fled the emerging monolithic institution for autonomous monastic Ireland; and from there back to Europe. Many of the earliest "saints" took that route, from Patrick 390-461 , see http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/basis/goldenlegend/GoldenLegend-Volume3.asp#Patrick; to Anskar 801-865, see http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/anskar.asp to Columba, 521-597, see http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/source/columba-rule.asp.

All versions of  Christianity, however, like the pagan views before them, resulted from oral traditions of sacred etiology, multiple pre-literate folk stories leading to varying beliefs about events and meaning.  Reliance on self-proclaimed visions and inspiration, however, seem to have made the difference between ongoing quietude, and the drive to conquer.  These earliest folk stories were not recorded by the literate among believers until well after the topic events, but by a shorter time frame than the pagan.  The time gap was even by a hundred years later and more.  Still, the writers remain unknown, and many other accounts of the events were rejected by the emerging institution as it firmed up its stance.  Then came the forging of a narrative to support the power needs of the inheritors of the old stories.  The old Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire, and ff.

Christian II. Say 1000-1537.  Norway's introduction to noisome Christianity. Forced ideology.  This was a highly selected system of sacred etiology, taking some recorded accounts from Christian I and suppressing others. Institution-imposed force, entrenching one viewpoint, on pain of death. Doctrinal, crusading, hierarchical, exclusionist, forced sacred etiology that intentionally fostered temporal power in the one power-church. Popes with armies, and  inquisitors, and in league with rulers soon cast as divinely inspired to buttress their claims of legitimacy over people. Forced acceptance of dogma and set practices for the new compulsory interpretation of who could believe what.   
D.  Christian III. 1537-1850. Norway's Reformation Christianity, but again forced in one mold, the Lutheran as state church.  Regulation by church laws enacted by the state. See the Lutheran presentation of church history in Norway at http://www.kirken.no/english/engelsk.cfm?artid=5730

Further reforms and democratization of Lutheranism in Norway, until:

E.  Christian IV.  2012.  Norway's disestablishment of any state church in Norway, see http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2012-03/norways-state-church-headed-toward-dis-establishment; and http://redicecreations.com/article.php?id=20074

So:  test the theory.

Christianity, as fostered by the Roman institution, appears to have spread into Norway primarily a political force, not an inspirational one.  Christianity offered kings and others an ideological justification to force a hierarchical power structure, with all its efficiencies.  And a hierarchical power structure, rather then mere force on its own, better enabled consolidation of disparate groups and otherwise autonomous communities. After the initial centuries of reactive raids by the Norse against the institutional church pushing north through figures such as Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Emperor, the Norse saw the organizational advantage of an ideology -- and followed suit. They even converted, usually abroad.  If a leader could not gain power by marrying in, for example, an ideology was next best thing. Is that so?

 The hierarchy enforced by Roman institutional Christianity also brought with it feudalism's power divisions -- king, church, military, merchant.  This further fragmented the traditional culture, more egalitarian, individual, not so role-driven.  Enforced loyalty against bound serfs in a castle-town setting was not  prevalent, but the concept emerged:  Ideology combined with force brought results more efficiently than mere force; and mere ideology without force could be overcome, in the short run.  Voluntary Christianity, conversions fostered by example and teaching -- was a loser.  See http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/britannia/anglo-saxon/earlychurch/earlychurch.html

Charlemagne seems to have initiated those concepts, in his move north to force Christianization and his ultimate brutal subjugation of the Saxons.  Raise high the cross and all is forgiven, is that so.  The Norse reacted finally against those incursions by attacking the church though its wealthy monasteries. They absorbed the lesson of Christian ruler success, however, in turning back to Norway and desiring to consolidate power there.  As had Charlemagne and other Christian kings, the learned that ideology is the answer, not just force. Find an ideology and use it to justify the force. Could Christian stories of miracles and divine will supersede the broadly disparate, tolerant, and non-unified Norse religious culture setting?  They could and did, but gradually, with the kings on their missions establishing centers for the spread of their new religion, and not all the Norse abandoning their old ways at once.

Norway.  Norway had been an area of autonomous communities, each acting in its own interest, a broadly common religious framework but with varying rituals, fjord by fjord, valley by valley, and fostering obligations within the immediate community, not beyond. Leaders used force opportunistically, even against each other.  The pattern, however, was to go home afterwards, or if a raid had been in a fruitful land, settle in, and trade and farm there, as in Ireland and places farther afield, the Mediterranean, elsewhere. Libertarians.

Mainland Europe.  Mainland Europe, however, had evolved beyond individual leader-follower turf, to implement broad-ranging political ideas of ecclesiastical and imperial authority.  Even where the Norse were victors on the mainland in retaliating against institutional Christian incursions north (Charlemagne's brutal forced conversion of the Saxons, for example), or where the Norse liked the new area and settled in as traders and farmers, the Norse saw first-hand the strength in combining institutional, hierarchical authority in religion and in civil governing. This was new.

Back in Norway:  So Norse kings and other leaders converted to the institutional form of Christianity, often while abroad and while the Norse still controlled much of mainland Europe, and not necessarily with any personal inspiration, but equally likely as a means to a new weapon to further their own power goals. They also avoided future invasion by converting, they got the support of the ecclesiastical and imperial forces (Holy Roman Empire, for example), and could engage their own desires to forge a "nation" out of Norway.

There had been early Christian missionaries, Celtic contemplatives, or those who believed in conversion by modeling a righteous life plus teaching, but not force. That was not enough to meet the power needs of kings. Instead of that soft touch, raise high the cross, the ideology plus the sword, the alliances that produces, and power might just be unstoppable. See The Christianization of NorwayDr. Sæbjørg WALAKER NORDEIDE, Enseignant-Chercheur, Centre forMedieval Studies, University of Bergen.

Would hierarchical Christianity as we know it, with its inclusions and exclusions and inquisition behavior, have spread at all into the north, or even in Europe, without the unrelenting use of force plus dogma formula, the new "Christianity"  the ultimate expedience tool for nationalism. The Norse were slow to take to Christianity in more than a patchwork way, until forced by laws to do so. Enter force of law, and Christianity became the It religion.

Test the theory.

  • By the 10th Century, love-thy-neighbor Christianity was gone in Scandinavia as in the rest of Europe.  That quaint idea of mutuality fell before the institutional interests in using the old Christianity for turf, power and cultural hegemony reasons. Get the people to support you, by whatever sleight of hand, and a culture can evolve around the ideas sold and the identity of the people with them, regardless of whether the institution's hierarchies and dogma have anything to do with the religion originating.  Long sentence.  Long sentence for those who follow and swallow, as did Norway until it finally said, no state church.  Good.  Religion as voluntary, not invasive.  A step forward. However, new hierarchies and dogmas emerge after the traditional religious, such as in immigration and cultural values.  Can we ever divest of the idea that

 It may have met its end long before, before an institution took over with its preoccupation  with its bigger barns, its armies,its inquisitions deciding who was damned and who was not, in human terms claiming a deity approved.

Ha, say the rest of us.

Cultural change took place in Norway: as in mainland Europe.  The process included religious adoption, for reasons related more to force than inspiration, modeling.  Cultural change takes time, and stems from many motivations: some rulers responding to missionary fervor and dedication, or rulers' seeking expanded turf, and needing allies, or converting to escape invasion.  Change is not necessarily a matter of new ideas based on merit.  Ideas are as often imposed for power-play reasons. Disguise political aspirations to religious motivation, even identifying a deity as on the side of the ruler's change of view.

Visit Norway, drive, get off the Hurtigruten, away from the tours, and learn about places by taking pictures and researching.  Dan and I say, well met.






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