Culture, Context and Change
CHAPTER 2 22/11/04 11:13 AM Page 1 2. Context COMMON FACTS AMONG THE THREE COUNTRIES Our three countries have a number of features in common, albeit they are all constitutional hereditary monarchies, the first born automatically being the heir in Norway and Sweden, whether a son or a daughter. In Denmark, a son has priority so far, but this will no doubt be changed should the present crown prince have a daughter as first-born. The three royal families have intertwined family relations, although these days spouses are mostly chosen outside family circles. Power lies with Parliament, and the roles of the members of the royal families are mostly representative and are an undeniable asset in campaigns for foreign trade. The three main Scandinavian countries have been nation-like entities for at least a thousand years, and they can look back on at least a millennium of historical bonds and changing coalitions and unions, although this shared history has not been devoid of conflicts and even wars. The first historical period for which there are records is the Viking period, from around AD 800 till about AD 1050 during which adventurous expeditions set out from the Scandinavian coasts to raid and trade on neighbouring shores, especially those of England, Scotland, Ireland and France, and also eastbound to the Baltic countries and Russia, reaching as far as the Court of Constantinople and the Italian shores, all thanks to their famous longships and navigation techniques. The Norwegians even went as far as the...
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