Centre for Advanced Study

at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

The transformation of international law and Norwegian sovereignty in 1814

Abstract

The years up to and including 1815 saw the establishment of many of the essential features of modern Scandinavia, including the region's outer borders and new internal constitutional arrangements. These developments occurred within an international legal order undergoing significant change. The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars that followed the American (1776) and the French (1789) revolutions were partly the result of – and themselves resulted in – major transformations in public international law, partly summed up at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The era from the 1770s to 1815 represents one of the most important periods of change in the history of international law. This project aims to examine, from the perspective of public international law, this historical process in relation to Norway's transition from being one element of the Danish-Norwegian “whole state” to union with Sweden. Two main areas of international law will be examined. 1) Different types of ties and alliances between States in Scandinavia before and during 1814-1815. These will be compared with the various types of subordinating structures established among neighbouring States during the expansion of the Napoleonic Empire, and the traditional and changing relationships between States in what later was to become unified Germany. This includes a study of alliances as a particular type of tie between states. As part of their war against Napoleon's France, the other great powers formed alliances. They had significant effect on the developments and on the fall of Napoleon. 2) Neutrality and privateering in international law. For the Scandinavian countries, neutrality rules had been extremely important for maintaining shipping operations while Britain and various other countries were at war from the American War of Independence onwards. After the Nordic States became involved in the war, privateering became important war efforts and sources of income also on their part. The rules on neutrality and prize-taking were very much contested between, on the one side, the leading sea power Great Britain, and on the other side, especially the US, Prussia and the Scandinavian States. These rules also did play a significant role in how English courts developed their international law doctrines, and, consequently in the general development of international law itself.

End Report

The years up to and including 1815 saw the establishment of many of the essential features of modern Scandinavia, including the region's outer borders and new internal constitutional arrangements. These developments occurred within an international legal order undergoing significant change. The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars that followed the American (1776) and the French (1789) revolutions were partly the result of – and themselves resulted in – major transformations in public international law, partly summed up at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The era from the 1770s to 1815 represents one of the most important periods of change in the history of international law.

A fundamental basis for the project has been a wide understanding of the area of normative orders. In order to grasp the legal structures that shaped the normative character of the Norwegian story in 1814 the research project decided to take into account a wide range of normative acts, such as constitutions, treaties, codifications and ongoing debates on these issues. Accordingly the project aimed at studying the close interactions between domestic constitutional-legal regimes and external international legal regimes. Especially the normative connecting legal acts of international treaties and constitutions have been highlighted as can be seen in numerous papers being delivered during the CAS-year. Systematically emphasizing the international dimension of that of making a constitution at the time and, furthermore, to interpret constitutions in connection with a host of other legal devices that formed the international legal order, has shown itself to be most fruitful. The research has understood the different normative tools of the age (treaties, constitutions, codifications and other new forms of regulations) as international legal acts and by that the research has contributed to a more multileveled understanding of the normative condition of Norway in 1814, then being set up as a new state. By conducting this line of research the so called ‘international background’ of the Norwegian international and constitutional history around 1814 ceases to be merely background but rather becomes integrated into the historical interpretation.

Some of the fellows partisipating in the project have been involved in other projects funded by the University of Oslo, the Research Council of Nowray or the Norwegian Parliament on topics related to 1814 and the Norwegian constitution. We firmly believe that the different projects have had cross-fertilizing effects and that the stay at CAS has made these rather complex interrelated 1814-projects possible to carry out.

Fellows

  • Alvik, Ivar
    Associate Professor University of Oslo (UiO) 2012/2013
  • Björne, Lars
    Professor University of Turku 2012/2013
  • Blücher, Eugenia
    Project coordinator University of Oslo (UiO) 2012/2013
  • Halvorsen, Marit
    Professor University of Oslo (UiO) 2012/2013
  • Hemstad, Ruth Solveig
    Head of Section National Library of Norway 2012/2013
  • Holmøyvik, Eirik
    Associate Professor University of Bergen (UiB) 2012/2013
  • Isaksen, Emma Kristin Midtbø
    Student University of Oslo (UiO) 2012/2013
  • Leerberg, Nora Naguib
    Research Assistant University of Oslo (UiO) 2012/2013
  • Nilsén, Per Erik
    Associate Professor Lund University 2012/2013

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Group leader

  • Ola Mestad

    Title Professor Institution University of Oslo (UiO) Year at CAS 2012/2013
  • Dag Michalsen

    Title Professor Institution University of Oslo (UiO) Year at CAS 2012/2013
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