Updated on Jan. 25, 2013
History of Finland: A selection of events and documents
Sisällysluettelo/Contents in Finnish / Urkunder
History of Finland -
Swedish rule c. 1200-1809
Pope Innocentius IV's Letter of
Protection to the Confessors of the Christian Faith in Finland 27 August 1249.
Lohja medieval church from the 15th century
is a fine example of the Catholic time churches
in Finland, with biblical stories painted on the walls..
A Letter of Protection by King Birger Magnusson for womankind in Karelia on Oct. 1, 1316.
A letter (1539) by Martin Luther to the Swedish king Gustavus Vasa, original in Latin
with a Swedish
translation. The king sought a tutor to his son, and Luther recommends
also the Finn Michael Agricola, who later in 1548 translated the New
into Finnish. April 20, 1539.
Georg North's short description
about Finland. Printed in London, 1561. North's text is based on
Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia, Basle 1544.
The Peace Treaty
between Sweden and Russia May 18, 1595. The Duchy of Estonia was
recognized to belong to Sweden and the eastern border of Finland was
defined through this treaty. Even though its final signatories, the
Russian Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich (died 1598) and the Swedish King
Sigismund (deposed 1599) never signed the treaty, it was put into
effect right after the negotiations. Parallel
old Swedish text included.
1662. The first printed map
of the Grand Duchy of Finland (Magnus Ducatus Finlandiæ). It
was published by Dr Joan Blaeu, a Dutch publisher of fine atlases. The
original cartographer was the Swede Anders Bure (Andreas Bureus). The
arms of Finland and her provinces are beautifully presented on the map.
The Scot, James Finlayson, b. 1771 in Glasgow, deve-
loped an expertise on spinning machines. He was invited
by the Czar to St. Petersburg, from where he moved
to Finland, to Tampere in 1820. There he established a
large textile factory and was granted all kinds of privi-
leges: free land, use of water power etc. He is with reason
called Father of the Finnish textile industry. In the picture
a scutching machine from the 1820's at Tampere
Workers' Museum. It was in use more than a hundred
years, up to 1928.
Johannes Schefferus: The history of Lapland 1674. Digital copy at the National Library Digital Collection (link, pdf, 78 MB)
The Nystad Peace Treaty of August 30, 1721 between Sweden and Russia. In Swedish and German. In
Russian (Khronos). The treaty ended Swedish dominance in the Baltics. Russian troops withdraw from Finland. Karelian isthmus, city of Viipuri (Vyborg) and areas north of Lake Ladoga were annexed to Russia. That part of the country, Old Finland, was reunited with rest of the country by the imperial decree of Alexander I in 1811.
In 1736 an
expedition organised by the French Academy of Sciences was sent to Tornio (Swedish Torneå), Finland, near the polar circle. It was lead by Moreau de Maupertuis and its purpose was to make precise geodesic measurements to prove the globe to be an oblate spheroid. En español.
After the Peace Treaty of Turku (Åbo) in 1743 the eastern border against Russia was drawn along the River of Kymi, considerably to the west of the previous one. To strengthen the country's defence, the construction of the sea-fortress of Sveaborg began on islands facing Helsinki in 1748. (The Governing Body of Suomenlinna).
An economic description of Turku (Åbo), the provincial capital of Finland. A university dissertation
of Niclas Wasström, a local student in the Academy of Åbo, 1749.
Nationnale Winsten (The National Gain/National Profit and Loss). A study by Anders Chydenius from the year 1765. It was published as a partial answer to the debate provoked by his book "Källan Til Rikets Wan-Magt" (The Source of the Nation's Weakness). (Chydenius Foundation)
The Form of Government of Sweden (pdf). Given by the Estates and King Gustavus III of Sweden. Dated Stockholm August 21, 1772. In Swedish.
The King's Proclamation concerning the Swedish colony of the island of St. Barthélemy in the West Indies, dated September 7, 1785. An overview to the history of the Swedish era.
His Royal Majesty's Gracious Proclamation about the fall of Sveaborg Fortress to the hands of the enemy. May 6, 1808.
of Finland - Russian rule 1809-1917
The secret treaty (in French) between Napoleon and Alexander at Tilsit June 7, 1807. Countries, as Sweden, which did not participate in the Continental System (a commercial blockade against the British), were declared their enemies. In
English (The Napoleon Series). The Russian declaration of war (in French) on Sweden, Feb. 10, 1808. The declaration (in
Swedish) of the Russian commander-in-chief, Count von Buxhoevden, to Finns, to give up resistance, on the day Russian troops crossed the border on February 22, 1808. The armistice at Olkijoki, November 7, 1808 (original text in French, in English), between Swedish and Russian troops after they already had taken the major part of Finland.
The Solemn Assurance of the Sovereign given by the Emperor Alexander I on 27 March 1809 to respect all constitutional rights of citizens in the newly acquired Grand Duchy of Finland. In Russian.
The Peace Treaty between Russia and Sweden on 17 September 1809. Sweden accepted throught this treaty the de facto situation of having already lost Finland to Russia.
Original in French. The text in Russian
A map of the 1809 borderline against Sweden (The National Library of Finland).
Population density in Finland 1875.
Source: Le Grand-Duché de Finlande.
Notice statistique. Exposition universelle
de 1878 à Paris. Par K.E.F. Ignatius.
Directeur du bureau de statistique.
of Finland was established in Turku as Exchange, Loan and Deposit Office of the Grand Duchy of Finland by an Imperial decree (in Finnish and Swedish) of November 20, 1811. The decree in Russian.
His Imperial Majesty's Manifesto on December 11, 1811 concerning the reunification of the Vyborg Governmental District (guberniya) with Finland (in German). Naturalized Germans, although a small minority, had during the Russian rule established a considerable foothold in the administration of the city of Viipuri (Vyborg). In Russian. Eine kurze Geschichte (in German) der Stadt Wiburg.
A Yearbook of Government and Public Institutions and Officeholders (State Calender) for the Leap-Year 1812.
The border convention concerning
Lapland between Russia and Sweden-Norway (in French). May 14, 1826. Fixing of the borderline between Russia and Norway, and checking the old border between Norway and Grand Duchy of Finland in
1826-27. (In French).
A topographic overview of Finland (in Swedish) by Friedr. Rühs. 1827. Full digital copy of the 1813 Swedish edition and the 1809 German edition (links, pdf, 51 MB & 96 MB, National Library of Finland)
A statistical overview of the Russian Empire by Finnish statistician and scholar Gabriel Rein in 1838. Main geographical features, government institutions, fundamental laws and
remuneration of the Imperial family, commerce, natural resources etc.
An edition of tens of pages (in Swedish).
A Yearbook of Government and Public Institutions and Officeholders (State Calender) for the Leap-Year 1840. A full edition with tens of pages.
A letter of thanks by the world-famous professor and linguist Jacob Grimm, for the honorary diploma granted to him by the Finnish Literature Society. December 19, 1845.
Sveaborg and the Crimean War 1854-55. Optical telegraphy
in Russia and Finland. The Paris Peace Treaty of March 18/30, 1856,
ending the Crimean war in Russian
(Biblioteka elektronnykh resursov).
The The Kalmberg military
topographical map 1855-56. Southern parts of Finland. Largescale sample maps of Helsinki, Turku, Tampere and Viipuri area. Original scale 1:100000.
Convention relative à la démilitarisation des îles
d'Aland 1856 (Convention on the demilitarisation of the Åland Islands) et Convention relative à la non-fortification et à la neutralisation des îles d'Aland 1921 (Convention respecting the non-fortification and neutralisation of the Aaland Islands.) Texts are shown in parallel French and Swedish texts and with the 1921 convention first. (Swedish Government, 2.8 MB pdf-file.)
The 1856 treaty in
Russian. (Moscow State University)
The protocol and the speech from the throne by Alexander II, Emperor of Russia and Grand Duke of Finland, at the opening of the second Finnish Diet, on Sept. 18, 1863.
detailed Railway and Travel Map
of Finland. A special prize was awarded a year later to land surveyor I.J. Inberg for this excellent map of 1875.
