- Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden from the twelfth century until Tsar Alexander I launched the Russo-Swedish War of 1808–09, after which it became a grand duchy of the Russian Empire. Finland was guaranteed constitutional government, and its autonomy was generally respected until 1898, when a Pan-Slavist policy of Russification decreed by Tsar Nicholas II made Russian the state language of Finland and prompted native Finns and Swedes to make common cause in resistance. This climaxed in 1904 with the assassination of Nikolai Bobrikov, the Russian governer-general.During the Russo-Japanese War, Japan sought to support a Finnish uprising with a shipment of rifles, but the plan was abandoned when the supply ship was wrecked off the Finnish coast. Russification was suspended in any event with the onset of the 1905 revolution in Russia. In 1906, Finland regained its autonomy and was also permitted to elect a diet by universal suffrage. A period of repression returned in 1910, but the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 afforded Finns an opportunity to declare their independence. The next year Finnish “Whites” led by Carl Mannerheim and supported by Germany fought off the Red Army, and Finland’s independence was recognized by Russia in December 1918.See also <
>; < >.FURTHER READING:Singleton, Frederick Bernard. A Short History of Finland. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.