Aristocracy of Norway
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Aristocracy of Norway refers to modern and medieval aristocracy in Norway. Additionally, there have been economical, political, and military élites that—relating to the main lines of Norway's history—are generally accepted as nominal predecessors of the aforementioned. Since the 16th century, modern aristocracy is known as nobility (Norwegian: adel).
The very first aristocracy in today's Norway appeared during the Bronze Age (1800 BC–500 BC). This bronze aristocracy consisted of several regional élites, whose earliest known existence dates to 1500 BC. Via similar structures in the Iron Age (400 BC–793 AD), these entities would reappear as petty kingdoms before and during the Age of Vikings (793–1066). Beside a chieftain or petty king, each kingdom had its own aristocracy.
Between 872 and 1050, during the so-called unification process, the first national aristocracy began to develop. Regional monarchs and aristocrats who recognised King Harald I as their high king, would normally receive vassalage titles like Earl. Those who refused were defeated or chose to migrate to Iceland, establishing an aristocratic, clan-ruled state there. The subsequent lendman aristocracy in Norway—powerful feudal lords and their families—ruled their respective regions with great autonomy. Their status was by no means equal to that of modern nobles; they were nearly half royal. For example, Ingebjørg Finnsdottir of the Arnmødling dynasty was married to King Malcolm III of Scotland. During the civil war era (1130–1240) the old lendmen were severely weakened, and many disappeared. This aristocracy was ultimately defeated by King Sverre I and the Birchlegs, subsequently being replaced by supporters of Sverre.
Primarily between the 9th and 13th centuries, the aristocracy was not limited to mainland Norway, but appeared in and ruled parts of the British Isles as well as Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Kingdoms, city states, and other types of entities, for example the Kingdom of Dublin, were established or possessed either by Norwegians or by native vassals. Other territories, for example Shetland and the Orkney Islands, were directly absorbed into the kingdom. For example, the Earl of Orkney was a Norwegian nobleman.
The nobility—known as hird and then as knights and squires—was institutionalised during the formation of the Norwegian state in the 13th century. Originally granted an advisory function as servants of the king, the nobility grew into becoming a great political factor. Their land and their armed forces, and also their legal power as members of the Council of the Realm, made the nobility remarkably independent from the king. At its height, the council had the power to recognise or choose inheritors of or pretenders to the Throne. In 1440, they dethroned King Eric III. The council even chose its own leaders as regents, among others Sigurd Jonsson of Sudreim. This aristocratic power, which also involved the church, lasted until the Reformation, when the king illegally abolished the council in 1536. This would nearly remove all of the nobility's political foundation, leaving them with mainly administrative and ceremonial functions. Subsequent immigration of Danish nobles (who thus became Norwegian nobles) would further marginalise the position of natives. In the 17th century, the old nobility consisted almost entirely of Danes.
After 1661, when absolute monarchy was introduced, the old nobility was gradually replaced by a new. This consisted mainly of merchants and officials who had recently been ennobled but also of foreign nobles who were naturalised. Dominant elements in the new nobility were the office nobility (noble status by holding high civilian or military offices) and—especially prominent in the 18th century—the letter nobility (noble status via letters patent in return for military or artistic achievements or monetary donations). Based on the 1665 Lex Regia, which stated that the king was to be revered and considered the most perfect and supreme person on the Earth by all his subjects, standing above all human laws and having no judge above his person, [...] except God alone, the king had his hands free to develop a new and loyal aristocracy to honour his absolute reign. The nobilities in Denmark and Norway could, likewise, bask in the glory of one of the most monarchial states in Europe. The titles of baron and count were introduced in 1671, and in 1709 and 1710, two marquisates (the only ones in Scandinavia) were created. Additionally, hundreds of families were ennobled, i.e., without titles. Demonstrating his omnipotence, the monarch could even revert noble status ab initio, as if ennoblement had never happened, and elevate dead humans to the estate of nobles. A rich aristocratic culture developed during this epoch, for example family names like Gyldenpalm (lit. 'Golden Palm'), Svanenhielm (lit. 'Swan Helm'), and Tordenskiold (lit. 'Thunder Shield'), many of them containing particles like French de and German von. Likewise, excessive creation of coats of arms boosted heraldic culture and praxis, including visual arts.
The 1814 Constitution forbade the creation of new nobility, including countships, baronies, family estates, and fee tails. The 1821 Nobility Law initiated a long-range abolition of the nobility as an official estate, a process in which current bearers were allowed to keep their status and possible titles as well as some privileges for the rest of their lifetime. The last legally noble Norwegians died in the early 20th century. Many Norwegians who had noble status in Norway had it in Denmark, too, where they remained officially noble.
During the 19th century, members of noble families continued to hold political and social power, for example Severin Løvenskiold as Governor-general of Norway and Peder Anker and Mathias Sommerhielm as Prime Minister. Aristocrats were active in Norway's independence movement in 1905, and it has been claimed the union with Sweden was dissolved thanks to a 'genuinely aristocratic wave'. Baron Fritz Wedel Jarlsberg's personal effors contributed to Norway gaining sovereignty of the arctic archipelago Svalbard in 1920. From 1912 to 1918, Bredo Henrik von Munthe af Morgenstierne was Rector of the University of Oslo. When Norway co-founded and entered NATO, ambassador Wilhelm Morgenstierne represented the kingdom when US President Truman signed the treaty in 1949. Whilst they now acted as individuals rather than a unified estate, these and many other noblemen played a significant public rôle, mainly until the Second World War (1940–1945).
Today, Norway has approximately 10-15 families who were formerly recognised as noble by Norwegian kings. These include Anker, Aubert, Falsen, Galtung, Huitfeldt, Knagenhjelm, Løvenskiold, Munthe af Morgenstierne, Treschow, Werenskiold, and the Counts of Wedel-Jarlsberg. In addition, there are nonnoble families who descend patrilineally from individuals who once had personal (nonhereditary) noble status, for example the Paus family and several families of the void ab initio office nobility. There is even foreign nobility in Norway, mainly Norwegian families originating in other countries and who have or had noble status there.
- 1 Primeval aristocracy
- 2 Medieval secular aristocracy overseas
- 3 Medieval secular aristocracy – clerical section
- 4 Medieval clerical aristocracy
- 5 Modern aristocracy
- 6 Noble influence and legacy
- 7 Noble families
- 8 Noble titles
- 9 Noble institutions
- 10 Noble privileges
- 11 Noble symbolism
- 12 Relation to the people
- 13 Nobility as a term
- 14 Other terms of nobility
- 15 See also
- 16 References
- 17 Literature
- 18 External links
The earliest times in today's Norway (c. 10000 BC – c. 1800 BC) had a relatively flat social structure, often based on kinship. People were hunters and gatherers who moved over distances in small parties.
However, in the latest part of the Stone Age, some time before 4000 BC, permanent settlements were established in gradually increasing numbers. Before and parallelly with the introduction of agriculture c. 2500 BC, hunter-gatherer societies became larger tribute societies with elements of stratification. Transition to agriculture was both a condition for and triggered the genesis of the very first aristocracy on the Scandinavian Peninsula. The first known aristocracy appeared no later than c. 1500 BC.
Comparatively, transition to agriculture happened c. 9000 BC in the Fertile Crescent and c. 4000 BC in the British Isles. The most obvious reason for Scandinavia's relatively late transition is the Weichsel glaciation, i.e. the latest ice age. Norway was almost wholly covered by ice until c. 7000 BC, and most of the ice sheet was not melted until c. 6000 BC.
The first known aristocracy in today's Norway existed in the Bronze Age (c. 1800 BC – c. 500 BC) and no later than c. 1500 BC. For this reason, it is called a bronze aristocracy (Norwegian: bronsearistokrati). During this age, settlements became more divided into classes as a new dimension appeared: socio-economical differences.
Based on access to and physical control of natural resources, such as furs, walrus teeth, and other goods that were desired by foreigners, a social élite was able to acquire foreign metals. Bronze is essential in this regard. By importing bronze, which they also established a monopoly on, leading persons and their families would not only express their power but even strengthen and increase it. Bronze was also militarily important. It enabled a limited number of possessors to make weapons stronger than those of stone, and unlike the latter, broken bronze weapons could be melted and reshaped. Common people continued to use tools and weapons of stone during the whole age.
Through trade and cultural exchange, the bronze aristocracy was part of the contemporary civilisation in Europe, despite being placed in the geographical outskirts of it. Continental impulses, for example new religious customs and decorative design, arrived relatively early.
Although there was an established aristocracy, the pyramidal social structure is not similar to the feudal system of the much later Medieval Age. Beside other factors, it has been suggested that agricultural production was insufficient to supply an élite that itself did not participate. In general, it is considered as unlikely that the élite possessed total power. Furthermore, power may not only have been based on weapons. Also religious and ancestral factors are important when explaining how certain persons or families managed to maintain authority for generations. For example, impressive burial mounds could consolidate imaginations of a clan's right to an area.
The bronze aristocracy is known primarily through burial mounds, for example a mound (c. 1200 BC) in Jåsund, Western Norway, where an apparently mighty man was buried together with a big bronze sword. Other mounds were filled with bronze weapons and bronze artefacts, for example rings, necklaces, and decorative daggers. The biggest mounds could be up to 8–9 metres in height and 40 metres in diameter. A construction like this required the work of ten men for about four weeks.
The bronze aristocracy faced a challenge when the position of bronze was taken over by iron. Unlike bronze, which remained an aristocratically controlled metal through the whole age, iron was found in rich amounts in the nature, especially in bogs, and was thus owned and used by broader layers of the population.
Early and Late Iron Age
Archaeological examination of graves of the Early Iron Age (c. 400 BC – c. AD 500) has revealed three distinct social strata. Ordinary farmers were cremated and buried in simple, flat graves. (Whilst this sort of burial had existed in the Bronze Age, too, the cremation part was a recently imported custom from Continental Europe—and not imposed on ordinary farmers in particular.) Grand farmers and aristocrats were buried together with grave goods, while chieftains were buried in mounds. Grave goods of this age are dominated by iron artefacts.
In this age, the aristocracy had begun to enslave humans. The use of forced labor in agricultural production made the aristocracy able to spend more resources on military activities, increasing their capacity to control their tax-paying subjects, to defend their territory, and even to expand it. However, thralls were not an aristocratic privilege. In principle, all free men could hold thralls. A thrall was the rightless property of his or her owner. The text Rígsþula identifies three distinct classes and describes extensively how they evolved: chieftains, farmers, and thralls. Religion was used to explain and justify thralldom, but the original motivation was rather economical.
Furthermore, the aristocracy sacrificed humans to be placed in graves of deceased aristocrats. Also this custom was related to religion, i.e. imaginations of life after death. Contemporary sources as well as archaeological remains document this custom. For example, Arab traveller Ahmad ibn Fadlan (fl. 10th century) documented that a female slave was killed for this purpose in a Nordic burial in Russia.
At the beginning of the Late Iron Age (c. 500 – c. 793; in Norway known as the Merovingian Age), there were several changes in Nordic culture: for example the deterioration of the quality of works of art and syncopation of the spoken language. Burial customs in several regions were drastically simplified: stone coffins (stones placed together as a coffin protecting the body within a grave or a tumulus) were no longer used, and tumuli became smaller or were replaced by flat graves. Also grave goods appear to have been lesser in amount than before.
Some historians have interpreted these changes negatively. Some suggest that they were caused by plague or interregional conflict, while others believe that the smaller number of tumuli reflects the consolidation of aristocratic power, which meant that large and splendid monuments were no longer necessary.
The hird was divided into three classes, of which the first had three ranks. The first class was hirdmann with lendmann as the 1st rank, skutilsvein as the 2nd rank, and ordinary hirdmann as the 3rd rank. Below them were the classes gjest and kjertesvein.
Lendmen, having the first rank in the group of hirdmen, had the right to hold 40 armed housecarls, to advise the King, and to receive an annual payment from the King. They normally also held the highest offices in the state. The foundation for their rights was the military duty which their title imposed.
Kjertesveins were young men of good family who served as pages at the court, and gjests constituted a guard and police corps. In addition, there was a fourth group known as housecarls, but it remains uncertain whether they were considered a part of or rather served the hird.
The system of hirdmen—regional and local representatives for the King—was stronger and lasted longer in the tributary lands Shetland, Orkney, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands, and also in Jemtland, originally an independent farmer republic which Norwegian kings used much time and efforts to gain control over.
During the second half of the 13th century continental European court culture began to gain influence in Norway. In 1277 the King introduced continental titles in the hird: lendmen were called barons, and skutilsveins were called ridder. Both were then styled Herr (English: Lord). In 1308 King Håkon V abolished the lendman/baron institution, and it was probably also during his reign that the aristocracy seems to have been restructured into two classes: ridder (English: knight) and væpner (English: squire).
It is difficult to determinate exactly how many knights and squires there were in the 14th and the early 15th century. When King Haakon V signed a peace treaty with the Danish king in 1309, it was sealed by 29 Norwegian knights and squires. King Haakon promised that additional 270 knights and squires would give their written recognition. This were perhaps the approximate number of knights and squires at this time.
The Black Death, which came to Norway around 1349, was bad for the nobility. In addition to the loss of their own members, about two thirds of the population were killed by the plague, and the reduction in available manpower for agriculture caused an economic crisis.
The aristocracy was reduced from about 600 families or 3,600 people before 1350 to about 200 families or 1,000 people in 1450.
The value of land was reduced by 50%–75%, and the land rent was reduced by up to 75%, except in relatively populous central districts like Akershus and Båhus, where the reduction was about 40%. The tithe also reduced by 60%–70%.
Both before and after the plague, Norwegian noblemen were unusually dependent on the King compared with noblemen in other countries. Mountainous Norway has never been conducive to large land estates of continental size. As a consequence of the tremendous reduction in land-related income following the plague, it became even more necessary than before to enter royal service.
Militarily, the Black Death was a catastrophe. As lower and local noblemen were killed by the plague, the recruitment of officers and troop leaders was equally reduced. Having lost their economic base (reduced income of taxes etc.) and their economic guarantees from the King, local aristocrats could often not fulfil their military duties.
Fiefs and fortresses
To the first belonged castle fiefs (Norwegian: slottslen) or main fiefs (Norwegian: hovedlen), to which the King appointed lords, and under them petty fiefs (Norwegian: smålen), which had varying connections with their respective castle fief. In the 15th century, there were approximately fifty fiefs in Norway. In the late 16th century and the early 17th century, there were four permanent castle fiefs and approximately thirty small. Thereafter, the amount of petty fiefs was reduced in favour of bigger and more stable main fiefs. Lords of castle fief resided in the biggest cities, where the royal farms or the castles were located.
The second type were estate fiefs (Norwegian: godslen), i.e. private, noble estates that constituted independent areas of jurisdiction.
Likewise, nobles were active in the Kingdom's military defence, in which fortresses had a central position. In the early 14th century, the Fortress of Vardøhus in Northern Norway was constructed due to conflicts with the Russian Republic of Novgorod and as protection against robbery raids of the Karelians. The fortresses Bohus and Akershus in Eastern Norway were established approximately at the same time. An earlier fortress was Bergenhus in Western Norway. There would usually be one or more fiefs attached to each fortress. All fortresses were mainly under the command of nobles, who held the military title of høvedsmann.
Time of greatness
During the 14th century members of the hird continued in various directions. The lower parts of the hird lost importance and disappeared. The upper parts, especially the former lendmen, became the nucleus of the nobility of the High Medieval Age: the Knighthood (Norwegian: Ridderskapet). They stood close to the King, and as such they received seats in the Council of the Kingdom as well as fiefs, and some had even family connections to the royal house. There was a significant social distance between the Knighthood and ordinary noblemen.
The Council of the Kingdom was the Kingdom's governing institution, consisting of members of the upper secular and the upper clerical aristocracy, including the Archbishop. Originally, in the 13th century, having had an advisory function as the King's council, the Council became remarkably independent from the King during the 15th century. At its height it had the power to choose or to recognise pretenders to the Throne, and it demanded an electoral charter from each new king. Sometimes it even chose its own leaders as regents (Norwegian: drottsete or riksforstander), among others Sigurd Jonsson (Stjerne) to Sudreim and Jon Svaleson (Smør).
In Norway as well as in Denmark and Sweden, it was in this period that the idea and the principle of riksråd constitutionalism had arisen, i.e. that the Council was considered as the real foundation of sovereignty. Although kings were formal heads of state, the Council was powerful. Their power and active rulership, especially as regents, have caused historians characterise this state as de facto a republic of the nobility (Norwegian: adelsrepublikk).
This aristocratic power lasted until the Reformation, when the King in 1536 illegally abolished the Council. The reign of aristocrats was over when Archbishop Olav Engelbrektsson, who was also noble, the Council's president and the Regent of Norway, left the Kingdom in 1537.
Between reformation and absolutism
Following the abolition of the Norwegian Council of the Kingdom in 1536, which de facto ceased to exist in 1537, the nobility in Norway lost most of its formal political foundation. The Danish Council of the Kingdom took over the governing of Norway. However, the nobility in Norway, now confined to more administrative and ceremonial functions, continued to take part in the country's official life, especially at homages to new kings.
