The Growth of Nationalism

  • D. G. Kirby
Part of the Studies in Russian and East European History book series (SREEHS)


Towards the end of the eighteenth century there had developed a growing interest in academic circles in Finland in the origins of the Finnish nation and its culture. Under the inspiration of teachers such as H. G. Porthan (1739–1804) and of the German Romantic movement, numbers of young academics were to carry out much of the research necessary for the establishment of a Finnish cultural identity. Union with the Russian Empire in 1809 gave an additional impetus to the search for an identity, though it also posed numerous difficulties. Separated from the country with which the Swedish-speaking ruling class of Finland felt a common cultural and political affinity, Finland was now united to an autocratic empire on terms which seemed on the one hand to preserve and even enrich the essential features of the community, and yet failed to provide an adequate basis for the development of a national identity. Many of the Finnish ruling class chose to join the ranks of the bureaucracy which administered the country, or even to seek service in Russia: and they all tended to adopt the attitudes which were the hallmark of those who served the Emperor. Integration and assimilation for the sake of better centralised government: indifference to national aspirations: suppression of political dissent: such was the tone of bureaucratic government in Finland for much of the early nineteenth century (18, 21).


Mother Tongue Official Language National Consciousness FINNISH Nation Swedish Language 
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© D. G. Kirby 1975

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  • D. G. Kirby

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