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Formannskapsdistrikt was the name for a Norwegianmarker local self-government districts put into force in 1838. This system of municipality was created in a bill approved by the Stortingmarker and signed into law by King Carl Johan on 14 January 1837. The law, which fulfilled an express requirement of the Constitution of Norway, required that every parish (in Norwegian prestegjeld) form a formannsskapsdistrikt 1 January 1838. In this way, the Norwegian State Church districts of the country became worldly, administrative districts as well. (Some parishes were, however, divided into two or three formannskapsdistrikt.) In total it was created 396 formannsskapsdistrikt:
  • 25 cities/towns
  • 3 cities/towns with rural districts
  • 12 lading places
  • 1 district consisting of two (very small) lading places
  • 3 rural districts with dependent lading places
  • 1 port and naval base
  • 1 rural district with dependent mining town
  • 350 rural districts
See below for details broken down into counties.

The introduction of self-government in rural districts was a major political change. The Norwegian farm culture (bondekultur) that emerged came to serve as a symbol of nationalistic resistance to the forced union with Sweden. The legislation of 1837 gave both the towns and the rural areas the same institutions: a minor change for the town, but a major advance for the rural communities. The significance of this legislation is hailed by a nationalistic historian, J. E. Sars:
“So great an advance in relation to the political development of the people that on that account it can almost be placed alongside the Constitution. By it the free constitution was given a broad basis to rest upon and be nourished from, and became related to the daily life and activity of the people in such a way that its principles could penetrate everywhere and be most effectively acquired… There was at that time scarcely any European state where local self-government was so well organized & so widely ramified as it became in Norway by the legislation of 1837.”

In 1853 the land registration law superseded the formannsskapsdistrikt by introduction of a new designation, the municipality (in Norwegian herred). Two forms of municipality were created: rural and city. Each district was to elect a body of select men of no less than 12 members (in Norwegian) and no more than 48 members. This body selected a quarter of their members as a committee which, together with the local magistrate, established taxes to be levied and improvements to be performed in the district. The local chairman also represented the municipality at the county level.

Almost one century later (1936) a local self-government district law was enacted which created 682 rural municipalities (landkommuner) and 65 city municipalities (bykommuner) in Norway. Among the city municipalities, 43 had the status of town (kjøpstad) and 22 were recognized harbors for export/import (ladested).

