Talk:Grand Duchy of Finland

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In email group "ALT.TALK.ROYAL" there was recently a discussion of the position of Finland as Grand Duchy, which shows how sadly inaccurate the "popular" knowledge is around the world.

Some points, mostly to correct misconceptions:

"Grand Duchy of Finland and Russian Empire"[edit]

The Grand Duchy of Finland was an autonomous part of the Russian Empire. Not a separate realm. The title of Grand Duke of Finland was a subsidiary title of the Emperor (император). I.e, without that title, he would however have been ruler of Finland as Emperor of Russia.

It is somewhat incorrect to claim that the thing joining Finland and Russia together was a personal union. Finland belonged to Russia, whose Tsar was automatically ruler of Finland.

The theory of personal union has been an invention of nationalist-minded writers, but was essentially not true at its time. Propagandists tried to introduce that sort of argumentation of nationhood and personal union during the last couple of decades of autonomy, as a measure against Russification etc. (Afterwards, in independent Finland, it was usual to try to rewrite the history regarding this factual background.)

When Finland became independent, it was an utilization of Russian internal problems (1917 revolutions). However, even at that point, Finnish parliament and administrative cabinet recognized the temporary government of Russia as Tsar's successor as ruler of Finland. Some months later, the Russian representative of TemGov was ousted, and Finnish organs took the full powers, leading to dclaration of independence.

Finland was pactically conquered by Russians from Swedes until the end of 1808, but in 1809, Sweden ceded the territory officially, in a Peace Treaty which was made in Hamina (Fredrikshamn), in September 1809.

To attract the positive feelings of Finns and pacify Finland as quickly as possible, Tsar Alexander I, great-great-great-grandson of Charles XI of Sweden (whose subsidiary title had been Grand Duke of Finland), granted the wide autonomy, as well as in his French-language speeches in Porvoo Diet mentioned something of Finland having been elevated into a position amongst nations (which has been interpreted even as a beginning of nationhood of Finland). Basically it meant business as usual for the Finns: Finland retained its Swedish laws, which, however, did not limit the Emperor's power as suppreme ruler.

In Finnish official documents, such as in legislation, the sovereign was usually called "The Emperor and Grand Duke" ("Keisari ja Suuriruhtinas", "Kejsare och Storfurste").

Russian Grand Dukes and Princes did not use any particular title referring to Finland. They were grand dukes of Russia. Finland, as well as a number of other titles (King of Kazan, Duke of Estonia, Grand Duke of Moscow) were subsidiary titles of the sovereign, unnecessary to use even in his short titulary, and not present in titulary of other members of his house. Even the heir to the throne, the tsarevich, did not use any subsidiary titles derived from the long lost of the sovereign's titulary. The tsarevich was known as "Tsarevich, Grand Duke of Russia".

The ordinals of sovereigns were identical in Finland to those in Russia. Even if there had been a ruler whose name had been in use by earlier Swedish rulers of Finland, Grand Dukes of Finland, it is rather clear that the ordinal would have not taken that into account. And were there a ruler whose name had been in use by an earlier Russian ruler who was not a GD of F, that would have not changed the ordinal regarding Finland - this could have happened with Alexis (son of Nick II) who would have been Alexis II of Russia, and it briefly and theoretically happened with Tsar Michael II (whose reign went unnoticed by official Finnish documentation).

In practice, the five sovereigns who held true power in Finland (A I, II and IIi, N I ad II), were as original names in Russian sovereign list as in Finland, and their ordinals were identical already for this very reason.

In 1555 John, the second son of King Gustav I Vasa, was given Finland proper, titled as duchy, as an apanage by his father, residing at Turku (Åbo) castle. The very same John, having become King of Sweden (John III), and being in war agains Russians, chose to elevate his titulary in 1581 by taking the title Magnus Ducatus Finlandiæ, this referring to all of Finland, all Finnish provinces and not only to Proper Finland around Turku. The russian-style Grand Principality is sadly and incorrectly always called Grand Duchy in English language. John's action was to compete with titles with the enemy sovereign. John's son Sigismund, heir to the Grand Principality of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland through his mother Queen Catharina Jagellonica of Sweden, was not the person to whom the title was created.

There is a claim that Dukedom of Finland was eventually granted to King Sigismund's younger half-brother Duke John. At least truthful is that he later held Duchy of Ostrogothia. (claimed that in 1608 he forced to exchange Finland for Ostrogothia.)

An unverified claim states that the future Gustav II Adolf was made Duke of Finland as heir to Charles IX (who was youngest son of Gustaf I, and King of Sweden after the deposed Sigismund as a result of victory and confirmation by the Estates (crowned 1608). It is also not confirmed in Regeringsformen of 1772 that the Kingdom of Sweden and Grand Principality of Finland was in personal union. What is now Finland was a part of Sweden just as any other part of the country was.

In 1806 Prince Carl Gustaf (+1808) younger son of Gustaf IV Adolf was made Grand Prince of Finland.

The Finnish war of 1808-1809 meant that Finland became an autonomous part of the Russian Empire by resolutions and declarations in Porvoo Diet 1809, and Russia obtained claims of the territory from Sweden by the Treaty of Hamina of 1809.

The Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia was the Grand Prince of Finland as well as King of Poland, King of Kazan and Grand Prince of Moskow, etc.

Finland was from 1809 an autonomy, an own entity. Before, it had been an integral part of Sweden, as a bunch of provinces beyond the sea. Up to 1809 Finland was a geographic entity only, while at that time becoming also a political one. 05:47, 2 May 2005 (UTC)


What kind of citizenship had the people in Finland during that time? -- (11:01, 13 August 2005)

The word citizen is a republican consept and usually not used in monarchies. For example, only recently have British people been refered to as citizens, previously they were only subjects of the British monarch.
The people of the Grand Duchy were never Russian subjects. They where Finnish subjects of the Russian Tsar, or in todays terms Finnish citizens.
When staying or living in Russia, Finnish subjects were treated as foreigners. When traveling abroad, they carried a Finnish passport.
-- Petri Krohn 00:01, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
All subjects of the Russian Tsar were divided into 3 categories: natural subjects (noblemen, clergy, townspeople, peasants), non-Russians ("инородцы": jews, Eastern peoples) and Finnish citizens ("финляндские обыватели"). People of every estate enjoyed their specific rights and had their specific obligations. Moving from one category to another was sometimes hard if not impossible. (talk) 21:41, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
"§12. Finnish citizens. A special legal status, and even a privileged one, is enjoyed by Finnish citizens, ie, persons who have the right of citizenship in the Grand Duchy of Finland. When being on the territory of the Empire, they enjoy all the natural rights of Russian subjects, at the same time the Russian subjects in Finland do not enjoy the same rights: they do not have the rights of public service, the right to participate in the community, city and sejm elections; Russian nobles are not equal to Finnish noblemen, and the acquisition of the Finnish citizenship by Russian noblemen is under rather constraining conditions." auto-translation from the book "The state system and administration in the Russian Empire" by Gribovsky. Odessa. 1912. (talk) 22:03, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

The term "citizen", though a bit retrospective (not much: since French revolution, all the European countries understood it and at least unofficially it was used), is useful to the context of the autonomous grand duchy, because of the certain separateness. For example, Russians needed a passport to come to autonomous Finland. And, only Finnish "citizens" were eligible for appointments of Finnish offices, such as senators. We will not manage to express these things by saying that they were "subjects of the tsar", and it is yet somehow non-expressive to try to say "subjects of the grand duke" or "subjects of the tsar in his role as grand duke". Finlandais 17:18, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

True. In fact, a Russian noble could (and a number of them did) become a Finn by being inducted to the Finnish House of Nobility (Swedish: Riddarhuset). After 1856, this required the permission from the Finnish Senate. Commoners became Finns by petitioning the Finnish Senate for naturalization. On the other hand, the requirement of Finnish people to bear passports was born out of the needs of the Russian bureacracy. The Russians had a system of internal passports, and as large numbers of Finnish workers were employed in St. Petersburg, there was a distinct need for them to carry passports. How else could a sick and disabled worker be sent back to his home parish? --MPorciusCato (talk) 12:53, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

"Client state"[edit]

What is this nonsense? Client state, as I understand, refers to only formal autonomy, while Finland's autonomy was great. --Jaakko Sivonen 22:40, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Coat of Arms[edit]

There is a reference request related to the position of the "eastern" sword of the lion of Finland. However, it is not fully clear what part of the sentence needs to be referenced. --Drieakko 08:52, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

In the image now used, the lion holds the "eastern" sword in his pawn. I do not think this CoA was ever accepted by the Finns. The text says that "this was changed later in the 19th century". Who changed what and when? (References please, preferably a blazon) Or is this bastard CoA just Russian propaganda? -- Petri Krohn 04:40, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Strictly speaking, there was no formal CoA of Finland before the 20th century when the current one was modelled after the engravings in the king's 16th century sarcophagus. During centuries before that, its free variations were in all kinds of usage. The variation widely used for the Grand Duchy was present in all official connections, and you still find it even in some 1960s stamps, long after the demise of the Grand Duchy. I try to get you references later on. --Drieakko 06:11, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
The official blazon from 26.10.1809 reads: "The shield has a red field, strewn with roses of silver, on which a golden lion with a crown of gold, standing on a silver saber, which it grasps with the left forepaw while holding in the right forepaw an upright sword". --Drieakko 06:11, 20 August 2007 (UTC)
Can you provide a source? -- Petri Krohn (talk) 03:02, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
P.S. - This source says that the twisted CoA comes from Elias Brenner (1647-1717). The new/original upright CoA was taken into use in 1889. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 03:10, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

