In the Treaty of Kiel of 1814, Norway was essentially given from Denmark to Sweden as a "sorry we were on the other side", but Iceland was not a part of this deal at all. This is in spite of the fact that Iceland had been a part of Norway since 1261 AD and then later part of Denmark-Norway in 1380 or so. So why was Iceland (and indeed other Norwegian "colonies", such as Greenland) excluded from the treaty?

2 Answers 2


Norway shares the so-called "Scandinavian" peninsula with Sweden, and the two are contiguous. Therefore, the latter country was eager to make sure that it was in "friendly" hands.

Apart from that, Sweden had an "eastern" (e.g. Baltic), facing strategy, unlike Denmark, which was more west-facing. As such, Iceland (and Greenland) to the west were not of particularly great interest to Sweden, but were of interest to Denmark.

Norway could form an important part of Sweden's "east-facing" strategy, because the northern part goes to the Barents Sea, and from there, Archangel, Russia. Also to the (formerly) Finnish nickel mines in Petsamo.

  • So basically Sweden didn't 'want' the western facing islands? Or rather, Denmark argued so well that it just didn't have to give it up?
    – noocyte
    Oct 13, 2011 at 13:15
  • 2
    @noocyte: I'd say a little bit of both. In a negotiation, there is a certain amount of give and take. Actually, Sweden offered Swedish Pomerania (the coast of the former East Germany) for Norway, which Germany eventually got. Essentially, Sweden had run out of bargaining chips, so Denmark got to keep Iceland.
    – Tom Au
    Oct 13, 2011 at 13:18
  • Thanx for clearing this up for me.
    – noocyte
    Oct 17, 2011 at 7:16

(Old question, but it is now the 200 years "celebrations" coming up...)

I also think that at least one of the countries supporting the Swedish claim, Great Britain, was not interested in having a new great sea power in the north.

Balance of power, etc.

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    There is nothing that supports this claim. Sweden simply did not ask for Iceland. It's that easy.Ref: svd.se/kultur/understrecket/… Feb 3, 2014 at 23:45
  • Things maybe look different from different sides? In the Danish historical magazine Historisk Tidsskrift, Bind 16. række, 4 (1995) 1 link we can read about how the general view has been that the Danish diplomat Edmund Bourke outsmarted the Swedish von Wettersten in this case since he did not have sufficient historical knowledge about the islands. Some research tries to prove that the British diplomat Edward Thornton got the addendum to the article into the treaty to serve the long time interests of Britain.
    – tetra
    Jul 21, 2016 at 0:55
  • Sorry, I got the name wrong, it should be Baron von Wetterstedt
    – tetra
    Jul 21, 2016 at 1:06
  • The article I linked to debunks the story that von Wetterstedt was "fooled". Sweden (or at least von Wettersted) simply did not want those islands, as they didn't think they were valuable. And you can't exactly claim he was wrong. :-) von Wetterstedt's lack of historical knowledge is a fact, but didn't change anything. Sweden explicitly asked only for mainland Norway. Jul 21, 2016 at 10:27
  • Gustaf af Wetterstedt please !! Due to birth he became 'friherre' (which in rest of Europe is equivalent to Baron), later on (1819) he was promoted to greve (earl.) May 20, 2020 at 1:18

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