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Thread: The history of the Finnish Nobility2319 days old

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    Default The history of the Finnish Nobility

    The history of the Finnish Nobility

    During the Middle Ages the King of Sweden consolidated his power at the expense of the counties and the local chieftains. Centralization called for a standing army. Taxpaying farmers were entitled to furnish a trooper with horse and arms to do military service. In return the farmer was granted exemption from land dues to the Crown and thus became member of the nobility. The system of tax exemption was ratified through the Alsnö Act 1279.

    The tax exemption was at first personal. The system of providing horse and arms was checked yearly through an arms inspection. In the 16th century the privilege of tax exemption was considered hereditary.

    From having been a class of farmers providing troopers for military service, the nobility became a class of military men and civil officers. During the 17th century nobility became a form of reward for services rendered. In the 18th and 19th centuries the nobility became a leading social upper class. Prominent scientists and industrial leaders were also raised to nobility.

    The war of 1809 split Sweden into two states. The Grand Duchy of Finland received its own House of Nobility in 1818. Here the Swedish noble families who had chosen to remain in Finland were registered. The Emperor – Grand Duke continued to raise deserving Finnish citizens to the nobility. The last one to be raised to nobility was the Finnish High-Commissioner in St Petersburg General August Langhoff, who was granted the title of Friherre in 1912.

    During the ages 357 families/clans have been introduced to the house of nobles in Finland and roughly 150 of those families are still alive. The noble class is very small and currently consist of around 6500 people. The nobles role in leading the country and being a cultural force has been greatly overestimated. The most prominent Finniss politicians, culturals and intellectuals have been of non-noble families. However, there are notable persons who have contributed to shape Finland as a nation. Some notable Finnish Nobles were count Mannerheim, nationalist Koskinen (Forsman) and president Svinhufvud.

    There have been some debate whether the Finnish noble families are of Finnish, Swedish, German, Russian, Dutch or of other descent as the Finnish nobles have traditionally spoken Swedish. In the kingdom Swedish was the administrative language and became the language of trade after the German Hanseatic leagues collapse. Finland was a part of the Swedish kingdom for roughly 800 years and in the kingdom Finnish was a minority language spoken by a minority in the northern and eastern peripheral parts of the country, divided from the motherland by great forests to the north and a sea to the east.

    According to the secretary of the Finnish Ritarihuone Gornhjelm 40% of the noble families are of Finnish descent, 22% Swedish, 21% German ant the rest of various or unknown origin. When tracing the roots of the Finnish noble families it may be a bit surprising that the fairly remote and historically underdeveloped area of Savo/Savolax and not the much more densely populated and more developed southwestern Finland, has the highest share of the ethnically Finnish nobility. In fact, there are nearly as many Savolaxians as Swedes in the Finnish nobility. Today, 46% of the noble families claim to be speaking Swedish at home, 32% Finnish, 17% both and 5% other, usually German.
    All of Europes nobles have married over ethnical boundaries and from populous central European countries skilled soldiers and merchants pushed north to take service for kings and earn fortunes in underdeveloped but potential markets. For example the Swedish nobility enlisted by Riddarhuset has several families of Danish, German, Baltic-German, Dutch, Scottish origin and of course of Finnish origin. Some of the oldest noble families in the Swedish Riddarhuset (ur-adel) are of Finnish origin, Horn, Kurck, Jägerhorn and Tawast. To understand the impact of foreigners in Sweden one must keep in mind that he royal house of Sweden from the end of the Vasa dynasty has traditionally been of foreign, mostly German ancestry. Gustav II Adolf was the son of Karl IX and his wife Kristina of Holstein-Gottorp. Gustav II Adolf married Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg who gave birth to a daughter who later would become Queen Kristina of Sweden. From there the Swedish royal houses Swedish blood was seriously dilluted. The current royal house of Sweden is of French and German ancestry. Little did a French tailor know that his descendants would be Kings of Sweden.

    Finnish noble families are: von Becker (Virrantalo), Blåfield, Carpelan (Karpalainen), Ehmrooth, Fellman, Forsman (Yrjö-Koskinen), Granfelt (Kuusi), Grotenfelt (Kotkatlahti), Gyllenbögel, Johsson (Soisalon-Soininen), Mannerheim, Pistolekors (Leskinen), Schauman, Standertskjöld, Svinhufvud (the only Noble family from Norway)ja Wuorenheimo (Bergbom) sekä mm. ruotsalaistuneet Horn ja Kurki.

