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Historie i tvangstrøye – kongemakt og historieformidling i Danmark-Norge 1536–1814

f. 1945, dr.philos. 1980, professor i historie ved Institutt for arkeologi, konservering og historie, Universitetet i Oslo. oystein.rian@iakh.uio.no

  • Side: 63-89
  • Publisert på Idunn: 2013-03-26
  • Publisert: 2013-03-26

I storparten av vår fortid har historien blitt skrevet med påholden penn. Den friheten som forskere og forfattere krever i våre dager er ikke selvsagt. Friheten er snarere et produkt av særegne samfunnsforhold som har gjort den til en mulighet. I Danmark-Norge la kongemakten bånd på den intellektuelle friheten, og dette preget formidlingen av historien: kongen skulle være den beundrete hovedpersonen i historien. Maktforholdene øvde dessuten innflytelse på kildenes innhold og hva som overlevde alle de ødeleggelsene som ellers truet historiske overleveringer. Den norske adelen og den norske katolske kirken led ikke bare et totalt nederlag i 1536–37, men minnet om dem gikk også tapt hver dag etter nederlaget.

History in a straitjacket: Royal power and the dissemination of history in Denmark-Norway 1536–1814

In most of the past, history has been written as in embedded journalism, with ‘spin’ as the norm and ‘objectivity’ an abstract ideal practised by spin doctors. In Denmark and Norway in the period 1536–1814 the Danish king became extremely powerful as a consequence of the royal Lutheran reformation in 1536, the abolishment of Norwegian self-rule in 1536–37 and royal absolutism from 1660. There were no independent intermediary institutions to support and shelter attitudes and perspectives which were different from those propagated and sponsored by royal authorities. The king established a system of censorship administered by the royal Lutheran Church and the University of Copenhagen, which was the only university in Denmark–Norway. The control of research and writing on history was especially strict, supervised directly by the government itself, chiefly through the office of royal historiography, and with royal archives and libraries as tools in the control regime. Old books and sources which did not get official protection mostly perished, and historical works could not be published unless authorized. The king and his ancestors were praised as exceptionally good rulers, and historians and intellectuals concluded that the Danish form of government was the best political system. The history of Norway prior to Danish dominance after 1536–37 was a delicate matter. The Norwegian Catholic Church and the Norwegian nobility had no recognized place in official history, and St. Olav could no longer be revered as the eternal Norwegian patron king. But the Danish kings were interested in strengthening their legitimacy in Norway through historical works about the Old Norse and Norwegian kings, who were referred to as their ancestors and predecessors. Thanks to the popularity of the medieval Norse kings’ sagas this bolstered Norwegian national pride in coexistence with due loyalty to the present-day Danish kings.

Keywords: Censorship, historiography, patriotism, royalism.
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