Russia Wins Finland

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  • Russia changed sides and was sitting with the victors when reparations were decided after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Russia was allowed to keep Finland; Norway was detached from Denmark and handed to Sweden, albeit not as a colony but as a supposed equal in a union under common crown.

    240415-Karl-Johan-king-of-norway
    The king in question was a curious choice: Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was French and not only a former general of the French Revolution but a key member of Napoleon’s staff. If taking the name Karl Johan was meant to help him to blend into his new surroundings, this was offset by his refusal to speak anything but French.

    Thus reorganized, the Scandinavian states stepped into the frenzy of romantic nationalism that swept across Europe and inspired phenomenal scientific progress and a flowering of the arts. In these respect Scandinavia did its bit and more.

    Edvard Munch
    Edvard Munch

     

    Hans Christian Andersen
    Hans Christian Andersen

     

     

    Edvard Grieg by Elliot and Fry
    Edvard Grieg

     

    Sweden was especially strong in the sciences; consider, for one, Linnaeus, the naturalist, and Alfred Nobel, the chemist, engineer and inventor of dynamite. Denmark’s most notable contribution were the writer Hans Christian Andersen and the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Norway offered Edvard Grieg (composer), Henrik Ibsen (dramatist) and Edvard Munch (painter).

    Henrik Ibsen
    Henrik Ibsan

     

    Carl von Linné
    Carl von Linné

     

     

    Alfred Nobel
    Alfred Nobel

     

    Søren Kierkegaard
    Soren Kierkegaard

     

    Language became a vexing issue, especially in Norway. Old Norse had gone to Iceland with the Viking settlers, while the language in Norway itself had been affected by Danish connections. Pure Danish was used for official business, in literature and by the educated classes. In the 19th century Norwegian nationalists wanted to revert to untainted Norwegian. They concocted a cocktail from Norway’s surviving rural dialects called “New Norwegian”.

    New Norwegian Bible
    New Norwegian Bible