La Convention métrique internationale (The International Convention of 1875 Respecting Weights and Measures). Russia and thus Finland joined the Convention. The metric system was made mandatory in 1887 with a transition period up till 1891.
Imperial Majesty's Gracious Rescript to the Governor
General of Finland (in Russian) concerning public anxiety aroused by certain measures taken to increase uniformity between the Grand Duchy and other parts of Russian Empire. February 28, 1891. English translation.
The Manifesto (see № 17) of Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia and Grand Duke of Finland, to uphold the rights and laws of the Grand Duchy of Finland (tarefer.ru).
All his predecessors had given a similar assurance when ascending the
throne. November 6 (October 25), 1894.
An extensive photographic tour through Finland by I.K. Inha. 1896. (link, pdf, 275 MB, National Library of Finland).
Text in Swedish, Finnish, Russian, French, German, and English.
1896. G.W. Edlund: Helsinki Album.
34 views from Helsinki.
A Reference Map of Finland 1898 by I.
Uschakoff (in Finnish only). The indexes and accurate maps include, in addition to standard contents, sites for industrial enterprises, prominent farms etc.
Nice pictures of Alexander Federley
of early 20th century Finland.
Imperial Majesty's Gracious Manifesto concerning the Fundamental Rules to be complied with preparation, inspection and promulgation of laws of the Empire, the Grand Duchy of Finland therein included. February 3, 1899.
Deputation to the Czar, March 8-13, 1899. An address consisting of more than 520,000 names was collected all over Finland in two weeks. A deputation of 471 persons representing 484 Finnish municipalities travelled to St. Petersburg and tried to hand this appeal to restore the fundamental rights of the Finnish people to the Emperor. Nicholas II refused to receive them an audience. A contemporary book of the photos of the deputation members arranged according to provinces and municipalities (Ulrika Juselius).
June 26-July 2, 1899. A deputation representing 1,050 European learned men and prominent people tried to leave to the Czar addresses supporting Finland's campaign to preserve her assured constitutional rights. A report of July 5, 1899 to the signers.
June 8, 1899. Imperial Majesty's Gracious Rescript to the
Governor General of Finland (in Russian), concerning public anxiety caused by the forthcoming change in the Conscription Act of the Grand Duchy of Finland and promulgation of the Manifesto given on the 3rd of February. English translation.
Gracious Manifesto of the Imperial Majesty (in Russian), on June 20, 1900, concerning the gradual transition of language into Russian in principal administrative establishments of the Grand Duchy of Finland. English translation.
Maps of Finnish cities in 1902.
Nice pictures by Alexander Federley from early 20th century Finland.
Russian military topographical maps of the Helsinki area 1902..1911
The 1906 insurgency in Russia had its
repercussions also in Finland. The marines
of the Sveaborg Russian marine base
raised a rebel flag but were, however,
later suppressed by loyal troops to the
Czar. The 1906 rebel aroused world wide
attention. A Sunday 1906 edition of the
Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra
published one report in this form:
tearing down the rebel flag.
Act (in Russian), passed by the Russian State Council and the State Duma, concerning the procedure to be complied with introducing bills and decrees of all-Empire significance given on 17 (30)th of June 1910. This act de
facto abrogated the Constitution of Finland. It was enacted without the Finnish Diet's consent. In English. En français. The Governor-General F.A. Seyn 1909..1917.
A picture postcard: Helsinki (near Market
Square) in the beginning of the 1910's. The tram seen in the historical picture is one of the new type cars ordered by Helsinki Tramlines & Omnibuses Ltd. from ASEA in 1908. The same site in 1997. The traditional yellow-green colours are preserved.
The Insurance Year-Book of Finland for the year 1912. Finnish and foreign companies. Joint tariff companies
The declaration of a state of war
in the Grand Duchy of Finland, July 31, 1914. In Russian. Gracious Manifesto about declaring a state of war between Russia and Germany, Aug. 2, 1914. In Russian. And between Austria-Hungary, Aug. 8, 1914. This in Russian. And Turkey on Nov. 2, 1914 (in Russian).