Formannskapsdistrikt of 1838

County City or town Lading place Rural district Total
Smaalenenes amtmarker Fredrikstadmarker, Fredrikshaldmarker, Mossmarker - Aremarkmarker, Askimmarker, Berg, Borge, Eidsbergmarker, Glemminge, Haabølmarker, Hvalermarker, Id, Jeløy, Onsø, Rakkestadmarker, Ryggemarker, Rødenæs, Raademarker, Skiptvetmarker, Skjebergmarker, Spydebergmarker, Trygstadmarker, Tune, Vaalermarker 24
Akershus amtmarker - Drøbakmarker, Son og Hølen2marker Aker, Askermarker, Urskog, Bærummarker, Eidsvoldmarker, Enebakmarker, Fetmarker, Frognmarker, Gjerdrummarker, Hurdalenmarker, Høland, Kraakstadmarker, Nannestadmarker, Næsmarker, Næsoddenmarker, Nitedalmarker, Skedsmomarker, Sørummarker, Ullensakermarker, Vestbymarker with Hvitstenmarker3, Aasmarker 23
Christiania amtmarkerA Oslomarker - - 1
Hedemarkens amtmarker - - Elverummarker, Gruemarker, Hof, Kvikne, Løitenmarker, Næs, Nordre Odalenmarker, Rendalenmarker, Ringsakermarker, Romedalmarker, Stangemarker, Store Elvedalenmarker, Søndre Odalenmarker, Tolgenmarker, Trysilmarker, Tønsætmarker, Vang, Vinger, Aamotmarker 19
Christians amt Lillehammermarker - Biridmarker, Fron, Faabergmarker, Gausdalmarker, Granmarker, Jævnakermarker, Land, Lesjemarker, Lommarker, Nordre Aurdalmarker, Ringebumarker, Slidremarker, Søndre Aurdalmarker, Vangmarker, Vardalmarker, Vestre Totenmarker, Vaagemarker, Østre Totenmarker, Øiermarker 20
Buskeruds amtmarker Drammenmarker, Kongsbergmarker - Eker, Flesbergmarker, Golmarker, Holemarker, Hurummarker, Liermarker, Modummarker, Næsmarker, Norderhovmarker, Rollagmarker, Røkenmarker, Sandsvær, Sigdalmarker, Aalmarker 16
Jarlsberg og Larviks amt Holmestrandmarker, Larvikmarker, Tønsbergmarker Sandefjordmarker, Åsgårdstrandmarker Andebomarker, Borremarker, Botne, Brunlagnæs, Hedrum, Hofmarker, Laurdalmarker, Nøtterømarker, Ramnæsmarker, Sandar, Sandemarker, Sæmmarker, Skougermarker, Frederiksværnmarker4, Stokkemarker, Strømmen, Strømsgodset, Tjølling, Tjømømarker, Vaale 25
Bratsbergs amtmarker Kragerømarker, Porsgrunnmarker, Skienmarker Brevikmarker, Langesundmarker Bamblemarker with Stathellemarker3, marker, Drangedalmarker, Eidanger, Fyresdalmarker, Gjerpen, Hitterdalmarker, Hjertdalmarker, Holden, Hvideseidmarker, Laurdal, Mo, Nissedalmarker, Sandøkedal, Søfdemarker, Siljordmarker, Slemdalmarker, Solum, Tinmarker, Vinjemarker 25
Nedenes amtmarker Arendalmarker, Grimstadmarker, Risørmarker Lillesandmarker, Tvedestrandmarker Østre Molandmarker, Birkenæsmarker, Byglandmarker, Dybvaagmarker, Eidemarker, Evje og Veigusdalmarker, Gjerrestadmarker, Heirefosmarker, Holtmarker, Hordnæs og Ivelandmarker, Landvikmarker, Søndeledmarker, Vallemarker, Vegaardsheienmarker, Vestre Molandmarker, Øiestadmarker, Omlidmarker, Aaseralmarker 23
Lister og Mandals amtmarker Kristiansandmarker Farsundmarker, Flekkefjordmarker, Mandalmarker Undalmarker, Bjelland og Grindemmarker, Finslandmarker, Fjotlandmarker, Gylandmarker, Halsaa og Hartmarkmarker, Herodmarker, Holmemarker, Hægebostadmarker, Kvinesdalmarker, Listamarker, Lyngdalmarker, Næs og Hitterømarker, Oddernæsmarker, Søgnemarker, Tveitmarker, Østre Bakkemarker, Øvrebø, Øslebø og Løvdalmarker 23
Stavanger amtmarker Stavangermarker Egersundmarker Avaldsnæsmarker, Birkremmarker, Egersund landdistriktmarker, Finnømarker, Gjæsdalmarker, Hellelandmarker, Heskestadmarker, Hetland, Hjelmelandmarker, Høiland, Haamarker, Haaland, Jælsemarker, Klepmarker, Lundemarker, Nærstrand, Rennesømarker, Skjoldmarker, Skudesnæs, Soggendalmarker with Sogndalstrandmarker3, Strandmarker, Suledalmarker, Timemarker, Torvestad, Vestre Bakkemarker, Vikedalmarker 28