Having defeated the aristocratic and besides Roman Catholic resistance in Norway, the King in Copenhagen sought to secure and consolidate his control in the Kingdom. Strategical actions would further weaken the nobility in Norway.
First of all, the King sent Danish noblemen to Norway in order to administer the country and to fill civilian and military offices. Norwegian noblemen were deliberately under-represented when new high officials were appointed. Whilst this was a part of the King’s tactics, also the lack of Norwegian noblemen with qualified education—Norway did not have a university—was a reason for that the King had to send foreigners. The educational sector was considerably better developed in Sleswick and Holsatia, plus in Germany, so only nobles who sent their children to foreign universities could hope to keep or obtain high offices.
Secondly, during the 16th century the system of independent, family-possessed estates as power centra, like Austrått, was ultimately replaced in favour of fiefs to which the King himself appointed lords. A few Norwegian noblemen were given such fiefs, for example Knight Trond Torleivsson Benkestok, Lord to Bergenhus Fortress, but over time these would find themselves possessed almost exclusively by immigrants. Nevertheless, during the 17th century fiefs were transformed into high offices. Also they were considered too risky for the King.
Thirdly, in 1628 the King instituted a national army of soldiers recruited directly from the estate of farmers. At the same time technical development made traditional military methods outdated. As a result, the nobility was defunctionalised in this aspect.
In 1660, when Denmark's estates were gathered in Copenhagen, King Frederick III declared military state of emergency and closed the capital city, thus preventing the nobility from boycotting the assembly by leaving. The nobility was forced to surrender. In the following days, Denmark was transformed from an elective monarchy into an hereditary. On 17 October, the 1648 håndfestning was returned to the King, and on 18 October, the King was hailed as an hereditary monarch. On 10 January 1661, the Absolute and Hereditary Monarchy Act (Norwegian: Enevoldsarveregjeringsakten) introduced absolutism. In Denmark, the Council of the Kingdom faced the same destiny as the Norwegian Council had done in 1536: abolition. The noble monarchy (Norwegian: adelsmonarki) had come to an end.
Formally a hereditary kingdom since old ages, Norway was not affected by Denmark's transition to the same. However, also Norway was affected by absolutism. On 7 August 1661 in Christiania, representatives of the Norwegian nobility signed the Sovereignty Act.
The native aristocracy was extensively reduced during the last part of the Late Medieval Age. Several factors may explain this.
An important factor is that families did not produce a sufficient amount of male descendants. As noble status was inherited patrilineally, the lack of men lead to families’ extinction. A reason is that noblemen as warriors were exposed to greater risks than the population in general and therefore died in a young age and without issue.
Another factor is that the Norwegian nobility to a large extent married persons of the estate of commoners. So-called unequal marriages, of which there came to be many especially in lower parts of nobility, led (after 1582 and 1591) to the loss of noble status, noble estates, and similar. In an application to the King in 1591, the nobility requested that since it ‘[...] often [happens] that noblemen here in Norway marry unfree women, and their children inherit his estate, [...] which is the nobility to reduction and shame [...]’, their children should not inherit noble status or noble estate.
It is also a factor that noble status not automatically was inherited. If a family for generations no longer provided services to the King, they could due to oblivion lose their position. An example is the Tordenstjerne family, whose members in the 16th century were squires, but who due to political and military inactivity in the 17th century had to get their noble status confirmed in the 18th century.
It is often claimed that the old nobility ‘died out’ in the Late Medieval Age. This is mostly but not entirely correct. The term ‘extinction’ includes not only families dying out physically, but also disappearance from the written sources of formerly noble families which had lost their political power and importance. This has even obscured the link between the such families before and in the 16th century and their farmer descendants who appear in sources beginning in the late 17th century. In other words, families of the old nobility may in actuality have survived without knowing it or being able to prove it.
The nobility of the 16th century was of a marginal size, thus being socially more exclusive, but also politically more vulnerable. For example, after the Reformation in 1536, the number of nobles was reduced from approximately 800 and to approximately 400, i.e. under 0.2 percent of the population and approximately 1/7 of the size of the Danish nobility. After 1536, only 15 percent of Norwegian land was in noble possession.
Women and women's rights
There are a few examples of medieval noblewomen who acted with considerable de facto independence. Prominent are Lady Ingegjerd Ottesdotter Rømer of Austrått and Lady Gørvel Fadersdotter (Sparre) of Giske. It is, however, important to know that they acted as so-called 'pseudo men', i.e. in the formal rôle of a man (usually their deceased husband's, father's or brother's). Legally, there was no such thing as formal female rôles.
In general, noblewomen had larger economical freedom than women of unfree estate. Whilst the Land Law of 1274 and the Town Law of 1276 gave farmer women and burgher women only limited control of their assets, noblewomen could buy and sell as much as they pleased. This estate-based discrimination would last until the Land Law (including the Norwegian Code of 1604, which was mostly a Danish translation) was replaced by the Norwegian Code of 1687, a law that made all non-widowed women legally minor, regardless of their birth. (Some minor restrictions were introduced in 1604, when Norwegian law, granting unmarried women financial independence from their 21st year, was adjusted to match Danish law, which imposed lifelong guardianship on women and their fortune.)
The noble privileges of 1582 decreed that a noblewoman who married a non-noble man should lose all her hereditary land to her nearest co-inheritor, for example her brother. The rule was designed with the intention of keeping noble land in noble hand, which would strengthen the nobility's power base.
Medieval secular aristocracy overseas
In 1262, Gissur Þorvaldsson († 1268) was given the title Earl of Iceland, indicating and imposing that he should rule Iceland on behalf of Norway’s king. It is known that approximately 20–30 Icelandic men had the title of knight in the following centuries, among others Eiríkur Sveinbjarnarson in Vatnsfjörður († 1342) and Arnfinnur Þorsteinsson († 1433).
In 1457, King Christian I ennobled Björn Þorleifsson. The same honour had been granted Torfi Arason in 1450. Björn was hirðstjóri (a high royal official) in Iceland and as well the richest man in this part of Norway.
In 1488, King John ennobled Eggert Eggertsson, Lawspeaker (Norwegian: lagmann) of Viken in mainland Norway. His son was Hans Eggertsson (fl. 1522), city administrator (Norwegian: rådmann) of Bergen, and the latter's son was Eggert Hansson, Lawspeaker (Icelandic: lögmaður) of Iceland (fl. 1517–1563). This family is known as Norbagge today.
In 1620 at the Althing, Jón Magnússon the Elder, let a letters patent of 1457 be read, originally given to his aforementioned ancestor Björn Þorleifsson. King Christian IV recognised his noble status. It is claimed that Jón was the last Norwegian nobleman in this part of Norway. The era of the nobility in Iceland ended in 1661 with the introduction of absolutism in Norway.
Medieval secular aristocracy – clerical section
Members of the royal clergy (Norwegian: kongelig kapellgeistlighet), i.e. the clergy of the King's own chapels, which were subordinate only to the King and largely independent of the Church hierarchy in Norway, belonged to the secular aristocracy by virtue of their offices in the service of the King.
In a royal proclamation of 22 June 1300 King Haakon V granted St Mary's Church, Oslo—the royal chapel—numerous privileges and decreed that "the learned man who is or becomes its dean" (i.e. the provost) ex officio would have the rank of a lendman, whilst priests with prebends (i.e. the canons) would have the rank of a Knight, the vicars and deacons would have the rank of an (ordinary) hirdmann, and other clerics would have the rank of a kjertesvein; the clergy of this church thus received extraordinarily high aristocratic ranks, according to Sverre Bagge.
In 1314 King Haakon decreed that the provost of St Mary's Church would also hold the office of Chancellor (Norwegian: Norges Rikes kansler) and Keeper of the Great Seal ‘for eternity’, and with some interruptions the office of Chancellor was tied to the office of provost of St Mary's Church until some years after the Reformation in 1536. One of the other priests (typically a canon) would serve as Vice-Chancellor according to the royal letter. The main Great Seal was brought to Denmark in 1398, but the Chancellor kept an older version of the seal that was used until the 16th century. The vicars of St Mary's Church probably had a higher position than elsewhere due to their extraordinary aristocratic rank. In 1348 King Haakon VI found it necessary to stress that the canons had higher rank in every aspect and they alone should administer the estate of their church.
St Mary's Church was an important political institution until the Reformation era, as it was the seat of government in Norway, although from the late 14th century effectively subordinate to the central government administration in Copenhagen and increasingly concerned only with matters relating to the legal field. Peter Andreas Munch has described the royal clergy as a counterweight to the (regular) secular aristocracy with a stronger loyalty to the king and a stronger service element than both the (regular) secular and the clerical aristocracy. The cathedral chapter of St Mary's Church ceased to exist as a separate institution when it was merged with the chapter of Oslo Cathedral in 1545, although its clergy retained their prebends.
Most of the royal clergy—especially those who rose to its upper echelons, such as canon and provost—were recruited from the lower nobility and sometimes even from the higher nobility.
In the years following the Reformation, this royal clergy gradually disappeared, as the entire church hierarchy came directly under the King's control. Some remnants of the institution survived for some time; for example the estate of the provost of St Mary's Church (Mariakirkens prostigods) was customarily given as a fief to the Chancellor of Norway until the 17th century.
Hans Olufsson (1500–1570), who was a canon at St Mary's Church before and after the Reformation and who held the prebend of Dillevik that included the income of 43 ecclesiastical properties, is regarded as the probable progenitor of the still extant Paus family.
Medieval clerical aristocracy
The clergy (Norwegian: geistlighet) was one of normally three estates in the Norwegian feudal system. Together with the King and the secular aristocracy, the Archbishop and the clerical aristocracy constituted the power class in the Kingdom. Until the Reformation in 1536 this aristocracy operated and developed in parallel with the secular aristocracy.
It was in the years after the death of King Olaf 'the Holy' in 1030 that Norway was finally Christianised, whereby the Church gradually began to play a political rôle. Already in 1163 the Law of Succession stated that Norwegian kings were no longer sovereign monarchs but vassals holding Norway as a fief from Saint Olaf alias the Eternal King of Norway. This invention gave the Church bigger control of the royal power, not least because the King had to proclaim loyalty to the Pope. King Magnus V (1156–1184) was as such the first of Norway's kings to use the style 'by the Grace of God'. Nevertheless, this law of succession would last only for a century, when a new and for kings more independent law of succession was introduced.
The Church was actively involved in the civil war era (1130–1240), in which they were allies of the established aristocracy and supported throne pretenders who were (alleged) descendants of 'Olaf the Holy'. Ultimately the Church supported Magnus Erlingsson (1156–1184), the son of Earl Erling Ormsson and Princess Kristin Sigurdsdotter.
In 1184, having defeated King Magnus, Sverre Sigurdsson became King of Norway. Subsequently, Sverre demanded that the Archbishop should be subordinate to the King. As a result of this King Sverre was excommunicated. In Denmark exiled Archbishop Eirik, plus the majority of bishops, arranged a resistance movement known as the Baglers. They managed to re-occupy and control parts of Eastern Norway, from where they represented a permanent threat to King Sverre. Upon King Sverre's death in 1202 a it became possible to find a compromise between Sverre's supporters, the Birchlegs, and the Archbishop. In 1217 they managed to agree upon a king: King Haakon IV, a paternal grandson of King Sverre.
During the 13th century there were power struggles between the Church and the King. Several disagreements were temporarily solved with the Concordat of Tunsberg (Norwegian: Sættargjerden) of 1277. This concordat granted the clerical aristocracy several rights and privileges or confirmed existing ones, for example the freedom to trade and the freedom from paying lething. The same concordat gave the Archbishop the right to have 100 sveins (armed pages), whilst each bishop could have 40.
- Bishop of Bergen
- Bishop of Stavanger
- Bishop of Oslo
- Bishop of Hamar
- Bishop of Garðar (Greenland)
- Bishop of Skálholt (Iceland)
- Bishop of Hólar (Iceland)
- Bishop of Kirkjubøur (Faroe Islands)
- Bishop of Kirkwall (Orkney Islands)
- Bishop of Mann and the Isles (Mann and the Isles)
Canons were recruited primarily from the secular aristocracy. Whilst most canons came from the lower nobility, several belonged to the higher nobility by birth. The latter were sons of knights and even of Councillors of the Kingdom. Examples are Jakob Matsson of the Rømer family, Henrik Nilsson of the Gyldenløve family, and Elling Pedersson of the Oxe family.
Priests (Norwegian: prest) constituted the local level of the clergy.
Originally a style for canons in the 13th century, priests were styled Sira in and after the 14th century. Subsequently, Sira was replaced by Herr. Sira and Herr were used in combination with the given name only, e.g. 'Sira Eirik'.
Beside the clerical hierarchy, the Archbishop of Nidaros had his own organisation of officers and servants.
Regional representatives of the Archbishop, setesveins (not to be confused with the noble title of skutilsvein) were seated mainly along the coast of Western and Northern Norway as well as in Iceland. A register of 1533 shows that there were at least 69 setesveins at this time. Their function was to administer the land estate of and to collect the taxes belonging to the Archbishop, and they also traded partly themselves and partly on behalf of the Archbishop. In Northern Norway, a typical location of setesveins was a central position with immediate control of the lucrative fisheries.
Some setesveins belonged to the secular aristocracy too, usually by birth.
After the Reformation in 1536, when King Christian III prohibited the Roman Catholic Church and the Archbishop went into exile, the King punished setesveins who had supported the Archbishop. Many of them had their houses robbed as the King and his soldiers raided the coast.
In Northern Norway ex-setesveins and their descendants were known as page nobility (Norwegian: knapeadel).
The modern aristocracy is known as adel (English: nobility). The parts of the nobility that are regarded as new in Norway consisted of immigrated persons and families of the old nobility of Denmark, of recently ennobled persons and families in Norway as well as in Denmark, and of persons and families whose (claimed) noble status was confirmed or—for foreigners—naturalised by the King.
An absolute monarch since 1660, the King could ennoble and for that sake remove the noble status of anyone he wished and—unlike earlier—without approval from the Council of the Kingdom. He could even elevate dead humans to the estate of nobles. For example, four days after his death in 1781, Hans Eilersen Hagerup was ennobled under the name de Gyldenpalm. This made as well his legitimate children and other patrilineal descendants noble.
On 25 May 1671 King Christian V created 31 counts and barons. As such two classes were created in addition to the class of nobles: the class of barons (Norwegian: friherrestand) and the class of counts (Norwegian: grevestand). A noble was per definition untitled, and barons and counts did not belong to the class of nobles, but to their respective classes. However, all three constituted the estate of nobles. Barons and counts could be either titular or feudal. The latter constituted the feudal nobility (Norwegian: lensadel). On 22 April 1709 King Frederick IV introduced the title of marquis.
The introduction of the titles of count and baron was controversial in the old nobility, who were old enemies of royal absolutism and whom the titles sought to outrank. One reaction was the anonymously published theatre play Comedy of the Count and the Baron, written in 1675.
A minor but nevertheless considerable element of the modern aristocracy was the office nobility (Norwegian: embetsadel or embedsadel, also called rangadel). It was introduced in 1679 and would, with extensive reductions during the 18th century, last until 1814.
A person holding a high-ranking office within one of the highest classes of rank automatically received ennoblement for himself, for his wife, and for his legitimate children, and for decades this status was normally hereditable for his patrilineal and legitimate descendants. However, basically all such ennoblements were annulled when King Christian VI, tired of his father's generosity, acceded to the throne in 1730, and only those who received a special recognition after making an application retained their noble status. The office nobility as such was not abolished. Subsequent royal decrees introduced a more restrictive policy, under which noble status dependent on offices was limited to the person concerned, to his wife, and to his legitimate children. The Decree on the Order of Precedence of 1671 was radical, for the first time deciding that the nobility did not automatically have the highest rank in the Kingdom. It stated explicitly that the nobility should enjoy their traditional rank above other estates and subjects unless the latter were specified in the order of precedence. In other words, any person within the rank stood above noble persons outside this. The Noble Privileges of 1661 had stated the opposite, namely that the nobility should enjoy rank and honour above all others.
Finally, the Letter of Privileges of 11 February 1679 introduced automatical noble status for the highest members of the order of precedence. As such the office nobility had been established. The letter stated explicitly that these persons of rank as well as wife and children should enjoy all privileges and benefits that others of the nobility had in the present and in the future, and it was also stressed that they should be honoured, respected, and regarded equally with nobles of birth.
The office nobility has later been considered with lesser regard, and for example the Yearbook of the Danish Nobility does not include such persons and families.
- Mathias de Tonsberg, who was automatically ennobled in 1704 when he became Councillor of the State (Norwegian: etatsråd).
- Hans Eilersen Hagerup, who was automatically ennobled in 1761 when he became General Commissioner of War. (In 1781 he was even ennobled by letter.)
Beginning already in the High Medieval Age but especially associated with the late 17th century and the 18th century, it became customary to ennoble persons by letters patent (Norwegian: adelsbrev) for significant military or artistic achievements, and there were also persons who were ennobled in this way after making monetary donations. These are informally known as letter nobility (Norwegian: brevadel).