And Bulgaria Oct. 18, 1915. In Russian.(Collection of decrees with respect to Finland)
Encircling of Helsinki with fortifications 1914-17. (John Lagerstedt and Markku Saari)
The decision of the Prussian Minister of War to enlarge military training of Finnish independence fighters to 2,000 men on Aug. 26, 1915. Background.
Der Beschluss des preussischen Kriegsministers die Militärausbildung den finnischen Selbstständigkeitskämpfern auf 2000
Männer zu erhöhen den 26.8.1915. Hintergrund.
Emperor Nicholas II's Abdication Manifesto of March 2/15, 1917 and the dramatic chain of events. Manifesto in
Russian.. Street block on Liteini
Str., Petrograd, March 5, 1917. The grave of Anna
Vyrubova (née Taneeva, 1884-1964), Empress Alexandra's lady-in-waiting in Helsinki Orthodox cemetary. She succeeded in fleeing to Finland after the revolution broke out.
A Manifesto by the Provisional Government of Russia, March 7/20, 1917, on restoration and full reinstatement of the Constitution of Finland . The original
text of the Manifesto (in Russian). A memoir of the hectic days in Helsinki and (St.) Petersburg by Professor Edv. Hjelt. Governor-General Seyn's arrest. Kerenski in the Finnish Parliament April 13, 1917.
The Resolution of the Finnish Senate on May 21, 1917 to remove the portraits of the deposed emperor Nicholas II and his family members, etc. from the office rooms.
The manifesto of the Russian Provisional Government about dissolving the Finnish Diet, June 31, 1917.
The speech of People's Commissar I.V. Stalin at the conference of the Finnish Social-Democratic Party in Helsinki in Nov. 14, 1917.
A communication of the Finnish Diet relating to instituting a new Government of Finland. November 27, 1917. In Russian.
of Finland - Independence, Dec. 6, 1917.
Railway engine nr. 293 in the Finland
Station, St. Petersburg. The Bolshevik leader
Lenin, disguised as stoker, returned to Russia
on Oct. 7, 1917, after hiding in Finland
to organize a coup to overthrow the
Kerenski government The railway line
from Finland to St. Petersburg
was part of the Finnish State Railways
in the Grand Duchy of Finland and run
by Finnish staff. The engine was donated
to the Soviet government
by the Finnish government in 1957.
The Declaration of Independence adopted by the Finnish Diet on Dec. 6, 1917. In Russian.
Sixty years of independence: The Senate Square in Helsinki on Dec 6, 1977.
The recognition of Finland's independence (in Russian)
by the Soviet of People's Commissars and the All-Russian Executive
Committee. 18/31 Dec. 1917 and 23 Dec/4 Jan. 1918. In English. Stalin on the independence of Finland, Dec. 22, 1917. A magazine article
and a video clip about the meeting of Svinhufvud and Lenin at the Smolny Institute. Lenin comments the recognition of the Finnish independence at the VIII Party Congress, March 19, 1919.
A civil war broke out on January 28, 1918, when the Reds seized power in Helsinki and other cities and set up their rule in southern Finland. The legal government
fled to Vaasa. A treaty
of friendship (Heninen) was concluded between the revolutionary governments of Russia and Finland on March 1, 1918.
Government declaration of April 5, 1918 in Vaasa concerning German troops arriving in Hanko. The Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty (Brigham Young University Library)
between Russia and the Central Powers, March 3, 1918. The Peace Treaty
between the government of Finland in Vaasa and Germany, March 7, 1918 (in German, in
English). Other documents of 1917-1918 and later.
The Peace Treaty (in Russian) between Finland and the Federal Socialist Republic of Soviet Russia, Dorpat (Tartu), Oct. 14, 1920. Includes declarations of the Russian delegation concerning Eastern Carelia and Ingria. English
translation. (The League of Nations Treaty Series). Map of Finland after the this peace treaty. (Suomen koulukartta = Map of Finland for schools).
A miniature atlas of Finland
from 1929, published by
the National Survey of Finland
(pdf, 5 MB).
The Åland agreement in the Council of the League of Nations 1921. (Ålands kulturstiftelse)
A map of Helsinki Metropolitan Area, scale
1:400000 from the year 1923. A combination of two pages from an atlas
originally published by the National Land Survey of Finland in 1920.
A map of southern Finland 1:3750000. Süd-Finnland. Meyers Geographischer Handatlas, Leipzig, 1926. Enlarged from the original.
Exchange of notes between Finland and the USSR on appointing Frontier Commissars and defining their duties, Sept. 14, 1928. (League of Nations, International treaties registry).
A short overview of the Finnish air traffic
during the years 1924-1937. Published in the book Finland — The
Outpost of the North by the National Union of Students of Finland in
1937. Part of a route map from 1936.
Treaty of Conciliation, June 7, 1928, and Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights, February 13, 1934, between USA and Finland. (The League of Nations Treaty Series)
Treaty of Non-Aggression (original text in French) between the Soviet Union and Finland, January 21, 1932, and the protocol prolonging the treaty up to 1945, signed on April 7, 1934. Signing
of the protocol (picture). In
Nordic declaration for similar rules of
neutrality, May 27, 1938. (The League of Nations Treaty Series)
of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact of Aug. 23, 1939, and its secret additional protocol (Ibiblio). In the secret protocol Finland and the Baltic countries were included in the Russian side of spheres of interest in the event of a
territorial and political rearrangement in the areas belonging to these
countries. The Pact and the Secret Additional Protocol in Russian. Der Originaltext des Vertrags und des geheimen Zusatzprokolls (in
German). Dokumentation bei dem Deutschen Historischen Museum (viele Bilder). The front page of Pravda on Aug. 24, 1939. Molotov's speech (English, Russian) at the Supreme Soviet on Aug. 31, 1939. A joint parade of German and Soviet troops in Brest-Litovsk - then in Poland - Sept. 22, 1939. See also Finland in Great Power politics 1939-1940
Newspaper commentary on 3 September 1939: No
Stop to the 1940 [Helsinki] Olympic Games Preparations.
The Winter War
front page of the New York Times on 1 December 1939.
A sizable number of journalists were in Helsinki
and elsewhere in Finland during the whole Winter War.
For many days the NY Times ran news from
the Soviet invasion as its main front page topics.
Front page of Pravda,
Völkischer Beobachter (Berlin)
and Dagens Nyheter (Stockholm) on Dec. 1, 1939.
Molotov makes Soviet territorial demands public in his report at the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Oct. 31, 1939. In Russian (Hronos). An address by Prime Minister A. K. Cajander in Helsinki November 23, 1939, concerning territorial demands by the Soviet Union and Finland's willingness to negotiate all kinds of solutions without surrendering Finland's vital interests. An article in Pravda: "A Buffoon Holding the Post of Prime Minister" on November 26, 1939, as an answer to Prime Minister Cajander's speech. This in Russian.
A brief summary to the propagandists of the Red Army describing the situation in Finland, November 1939 (Propagandist
RKKA). The local commander report to the Leningrad Military District commander on the planned offensive against Finland, November 25, 1939. Original in Russian. Molotov's note
of the alleged shelling of Soviet territory at Mainila village on November 26 and subsequent diplomatic correspondence on Nov. 27-29. Molotov's radio speech on November 29, 1939, on the Soviet unilateral denouncement of the non-aggression pact. The war broke out Nov. 30, 1939. A pictorial report of American journalist H.B. Elliston leaving the border area the very day of Soviet invasion ("Finland Fights", Boston, 1940).
A press statement by President Roosevelt of the United States, December 1, 1939. A telegram by K.A. Umanskii, the Soviet plenipotentiary to USA, December 2, 1939. In Russian. Pact of Assistance and Friendship, which the Soviet Union signed with the "Democratic Government of Finland" Dec. 2, 1939, in Moscow (Andrew Heninen). Molotov's denial of civilian bombings, December 4, 1939. A propaganda leaflet dropped from Soviet airplanes during the first days of the Winter War.
Contemporary press reports and news.
