The Versatile Farmers of the North - kindle ebook by Victor Condorcét Vinje

This book deals with the socio-economic context of the highly progressive and libertarian constitutional drafts of the Norwegian yeomen in the spriing of 1814. It traces the origins of these drafts back into the 18th century -- in the Enlightenment and the Age of Democratic Revolution. Moreover, attention is directed towards the natural conditions -- topographic and ecological -- under which these yeomen lived and worked.

Being a result of the unique position which the yeomen had achieved by their versatile ways of life and occupations thorughout former ages, they were among the most radical ever produced during the Age of Democratic revolution -- even if though they were produced at a time when a general political reaction had set in in the wake of the Napoleonic wars. Ideals and notions which we take for granted in the Western world today -- but which were not nearly achieved by the turn of the 18th century; freedom of speech and printing, occupational freedom, democratic decision making processes, and so on -- were elaborated on and demanded by these yeomen at a stage in European history when the so-called "Holy Alliance" (Prussia, Russia and Austria) was working in the opposite, reactionary direction. Hence, the very constitutional drafts themselves are subjected to discussion towards the end of the book.

The book also distinguishes itself by the rather unorthodox view of the Swedish monarch in the post-Napoleonic period -- Bernadotte (Charles John) -- who has generelly been depicted as a conservative figure in most history writing. However, the fact is that he was a former French revolutionary soldier and a general under Napoleon Bonaparte, suggests that one will have to search deeper into his background to understand the intention behind his dispositions. In the latter role, he significantly broke with Napoleon over the issue of respect for other people's constitutions, and he obviously sided with the revolutionary Norwegian yeomen in their constitutional struggle in Norway. This manifested itself when he disapproved of the 17th of May constitution adopted at Eidsvoll -- a constitution in which the yeomen's drafts were turned down by the Norwegian burghers and state officials.

Share this: