The University of Bergen celebrates the Constitution

It is now 200 years since the Norwegian Constitution was adopted at Eidsvoll in 1814. UiB celebrates the anniversary with publications, seminars, conferences, gala performances and exhibitions.

The first page of the Norwegian Constitution, signed and dated 17 May 1814.
DOCUMENT OF INDEPENDENCE: The first page of the Norwegian Constitution, formulated by the Constituent Assembly gathered at Eidsvoll, signed and dated 17 May 1814.
The Stortinget Archives

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“The Constitution is what constitutes us as a society, and we at the universities have a vital role in making the Constitution work in society,” says Pro-Rector Anne Lise Fimreite, who also heads the committee of Bicentenary Norwegian Constitution celebrations at the University of Bergen (UiB).

At UiB there is special reason to celebrate the Bicentenary, as the founder of the University Museum of Bergen, Wilhelm Frimann Koren Christie, was one of four members from Bergen attending the Constituent Assembly of 1814, of which he was also the permanent secretary. Christie holds a place of pride in securing Norway’s independence in the union with Sweden, which was to last until Norway’s full independence in 1905.

“A constitutional process is, however, never finished,” says Fimreite. “A vibrant democracy needs to pay constant attention to its constitution.”

Read about the ideas that inspired the Norwegian Constitution in this interview with two of our researchers.

Major celebrations in May

The highlight of the Bicentenary of the Norwegian Constitution will be in May to coincide with 17 May, the National Day of Norway and the exact 200 years since the constitution was signed by the delegates at the Constituent Assembly.

Between Monday 12 and Saturday 17 May there will be hectic activity, including these highlights from the programme:

  • May 12: The exhibition Vi 1814–2014 opens at the University Museum of Bergen.
  • May 13: The seminar Folkestyre? will take a critical look at the 1814 democracy.
  • May 14: Gala performance: dramatisation of important speeches from 1814.
  • May 15: The exhibition showing historical May 17 celebrations in Bergen opens.
  • May 15: The talk From Eidsvoll to Brussels? - on the constitution in relation to the EU and EEA.
  • May 17: 17 May celebrations with an anniversary programme.

As the year go by, there will be more activity to celebrate the Bicentenary of the Norwegian Constitution. To keep up to date on events, visit UiB’s web page for the Bicentenary.

List of experts for foreign media

In conjunction with the bicentenary for the Norwegian Constitution 1814–2014, we present a list of our experts on a number of subjects. 

Kicked off in January

The constitutional celebrations at UiB started as early as January in this year of celebration. The Law Library at the Faculty of Law has an exhibition showing constitutional texts and documents. In February there were a number of seminars, symposia and debates.

There will also be international activity to focus on the Norwegian Constitution, and Anne Lise Fimreite in particular points to a conference which will be held in South Africa in September 2014. The conference will be a celebration of anniversaries of constitutions, respectively 200 years in Norway and 20 years in South Africa.

(Translated from the Norwegian by Sverre Ole Drønen.)