SweGGate Nordic History Old Time Periods

SweGGate History
Misc Historical Tid-bits.

Here I put a collection of unrelated short essays on historical themes. Most of them are from replies to queries on various genealogy lists.

Sweden-Norway Union Earth quakes (1904) Old length measures


Union of Sweden and Norway 1814 - 1905
After the end of the Napoleonic wars Norway was in a union with Sweden 1814 - 1905 so that the Swedish king was the king of Norway as well. We were never "one country". During the entire period Norwegians increasingly opposed the Swedish rule and greater freedom was given gradually until the union was finally dissolved in 1905.
The peace treaty signed in Kiel, Germany in 1814 after the Napoleonic war states that Norway should be a separate kingdom in union with Sweden and that the Swedish king should have "full ownership and sovereignty" over
When the then Norwegian king Kristian Fredrik got these news he called a "parliament" meeting in Eidsvoll where a Norwegian "grundlag" (constitutional law) was accepted on May 17 1814 (hence the Norwegian national day on May 17) and Kristian Fredrik was elected king of Norway.
The Swedish king-to-be Karl Johan then staged a short military campaign against Norway and won. The peace treaty ("konventionen i Moss") stated that 
- Sweden accepted the constitution of Eidsvoll with minor changes to make a personnel union possible
- Kristian Fredrik resigns and leaves Norway
This treaty was accepted by the Norwegian parliament in October and on Nov 4 1814 the Swedish king Karl XIII was elected king of Norway as well.

So Norway was a separate state with internal self government. The union meant that the Swedish king was king of Norway and that Sweden decided all foreign affairs issues for both countries. The Swedish king also selected the members of the Norwegian government.
However - the constitution of Eidsvoll 1814 was very democratic and gave the parliament (elected by Norwegians only) a strong position including the right to impose new laws. Even if the Swedish king opposed to some law it would still be valid only with a delay of a few years.
During the entire period the opposition against Swedish sovereignty grew in Norway and the Norwegians gradually gained greater freedom in many respects until the union was finally dissolved in the fall of 1905 in Karlstad (I often eat at the table where the documents were signed - the building used belongs to the Free Masons in Karlstad.)

100 years since the peaceful end of the union: Commemoration

Earth quakes (1904)
In general moderate earthquakes occur many times per year in Europe, mainly in the Mediterranean region. In the Nordic countries only small quakes occur and very seldom. Statistics say micro quakes occur every day (Richter <1), 10/year (Richter >2), 1/year (Richter 3) and 1/10 years (Richter 4). A quake must reach about Richter 2.5 to be noticed by people.
There has been one notable quake in the past 100 years since scientific recording started.

On Sunday October 23, 1904 at about 11:30, i.e. during Sunday Mass in most churches an earthquake occurred with the epicentre in the North Sea, just outside Kosteröarna (west of Strömstad in northern Bohuslän province on the Swedish west coast - Map). It measured about 6 on the Richter scale.

In Vänersborg city a chimney collapsed. The famous poet Birger Sjöberg from Vänersborg often referred to this event in his writing.
In Sundals Ryr church (Dalsland province (P)) the congregation could see the neighbouring farms through cracks in the church walls. A young boy jumped from the balcony through the window and was badly hurt.

In Tåby church (Norrköping kommun (E)) the quake caused a crack in the bell-tower (built in 1819) and they could not ring the big bell until iron reinforcements were installed in the walls in 1910.
In Adelöv church (Tranås kommun (F)) cracks in the church walls appeared during the Sunday service.

It took 100 years until the next earthquake in/near Sweden of a similar magnitude.
On Sept 21, 2004 at 15:32 there was an earthquake measuring about 5,3 (Richter) with the epicentre in the Baltic Sea, about 35 km outside the Russian enclave Kaliningrad. This quake was felt all through southern Sweden all the way to the Swedish west coast but no big damages were reported.

Sources: Svenska Seismologiska Stationsnätet / Uppsala Universitet and several newspaper articles

Old length measures


"mil" is used for measuring longer distances, e.g. roads. It exists in many European countries but before European standardization in the last 100 years it was defined differently in different countries.
The origin of the word is the Latin number mille = 1 000 and the distance was mil(l)ia passuum = 1 000 paces/steps. If one step is say 75 cm the Roman milia would be about 750 metres = 3/4 kilometres.
In old Sweden the distance varied from province to province but was standardized for the nation Sweden in the mid 1600's as 36 000 fot (Swedish fot see below). 
In the period close after the standardization in mid 17th century you may find the expressions gammal mil referring to the local definition before standardization and ny mil (nymil) for the standardized measure. The same expressions will be used later but then gammal mil refers to the 36 000 fot distance and ny mil is the new metric definition = 10 kilometres
Various combined words using mil
Ölandsmil =
Romersk mil = Roman milia (1 000 steps)
Välsk mil = walsk mil = Roman milia
Svensk mil (nowadays usually about the old mil = 36 000 fot)
Nautisk mil = sjömil = nautical mile. 
Engelsk mil = English mile

milsten  ("milestone" but NOT the same distance !)

A stone with inscription placed on a foundation or in a pile of stones marking the distance from the start of the road (usually a town/city). Each 1/4 mil (= 900 fot = ca 2.9 km (1.8 Eng miles)) was marked. The erection and maintenance was the duty of the person/institution responsible for the road but were occasionally checked by land surveyors.

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Last updated by F Hae 2005-05-14 07:18 © Fredrik Haeffner, 2001-5