1640-1721 Finland 1772-1809

Finland under Swedish Rule, 1721-1772

Administration . Finland in Russo-Swedish Relations . The Treaty of Nystad ended the Great Northern War and resulted, for Sweden, in the loss of Livonia, Estonia, Ingermanland and most of Karelia to the Russian Empire.
After Sweden had attacked Russia in 1741 (Russo-Swedish War 1741-1743), Tsarina Catharina proposed Finland to become an independent, neutral state (Kingdom of Finland). The Russian army quickly occupied the country, but Russian diplomacy used Finland as a bargain object in order to promote the candidacy of the Holstein-Gottorp candidate to the Swedish throne. After his election, most of Finland (without the lands east of the Kymi River) was returned to Swedish rule (1743).

Political History . In 1734 the General Law of Sweden was introduced.
Finland had a long border with Russia and suffered under the frequent wars. During the age of liberty, the Finnish nobility (though being ethnically Swedish) supported the Caps to ensure peace with Russia. The pro-French, anti-Russian Hats found little support in Finland.
Construction of Sveaborg (Suomenlinna) fortress, the strongest in Finland and protecting Helsinki, was begun in 1748.
Freedom of the Press was legislated in 1766; it had limited effect on Finland as the few periodicals printed in the following decades were printed in Swedish, while the majority of Finnish-speaking peasants was largely illiterate.

The Economy . Sweden pursued a mercantilist policy, introduced the Product Decree of 1724, a Swedish version of the Navigation Act. Hitherto, shipping to and fronm Sweden had been conducted almost exclusively by foreign vessels; now a Swedish marchant marine developed, one of its centeers being the Åland Islands.
In the 1730es the potato was introduced, improving the nutrition of the population.
The paper currency introduced after the war of 1741-1743 resulted in inflation.

Social History . For the early 18th century, based on Lutheran parish registers (not including a few Orthodox villages) Finland's population is estimated at 470,000. Sweden (to which Finland belonged) was the first country to introduce a regular population census in 1750; the census of 1750 counted 422,000, the census of 1760 491,000, the census of 1770 561,000 (IHS p.4).
The entire nobility was Swedish, as were the burgomasters, lawyers, clergy.

Cultural History . Transition from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar was begun in 1700, but only in 1753 did Sweden fully introduce the Gregorian Calendar.
In 1723 the Lutheran diocese of Vyborg (Viipuri) was moved to Borgå (Porvoo).
In 1765, priest Anders Chydenius published Den nationnale winsten (national profit), a publication promoting economic liberalism.

Article History of Finland - 18th Century : Age of Enlightenment, Kingdom of Finland (1742), Treaty of Åbo, Gregorian Calendar, Governor General of Finland, 1734 Års Lag (Law of 1734), in Swedish, Anders Chydenius, in Swedish, Sveaborg, from Wikipedia
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Finland
Later Swedish Rule - Rising Russia and National Identity 1700-1809 from A Web History of Finland by Pasi Kuoppamäki
REFERENCE IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on July 17th 2007

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