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HANS EGEDE (1686–1758)

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Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 12 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HANS EGEDE (1686–1758), Norwegian missionary, was born in the vogtship of Senjen, Norway, on the 31st of January 1686. He studied at the university of Copenhagen, and in 1706 became pastor at Vaagen in the Lofoten islands, but the study of the chronicles of the northmen having awakened in him the desire to visit the colony of Northmen in Greenland, and to convert them to Christianity, he resigned his charge in 1717; and having, after great difficulty, obtained the sanction and help of the Danish government in his enterprise, he set sail with three ships from Bergen on the 3rd of May 1721, accompanied by his wife and children. He landed on the west coast of Greenland on the 3rd of July, but found to his dismay that the Northmen were entirely superseded by the Eskimo, in whom he had no particular interest, and whose language he would be able to master, if at all, only after years of study. But, though compelled to endure for some years great privations, and at one time to see the result of his labours almost annihilated by the ravages of small-pox, he remained resolutely at his post. He founded the colony of Godthaab, and soon gained the affections of the people. He converted many of them to Christianity, and established a considerable commerce with Denmark. Ill-health compelling him to return home in 1736, he was made principal of a seminary at Copenhagen, in which workers were trained for the Greenland mission; and from 1740 to 1747 he was superintendent of the mission. He died on the 5th of November 1758. He is the author of a book on the natural history of Greenland. His work in Greenland was continued, on his retirement, by his son PAUL EGEDE (1708–1789), who afterwards returned to Denmark and succeeded his father as superintendent of the Greenland mission. Paul Egede also became professor of theology in the mission seminary. He published a Greenland-Dan-Latin dictionary (1750), Greenland grammar (1760) and Greenland catechism (1756). In 1766 he completed the translation begun by his father of the New Testament into the Green-land tongue; and in 1787 he translated Thomas a Ke`mpis. In 1789 he published a journal of his life in Greenland.
End of Article: HANS EGEDE (1686–1758)
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Additional information and Comments

In 1721 the Danish king provided financial support for an expedition under the leadership of the Norwegian priest, to Greenland to convert the Greenland Vikings to Christianity. However, though the king did not know it the Viking settlements on Greenland had disappeared by the beginning of the fifteenth century because of increasingly severe winters. Hans Egede turned his missionary attention to the native population, and established a Scandinavian colony. Egede was an educator, author, natural historian and cartographer, in addition to his ecclesiastical office. Soon after he returned to Copenhagen in 1737 he drew a map of Greenland, the oldest surviving map drawn by an inhabitant. The map on the stamp may also be by Egede. An interesting feature of the stamp is the national designation Noreg. While there are some countries (Canada for example) which have more than one national language, Norway has only one language, but two expressions of it. Riksmal or Bokmal was the official language of Norway until 1885. Its spelling and grammar are largely Danish, and reflects the long Danish rule in Norway. Ivar Aasen devised Landsmal or Nynorsk based on the dialects of western Norway. In 1885 it was given equal standing with Bokmal. In practice local custom determines how place names are to be pronounced. The name of the country also occurs in two versions, Norge in Bokmal and Noreg in Landsmal. Both spellings occur on Norwegian stamps. Although the use of one version or the other does not seem to have any logic to an outsider, it probably has to do with the subject of the stamp, and the use of one or other language expression in connection with that subject.
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