Georg Magnus Sprengtporten

Count Georg Magnus Sprengtporten (Russian: Георг Магнус Спренгтпортен), or Göran Magnus Sprengtporten, as he preferred to call himself (16 December 1740 – 13 October 1819), was a Swedish, Finnish and Russian politician, younger brother of Jacob Magnus Sprengtporten.

Georg Magnus Sprengtporten
Graf Sprengtporten
Personal details
Born16 December 1740
Porvoo, Kingdom of Sweden
Died13 October 1819 (aged 78)
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
RelationsJacob Magnus Sprengtporten (brother)

Early life

Sprengtporten was born in Porvoo (Swedish: Borgå), Uusimaa (Swedish: Nyland), Kingdom of Sweden (now Finland). He entered the army and rose to the rank of captain during the Seven Years' War. He assisted his brother in the revolution of 1772, and in 1775 was made a colonel and brigadier of the Savolax brigade in east Finland. Here he distinguished himself greatly as an organizer and administrator. The military school which he founded at Haapaniemi (then Tuhkaniemi), Kuopio (1 August 1780 until 1 May 1781 when it was moved to Haapaniemi estate in Rantasalmi, where it operated until a transfer to Hamina in 1819) subsequently became a state institution (Hamina Cadet School).


Like his brother he also came to the conclusion that his services had not been adequately appreciated, and the flattering way in which he was welcomed by the Russian court during a visit to Saint Petersburg in 1779 still further incensed him against the perceived ingratitude of his own sovereign. For the next two years he was in the French service, returning to Finland in 1781. Due in part to contacts with Benjamin Franklin who was there contemporaneously he conceived of the idea of separating the grand duchy from Sweden. This aim was first approached through the Walhalla-orden subversive secret society and scheming with the king's brother, Charles XIII of Sweden. This scheming was apparently stillborn, as Charles informed his brother of the schemers' approaches.


The chosen Plan B was to establish an independent state under the protection of Russia. During the Riksdag of 1786 he openly opposed Gustav III of Sweden, at the same time engaging in a secret and treasonable correspondence with the Russian ministers with the view of inducing them to assist his plans for an independent Finland by force of arms.


In the following year, at the invitation of Catherine II of Russia, he formally entered the Russian service. When the Russo-Swedish War of 1788–1790 began, Sprengtporten received the command of a Russian army corps directed against Finland. He took no direct part in the Anjala conspiracy but urged Catherine to support it more energetically. His own negotiations with his fellow countrymen, especially after Gustav III of Sweden had brought the treacherous army officers of the Anjala conspiracy back to their allegiance, failed utterly. Nor was he able to serve Russia very effectively in the field for he was seriously wounded at the battle of Porrassalmi 1789. At the end of the war, indeed, his position was somewhat precarious, as the High Court of Turku condemned him as a traitor, while Catherine regarded him as an incompetent impostor who could not perform his promises. For the next five years, therefore 1793–1798, he thought it expedient to quit Russia and live at Teplice in Bohemia. He was re-employed by the emperor Paul of Russia who, in 1800, sent him to negotiate with Napoleon concerning the Maltese Order and the interchange of prisoners. After Paul’s death Sprengtporten was again in disgrace for seven years, but was consulted in 1808 on the eve of the outbreak of hostilities with France. On 1 December 1808 he was appointed the first Russian Governor-General of Finland with the title of count, but was so unpopular that he had to resign his post the following year.


The last ten years of his life were lived in retirement. Sprengtporten died in Saint Petersburg in 1819.

Memorial stones

Georg Magnus Sprengtporten's Memorial stones are located in Harbour park (Satamapuisto) of Kuopio, near the place where his military school was originally located. While staying in Teplice, Sprengtporten was in regular contact with the Count Waldstein's librarian, Giacomo Casanova. Their correspondence has been saved and is well known to scholars.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainRobert Nisbet Bain (1911). "Sprengtporten, Göran Magnus, Count" . In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

External links

Political offices
Vacant Governor-General of Finland
Succeeded by
Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly
1740 in Sweden

Events from the year 1740 in Sweden.

