Hans Nielsen Hauge
Born(1771-04-03)3 April 1771
Rolvsøy, Tune, Norway
Died29 March 1824(1824-03-29) (aged 52)
Christiania, Norway
Venerated inLutheran Church
FeastLutheran Church:

Hans Nielsen Hauge (3 April 1771 – 29 March 1824) was a 19th-century Norwegian Lutheran lay minister, spiritual leader, business entrepreneur, social reformer and author. He led a noted Pietism revival known as the Haugean movement. Hauge is also considered to have been influential in the early industrialization of Norway.[2][3]


Hans Nielsen Hauge was born the fifth of ten children in his ancestral farm of Hauge at Rolvsøy (Hauge på Rolvsøy) 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.[4]

In the next several years, Hauge traveled – mostly by foot – throughout much of Norway. 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.[5]

Hauge faced great personal suffering and state persecution. 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 (Konventikkelplakaten) at a time in which Norwegians did not have the right of religious assembly without a Church of Norway minister present.[6] The law "was not created to be used against Hauge, but it is almost only against Hauge that it was attempted to be used."[7]

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 (now Oslo).[8][9]

In 1815, he married Andrea Andersdatter, who later died in childbirth that same year. In 1817, he married Ingeborg Marie Olsdatter (1791–1872) and bought the Bredtvet farm (now the site of Bredtvet Church in Oslo), where he died. Three of his four children died in infancy. His surviving son, Andreas Hauge, became a priest in the Church of Norway and Member of the Norwegian Parliament.[10]

Haugean movement

Haugianerne by Adolph Tidemand (1848–1852)

It is generally agreed that Hauge had a profound influence on both secular and religious history in Norway.[11][12] 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 a total of nine years in prison.[13]

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 at a 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.[14] Both men women played a central role in this revival. The first female preacher of the Haugean movement was Sara Oust, who was active from the year 1799.[15]

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.[16] 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. During 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 national 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.[17]

Hans Nielsen Hauge gravestone at Old Aker Church, Oslo

Factors in influence


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 result of Haugean focus on diligence, economic enterprise and frugality. Three members of the constitutional assembly in Eidsvoll belonged to his movement.[20]

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.[21] The Lutheran Church in America had a Hauge Synod, Eielsen Synod and Lutheran Free Church all indicative of that influence.[22][23][24] Hauge is remembered on the liturgical calendar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on March 29 as one of the Renewers of the Church.[25]

Obelisk at Bredtvet Church outside Oslo erected in memory of Hans Nielsen Hauge

Hauge Institute

The Hauge Institute (Haugeinstituttet) was founded in 2005.[26] The institute seeks to raise awareness about Hauge, his ethical thinking and topicality and to impart inspiration to the business and educational community as well as society in general. Based on his thinking and practice, the Hauge Institute focuses 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 in Bergen, Norway.[27]

Selected works



  1. ^ Church, Terri (2015). "From the Pastors - March". Our Saviour Lutheran Church. Archived from the original on 12 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016. Evangelical Lutheran Worship offers a list of "Lesser Festivals and Commemorations," starting at page 15. ... Hans Nielsen Hauge (March 29). A lay minister who gave new life to the Lutheran Church and to Norwegian society.
  2. ^ Steinar Thorvaldsen. Hans Nielsen Hauge 200-year Jubileum. Tromsø University College (Norwegian).
  3. ^ Alison Heather Stibbe (February 2007). "Hans Nielsen Hauge and The Prophetic Imagination" (PDF). Department of Scandinavian Studies, University College London. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  4. ^ "Hans Nielsen Hauge – norsk legpredikant," Store norske leksikon.
  5. ^ Steinar Thorvaldsen (2010). A Prophet Behind the Plough. University of Tromsø, Eureka Digital.
  6. ^ Arden, Gothard Everett (1964). Four Northern Lights; Men who Shaped Scandinavian churches. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House. pp. 59–60.
  7. ^ Supphellen, Steinar. "Konventikkelplakaten og Hans Nielsen Hauge sitt forhold til den" [The Conventicle Act and Hans Nielsen Hauge's relationship to it]. Norwegian Journal of Missiology (in Norwegian Nynorsk). 75 (1–2): 134.
  8. ^ Lars Walker, "An American, Unawares Archived 2008-11-30 at the Wayback Machine," The American Spectator (Oct. 16, 2007).
  9. ^ James Kiefer, "Hans Nielsen Hauge 28 March 1824" (Lutheran Calendar, March 29)
  10. ^ Haanes, Vidar L. "Andreas Hauge". In Knut Helle (ed.). Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  11. ^ Soltvedt, Susanne (1999) Hans Nielson Hauge: The Influence of the Hauge Movement on Women of Norway (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Alison H. Stibbe, Hans Nielsen Hauge and the Prophetic Imagination. (Doctoral thesis, University of London. 2007.)
  13. ^ Britt G. Hallqvist, "A word from one of the authors of Captive and Free Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine," Augsburg Now. Augsburg College. Minneapolis, MN. Fall 1997, Vol. 60, No. 1.
  14. ^ Nils Egede Bloch-Hoell. "haugianere". Store norske leksikon. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  15. ^ Sara Oust, Norsk Biografisk Lexikon
  16. ^ Shaw, Joseph M. (1955). Pulpit Under the Sky. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House. p. 129.
  17. ^ "Hans Nielsen Hauge – utdypning," Store norske leksikon.
  18. ^ Linda Haukland (October 22, 2014). "Hans Nielsen Hauge, A catalyst of literacy in Norway". Scandinavian Journal of History. 39 (5): 539–559. doi:10.1080/03468755.2014.946533. hdl:11250/278853. S2CID 146547607.
  19. ^ Ove Sandvik (July 30, 2015). "Hans Nielsen Hauge – Norges vekkerrøst". blogspot.com. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Eugene L. Fevold. "The Norwegian Immigrant and His Church". The Norwegian-American Historical Association (Volume 23: Page 3). Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  22. ^ "ELCA Family Tree" (PDF). Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  23. ^ Semmingsen, Ingrid Gaustad. Norwegian Emigration to America During the Nineteenth Century. Norwegian-American Historic Association. Volume XI: p. 66.
  24. ^ Soltvedt, Susanne (1999) Hans Nielson Hauge: The Influence of the Hauge Movement on Women of Norway Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine. Murphy Library, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Undergraduate Research.
  25. ^ James E. Kiefer: Hans Nielsen Hauge, Renewer of the Church (justus.anglican.org)
  26. ^ "About the Hauge Institute (Haugeinstituttet)". The Hauge Institute. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  27. ^ "Hauge Institute Partners". The Hauge Institute. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  28. ^ "250-årsjubileet for Hans Nielsen Hauges fødsel markeres med minnemynt". www.norges-bank.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2022-04-19.

Other sources