HT 1988


Canones Nidarosienses - intermezzo or upbeat?

The body of ecclesiastic regulations called Canones Nidrosienses has been in the foreground of recent discussion concerning the relations between Church and State in Norway during the latter part of the 12th century. Vegard Skånland's penetrating study of the document (Det eldste norske provinsialstatutt, 1969) in every respect marks a decisive turning point and has in its essentials met wide approval. However, Skånland's conclusions about the state and extension of advowson, as set down in the Canones, have met heavy and almost general opposition. According to Skånland, the Canones bear witness to the King's recovery of the rights of patronage over royal foundations allegedly abandoned at the establishment of the Norwegian church province.

The present author subscribes to Skånland's opinion that the regulations of advowson laid down in the Canones include the royal chapels. He further advances the view that the regulations are best understood as concessions to King Sverre's manifest policy of reversion to the 'ancestral customs', this policy being partly pursued in formal adherence to the precepts of Gratian's Decretum. In all probability the King has for theoretical, tactical, and political reasons been pressing a general claim to the right of advowson on behalf of the patroni (upphaldsmenn). At his accession no such rights seem to have been in existence. The provisions of canon 1 regulating the appeal in cases of advowson would seem to afford the King ample opportunities to hamper the procedure of appeals to Rome, in strong contrast to commitments to canonical law enshrined in the coronation oath of his predecessor, Magnus Erlingsson.

The author also puts forward a new interpretation of the fiscal and military impositions on the Church in connection with the Norwegian defence system, the leiangr (canon 11). Contrary to the traditional definition of the term stepnoleidinge (stefnuleiangr) -`(limited) gathering occasioned by the King's negotiations with foreign princes' - the word to the present author denotes the general levy of the leiangr.

The Canones, which in all probability belong to the middle 1180s, are in the author's opinion not a promulgated statute but a draft or protocol.

The whole pattern of the Canones invokes comparison with the ecclesiastic policy of Henry 11 of England. The similarities can hardly be co-incidental. The conspicuous success of Henry's policy certainly spurred Sverre's aspirations in the same sphere.

Odd Sandaker

The Enlightened Despotism's Concept of the Police and the First Norwegian Chief Constables

The meaning of the word politi - police - has differed greatly through the centuries - since it was first used in the old Greek polis. From the late fifteenth century the word Policey came into use in Germany. Towns and principalities received their special Polizeiordnungen, which involved almost every aspect of governing. A development towards a reservation of the word for what could he called inner administration can be observed. At the same time this part of the administration grew steadily. During the period of absolutism in the 16th and 17th centuries there was a culmination in the use of uncontrolled force by the state. The intention was to ensure good politie. Towards the end of the eighteenth century there was a change in the perception of politie. The state had to respect some elementary rights of individuals, and force could be used only to avert danger. The police was developed as a special branch of the administration to ensure organised protection for the citizens.

From the early 16th century the word politie was also used in Denmark. There a change of meaning occurred in the period 1660-80. Before this period the administration of justice in accordance with ordinary law was obviously included. After 1680 the word was used with reference to the administration of justice not regulated by ordinary law. The king proclaimed his firm intention to publish a special book containing regulations concerning the politie (1681). It never appeared. All the same, a politimeister was installed in Copenhagen (1682), whose function obviously was planned to be the administrator of the neverappearing collection of politiforordningar.

Shortly afterwards, in 1686, a politimeister was appointed in Trondheim, too. The initiative was not taken in Copenhagen. The merchants in Trondheim, and especially one of them, who managed to get himself appointed, took steps to get a politimeister. He was to avert illegal trade, but he received no instructions, had no success, and lost his position in 1701. The first politimeister in Bergen, a pharmacist, met with some of the same problems, but instead of losing his position he was allowed to transfer the title to another person in 1701. At this time there was also an application from Christiania (Oslo), but this town did not get a politimeister until 1744. At that time the meaning of the word politie had become more stabilised.

The first politimeisters in Norway were appointed at a time when there was no clear definition of politie and no instructions to guide them. The King did not take the initiative, and the main objective was not to maintain law and order in general, but to help the merchants make the most of their trading privileges. During the 18th century the difference between the general concept of the word politi and the local use of this special title decreased.

