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A 19th-century poster image of (from left to right) Norwegian, Danish and Swedish soldiers joining hands
An 1856 meeting of Scandinavian students in Uppsala, Sweden, with a parade marching next to Svandammen

Scandinavism, also called Scandinavianism[1] or pan-Scandinavianism,[2] is an ideology that supports various degrees of cooperation among the Scandinavian countries. Scandinavism comprises the literary, linguistic and cultural movement that focuses on promoting a shared Scandinavian past, a shared cultural heritage, a common Scandinavian mythology and a common linguistic root in Old Norse, and which led to the formation of joint periodicals and societies in support of Scandinavian literature and languages.[3] Nordism expands the scope to include Iceland and Finland.



Pan-Scandinavianism as a modern movement originated in the 19th century.[1] The Pan-Scandinavian movement paralleled the unification movements of Germany and Italy.[4] As opposed to the German and Italian counterparts, the Scandinavian state-building project was not successful and is no longer pursued.[2][4] It was at its height in the mid-19th century and supported the idea of Scandinavian unity. It was spurred on by philological and archaeological discoveries of the 18th century and 19th centuries, the rise of Pan-Germanism (and Pan-Slavism[5]) and a general fear of Russian expansionism.[1]

The movement was initiated by Danish and Swedish university students in the 1840s, with a base in Scania.[6] In the beginning, the political establishments in the two countries, including the absolute monarch Christian VIII and Charles XIV with his "one man government", were suspicious of the movement.[6] The movement was a significant force from 1846 to 1864, however the movement eventually dwindled and only had strong support among the Swedish-speaking population of Finland.[1][7]

The collapse of Pan-Scandinavianism came in 1864 when the Second Schleswig-Holstein War broke out. King Charles XV who was the King of Sweden-Norway from 1859 until his death in 1872, in spite of championing Pan-Scandinivianism failed to help Denmark in the war.[8]

Author Hans Christian Andersen became an adherent of Scandinavism after a visit to Sweden in 1837, and committed himself to writing a poem that would convey the relatedness of Swedes, Danes and Norwegians.[9] It was in July 1839, during a visit to the island of Funen in Denmark, that Andersen first wrote the text of his poem, Jeg er en Skandinav ("I am a Scandinavian").[9] Andersen composed the poem to capture "the beauty of the Nordic spirit, the way the three sister nations have gradually grown together", as part of a Scandinavian national anthem.[9] Composer Otto Lindblad set the poem to music, and the composition was published in January 1840. Its popularity peaked in 1845, after which it was seldom sung.[9]

Despite the movement severely dwindling there was a resurgence of Pan-Scandinavian sentiment in the latter part of the 20th century.[1]

In literatureEdit

The Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia" mentions a fictional King of Scandinavia whose daughter is about to marry the (also fictional) King of Bohemia, a major protagonist in the story.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e "Pan-Scandanavianism". Encyclopedia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2018-02-07.
  2. ^ a b "Pan-Scandinavianism" Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine. (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 29, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  3. ^ The Literary Scandinavism Archived 2007-06-23 at the Wayback Machine. Øresundstid, 2003. Retrieved 6 May 2007.[dead link]
  4. ^ a b Ola Tunander (1999). "Nordic cooperation", UDA085ENG. In Nytt fra Norge, ODIN – Information from the government and the ministries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway. See also Tunander, Ola (1999). "Norway, Sweden and Nordic cooperation". In The European North – Hard, soft and civic security. Eds. Lassi Heininen and Gunnar Lassinantti. The Olof Palme International Center/Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, 1999. pp. 39–48. ISBN 951-634-690-1.
  5. ^ J. P. T Bury. "The New Cambridge Modern History: Volume 10". Archived from the original on 2018-04-14.
  6. ^ a b The Students Archived 2007-08-13 at the Wayback Machine. Øresundstid, 2003. Retrieved 6 May 2007.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Charles XV". Encyclopedia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2017-10-12.
  8. ^ "About Pan-Scandinavianism. Reference Points in the 19th Century (1815-1864)". Archived from the original on 2016-03-17.
  9. ^ a b c d "I am a Scandinavian". Hans Christian Andersen and Music. Archived from the original on 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2007-01-12.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit