Northern Europe: History and Government

By: Laura Dunnagan

Northern European countries have powerful governments and good economies because of their cultures. Britain’s earliest ancestors may have arrived over 500,000 years ago from Europe when there was a land bridge between Europe and Britain. The current culture came from the Celts, a group of people who moved there around 500 B.C.  The native people of Norway, Sweden, and Finland are called the Sami, descendants of nomads from Scandinavia.

Most of the northern European countries were created between 55 B.C. and 1066 A.D. The Romans invaded Britain in A.D. 43 bringing Christianity to that region, but the civilization fell around the A.D. 400s. The Germanic Angles, Saxons, and Jutes took over after the Romans, beginning a new era called the Middle Ages, the period between the ancient and modern times, lasting from about A.D. 500 to A.D. 1500. Britain fell to the Normans in 1066. The Norman king of Britain created feudalism, a system in which monarchs or lords gave land to nobles in return for pledges of loyalty.

Scandinavian peoples attacked the European coasts during the Middle Ages, creating Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. These three countries were united throughout the 1400s, but then divided and fought for control of Scandinavia.

The Reformation was a religious movement during the 1500s that lessened the power of the Roman Catholic Church and introduced Europe to Protestantism. It was led by Martin Luther from Germany and was not welcomed. The Enlightenment era of the early 1700s valued reason and questioned traditions, appealing to educated Europeans. Because of this movement, the English Parliament passed a Bill of Rights limiting the power of the monarch.

The Industrial Revolution was influential worldwide, transforming how things were manufactured in Europe, replacing human labor with machines.  These social and industrial changes brought on industrial capitalism, an economic system in which owners used profits to expand their companies. Poor conditions of the factory workers led to communism, the philosophy that calls for ownership of resources by workers and overall economic equality. The changes of populations during times of transitions can be read by demographic transition models.

During the 1900s, there were two world wars, as well as the Cold War caused by division in Europe. The Cold War was a power struggle between the Non-Communist countries and the Communist countries (controlled by the Soviets). The Northern European democracies and successful economies created after these wars joined the European Union, a group whose goods, services, and workers can move freely between the countries.

What important document was a result of the Enlightenment era?

What caused the Cold War?

What caused industrial capitalism?


Boehm, Richard G., and Dinah Zike. “Northern Europe.” Glencoe World Geography and Cultures. New York: McGraw-Hill/Glencoe, 2012. 296-97. Print.

“Egypt Map.” World Map, Political World Map, Worldmap. Mapsnworld. Web. 18 Jan. 2012.

This entry was written by ldunnagan4ecspress and published on January 19, 2012 at 4:00 am. It’s filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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