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:

  • 1637–1640 and 1648–1654 Count Per Brahe functioned as general governor of Finland. Many important reforms were made and many towns were founded. His period of administration is generally considered very beneficial to the development of Finland.
  • 1640 Finland's first university, the Academy of Åbo, was founded in Turku at the proposal of Count Per Brahe by Queen Christina of Sweden.
  • 1642 The whole Bible was published in Finnish.

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

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

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

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

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

Louhisaari Manor

Louhisaari manor castle was built in the late medieval ages by the remarkable Fleming noble family. The present main building was completed in the 1650s and represents the rare palatial architecture in Finland. The grounds have an extensive English-style park, complete with paths. Louhisaari belonged to the Fleming family for over three hundred years. The lack of money forced them to sell the manor to the family of Manner ...
Founded: ca. 1650 | Location: Masku, 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

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

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

Kristiinankaupunki Old Town

Kristiinankaupunki (Kristinestad in Swedish) was founded by Count Peter Brahe on the island of Koppö in 1649. Kristiinankaupunki has centuries old traditions as a marketing and trading town and a distinguished shipping history with its ship- and boatbuilding traditions. The beautiful town hall was built in 1856. Today the centre of the little town of 7660 inhabitants has changed its face somewhat, but in the narrow alle ...
Founded: 1649 | Location: Kristiinankaupunki, 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

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

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

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 part of the old ...
Founded: 1653 | Location: Masku , 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

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

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

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

The Church of Ulrika Eleanora

The first wooden church of Kristiinankaupunki was built between 1654 and 1658 on the site where the Ulrika Eleonora Church now stands, however it burned down on 16th June 1697. The building of the Ulrika Eleonora Church, which replaced it, was completed in 1700. The church was renovated and returned to use in 1965. The wooden church is a typical seaside church complete with a votive ship hanging from the ceiling. The ship ...
Founded: 1700 | Location: Kristiinankaupunki, Finland

Hiittinen Church

St Andrea's Church in Hiittinen (Hitis) was built in 1686 and it’s the second oldest cross shape church in Finland. There was a chapel in Hiittinen already in the 13th century. Some stone wall ruins of that building are remaining in the small cemetery.The altarpiece is painted by A.F.Ahlstedt, and the pulpit is a late plainer replica of the one in the Dome of Turku from 1650.
Founded: 1686 | Location: Kemiönsaari, 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

Kimo Ironworks

The ironworks in Kimo was founded by Petter Heijke in 1703. Petter Heijke chose the place because there was an enough deep harbour in Oravainen, waterpower and wood for making charcoal. The ore was brought from Utö in the southern Baltic sea and from Herräng mines in Roslagen. In Kimo it was forged into iron-pigs. The iron-pigs were then tranported further up the river to the forges in Kimo where it was refined ...
Founded: 1703 | Location: Oravainen, Finland

The Memorial of Kostianvirta Battle

Kostianvirta battle was part of the Great Northern War (1700-1721). Russian army invaded to Finland in 1713 because the major Swedish army was fighting in central Europe. On October 1713, Finnish army under General Carl Gustaf Armfeldt had set the defence line to Kostianvirta river. When Russians attacked, Armfedlt’s 3,400 men first succesfully prevented 15,000 Russians to cross Kostianvirta.On October 6, Russians m ...
Founded: 1713 (the monument in 1906) | Location: Pälkäne, 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 moved ...
Founded: 1620s | Location: Länsi-Turunmaa, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.