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Hans Nielsen Hauge

File:Hans Nielsen Hauge.jpg
Hans Nielsen Hauge

Hans Nielsen Hauge (3 April 1771 – 29 March 1824) was a noted Lutheran lay minister who led a Pietism revival in Norway. Hauge is also considered to have been influential in the early industrialization of Norway.[1] [2]


Hans Nielsen Hauge was born the fifth of ten children in his ancestral farm of Hauge in Tune in the county of Østfold. His father was Niels Mikkelsen Evenrød (1732–1813) and mother Maria Olsdatter Hauge (1735–1811).

He had a poor and otherwise ordinary youth until 5 April 1796, when he received his "spiritual baptism" in a field near his farm. Within two months, he had founded a revival movement in his own community, written a book, and decided to take his mission on the road. He wrote a series of books in his lifetime. In a total of 18 years, he published 33 books. Estimates are that 100,000 Norwegians read one or more of them, at a time when the population was 900,000 more-or-less literate individuals.[3]

In the next several years, Hauge traveled - mostly by foot - throughout most of Norway, from Tromsø in the north to Denmark in the south. He held countless revival meetings, often after church services. In addition to his religious work, he offered practical advice, encouraging such things as settlements in Northern Norway. He and his followers were persecuted, though their teachings were in keeping with Lutheran doctrine. He began preaching about "the living faith" in Norway and Denmark after a mystical experience that he believed called him to share the assurance of salvation with others. At the time, itinerant preaching and religious gatherings held without the supervision of a pastor were illegal, and Hauge was arrested several times.[4]

Hauge faced great personal suffering and state persecution: his first wife died and three of his four children died in infancy. He was imprisoned no less than 14 times between 1794 and 1811, accused of witchcraft and adultery, and of violating the Conventicle act of 1741[5] (at the time, Norwegians did not have the right of religious assembly without a Church of Norway minister present). His time in prison broke his health and led to his premature death. Upon his release from prison in 1811, he took up work as a farmer and industrialist at Bakkehaugen near Christiania (present day's Oslo), and in 1815 he married Andrea Andersdatter, who died in childbirth. In 1817, he remarried Ingeborg Marie Olsdatter and bought the Bredtvet farm (now the site of Bredtvet Church in Oslo) where he died.[6][7]

Haugean movement

It is generally agreed that Hans Nielsen Hauge had a profound influence on both secular and religious history in Norway. [8][9] Hauge's message emphasized the type of spirituality he felt originated with Martin Luther. He led charismatic meetings, and his organization became an informal network that in many ways challenged the establishment of the state church. As a result, he and his followers were persecuted in various ways. Hauge was imprisoned on several occasions, spending nine years in prison.[10]

The first female preacher of the Haugian movement was Sara Oust, who was active from the year 1799.[11]

Over time the Haugean movement increased its influence throughout the country. Some figures might illustrate that fact. In the late eighteenth century a normal service in the church in Christiania would be attended by fewer than 20 people - of a population of nearly 10 000. Christianity in Norway was nearly becoming a framework for traditions, and ethics (from a Christian perspective) and spiritual life were nearly non-existent. It is not an exaggeration to state that he revived the faith in most of Norway.[12]

Turning to his achievements as an industrialist, the number of factories and mills that Hauge founded around the country were numerous. All but one disappeared during the industrial revolution, which in Norway took place in the mid-19th century. In 1809, the government temporarily released Hauge from prison so that he could construct salt factories to help alleviate the salt shortage caused by the British Blockade.[13] Even so, his modesty prevented him from becoming a capitalist, and he gave away all he had founded and inspired to others - brethren and friends. In a period of extreme economic crisis, when almost all the prosperous timber barons and iron works owners went bankrupt because of the Napoleonic wars, he showed a way to prosperity for anyone with initiative, and this led to the new rise in Norwegian economics some years after the independence in 1814. In this matter Hauge was but one of several contributors, but he was one of the most influential - especially so in the way he combined economics and Christian morals: modesty, honesty and hard work among them.[14]

Factors in influence

  • His defiance toward the religious and secular establishment gave voice to ordinary people, paving much of the way for the liberal and democratic tradition in Norway and indeed the entire Nordic region.
  • There also seems to be a clear link between the Haugean movement and the rise of labor union movement in Norway.
  • His theology, while bound in Lutheran doctrine, revitalized the notion of universal religion in Norway. The Norwegian state church credits him today for making religion a personal obligation.
  • His travels created nationwide networks that persist in Norway's political system generally and among parties in particular.
  • His advocacy for common people became an important force as the industrial revolution unfolded.


