Michelsen Peter Christian

(15.03.1857 - 29.06.1925)


Norwegian shipping tycoon and right-liberal statesman. He was the first Prime Minister of independent Norway from 1905 to 1907 .Michelsen is best known for his role in the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905; he was one of the most influential politicians in Norway of his time.

Born in Bergen. He received a law degree and began his career as a lawyer in Bergen, and only then founded a shipowning company. In 1892 - 1898 he was the mayor of Bergen.

Michelsen became member of the Norwegian Parliament (the Storting) in 1891, representing the Liberal Party (Venstre); Chaired the Storting Constitutional Committee. He belonged to the right wing of the party, one of his main goals was to create a coalition of parties from the Conservative Party (Heire) and the Liberal Party, which he called the Coalition Party. He became a member of the second government of Georg Francis Hagerup and was one of the strongest supporters of a tougher policy regarding the union between Sweden and Norway.

At the peak of his career, Michelsen held numerous posts: he was State Counselor, a member of the Norwegian State Council in Stockholm, Minister of Finance in 1904, Prime Minister from March 1905 to October 1907, Minister of Justice until 1905, President of the State Council in 1905, Minister of Finance in 1905, Minister of Defense since 1907.

In March 1905  Michelsen replaced Francis Hagerup as prime minister and immediately became the leader of the movement for the breakup of the Swedish-Norwegian union.

Michelsen saw that the Norwegian people almost unanimously supported the independence of the country, which was confirmed in the course of the referendum held on August 13, 1905. Only 0.05% of the total number of votes was in favor of preserving the union.

Michelsen, although he believed in a democratic republic in Norway, acknowledged that a democratic monarchy would have a better chance of being recognized abroad and among the majority of Norwegians. In a referendum, 79 percent of Norwegians were in favor of preserving the monarchy. Prince Karl of Denmark became a new king, Haakon VII, who arrived in Christiania (Oslo) on November 25, 1905, where Christian Michelsen solemnly met him and his family. He also submitted to the Storting a proposal to establish a civil list of the Norwegian king in 700,000 krones for the entire period of his reign (until now, the civil list was established for a year). The extreme left faction of the parliament (the Norwegian Workers' Party) protested both against doubling the size of the civil sheet and against fixing it for a long time, but both measures were taken by a majority of 100 votes.

In October 1907  Michelsen, tired of political struggle, resigned from his post as prime minister. Together with Abraham Berge, he participated in the founding of the Free-thinking Liberal Party, which adhered to the right-liberal orientation.

He left national politics in 1912, although he was once again invited to head the government in 1918, but he received no support.

In 1910 Michelsen organized the Union of Norwegian Shipowners.

At the beginning of 1925, he acted (along with major entrepreneur Joachim Lemkül and traveler Fridtjof Nansen) as a co-founder of the right-wing anti-communist organization League of the Fatherland, opposing the growing influence of the workers and socialist movement.

In addition to his political activities, Michelsen was known as a patron of the arts and culture: for example, from 1881 until his death, he was chairman of the board of the largest Bergen theater Den Nationale Scene. After his death an institute named Christian was created.

He died in Fana.

Cape (Ministerodden) between the Koller Fjord and the Maier Bay in the Moller Fjord, west of the Land of Haakon II, West Svalbard Island. Coordinates 79° 16.1'N    12° 03.5'E.


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