Finland during the Great Northern War

Finland during the Great Northern War was dominated by the Russian invasion and subsequent military occupation of Finland, then part of Sweden, from 1714 until the treaty of Nystad 1721, which ended the Great Northern War. The period is also referred to as den stora ofreden ("the great discord") in Swedish or isoviha ("the great hatred") in Finnish. It was previously also called venäläisen ylivallan aika ("era of Russian domination" or "era of Russian supremacy") in Finnish.


Finland was left largely to fend for itself after the disaster of Poltava in 1709. Russia captured Viborg (Russian: Выборг (Vyborg), Finnish: Viipuri) in 1710 and already in 1712 started their first campaign to capture Finland which ended in failure.[1] A more organized campaign starting in 1713 managed to capture Helsinki/Helsingfors and drive defending Swedes away from the coast.[2] The Swedish army in Finland was defeated in Storkyro (Isokyrö) in February 1714 where the Russians won a decisive victory.[3] Swedish efforts to hinder the Russian advance by blockading the coastal sea route at Hangö ended in failure in late July in battle of Gangut. The presence of a Russian galley fleet in the Gulf of Bothnia forced, in the end, both the Swedish fleet and army to largely abandon Finland in late 1714.[4] Even the Swedish areas on the western side of the Gulf of Bothnia were ravaged by the Russians. The city of Umeå was burned to the ground by the Russians on 18 September 1714, and after struggling to rebuild was razed again in 1719, 1720, and 1721.

Russian occupation of Finland

After the victory in Battle of Storkyro, Mikhail Golitsyn was appointed the governor of Finland. Finns began waging partisan warfare against the Russians. As retaliation, the Finnish peasants were forced to pay large contributions to the occupying Russians (as was the custom in that time). Plundering was widespread, especially in Ostrobothnia and in communities near the major roads. Churches were looted, Isokyrö was burned to the ground. A scorched earth zone several hundred kilometers wide was burned to hinder Swedish counteroffensives. At least 5,000 Finns were killed and some 10,000 taken away as slaves, of whom only a few thousand would ever return;[5] According to newer research the amount of those killed is closer to 20,000.[6] Thousands, especially officials, also fled to the (relative) safety of Sweden. The poorer peasants hid in the woods to avoid the ravages of the occupiers and their press-gangs.[7] Atrocities were at their worst between 1714–17 when the infamous Swedish Count Gustaf Otto Douglas, who had defected to the Russian side during the war, was in charge of the occupation.

In addition to the predations of the Russian occupants, Finland was struck – as were most other Baltic countries at the time – by the plague. In Helsinki, 1,185 people died: nearly two thirds of the population. Plague already had struck Finland before the Russian invasion, sapping the strength of Sweden in Finland.[7]


It took several decades for the Finnish population and economy to recover after the peace in 1721, at which point Finland was scourged again during the war of 1741–43, although less devastatingly.

See also


  1. ^ Mattila 1983, p. 27–33.
  2. ^ Mattila 1983, p. 33–35.
  3. ^ Mattila 1983, p. 35.
  4. ^ Mattila 1983, p. 38–46.
  5. ^ Suomen historian pikkujättiläinen. ISBN 978-951-0-14253-0. Page 265.
  6. ^ "Helsingin Sanomat Kuukausiliite 7/2009, s. 28–33
  7. ^ a b Uppslagsverket Finland, 1985


  • Mattila, Tapani (1983). Meri maamme turvana [Sea safeguarding our country] (in Finnish). Jyväskylä: K. J. Gummerus Osakeyhtiö. ISBN 951-99487-0-8.
  • Svenska slagfält, 2003, (Wahlström & Widstrand, ISBN 91-46-21087-3)

Finland (; Finnish: Suomi [suo̯mi] (listen); Swedish: Finland [ˈfɪnland] (listen)), officially the Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomen tasavalta, Swedish: Republiken Finland (listen to all)) is a country in Northern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. Finland is a Nordic country and is situated in the geographical region of Fennoscandia. The capital and largest city is Helsinki. Other major cities are Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku.

Finland's population is 5.52 million (2018), and the majority of the population is concentrated in the southern region. 88.7% of the population is Finnish and speaks Finnish, a Uralic language unrelated to the Scandinavian languages; next come the Finland-Swedes (5.3%). Finland is the eighth-largest country in Europe and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. The sovereign state is a parliamentary republic with a central government based in the capital city of Helsinki, local governments in 311 municipalities, and one autonomous region, the Åland Islands. Over 1.4 million people live in the Greater Helsinki metropolitan area, which produces one third of the country's GDP.