Many Haugeans launched industrial action, such as mills, shipyards, paper mills, textile industry and printing. They had often worked their way up to prosperity in a short time, a fruit of Haugeans diligence, economic enterprise and frugality. Three members of the constitutional assembly in Eidsvoll belonged to his movement.

Because Hauge's preaching coincided with the years during which many Norwegians were migrating to America, the Haugean influence on Lutheranism in America has been considerable. The Lutheran Church in America had a Hauge Synod, Eielsen Synod and Lutheran Free Church all indicative of that influence.[15][16][17] Hauge is remembered on the liturgical calendar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on March 29th as one of the Renewers of the Church.

Hauge Institute

In 2005 the Hauge Institute was founded.[18] The institute will through raising awareness about the person Hans Nielsen Hauge, his ethical thinking and topicality, impart inspiration to the business society, leaders, research, education and society. Based on the thinking and practice of Hans Nielsen Hauge, the Hauge Institute will focus on the ethical dimension in three main areas: Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Trade and the Environment. The Hauge Institute has several professional partners. Two of the most important are St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) in Bergen, Norway.

Selected works

  • Betragtning over Verdens Daarlighed, 1796
  • Forsøg til en Afhandling om Guds Viisdom, 1796
  • De Enfoldiges Lære og Afmægtiges Styrke, 1798
  • De sande Christnes udvalgte Psalmebog, 1799
  • Den christelige Lære, forklaret over Epistlerne og Evangelierne, 1800
  • Forklaring over Loven og Evangelium, 1804
  • Om religiøse Følelser og deres Værd, 1817
  • Religeuse Sange, 1819
  • Huus-Postil, 1822
  • Udtog af Kirke-Historien, 1822
  • Hans Nielsen Hauges Testamente til sine Venner, 1821
File:Obelisk med Hans Niesen Hauge 3.jpg
Obelisk at Bredtvet Church outside Oslo erected in memory of Hans Nielsen Hauge



  1. ^ Steinar Thorvaldsen. Hans Nielsen Hauge 200-year Jubileum. Tromsø University College (Norwegian).
  2. ^ James E. Kiefer: Hans Nielsen Hauge, Renewer of the Church (
  3. ^ "Hans Nielsen Hauge – norsk legpredikant," Store norske leksikon.
  4. ^ Steinar Thorvaldsen (2010). A Prophet Behind the Plough. University of Tromsø, Eureka Digital.
  5. ^ Arden, Gothard Everett (1964). Four Northern Lights; Men who Shaped Scandinavian Churches. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House. pp. 59–60. 
  6. ^ Lars Walker, "An American, Unawares," The American Spectator (Oct. 16, 2007).
  7. ^ James Kiefer, "Hans Nielsen Hauge 28 March 1824" (Lutheran Calendar, March 29)
  8. ^ Soltvedt, Susanne (1999) Hans Nielson Hauge: The Influence of the Hauge Movement on Women of Norway (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse)
  9. ^ Alison H. Stibbe, Hans Nielsen Hauge and the Prophetic Imagination. (Doctoral thesis, University of London. 2007.)
  10. ^ Britt G. Hallqvist, "A word from one of the authors of Captive and Free," Augsburg Now. Augsburg College. Minneapolis, MN. Fall 1997, Vol. 60, No. 1.
  11. ^ Sara Oust, Norsk Biografisk Lexikon.
  12. ^ "Haugianere," Store norske leksikon.
  13. ^ Shaw, Joseph M. (1955). Pulpit Under the Sky. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House. p. 129. 
  14. ^ "Hans Nielsen Hauge – utdypning," Store norske leksikon.
  15. ^ Semmingsen, Ingrid Gaustad. Norwegian Emigration to America During the Nineteenth Century. Norwegian-American Historic Association. Volume XI: Page 66.
  16. ^ Magnus, Alv Johan (1978). Revival And Society: An Examination of the Haugean Revival and its Influence on Norwegian Society in the 19th Century. Magister Thesis in Sociology at the University of Oslo.
  17. ^ Soltvedt, Susanne (1999) Hans Nielson Hauge: The Influence of the Hauge Movement on Women of Norway. Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Undergraduate Research.
  18. ^ The Hauge Institute.

Other sources

External links

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