One of the earliest known letters patent is from 1458, given to Sjøfar and Nils Sigurdssøner, by King Eric III. The patent included all of their descendants, both through male and female-descendancy where ennoblement was given to "these and their legitimate children, their descendants and their relatives, each after the other". The heraldic name of their descendants are called the Rosensværds. As this patent was given prior to the restrictions generally imposed on the unpatented-nobility in 1582 and 1592, The Rosensværds are thus exempt from the later rule that stated that nobility should only pass through male-lines, witch ensures that every Rosensværd, whether they descend from Sjøfar or Niels Siggurdzønner through their fathers or their mothers, are born nobles regardless and their children and so forth also nobles, even if a Rosensword should marry a commoner. This Was due to the fact that King Eric in the patent "gave shield, helmet, freedom and salvation" to all their descendants, both and unborn alike, "each after the other", without excluding any descendant, regardless of who they married.
Other families are Rosenvinge and Tordenstjerne, both ennobled in 1505. However, the custom of ennobling by letters patent increased drastically in the late 17th century and the 18th century, when numerous persons and families received such noble status. They were a part of the King's plan of creating a new and loyal nobility replacing the old, who until 1660 had been political enemies of the King. However, letters patent given (unofficially: sold) among others to rich merchants were also a lucrative source of income for the Kings, whose many wars at times lead to a big need for money.
- Kurt Sørensen was for bravery in battle ennobled under the name Adeler.
- Ludvig Holberg, a famous writer, was ennobled as a baron for his merits and by bequeathing his fortune to the Sorø Academy.
- Joachim Geelmuyden, the son of a priest and the grandson of a tradesman, held many titles and offices in the Dano-Norwegian state and was subsequently ennobled under the name Gyldenkrantz.
With feudal barons and feudal counts one saw the introduction of a neo-feudal structure in Norway. These modern fiefs were ruled with conditioned independence by noble families, and they were hereditable. Feudal lords were equipped with extensive rights and duties. On the other hand, a fief was formally a dominium directum of the King. It would as such return to the Crown when a title became extinct (see for example Barony of Rosendal) or when a feudal lord was sentenced for disloyality (see for example Countship of Griffenfeld).
The main architect behind the new system of barons and counts, introduced in 1671, was Peder Schumacher, who himself was ennobled as Peder Schumacher Griffenfeld in 1671 and created Count of Griffenfeld in 1673. In 1675 the citizens of Tønsberg lost their independence, and the city was merged into the Countship. Griffenfeld had been granted the sole right to all mining and hunting within the Countship. He could appoint judges, arrest and charge inhabitants, and punish sentenced criminals. He could appoint priests to all churches, which he owned. Several duties were imposed on the Count's subjects. For example, cotters (Norwegian: husmann) under the Count had to work for him without payment.
Whilst these new politics could bring fundamental changes to each area concerned, the effect and the consequences remained limited in Norway in general, as originally only two countships and one barony were created. These included only a small amount of the Norwegian population. Divided into counties (Norwegian: amt), the rest of Norway was under direct royal administration.
Lutheran Evangelical kingdoms, Denmark and Norway welcomed Huguenots who had escaped from France following the 1685 revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Huguenots were greeted with several privileges, and some even achieved noble status and/or titles. One was Jean Henri Huguetan (1665–1749) from Lyon, who was created Count of Gyldensteen in 1717.
Increasing influence of Norwegians
During the 18th century, Norwegian-born noblemen and burghers rose to prominence within the Dano-Norwegian state.
Introduction of the stavnsbånd
In 1733 King Christian VI introduced the system of stavnsbånd—a serfdom-like institution—in Denmark. This was introduced following an agricultural crisis that lead people to leave the countryside and move into towns. The system would last until after 1788.
Years of Struensee
During the de facto reign of Johann Friedrich Struensee between 1770 and 1772 the power of the nobility in Denmark and Norway was challenged. Whilst he did not mind creating himself and his friend Brandt feudal counts, Struensee was an enemy of the hereditary aristocracy, which he sought to replace with a merit-based system of government. A part of his reforms Struensee abolished noble privileges and decided that state employments should be based on a person's qualifications only.
In a counter-coup on 17 January 1772 Ove Høegh-Guldberg, Hans Henrik von Eickstedt, Georg Ludwig von Köller-Banner and others had Struensee arrested. In a following trial he was sentenced to death. On 28 April ex-counts Brandt and Struensee were executed; first their right hands were cut off, whereafter they were beheaded and had their bodies drawn and quartered.
1814 Constitution and 1821 Nobility Law
The Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway of 1814, which had been established in the spirit of the principles of the French Revolution and greatly influenced by the Constitution of the United States of America, forbade the creation of new nobility, including countships, baronies, family estates (Norwegian: stamhus), and fee tails (Norwegian: fideikommiss). Beside being in accordance with the contemporary political ideology, the prohibition effectively removed the possibility for Norway’s king, who after 1814 also was Sweden’s king, to create a nobility of Swedes and loyal Norwegians.
The Nobility Law of 1821 (Norwegian: Adelsloven) initiated a long-range abolition of all noble titles and privileges, while the current nobility were allowed to keep their noble status, possible titles and in some cases also privileges for the rest of their lifetime. Under the Nobility Law, nobles who for themselves and their children wished to present a claim to nobility before the Norwegian parliament were required to provide documentation confirming their noble status. Representatives of eighteen noble families submitted their claims to the Parliament.
In 1815 and in 1818, the Parliament had passed the same law, and it was both times vetoed by the King. The King did not possess a third veto, so he had to approve the law in 1821. Shortly afterwards, the King suggested the creation of a new nobility, but the attempt was rejected by the Parliament.
Many of the Norwegians who had noble status in Norway had noble status also in Denmark and thus remained noble. This and the fact that many Norwegian nobles did not live in the country may have contributed to reduced resistance to the Nobility Law. However, there was resistance, which found its most significant expression in Severin Løvenskiold, who had fought against the democracy and who worked for stopping the Nobility Law. Being an important politician and an allied of the King, Løvenskiold was not without power. Løvenskiold argued against the law that Norway’s king, and thus the Kingdom’s government, had granted his family eternal noble status, and the letters patent of 1739 uses the expression ‘eternally’. At the same time, the Constitution’s § 97 in fact stated: ‘No law must be given retroactive force.’
The last Norwegian count with official recognition was Peder Anker, Count of Wedel-Jarlsberg, who died in 1893. His younger brothers were Herman, Baron of Wedel-Jarlsberg, who died in 1888, and Harald, Baron of Wedel-Jarlsberg, who died in 1897. The cousins Ulriche Antoinette de Schouboe (1813–1901) and Julie Elise de Schouboe (1813–1911), as well as Anne Sophie Dorothea Knagenhjelm (1821–1907), died early in the 20th century as some of Norway’s last persons who had had official recognition as noble.
Although the institution of nobility gradually was dissolved, members of noble families continued to play a significant rôle in the political and social life of the country. For example, Stewards and Prime Ministers such as Count Herman Wedel-Jarlsberg (Steward, 1836–1840), Severin Løvenskiold (Steward, 1841–1856, Prime Minister, 1828–1841), Peder Anker (Prime Minister, 1814–1822), Frederik Due (Prime Minister, 1841–1858), Georg Sibbern (Prime Minister, 1858–1871) and Carl Otto Løvenskiold (Prime Minister, 1884) had aristocratic backgrounds.
Aristocrats were active also in the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905. Most prominent were diplomat Fritz Wedel Jarlsberg and world-famous polar explorer Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen. Nansen, who otherwise became Norway’s first ambassador to London (1906–08), was pro dissolving the union and, among other acts, travelled to the United Kingdom, where he successfully lobbied for support for the independence movement. Also in the ensuing referendum concerning monarchy versus republic in Norway, the popular hero Nansen’s support of monarchy and his active participation in the pro-monarchy campaign is said to have had an important effect on popular opinion. After the dissolution of the union, the leading person in the creation of the new state’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was Thor von Ditten, a Norwegian of foreign nobility.
Today, the nobility is a relatively marginal factor in the society, culturally and socially as well as in politics. Members of noble families are only individually prominent, like Anniken Huitfeldt. However, a handful of families, like Løvenskiold, Treschow, and Wedel-Jarlsberg, still possess considerable wealth. This includes fame and regular appearance in newspapers and also coloured magazines.
Landowner and businessman Carl Otto Løvenskiold owns Maxbo among other companies. The brothers Nicolai and Peder Løvenskiold own a large number of higher private schools in Norway, among others the Westerdals School of Communication, the Bjørknes College, and the Norwegian School of Information Technology. Prominent is also landowner and businesswoman Mille-Marie Treschow, who is one of the wealthiest women in Norway.
Until and during the 20th century noble persons have served at the Royal Court in Oslo. Prominent are (since 1985) Mistress of the Robes Ingegjerd Løvenskiold Stuart and (between 1931 and 1945) Lord Chamberlain Peder Anker Wedel-Jarlsberg.
Although privileges were abolished and official recognition of titles was removed, some families still consider themselves noble by tradition and—lawfully—still bear their inherited name and coat of arms. Claims to nobility have no effect or support in law. There are still Norwegians who enjoy official recognition from the Danish government;—the nobility in Denmark still exists. They are likewise included in the Yearbook of the Danish Nobility, published by the Association of the Danish Nobility.
Noble influence and legacy
The aristocracy has ruled and shaped Norway during nearly the whole existence of the Kingdom. Products of and references to the aristocracy are both visible and less explicit in today′s society.
In 1814 noblemen were leading when a constitutional monarchy and a parliament were established in Norway. Among them were the Count of Wedel-Jarlsberg, Peder Anker, and Christian Magnus Falsen. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway of 1814, which is still in function, was written by a nobleman, namely by Falsen. This constitution grants, among other things, freedom of speech, protection of private property, and prohibition of painful search and seizure.
In 1905 members of the aristocracy were leading in the independence movement. Eystein Eggen has claimed Norway's independence was realised by a 'genuinely aristocratic wave', in which especially Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen and Fritz Wedel-Jarlsberg were important persons.
- Christian Magnus Falsen was depicted on the 1,000 kroner bank-note between 1979 and 2001.
- Peter Wessel Tordenskiold was together with non-noble Wilhelm Frimann Koren Christie depicted on the 1,000 kroner bank-note, the 100 kroner bank-note, and the 10 kroner bank-note between 1901 and 1945.
- The idiom Tordenskiold's soldiers (Norwegian: Tordenskiolds soldater) is related to aforementioned Tordenskiold.
- Lady Inger of Ostrat is a famous romantic nationalist play published by Henrik Ibsen in 1857. It refers to Lady Ingerd Ottesdotter Rømer to Austrått. Based on the play a movie was made in 1975 by Sverre Udnæs.
- Some official coats of arms display or are inspired by noble coats of arms, among others those of the municipalities Sarpsborg (see Alv Erlingsson) and Våler (see Bolt) and of the county Troms (see Bjarkøy dynasty). The coat of arms of Lillehammer displays a Birchleg. KNM Tordenskjold, the Royal Norwegian Navy′s school for maritime warfare, uses aforementioned Tordenskiold's arms.
- The Werenskiold family have produced two prominent artists, namely Erik Werenskiold (1855–1938), who especially is known for his illustrations of Norse sagas, and his son Dagfin Werenskiold (1892–1977), a sculptor and a painter.
In names and places
- Several streets, squares and so on are named after noblemen, among others Grev Wedels plass (Count Wedel Square), Løvenskiolds gate (Løvenskiold Street), Majorstua (a part of Oslo), and Wedel Jarlsberg Land.
- Several buildings, enterprises and so on are named after noblemen, among others Best Western Gyldenløve Hotell (a hotel), Marie Treschow (a private home for old people), and Georg Morgenstiernes Hus (a building at the University of Oslo campus).
Philanthropy Norwegian foundations origined along with settled estates (stamhus) and fee tails (fideikommiss) during absolutism in Norway, and noblemen were among the first to establish such. In 1814, when the Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway was introduced, the foundation system was the only to survive; the creation of new settled estates and new fee tails was prohibited.
Of over 7,000 foundations in Norway today, several have been established by or bear the name of noble persons and families. An example is the Comital Foundation of Hielmstierne-Rosencrone, providing financial support to certain poor women in Bergen. Others are:
- Det Ankerske Broderbørns og Descendenters Midler (Anker family)
- Stiftelsen Det Ankerske Waisenhus (Anker family)
- Eva og Erik Ankers Legat (Anker family)
- Johan Ankers Fond (Anker family)
- Stiftelsen De Ankerske Samlinger (Anker family)
- Assessor L.W. Knagenhjelm og Fru Selma f. Rolls Legat (Knagenhjelm family)
- Otto Løvenskiolds Legat (Løvenskiold family)
- Statsminister Carl Løvenskiold og Frues Legat (Løvenskiold family)
- Legatet til Otto Løvenskiolds Minde (Løvenskiold family)
- Professor Morgenstiernes Fond (Munthe af Morgenstierne family, B.H. von M. af M.)
- Den Grevelige Hielmstierne Rosencroneske Stiftelse (Count and Countess of Rosencrone)
- Den Grevelige Hjelmstjerne-Rosencroneske Stiftelse ved Universitetet i Oslo (Count and Countess of Rosencrone)
- Den Grevelige Hjelmstjerne-Rosencroneske Stiftelse til Universitetsbiblioteket i Oslo (Count and Countess of Rosencrone)
- Den Grevelige Hielmstierne Rosencroneske Stiftelses Legat v/Det Kgl. Norske Videnskabers Selskabs Stiftelse (Count and Countess of Rosencrone)
- Stiftelsen Skoleskibet Tordenskiold (P.W. Tordenskiold)
- Trampes Legat (Countess of Trampe)
- Fritz Gerhard Treschows Minnefond (Treschow family)
- Willum Frederik Treschows Handelhøyskolefond (Treschow family)
- Wedel-Jarlsbergsfond (Counts of Jarlsberg)
- Familien Wedel Jarlsbergs Stiftelse til Fordel for Jarlsberg Hovedgårds Pensjonister (Counts of Jarlsberg)
- Frk Harriet Wedel-Jarlsbergs Pensjonsfond for Bærums Verk (Counts of Jarlsberg)
- Gustav og Maria Smith og Hermann Wedel-Jarlsbergs Legat (Counts of Jarlsberg)
- Jarlsberg Hovedgårds Gravstedlegat (Counts of Jarlsberg)
Wollstonecraft In her work Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, published in 1796, Mary Wollstonecraft shares her impressions of Norway. Some descriptions are related to the nobility and to the social structure:
- 'Though the king of Denmark be an absolute monarch, yet the Norwegians appear to enjoy all the blessings of freedom. Norway may be termed a sister kingdom; but the people have no viceroy to lord it over them, [...]' Letter VII.
- '[...] the Norwegians appear to me to be the most free community I have ever observed.' Letter VII.
- 'There are only two counts in the whole country who have estates, and exact some feudal observances from their tenantry.' Letter VII.
- 'In short, I have seldom heard of any noblemen so innoxious.' Letter IX.
- '[In Christiania, i.e. Oslo,] I saw the cloven foot of despotism. I boasted to you that they had no viceroy in Norway, but these Grand Bailiffs, particularly the superior one, who resides at Christiania, are political monsters of the same species. [...] The Grand Bailiffs are mostly noblemen from Copenhagen, [...]' Letter XIII.
- 'The aristocracy in Norway, if we keep clear of Christiania, is far from being formidable; and it will require a long the to[clarification needed] enable the merchants to attain a sufficient moneyed interest to induce them to reinforce the upper class at the expense of the yeomanry, with whom they are usually connected.' Letter XIV.
Ancient aristocratic families
The following list contains families who appeared before, during, and after the so-called unification of Norway (c. 872–1050). To these belonged also the post-unification lendman aristocracy (1050–1184/1240).
|Arnmødling Dynasty||10th century||Appears with Earl Arnmod, who died in the Battle of Hjörungavágr.|||
|Bjarkøy Dynasty, the older line||10th century||Appears with Þórir hundr Þórirsson.|||
|Bjarkøy Dynasty, the younger line||1355||Established with Jon Arnason of the Arnmødlings, who married Þórir hundr's granddaughter Rannveig Þórirsdóttir.|
|Giske Dynasty||11th century||1265||Established with Torberg Arnason of the Arnmødlings.|||
|Rein Dynasty||Appears with Skuli Tostisson, an alleged son of Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumbria.|||
|Sudreim Dynasty||12th century||Alive.||Appears with Lendman Åle varg Ivarsson. Still alive as the Roos af Hjelmsäter family.|||
|Tornberg Dynasty||12th century||1290|||
Medieval aristocratic families
The following list contains families who appeared as noble or who were ennobled between 1184 and 1537.Rogne
|von Bergen||Riksråd||Riksråd (Anders von Bergen, 1489)|
|Bjelke||15th century||1868 by extinction|
|Green af Rossø|
|Green af Sundsby||Chancellor of Norway|
Steward of the Realm
|Güntersberg||Immigrate to Norway in 1520|
|Hummer||1532 by letter|
|Losna Family, the older line||Fehirde
|13th century||1452 (c.) by extinction |||
|Losna Family, the younger line||Knight
|1450s||1526 by extinction (main lineage)|
|Norbagge||Noble||1488 by letter|||
|Sinclair||Riksråd||1321 inherit the earldom|
Regent of Norway
|Staur||1527 by letter|
Regent of Norway
|1505 by letter||18th century by extinction|
Medieval aristocratic families of foreign origin
The following list contains (1) Danish and Swedish noble families who immigrated to Norway before 1660 and (2) foreign noble families who immigrated to and received naturalisation in Norway before 1660.
|C.o.a.||Name||Classification||Immigration and/or naturalisation||Country of origin||Ref.|
|Norman de la Navité||Noble||France|
Modern aristocratic families
The following list contains (1) Norwegians who were ennobled in Norway between 1537 and 1660 and (2) Norwegians and Danes who were ennobled in Norway or in Denmark between 1660 and 1814. This list may not contain Danes who were ennobled in Denmark before 1660.
