Grand Duchy of Finland

The Grand Duchy of Finland (Finnish: Suomen suuriruhtinaskunta; Swedish: Storfurstendömet Finland; Russian: Великое княжество Финляндское, Velikoye knyazhestvo Finlyandskoye, all of which literally translate as Grand Principality of Finland) was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed between 1809 and 1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire.

Grand Duchy of Finland
  • Suomen suuriruhtinaskunta (Finnish)
  • Storfurstendömet Finland (Swedish)
  • Великое княжество Финляндское (Russian)
The Grand Duchy of Finland in 1914
StatusGrand Duchy within the Russian Empire
CapitalTurku (1809–1812)
Helsinki (1812–1917)
Common languagesFinnish, Swedish, Russian, Saami, Karelian
Official religions:
Evangelical Lutheran (until 1867)
Finnish Orthodox (until 1917)
Demonym(s)Finnish, Finn
Grand Duke 
Alexander I
Nicholas I
Alexander II
Alexander III
Nicholas II
 1809 (first)
Georg Sprengtporten
 1917 (last)
Nikolai Nekrasov
Vice Chairman 
 1822–1826 (first)
Carl Erik Mannerheim
 1917 (last)
Anders Wirenius
LegislatureDiet (1809–1906)
Parliament (1906–1917)
29 March 1809
17 September 1809
6 December 1917
CurrencySwedish riksdaler
Russian ruble
Finnish markka
ISO 3166 codeFI
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Swedish Finland
Vyborg Governorate
Kingdom of Finland
Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic
Today part ofFinland

Originating in the 16th century as a titular grand duchy held by the King of Sweden, the country became autonomous after its annexation by Russia in the Finnish War of 1808–1809. The Grand Duke of Finland was the Romanov Emperor of Russia, represented by the Governor-General. Due to the governmental structure of the Russian Empire and Finnish initiative, the Grand Duchy's autonomy expanded until the end of the 19th century. The Senate of Finland, founded in 1809, became the most important governmental organ and the precursor to the modern Government of Finland, the Supreme Court of Finland, and the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland.[1]

Economic, social and political changes in the Grand Duchy of Finland closely paralleled those in the rest of the Russian Empire and in the rest of Europe. The economy grew slowly during the first half of the 19th century. The reign of Alexander II (1855–1881) saw significant cultural, social and intellectual progress, and an industrializing economy. Tensions increased after Saint Petersburg adopted Russification policies in 1898; the new circumstances saw the introduction of limited autonomy and the reduction of Finnish cultural expression. Unrest in Russia and Finland during the First World War (1914–1918) and the subsequent collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917 resulted in the Finnish Declaration of Independence and the end of the Grand Duchy.[2]

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