Finland and the Tsars

Joseph R. Fisher - 500+ audiobooks, all ad free

Fisher’s treatment of the history of Finland, in the context of its relations with Russia, was released in 1899—at the start of the first attempted wave of Russification. At this time, it seems, many Finns regarded it as a misunderstanding. A mistake. Not a contrivance of Nicholas II, but a villainy emanating instead, fen-sucked, from the sinister Russian state machinery—the fief of a myopic and obdurate cadre of supremacists and absolutists. Men like the rabid anti-semite Konstantin Pobedonostsev who, by the camera's harsh testimony, seems to have died long before he stopped coming in to work, and like Ivan Goremykin who in an ironic twist of fate would not so very much later – after 1906 – have to stretch his mind to try to contend with the obscenity of constitutional monarchy at home. Men who all nursed a bitter grudge at the perceived slight to their omnipotence called Finland. The long-standing arrangements and understandings between Finland and the Tsars had up to this time, for the better part of a century, served both parties very well. And would undoubtedly have stood Russia in good stead into the twentieth century. Every Tsar reaffirmed a solemn pledge to maintain the Fundamental Laws underpinning the constitutional order, to uphold Alexander I's promise to respect "their religion, their laws, their liberties and their rights." Every Tsar honored it—until Nicholas II. In return, Finland turned its back on Sweden to stand at Russia's side bringing with it a domain which was loyal, orderly and industrious and soon enough became highly educated and prosperous too. Regardless of the shocks and reversals the Empire encountered, the Grand Duchy was unwavering so far as imperial internal security went, producing never "...a conspirator or an agitator against Russia. It provided instead generals for her armies and admirals for her fleet." Subversion and coercion efforts against the Finnish state would be abruptly halted in the immediate aftermath of the bitter defeat meted out by Japan in 1905; Saint Petersburg had unrest aplenty across its vast and ethnically diverse extent without manufacturing more. These efforts would resume. Finland would be driven to, at the first opportunity, declare independence in 1917. The events of the twentieth century would be profoundly influenced by the collapse of Russo-Finnish cooperation, by the Winter War and by Finland’s politics and diplomatic efforts during the Cold War. While the impact of some of these developments may be seen as broadly beneficial to Europe, much of it was to the critical detriment of the prevailing political orders in Russia.

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