    Unlike in most other European countries feodalism and landclaiming never really enslaved Finnish farmers, who had a status comparable to yeomen or freeholders. Most of the population were independent farmer families since at least Iron age until 19th century, not serfs nor villeins, so there is a remarkable difference in tradition compared to other European countries. As nobles naturally had more children than manors or estates to pass on, many of their children married into the farmer class or became farmers. In Sweden (Finland) the step was not as dramatic or a huge degradation of status as it would have been in England, Germany or Russia. Many Finnish farmers have noble blood.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estates...en_and_Finland

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_nobility

    http://www.riddarhuset.fi/fin/ritarihuone

    http://www.genealogia.fi/genos/3/3_71.htm

    Are you a nobility?
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  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Motörhead Remember Me For This Useful Post:

    Aino (2011-06-17), Hweinlant (2011-06-17), Lemminkäinen (2011-06-17), Tuohikirje (2011-06-18)

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    Two comments.

    Finnish was never a minority language, although Swedish was very common in Western Finland, especially in towns. This can be proven by the language skills of Finnish priests and also from old court documents where ordinary people had business quite often. But Swedish was far more common than generally believed. I have wrote this earlier, and for example: A small town, Raahe, from Northern Ostrobothnia was almost fully Swedish-speaking, over 90%. This made possible for town residents to flee to Sweden and stay there for ever during the wars of the 1700s.

    Also local dialects prove about the very old origin of Finnish language even in most western Finland.

    To resolve the ancestral origin of Finnish nobles is in practice a mission impossible. Already in the Middle Age Finns, Swedes and other comers married each other commonly. I guess that you percentages could be right ones.
    Last edited by Lemminkäinen; 2011-06-17 at 09:30.
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    Three simple facts about Finns:
    1. Baltic Finnic languages (including Finnish) never came from the Volga basin along with ancestors of present-day Finns.
    2. Finnish I1 (around 30% of all Finns) has Germanic roots from the late Bronze Age or the early Iron Age.
    3. As to the Finnish prehistory we have no evidences about any Iron Age (or later) east-to-west migration, but many unquestionable evidences about west-to-east migrations.

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    Betcha they're overwhelmingly R1b's, like pretty-much all the rest of the nobility of Europe.

    .....just sayin'...carry on!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geto-Thracian View Post
    Betcha they're overwhelmingly R1b's, like pretty-much all the rest of the nobility of Europe.

    .....just sayin'...carry on!
    If that is the case, why is there so little R1b in Finland?

    If they were R1b and they were wealthy and healthy, where are their descendants today? One would assume they were in a better position to spread their male lines. Why did they fail?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geto-Thracian View Post
    Betcha they're overwhelmingly R1b's, like pretty-much all the rest of the nobility of Europe.

    .....just sayin'...carry on!
    Solid crap Just go to your own sandbox
    Blog: http://terheninenmaa.blogspot.fi/, with essence "Believe me, or I'll nuke you".

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    Three simple facts about Finns:
    1. Baltic Finnic languages (including Finnish) never came from the Volga basin along with ancestors of present-day Finns.
    2. Finnish I1 (around 30% of all Finns) has Germanic roots from the late Bronze Age or the early Iron Age.
    3. As to the Finnish prehistory we have no evidences about any Iron Age (or later) east-to-west migration, but many unquestionable evidences about west-to-east migrations.

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    The origins of Finnish nobility have been studied thoroughly studied by one man, Eric Anthoni.

    The early frälse (nobility) was in terms of ethnic origin around 60% Swedish and 40% German. These families, many of them still around (Boije af Gennäs, Tawast, Creutz, etc) are all classified as "Finnish" origin since they existed in the country prior to the establishment of parish records. The founder of family Creutz was f.e a man named Lars Eriksson, or something like, I cannot recall exactly. (Tawast, Boije, Creutz btw are all Swedish descent). The nobility began to cosmopolitize much later, in the 1700 & 1800s, although even back then families from Sweden dominated among the ranks of nobility, many German families from the Baltics came to Finland during this period as well).

    As in the Baltic states (the early) nobility of Fenno-Ugrian (Finnic-speaking) origins is extremely scarse. We are lucky if can verify one of two cases. Furthermore, archeologic excavations in all all parts of Finland reveal that the nobility did not, unlike in Scandinavia, had its roots among the local population (apart from the Swedish settled regions at the coast, the initial expansion from Central-Sweden towards "Finland" already bought significant noble impact to the coast).

    The later nobility, especially among those the Czar ennobled had few families of Fenno-Ugrian descent.

    Mannerheim (originally German, to Finland via Sweden), Forsman and Svinhufvud af Qvalstadt came all from Mainland-Sweden. To postulate that nobility has played minor role in Finland (Österland) would be quite flawed statement. Unlike in continental Europe, the nobility in Finland (and Sweden) has had very big role commerce. Even today this is somewhat true. In addition one has to only go hundred years back in time to discover that most of professor of the university was of noble origins, among the administration nobility was even more pronounced. The founder of ethnic-Finnish identity and the man behind the national consolidation was Snellman (Swedish descent) and was ennobled by the Czar.


    Anthoni's major work around the theme.

    * Kring vår medeltida genealogiska forskning (1946)
    * Finlands medeltida frälse och 1500-talsadeln (1970)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aino View Post
    If that is the case, why is there so little R1b in Finland?

    If they were R1b and they were wealthy and healthy, where are their descendants today? One would assume they were in a better position to spread their male lines. Why did they fail?
    R1b is a mediteranean southern line. They weaken and live shorter in north climates.

    Because they're mostly pirate in traits and culture, but they weren't a match for the stronger slavs in the north seas. So their invasion ended with the Britty Isles.

    Also Sweden was an imperialist almost turanoid horde, that invaded Finland. That shows how finns were different than swedes in so many ways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lemminkäinen View Post

    To resolve the ancestral origin of Finnish nobles is in practice a mission impossible. Already in the Middle Age Finns, Swedes and other comers married each other commonly. I guess that you percentages could be right ones.
    As already concluded, this is completely false. There's neither any "debate" about the origins of Finnish nobility. Such debate and misinformation only exist in online platforms, not in the geneology itself.

    The overwhelming majority of noble families have extensive geneologic data of their origins. This applies to the very early frälse-nobility with roots in the pre-parish-record Österland/Finland as well. There's is some uncertainty but this can be said only about tiny minority of these families.

    What comes to marriage, the pattern was the same in all peripheral parts of the Swedish kingdom. Noble men from Österland, Norrland and Southern Sweden usually married with a noble lady from the Mälaren-region which was the power-centre of the kingdom. This was a good deal for everyone. The periphery nobility got networked, and the centre got the periphery nobility efficiently under their influence. This arrangement reduced internal power-tensions.

    A reader's digest version of the origins of Finnish nobility.

    -The pre-parish record nobility who are classified as "Finnish origin" were/are around 60% Swedish and 40% of German origins.

    -The post-parish record nobility who came to country after the parish records were intact are/were around 40% Swedish origins, 40% German-speaking origins (from the Baltics, St. Petersburgh region, and Central-Europe) and 20% "others" (mostly Finnish-speaking-, French-speaking & Russian-speaking origins)

    -Unlike in Scandinavia, the nobility, even in the very Finnish-speaking regions of the country did NOT had their origins in the local population. This patterns also applies to Estonia and Latvia.

    Anyways, you made some decent points there Lemminkainen. I could point out that out the representatives of populations I've met, I've never met a collective who would have so poor knowdledge of their history as the Finns have. I am sure you can find better candidates, but this is my experience. Every American knows who was Washington and what he did. Every Russian knows who was Rurik and what he did, etc. Ask a Finn who was Armfelt and what he did and all you get is silence. What comes to near-histrory and WW2, Finns on average have impeccable knowledge. But that's not "history" how most people perceive it. Perhaps there's not much in the Finnish history to heap from the ethnic-Finnish nationalist standpoint?

    Finnish language was the 4th language in the history of Finland to have received an an official position in Finland. (Swedish was the first, sole administrative language, German was official, regional language in parts of Finland in the 1700s, and in 1809 Russian-language became to official language together with Swedish). I'd say that the position of Finnish language during the Swedish era was similar than Finnish-language has in Sweden today, it was de-facto minority language. What comes to the language of the nobility that was ofcourse Swedish. F.e In the Eastern Finnish mansion where Manneirheim was born, a hardly word of Finnish was ever spoken. Even the staff of the mansion was German and Russian-speaking. It wasn't until the 1920's or 1930's when Finnish-language started to gradually gain territory among the language of the elite. The national-romantist, Fennoman elite, almost withoit exception of Swedish origins (Järnefelt, Snellman, Yrjö-Koskinen, etc) hardly spoke Finnish but these folk put their children to emerging Finnish-speaking schools, so the second generation became fluent with the language.

    I could also add that Swedish-speakers did not only dominate the Western Finnish towns but also Eastern Finnish as well, Viborg, Kuopio, Kotka etc. German was widely spoken as well, but eventually they assimilated to the Swedish.

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    Speaking of nobility and specifically nobility of German origin. Sean Bergenheim's family is supposedly of German nobility origin. I read a funny story on Bergie which talked about how he in juniors always tried to hide his nobility backround and was kinda 'ashamed' of it. I guess being a noble just fits poorly with the ethos of hockey. Anyway, I think kinda funny, his family being supposedly of German origin, based on his look, imo he would fit much better somewhere in Savolax than in Germany.
    Last edited by takoja; 2012-07-24 at 14:00.

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