Was their any attempt at Finnish unification during the Crusades?

Dec 2014
1,082
Europe
#1
Something I've wondered about, when the Swedes and others started showing up on Finnish borders during the crusades were there any attempts by Finnish tribal leaders to try and unify with others and form some organised defence? Or did they stand alone and get subjugated one by one?
I know some of the Balt tribes attempted a unified defence (though Lithuanians were the only successful ones) but I don't know about the Finns.

edit: apologies for mispelling "there" in the title :eek:
 
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Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,692
#2
Well... It ain't quite as simple as that. South western Finland (where the Finnish tribe of 'Finns' lived - hence Finland Proper - at that time it is presumed that term 'Finland' meant just that SW corner of modern Finland) was largely linked via trade and other relations to Sweden at the time. So that doesn't have to have much anything to do with war and conquest, just alliances and allegiances. In fact the First Swedish Crusade (around 1150) is not believed to have actually occurred at all. First mentions of Swedish control of Finland are from around 1250 so not in any way tied to that event.

The Second Swedish Crusade is somewhat more credible as an event but even that seems to deal with peasants rebelling against paying church tithes for which Hämäläiset (Tavastians, Finnish tribe further in-land) were set as a target for 'crusade' by pope. Third was targeting coast further to the east - nominally targeting pagans, but practically just founding a trading port. Some fantastical elements are linked to those like the 'Battle of Neva' for which it was practically impossible for Swedes to have actually fought.

As to if they opposed it, to a certain extent, yes. But it seems to have been more about traditional raiding than anything else. They (karelians) did raid Sweden in 1257 so it wasn't as if they would have been completely unable to resist. I think the main point is that church ruled the area before handing the control over the Swedish crown in 1249. On the other hand Swedes seem to have dealt with local population as it they were their subjects to begin with. So it seems that trying to imagine the events as any sort of a war of conquest or such is rather misleading.

It is however very difficult to get to the bottom of the matter since the records related to 13th century Finland were burned and lost in early 14th.
 
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Dec 2014
1,082
Europe
#3
Ah I didn't know the history was so murky. I know almost nothing about medieval Finland so I always assumed it was a similar case to what we had in the Baltic region, i.e. foreign Crusaders turned up on our shores and started an inward invasion. So Christianity already had influence in Finland before the crusades are said to have begun? What were some of the last regions in Finland to remain openly pagan (besides the Sami in the north)? Was there ever an organised resistance from pagans in Finland against Christanity or Swedish overlordship, like for example the Prussian uprisings against crusaders in the 13th century?
 
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Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,692
#4
Ah I didn't know the history was so murky. I know almost nothing about medieval Finland so I always assumed it was a similar case to what we had in the Baltic region, i.e. foreign Crusaders turned up on our shores and started an inward invasion.
Both the time and the situation were quite different. Finns (i.e. the SW corner) is thought to have had trade links with Swedes extending long into the Viking era so it is not like Finland would have been all that distant.
So Christianity already had influence in Finland before the crusades are said to have begun?
Yes, though that depends heavily on region. Catholic influence was most pronounced in the SW corner of Finland while Orthodox influence spread from Novgorod's direction. What remained in between were either pagan or something between paganism and Christianity.
What were some of the last regions in Finland to remain openly pagan (besides the Sami in the north)?
Openly pagan... that is more difficult question. Pagan sites were known to exist widely in Finland still in 19th century so it wasn't like Christianity just wiped paganism out. Most of our most important festivities are still relics from the pagan era - like midsummer and quite a few others.
Was there ever an organised resistance from pagans in Finland against Christanity or Swedish overlordship, like for example the Prussian uprisings against crusaders in the 13th century?
Well the Tavastian peasant uprising against church tithes is such - i.e. what led to the Second Swedish Crusade. It is said to have revived to some extent the old ways. Then again the old ways still exist here in some measure. Though on a hindsight and judging what happened to the bishop who ruled over Finland at the time the uprising probably had its origins in bishop's corruption and greed.
 
Dec 2014
1,082
Europe
#5
Openly pagan... that is more difficult question. Pagan sites were known to exist widely in Finland still in 19th century so it wasn't like Christianity just wiped paganism out. Most of our most important festivities are still relics from the pagan era - like midsummer and quite a few others.
Yeah, remnants of paganism definitely survive in other nations too like Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, etc.

By openly pagan I meant unbaptised tribes/regions where paganism could be considered the "state religion". For example, Lithuania was openly pagan until 1386/7, after which the state religion was Catholic (but many common people still practiced paganism afterward, gradually mixed with Christianity).

I was wondering do we know how late did any tribes in Finland stay unbaptised and officially pagan, rather than just pagan mixed with Christianity?

Well the Tavastian peasant uprising against church tithes is such - i.e. what led to the Second Swedish Crusade. It is said to have revived to some extent the old ways. Then again the old ways still exist here in some measure. Though on a hindsight and judging what happened to the bishop who ruled over Finland at the time the uprising probably had its origins in bishop's corruption and greed.
So the Tavastians had already been baptised before that point, yes? They just practised syncretic pagan/Christian religion? Or were any of them still entirely pagan?
 
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Vaeltaja

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
3,692
#6
I was wondering do we know how late did any tribes in Finland stay unbaptised and officially pagan, rather than just pagan mixed with Christianity?
I doubt any one objected to being washed. Besides i doubt people of that time objected having an additional divinity/deity on their side. Though given the lack of records it is difficult to tell. Mostly it seems to have been a gradual project.
So the Tavastians had already been baptised before that point, yes? They just practised syncretic pagan/Christian religion? Or were any of them still entirely pagan?
'Yes' to the first, 'most likely' to the second, and given the lack of records it is impossible to answer the last.
 
Dec 2014
1,082
Europe
#7
I doubt any one objected to being washed. Besides i doubt people of that time objected having an additional divinity/deity on their side.
Ha ha, well it wasn't just about the physical baptism I was wondering, but whether there were any tribes in Finland that tried to keep Christian missionaries/priests out of their territory and refused conversion (even nominal), like some Balt tribes did at that time. The Prussians, for example, killed Bruno of Querfurt and his companions when he tried to enter their territory and convert them.

But it seems that wasn't really the case with Finnish people. Thanks for the info.

'Yes' to the first, 'most likely' to the second, and given the lack of records it is impossible to answer the last.
Ok, thanks.
 
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