Norway's Council of State after the Dissolution of the Danish-Norwegian Realm 1814


When the Danish-Norwegian realm was dissolved in the Treaty of Kiel on 14 January 1814 - where Norway was transferred from the Danish King to the Swedish King, separate Norwegian governing bodies again became necessary.

Contributing to this was that the Danish Governor-General in Norway, Prince Christian Frederik, at this moment was already rallying support for declaring Norway a fully independent state.

The Prince was thus opposing the Swedish-Norwegian union dictated by the allied powers of the Napoleonic Wars - Prussia, Russia, Great Britain and Austria.

The first, rather temporary, Norwegian executive body in 1814 was a meeting of leading men assembled by Prince Christian Frederik, at Eidsvold (north of Christiania) on 16 February. The meeting advised the Prince to let the people elect a national assembly, which again would pass a constitution and elect a king.

Following the meeting Prince Christian Frederik declared himself Norway’s regent on 19 February. On 2 March 1814 he established a council of government in Christiania, under the presidency of the Regent. The Council was set up in line with the Danish Council of State of 1784, with mere consultative authority. The Council was to meet twice a week, to discuss important matters that had already been circulated among its members – the councillors of government/ministers.

The Council of Government was to work through five ministries, largely set up in line with government offices in Copenhagen. The five ministries, initially located at Dronningens gate 15 in Christiania, were:

1st Ministry
Finance, accounting and taxation matters

2nd Ministry
Domestic matters, including police, roads, telegraph, mail, transportation and military conscripition matters

3rd Ministry
Juridical and court matters

4th Ministry
Trade and customs matters

5th Ministry
Economic administration, public industry, forest and mining services

The tasks as Secretariat to the Council of Government were left to the office that had served Christian Frederik as Danish Governor-General in Norway, the Chancery of the Governor-General at Akershus Fortress. The office was from now named the Regency Chancery. Its leader, the Secretary to the Regency, was to keep the minutes from meetings of the Council.

Independently of the Council of Government the Regent would decide in matters of church and education, provisioning, defence and foreign affairs. This was partly done through separate commissions and committees presenting matters directly to the Regent.

The Committee for Enlightenment, Schools and Church Offices was established on 2 March 1814, with Bishop Frederik Julius Bech and Professors Georg Sverdrup and Niels Treschow as members. On 4 June 1814 Councillor of State Marchus Gjøe Rosenkrantz joined the Committee as chairman.On 30 November 1814, the Committee's matters were transferred to the new 1st Ministry (Church and Education Affairs). The Committee was dissolved on 2 March 1815.

The Commission of Provisions was set up on 4 March 1814, to handle corn supplies. Members were Councillor of State Niels Aall and Johan Boye Wiedevild. On 1 September 1814 the Commission was decided dissolved. On 8 December the Committee's matters were transferred to 5th Ministry (Finance, Trade and Customs Affairs).

The Commissariat Collegium/the Commissariat Commission handled military provisions. The Collegium was presided over by Councillor of State Frederik G. von Haxthausen. On 12 April 1814 a separate Navy Commissariat was established. On 30 November 1814 these Commissariats' matters were transferred to the new 6th Ministry (Military Affairs). The Commissariats were abolished in early 1815.

The Constitution of 17 May 1814 decided that the Council of Government was to be named the Council of State of the Kingdom of Norway, and consist of at least five councillors of government. This was confirmed by royal resolution of 18 May 1814, active as of 19 May. The King himself presided over the Council’s meetings. In his absence it was understood that the Council’s meetings were to be presided over by the most senior councillor present. The secretariat was now named the State Secretariat and its leader the State Secretary.

In June 1814 it was decided that one of the members of the Council of State should also be member of the Committee for Church and Education, and present the committee’s proposals to the Council.

The Council of State minutes, beginning on 3 March 1814 - after the Council's first session this day at Paléet in Christiania, do not reflect the appointment of the councillors of government in the previous days, but these were: