Swedish Empire

History of Finland between 1611 - 1721

In 1611-1632 Sweden was ruled by King Gustavus Adolphus, whose military reforms transformed the Swedish army from a peasant militia into an efficient fighting machine, possibly the best in Europe. The conquest of Livonia was now completed, and some territories were taken from internally divided Russia in the Treaty of Stolbova. In 1630, the Swedish (and Finnish) armies marched into Central Europe, as Sweden had decided to take part in the great struggle between Protestant and Catholic forces in Germany, known as the Thirty Years' War. The Finnish light cavalry was known as the Hakkapeliitat.

After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the Swedish Empire was one of the most powerful countries in Europe. During the war, several important reforms had been made in Finland:

However, the high taxation, continuing wars and the cold climate (the Little Ice Age) made the Imperial era of Sweden rather gloomy times for Finnish peasants. In 1655–1660, the Northern Wars were fought, taking Finnish soldiers to the battle-fields of Livonia, Poland and Denmark. In 1676, the political system of Sweden was transformed into an absolute monarchy.

In Middle and Eastern Finland, great amounts of tar were produced for export. European nations needed this material for the maintenance of their fleets. According to some theories, the spirit of early capitalism in the tar-producing province of Ostrobothnia may have been the reason for the witch-hunt wave that happened in this region during the late 17th century. The people were developing more expectations and plans for the future, and when these were not realized, they were quick to blame witches – according to a belief system the Lutheran church had imported from Germany.

The Empire had a colony in the New World in the modern-day Delaware-Pennsylvania area between 1638–1655. At least half of the immigrants were of Finnish origin.

The 17th century was an era of very strict Lutheran orthodoxy. In 1608, the law of Moses was declared the law of the land, in addition to secular legislation. Every subject of the realm was required to confess the Lutheran faith and church attendance was mandatory. Ecclesiastical penalties were widely used. The rigorous requirements of orthodoxy were revealed in the dismissal of the Bishop of Turku, Johan Terserus, who wrote a catechism which was decreed heretical in 1664 by the theologians of the Academy of Åbo. On the other hand, the Lutheran requirement of the individual study of Bible prompted the first attempts at wide-scale education. The church required from each person a degree of literacy sufficient to read the basic texts of the Lutheran faith. Although the requirements could be fulfilled by learning the texts by heart, also the skill of reading became known among the population.

In 1696-1699, a famine caused by climate decimated Finland. A combination of an early frost, the freezing temperatures preventing grain from reaching Finnish ports, and a lackluster response from the Swedish government saw about one-third of the population die. Soon afterwards, another war determining Finland's fate began (the Great Northern War of 1700-1721).

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1611 and 1721 in Finland

Snappertuna Church

The cruciform-shape, wooden church of Snappertuna was built originally in 1688-1689 and renovated in 1797. The belfry was erected in 1776. Nearby the church are wooden magazine and the tomb added in 1778. Snappertuna church and surroundings are one of the most well-preserved church sites in Finland. In summertime the church is open every day.
Founded: 1688-1699 | Location: Raasepori, Finland

Tornio Church

The church was designed and completed by Matti Härmä in 1686. It is dedicated to the Swedish Queen Eleonora. The construction is based on the medieval tradition of church building in Pohjanmaa area (Mustasaari and Pedersöre churches). Tornio church is one of oldest and most well-preserved wooden churches in the Northern Finland and Scandinavia. In the 18th century French scientist Maupertuis did measuremen ...
Founded: 1686 | Location: Tornio, Finland

Uusikaarlepyy Church

St. Birgitta Church, which lies by the bridge crossing the river of Nykarleby, is one of the most famous sights of the town. The church was built in 1708 and is considered one of the most beautiful in Ostrobothnia. The ceiling paintings in the church date from the 18th century and are the work of Daniel Hjulström and Johan Alm. The paintings on the windows behind the altar were painted by Lennart Segerstråhle i ...
Founded: 1708 | Location: Uusikaarlepyy, Finland

Muhos Church

The church of Muhos was completed in 1634 and is the third church in the parish. Muhos church is the oldest wooden church in Finland, which has been preserved almost in its original shape. It is built in the form of a rectangular basilica, a so called buttress church. Torninrakentaja-Hannu (Hannu the Tower Builder) is regarded as the builder of the church. There are 500 seats in the church. The pulpit was built by Mikael ...
Founded: 1634 | Location: Muhos, Finland

Fiskars

Fiskars is the best known of a number of ironworks villages that were established in the early 17th century to the Pohja area. A crushing mill was established by the lower rapids in 1649, with a blastfurnace on the opposite bank. The founder of Fiskars ironworks was the Dutch businessman Peter Thorwöste, who was allowed by Queen Christina of Sweden to manufacture cast iron and forged products, with the exception of c ...
Founded: 1649-1900 | Location: Raasepori, Finland

Siikajoki Church

Siikajoki parish was established in 1590, but the Russian army burnt the first chapel already in 1591. The current church, completed in 1701, is third in Siikajoki. The wooden church was renovated in 1765 and Mikael Toppelius painted beautiful mural paintings and altarpiece in 1771-1772. The present appearance originate mainly from the restoration made in 1852.
Founded: 1701 | Location: Raahe, Finland

Billnäs

Billnäs ironworks was founded in 1641 by Carl Billsten. It faced many difficulties during 17th and 18th century. Local peasants destroyed the ironworks already in 1659 because of too heavy taxation. During the Great Wrath Russians occupied and destroyed it again in the 18th century.Billnäs Ironworks moved to Hisinger family's possession in 1723. Bar hammer workshops with forges and waterwheels, and coal rooms were built ...
Founded: 1641 | Location: Raasepori, Finland

Hamina Fortress

Hamina fortress is a very rare circle fort, representing the Renaissance ideal city embodied by Palmanova city in Italy. It was built after Great Northern War to the ruins of Vehkalahti town. After Treaty of Nystadt border between Sweden and Russia was moved to Kymeenlakso area in Finland. The construction of the fortress started began by Swedish general Axel von Löwen in 1720s. Protected by six bastions of the fort ...
Founded: 1720-1803 | Location: Hamina, Finland

Askainen Church

The neoclassical church of Askainen was built by the owner of Louhisaari Manor, Governor-general Herman Claes'son Fleming in 1653 as the chapel church of Louhisaari Manor. It’s one of the rare stone churches in Finland built after the Reformation in the 17th century. The belfry was erected in 1772–1779. There is a funeral chapel of the Mannerheim family in the cemetery.The Askainen noblemen's church is ...
Founded: 1653 | Location: Masku , Finland

Lappeenranta Fortress

There have been some fortifications in Lappeenranta city from the 17th century. After the defeat of Sweden-Finland in Great Northern War 1700-1721 Viborg castle and large areas in Carelia were lost to Russia. The military value of Lappeenranta, the new border city, was suddenly increased. The construction of the new bastion fortress was started immediatelly after war in 1721. It was planned to be a part of the new defence ...
Founded: 1721-1792 | Location: Lappeenranta, Finland

Houtskari Church

The wooden Houtskari Church was built in 1703-1704 and designed by E. Nilsson. The bell tower dates back to 1753 and altarpiece was made in 1887. The church, near vicarage (1860) and old cottage are named as National Built Herigate by National Board of Antiques.
Founded: 1703-1704 | Location: Länsi-Turunmaa, Finland

Loppi Old Church

The Old Church of Loppi, also known as Santa Pirjo (St. Birgit), was built in 1660s. The history of simple and bare wooden church is quite unknown because documents of building were destroyed by fire. According some investigations the church could be completed already in the tide of 15th and 16th centuries, but the age of wall logs is dated to the year 1666.Only couple of tombs remain of the old cemetery near the church. ...
Founded: 1660 | Location: Loppi, Finland

Sodankylä Old Church

Built in 1689 for the people of central Lapland, the old timber church in Sodankylä is one of the wooden churches to survive in Lapland and one of the oldest in Finland. Following the completion of the new stone church, the old church was decommissioned in 1859. In terms of style, the church is a sample of Finnish medieval ecclesiastic architecture and Ostrobothnian wooden church designs. The church was restored in 1 ...
Founded: 1689 | Location: Sodankylä, Finland

Fagervik

Fagervik ironworks, one of the oldest in Finland, was founded in 1646. The ironworks consisted of two iron forges and one blast furnace. The remarkable rococo-style manor was built in 1773 by Johan Hisinger. It’s located near the "King’s Way", a road from Turku to Vyborg. Both Gustav III (the king of Sweden) and Alexander I (the tzar of Russia) have stood overnight in Fagervik. The large baroque-style park with the Ch ...
Founded: 1646 | Location: Inkoo, Finland

Antskog

Antskog ironworks, one of the oldest industrial sites in Finland, was established in 1640. The heyday of Antskog was in the 17th century, when Pohja town became a center of iron manufacturing in Finland. Industrial buildings were mainly destroyed in the Greater Wrath (1714-1721) and it caused the financial downturn. The ironworks went bankrupt couple of times. The next upswing was in the 1860s, when Antskog started to pro ...
Founded: 1640-1900 | Location: Raasepori, Finland