Years of denoblement (extinction) refer to when the last noble male member died. It should, however, be noted that several letters patent treated men and women equally; when unmarried or widowed, such women had a personal and independent status as noble. An example is the letters patent of the Løvenskiold family, which uses the term 'legitimate issue of the male and the female sexus'.
|C.o.a.||Name of title||Name of receiver||Sexus||Name of inheriting family||Creation||Abolishment||Country of location||Ref.|
|Marquisate of Lista||Hugo Octavius Accoramboni (Italian)||M||No inheritors.||1709||Norway|
|Marquisate of Mandal||Francisco di Ratta (Italian)
Giuseppe di Ratta (Italian)
Luigi di Ratta (Italian)
|di Ratta||1710||1821 (Norway)
Titular counts, titular barons, and nobility
|Adeler||Noble||1666 Nobility patent for admiral Cort Sivertsen Adeler.||Norway and Denmark|
|Adeler||Baron||1784 Baron patent for Conrad Vilhelm Adeler to Dragsholm.||1849 line extinction.||Denmark|
|von Ahlefeldt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Holstein.||Denmark and Norway|
|Ahlefeldt-Laurvigen||Count||1785 license for count Chr. Ahlefeldt af Langeland whit the name Ahlefeldt-Laurvigen.||Alive in Denmark.||Denmark and Norway|
|de Albertin||Noble||1749 by letter||???? by extinction||Denmark|
|von Ahnen||Noble||Came to Norway whit Claus von Ahnen (-1628).||1772 extinction whit Iver von Ahnen.||Norway and Denmark|
|Akeleye||Noble||Came to Norway in 1600s.||1822 extinction whit Sigvard Jørgen Akeleye.||Denmark and Norway|
|Alleby-ætten||Noble||Ander Eriksson, Councilman in Konghelle (1610)||Norway|
|Amund Sigurdsson||Noble||Amund Sigurdsson, Councilman in Skienssyssel (1500).||Norway|
|Andenes-slekten||Noble||Known whit squire Per Amundsson to Andenes.||Norway|
|Anders Hanssons ætt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known hit squire Anders Hansson, mayor in Bergen (1536-39). A squire Knut Madsson in Lund uses the same coat of arms.||Norway|
|Anker||Noble||1778 Naturalisation patent for brothers Bernhard, Peder, and Jess Ancher. Later in 1778 and in 1700 naturalisation patent for more members of the family.||Alive.||Norway|
|von Ansbach||Noble||Came to Norway about 1540 whit Jørgen von Ansbach (1510-1591).||by extinction||Norway|
|von Arenfeldt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Zealand. Came to Norway in 1700s whit Lieutenant Colonel Axel Arenfeldt (-1745).||Norway and Denmark|
|von Arenstorff||Noble||1670 Naturalisation patent for colonel Friedrich von Arenstorff (1626-1689). Came to Norway whit Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Arenstorff (-1712) to Vernø Abby.||1963 by extinction.||Denmark and Norway|
|von Arentskiold||Noble||1714 nobility patent for colonel E. L. von Arentzen with name Arentskiold.||He died with out sons.||Denmark|
|von Arnold||Noble||Ancient nobility from Estonia. Came to Norway about 1660 whit major general Johan von Arnoldt to Borrestad (1638-1709).||1768 line extinction.||Norway|
|Asdal-folk||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known in 1300s whit brothers Torbjørn Halvorsson Asdal and Roar Halvorsson Asdal.||Norway|
|Aspa||Noble||Several ancient nobility families related to the Aspa estate in Nordmøre.||1500s by extinction.||Norway|
|Aspenäsætten||Noble||Ancient nobility from Sweden. Came Norway in 1300s whit squire Ulf Jonsson.||Sweden and Norway|
|Astrup||Noble||1810 nobility patent for Hågen Chr. Astrup.||Alive.||Denmark|
|de Aubert||Noble||1776 naturalisation patent for major general François Jacques Xavier Aubert (1726–93).||Alive.||Norway|
|Augustin||Noble||Ancient nobility from Mechlenburg. Known in Norway in 1404 whit Peder Augustin.||Norway|
|Aurlandætten||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known first 900s whit lendermann Brynjulf Bjørnsson in Aurland.||Norway|
|Bagge av Hatteberg||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known whit squire Olav Gunnarsson Bagge to Hatteberg (-1525).||Norway|
|Bagge av Holmgård||Noble||1582 Nobility letter for Peder Bagge to Holme.||17th century by extinction||Norway|
|Bagge av Rafoss||Noble||Known whit Gasse Thorkelsson 1520, and his son Stig Gasesen Bagge 1541.||Norway|
|Bagge av Valen||Noble||Known whit Olav Bagge på Valen (1530-1614).||Norway|
|de Bang||Noble||1777 naturalisation patent for Oluf Lundt Bang.||Denmark|
|Banner||Noble||Ancient nobility from Jutland. Came to Norway with major general Erik Ottesen Banner (1618-1687).||Denmark and Norway|
|von Bartlin||Noble||1674 nobility patent for Caspar Bartholin with name von Bartlin.||1730 by extinction with Caspar von Bartlin||Denmark|
|Bartholin||Noble||1731 nobility patent for the sons of Thomas Bartholin (-1680).||Alive.||Denmark|
|Behr or Beer||Noble||Ancient nobility from Mecklenburg. Known in Norway in 1430 whit Diderik Beer.||Descendants unknown.||Norway|||
|von Below||Noble||Ancient nobility from Mecklenburg. One Henrik von Below came to Denmark in 1575. Came to Norway whit governor Henrik Below.||1700 Danish-norwegian line extinction whit Claus Below.||Denmark and Norway|
|Benkestok||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known first about 1320 whit Tord Benkestokk.||1600s||Norway|
|Bent Hemmingssons ætt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known in 1500s whit Bent Hemmingsson.||Norway|
|Bent Karlsson||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known from 1533 whit squire Bent Karlsson.||Norway|
|Bent Mogensson||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known from 1504 whit squire Bent Mogensson.||Norway|
|Benzon||Noble||1679 Amorial letter for brothers Niels and Peter Benzon. Came to Norway whit Niels son stattholder Jacob Benzon (1688–1775).||1709||Denmark and Norway|
|von Benzon||Noble||1679 Amorial letter for Hans Benzon. Came to Norway in 1900s whit Egon von Benzon (1918 -1995) descendant of assessor Hans Benzon (1657–1715) his childeren was elevated to nobility in 1717.||Alive.||Denmark and Norway|
|Benzon||Noble||1717 Nobility patent for Hans Søfrensens childeren.||Denmark|
|von Bergen||Noble||Ancient nobility from Rügen. Known in Norway whit 1400s whit Lyder von Bergen.||Norway|
|Bergsvein Bårdsson||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known in 1355 whit Bergsvein Bårdsson.||Norway|
|von Berlin||Noble||Known in Norway in 1650 whit Cort von Berlin to Scharnaggergård.||Norway|
|Berner||Noble||1780 nobility patent for Alexander Berner.||Alive.||Denmark|
|"Bernhoft" or "Bjørnehode"||Noble||1503 Nobility letter for Erik Hanssen, mayor in Middelfart. Came to Norway whit his son Christoffer Eriksson “Bjørnehode” (-1563) til Hananger. The name is given later and was never used by the family.||Denmark and Norway|
|af Bernstoff||Count||1767 count patent for brothers Johan Hartvig Ernst and Andreas Gottlieb Bernstorff.||Alive.||Denmark|
|Berregaard||Noble||1726 by letter||1902 by extinction||Denmark|
|Beyer||Noble||Ancient nobility from Sogn. Known in 1500s in Bergen whit Absalon Pedersson Beyer.||Norway|
|Bild||Noble||Ancient nobility from Fyn. Also use names Strangensen, Frost, Hase and Croch.||1622 extinction whit Niels Bild to Ravnholt.||Denmark and Norway|
|Bildt||Noble||Ancient nobility form Jutland. Came to Norway about 1585 whit Daniel Knudssøn Bildt (about 1531-1585).||1719 extinction in Norway.||Norway and Denmark|
|Bille||Noble||Ancient nobility form Zealand. Known first in Norway in 1500s whit knight Eske Bille (about 1480-1552) and knight Claus Steensen Bille (about 1490-1558). immigranted again 1800s whit postmaster Jess Fæster Bille.||Denmark and Norway|
|Biskopætten or Manvikætten||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known from 1200s whit Håkon, bishop of Oslo. His son Tore Biskopson to Lekum was baron of Tønsberg.||1400s by extinction||Norway|
|Bjarøkyætten||Noble||Ancient nobility from Troms. First known whit Tore Hund.||Norway|
|Bjelke||Noble||Ancient nobility from Scania. Known in Norway from 1537 whit Jens Tillufsen Bjelke.||1868 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|"Bjørn"||Noble||1457 Nobility letter for Bjørn Þorleifsson in Norway. 1620 Nobility confirmation for Bjørn Þorleifsson descendants in Iceland.||Norway and Iceland|
|Blindheim||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway, also known as Blindheim-menne/ætten. Known in the 1100s whit Hallkel Huk.||1200s by extinction||Norway|
|Blikk||Noble||Known in Norway in 1525 whit squire Michel Blikk.||Denmark and Norway|
|Blix||Noble||Ancient nobility from Jämtland.||Norway and Sweden|
|Blixencrone||Noble||1712 Nobility patent for Hans Hanssøn Blix (1661-1730).||1730||Norway|
|de Blixenskiold||Noble||1749 Nobility patent for Thomas Anderssøn Blix.||1757||Norway|
|Blome||Noble||Ancient nobility from Holstein. 1647 Nobility rights for Didrik Blome. Known in Norway from the 1600s whiit Anders Blome to Blomesholm.||1945 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|von Blücher||Noble||Ancient nobility from Pomerania. 1777 Naturalisation patent for colonel Carl von Blüchers widow and children. Came to Norway whit major general Gottfried Carl Wilhelm Gottlob von Blücher.||Alive as count Blücher af Altona.||Denmark and Norway|
|Bockholt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Livonia. Came to Iceland in 1500s whit John Bockholt (1570-1600).||Iceland and Denmark|
|Bolt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. First known whit Alv Sigerstad Bolt.||1500s by extinction||Norway|
|Bolten||Baron||1783 baron patent for Henrik Bolte whit the name Bolten.||1792 by extinction whit baron Johan Henrik Bolten.||Denmark|
|Bornemann||Patrician||Came to Norway whit bishop Oluf Bornemann (1683-1747). Norwegian line never got nobility patent. First line whit formal nobility patetent 1731, line extinct sune after. Next line 1811 nobility patent for major Cosmus Bornemann.||18th century by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|de Bosc de la Calmette||Noble||1776 Naturalisation patent for captain of the cavalry G. P. A. Bose de la Calmette and 1777 for captin Charles Bose de la Calmette.||1820 by extinction||Denmark|
|Botner||Noble||Ancient nobility from Romerike. 1765 Renewal patent for general adjutant Andreas Gudbrandsen von Botner (ca. 1724–1784).||1784 by extinction||Norway|
|Braem||Noble||1713 Nobility patent for Gothard Braem to Gjessingsggård (-1733). 1731 Nobility patent for his cousin Christian Bream.||1733 extinction first line.
1790 Second line extinction whit captin Johan Braem to Asmild abby.
|Brahe||Noble||Ancient nobility from Scania and Halland. Came to Norway in 1600s whit Mandrup Brahe (1628-1666).||1786 extinction whit Lieutenant colonel Preben Brahe.||Denmark and Norway|
|Bratt (Bjølstadætten)||Noble||Ancient nobility from Gudbrandsdalen. Known form the 1200s||1866 by extinction||Norway|
|Breide||Noble||Ancient nobility from Holstein. Known in Norway in the 16th century with Margrete Breide.||1675 extinction whit Bendix Breide.||Norway and Denmark|
|Brems||Noble||Known in 1500s whit Peder Fredriksson Brems (1550-1633), Mayor of Marstrand in 1585. And Niels Michelsen Brems (1631-1705).||by extinction||Norway|
|le Normand de Bretteville||Noble||Anicent nobility from Normandy, France. 1804 naturalisation letter for major general Louis Claude le Normand de Bretteville. Came to Norway in 1799 with his son Charles Eugène le Normand de Bretteville (1782–1854).||Denmark and Norway|
|Briand de Crèvecœur||Noble||1781 Naturalisation patent for Jens Philibert and 1784 for Hans Fr. de Briand de Crèvecœur.||1786 Frist line extinction.
