Hans Nielsen Hauge (born 1771) lived and worked two hundred years ago. Following a sincere and deep longing for God throughout his youth, he had a powerful spiritual experience in 1796. He was 25 years old at the time. He received a calling from God to preach His word to the people and admonish them to repent. Following this, he started travelling throughout the country while combining his spiritual and physical work. While he preached he was an active businessman, a pioneer who started up some 30 businesses all over the country over a four year period. During this whole time, he combined his calling to preach with his other activities. Finally he was arrested in 1804 for a breach of the "Konventikkelplakaten", the Konventikkel Ordinance, a law which denied lay people the right to preach. He was imprisoned for five years before the prosecution and for another four years before the hearing. In 1814 he was finally found guilty and ordered to pay 2000 riksdaler, a fine he paid with the help of gifts from friends and family. His health was poor following the years of imprisonment, so he discontinued his travelling. He worked on his own estate in Christiania (Oslo) instead, still keeping up his business at the same time. This he did until his death in 1824.
No other person in the history of Norway has so dominated his own time and influenced the time following his death as Hauge. His combination of a Christian life, preaching and business activity contributed to the legalisation of the market as an institution, for Christians too, while it was given a clear social function. This was unique at that time. Hauge also formed a new religious philosophy, from the group to the individual: individuals were no longer only a part of a social group, but individuals with a responsibility for their own lives in keeping with what they learned. This contributed to a spiritual and mental liberation all over the country, and along with other social currents, Haugianism was a contributing factor to Norway's receiving its own constitution and becoming independent in 1814.
Who was this man who was so important to his country's history? What drove him, how did he go about his activity and what was the background for his calling?