Finland, Russian Rule 1878-1891

Brilliant Uncirculated

6.4516 g., .900 GOLD, .1867 oz AGW, Regal Issues

Russian Rule, 1809 to 1917

A year after his agreement with Napoleon at Tilsit (see Tilsit, Treaty of) in 1807, Czar Alexander I attacked and occupied Finland. In March 1809 he proclaimed it a grand duchy of the Russian Empire but granted his new subjects all their old rights and privileges. In the Peace of Hamina (Swedish Fredrikshamn) in September, Sweden formally ceded all Finland and the Åland Islands to Russia; at the same time, however, the Karelian areas ceded to Russia before 1809 were returned to Finland. The country was henceforth ruled by a Russian governor-general, with a so-called senate, which sat in the new capital of Helsinki, acting as a cabinet. In spite of despotic rule by some governors-general, much material and cultural progress was made during the middle decades of the century. After 1820 a nationalist awakening took place among the population, centered mainly on a resurgence of the Finnish language. In 1863 the Lantdag (parliament), which had not met since 1809, was reconstituted, and in the same year the Finnish language was granted equal status with Swedish. Toward the end of the century a shift in Russian policy was manifest. In 1894 the use of the Russian language was introduced in some government business, and five years later all legislation was placed in Russian hands. During the following years the citizens of Finland lost many of their constitutional rights. The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 slowed the process of Russification somewhat. In 1906 a new parliamentary system was adopted, a one-chamber Eduskunta (parliament) created, and the right to vote given to all men and women over the age of 25. Another wave of Russification swept Finland in 1908, culminating in the Equal Rights Law of 1912, which gave Russians the same rights in Finland as the country's own population. Finland was not directly involved in World War I (1914-1918), although Russian troops were garrisoned in the country. During the turmoil of the Russian Revolution in 1917, a newly elected Finnish parliament took advantage of the situation and on November 15 assumed "all powers formerly held by the Czar-Grand Duke." Three weeks later, on December 6, it voted in favor of an independent republic. The nascent Soviet government had no choice but to recognize Finnish sovereignty.

"Finland," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation.
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