Contemporary Finnish name[edit]

It should be noted that the version Suomen Suuriruhtinaskunta is a modern history-book term. Contemporary documents refer to it as Suomen Suuriruhtinaanmaa. 13:44, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Successor state not kingdom[edit]

I tire of the successor state in the infobox being changed to Kingdom of Finland (1918). Finland declared independence on December 6, 1917 and in fact was lead by the Regent of Finland. Kingdom was proclaimed only on October 9, 1918. So Finland was already independent for many months before kingdom, which only lasted for a shorter period. So therefore the successor should just be Finland, yes? --Pudeo 15:56, 22 August 2008 (UTC) Since someone is still changing it let's make it clear:

  • Finland declares independence: December 6, 1917
  • Independence recognized: January 4, 1918 (Finland ruled by a regent, not king)
  • Monarch elected: October 9, 1918 (several months later)
  • Throne renounced: December 14, 1918

And while monarch was elected, it was never de jure or de facto in power, Pehr Evind Svinhufvud was the Regent of Finland the whole time. --Pudeo 09:48, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Yes, exactly. Amazingly some people are still reinserting the false claim of the kingdom being the direct successor into the info-box. The successor state was the Republic of Finland. The "monarchy" came 10 months later. -- (talk) 06:29, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

I think the successor state would still have been the Grand Duchy of Finland that was now independant.Gerard von Hebel (talk) 19:41, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

The Declaration of Independence adopted on 6 December 1917 speaks of Finland being an independent republic (Suomi on oleva riippumaton tasavalta).[1] -- (talk) 07:58, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

Finland under Sweden[edit]

What was the official name of Finland when it was under Swedish rule? (talk) 20:06, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

There was no official entity called "Finland" during the Swedish period. The contemporary literature (in the 17th and 18th centuries) recognized Finland as one of the four "lands" of Sweden. The other three were Svealand, East Götaland and West Götaland. Administratively, Finland was divided to several counties and the concept of four "lands" had no practical meaning after the early 17th century. On the other hand, after the Great Northern War (1700–1721) and the Russian occupations (1713–19, 1743–44) caused much greater suffering in Finland than in Swedish mainland, which was more or less untouched by the hostilities. Because of this difference between Finland and the Swedish mainland, the Finnish gentry and learned class developed a much stronger local identity than had existed during the previous century. This manifested itself especially in the early national romanticism in Academy of Turku during the late 18th century and in certain local seditious movements during the wars of 1743–44 and 1788–91. --MPorciusCato (talk) 14:33, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Latin name[edit]

I don't see a reason for mentioning the Latin name in the lead. Unlike the three other languages, Latin was not an official language. (Sure it was used in university publications up until the mid-1800s, but that doesn't make it an official language.) -- (talk) 19:23, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

Yes, it does look strange. Anyone who knows the reason for it? Närking (talk) 20:01, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
See the next question. It is this Latin name that would determine where the monarch of Finland would sit in the imperial diner table. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 22:49, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

Was Finland a grand principality or a grand duchy?[edit]


As it stands at the time of this writing, the article forcefully insists that Finland was a grand principality rather than a grand duchy. Personally, I have no opinion or knowledge of the matter, but the Finnish minister to the United States in 1950, K. T. Jutila, writing in English, named 1809-1917 Finland a "grand duchy."[1] It appears the Mr. Jutila, born in 1891,[2] would have grown up in the grand duchy, itself; so one might suppose that, besides being minister to an English-speaking country, he would know the right word to use in English. Does the advocate of the term "grand principality" have an equal source? If he does not, then "grand principality" may be the wrong term. --Tbtkorg (talk) 01:44, 28 January 2012 (UTC)

