Grand Duchy of Finlandball for the English translation; see also Grand Duke and Grand Prince) was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed between 1809 and 1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian Emperor as Grand Duke.
An extended Southwest Finland was made a titular grand duchy in 1581, when King John III of Sweden, who as a prince had been the Duke of Finland (1556–1561/63), extended the list of subsidiary titles of the Kings of Sweden considerably. The new title Grand Duke of Finland did not result in any Finnish autonomy, as Finland was an integrated part of the Kingdom of Sweden with full parliamentary representation for its counties. During the next two centuries, the title was used by some of John's successors on the throne, but not all. Usually it was just a subsidiary title of the king, used only on very formal occasions. However in 1802, as an indication of his resolve to keep Finland within Sweden in the face of increased Russian pressure, King Gustav IV Adolf gave the title to his new-born son, Prince Carl Gustaf, who died three years later.
During the Finnish War between Swedenball and Russiaball, the four Estates of occupied Finland were assembled at the Diet of Porvoo on 29 March 1809 to pledge allegiance to Alexander I of Russia, who in return guaranteed that the area's laws and liberties as well as religion would be left unchanged. Following the Swedish defeat in the war and the signing of the Treaty of Fredrikshamn on 17 September 1809, Finland became a true autonomous grand duchy within the autocratic Russian Empire; but the usual balance of power between monarch and diet resting on taxation was not in place, since the Emperor could rely on the rest of his vast Empire. The title "Grand Duke of Finland" was added to the long list of titles of the Russian Tsar.
After his return to Finland in 1812, the Finnish-born Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt became counsellor to the Russian emperor. Armfelt was instrumental in securing the Grand Duchy as an entity with relatively greater autonomy within the Russian realm, and restoring the so-called Old Finland that had been lost to Russia in the Treaty of Nystad in 1721.
The history of the Grand Duchy can briefly be characterised as:
- 1809–1862: fifty years of consolidation, during which the Finnish authorities succeeded in convincing the Russian court not only of their own loyalty, but of that of all Finns.
- 1863–1898: thirty-five years of increased independence, including the re-establishment of the Diet of Finland and the elevation of Finnish from a language for the common people to a national language (1863) equal to Swedish (1883).
- 1899–1917: twenty years of attempted russification, ultimately unsuccessful and detrimental to Finland's relationship with the Russian Empire (and with the Soviet Union that was formed shortly afterwards).
Ålandball • Central Finlandball • Central Ostrobothniaball • Kainuuball • Kymenlaaksoball • Laplandball • North Kareliaball • Northern Ostrobothniaball • Northern Savoniaball • Ostrobothniaball • Päijät-Hämeball • Pirkanmaaball • Satakuntaball • South Kareliaball • Southern Ostrobothniaball • Southern Savoniaball • Southwest Finlandball • Tavastia Properball • Uusimaaball
|Cities||Helsinkiball • Mariehamnball|
|Former entities||Samiball • Swedish Empireball • Russian Empireball ( Grand Duchy of Finlandball) • Kingdom of Finlandball|