Monday, February 5, 2024

Finland's Cause is Ours

Was Finland colonized by Sweden or was it annexed like Estonia and Latvia were by Russia? How do Swedes view Finns today, both historically and currently?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
none/ apprx Masters in Latin (language) & Greek (language), Lund University
Finland was colonised by Sweden in the time when the Finns became Christians, it was a Crusader colony. Or actually a series of such, one part of present Finland always being already under Christian rule, usually Swedish, but a short time also an indigenous Republic under the Dominican order, when the next part of Finland thought Christians are so peaceful, they are easy to attack, which led to the next phase of the Crusade. By 1500 basically all of present Finland, or possibly all except Lapponia, was under the control of an administration where the upper echelons at least had to speak Swedish and usually did so as their native language (like the szlachta in Lithuania spoke Polish).

Estonia, Curonia and Livonia (now Estonia and Latvia, two countries differing from all three above, since present Estonia is historically both Estonia and Livonia), meanwhile, were colonised by others, Estonia by Danes and Livonia and Curonia by Sword Bearing Knights, much like Prussia by the Teutonic order.

As Sweden got its Lutheran Reformation, this also happened with Denmark and Sword Bearers and in the Baltic the Teutonic Order. Denmark-Norway and Sweden-Finland had recently split up from one giant state to two pretty big ones. The Teutonic Order united the lands feudally to Poland and dynastically to the electorate Brandenburg. But Estonia, Livonia and Curonia were in a turmoil. The bidders were Sweden, Denmark, Poland-Lithuania, Russia, and the immediate outcome was, the newly Lutheran Crusader States joined the newly Lutheran Sweden-Finland.

This made for a renewed envy against Sweden-Finland from the side of Russia. In The Great Nordic War, Russia took over what was South of the Gulf of Finland, and also started building St. Petersburg. It can be noted, peasants at this time were freer in Sweden than they had started to be in Russia the last previous century, meaning the nobility, Baltic Germans, heirs of the Sword Bearer Knights and partly bourgeoisie of Tallin and Riga (Tallin also known as Reval), deserted Charles XII and flocked to Peter the Great over getting more privileges in their relations with the peasants.

In 1789 and 1790, Sweden might have helped the French monarch against the Revolution, except, Sweden was busy fighting off a Russian attack, this time successfully, and it had started in 1788.

In the Napoleonic Wars, one subplot was Sweden siding with England and Russia at that moment with Napoleon. The Russian Czar attacked and after a one year long war (1808–1809) took over Finland and temporarily parts of Norrland.

Swedes tend to view Finns as rustic, loud, excessively macho, but also poetic. We tend to view them as a brother people and when they were attacked by Russia in 1939, we didn’t send regular troops, but we did send volunteers to be trained under Finnish command and we did send arms.

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