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History of the Nordic region

This history of the Nordic region from the Viking times to the present.
The Nordic Region – part of Europe since the Viking era
After conversion to Christianity in the 11th century, three northern kingdoms – Denmark, Norway and Sweden – emerged and what we today call the Nordic Region became a part of Europe.
The Middle Ages: Three kingdoms and a union (approx. 1050–1500)
Increased trade meant that the Nordic Region became increasingly integrated into Europe, and Nordic society became increasingly Continental. By the Late Middle Ages, the whole of the Nordic Region was politically united in the loose Kalmar Union.
The Early Modern Period: two Nordic states (approx. 1500–1800)
The Kalmar Union fell apart, and the two new states, Denmark–Norway and Sweden, did their best to crush each other in constant wars to become the dominant power in the region. However, in the long term, both had to accept their role as small European states.
Industrialisation, democratisation and nationalisation, approx. 1810–1920
Population growth and industrialisation brought change to Europe and the Nordic Region in the 19th century. New social classes steered political systems towards democracy. International politics and nationalism created the preconditions for the independence of Norway, Finland and Iceland.
Five welfare states in a global world (1920+)
In the 20th century, the idea of the state as the guarantor of welfare provision became the guiding principle for policy in the highly industrialised Nordic Region. Despite the difficult balancing acts forced on them by two world wars and the Cold War, the five small Nordic states retained their independence and developed into peaceful democracies. Now, in an increasingly globalised world, they face new challenges.
Literature about Nordic history
Would you like to know more about the history of the Nordic countries? Here is a list of selected literature on the Nordic countries and their history.


Marita Hoydal
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