Søndre Bergenhus amtmarker - - Askøenmarker, Bergen landdistrikt, Eid, Etnemarker, Fanemarker, Finnaasmarker, Fjeldberg, Fjeldmarker, Gravenmarker, Hammer, Hausmarker, Hosanger, Kinservikmarker, Vikørmarker, Kvindherredmarker, Lindaasmarker, Mangermarker, Osmarker, Røldalmarker, Skonevikmarker, Stordøenmarker, Strandebarmmarker, Sundmarker, Tysnæsmarker, Vossmarker, Aarstadmarker 26
Bergen amtmarker Bergenmarker - - 1
Nordre Bergenhus amtmarker - - Askvollmarker, Aurlandmarker, Davikmarker, Eidmarker, Fjalermarker, Førdemarker, Gaularmarker, Gloppenmarker, Eivindvikmarker, Hafslomarker, Innvikmarker, Jostedalmarker, Jølstermarker, Kinnmarker, Lavikmarker, Leikangermarker, Lustermarker, Lærdalmarker, Seljemarker, Sogndalmarker, Vevringmarker, Vikmarker 22
Romsdals amtmarker Kristiansundmarker, Moldemarker Ålesundmarker Aukramarker, Auremarker, Bolsøy, Borgund, Budmarker, Edøy, Freimarker, Grytten, Halsamarker, Harammarker, Herøymarker, Hjørundfjordmarker, Kvernes, Nessetmarker, Norddalmarker, Stangvikmarker, Strandamarker, Sunndalmarker, Sunnylven, Surnadalmarker, Tingvollmarker, Ulsteinmarker, Vanylvenmarker, Vestnesmarker, Veøymarker, Voldamarker, Øre, Ørskogmarker 31
Søndre Trondhjems amtmarker Trondheimmarker - Beitstadmarker, Bjørnør, Bynesetmarker, Børsamarker, Hemnemarker, Hitramarker, Holtålenmarker, Klæbumarker, Leinstrand, Meldalmarker, Melhusmarker, Oppdalmarker, Orkdalmarker, Røros Bergstadmarker5, Selbumarker, Stadsbygd, Strinda, Størenmarker, Ørlandmarker, Åfjordmarker 21
Nordre Trondhjems amtmarker Levangermarker - Fosnesmarker, Frostamarker, Grongmarker, Inderøymarker, Kolvereidmarker, Leksvikmarker, Namdalseidmarker, Nærøymarker, Overhallamarker, Skogn, Snåsamarker, Sparbumarker, Stjørdalmarker, Stod, Sævik, Sørbindalen, Verdalmarker, Ytterøymarker, Åsenmarker 20
Nordlands amtmarker Bodømarker - Alstahaugmarker, Bodin, Borge, Brønnøymarker, Buksnes, marker, Dverbergmarker, Flakstadmarker, Folden, Gildeskålmarker, Hadselmarker, Hamarøymarker, Lurøymarker, Lødingenmarker, Nesnamarker, Nordbindalen, Ofoten, Ranamarker, Rødøymarker, Saltdalmarker, Skjerstadmarker, Steigenmarker, Vefsnmarker, Vegamarker, Værøymarker, Våganmarker, Øksnesmarker 28
Tromsø amtB Tromsømarker - Bergmarker, Bjarkøymarker, Ibestadmarker, Karlsøymarker, Kvæfjordmarker, Lenvikmarker, Lyngenmarker, Skjervøymarker, Tranøymarker, Tromsøysund, Trondenes 12
Finnmarkens amtmarker Hammerfestmarker1, Vadsømarker1, Vardømarker1 - Altamarker, Lebesbymarker, Loppamarker, Måsøymarker, Porsangermarker 8
Grand total 25 + 31 12 + 12 350 + 33 + 14 + 15 396


APart of Akershus amt until 1842.
BPart of Finmarkens amt until 1866.
1Cities/towns with rural districts.
2Consisting of two minor lading places.
3Rural districts with dependent lading places.
4Port and naval base.
5Rural district with dependent mining town.

References and notes

  1. Prestegjeld is a geographic and administrative district in the Norwegian State Church.
  2. As cited in the Norwegian Wiki article—the date is alternately shown as 1863 in
  3. market town.
  4. Norway included a subordinate category to the market town, the “lading place” (lossested or ladested), which was a port or harbor with a monopoly to import and export goods and materials in both the port and for a surrounding outlying district. Typically these were locations for exporting timber and importing grain and goods. Local farm goods and timber sales were all required to pass through merchants at either a lading place or a market town prior to export. This incentive ensured that local trading went through local merchants, a technique which was so effective in limiting smuggling that customs revenues increased from less than 30% of the total tax revenues in 1600 to more than 50% of the total taxes by 1700.
  5. As cited in the Norwegian Wiki article

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