Scandinavia in the Age of Revolution: Nordic Political Cultures, 1740-1820

By Sather, Lee | The Historian, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Scandinavia in the Age of Revolution: Nordic Political Cultures, 1740-1820


Sather, Lee, The Historian


Scandinavia in the Age of Revolution: Nordic Political Cultures, 1740-1820. Edited by Pasi Ihalainen, Michael Bregnsbo, Karin Sennefelt, and Patrik Winton. (Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2011. Pp. xxi, 381. $144.95.)

Scholars of eighteenth-century Europe and its consequent "Age of Revolution" have generally ignored events throughout Scandinavia, in part due to the relative paucity of secondary works in English, but also because of the perception that Scandinavia (or Norden) was immune to the currents of change that characterized the Enlightenment or of the more radical transformation of the Age of Revolution. Contributors to this collection of essays provide a more nuanced definition of "revolution" with little emphasis on violent change. They argue that the two states that then encompassed Norden--Sweden-Finland and Denmark-Norway-were certainly not immune to the political and cultural currents within Europe advocating revolution but instead provided a Nordic "middle way" in which significant change took place within the context of existing institutions. This was so because both states, particularly Denmark-Norway, possessed governments that were often sensitive to the wishes of their subjects and prepared to accommodate their demands. Essays therefore explore a number of significant topics such as agriculture reform in Denmark, the oscillating liberalization and recurring censorship of public expression in both states, popular peasant unrest, and the impact that gender issues had upon politics during the period.

The volume itself consists of two introductory essays followed by twenty-five articles divided into four sections: the crisis and renewal of the monarchy; the transformation of the political debate; the changing role of commercial interests and politics in Scandinavia, 1730-1815; and the shifting boundaries of political participation. …

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