Ancient Constitutions and Modern Monarchy

Historical Writing and Enlightened Reform in Denmark-Norway 1730-1814


What was the role of historical thought and historical inquiry in debates over reform during the Enlightenment? In Ancient Constitutions and Modern Monarchy, Håkon Evju addresses this issue by considering the case of eighteenth-century Denmark-Norway. He argues that historians contributed crucially to the rethinking of Dano-Norwegian absolutism in the face of a shift towards commercial society. Their vision of an ancient Nordic constitution helped recast the monarchy as moderate and influenced debates over agricultural improvements in Denmark and Norway. In an innovative comparative analysis, Evju demonstrates how notions of a common political past were used differently in the two kingdoms. Yet in both cases, such appeals to tradition were vital in controversies over monarchical reform politics during the Enlightenment.

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Håkon Evju, Ph.D. (2014) in History, University of Oslo, is Associate Professor of Intellectual History at that university. He has published numerous articles on different aspects of the Enlightenment in Denmark-Norway.
Acknowledgements Author’s Note Introduction

Part 1: Ancient Constitutionalism in Dano-Norwegian Historical Writing

1 The Politics of History in Early-Modern Denmark-Norway before ca. 1730 2 The Origins of Government and the Meaning of Monarchy 3 Northern Antiquity and the Writing of National History 4 Feudal Law and Allodial Liberty in Europe and the North

Part 2: Ancient Constitutionalism in Debates over Agricultural Reforms in Norway and Denmark

5 The Dano-Norwegian Economic Predicament and the Question of Agricultural Improvement 6 The Norwegian Past and the Defence of Odelsretten in Norway 7 The Danish Past and the Call for Reforming the Manorial Economy in Denmark Conclusion Primary Sources Secondary Literature Index
Post-graduate students and specialists working on the Enlightenment, on the history of political thought and on Scandinavian history. Academic libraries catering to such students and specialists. Keywords: Enlightenment, commerce, economy, politics, republicanism, patriotism, tradition, history, historiography, Scandinavia, Nordic, feudalism.