Battle of Porrassalmi

The battle of Porrassalmi was a battle fought near the bight of Porrassalmi in Savonia on 13 June 1789, during the Russo-Swedish War (1788–90). A Swedish force of about 750 men succeeded in stopping the northbound advance of a Russian force numbering 5,000 men.The Swedish forces blocked the road to Mikkeli at a narrow watercrossing with a bridge near the bight of Porrassalmi. There they faced Russian infantrymen led by Ivan Ivanovich Michelson and Georg Magnus Sprengtporten a Swedish officer who had entered the Russian service and received the command of the Russian army corps directed against Finland. Sprengtporten persuaded the Russians that Finnish troops were disloyal to the Swedish Crown and not going to fight, but his column was met with gunfire. Only infantry units participated in the fighting. The Russians were moving in a too-close formation and, despite numerous charges against the outnumbered Swedes, could not break through the defence and pulled back, covered by mounted Cossacks and Bashkirs. The Russians lost 425 men killed and wounded, including their commander, General Georg Magnus Sprengtporten, who was seriously wounded, while the Swedes claimed to have killed and wounded 900. The Swedes lost in total 203 men dead or wounded. The battle brought to prominence Major Georg Carl von Döbeln, whose iconic black silk bandanna was worn over a wound suffered in the battle. Sprengtporten claimed that his defeat was due to a lack of cooperation between his officers and that the decision to leave the battlefield was unsound and taken without his consideration. He personally led a charge that succeeded in capturing a Swedish battery. Russian staff officer Ivan Sazonov, who also participated in the fighting, was said to have publicly praised the enemy's valour after the battle, although adding that it was only the enemy's advantageous defensive position that determined the outcome of the battle.

Finnish War

The Finnish War (Swedish: Finska kriget, Russian: Финляндская война, Finnish: Suomen sota) was fought between the Kingdom of Sweden and the Russian Empire from February 1808 to September 1809. As a result of the war, the eastern third of Sweden was established as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire. Other notable effects were the Swedish parliament's adoption of a new constitution and the establishment of the House of Bernadotte, the new Swedish royal house, in 1818.

Governor-General of Finland

Governor-General of Finland (Finnish: Suomen kenraalikuvernööri Swedish: Generalguvernör över Finland Russian: Генерал-губернатор Финляндии); was the military commander and the highest administrator of Finland sporadically under Swedish rule in the 17th and 18th centuries and continuously in the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland between 1809 and 1917.

Grand Duchy of Finland

The Grand Duchy of Finland (Finnish: Suomen suuriruhtinaskunta, Swedish: Storfurstendömet Finland, Russian: Великое княжество Финляндское, Velikoye knyazhestvo Finlyandskoye; literally Grand Principality of Finland) was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed between 1809 and 1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire.

Originating in the 16th century as a titular grand duchy held by the King of Sweden, it became autonomous after the Russian annexation in the Finnish War. The Grand Duke of Finland was the Romanov Emperor of Russia, who was represented by the Governor-General. Due to the governmental structure of the Russian Empire and Finnish initiative, the grand duchy's autonomy expanded until the end of the 19th century. The Senate of Finland was founded in 1809, which became the most important governmental organ and the precursor to the modern Eduskunta (Parliament).The economic, social and political changes in the Grand Duchy of Finland were closely connected with those in the Russian Empire and the rest of Europe. The economy grew slowly during the first half of the 19th century. The reign of Alexander II after 1855 saw significant cultural, social and intellectual progress and an industrializing economy. Tensions increased after the Russification policies were enacted in 1889, which limited autonomy and cultural expression. The unrest in Russia and Finland during World War I and the subsequent collapse of the Russian Empire resulted in the Finnish Declaration of Independence and the end of the Grand Duchy.

Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt

Count Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt (Russian: Гу́став Мо́риц А́рмфельт; 31 March 1757 – 19 August 1814) was a Finnish, Swedish and Russian courtier and diplomat. In Finland, he is considered one of the great Finnish statesmen. His advice to Russia's Tsar Alexander I was of utmost importance for securing the autonomy of the Grand Duchy of Finland.

Hamina Cadet School

The Hamina Cadet School and Finland Cadet School were the common names for the Fredrikshamn cadet school during the period 1819–1901. The Cadet School was founded in 1780 by Georg Magnus Sprengtporten at Kuopio and transferred in 1781 to Rantasalmi where it was called Haapaniemi Cadet School. In 1819, after the School was transferred to Hamina (Swedish: Fredrikshamn) the name was changed accordingly, in common usage.

