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History of Finland (the s.c.nordic FAQ)
nordic flags
The home pages for the Usenet newsgroup soc.culture.nordic
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History of Finland


Subject: 4.3 



4.3.1 A chronology of important dates

(A brief chronicle is to find in the section 4.3.3.)
(for the period 1155-1809, see also the Swedish history section)

The First Crusade to Finland, launched by Swedes and led by the English bishop Henry and the Swedish king Erik (later canonized and made Sweden's patron saint, St.Erik, and Finland's patron saint, St.Henry, respectively ).

According to the legend, bishop Henry is murdered by the peasant Lalli on the frozen surface of lake Köyliö.

The bishop's seat is moved from Nousiainen to Koroinen in the vicinity of modern Turku; the year is considered to be the founding year of Turku, which becomes the capital of the eastern half of the kingdom.

After a pagan uprising, the Second Crusade to Tavastia (a province of western/central Finland) is launched by Birger Jarl and the pagans are defeated.

The Third Crusade by Sweden's marsk Torgils Knutsson to Karelia, a province of eastern Finland, establishes the borderline between Catholic West and Orthodox East for the centuries to come. The castle and town of Viipuri/Viborg are founded to defend the border.

The peace of Nöteburg (Pähkinäsaari) between Sweden and Russia. Finland's eastern border is defined for the first time.

The first Swedish national law replaced the local provincial laws.

Finns receive the right to participate in the election of the king.

The era of the Kalmar Union, with Finland, Sweden, Denmark Norway and Iceland united as a single kingdom.

War against Russia. During a siege of Viipuri, just as the Russians are about to get over the city walls, St. Andrew's cross appears in the sky and the frightened Russians flee from battle. In reality, what happened was probably the exploding of a gunpowder tower.

Reformation. Finland becomes Lutheran with the rest of Sweden.

Helsinki founded by Gustav Vasa, but remains little more than a fishing village for more than two centuries.

Mikael Agricola, a bishop of Turku, publishes his translation of the New Testament in Finnish.

The peace of Täyssinä (Teusina); Finland's borders are moved further east and north.

The Cudgel War.

Karelia joined into Finland in the peace treaty of Stolbova ending a hundred years of almost continuous wars with Russia.

Finns fight in the Thirty Years' War in the continent. The Finnish cavalry, known as hakkapeliittas, spreads fear among the Catholic troops who're used to more orderly warfare.

1637-40 and 1648-54
Count Per Brahe as the general governor of Finland. Many and important reforms are made, towns are founded, etc. His period is generally considered very beneficial to the development of Finland.

Finland's first university founded in Turku.

The whole Bible is finally published on Finnish.

Russia occupies Finland during the Great Northern War. The period of the so called "Great Wrath".

The peace of Uusikaupunki gives Karelia to Russia.

The "War of the Hats". Adventurous politics by the "Hat" party leads to a new disastrous war with Russia and a new occupation of Finland, known as "The Lesser Wrath", which ends in the peace treaty of Turku in 1743.

Storskifte, first reform of Swedish farming decided.

The liberty of Press and "Offentlighetsprincipen" was declared as constitution.

"The War of Finland". Russia attacks Finland in Feb. 1808 without a declaration of war; Finnish troops retreat all the way to Oulu, which forces Russians to leave a large part of their army as occupation forces, giving the Swedish general Klingspor superiority in force. A reconquest starts in June and Klingspor receives several victories; however, the baffling surrender of the mighty Sveaborg / Suomenlinna fortress on May 3rd and the fresh Russian troops received in autumn of 1808 force the Swedish-Finnish troops to retreat all the way to Härnösand in Sweden. Once again Russia occupies Finland.

In the diet of Porvoo, while the war still goes on, the Finnish estates swear an oath of loyalty to Emperor Alexander I, who grants Finland a status of an autonomous Grand Duchy, retaining its old constitution and religion. A few months later the peace treaty of Hamina (Fredrikshamn) is signed and Finland becomes under Russian rule.

Helsinki, being closer to Russia than the Swedish-oriented Turku, is made the new capital. Karelia is joined to the Grand Duchy as an act of goodwill.

Finland prospers under the extensive autonomy and more liberal conditions than in the rest of Russian Empire. National identity and nationalism awakens.

The great fire of Turku destroys most of the former capital. The university is moved to Helsinki.

The first publication of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. It was collected by Elias Lönnrot from traditional Karelian oral poetry, and became the most important source of inspiration to Finnish nationalists when it appeared in its final form in 1849.

The first railway, between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna.

Finnish becomes, alongside with Swedish and Russian, an official language.

Russia starts a Russification policy of Finland with the so called "February manifesto". After the initial shock and disbelief, a well-organized passive resistance follows.

The dictatorical general governor and active adherent of Russification of Finland, Nikolai Bobrikov, is assassinated by the young clerk Eugen Schauman.

Finnish women receive the right to vote and to run for parliament. Finland was the first country in Europe (and second in the world, after New Zealand) to grant women an equal right to vote in elections. The Finnish diet, which up until now had been a system of four estates (nobility, clergy, merchantry, peasantry), becomes a unicameral parliament and a universal suffrage is declared.

As Russia plunges into the chaos of the October Revolution, Finland seizes the opportunity and declares independence on the 6th of December.