Finland was Grand Principality (In Finnish: Suomen suurruhtinaskunta). Luxemburg is only European Grand Ducy. Monaco, Liechenstein and Andorra are Principalities. Russian czars where Gran Princes of Finland (Suurruhtinas) not Dukes (suurherttua). It is mistake to say that Finland was Grand Duchy.--Mannerheim (talk) 13:12, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Totally irrelevant – this discussion is better suited to some on-line royalist forum.
The Grand Duchy of Finland is the established WP:COMMONNAME in the English language. I have reverted your edits and reverted your page move. If you really want to push this issue further you needed to start a proposed move discussion. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 14:07, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I will say it in Finnish. Oliko Suomen suuriruihtiaskunta herttuakunta (Grand Duchy) vai oliko se Grand Principality eli ruhtinaskunta. Was Finnish Grand Duchy herttuakunta (Grand Duchy) or was it suuriruhtinaskunta?. Luxemburg on ainoa herttuakunta Euroopassa. Luxembourg is the the only Grand Duchy in Europe. Monaco, Andorra and Liechenstein they are Principalities. Monaco, Andorra ja Liechenstein ovat ruhtinaskuntia. Was the Russian Czars Dukes of Finland of Grand Princes of Finland. Oliko Venäjän tsaarit Suomen suuriruhtinaita vai herttuoita? --Mannerheim (talk) 18:18, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Again this is irrelevant. Basically you are asking where the monarch of Finland (if he was not a Tsar) would sit in the imperial diner table. Whatever the people on Finland or Sweden would call him has little relevance on that issue. The English language common name "Grand Duchy" comes from the Latin name Magnus Ducatus Finlandiae, which first appears engraved in stone in the grave of Gustav I of Sweden from the 1580s. See File:Coat of Arms of Finland.jpg. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 22:45, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I know how are you. You are Petri Krohn member of SAFKA.Your behavior in Finland is very od. Your political ideas are mixted in to your idea that you are somting speacial. If you can decide Vladimir Putin should crown him self as Vladimir III and be a Czar of Russia and Grand Duke of Finland and Poland.--Mannerheim (talk) 08:41, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
No conspiracies here, please! This issue is about an English translation of a Russian or Swedish title, which did not originate in Finland, and the translation issue is not about Finland specifically. --vuo (talk) 09:57, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
On the topic, Великое княжество Финляндское refers to suurruhtinas. The Russian title of Великий Князь is translated as Grand Duke in English. The alternative translation "Grand Prince" is not used, even if it's more accurate. See Grand duke#Russian grand dukes and List of Grand Dukes of Russia#About the Grand Duke of Russia in translated contexts. --vuo (talk) 09:57, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
There are "Grand Prince" instances in Latin: Gustavus Adolphus, ... Princeps magnus Finlandiae, Dux Esthoniae... Actes et documents pour servir à l'histoire de l'alliance de George Rákóczy, p.4 at Google Books, Nos CAROLUS ... Magnus Princeps Finlandiæ, Dux Scaniæ... Copia Literarum Regis Sueciae ad Electorem Palatinum, p.3 at Google Books (Yes, we are discussing the English translation!) -- (talk) 15:57, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

@vuo Grand duke = Великий герцог, where duke = герцог and Grand = Великий. Indiana State (talk) 23:24, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Looking at the Russian WP article "Великий герцог", I see that it is a literal translation into Russian of a Western European title. There are no Russian Velikiy Gertsogs mentioned. At any rate, I say the the complicated and ongoing argument over the "correct" English translation of the Russian title belongs elsewhere; here we should simply use the conventional, established, old-fashioned English term, namely Grand Duke, which is the one that people are in fact likely to encounter when reading Russian or Finnish history. At the very least we need to harmonize the title and the content of the page, which I will now go ahead and do. I hope we can all agree that it is desirable to use the same term throughout. Anyone who wishes to insist that "Grand Principality" should be used instead will please take it up as a proposal to move the page instead of introducing a discrepancy between title and content.--Rallette (talk) 06:08, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

Constitutional or absolute monarchy[edit]

As it is, the article states the Grand Duchy was a constitutional monarchy. This is very much a controversial question. The tsar was an autocrat over his empire and never said otherwise. On the other hand, the government of Finland during this time arguably had constitutional features, and "absolute monarchy" may be a misleading description. I will change the description in the box to a more neutral "Monarchy" in the hope it will not be reverted without a cited source.--Rallette (talk) 12:58, 28 June 2013 (UTC)

The question is, indeed, an extremely controversial one. In practice, Finland was ruled according to a Finnish interpretation of the Swedish constitutions of 1772 and 1789, with minor exceptions. The question which laws actually made up the Finnish constitutions was never settled officially, and was actually painstakingly avoided throughout the 19th century. However, the general opinion of Finnish lawyers and politicians of the late 19th century was that the Russian emperor was bound by these laws. The Russian government never acknowledged this. When it started, in 1899, a program to streamline Finnish government with the Russian, this resulted in political upheavals and disturbances that markedly decreased the support for the union with Russia, and paved way to the Finnish independence.
In fact, the question is still controversial, and very clearly a political question. Although there are a few Finnish historians that consider the Russian interpretation to be a more objective, the mainstream Finnish historiography and mainstream Russian historiography still mirror the respective political stances from the 19th century. Thus, plain "monarchy" is a good choice. Writing "absolutist" takes the Russian viewpoint, and "constitutional" the Finnish POV. No one denies it was a monarchy, though. --MPorciusCato (talk) 16:48, 1 October 2015 (UTC)
    • ^ Jutila, K. T. (1950). "Finland". The Rotarian. LXXVII (1): 17–20. Retrieved 28 Jan 2012.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
    • ^ "Hakutulokset". Ministerin tiedot: Jutila, Kalle Teodor (in Finnish). Finnish Government.