Chronology of Finnish History  I

By Joe Brady

 Maps:  Andrew Andersen,  Osmo Joronen,


100,000 B.C. - 1,100 A.D.

The prehistory of Finland. Archaeological finds of the 1990s indicate that there was probably human settlement in Finland more than 100,000 years ago.


98 A.D.

The Roman historian Tacitus writes about the Fenni, a people of the north. This is the first reference to the Finns in recorded history. (In reality he is thought to have meant the Lapps).


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King Erik of Sweden and the English-born Bishop Henry (Swedish: Henrik) lead a crusade to south-western Finland.



Birger, Earl of Sweden, leads a crusade, known as the Second Crusade, to the Finnish inland province of Tavastia (Häme, Tavastland).



Building work on Turku (Åbo) Cathedral begins.



Sweden's Third Crusade, led by Tyrgils Knutsson to Karelia, eastern Finland, establishes a dividing line between the Catholic west and the Orthodox east.


Late 13th century

To consolidate Sweden's might fortified castles are built in Turku (Åbo), Häme (Tavastehus) and Viipuri (Viborg).



Early 14th century

The first Finnish students arrive at the Sorbonne, France's leading university.



The peace treaty of Pähkinäsaari (Nöteborg, Schlusselburg) is signed by Sweden and Novgorod. The signatories divide up the territory of Finland. The border established by the peace treaty becomes a dividing line between states, religions and cultures. Finnish was spoken on both sides of the border.



Finns granted the right to send representatives to vote in Sweden's royal election.



The kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden and Norway unite in the Kalmar Union.




Swedish nobleman Erik Axelsson Tott founds Olavinlinna (Olofsborg) castle in the region of Savo, eastern Finland.



Finland is mentioned for the first time on a printed map of Europe in the book "Liber Chronicarum" authored by Hartmann Schedel in Germany.



Most of Finland's mediaeval stone churches are built.




The Kalmar Union is disbanded when Gustavus Vasa becomes king of Sweden.



The Diet of Västerås approves the Lutheran Reformation and the confiscation of ecclesiastical property.



Bishop Mikael Agricola produces the first Finnish-language book, a volume of Finnish grammar.


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Under the Peace of Stolbova, Sweden becomes supreme ruler of the Baltic Sea with control of the entire Gulf of Finland.





The Finnish cavalrymen, famous for their wild charges, earn the nickname "Hakkapelites" in the Thirty Years War. Their commander, general Torsten Stålhandske became one of the most famous Finnish soldiers of Sweden's great power era.



Queen Christina of Sweden establishes Finland's first university, the Swedish-language Åbo Akademi in Turku.



The first complete Finnish translation of the Bible appears.






The Great Northern War. Russia assumes the position of a great power. In 1703, Peter the Great founds the city of Saint Petersburg at the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland. Sweden's position weakens.



Under the Treaty of Uusikaupunki (Nystad) Sweden cedes south-eastern Finland and the Baltic provinces of Livonia, Estonia and Ingria to Russia.



Sweden begins construction of a fortress named Sveaborg, (lit. Castle of Sweden) on a group of islands off Helsinki. Later its name is changed to Suomenlinna (lit. Castle of Finland).



The Finnish-born clergyman and politician Anders Chydenius publishes his book The National Gain in which he proposes free trade, eleven years before the publication of Adam Smith´s Wealth of Nations.


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The Emperors Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon of France agree to blockade Great Britain. Alexander pledges to compel Sweden to join the interdiction.



Sweden is defeated by Russia in the Finnish War and loses Finland, which becomes an autonomous Grand Duchy with the Czar as its ruler. Finland´s position is confirmed in its first separate Diet. Finland retains its own legislation and its old form of society, including the free status of the peasantry, the Lutheran religion and the old Swedish system of law and government.



The territory known to Russia as " old Finland" is joined to the Grand Duchy. In the same year, Helsinki (Helsingfors) is declared capital of Finland.



Helsinki replaces Turku as the site of Finland's sole university.



Publication of the first edition of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, compiled and edited by Elias Lönnrot. An enlarged edition appears in 1849.



The first public performance of the Finnish national anthem, Maamme (Vårt Land), (English: Our Land).

The first volume of Johan Ludvig Runeberg's "Fänrik Ståls sägner" (Tales of Ensign Stål), a collection of poems stressing morality and a sense of responsibility is published.



"Fältskärns berättelser" (The tales of Barber-Surgeon), a historical novel by Zachris Topelius is published as a series of books.



Finland acquires its own currency, the markka or Finnish mark.



Sawmilling begins to flourish and the paper industry starts to develop.



Finland's own legislature convenes. Emperor Alexander II decrees that Finnish is to have equal status with Swedish as a language of administration. The decree is to have the force of law within 20 years.



Publication of the first novel in Finnish, The Seven Brothers, by Aleksis Kivi.



The Finnish-born geologist and explorer A.E. Nordenskiöld sails the North-East Passage.



Emma Irene Åström becomes the first Finnish woman to receive a university degree



In the opinion of many Finns the Russian Emperor Nicholas II breaks his promise to uphold the Finnish Constitution when the so-called February Manifesto is issued. Finns oppose the manifesto, which they think will erode their autonomous position. A period of resistance begins and lasts until independence is attained in 1917.


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