200 years ago today was the last time a Nordic country was at war with another Nordic country. That calls for a celebration!
Foreningen Norden (an organization to promote Nordic cooperation) celebrated this event by posting this picture on their Facebook page:
Are you familiar with all the flags?
The Nordic flags
You are probably familiar with the flags of the five Nordic countries:
In adition to these we have several areas that have some kind of inner governance and they also have their own flags. The most famous flags are these:
In addition to these you have more flags from various small areas in the Nordic countries, most of them with the Nordic cross in them. I stumbled over a website made by a guy named Lars Harald who made this list of all the Nordic (and some un-Nordic) cross flags.
G: Orkney islands
H: Faroe Islands
So what was the war about?
You have to remember that Denmark and Sweden have fought for Nordic supremacy ever since they became countries. They fought over who was to have Norway, Iceland and Finland (well, I don’t think Denmark ever really fought to get Finland but there were som squimishes over parts of Estonia), not to mention parts of what is today Northern Germany and Poland. Sweden and Denmark also fought over parts of Sweden that used to be Danish, like Skåne (which is F in the list of flags above).
In 1814 Denmark had bet on the wrong horse (Napoleon) and was on the losing side after the Napoleon wars. Sweden had lost Finland and the new crown prince, a French man named Bernadotte who happened to be one of Napoleon’s old pals, now turned enemy, had only been elected on the promise that he would get Finland back.
Finland had been taken by Russia and smart as Bernadotte, aka King Karl Johan, was he looked to find some easier land to grab. Norway was part of Denmark and Denmark was down for count so the answer was easy. Let’s take Norway. In the peace treaty in Kiel in 1814, Sweden was given Norway.
Unfortunately for Sweden the Norwegians had already declared themselves independent in May 1814 (which is the reason Norway has a huge celebration every year on the 17th of May). Sweden would not accept this and sent troops to Norway and Norway defended herself – it all lasted from July 26th until August 14th – and it ended up with Norway keeping her independence but accepting the Swedish king, making King Karl Johan king over both countries. Norway had her own parliament and constitution.
In 1905 Norway rid herself of the Swedish king and elected their own king – a Danish prince. But that’s another story.
1814 was the last time any Nordic country was at war with one another. Now we only have fishing wars, mild prejudice and all the jokes we tell about each other.