Finland was inhabited when the last ice age ended, approximately 9000 BCE. The first settlers left behind artefacts that present characteristics shared with those found in Estonia, Russia, and Norway. The earliest people were hunter-gatherers, using stone tools. The first pottery appeared in 5200 BCE, when the Comb Ceramic culture was introduced. The arrival of the Corded Ware culture in southern coastal Finland between 3000 and 2500 BCE may have coincided with the start of agriculture. The Bronze Age and Iron Age were characterised by extensive contacts with other cultures in the Fennoscandian and Baltic regions and the sedentary farming inhabitation increased towards the end of Iron Age. At the time Finland had three main cultural areas – Southwest Finland, Tavastia and Karelia – as reflected in contemporary jewellery.From the late 13th century, Finland gradually became an integral part of Sweden through the Northern Crusades and the Swedish part-colonisation of coastal Finland, a legacy reflected in the prevalence of the Swedish language and its official status. In 1809, Finland was incorporated into the Russian Empire as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland. In 1906, Finland became the first European state to grant all adult citizens the right to vote, and the first in the world to give all adult citizens the right to run for public office.Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Finland declared itself independent. In 1918, the fledgling state was divided by civil war, with the Bolshevik-leaning Red Guard supported by the equally new Soviet Russia, fighting the White Guard, supported by the German Empire. After a brief attempt to establish a kingdom, the country became a republic. During World War II, the Soviet Union sought repeatedly to occupy Finland, with Finland losing parts of Karelia, Salla, Kuusamo, Petsamo and some islands, but retaining their independence.

Finland joined the United Nations in 1955 and established an official policy of neutrality. The Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948 gave the Soviet Union some leverage in Finnish domestic politics during the Cold War era. Finland joined the OECD in 1969, the NATO Partnership for Peace in 1994, the European Union in 1995, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997, and finally the Eurozone at its inception, in 1999.

Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialisation, remaining a largely agrarian country until the 1950s. After World War II, the Soviet Union demanded war reparations from Finland not only in money but also in material, such as ships and machinery. This forced Finland to industrialise. It rapidly developed an advanced economy while building an extensive welfare state based on the Nordic model, resulting in widespread prosperity and one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Finland is a top performer in numerous metrics of national performance, including education, economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life, and human development. In 2015, Finland was ranked first in the World Human Capital and the Press Freedom Index and as the most stable country in the world during 2011–2016 in the Fragile States Index, and second in the Global Gender Gap Report. A large majority of Finns are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and freedom of religion is guaranteed under the Finnish Constitution.

Fredrika Runeberg

Fredrika Charlotta Runeberg (September 2, 1807, Jakobstad – May 27, 1879, Helsinki), born Fredrika Tengström, was a Finnish (Finland-Swedish) novelist, journalist and the wife of Finland's national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. She was a pioneer of Finnish historical fiction and one of the first woman journalists in Finland.In her own time, she was mainly known as the wife of her famous husband, poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. The family lived most of their life in Porvoo, where she created most of her works, including the historical novel Fru Catharina Boije och hennes döttrar (1858). She wrote in Swedish.

Mikhail Andreyevich Golitsyn

Prince Mikhail Andreyevich Golitsyn (Russian: Михаил Андреевич Голицын; 1639–1687) was governor of Pskov.

He was born in early 1639. His parents were Yevfimia Yurievna Pilemova-Saburova and her husband, Prince Andrei Andreyevich Golitsyn, governor of Siberia and voivode of Tobolsk, who died in late 1638, before the birth of his son. Andrei's father was Prince Andrei Ivanovich Golitsyn, an earlier governor of the Pskov territory.Golitsyn belonged to the princely lineage descended from the Family of Gediminas, which reigned as Grand Dukes of Lithuania. In Russia, his family held lands and high positions in the regions of Pskov, Ingria, the republic of Veliki Novgorod, and other provinces.

Since 1682, Mikhail Andreyevich Golitsyn was governor of Pskov territory.One of his sons was Field Marshal Prince Mikhail Mikhailovich Golitsyn, who was commander-in-chief of the occupation forces in Finland during the Great Northern War, between 1714 and 1721.

Pehr Kalm

Pehr Kalm (6 March 1716 – 16 November 1779), also known as Peter Kalm, was an explorer, botanist, naturalist, and agricultural economist. He was one of the most important apostles of Carl Linnaeus.

In 1747 he was commissioned by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to travel to the North American colonies and to bring back seeds and plants that might be useful to agriculture. Among his many scientific accomplishments, Kalm can be credited with the first description of Niagara Falls written by a trained scientist; he described this phenomenon along the border of New York (United States) and Canada. In addition, he published the first scientific paper on the North American, 17-year periodical cicada, Magicicada septendecim.

Kalm wrote an account of his travels that was translated into numerous European languages; a 20th-century translation remains in print in English as Peter Kalm's Travels in North America: The English Version of 1770, translated by Swedish-American scholar Adolph B. Benson.

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