Adolph Tidemand (1852)
Hans Nielsen Hauge ca. 1800

The Haugean movement or Haugeanism (Norwegian: haugianere) was a Pietistic state church reform movement intended to bring new life and vitality into the Church of Norway, which had been often characterized by formalism and lethargy. The movement emphasized personal diligence, enterprise and frugality.[1][2]


The Haugean movement took its name from the lay evangelist Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771–1824). It played an important part in nurturing the democratic folk movement of the time, and stimulating the entrance into politics of representatives of the rural population. It increased tensions between the more privileged classes and the common people, as well as between the clergy and the laity.[3][4][5]

Hans Nielsen Hauge worked as a lay preacher at a time when such activity was forbidden by law. The Conventicle Act of 1741 (Konventikkelplakaten) prohibited any religious meetings (conventicles) not authorized by the state church: a response to radical Pietism within Norwegian cities. The act decreed that religious gatherings could be held only under the supervision of a state-approved minister of the Church of Norway. The pastor was thought to be the only person who could correctly interpret Christian teachings. The ministers had the sole right to administer the sacraments, and as a public official he was accountable to the state for the Christian indoctrination of his flock.[5][6]

Hauge came to feel that he had a divine call which made it mandatory for him to break this law and proclaim the word of God directly among his fellowmen. He advocated a priesthood of all believers. He felt that people had to be awakened to a consciousness of their sins before they could begin to gain salvation through the grace of God. According to Hauge's views, the state church failed to provide parishioners with a personal religious experience. Hauge’s religious teachings were therefore viewed as attacks on the state church and its ministers.[7][8]

Over a period of 18 years, Hauge published 33 books. Hauge traveled, mostly by foot, throughout much of Norway. Hauge was arrested several times and faced state persecution. He was imprisoned no less than fourteen times between 1794 and 1811, spending a total of nine years in prison. Upon his release from prison in 1811, he took up work as a farmer and industrialist at Bakkehaugen near Christiania (now Oslo). He later bought the Bredtvet farm (now the current site of Bredtvet Church in Oslo) where he lived out his life.[9]

In the movement's early days, Hauge's emphasis on equality between men and women was a key aspect; women such as Sara Oust served as lay preachers.[10]


The teachings of Hauge had considerable influence with Norway. Within commerce, many Haugeans launched industry initiatives, including mills, shipyards, paper mills, textile industry and printing house. Within political activities, three Haugeans – John Hansen Sørbrøden, Christopher Borgersen Hoen and Ole Rasmussen Apeness – were in attendance at the National Assembly at Eidsvoll in 1814.[11]

Within popular culture, the character Solveig in Peer Gynt (1876) by Henrik Ibsen is presented as a member of a Haugean family, and this religious affiliation is clearly related to her purity and steadfast love for the play's protagonist. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson's work Synnøve Solbakken (1857) also presents the heroine as a Haugean with similar purity and commitment to her eventual betrothed, Thorbjørn. A vivid picture of Haugeans appears in the novels of Alexander Kielland. Adolph Tidemand portrayed Hauge and his followers in the painting Haugianerne (1852).[12][13][14]

In September 1817 de Zee Ploeg [no; de], a ship with 500 immigrants from Württemberg, Germany, including a number of Rappites (followers of Pietist separatist George Rapp), was forced to stop in Norway because of poor weather conditions. Staying in Bergen for about a year and provided with housing by the authorities, they were warmly accepted by the Haugeans. The two groups found much in common and held devotions together, with some of the Germans learning Norwegian during their stay. Samson Trae, a Haugean leader, noted that "It gave us extreme joy to realize that the foundation of your faith accords with the true word of God."[15] After Rapp's followers left to settle in the United States, the two groups remained in contact for at least some time. In one letter, the Rappites stated, "Our hearts have often longed for your loving and edifying company since we came to America. We have longed more for Bergen than for Germany because of the love with which you received us and re-freshed us in body and spirit."[16][17][18]

The influence of Hans Nielsen Hauge within Norway coincided with the years during which many Norwegians were immigrating to North America. The Haugean influence on Lutheranism in America has been considerable. For example, the first Norwegian Lutheran minister in the United States was a Haugean.[19] Lutherans in the U.S. had a Hauge Synod, Eielsen Synod, and Lutheran Free Church all indicative of that influence. He is honored and his writings are studied by American Laestadians, also called Apostolic Lutherans. (Most Laestadian denominations did not merge.) 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.[20]