Steinar Supphellen

Collaboration and Imperialism. The Quisling Government's "Austrveg" (Way Eastwards) Dream 1941-1944

The immediate aim of the Norwegian Fascist collaboration regime, 1940-1945, was to obtain a peace treaty with Germany, followed by withdrawal of the German Reichskommissariat from Norway and recognition as the only legal Norwegian government, thereby separating the exiled Nygaardsvold government in London from its people. A more distant - but probably more fundamental - goal was a "national rebirth" through territorial expansion under the leadership of Vidkun Quisling and the NS. The "Noregsvelde" of the Middle Ages and Norwegian 'imperialist' aspirations in the polar regions during the 1920s and 1930s were two obvious sources of inspiration behind the dreams of expansion. Quisling himself declared in court on 6 September 1945 that a major commitment of his had been the re-establishment of Russia as a Nordic nation.

After the German onslaught on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 Quisling attempted to realise this second goal, to achieve the first one. The hope was that the war against Russia would bring about a decisive swing in popular opinion in favour of the NS and Quisling. Active support for Germany in her struggle against the Soviet Union would furthermore pave the way for German recognition of the Quisling government as an equal partner of Hitler. If Quisling could prove to the Norwegian people that his collaboration politics brought triumphs to his nation and not only shame, he would win its allegiance, which was a prerequisite for his full acceptance by the Germans. Such was the irony of his situation.

Quisling tried, through some of his closest associates, to persuade Hitler to grant him areas for Norway to exploit in occupied Eastern Europe, first in the north-western part of Russia (194 1) and then, as these territories were never won by Germany, in the Ukraine and Belorussia (1942-1944). He erected a 'Russian Office' in Oslo, which was later (17 July 1943) transformed into a rather peculiar institution by the name of "Austrveg". He managed to establish direct contacts with Berlin (Rosenberg's Ostministerium and Himmler's Reichssicherheitshauptamt) behind the back - and to the vexation - of Reichskommissar Terboven. The belief was that Hitler's as well as Himmler's and Rosenberg's benevolence towards a friendly leader of a true "Nordic-Germanic" people would do the trick. Formal negotiations took place, wherein the Germans asked for deliveries of craftsmen and machinery from Norway to the occupied east and the Norwegians asked for territories to administer in return. The driving force behind Quisling's aspirations was the energetic and ambitious Finn Sofus Støren, a rising star within the Quisling administration and Quisling's most likely future foreign minister.

These endeavours ended in October 1944, when Hider no longer had any "Ostgebiet" to distribute, if he ever had so intended. It must, however, be considered a well-established fact that Hitler never had any such intentions. Hitler's grand scheme and the "Generalplan Ost", as laid down in May 1942, had no room for independent roles for the various collaboration regimes to play alongside Germany - either in the occupied East or elsewhere. But as the expected quick victory failed to materialise, Hitler needed to extract as much support as possible in the form of men and material, from all occupied countries for the exploitation and Germanisation of Eastern Europe. His "allies", the Norwegian Quisling regime included, were deliberately kept in the dark as to his real purposes. This explains why Berlin never turned down the Quisling claims outright but let negotiations drag on until well into 1944.

Of course, it all came to nothing. However, the significance of the expansionist urge of the Quisling administration, and the attempt to realise an "Imperium Norvegiensis" from the debris of Soviet Russia during 1941-1944, lies mainly in its defining Norwegian Fascism as belonging - in this respect - to the mainstream of European Fascism.

Ole Kolsrud

The "Utskyld" (Special Farm Tax). Function - Origin - Ending

In the King's rent-rolls of the 16th and 17th centuries for the south-western part of Norway there are, besides the lists of rent (landskyld), lists of a particular render called "utskyld".

In a paper "Utskyld", printed in Historisk Tidsskrift, (vol. 36, 1953, pp. 301411), Asgaut Steinnes traced "utskyld" back to the beginning of the 9th century. He found it to be of Swedish origin, and a reminiscence of an ancient kingdom in the south-west of Norway. Originally it took the form of contributions of victuals to the King or his officers when visiting the country, contributions that later evolved into an annual imposition.

The present author finds "utskyld" to be of ecclesiastical origin, older than its first mention in 1322. He found a great number of annual dues, which were not rent, rendered to churches, clergy, chapter, cathedral, and bishop. In a number of cases these dues were known as "utskyld", in others "landskyld". That the latter was at rent, however, is apparent from the fact that it was not part of the rent of the individual farms in question.