The League of Nations examined, on the Finnish initiative, the measures of the Soviet and Finnish governments in the light of its own covenant, and international and bilateral treaties as well, and decided that Soviet Union had lost its membership on Dec. 14, 1939. The Times of Dec. 11, 1939, evaluates the possible outcome of this assembly. Pravda giving an "appraisal" on the decision (Moscow News, Dec. 18, 1939). In Russian. The Times' leading article on Soviet commentary, on 18 Dec. 1939. Radio speech of Kyösti Kallio, President of Finland, on Dec. 17, 1939.
The top three telegrams by Hitler, von Ribbentrop and Kuusinen congratulating Stalin on his 60th birtday on Dec. 21, 1939 (in
Russian, Pravda). In English (Moscow News). Kuusinen congratulates
Voroshilov for Red Army victories in Finland.
President Roosevelt denounces Soviet attack on Finland on Feb. 10,1940: Newsreel clip (36s, mkv; Turner Cold War series, 1 (1996),YouTube).
Roosevelt's statement on March 13, 1940, as the Winter War ended. British diplomatic correspondence during the Winter War. Sound samples: Tiltu, a Finnish language version of Axis Sally in Radio Moscow during the Russo-Finnish wars of Nov. 30, 1939-March 13, 1940 and June 26, 1941-Sept. 4, 1944. The sign-on tune of Radio Moscow's Finnish language broadcasts in the 1970's.
Finland in Great Power
politics 1939-1940. Documents and statements: German documents
(transl.) | Deutsche
Dokumente | Swedish
(transl.) | Svenska
| British diplomatic documents
| U.S. foreign relation
Finland in the Soviet foreign policy of 1939-1940. Diplomatic and other documents in Russian and English. With document résumés.
The U.S. President Roosevelt made pleads to the Soviet
government to respect the independence and vital
interests of Finland. His statements were rejected and
argued to be in violatation of the U.S. neutrality by the
Soviet government. The Soviet attack on Finland on
November 30 led to a large popular support and
pressure in the U.S. to help Finland. One of the leading
figures was former president Herbert Hoover.
The Moscow Peace Treaty of March 12, 1940 (Heninen). The Russian texts as published in "Izvestiya" on March 14, 1940.
The Commander-in-Chief's Order of the Day
March 14, 1940. Field Marshal C.G.E.
Mannerheim gave this order a day after the Winter War was ended. In Russian as a contemporary NKVD translation. Order of the Soviet Military Council of the North-Western front on March 14, 1940. Urho Kekkonen's, MP, later President of Finland 1956-1981, speech in the Finnish Parliament, March 15, 1940.
British parliamentary announcements and debates on the Winter War: The Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, informed the House of Commons on Nov. 30, 1939, members of the Parliament seeked support to Finland (e.g. Dec. 13, 1939 and Feb. 1, 1940). When the war ended on March. 13, 1940, the Prime Minister, Mr. Chamberlain, gave a statement in the House of Commons and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Viscount Halifax, in the House of Lords. (Hansard, the Official Report of debates in the British Parliament).
The leading German newspaper "Völkischer Beobachter" comments the peace treaty
between the Soviet Union and Finland, on March 14, 1940 (original). In English. Pravda's leading article on March 13, 1940 (in Russian)
Pictures of Vyborg of the 1990's. Finland was forced on March 14, 1940 and again on Sept. 19, 1944 to cede her 2nd largest city to the Soviet Union in accordance with the peace treaties. Eine kurze Geschichte (in German) der Stadt Wiburg 1906.
A Report by V.M. Molotov, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, at the VI session of the Supreme Soviet
on the good relationship between Germany and the Soviet Union, hostile attitudes of the British and French governments, and the Winter War.
March 29, 1940. In Russian.
The Act, enacted by the Finnish Parliament, concerning compensation for property left in the areas ceded to the Soviet Union. August 9, 1940. The total area lost was 35,000 sq.km (ab. 9 per cent of the Finnish territory). The entire population, consisting of 422,000 people, was resettled elsewhere in Finland and compensated, in means available, for their losses by this law.
Finland after 1940. Documents of 1941-1948 (in construction).
Your comments or suggestions will be welcomed and appreciated .
Copyright of the digitized form of the text owned by Pauli Kruhse.
Back to homepage.
To the top.