Early evidences of Enlightenment thinking among the clergy of Northwestern Norway

This article discusses early evidences of Enlightenment-inspired thinking among the clergy of six neighbouring parishes on the northwestern coast of Norway. My focus has been on «Syvstjernen», a society of seven vicars active around 1720. «Syvstjernen» is well known for the role it played in the early history of pietism in Norway, but in this article, the objective has been to shed light on the members’ intellectual interests. The main source of this study has been the book collections left by four of the seven vicars. These are catalogued in the clerical probate records of the Trondheim, Nordmøre and Romsdal deaneries. A number of non-theological works have been identified in the vicars’ book collections, indicating knowledge among the deceased book owners of the ideas leading to the introduction of the Enlightenment in Norway. Nine of the sons of these well-educated vicars also became prominent representatives of the Enlightenment, which demonstrates the impact of their intellectual environment on their later endeavours.