Scandinavia since 1500

Scandinavia since 1500

Scandinavia since 1500

Scandinavia since 1500

Excerpt

In many ways this is a very traditional history. I accept the idea that we can talk and write about a conceptual region called Scandinavia that includes Denmark, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. I believe there is sufficient commonality in languages (except for Finnish and Sami), cultures, and shared pasts on which to base a history that is not simply manufactured to satisfy some personal or political agenda. (One can, of course, with equal legitimacy, also approach each unit within this region as unique and separate.) The chronology, in which the long “modern” period from 1500 is subdivided into the Renaissance, early modern, modern, and contemporary, follows a well-established European model. This periodization works reasonably well in terms of political history. It is less useful if other approaches are emphasized, such as social history, for which there might be only two periods (medieval and modern), or women's history, for which one might argue there is one long period extending from the Middle Ages or before down to the nineteenth century, at which point sufficient changes began to take place to justify demarking a new era. The structure is built around the states/nations of the region; and politics and international relations receive considerable attention. At the same time, I have tried to include economic, social, and cultural developments; to provide some degree of gender balance; to introduce some of the interpretive debates; and to avoid making heroes of individuals or perfect little worlds of the Nordic countries.

In terms of explaining why things happened, I prefer a multicausal approach. Large factors like geography, resources bases, and climate provide the fundamental environment. Internal and external factors including individuals, social groups, economic conditions, ideas, technologies, and accidents are just some of the determiners of events. I am also not a determinist; I believe the history of Scandinavia and of the . . .

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