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2008 Norway 200Kr Silver Proof "Wergeland"

RSM Price: $80.00
Item Number: 308200
  • Mint: Mint of Norway
  • Denomination: 200 Kroner
  • Quality: Proof
  • Issue limit: 40,000 pcs.
  • Alloy: 92.5% Sterling Silver
  • Diameter: 32 mm
  • Weight: 16.85 grams
  • Artist: Enzo Finger/Ingrid Austlid Rise
  • Box/Capsule: Yes/Yes
  • Certificate: Yes
Issued on May 8, this coin celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Norway's national poet, Henrik Wergeland.

Henrik Arnold Wergeland (1808-1845) is seen by many as the symbol of the patriotic movement that started growing in Norway in the early 19th Century. The son of a preacher man, Wergeland spent parts of his childhood at Eidsvoll, where the Norwegian Constitution was signed in 1814. His opposition to the Danish dominance over Norwegian culture made him one of the ideological leaders of a young nation trying to find a national identity.

Wergeland fought his whole life an unfair battle for religious tolerance, freedom through knowledge and popular education, equality between nations and between the different social layers in society. Most of all, he fought for human consideration.

His first major epic, seen by himself as his masterpiece, was called Creation, Man and Messiah and was released in 1830. If Wergeland had been a rising star on the growing Norwegian literary horizon so far, this epic secured his place as the main spokesperson for a generation of eager Norwegian writers. During his travels in Europe during the early 1830's, Wergeland became inspired by the revolutionary enthusiasm he witnessed. Back home in Christiania, he founded and edited two journals: For the Masses and For the Working Class. He also became heavily involved in defending the rights of Jews to settle in Norway. The Constitution of 1814 included a clause that forbade Jews from immigrating to Norway. Wergeland published several major poems opposing this clause. Wergeland's many lectures, articles and poems stirred up the Norwegian cultural and literary scene and gave the poet a large base of followers. His cultural and political agitation did not avoid controversy, however, and among the many disputes in Wergeland's life, the lifelong quarrel with Johan Welhaven is the most famous. Welhaven, a more conservative and pro-Danish poet, had published a study entitled Henrik Wergeland's Poetic Art, in which he condemned the poet and his work. In return, Wergeland wrote farces in which he satirized his nemesis.

Welhaven was not the only obstacle in Wergeland's path to becoming a popular icon. His 1840 appointment by the government as archivist and his pension from the king was seen by many of his followers as a betrayal of his ideals. As a result, the newspaper Morgenbladet refused to print his articles. At public appearances, audiences openly mocked him to the extent that he broke down and cried.

After a year of illness, Wergeland died a young man in 1840. Some of his best-loved books were written in the final year of his life, including The English Pilot and Hazel Nuts.

The reverse is designed by Enzo Finger, and depicts Henrik Wergeland's glasses and signature. The obverse features a portrait of King Harald V modeled by Ingrid Austlid Rise.
 

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