Strömfors Ironworks

Strömfors Ironworks is one of the oldest in Finland. It was founded in 1695 by Johan Creuz. The ironworks was renamed to Strömfors in 1744, when A. Nohrström and J. Forsell acquired the site and business. They also expanded Strömfors by building a new forge and sawmill.In 1790, the iron works got a new manager, the 31-year-old Virginia af Forselles, who managed Strömfors Iron Works for almost 60 years. A large part o ...
Founded: 1695 | Location: Loviisa, Finland

Tammisaari Church

Tammisaari church is one the rare Finnish stone churches built in the 17th century. The building began in 1651 and was completed in 1670s. The church was destroyed by fire in 1821 and reconstructed to the present appearance in 1839-1842.The white church tower is a landmark the Tammisaari old town (built mainly in the 19th century), which is a popular tourist attraction.
Founded: 1651-1679 | Location: Raasepori, Finland

Uusikaupunki Old Church

Uusikaupunki Old Church was one of the first new churches after the Reformation in Finland. It was built in 1623-1629 and renovated several times in the 18th century. The belfry was added in 1775. The speciality of the church is the star-decorated, barrel vaulted ceiling. The church is open to the public in summer time.
Founded: 1623-1629 | Location: Uusikaupunki, Finland

Seili

Seili (Själo in Swedish) is a small island in the Archipelago Sea. The island is known for its church and nature, a research institute and a former hospital. The first hospital on Seili was established in the 1620s. Before that there were two farms on the islands belonging to the Crown and thus available when the authorities looked for a suitable island to which the leper hospital at the outskirts of Turku could be m ...
Founded: 1620s | Location: Länsi-Turunmaa, Finland

Pyhämaa Churches

The Sacrification Church of Pyhämaa was built in 1642-1650. It’s one of the oldest still existing wooden churches in Finland. Inside the church the walls are decorated with paintings (made in the 17th century) relating to biblical events. Next to the Sacrification Church is the New Church of Pyhämaa, which was built of stone in 1804. Both churches are open to the public in summertime.
Founded: 1642-1650 | Location: Uusikaupunki, Finland

Tervola Old Church

The Old Church of Tervola was built in 1687-1689 and is one of the oldest and most well-preserved wooden churches in Finland. The wooden pulpit is made by Johan Skogh and Nils Ahlboom in 1733-1735. The altarpiece is painted by Johan Hedman in 1831.The church was unused 85 years after the new church of Tervola was completed in 1865. Worships began again in 1950.
Founded: 1687-1689 | Location: Tervola, Finland

Elimäki Church

Elimäki Church, built in 1638, is one of the oldest wooden churches in Finland. The cruciform shape is from the extension in 1678. The belfry was added in 1795-1797. The interior is mostly from the 17th century. Most significant artefacts are altarpiece and pulpit donated by Casper Wrede and Sophia Taube.
Founded: 1638 | Location: Kouvola, Finland

Teijo Ironworks

Teijo ironworks was established in 1686 to the lands of old Teijo manor by Lorentz Creutz. The industrial work ended in 1908, but today there still exists old buildings, restaurant and fascinating manor building and park. The manor is privately owned, but you can walk the road adjacent to it. Teijo church on the hill near the manor is the smallest stone church in Finland. It was built in 1830.
Founded: 1686 | Location: Salo, Finland

Kempele Old Church

The inhabitants of Kempele were permitted to build their own prayer room in 1688. Despite of restrictions they constructed a real church which was completed in 1691. The building master was Matti Härmä. The wooden church has some gothic features. The belfry was built in 1769.The interior is decorated by the famous church painter Mikael Toppelius between 1785 and 1795. The French-style pulpit is very personal dec ...
Founded: 1691 | Location: Kempele, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Sweetheart Abbey

Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods, have caused both the graves to be lost. The abbey, built in deep-red, local sandstone, was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey; this Novum Monasterium (New Monastery), became known as the New Abbey.

The immediate abbey precincts extended to 120,000 m2 and sections of the surrounding wall can still be seen today. The Cistercian order, also known as the White Monks because of the white habit, over which they wore a black scapular or apron, built many great abbeys after their establishment around 1100. Like many of their abbeys, the New Abbey's interests lay not only in prayer and contemplation but in the farming and commercial activity of the area, making it the centre of local life. The abbey ruins dominate the skyline today and one can only imagine how it and the monks would have dominated early medieval life as farmers, agriculturalists, horse and cattle breeders. Surrounded by rich and fertile grazing and arable land, they became increasingly expert and systematic in their farming and breeding methods. Like all Cistercian abbeys, they made their mark, not only on the religious life of the district but on the ways of local farmers and influenced agriculture in the surrounding areas.

The village which stands next to the ruins today, is now known as New Abbey. At the other end of the main street is Monksmill, a corn mill. Although the present buildings date from the late eighteenth century, there was an earlier mill built by and for the monks of the abbey which serviced the surrounding farms.