After Finnish independence in 1917 the Cadet school was moved to Santahamina in Helsinki and in 1920 the premises were occupied by the Reserve Officer School of the newly formed Finnish defence forces. Today the main building of the Cadet school hosts the headquarters of the Reserve Officer School of the Finnish Army.

Hamina Cadet School was abolished in 1903 with the abolition of the separate Army of the Grand duchy of Finland as part of the Russification policy. The conscription of Finnish soldiers directly to various units of the Russian Empire was seen as illegal and unconstitutional in Finland. Finnish officers protested first in through mass resignations and later through a strategy of disobedience, in what is now known as the Conscription strikes. Finally it was settled that the Grand Duchy of Finland would fulfil its obligation to the common defence with a monetary compensation to the Russian Empire instead through the provision of conscripts.

Independence of Finland

Finland declared its independence on 6 December 1917. The formal declaration of Independence was only part of the long process leading to the independence of Finland.

Jacob Magnus Sprengtporten

Baron Jacob Magnus Sprengtporten (1727, in Finland – 2 April 1786, in Biskopsudden, Stockholm) was a Swedish and Finnish officer and politician, and half-brother of Georg Magnus Sprengtporten.

Johan Christopher Toll

Count Johan Christopher Toll (1 February 1743 – 21 May 1817), Swedish statesman and soldier, was born at Mölleröd in Scania (now part of Hässleholm Municipality, Skåne County). Toll came of an ancient family, of Dutch origin, which can be traced back to the 13th century, but migrated to the Baltic provinces in the 16th century.

Toll's father was one of Charles XII's warriors, his mother a descendant of the aristocratic Gyllenstjernas. In his youth Johan Christopher served in the Seven Years' War, and then, exchanging the military for the civil service, became head ranger or överjägmästare of the Kristianstad County.

List of Finns

This is a list of notable people from Finland. Finland is a Nordic country located between Sweden, Norway and Russia.

List of Swedish-speaking Finns

This is a list of notable Swedish-speaking Finns.

Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly

Prince Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly (German: Michael Andreas Fürst Barclay de Tolly; 27 December [O.S. 16 December] 1761 – 26 May [O.S. 14 May] 1818) was a Baltic German Field Marshal and Minister of War of the Russian Empire during Napoleon's invasion in 1812 and War of the Sixth Coalition. Barclay implemented a number of reforms during this time that improved supply system in the army, doubled the number of army troops, and implemented new combat training principles. He was also the Governor-General of Finland.

He was born into a German-speaking noble family from Livonia who were members of the Scottish Clan Barclay. His father was the first of his family to be accepted into the Russian nobility. Barclay joined the Imperial Russian Army at a young age in 1776, enlisting in the Pskov Carabineer Regiment. For his role in the capture of Ochakov in 1788 from the Ottomans, he was personally decorated by Grigory Potemkin. Afterwards he participated in Catherine II's Swedish War. In 1794, he took part in putting down the Kościuszko Uprising in Poland and was again decorated for role in the capture of Vilnius.

In 1806, Barclay began commanding in the Napoleonic Wars, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Pułtusk that same year. He was wounded at the Battle of Eylau in 1807 while his troops were covering the retreat of the Russian army. Because of his wounds, he was forced to leave command. The following year, he carried out successful operations in the Finnish War against Sweden. Barclay led a large number of Russian troops approximately 100km across the frozen Gulf of Bothnia in winter during a snowstorm. For his accomplishments, Barclay de Tolly was appointed Governor-General of the Grand Duchy of Finland. From 20 January 1810 to September 1812 he was the Minister of War of the Russian Empire.

When the French invasion of Russia began in 1812, Barclay de Tolly was commander of the 1st Army of the West, the largest Army to face Napoleon. Barclay was appointed Commander-in-Chief and initiated a scorched earth policy from the beginning of the campaign, though this made him unpopular among Russians. After the Battle of Smolensk failed to halt the French and discontent among Russians continued to grow, Alexander I appointed Mikhail Kutuzov as Commander-in-Chief, though Barclay remained in charge of the 1st Army. However, Kutuzov continued the same scorched earth retreat up to Moscow where the Battle of Borodino took place nearby. Barclay commanded the right wing and center of the Russian army for the battle. After Napoleon's retreat, the eventual success of Barclay's tactics made him a hero among Russians. He became Commander-in-Chief once again in 1813 after the death of Kutuzov and led the taking of Paris, for which he was made a Field Marshal. His health later declined and he died on a visit to Germany in 1818.

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