Such dues are of the same nature as the interest paid on mortgages. The owner of land did not have to give up ownership, and the Church received its annual benefits. The system may have been introduced by the first bishop of the Stavanger diocese, Reinald (of Winchester?) about 1125, although there is no evidence to support this view.

In a record of 1427 the King is seen to be entitled to levy "utskyld". This is the imposition originally levied by the bishop and cathedral. There is circumstantial evidence to show that it was appropriated by the Crown in the first quarter of the 15th century. The remaining "utskyld", however, continued to be raised by the original beneficiaries.

After the reformation, about half of the chapter benefits were allotted to the bishop, to make up for the King's appropriation of the rest of episcopal and cathedral benefits. This left the cathedral without rent and "utskyld".

In the 1660s, "utskyld" to the King was cancelled in Agder, but not in Stavanger len, where it was levied on a few farms until as late as the end of the 19th century.

"Utskyld" rendered to ecclesiastical beneficiaries was levied up until the present century, when it was partly redeemed, partly remitted.

Redemption of the remaining items - whether to Church or State - was finally enforced by the Act of June 16, 1939, No. 1.

Remission may still have occurred.

Jens A. R. Gjerløw

Crops and Pestilence in Norway and Sigdal 1349-1667

In works of economic history by non-Norwegian authors it is sometimes claimed that medieval Norway specialised in animal husbandry and fishery for export and that domestic grain production was of minor importance. This article argues that such claims can only be explained by the fact that most of the literature on the subject has been published in Norwegian. It is pointed out here that recent Norwegian works on agrarian history unanimously claim that domestic grain-growing was undoubtedly of the greatest significance right up to the period of industrialisation at the end of the nineteenth century, and even longer.

Apart from a few rather insignificant exceptions, this was not only the case in every main district south of the northern limit for grain at 60 at Malangen in Troms, but also at the level of the single farm.

Around the middle of the seventeenth century, however, the import of grain probably represented around 20% of the available food energy in Norway. This import was mainly paid for by exports of fish and lumber.

Based on the following findings, the article argues that grain import in the medieval period can only have covered around 2-3% of the food energy consumption.

(a) The export of fish during the medieval peak around AD 1300 has recently been found to have reached a possible maximum level of 3000 tons. This is about 50% of fish exports in AD 1650.

(b) The export of lumber, insignificant before AD 1500, was substantially more important than the export of fish in AD 1650.

(c) Given the dominant position in export, held by fish and lumber, it follows from (a) and (b) that the total Norwegian export in AD 1300 reasonably have been substantially below 25% of the level in AD 1650, and therefore that only the same proportion of import could be paid for.

(d) The calculated 3000 ton maximum fish export of AD 1300 could have paid for 6000 tons of rye meal, according to the price level in Bergen at the time. But grain seems to have comprised less than 50% of the total import, giving the probable maximum grain import in AD 1300 of 3000 tons. This is less than 10% of the known grain import in AD 1675, ca. 32,000 tons.

(e) According to recent estimates, the population of Norway was probably at least as high before the Black Death (1349-50) as in AD 1650.

The climate was probably somewhat better suited to grain production before "the little ice age" of AD 1560-1800.

It follows from (a) to (0 that in AD 1300 probably 97-98% of food energy consumption in Norway was covered by domestic production. Good evidence that the most important source of food energy was a universally spread grain production includes: The most important tax was the grain tithe; to work a farm was generally called to 'sow' it; land rent (landskyld) payments seem generally to have been fixed according to the capacity of the farm for growing cereals; for some big districts, like the diocese of Bergen in Western Norway, it has been found from the grain tithes that grain growing around AD 1320 probably reached 150% of the level of AD 1665; grain prices in the fourteenth century in Sogn, a coastal and fjord district with easy access from the sea, have been found to be 33% higher than grain prices in the inland district of Valdres, which has no access from the sea. Grain import obviously cannot have depressed grain prices in Sogn. On the contrary, the price level was determined by varying local conditions for grain growing.

A recent hypothesis is that the Black Death 1349-50 and other plagues may have been spread in Norway by the inland grain trade. However, it is concluded in this article that the grain trade is unlikely to have played a major role in this respect.

Kåre Lunden