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In the learned circles of the late 18th century, however, a movement known as Scandinavism started to spread with the growing realization of national identity on one hand and common cultural heritage on the other hand. At first this was limited to promoting cultural exchange, but in the 1830s a political Scandinavism was born among the students of Sweden and Denmark; it aimed to create a Nordic defense alliance and even to unite the countries as a single state.
King Oskar I of Sweden, who was an enthusiastic Scandinavist, supported Denmark when the country was subjected to strong political pressure from Prussia in 1848-49, which increased the popularity of Scandinavism in Denmark. During the Crimean War of 1853-56 efforts were made to get Finns to embrace Scandinavism and Sweden planned to liberate Finland from the yoke of the Russian Empire so that it could rejoin the Scandinavian family, but at that time Finns were quite content with their autonomy and didn't show much enthusiasm for Scandinavism.
Political Scandinavism collapsed by and large in 1864 when Denmark was attacked by Prussia and Austria. Although the reigning Swedish King Karl XV was an advocate of Scandinavism, the Riksdag (the Swedish parliament which had grown in power) had a more sceptical attitude, and decided not to send any troops to aid the Danes. In addition to this, the Norwegian independence movement started to cause tension between Norwegians and Swedes.
Thus the dreams of a unified Scandinavia were abandoned, and Scandinavism came to be focused on cultural and economic cooperation, standardizing legislation and acting together in international conferences. This cooperation has continued up to this date, although the word "Scandinavism" itself is no longer used.
Behind the political cooperation lie the factors that have enabled it in the first place. These include common cultural background, linguistic relationship, shared history, religion and geography. With the exception of religion, none of them is fully shared by all five countries, but even so, there are more things that unite us than ones that separate us.
In 1946 Scandinavian Airlines Systems, SAS, was founded in cooperation between the states of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Then after the Winter War 1939-40 between the Soviet Union and Finland a regular union was discussed for Sweden and Finland - like the personal union 1814-1905 between Sweden and Norway. But the Soviet Union didn't like the idea.
Finally after the second world war a defense alliance was planned between Norway, Denmark and Sweden. (Finland's participation was again vetoed by the Soviet Union.) But the Norwegians' bad impression of the 19th-century union with Sweden was the obstacle on which the idea fell. Instead Norway took up discussions with the USA about participation in the planned NATO, and soon also Denmark followed.
But otherwise you are right. The personal union 1814-1905 between Norway and Sweden was not at all voluntary from the side of the Norwegians, and before that the idea of a Nordic union had been stone dead since the 16th century.
How come the Kalmar-union was ever
It was the result of a long and complicated chain of coincidences:
For its time it was the greatest realm in Europe.
[ Henrik Ernø writes: ]
During the period of 1315 to 1331 the Kings' power in Denmark was steadily weakened by the powerful noble families, which successed in limiting the King's position significantly both politically and financially. The King compensated by borrowing money to raise his armies from both the Hansa, the Counts of Holstein, the Kings of Brandenburg, and anybody else. As surety for the loans various parts of the kingdom were pawned out to the moneylenders, who then often resold the rights of the pawned province to third parties.
[ Johan Olofsson writes: ]
The Scanian nobility (alternatively the Thing in Lund) had in the beginning of the 1330s chosen the young Magnus Eriksson to be king also for the Scanian provinces, as also Gotland had done, after his regents had promised to pay Count Johan of Holstein to whom Scania was pawned. At that time Magnus Eriksson was the under-age king of both Norway and Sweden.
[ Jan Böhme replies: ]
It should be stressed that this was a much more drastic step to take for the Scanians.
The Gutnish quite regularly pledged allegiance to the Swedish King in the early Middle Ages, on the routine understanding that this would mean as little as possible on the island in practice.
For the Scanians, it really implied a shift of allegiance.
Which means that Valdemar Atterdag's later re-conquest of Scania only meant a restoration more or less to status quo ante, whereas his conquest of Gotland meant an important change of the "facts on the ground".
During the 11th century there are for instance King Canute the Great's realm including most of England, Norway, maybe Sweden and (of course) Denmark. But the first years of the millenium was rich in power-play:
1022-35 King Canute the Great united Denmark, Norway and parts of England. 1042-47 King Magnus of Norway inherits the Crown of Denmark. 1262-1536 Iceland is governed by Norway 1319-55 Personal union between Norway and Sweden 1332-60 Personal union between Sweden, Scania and Gotland 1362-64 Personal union between Norway and Sweden 1387-1536 Personal union between Denmark and Norway 1389-1523 Personal union between Denmark, Norway and Sweden 1536-1814 Norway is incorporated¹ in the Danish realm 1536-1918 Iceland is incorporated in the Danish realm and 1918-1944 in personal union with Denmark 1536-- The Faroe islands are incorporated in the Danish realm 1814-1905 Personal union between Norway and Sweden ¹/ There remains some dispute regarding if Norway regained sort of a status as a kingdom again, in personal union with Denmark, in 1660.
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