BackgroundIn 1319 Norway was linked with Sweden in a union after over 400 years as a self-governing and independent state. In 1380, Norway and Denmark were united under the same king, a union which eventually led to Norway's being integrated in a Danish-Norwegian single unified state with Denmark. It was not until January 14, 1814, the date of the Treaty of Kiel, that the Danish-Norwegian dual monarchy was dissolved and King Fredrik IV of Denmark was forced to cede Norway to the King of Sweden.
On April 10, 1814 the Danish regent in Norway called together the popularly elected National Assembly at Eidsvold Iron Works outside Christiania (Oslo) for the purpose of giving the country a constitution. 33 of the delegates in the National Assembly were chosen from the army and the navy, 25 from the cities and 54 from the countryside. Because of the long distance, the northern part of Norway had no delegates.
The Constitution was signed the 17th of May, 1814. The same day Christian Fredrik was elected king of Norway. He reigned only a few months, and then the throne was handed over to the Swedish king, Karl Johan, the 10th of October 1814. For the next 100 years, until 1905 Norway was in union together with Sweden. As early as the 1820s people started to celebrate the 17th of May, and since then this day has been established as Norway's National Day, Norway's Liberation Day, even though the celebrations have in the course of time changed their character and form. The history of the 17th of May celebrations in Norway reflects in many ways the main features of the country's history from 1814 until today.