In opposition to the Haugean movement's perceived legalistic, excessive focus on works righteousness, the Strong Believers movement was formed. Its leader, lay preacher Knud Spødervold, published his book Guds nådes husholdning ('The Dispensation of God's Grace') in 1848. It was a polemic theological critique of the Haugeans, Moravian Church, Quakers, and others.[21][22] This resulted in a "fierce bitterness" between the Haugeans and Spødervold.[23]

See also


  1. ^ p. 15 Report of the Annual Meeting of the Haugean Churches Held at Lisbon, Illinois, in June, 1854 Archived 2011-06-12 at the Wayback Machine translated and edited by J. Magnus Rohne. Norwegian American Historic Association. Volume IV:
  2. ^ "Haugianerne". Universitetet i Oslo. Archived from the original on August 12, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  3. ^ Hallgeir Elstad. "Hans Nielsen Hauge – norsk legpredikant". Store norske leksikon. Archived from the original on August 21, 2017. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  4. ^ Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771–1824): Lay evangelist and leader of a religious awakening in Norway Archived 2012-07-25 at the Wayback Machine Global Christianity, Luther Seminary
  5. ^ a b From revolt to hegemony Archived 2017-12-02 at the Wayback Machine Tysvær Local History Book. Volume 9; Such as They Lived, Svein Ivar Langhelle, Tysvær kommune, Rogaland, Norway, 1997, translation by Rotraud Slogvik, 2002
  6. ^ p. 3 The Norwegian Immigrant and His Church Archived 2012-02-16 at the Wayback Machine, Eugene L. Fevold, Norwegian-American Historic Association. Volume 23
  7. ^ Hans Nielsen Hauge, Lay-Preacher And Social Reformer Archived 2012-03-17 at the Wayback Machine Per Gjendem Historieportal
  8. ^ Sigbjørn Ravnåsen (January 2004). "Hans Nielsen Hauge – His ethics and some consequences of his work" (PDF). disciplenations.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 21, 2017. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  9. ^ Andreas Aarflot. "Hans Nielsen Hauge, Legpredikant, Agitator, Samfunnsreformator". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Archived from the original on August 21, 2017. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  10. ^ Røe, Ingrid Petronille; Ødegård, Inger Karin Røe (2023-03-08), "Sara Oust", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian), archived from the original on 2020-03-26, retrieved 2023-05-02
  11. ^ Nils Egede Bloch-Hoell. "haugianere". Store norske leksikon. Archived from the original on May 9, 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  12. ^ Semmingsen, Ingrid Gaustad. Norwegian Emigration to America During the Nineteenth Century Archived 2012-02-16 at the Wayback Machine. Norwegian-American Historic Association. Volume XI: p. 66.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Letter from Samson Traae, in the Manuscript Collection of The University Library, Oslo; letters from Kyllingen and Seglem in Haugean Letter-bank, manuscript in Norsk historisk kjeldeskriftinstitutt, Oslo.
  16. ^ German emigrants to "Dear, beloved Brothers and Sisters of God’s Society in Bergen", May 14, 1819, in Haugean Letter-hook, manuscript in Norsk historisk kjeldeskriftinstitutt, Oslo.
  17. ^ Haanes, Vidar L. (2021). "Chapter 10: In Search of the New Jerusalem: Millennial Hopes and Scandinavian Immigrants to America". In Zorgati, Ragnhild J.; Bohlin, Anna; Sjøvoll, Therese (eds.). Tracing the Jerusalem Code. Vol. 3: The Promised Land Christian Cultures in Modern Scandinavia (ca. 1750–ca. 1920). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. pp. 189–212. doi:10.1515/9783110639476-011. ISBN 9783110636567. S2CID 233586435.
  18. ^ Semmingsen, Ingrid (2008-08-08). "Haugeans, Rappites, and the Emigration of 1825". St. Olaf College. Translated by C. A. Clausen. Archived from the original on 2008-08-08. Retrieved 2022-06-22.
  19. ^ p. 345 of the Lutheran Cyclopedia
  20. ^ p. 66 Norwegian Emigration to America During the Nineteenth Century Archived 2012-02-16 at the Wayback Machine Ingrid Gaustad Semmingsen, Norwegian-American Historic Association. Volume XI:
  21. ^ "sterktroende", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian), 2023-01-24, archived from the original on 2023-04-19, retrieved 2023-05-01
  22. ^ "sterktroende", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian), 2023-01-24, archived from the original on 2023-04-19, retrieved 2023-05-01
  23. ^ Skullerud, Aage (1971). Bondeopposisjonen og religionsfriheten i 1840-årene (in Norwegian). Universitetsforlaget. pp. 56–57. OCLC 1153911989.

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