1827 Second line extinction.
|von Brockdorff||Noble||Ancient nobility from Holstein. Came to Norway whit chamberlain August Friedrich von Brockdorff (1745-1802).||Denmark and Norway|
|Brockenhuus||Noble||Ancient nobility from Funen or from Germany. Several lines has immigrated to Norway. First line came to Norway in 1500s originating from Henrik Brockenhuus to Søndergårde, whose son Eiler Brockenhuus married Kirsten Eriksdatter Gyldenhorn til Eline. Second line immigrated to Norway in 1600s whit colonel Jørgen Otto Brockenhuus.||Denmark and Norway|
|Brun||Noble||Ancient nobility from Bohuslän. Known whit Gerik Brun, mayor in Konghelle (1484).||Norway|
|Brun||Noble||Ancient nobility from Marstrand and Konghelle. Known from 1490s whit Torkel Brun.||Norway|
|Brun||Noble||Came to Norway whit major Peder Bruun.||Norway|
|de Bruyn||Noble||Known in Norway whit Jakob de Bruyn.||Norway|
|Brügmann||Patrician||1680 Amorial letter for brothers Nicolai and D.L. Brügmann. Came to Norway in 1750? whit colonel Nicolai Brügmann (1717-1788).||1821 extinction whit Fr. L. Chr. Brügmann.||Denmark and Norway|
|von Brüneck||Noble||Ancient nobility from Germany. Came to Norway whit captin Caspar Georg von Brüneck.||Norway|||
|von Buchwald||Noble||Ancient nobility from Holstein. 1642 Nobility license for Frederik von Buchwaldt. Came to Norway in 1600s whit Johan Richard von Buchwald.||Denmark and Norway|
|Budde||Noble||Ancient nobility from Øsel. Came to Norway in 1649 with colonel Frederik Budde.||1725? line extinction.||Norway|
|Bulse||Noble||Ancient nobility from Bohuslän. Known from 1300s whit Gamle Bulse to Ordost.||Norway|
|Buk||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known in 1400s whit Markvard Buk 1407 and Oluf Buk 1449.||Norway|
|Bydelsbak fra Bergentved||Noble||Ancient nobility possibly from Württemburg. Know in Norway in the 15th century with knight Albrecht Bydelsbak (known 1429).||Norway and Denmark|
|von Bülow||Noble||Ancient nobility from Mecklenburg. To line has immigranted to Norway. First in the 1600s whit colonel Jacob Bülow (-1686) of the line Wedendorf. And later in the 1800s whit Johan Hartvig Victor Carl von Bülow (1754-1823) of the line Radum-Tøistrup.||Denmark and Norway|
|Byting||Noble||Ancient nobility from Sweden and Norway. Known in Norway from 1400s whit Herman Trulsson (-1503), bishop of Hamar.||Norway and Sweden|
|Båt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Sweden. Known whit Ture Bonde (-1412), his son knight Aslak Turesson and knight Knud Knudsson til Moland.||1519 extinction whit knight Knud Knudsson Båt to Moland.||Sweden and Norway|
|Castenschiold||Noble||1745 by letter||Alive.||Denmark|
|Cederfeld de Simonsen||Noble||1759 Nobility patent for Bartholomæus Bertelsen with the name de Cederfeld. Resolution 1798 for L. C. E. de Cederfeld to use the name Cederfeld de Simonsen.||Alive.||Denmark and Norway|||
|Charisius||Noble||1659 by letter||1787 by extinction||Denmark|
|Clauson-Kaas||Noble||1804 by letter||Alive.||Denmark|
|de Cicignon||Noble||Nobility from Luxembourg. Came to Norway in 1662 whit major general Johan Caspar de Cicignon.||Norway|
|Claus Jenssons ætt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Bohuslän. Known whit Claus Jensson in 1582 and 1591.||Norway|
|Cosmus Arildssons ætt||Noble||Cosmus Arildssøn, lawman in Stavanger (1578-1585) and in Fredrikstad (1591-1595).||Norway|
|de Coucheron||Noble||Nobility from the Netherlands. Came to Norway about 1657 whit colonel Willem de Coucheron. Anton Jacob Coucheron (-1736) titled "høyædle og velbaaren".||Norway|
|de Créqui dit la Roche||Noble||Nobility from the Netherlands. Came to Norway in 1657 whit Lieutenant Colonel Ahasverus de Créqui dit la Roche.||Norway|
|Cunningham||Noble||Ancient nobility from Scotland. Came to Norway in 1600s whit John Cunningham (-1651), illegitimate son of lord John Cunningham, his father got his son naturalisated in 1596.||Norway|
|Dag Eilivssons ætt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known in 1100s whit lendmann Dag Eilivsson of Bratsberg. His son lendmann Gregorius Dagsson (-1161).||Norway|
|Dahlepil||Noble||1506 nobility letter for Anders Svendsen.||1815 by extinction||Norway and Sweden|||
|von der Dame||Noble||Known in 1400s whit Baltazar von der Dame (1411 in Bergen).||by extinction||Norway|
|Danneskiold-Laurvig||Count||1695 Count patent for Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløves children whit countess Antoninette Augusta of Aldenburg.||1783 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Darre||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Know with Jon Darre in 1331 and Karl Jonsson Darre in 1422.||15th century by extinction||Norway|
|Desmercières||Noble||1776 naturalisation patent for Johan Henrik Desmercières; died 1779 with out sons.||1778 by extinction||Denmark|
|Dirik Olavsson||Noble||Ancient nobility from Skien. Known whit squire Dirik Olavsson in 1500 and 1505.||Norway|
|von Donop||Noble||Ancient nobility from Lower Saxony/Lippe. Came first to Denmark whit Bernhard Friderich von Donop to Maspe and Hassegrund.||Denmark and Norway|
|Dresselberg||Noble||Ancient nobility from Zealand. Came to Norway in 1500s whit Hans Nielsson Dresselberg (1549-1616).||Denmark and Norway|
|Dringelberg||Noble||Ancient nobility from Scania. Known in Norway in 1500s whit Hans Dringelberg.||1622 extinction whit Herman Dringelberg.||Denmark and Norway|
|Due||Noble||1464 nobility confirmation for major Iver Due.||Denmark and Norway|
|Due av Ølstedsgård||Noble||1505 nobility letter for Henrik Nielsen. Renewal letter in the middel of 1600s.||By extinction the late 1600s||Norway and Denmark|
|Due or Taube||Noble||Came to Denmark in 1571 whit Johan Taube.||1710 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Daa||Noble||Came to Norway in 1500s whit Herulf Trolle Daa.||1712 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|"Ekorn"||Noble||1497 Nobility letter for Nils Matsson, Councilman in Konghelle.||by extinction||Norway|
|de Falsen||Noble||1758 Nobility patent for mayor Enevold Falsen and his brother Johan Eskild Falsen.||Alive.||Norway|
|Flemming||Noble||First known whit knight Peder Fleming (-after 1406), who was possibly endowed to the bishop's farm Huseby in Aker. Came to Norway again whit Bo Flemming to Nesøya (-after 1491), feudal lord of Tønsberg, married Sigrid Erlendsdatter of Losnaætten, and took part in her inheritance after the Sudreims. Their daughter Margrethe Flemming inherited the parents' estate, and brought it to her husband Holger Rosenkrantz.||1544 Danish-Norwegian line extinction.||Norway, Denmark and Sweden.|
|Fridag||Noble||Ancient nobility from Westphalia. Came to Norway in 1500s whit Axel Fredriksen Fridag.||Norway|
|Friis av Haraldskær||Noble||Ancient nobility from Southern Jutland. Came to Norway in 16th century with Jørgen Friis.||1727 by extinction with colonel Chr. Friis to Hevringholm||Denmark and Norway|
|Friis av Holme||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known from the 15th century with Henrik Erlendsson Friis av Holme.||Norway|
|Friis av Landvik||Noble||1500 Nobility letter for Jacob Friis.||1727 by extinction||Norway|
|Friis av Stokka||Noble||Known from 1500s whit Peder Clausen Friis (1545-1614).||Norway|
|Gabel||Noble||1655 Nobility patent. Came to Norway whit Christoffer Gabel (1617-1673).||1800 by extinction||Norway and Denmark|
|Galle||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known from 1300s whit Åsulv Ketilsson.||1659 by extinction whit Kristoffer Galle to Åby and Bækkeskov.||Norway and Denmark|
|Galskyt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Jutland. Came to Norway in the 17th century with Hans Thomassen Galskyt.||Denmark and Norway|
|Galte||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. First known man Gaut på Ornes.||1413 by extinction||Norway|
|Galtung||Noble||1648 by recognised noble descent claim for Laurits Johannessøn Galtung.||Alive||Norway|
|Gerst||Noble||Known 1400s whit knight Kolbjørn Arnaldsson Gerst (-1466)||Norway|
|von Gersdorf||Noble||1652 Nobility license colonel Christoph Friedrich von Gersdorff of Malschwitz (ca. 1620-1682), he came to Norway in 1600s.||1955 by extinction||Norway|
|Giedde||Noble||Ancient nobility from Scania. Came to Norway in 1622 whit Ove Gjedde.||1848 by extinction whit major Ove Unger Rosenkrantz Giedde (-1848).||Denmark and Norway|
|Gjesling or Elgjarn (Sandbuætten)||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Known from about 1200 whit Ivar Gjesling to Sandbu.||1500s by extinction||Norway and Denmark|
|Glad||Noble||1569 nobility patent for Dr. Erasmus Glad; died 1582 with out sons.||1582 by extinction||Denmark|
|von Grambow||Noble||Ancient nobility from Mecklenburg. Came to Norway with Diderik Otto von Grambow (1732-1773).||Norway|
|Green av Rossø||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. 1487 nobility letter for Reer Reersson.||1800s by extinction with Arvid Henrik Green in Gothenburg||Norway and Sweden|
|Green av Sundsby||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway.||Norway and Sweden|
|Griis from Sjælland||Noble||Ancient nobility from Zealand. Came to Norway in 1400s whit Peder Griis.||Denmark and Norway|
|Grott||Noble||Known 1508 in Norway with squire Daniel Grott to Kjølberg.||Norway|
|Grubbe||Noble||Ancient nobility from Zealand. Known in Norway in 1500s whit Palle Sivertsen Grubbe and Ulrik Olsen Grubbe (1705-1784).||Denmark and Norway|
|Grupendal||Noble||Denmark and Norway|
|Grüner||Noble||1693 nobility patent for Johan Diderich Grüner (1661-1712) and Gustav Grüner (1688-1763).||1763 by extinction with general Gustav Grüner to Margård.||Norway|
|Grønn, Grønnow or Abt||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. Niels Clausson Grøn or Abt, lagmann in Stavanger 1531. His son Christoffer Nielsson Grøn or Grønnov, lagmann in Stavanger.||Norway|
|af Gyldenfeldt||Noble||1761 nobility patent for major Christian Schousboe with the name af Gyldenfeldt.||Denmark|
|Gyldenhorn||Noble||Ancient nobility form Norway. Known in 1400s whit Oluf Torsteinsson to Eline.||1535? by extinction||Norway|
|Gyldenkrantz||Noble||1783 Nobility patent for Joachim Christian Geelmuyden.||Norway|
|Gyldenløve||Noble||Know first in 1400s whit Jens Olavsson.||1523 by extinction||Norway|
|Gyldenløve||Count||1655 by naturalisation letter for illegitimate son of king Frederick III Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve. His Childeren was given names titles of baron of Løwendal and count of Danneskiold-Laurvig.||Denmark and Norway|
|de Gyldenpalm||Noble||1781 Nobility patent for Hans Hagerup.||1832 by extinction||Norway|
|Gyldenstierne||Noble||Known in 1500s whit Axel Gyldenstierne.||1729 by extinction||Norway, Denmark and Sweden|
|Güntersberg||Noble||Immigration about 1520 whit Heinrich Güntersberg, his line got nobility recognition 1660.||Norway and Denmark|
|Gaas||Noble||Ancient nobility form Denmark. Came to Norway in 1549 whit Hans Hanssøn Gaas (-1578), Bishop of Nidaros.||1637 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|von Hadelen||Noble||Ancient nobility form Friesland. Came to Norway about 1603 whit Lorentz von Hadeln.||1984 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|||
|Hak||Noble||Ancient nobility form Scania and Zealand.||1539 extinction whit Christoffer Hak to Egholm.||Denmark and Norway|
|Hamilton||Noble||Ancient nobility form Scotland. Came to Norway in 1657 whit colonel Robert Hamilton.||Norway|
|Handingmann||Noble||1458 Nobility letter Nils Sigurdsson sons. Also used the names Hardingmand, Hartanger and later Rosensverd.||1788 extinction whit Erik Handingmand.||Norway|
|Harboe||Noble||1684 Armorial letter for brothers Jens and colone Andreas Harboe. Both died without sons.||extinction||Norway|
|von Hardenberg||Noble||Ancient nobility from Hannover. Known in Norway with Margrethe Corfitzdatter Hardenberg (1540-1610).||1604 extinction whit whit Erik Hardenberg to Vedtofte.||Denmark and Norway|
|Hauch||Noble||1750 nobility patent for magistrate Andreas Niels Hauch.||1824 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Hausmann||Noble||Came to Norway in 1712 with general Caspar Herman Hausmann.||1757 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|von Haxthausen||Noble||Ancient nobility from Westphalia. Came to Norway with Friderich Gottschalk von Haxthausen.||Denmark and Norway|
|Heubsch||Noble||1691 by nobility patent for Jakob Timmermann stepson of Elias Heubsch.||1916 by extinction|
|Hielmstierne||Noble||1747 by letter||18th century by extinction||Denmark|
|Hoff-Rosencrone||Baron||1812 baron patent for Chr. Henrik Hoff whit the name Baron af Hoff Rosenkrone.||1900 by extinction||Norway|
|von Holck||Noble||1810 nobility patent for brothers commander Carl Christian von Holck and colonel Friedrich Carl von Holck.||Norway and Denmark|
|von Hoven||Noble||Ancient nobility from Livonia. Came to Norway in 1649 whit major general Reinhold von Hoven to Vestnes.||1682 by extinction||Norway|
|Huitfeldt||Noble||Ancient danish nobility. Came to Norway in 1400s whit Christoffer Huitfeldt (1501-1559).||Alive.||Denmark and Norway|
|Hummer||Noble||1532 nobility letter for Oluf Trulssøn, brothers son of Herman, bishop of Hamar.||Norway|
|Hundermark||Noble||Known in Norway in 1600s whit Ellen Clausdatter Hundermark (-1633).||1617 by extinction whit Erik Hundermark to Gjerdrup.||Denmark and Norway|
|von Hübsch||Noble||1691 nobility patent for Elias von Hübsch (-1703).||Norway|
|Høeg||Noble||Came to Norway in 1682 with Just Høeg (1640-1694).||1865 by extinction in Denmark. A line still lives in Germany.||Denmark and Norway|
|Hørby||Noble||1560 Armorial letter for Pros Lauridsen.||Norway|
|Juel||Noble||Ancient nobility from Denmark. Came to Norway in 1618 whit Jens Hermansson Juel (1580-1634).||Denmark and Norway|
|Juul||Noble||Ancient nobility from Denmark. Came to Norway in 1676 whit Ove Juul (1615-1686).||1907 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Kalips||Noble||1550 Nobility letter for Oluf Kalips.||Norway|
|Kane||Noble||Ancient nobility from Norway. First known with squire Gunnar Toraldesson Kane.||1496 extinction whit Squire Arild Ottesson Kane.||Norway|
|Knagenhjelm||Noble||1721 nobility patent for Niels Tygesen Knag.||Alive.||Norway|
|Knoff||Noble||Nobility from Prussia. Came to Norway with Daniel Knoff (1614-1687).||Norway|
|Kolderup-Rosenvinge||Noble||1811 by nobility patent for P. A. Rosenvinge Kolderup.||1939 by extinction||Norway|
|Krabbe av Bustrup & Østergård||Noble||Came to Norway with Iver Krabbe.||Denmark and Norway|
|Krabbe av Damsgård||Noble||Came to Norway with Lieutenant Colonel Frederik Christian Krabbe (1713–1776).||Denmark and Norway|
|Krabbe i Bohuslen||Noble||Norway and Denmark|
|Krabbe fra Oslo||Noble||Jesse Krabbe (known 1408).||Norway|
|Krabbe fra Ribe||Noble||Came to Norway with Nils Krabbe (-1581).||Norway|
|Krabbe fra Tønsberg||Noble||Jon Staffanson Krabbe (-1465).||Norway and Iceland|
|Krag||Baron||Ancient nobility from Jutland. 1684 Baron patent for Fr. Krag. Came to Norway in 1713 with baron Frederik Krag.||1763 by extinction with Frederik Chr. Krag.||Denmark and Norway|
|Krummedike||Noble||Ancient nobility from Holstein. Came to Norway with Hartvig Krummedige.||1598 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Kaas||Noble||Ancient nobility from Denmark. Came to Norway with Oberst Jørgen Kaas to Hastrup & Østergård (1618-1658).||1799 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|von Landsberg||Noble||Came to Norway in 1687 with Lieutenant Colone Barthold von Landsberg (1668-1740).||Norway|
|Lange||Noble||Came to Norway with Frederik Lange (-1612).||Denmark and Norway|
|von Lange||Noble||Came to Norway with Petter von Lange.||Norway|
|von Levetzau||Noble||Ancient nobility from Mecklenburg. Came to Norway with Albrecht Philip von Levetzau (1744-1817).||Denmark and Norway|
|Lillienschiold||Noble||1676 by nobility letter for Hans Hanssøn Schmidt.||1748 by extinction||Norway|
|Lindenov||Noble||Came to Norway with admiral Christoffer Godskesen Lindenov.||1738 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Litle||Noble||Ancient nobility from Denmark. Came to Norway before 1520 with Peder Hanssøn Litle. Also used names Hvide, Galen, Hak, Stygge and Erlandsen.||Denmark and Norway|
|Lorck||Noble||Came to Norway with Otto Jacobsen Lorck (-1660).||Denmark and Norway|
|Losna||Noble||Ancient nobility first known in Sogn with Filippus Erlendsson til Odensland. His son Erlend Filippusson to Losna (died 1407).||1400s by extinction||Norway|
|von Lowzow||Noble||1777 naturalisation letter for Ehlert Detleff von Lowzow. Came to Norway with major Christof Friderich von Lowzow.||Denmark and Norway|
|Lunge||Noble||Came to Norway with Vincens Lunge.||1707 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|von Lüneberg||Noble||Came to Norway with lieutenant colonel Hans Jacob von Lüneberg.||Norway|
|Lykke (Munk)||Noble||Came to Norway with Niels Jachimsson Lykke.||1699 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Lystrup||Noble||1549 nobility letter for Nils Lauritsson Liudstrup.||Norway|
|Lystrup av Vestrheim||Noble||Schack Christenson Lystrup (1574 - 1644).||Norway|
|von Lützow||Noble||Ancient nobility from Mecklenburg. 1651 by letter for Hugo von Lützow. Came to Norway with Lieutenant general Barthold Heinrich von Lützow (1654-1729).||1963 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Løvendal||Baron||1682 Baron patent for Woldemar and Carl Løvendal, sons of Ulrik Fr. Gyldenløve, and theres mother Margarethe Pape. Came to Norway with general baron Woldemar Løvendal.||1829 by extinction whit count Carl Woldemar Danneskiold-Løvendal.||Denmark and Norway|
|von Løvencrone||Noble||1674 nobility patent for Claus Beenfeldt with name Løwencrone. He died with out sons in 1676.||1676 by extinction||Denmark|
|Løvencrone||Noble||1695 by letter||???? by extinction||Denmark|
|von Løvenhielm||Noble||1669 by nobility letter for Colonel Hans Schrøder (1627-1699).||1699 by extinction||Denmark|
|Løvenskiold||Noble||1739 nobility patent for Herman Leopoldus (1677–1750).||Alive.||Norway and Denmark|
|Løvenstierne||Noble||1714 by letter||???? by extinction||Denmark|
|Løvenørn||Noble||1711 by letter||1922 by extinction||Denmark|
|Løwenklau||Noble||1641 by letter||???? by extinction||Denmark|
|von und zu Mansbach||Noble||Came to Norway with Lieutenant general Johann Friedrich von und zu Mansbach (1744–1803).||Norway|
|von Medschede||Noble||Schweder von Medschede.||Norway|
|Michelet||Noble||Came to Norway with major Paul Michelet (ca. 1617–1660) and captein Jacques Michelet (ca. 1619–ca. 1678).||Norway|
|Molteke||Noble||Hermann Molteke til Tomb (known 1413–65)||Denmark and Norway|
|von Munthe af Morgenstierne||Noble||1755 by letter for Bredo Munthe til Bekkeskov.||Alive.||Norway|
|Motzfeldt||Noble||1730 enobled by rank whit Peter Nicolay Motzfeldt.||Norway|
|Mowat||Noble||Came to Norway with Anders Mowat til Hovland.||Norway|
|Mule||Noble||Came to Norway in 1516 with Lykke Mule.||Norway|
|Mumme||Noble||Came to Norway with Gjert Gjertsen Mumme.||Denmark and Norway|
|Mund||Noble||Came to Norway with Niels Mund (known 1596).||1915||Denmark and Norway|
|Munk||Noble||Known in Norway with Christiern Munk (known 1552).||Norway|
|Munk||Noble||Known in Norway with Erik Nilsson Munk (known 1578 to Barbo).||Norway|
|Munk fra Halland||Noble||Denmark and Norway|
|Munk (Lange)||Noble/Count||Known in Norway whit Christen Munk (ca. 1520-1579) and count Ludvig Ludvigsson Munk (1537-1602).||Denmark and Norway|
|Munk||Noble||1747 by extinction.||Denmark and Norway|
|Munk av Kovstrup||Noble||1500s extinction.||Denmark and Norway|
|Munk (Blakarætten)||Noble||Known first in Norway with squire Benkt Nikolasson (known 1378, 1388).||Norway|
|Mus||Noble||Known in Norway with squire Niels Mus (known 1460).||Denmark and Norway|
|Munthe-Kaas||Noble||Came to Norway in the 18th century with lieutenant colonel Hartvig Kaas to Ulstrup (1635–1704).||Denmark and Norway|
|Måneskjold||Noble||1742 by extinction||Norway and Sweden|
|Månestjerne||Noble||Known first in Norway with Staffan Clausson.||About 1440 by extinction||Norway|
|von Nettelhorst||Noble||Came to Norway in 1609 with Gerlof von Nettelhorst.||Norway|
|Norbagge||Noble||1488 nobility letter for Eggert Eggetsson.||Norway and Iceland|
|Normand de la Navité||Noble||Came to Norway in 1579 with Thomas Normand de la Navité.||1645 by extinction||Norway|
|Norweger||Noble||Known in Norway in 1400s whit Tarald father of Gaute Taraldsson Norweger.||After 1557 by extinction||Norway|
|Orning||Noble||Came to Norway with Thomas Svendsen to Elingård.||1786||Denmark and Norway|
|Parsberg||Noble||Ancient nobility from Bavaria. Christoffer Parsberg came with king Christoffer of Bavaria about 1440. Known first in Norway with knight Oluf Parsberg to Jernit & Palstrup.||1730 extinction with Johan Parsberg to Eskjær.||Denmark and Norway|
|Paslick||Noble||Came to Norway with captain lieutenant Knud Frederiksen Paslick (-1670).||1730 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Rabe von Papenheim||Noble||Came to Norway in 1604 with Alexander Rabe von Papenheim (-1631).||Norway|
|von Rantzau||Count||1671 counte patent for Otto Rantzau. His son count Christian Rantzau was Governor-general of Norway.||Denmark and Norway|||
|von Rappe||Noble||1797 Naturalisation patent. Came to Norway in 1788.||Denmark and Norway|
|Rask||Noble||Know first in 1502 whit squire Jens Rask, mayor in Marstrand.||Norway|
|von Rehbinder||Noble||Came to Norway in 1700s with major Fredrik Christian Rehbinder.||Norway|
|von Reichau||Noble||Came to Norway in 1733 with lieutenant general Christian Frederik von Reichau (1686-1753).||Norway|
|von Reichwein||Noble||1628 by rank for generalmajor Georg von Reichwein. 1655 Nobility letter for Jørgen Reichwein.||1864 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Rempe||Noble||Came to Norway with Finn Rempe (known 1524).||Denmark and Norway|
|Rev||Noble||Ancient nobility form Denmark. Came to Norway in 1500s whit Hans Rev (-1545).||Denmark and Norway|
|von Rhäder later Ræder||Noble||1683 by rank for Johan Georg von Rhäder.||Norway|
|Roed||Noble||Came to Norway in 1500s with Tord Roed (also written Rodt or Rod).||Denmark and Norway|
|de Roepstorff||Noble||1701 Naturalisation for lieutenant colonel Johan Christoph de Roepstorff. Came to Norway with major general Carl Ludvig de Roepstorf (1701-1787).||1865 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|de Roklenge||Noble||1666 Naturalisation letter for brothers major Martin Jørgen de Rochlenge and Werner Jakob de Roklenge.||1748 line extinction||Norway|
|Rosencreutz||Noble||1686 Amorial letter for Hans Hansen (1622-1708) whit the name Rosencreutz.||1708 by extinction||Norway|
|Londeman af Rosencrone||Noble||1749 nobility patent for bishop Edvard Londemann to Rosendal with name Londeman af Rosencrone.||1811 by extinction||Norway|
|af Rosencrone||Baron||1773 baron patent for Marcus Gerhard Londemann af Rosencrone.||1811 by extinction||Denmark and Iceland|
|af Rosencrone||Count||1783 count patent for baron Marcus Gerhard Londemann af Rosencrone.||1811 by extinction||Denmark and Iceland|
|Rosengiedde or Giedde||Noble||1536 nobility later for Laurits Nilsson.||Extinction with Arild Axelsen Giedde last known 1673||Norway|
|Rosenheim||Noble||1676 nobility paten for Jens Nielsen Toller in Bergen with the name Rosenheim.||1700 with son Chr. Ulrik Rosenheim.||Norway|
|Rosenkrantz||Noble||Came to Norway with Otte Holgersen Rosenkrantz.||Denmark and Norway|
|Rosenvinge||Noble||1505 by nobility letter for Mogens Jensen Skriver (-1528). His descendants took the name Rosenvinge. And later the family got four nobility renewal letters.||Norway|
|Rosing||Noble||1693 by rank for bishop Hans Rosing.||Norway|
|von Rummelhoff||Noble||Came to Norway in 1710
major Heinrich Johan Rummelhoff.
|Rømer or Reymare||Noble||Known in the mid 1300s whit Otte Rømer.||Extinction before 1435.||Norway|
|"Rømer"||Noble||Ancient nobility from Sweden. Came to Norway whit Jakob Fastulvsson.||Sweden and Norway|
|von Schlanbusch||Noble||Came to Norway in 1685 with Heinrich von Schlanbusch (1640-1705).||Norway|
|von Schinkel||Noble||Came to Norway in 17th century with Knud Povelsen Schinkel to Tomb (-1669).||Denmark and Norway|
|von Schmettow||Count||1776 by naturalisation letter for major general count Carl Jacob Waldemar von Schmettow (1719-1785).||Denmark and Norway|
|von Schnitler||Noble||Came to Norway in 1717 with lieutenant colonel Peter Lorenzen Schnitler.||Norway|
|de Schouboe||Noble||1747 Nobility patent Oluf Broch Schouboe.||1892 by extinction||Norway|
|Schult||Noble||1642 nobility recognition? Came to Norway in 18th century with Claus Lauritzen Schult?.||Norway|
|Schønnebølle||Noble||Came to Norway in 1500s whit Erik Hanssøn Schønnebøl (1535-1595).||1783 extinction whit commander Hans Schønnebølle.||Denmark and Norway|
|von Schørt||Noble||Came to Norway in 1684 with oberberghauptmann and major general Hans Brostrup von Schört (ca 1630-1703).||Norway|
|Sehested||Noble||Came to Norway with Hannibal Sehested, nobility patent 1662. And his Brother Malte Sehested.||Denmark and Norway|
|Sibbern||Noble||Enobled by rank in 1730 with major general Carsten Sibbern (1691–1771).||Norway|
|Sinclair||Earls and Nobles||Anicent Scottish nobility that presumably is of Scandinavian origin. 1379 did Henry Sinclair (-ca. 1400) inherited the Earldom of Orkney, and swore fielty to king Håkon VI.||Norway, Denmark and Sweden|
|Skak||Noble||1504 nobility letter for Nils Tormodsson.||1586 last known whit Jon Nilsson to Hægstad.||Norway|
|Skanke||Noble||Ancient Norwegian widely branched nobility presumably for Jämtland. Knight Olav Nilsson (ca. 1400–1455) to Talgje.||Norway|
|Smør||Noble||Ancient Norwegian nobility. Known in 1300s whit knight Jon Ragnvaldsson Smør (ca. 1240-før 1328).||1483 extinction whit steward Jon Svalesson Smør (ca. 1420–1483)||Norway|
|Smør||Noble||Ancient Norwegian nobility. Known in 1400s whit Kjell Trondsson Smør (-1532).||Norway|
|Splid or Fasti||Noble||Ancient nobility from Jutland. Possibly the same origin as Skram and Bryning. Know in Norway in 16th century with squire Jens Palleson Splid.||1628 extinction with Palle Splid Fasti to Mindstrup.||Denmark and Norway|
|von Staffeldt||Noble||1776 naturalisation patent for lieutenant general Bernhard Ditlef von Staffeldt. He came to Norway in 1787.||1896 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Stampe||Noble||Nobility letter 1480 for Jep Nilsson. 1759 nobility renewal for Henrik Stampe (-1789).||Norway and Denmark|
|Staur||Noble||Nobility letter 1527 for Jørgen Pedersson.||1600s extinction whit second lieutenant Peder Jørgensson Staur.||Norway|
|de Stockfleth||Noble||1779 nobility patent for Thomas Rosing de Stockfleth, captin Christopher Stockfleth and viceadmiral William Walker Stockfleth.||Denmark and Norway|
|von Storm||Noble||Enobled by rank in 1670 with lieutenant colonel Balthasar Storm.||Norway|
|Suhm||Noble||1683 Nobility patent for Henrik Suhm (1636-1700).||1798 by extinction||Norway|
|Sundt||Noble||1733 Nobility patent for lieutenant general Michael Sundt to Evjegård (1679–1753).||1984 by extinction||Norway|
|Svale||Noble||Known in the 16th century with Christoffer Svale (known 1562).||Norway|
|Svanenhielm||Noble||1720 nobility patent for Severin Seehusen.||1726 by extinction||Norway|
|de Svanenskiold||Noble||1780 Nobility patent for Niels Jørgensen to Svanholm whit the name de Svanenskiold.||Alive.||Denmark|
|de Thygeson||Noble||1776 nobility patent for Thyge Jesper og Lars Thygesen with the de Thygeson. Known in Norway whit Nicolai Emanuel de Thygeson.||Denmark and Norway|
|von Todderud||Noble||Enobled by rank in 1760 with major general Peder Gulbrandsen von Todderud.||1865 by extinction||Norway|
|de Tonsberg||Noble||Enobled by rank 1684 with Mathias de Tonsberg to Ulveland.||1770 by extinction||Norway|
|Tordenskiold||Noble||1716 nobility patent for captin Peter Wessel. And in 1761 nobility patent for his nephew captin Johan Christoph Wessel whit same name and coat of arms.||1828 extinction whit Johan Chr. Tordenskiold.||Norway|
|Tordenstjerne||Noble||1505 nobility letter for Nils Svendsson (-1596) to Solum and Gullaug. 1734 confirmation patent for Nils Oudensson Tordenstjerne to Søndre Gullaug.||1771 extinction whit Ouden Nilsson Tordenstierne.||Norway|
|von Trampe||Count||1743 naturalisation patent for major general Philip Detlev Trampe as count.||Alive.||Denmark and Norway|||
|Treschow||Noble||1812 nobility patent for Michael Treschow. Came to Norway whit Willum Frederik Treschow.||Alive.||Norway|
|von Tritzschler||Noble||Nobility from Saxony. Came to Norway in 17th century with lieutenant general Hans Ernst von Tritzschler (1647-1718) to Tomb.||Norway|
|Ulfeldt||Noble||Came to Norway in 17th century with Knud Ulfeldt.||1762 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Ulfeldt||Noble||Came to Norway with Trud Gregersson.||1634 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|de Ulricsdal||Noble||1728 Nobility patent for illegitimate son of count Ulrik Gyldenløve; lieutenant general Wilhelm Ulricsdal. He came to Norway in 1720.||Denmark and Norway|
|Vagel de Ulrichsdal||Noble||1782 Nobility patent for Wilhelm Ulricsdal´s daughter son Christian Wilhelm Vagel de Ulrichsdal (1749-1790).||1883 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Urne||Noble||Came to Norway in 17th century with Knud Urne.||Norwegian line extinct in 1728.||Denmark and Norway|
|Urup or Ugerup||Noble||Came to Norway in 16th century with Erik Urup (known 1547-1561) and Henrik Ugerup (-1581).||1671 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Walkendorf||Noble||Came to Norway in 16th century with archbishop Erik Axelsson Valkendorf (ca. 1465–1522) and Erik Walkendorf (-1608).||1747 by extinction||Denmark and Norway|
|Wedel-Jarlsberg||Count||1776 naturalisation patent and 1684 countship patent 1684 for field marshal baron Gustav Wilhelm von Wedel.||Alive.||Norway|
|Vedderhorn||Noble||Known in Norway in 17th century with Poul Jonssen Vedderhorn.||Norway and Sweden|
|Werenskiold||Noble||1697 Nobility patent for Niels Wernerson. And in 1717 for his brothers Jens and Christian Wernerson.||Alive.||Norway and Denmark|
|von Wessel||Noble||1720 Nobility patent for Caspar Wessel.||Alive?||Norway|
|von Weisburg||Noble||1671 Nobility patent for colonel Eilerich von Weisburg (Wiborg or Viborg).||Norway|
|von Westervick||Noble||1675 Nobility patent for chamberlain Joachim Irgens (1611-1675).||1675||Denmark and Norway|
|de Vibe or Wibe||Noble||1634 Nobility patent for Peder Wibe.||Norway|
|Vibe||Noble||1671 Nobility patent for Johan Vibe.||Norway|
|Vibe||Noble||1671 Nobility patent for Michael Wibe.||1731||Norway|
|Widekjær||Noble||Know in 16th century with Samson Engelbretsson til Finne (known 1591).||Norway|
|Wincke||Noble||Came to Norway in 16th century with Hans Andersen Wincke (about 1595-1625).||Denmark and Norway|
|Vind||Noble||Ancient nobility from Denmark. Came to Norway in 16th century with Iver Vind.||Denmark and Norway|
|von Zernichow||Baron||Known in Denmark and Norway in the 17th century with colonel Christian Diderich friherre von Czernichow and his son major Ernst Friedrich friherre von Zernichow (1640-1711).||Denmark and Norway|
Several different sets of titles have existed, and also the function and the content of titles have varied. There are considerable differences between medieval titles and modern ones.
Dano-Norwegian titles are different from the British concept of peerage. Whilst a peerage is inherited upon the holder's death and normally by the eldest son only, a Dano-Norwegian title was normally received by all legitimate sons and daughters at the moment of their birth, meaning that there could be several countesses or barons of the same family at the same time. The exception was the title of count (greve for men and grevinne for women), which in general was restricted to the bearer, his wife, and his eldest son.
One has to distinguish between titles and fiefs. For example, the (administrative) fief Countship of Jarlsberg was dissolved in 1821, but the recognition of the title Count of Jarlsberg was not abolished until 1893, and the (physical) estate of Jarlsberg is still in the family's possession.
Whilst a fief in Norway was limited to Norway, the title was also Danish. Likewise a fief-based title in Denmark was also Norwegian. In other words, titles were dual. For example, there were/are a Norwegian fief Countship of Jarlsberg, a Norwegian title Count of Jarlsberg (no longer officially recognised), and a Danish title Count of Jarlsberg (still officially recognised).
The 1821 Nobility Law initiated a long-range abolition of official recognition of noble titles (not of titles per se).
Ancient aristocratic titles
|jarl||earl||A regional chieftain, especially as a ruler under the King.|
|herse||A local chieftain.|
|sysselmann||An administrator of a syssel. Introduced in the late 12th century; displaced 'lendmann' and 'årmann'.|
|lendmann||A regional administrator under the King. He was usually a member of the aristocracy.|
|årmann||A local administrator under the King. He was usually of non-aristocratic origin.|
|hauld||hold||Farmer whose family had possessed a farm for six generations or more. The highest rank of free men.|
- Note: This list may not express accurate rank between the titles.
Medieval aristocratic titles (1st system)
|hertug||duke||Introduced in 1237. Not in use after 1299, when Duke Håkon Magnusson became king.|
|jarl||earl||The last earl in mainland Norway was appointed in 1295 and died in 1309.|
|hirdmann||1st: lendmann||'Lendmann' was replaced by 'baron' in 1277, which itself was abolished in 1308.|
|2nd: skutilsvein||'Skutilsvein' was replaced with 'ridder' in 1277.|
|3rd: hirdmann||Later abolished.|
Duke In 1237 Earl Skule Bårdsson was given the title and the rank of duke (Norwegian: hertug). It was the first time this title had been used in Norway, and it involved that the title of earl no longer had the highest rank below the King. It also heralded the introduction of new noble titles from Continental Europe, which were to replace the old Norse titles.
Earl In the process of increasing his power and territory by annexing petty kingdoms, Norway's high king offered vassalage titles in return for recognition and military support from each petty king and his aristocracy. Such regional kings and chieftains received the title of earl (Norwegian: jarl). Earls were the only ones beside the King himself who were entitled to hold an army.
Later, during the Middle Ages, Earl was in general a title restricted to members of the royal family. There was usually no more than one earl in mainland Norway at one time, and sometimes none. The last earl in mainland Norway was appointed in 1295.