A civil war erupts between "whites" and "reds", and ends in "white" victory under the commander . Even though the war is relatively brief, the casualties rise high because of "red" and "white" terror, poor conditions at prison camps and random executions of prisoners. The war leaves bitter marks on the nation, which are eventually healed in the Winter War of 1939-40, when both sides have to unite forces against a common enemy.

The civil war increases scepticism towards the effeciency of democratic institutions, and monarchists in the parliament succeed (chiefly because the Social Democrats had not been allowed to partake in the parliament) in turning Finland into a monarchy, and the German prince Friedrich Karl of Hesse is invited to become King of Finland. However, as Germany soon lost the World War I, Friedrich who had delayed answering to the invitiation refused the crown so Finland never officially had a king; as a result monarchism in general suffered an inflation. In 1919 Finland gets a republican constitution, with a strong position for the president as a concession to the monarchists.

Finland prospers after the war and adopts a neutral Nordic profile in its foreign policy, although with strong German sympathies. In early 1930's fascism in the Italian fashion emerges and the so called Lapua-movement attempts a coup d'etat in 1932, but fails and is banned (ironically, using the laws the movement was itself most eager to push into force). The IKL ("Patriotic Movement"), an extreme right party, is formed to continue the legacy of Lapua-movement, but it never gains significant support and Finnish fascism remains a fringe phenomenon.

Soviet Union attacks Finland. Fierce Finnish resistance surprises the overwhelming but poorly prepared Soviet troops and the Winter War lasts for roughly three and a half months, causing heavy casualties on the Soviet side. Eventually Finland has to give in and cede Karelia to the USSR, causing some 400,000 people to lose their homes.

The Continuation War; Finland attacks the Soviet Union with Germany, hoping to regain the lost areas, but eventually has to accept the borders of 1940 and, and also cede Pechenga, lease Porkkala peninsula as a military base for 50 years (SU returns it already in 1956) and pay war reparations.

The War of Lapland. As a part of the peace treaty, Finland has to force all German troops to leave Finland. Germans put up a fight and burn much of Finnish Lapland as they retreat.

Paris peace treaty. Finland assumes a policy of careful neutrality (e.g declining to receive Marshall aid) and realpolitik, taking into account Finland's geographical location next to the USSR. This policy becomes known as the Paasikivi-Kekkonen line.

So called "Years of Danger" ("vaaran vuodet") when a communist takeover was hanging in the air. Some leading Finnish communists proclaimed that the "Czechoslovakian model" was to be Finland's future as well. This ends in the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance ("YYA" is the Finnish acronym) with the Soviet Union in 1948. In it, Finland among other things commits itself to defend its territory against Germany or any other country allied with Germany that might use Finland as a way to attack Soviet Union. The treaty guarantees Finland's sovereignty in the years to follow, but places Finland in between the two blocs of the Cold War, trying hard to please both sides.

"Finlandization" era. Finland remains an independent western European democracy, but falls into exaggerations in keeping the eastern neighbour pleased. On the other hand, the bilateral trade arrangements with the Soviet Union are very beneficial to Finnish economy, which make possible the emergence of Finland as a rich welfare state.

The Olympic Games held in Helsinki.

Finland joins the United Nations and the Nordic Council.

A time of intensive urbanization, Finland turns from a predominantly agrarian state into an urban one almost "overnight". This results in severe unemployment, and large numbers of Finns emigrate to Sweden in search of jobs.

Finland signs a free trade treaty with the EEC (a precedent of the European Union), but remains outside the community.

The first CSCE conference in held in Helsinki. The "spirit of Helsinki" becomes to epitomize the process of detente between East and West after the Cold War era.

Finland becomes a full member of EFTA (European Free Trade Association). A special FINEFTA customs treaty had been in effect already since 1961.

Finland becomes a member of the European Council.

On 16th of October Finns voted YES (57% vs. 43% NO) to membership in the European Union; the parliament ratified the result after a long filibustering campaign by the NO-side.

As of January 1st, Finland became a full member in the EU.

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Finland - >>

4.3.2 Grand Dukes and presidents of Finland

For a list of kings and queens of Sweden-Finland, see Part 7 of the FAQ, section 7.3.1.
Grand Dukes of the Grand Duchy of Finland

Alexander I                     (1809-25)       
Nicholas I                      (1825-55)       
Alexander II                    (1855-81)       
Alexander III                   (1881-94)       
Nicholas II                     (1894-1917)     

Regents of the period of Civil War

Pehr Evind Svinhufvud           (1918)
Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim     (1918-19)

Presidents of the republic of Finland

Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg           (1919-25)
Lauri Kristian Relander         (1925-31)
Pehr Evind Svinhufvud           (1931-37)
Kyösti Kallio                   (1937-40)
Risto Heikki Ryti               (1940-44)
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim     (1944-46)
Juho Kusti Paasikivi            (1946-56)
Urho Kaleva Kekkonen            (1956-81)
Mauno Henrik Koivisto           (1982-94)
Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari    (1994-00)
Tarja Halonen                   (2000-  )

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© Copyright 1994-2001 by Antti Lahelma and Johan Olofsson.
You are free to quote this page as long as you mention the URL.
The line of flags is modified after a picture at det Åländska skoldatanätet.
This page was last updated February the 27th in the year of 2001.

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