"The pre-school of freedom"

"The pre-school of freedom. Professor Schlegel and the apprenticeship of the Eidsvoll-men in Copenhagen" by Ola Mestad (ed.).

Published by: 

Oslo: Pax forlag (2013)



In the spring of 1814, the Norwegian constitution was drafted during the course of five hectic weeks. Why was it so successful? Formally it is still regarded as the world's second oldest current constitution.

The core issue in this book is the intellectual background of the central Eidsvoll-men, which made such a fast and successful constitutional work possible. The situation was difficult, war threatened, and the state system would fundamental change. The answer lies in the educational and intellectual environment in which the educated founding fathers conducted their study and tenure in Copenhagen during the late 1700 - and early 1800's.

In this book, a number of leading researchers address the intellectual environment in Copenhagen. Particularly highlighted is the so far overlooked work of Professor J.F.W. Schlegel. In his treatment of natural law, he discussed the modern constitutional philosophical and social issues and systems of his time.

Studying in Copenhagen during the expansion of the 1790s, with a relatively extensive freedom of expression and great public interest for European and transatlantic development, provided greater impetus to freedom than what has later been generally thought of the rigorous Danish-Norwegian absolutism. These impulses within jurisprudence (the law), philosophy, statistics and theology are also addressed in this book across longer historical outlines.

The book provides a master key to the understanding of how the Constitution could become what it was. It is suitable for anyone who wants to understand the history of the Constitution and for all who are interested in the history of Northern European political ideas during the revolutionary era.

Published Feb. 26, 2014 8:28 AM