In mainland Norway, this title was used normally for one of two purposes:
- To appoint a de facto ruler in cases where the King was a minor or seriously ill, e.g. Haakon the Crazy in 1204 during the minority of King Guttorm, Skule Bårdsson in 1217 during the illness of King Inge Bårdsson.
- To appease a pretender to the throne without giving him the title of king, e.g. Eirik, the brother of King Sverre.
King Magnus VI abolished the title lendmann in 1277, and lendmen were given the title of baron In 1308, King Haakon V abolished this title, and a new set of titles was subsequently introduced: ridder (knight) and væpner (squire).
Medieval aristocratic titles (2nd system)
|ridder||knight||A knight was styled Herr (Lord) and his wife Fru (Lady).|
Knight and squire The titles of knight and squire were introduced in 1308.
Modern aristocratic titles
Introduced in 1671 with the titles of baron and count, and supplied with the title of marquis in 1709, the following system is the current in Norway.
|Title||Title for wives||Title for sons||Title for daughters||Dignity or fief||Explanation|
|greve||grevinne||greve or baron||komtesse||grevskap||count|
The class of barons and the class of counts were even internally divided. A count would be a titular count (greve), a feudal count (lensgreve) or a national count (riksgreve). Likewise a baron would be a titular baron (friherre), a feudal baron (lensfriherre) or a national baron (riksfriherre). For example, a lensgreve uses the title greve only.
The correct combination of names and title when using Norwegian is first name + title + last name, e.g. Peder Anker grev Wedel Jarlsberg. The titles greve and friherre are abbreviated to respectively grev and friherr when used in names or addressing the person concerned, e.g. Peder Anker grev Wedel Jarlsberg or friherr Holberg. However, it is written Peder Anker Wedel Jarlsberg, greve til Jarlsberg when the complete title is added to the complete name separated by a comma.
Traditionally, ennobled men have kept their birth name along with their name of nobility. Titles come in addition to these.
- Johann Friedrich Struensee (old name) → Johan Friedrich Struensee, Count to Struensee (old name, new title)
- Joachim Geelmuyden (old name) → Joachim Geelmuyden Gyldenkrantz (old name, new name).
- Vilhelm Marselis (old name) → Vilhelm Marselis Güldencrone, Baron to Wilhelmsborg (old name, new name, new title)
However, the old name is usually not kept when the name of nobility derives from this.
- Hans Blix → Hans Blixencrone (not: Hans Blix Blixencrone)
- Bernt Ancher → Bernt Anker (not: Bernt Ancher Anker)
Whilst an ennobled man kept his old family name together with his name of nobility, descendants inherited the name of nobility only. However, descendants who receive the same given name as him usually receive his old family name too.
- Herman Leopoldus, ennobled as Herman Leopoldus Løvenskiold, has descendants named Herman Leopoldus Løvenskiold.
In 1709 King Frederick IV of Norway granted the title Marquis of Lista, then spelled Lister, to Hugo Octavius Accoramboni of Florence in Italy. Apparently the Marquis of Lista died without issue.
In 1710 the same king granted the title Marquis of Mandal to Francisco di Ratta and to the latter's nephews Giuseppe di Ratta and Luigi di Ratta of Bologna in Italy. In Norway official recognition of this title was abolished under the 1821 Nobility Law. In Denmark it seems to have lasted until 1890.
Norway remains the only country in Scandinavia to which the title of marquis is attached.
Count The title of count was introduced in 1671.
In some families having the title of count, among others Wedel-Jarlsberg, younger sons bear the dependent title of baron. This is often specified in each family's letters patent.
Baron (modern) The modern title of baron was introduced in 1671.
The old nobility had several arenas on which they gathered. Beside the Council of the Kingdom, which was abolished in 1536, the nobility met at (1) homages to new kings (Norwegian: kongehylling), (2) meetings of the nobility (adelsmøte), (3) meetings of the estates (stendermøte), and (4) days of the lords (herredag). The nobility’s function after 1536 was mainly administrative and ceremonial.
List of Noble Meetings
- Meeting of the Nobility of 1582
- Meeting of the Nobility of 1646
List of Meetings of the Estates
- Meeting of the Estates of 1639
List of Homages
- Homage of 1548
- Homage of 1591
- Homage of 1610
- Homage of 1648
- Hereditary Homage of 1661
List of Days of the Lords
- Days of the Lords of 1646
- Days of the Lords of 1652
Homage of 1591
The homage of 1591 at Akershus Fortress provides information about the Norwegian nobility in the late 16th century. The Norwegian noblemen who were represented at the homage consisted of some Danes—names like Gyldenstierne, Lange, Juel, and Huitfeldt—, some Norwegians—names like Benkestok—, a couple of foreigners—Mowat (Scottish) and Norman de la Navité (French)—, and approximately 30 Norwegians with patronyms (names ending on -sen).
Request of 1648
In 1648, the nobility requested in a letter to the King that ‘[...] we and our descendants must be held by the Christian right faith and the Augsburg Confession, so [that] it here in the Kingdom shall be maintained, protected, and shielded’ and that ‘we and our descendants of the noble estate here in Norway must be held by Norway’s law and right, [...] and enjoy the same privileges [...] as the nobility in Denmark [has received]’. Himself being Evangelical Lutheran, the King confirmed that ‘[...] the true and pure religion remains unfalsified in lands and kingdoms [...]’.
The noble privileges consisted of freedoms (Norwegian: frihet), rights (Norwegian: rettighet), and prerogatives (Norwegian: forrettighet). There were two primary sources for such privileges: the letters of privilege and the electoral charters, both issued by the King.
The royal decrees on the order of precedence, introduced in the 17th century, created the office nobility (Norwegian: embetsadel, rangadel), i.e. persons who by holding a high civilian or military office or by belonging to, most often, one of the three highest classes of rank automatically received noble status for themselves as well as for wife and legitimate children.
List of Electoral Charters
- Electoral Charter of 1449 (Only Norway.)
- Electoral Charter of 1483 (Both Norway and Denmark.)
- Electoral Charter of 1513 (Both Norway and Denmark.)
- Electoral Charter of 1524 (Only Norway.)
- Electoral Charter of 1536 (Only Denmark.)
- Electoral Charter of 1648 (Only Denmark.)
List of Noble Privileges
- Noble Privileges of 1582
- Noble Privileges of 1591
- Noble Privileges of 1646
- Noble Privileges of 1649
- Noble Privileges of 1661
- Counts' Privileges of 1671 (25 May)
- Barons' Privileges of 1671 (25 May)
List of Decrees on Order of Precedence
- Decree on the Order of Precedence of 1671
- Decree on the Order of Precedence of 1680
- Decree on the Order of Precedence of 1693
- Decree on the Order of Precedence of 1717
- Decree on the Order of Precedence of 1730
- Decree on the Order of Precedence of 1743
- Decree on the Order of Precedence of 1746
- Decree on the Order of Precedence of 1808
The decree of 1808 was the last of its kind to be in introduced in Norway. The personal union between Denmark and Norway was dissolved in 1814. In Denmark the decree of 1746, with some changes and amendments, still exists.
Noble privileges of 1582
The noble privileges of 1582, given before the Meeting of the Nobility in the same year, decreed that a noblewoman who married a non-noble man should lose all her hereditary land to her nearest co-inheritor. The rule was designed with the intention of keeping noble land in noble hand and thus strengthening the nobility’s power base. A similar clause in 1591 stated that a nobleman who married a non-noble woman should forfeit noble status for their children.
Noble privileges of 1661
The noble privileges of 1661 (1) reconfirmed the neck and hand, (4) reconfirmed the right for the nobility on their estates and in thereto belonging woods and waters to hunt and fish, (5) stated jura patronatus, but together with a duty to maintain the church buildings and such, (7, 8) stated that the nobility shall enjoy rank and honour above all others, (10) stated that the nobility when on travels representing the King shall receive a certain monetary compensation, (13) stated that no nobleman may be sentenced from honour or life by others than the King and his highest court, (14) stated that no nobleman may be arrested, and (22) reconfirmed the birk right.
Noblemen enjoyed personal tax freedom, although this was later abolished. Tax freedom for their seat farms remained.
Noblemen had other economic privileges, among others freedom from duty on imported and exported goods, such as beer and wine.
Seat farms (Norwegian: setegård, setegard) were until 1660 an exclusive privilege of the nobility. A seat farm, a form of feudal demesne, was a nobleman’s main residence; the place where he had his seat. Seat farms had, especially, freedom from tax and tithes.
While previously any farm on which a nobleman decided to reside would thereby acquire the status of seat farm, the right to become a seat farm was remarkably limited in 1639, when the law was changed to require a farm to have been a seat farm for a minimum of 40 years in order for it to be officially recognised. After 1800, the tax freedom was modified, and under the 1821 Nobility Law, the tax freedom was ended at the then current owner’s death.
Weekday farmers (Norwegian: ukedagsbønder, vekedagsbønder) were persons who, as tenants of the noble, had a duty to work on the seat farm on weekdays. The system came from Denmark before 1600. It became most widespread in Eastern Norway, where the concentration of seat farms was highest, but existed also in other parts of the Kingdom. From 1685 on, the duty work was limited to farmers who lived within two miles of the seat farm.
The feud right (Norwegian: feiderett) was the right to officially proclaim a feud between two or more persons. A murder committed after the proclamation of a feud was considered an ‘honest murder’, and unlike ordinary murders, which normally received capital punishment, could be expiated with fines. The feud right is mentioned in almost all electoral charters from 1513 to 1648.
The King and noblemen, as well as high officials, had the right to receive conveyance from farmers. The right was never a formal right, but rather a consequence of the ‘conveyance duty’ which was imposed on farmers. Conveyance duty (Norwegian: skyssplikt) is known since the 12th century and functioned as indirect taxation. In 1816, the duty was changed from being a free service to receiving payment per trip. However, the partial tax freedom which conveyance farmers had was abolished at the same time.
Neck and hand right
In 1646, the nobility achieved the possibility of having ‘neck and hand right’ (Norwegian: hals- og håndsrett), that is, the authority to arrest and to prosecute persons and to execute judgments. This right was limited to farms or fiefs over which noblemen had jurisdiction.
Charge and fine right
Related to the neck and hand right was the ‘charge and fine right’ (Norwegian: sikt- og sakefallsrett), that is, the authority to raise a charge against and to fine persons. This right, too, was limited to each nobleman’s area of jurisdiction.
The birk right (Norwegian: birkerett) was the authority to appoint judges at the birk court, etcetera; birks were an ancient form of local jurisdiction adopted in Norway on the Danish model. Nine birks were created in 1649, but abolished already in 1651. The first real birks came in 1671 with the creation of the Countship of Larvik, in 1673 with the creation of the Countship of Griffenfeld, and in 1678 with the creation of the Barony of Rosendal. In addition the birk right was granted to the Halsnøy Monastery in 1661, the Lysekloster Estate in 1661, and the Svanøy Estate in 1685. The two countship birks and the barony birk lasted until 1821, when they were ‘entirely abolished’.
The jus patronatus (patronage right) consisted of jus presentandi, the right to propose clergy for a specific church, and later became jus vocandi, the right to appoint such clergy. Furthermore, the patron had the right to part of the church taxes and other income of the church. Jus patronatus did not have any relevance in Norway until after the 1640s, when a few noblemen began to receive it. This privilege was never widespread in the Kingdom.
Around 1277, lendmen and skutilsveins received tax freedom for themselves and two members of their household, and ordinary members of the hird received the same, but for one member of their household.
In 1548, the nobility’s attempts to weaken farmers’ allodial land right (Norwegian: odelsrett) were rejected by the King and the Danish Council of the Kingdom.
Coat of arms
The use of coats of arms was originally a custom developed and maintained by the nobility, but it was not exclusive to this estate. Norwegian farmers and burghers, as well as the non-noble parts of the clergy, had since early times borne arms in addition to more commonly used house marks.
While the arms of the old nobility were of ancient origin and inherited through generations within each family, and therefore were not a (known) privilege from the King, the arms of the new nobility were often granted by the King upon ennoblement. In some cases, the ennobled person’s former coat of arms or his wishes could be regarded in the process of composing new arms and achievements.
Helm According to Dano-Norwegian custom, both nobles and non-nobles could use an open helm above the shield. (In Sweden, open helms were a privilege exclusive for the nobility.) Nobles used one, barons used two, and counts used three helms. Alternatively, counts’ helms had eleven bars and barons’ helms had seven bars.
Coronet Noble coronets (Norwegian: adelskrone) or coronets of rank (rangkrone), whether physical coronets or appearing in heraldic artwork, were reserved for the nobility. There were specific coronets for counts, barons, and nobility. In addition, the Golden Lions—illegitimate royal descendants—had an exclusive coronet.
Supporters Supporters were normally given only to counts.
- Counts of Wedel-Jarlsberg: RECTE FACIENDO NEMINEM TIMEAS
- Barons of Rosendal: MELIUS MORI IN LIBERTATE QUAM VIVERE IN SERVITUTE
- Anker: GLORIA EX UTILE
- Treschow: PIE CANDIDE CONSTANTER
Almost unique internationally and different from the continental nobility, where families have named themselves after the piece of land that they possess, Nordic nobles have since the 16th century in general adopted family names of an abstract and artistical character, often based on their respective coats of arms. For example, the noble family whose arms were a golden star, took the name Gyldenstierne (English: Golden Star). As this custom of the old nobility established itself as permanent, also the new nobility, that is persons and families ennobled after the Medieval Ages, often received similar names when ennobled.
Other examples are Anker (English: Anchor), Gyllenpistol (Golden Gun) in Sweden, Hästesko (Horseshoe) in Sweden, Huitfeldt (White Field), Løvenørn (Lion Eagle), Natt och Dag (Night and Day) in Sweden, Rosenvinge (Rose Wing), Svanenhielm (Swan Helm), Svinhufvud (Swine Head) in Sweden, and Tordenskiold (Thunder Shield).
Particle The use of particles like af, von, and de—all these mean of—was no particular privilege for the nobility, but on the other hand almost exclusively used by and associated with them. Especially in the late 17th century and the 18th century, one would often receive a particle together with one’s old or new name when ennobled. Examples are families like de Gyldenpalm (lit. ‘of Goldenpalm’) and, with two particles, von Munthe af Morgenstierne (lit. ‘of Munthe of Morningstar’).
Preposition A nobleman had the right to write himself to (Norwegian: til) the seat farm(s) or the estate(s) on which he resided, for example ‘Sigurd Jonsson til Sudreim’. This preposition must not be confused with particles, which were a part of names.
Clothing Already in the Medieval Ages a man was not allowed to dress in clothes implying that he belonged to another estate than his actual.
Whilst commoners could not wear finer clothes than nobles did, the nobility had to make sure they were not better dressed than the King and his family. In 1528 a royal decree decided that no noble could own more than three clothes of silk. No ladies or maids could wear broad bonnets. Pearls in textiles as well as textiles containing gold were reserved for royal persons.
Usually a cloth's value was relatively big. Accessories were no exception. For example, a pearl bonnet alone could cost as much as 100 dollars; this was three years' salary for a carpenter. Expensive were also gold chains, bonnets with ostrich feathers, etcetera. As such clothes were not only a matter of dressing, but also a part a family's capital.
Slitted clothes were usual among (female) nobles. This would reveal that a garment had two layers of textile.
16th and 17th century During their trade with foreigners the nobility acquired luxurious products, for example chocolates, saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, olive, and citrus. They desired and received new technology, such as stoves and bracket clocks. Also living animals were popular.
It was customary to give each other presents, for example horses, precious metals, and exotic fruits, especially to more important nobles or if one wished a service in return.
A case of exceptional dimensions was when William IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel asked whether Tycho Brahe in Denmark was able to get him some reindeers. Brahe wrote to his relative Axel Gyldenstierne, Governor-general of Norway, and after some struggle Gyldenstierne was able to find five animals, of which two were sent by ship to Brahe.
Relation to the people
Cognatic descent of medieval aristocracy
A large number of Norwegians may trace ancestral lines back to members of various levels of medieval aristocracy. They must very often cross numerous cognatic links (Norwegian: kvinneledd) and go back to the 16th century in order to establish a connection to the nobility. (An important consideration in this regard is that many experts dispute some popularly accepted family relations, which they consider undocumented or obviously wrong.) Queen Sonja of Norway, born a commoner, has noblemen among her distant forefathers.
Whilst nearly all families of medieval aristocracy have become patrilineally extinct, there are families today whose patrilineal ancestors were close cognatic descendants of old noble families, for example some Nordland families, the most prominent being the Ellingsen family, whose progenitor shipper and tradesman Elling Christophersen was a great-grandson of Margrethe Jonsdotter Benkestok, and the Christensen family of the Husby Estate, whose progenitor shipper and tradesman Anders Christensen was a great-great-grandson of aforementioned Margrethe.
Even though a family could lose their noble status, they would usually keep their land and fortune. There are examples of non-noble descendants who have inherited previously noble land centuries after the noble family concerned had become patrilineally extinct. One example is the estate of the Benkestok family, who lost their noble status in the late 16th century and disappeared patrilineally after 1672. The estate originally consisted of land in Eastern, Western, and Northern Norway as well as on the Faroe Islands and Shetland. Whilst the first generations of inheritors received large portions of land, it would subsequently be divided into smaller and smaller parts so that inheritors of later generations each received, be it, a large farm.
Concerning descent from royalty through nobility, nobility expert Tore Vigerust has stated, though as a conservative estimate, that roughly 10,000 Norwegians living today can document with certainty their descent from the old kings of Norway and European royal houses. Vigerust has identified the noble families Gyldenløve of Austrått and Rosensverd as families whose royal descent is verifiable.
- Carl Martin Ellingsen (1848–1926), of the aforementioned Nordland family Ellingsen, was a Member of Parliament.
Cognatic descent of modern aristocracy
A considerably smaller number of Norwegians descend from families of modern aristocracy, patrilineally as well as through cognatic links. Among such descendants, one finds several nationally and even internationally prominent persons.
- Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen (1861–1930), whose mother was Baroness Adelaide of Wedel-Jarlsberg, was an explorer.
- Bokken Lasson (1871–1970), whose mother was a Munthe af Morgenstierne, was a cabaret singer and as well a member of the Kristiania Bohemians.
- Pontine Paus (born 1973), a granddaughter of Countess Hedevig of Wedel-Jarlsberg, is a world-leading designer of handbags.
Through many ages, common people have desired either to be noble or to descend from members of this estate. This has led some to construct fraudulent ahnentafels (pedigree charts) or to accept erroneous ahnentafels.
An extreme case of such ahnentafels is that of Jon Bratt Otnes (1919–2004). Otnes was born into the lowest class of the farmer estate; his father was a cotter (Norwegian: husmann). In the 1970s and with a heavily erroneous ahnentafel, Otnes began to claim publicly that he was the current head of the Medieval noble family of Brat/Bratt and that he thus could have been King of Norway and of Sweden. This case caused much controversy between the 1970s and 2000.
During parts of the Romantic Nationalist epoch and the subsequent worshipping of Vikings, when it was popular and/or gave a particular high status to demonstrate descent from the 'real' (i.e. Medieval, non-foreign) noble families and kings of Norway, fraudulent pedigrees flourished. This was the case also during the illegitimate National Unification rule during Germany's occupation of Norway (1940–1945).
Nobility as a term
The medieval aristocracy called themselves hird and later ‘free men’ likewise as commoners were called ‘unfree’. Knights were gathered in a particular class known as the Knighthood (Norwegian: Ridderskapet), which stood above what was called ‘ordinary nobility’ (Norwegian: menig adel). The aristocracy did not adopt and use the term ‘nobility’ (Norwegian: adel) until the late 15th and the early 16th century; this originally German word arrived at the same time as the German Oldenburg Kings of Norway. However, the entity was completely the same before and after the introduction of this term.
Old and new nobility
In some cases it is difficult to draw a clear border between old nobility alias the medieval aristocracy and new nobility alias the modern aristocracy. A consensual definition is that new nobility are persons and families who were ennobled by letters patent by Norwegian monarchs, primarily monarchs after and including Queen Margaret. Even though the term ‘new nobility’ is often considered as identical with ‘post-medieval nobility’, a not unconsiderable amount of so-called letter-noble families were ennobled and operated politically and militarily in the Late Medieval Age, among others the Rosenvinge family, ennobled in 1505.
Old nobility from Denmark is considered as new nobility in Norway, not least because they represented a new era—that of foreign rule—in Norway’s history.
High and low nobility
The high nobility consists of titled persons and families. The low nobility is untitled. This set of term applies mainly to nobility after 1671, when the titles of count and of baron were introduced. Families whose members have had seats in the pre-1536 Council of the Kingdom—the Riksråd—are considered as high nobility in Norway. They are even known under their own term, riksråd nobility (Norwegian: riksrådsadel).
Sword nobility and robe nobility
Office nobility and letter nobility
These terms are treated in this article's section Modern aristocracy.
Uradel (English: lit. ‘primeval nobility’) is an originally German and romantic term that was coined in the 1820s and later adopted into the Norwegian language as well as into Danish and Swedish. The term refers to the medieval aristocracy. The opposite of uradel is brevadel (English: lit. ‘letter nobility’).
Other terms of nobility
Authentic farmer nobility
Farmer nobility (Norwegian: bondeadel) refers to farmers who were noble.
This term may also be used unofficially to describe farmers who had been noble or who had such ancestry through cognatic links and within a short genealogical timeframe. They were not a part of the Norwegian nobility.
For example, in 1768, when asked by the authorities in Copenhagen whether there still lived old nobility in the districts Senja and Troms in Northern Norway, a Danish-rooted official wrote: ‘Of old nobility I know nothing here in the north, but here is far too much farmer nobility or Benkestok nobility!’ As an immigrant to the region, he was unfamiliar with the strong feeling of pride among the so-called page nobility (see below) and the farmers of aristocratic origin.
Romantic nationalistic farmer nobility
After Norway achieved constitutional independence in 1814, in the period of romantic nationalism that followed, the urban ‘cultural élite’ as well as some farmers themselves began to consider the ‘Norwegian farmer’ as representative or a symbolic figure of ‘Norwegianness’. Norwegian farmers had always been relatively free compared to farmers in continental Europe, something to which the lack of a large and strong nobility had contributed. Farmers had in general sufficient amounts of food, and lived ‘in peaceful and natural circumstances’. Furthermore, from the middle of the 18th century, and peaking in the 19th, many Norwegian farmers managed to buy their own farms. Factors like these contributed to some farmers coming to regard themselves as a kind of farmer nobility. Such ideas are reflected, for example, in romantic nationalistic literature, but the term has never had any legal currency in Norway, and such farmers were and remained commoners.
For example, the teacher Andreas Austlid wrote in his book Salt fraa folkehøgskulen (1926) about his home parish: ‘An old parish of wealth, broad and satisfied and good – the most beautiful in the whole valley. A kind and calm farmer nobility - but self-supplied [with food], with much good and much low ancestry ...’
Page nobility (Norwegian: knapeadel; knape means page or boy) was and is a non-legal term referring to historical and in many cases biological descendants of the clerical setesveins in Northern Norway. As traders and shippers, these descendants in the late 16th and the 17th centuries constituted the leading non-noble class in the region. In the 18th century, however, the term knape was in general used for all non-privileged traders and shippers regardless of their backgrounds.
Expressions and extrapolated usage
In modern Norwegian language, there are several expressions containing noble terms and titles. Examples are:
- adel, adelig: arbeidets adel, nobility of labour
- fyrste, fyrstelig: fyrstelig mottakelse, be received in a splendid manner, more seg fyrstelig, rejoice like a prince
- greve, grevelig: (ankomme) i grevens tid, (arrive) just in time and/or as the last person, leve som en greve, live like a count, i.e. luxuriously
Furthermore, noble titles are used to describe persons who within respective sections of society have a leading position. Examples are:
- -adel: lønnsadel, lit. wage nobility, nikkersadel, lit. knickerbockers nobility (Oslo only)
- -baron: matbaron, food (chain) baron, oljebaron, oil baron, hotellbaron, hotel baron
- -fyrste: finansfyrste, prince of finances, åndsfyrste, intellectual prince, tåkefyrste, lit. fog prince
- -aristokrati: pengearistokrati, moneyed aristocracy, åndsaristokrati, intellectual aristocracy
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Norwegian nobility.|
- Lillehammer 1994: 52–79.
- Johansen 2000: 86.
- Lillehammer 1994: 109.
- Johansen 2000: 139.
- Johansen 2000: 146.
- Johansen 2000: 136–137.
- Johansen 2000: 93.
- Johansen 2000: 95.
- Johansen 2000: 252.
- Lillehammer 1994: 179.
- Sigurðsson & Riisøy 2011: 30.
- Johansen 2000: 144, 249, 251.
- Store norske leksikon: Hird
- Store norske leksikon: Skutilsvein
- Store norske leksikon: Huskar
- Aschehougs Norgeshistorie, vol. III, p. 189 f.
- Store norske leksikon: len at snl.no.
- Aktstykker til de norske stændermøders historie, volum III 1, pagina 258.
- Aktstykker til de norske stændermøders historie 1548–1661, volum I 1–2, pagina 114.
- Sandvik 1999, page 113.
- Ólason, Páll Eggert (1948): Íslenzkar æviskrár Frá landnámstímum til ársloka 1940 Volum 1, pagina 421.
- Safn til sögu Íslands og Íslendzkra Bókmenta að fornu og nýju Volum 9, pagina 103. Published in 1886.
- Store norske leksikon: Norbagge at snl.no.
- Gave- og stadfestingsbrev fra kong Håkon Magnusson til Mariakirken i Oslo
- Sverre Bagge: «Kanslerembedet og Mariakirken i Oslo», Oslo bispedømme 900 år, Universitetsforlaget, Oslo 1975, pp. 143-61.
- Sverre Bagge: Den kongelige kapellgeistlighet 1150–1319, Universitetsforlaget, 1976, ISBN 9788200014584, p. 175
- Regesta Norvegica, Vol. 3 No. 905, Dokpro
- Bagge 1976 p. 176
- Gerhard Fischer, Mariakirken i Oslo: Harald Hårdrådes katedral og riksstyrets sete, Oslo, Foreningen til fortidsminnesmerkers bevaring, 1926
- Bagge 1976
- "Domkapitel," in Norsk historisk leksikon
- Stian Herlofsen Finne-Grønn (1943). Slekten Paus : dens oprindelse og 4 første generasjoner. Oslo: Cammermeyer
- Store norske leksikon: Sira – tittel
- Ytreberg, N.A. (1981): Nordlandske handelssteder, pagina 17.
- File:Den danske Vitruvius 1 tab026 - Kroner.jpg
- Store norske leksikon: Rangadel
- Aktstykker til de norske stændermøders historie 1548–1661, volum III–2, paginæ 275–278.
- Norsk biografisk leksikon: Mats De Tonsberg at snl.no.
- Norsk biografisk leksikon: Hans Hagerup Gyldenpalm at snl.no.
- Adelskomitéens innstilling og Stortingets beslutning i saken angående anmeldelser og reklamasjoner av adelige rettigheter, juli 1824 Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine. at vigerust.no.(in Norwegian)
- Johan Ernst Sars, Norges politiske historie 1815–1885 Supplement to Verdens Gang, Kristiania: Andersen, 1904, OCLC 2179638, p. 52
- Berg, Roald: STORTINGET OG UNIONEN 1814–1905
- Store norske leksikon: Severin Løvenskiold – utdypning (NBL-artikkel)
- Danish: [...] til evig tid [...]
- Quisling, J.L. (1921): Løvenskioldslegten
- Stortinget.no: Grunnloven fra 1814 Citation: § 97. Ingen Lov maa gives tilbagevirkende Kraft.
- Dagens Næringsliv (19 October 2012): Mangemillionærer står bak privatskolene
- uradel in Store norske leksikon
- Norsk Polarinstitutt: Stadnamn på Svalbard og Jan Mayen: Wedel Jarlsberg Land[permanent dead link]
- Eggen, Eystein: Aristokratenes 1905
- Norwegian: genuint aristokratisk bølge
- Store norske leksikon: Tordenskiolds soldater
- Ibsen.net: Fru Inger til Østråt
- Brønnøysundregistrene: DEN GREVELIGE HIELMSTIERNE ROSENCRONSKE STIFTELSE
- Lotteri- og stiftelsestilsynet (Norwegian Gaming and Foundation Authority)
- Wollstonecraft, Mary: Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark 1796. Digital version at Project Gutenberg.
- Store norske leksikon: Arnmødlingætten
- Store norske leksikon: Bjarkøyætten
- Store norske leksikon: Giskeætten
- Norsk biografisk leksikon: Bård Guttormsson på Rein
- Store norske leksikon: Sudreimsætten
- Norsk biografisk leksikon: Alv Erlingsson
- Store norske leksikon: Losnaætten
- Sogn og Fjordane fylkesleksikon: Filippus Erlendsson til Odensland at nrk.no.
- Norsk biografisk leksikon: Ingerd Erlendsdotter
- Store norske leksikon: Norbagge
- Danish: egte afkom af mand og qvindekjøn
- Store norske leksikon: Mandal – adelstittel
- Thiset and Wittrup (1904). Nyt dansk Adelslexikon. Copenhagen. p. 50.
- Steffens, Haagen Krog (1912). Norske Slægter. Oslo. pp. s. 60–61.
- Thiset and Wittrup (1904). Nyt dansk Adelslexikon. Copenhagen. p. 305.
- Thiset and Wittrup (1904). Nyt dansk Adelslexikon. Copenhagen. p. 220.
- Thiset & Wittrup (1904). Nyt dansk Adelslexikon. Copenhagen. p. 489.
- Thiset and Wittrup (1904). Nyt dansk Adelslexikon. Copenhagen. p. 229.
- Weidling, Tor (2000). Eneveldets menn i Norge: Sivile sentralorganer og embetsmenn 1660–1814. Oslo: Riksarkivaren. p. 186.
- Thiset and Wittrup (1904). Nyt dansk Adelslexikon. Copenhagen. p. 567.
- Store norske leksikon: Trampe
- Ovenstad, Olai. Militærbiografier, Den norske hærs officerer fra 1628 til 1814, 1948.
- Munthe, C.O. Fredrikshalds og Fredrikstens historie indtil 1720, 1906.
- See e.g. Nobility Law (Norway).
- Likewise, but not relevant in this article, one may not address a commoner as ‘herre Smith’; it has to be abbreviated to ‘herr Smith’.
- Helland, Amund (1903): Topografisk-statistisk beskrivelse over Lister og Mandals amt. Første del. Den almindelige del. Pagina 643.
- Helland, Amund (1903): Topografisk-statistisk beskrivelse over Lister og Mandals amt. Første del. Den almindelige del. Pagina 644.
- Aktstykker til de norske stændermøders historie 1548–1661, volum I 1–2, paginae 105–108.
- Aktstykker til de norske stændermøders historie, volum II 1, pagina 241.
- Aktstykker til de norske stændermøders historie, volum II 1, pagina 246.
- Older Danish: Grevernis Privilegier. Hafniæ die 25. Maji Anno 1671. Original print stored in the Danish State Archives, the Library, Decrees (Forordninger), Posters (Placater), etc. 1613–1814. Volume VI, 1671–1675.
- Older Danish: Forordning Om Rangen, Kiøbenhavn den 13 de Decembr. [sic] Decembr. Ao 1730 Original prints stored at the National Archives in Oslo, Decrees, Posters, etc. (Forordninger, Placater m. v.) 1613–1814. Volume XX, 17–1730, folia 191–194.
- Schou, Jacob Henrich (editor): Chronologisk Register over de Kongelige Forordninger og Aabne Breve, samt andre trykte Anordninger, som fra Aar 1670 af ere udkomne, IV Deel 1746–1765, Anden Udgave (Kiøbenhavn, 1795). Pagina 6–12.
- Den store danske: rangfølge at denstoredanske.dk
- Norsk biografisk leksikon: Ludvig Rosenkrantz Til Rosendal
- Adelens fråtsing på 1500-tallet
- Brandt, Wilhelmine: Slægten Benkestok, p. 288. Damms Antikvariat’s edition of 1985.
- Brandt, Wilhelmine: Slægten Benkestok, p. 6. Damms Antikvariat’s edition of 1985.
- Brandt, Wilhelmine: Slægten Benkestok, pagina 261. Damms Antikvariat’s edition of 1985. Citation: Ved Skiftet efter ham [d.v.s. sin ektemann] [...] 1787 „angav Enken [Elisabet Tollevsdatter] at have arvet efter sin sal. Moder Kirsten Andersdatter Nesøen for ungefær 69 Aar siden 4 Pd. [d.v.s. pund] i Gaarden Vaage i Rødø Fjerding”. NB. Vaage i Rødø nævnes som hørende til „de Benchestokkers Gods” baade ved Skiftet efter Trond Tordsen Benkestok 1570 [...] og ved Skiftet efter hans Søn Jon Benkestok 1599, ligesaa [i senere skifter].
- Adressa.no Den store adelsbløffen
- Vogue: Bags of Style
- Aftenposten: Han er vårt egentlig kongsemne Archived 2013-02-14 at the Wayback Machine. October 2000.
- Dagbladet: Rundlurte Aftenposten 22 October 2000.
- Ytreberg, N.A. (1981): Nordlandske handelssteder, pagina 18.
- Norwegian (Nynorsk): Ei gamall velstands bygd, breid og mett og god - den fagraste i heile dalen. Ein snild og godsleg - men sjølvbyrg bondeadel, med mykjen god og mykjen laak arv ...
- Aschehougs Norgeshistorie 1 → See: Lillehammer (1994)
- Aschehougs Norgeshistorie 2 → See: Krag (1995)
- Aschehougs Norgeshistorie 3 → See: Helle (1995)
- Helle, Knut (1995): Aschehougs Norgeshistorie 3 (Under kirke og kongemakt 1130–1350)
- Johansen, Øystein Kock (2000): Bronse og makt
- Lillehammer, Arnvid (1994): Aschehougs Norgeshistorie 1 (Fra jeger til bonde –inntil 800 e.Kr.)
- Krag, Claus (1995): Aschehougs Norgeshistorie 2 (Vikingtid og rikssamling 800–1130)