Bergen I. A province (stiff or diocese) of Norway, comprising most of the W. part of the country, including the mainland and many inhabited and desert islands along the coast bounded N. by Trondhjem, E. by Hamar and Christiania, S. by Christiansand, and W. by the ocean; area, 14,869 sq. m.; pop. in 1865, 267,-354, exclusive of the city of Bergen, which has a separate administrative organization. It consists of the districts (amts) of Sondre and Nor-dre (south and north) Bergenhnns and of part of the district of Romsdal. Among the largest gulfs is the Hardanger or Bommelfjord, 83m. Jong. The principal river, the Leerdals, rises in the Fille mountains and joins a branch of the Sognef gulf. There is good pasturage between the high mountains which extend over nearly the whole province and around the gulfs; and cattle breeding and fisheries, chiefly of herring are the principal industries. Agriculture has been lately somewhat improved, though corn must still be imported in a few parishes Marble is found to some extent. Copper and iron ore, though abundant, are not much worked owing to their rather inaccessible situation and to the scarcity of wood. Rain is singularly frequent, and the inhabitants suffer much from diseases of the skin.
II. A city and seaport, capital of the province, in the bailiwick of Sondre Bergenhuus, on the W. coast, 180 m. W. N. W. of Christiania; pop. in 1865, 29,194. An island called Asko, opposite the town and 3 m. distant, encloses a bay called Bye-fjorden, which divides into two branches called Vaagen and Pudefjorden. The town is built upon the promontory between these two parts of the bay, and extends in a semicircle around the Vaagen. Behind the town on the land side are high mountains. It was formerly the first commercial city of Norway, and is now the second in importance. The harbor is excellent, but difficult of access. It is defended by the castle of Bergenhuus and six smaller forts. The Nordlandmen come to the city twice a year with fish, skin, and feathers. In March and April 600 or 700 vessels may be seen in the harbor at one time. About $2,000,-000 worth offish are exported annually. The city was founded in 1070 by King Olaf Kyrre, who built the castle and some of the churches. It was several times devastated by the black plague. The first foreign treaty made by the English was made in this city in 1217. The merchants of the Hanseat-ic league afterward obtained a foothold here, and in 1445 established a Hanseatic trading factory.
Their clerks and agents were subject exclusively to the government of the Hanse towns. Marriage was not permitted to them. In September, 1455, they caused to be put to death Governor Olaf Nielsen, Bishop Torlief, and 60 other persons. Finally Frederick II. of Denmark on July 25, 1560, issued a decree, called the "Odense Recess," for the determination of disputes between the citizens and the subjects of the league, which broke up its supremacy. Merchants from other countries began to share in the business, and in 1763 the last house belonging to the Hansa became the property of a citizen of Bergen.