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Governor-General of Finland (Finnish: Suomen kenraalikuvernööri; Swedish: Generalguvernör av Finland; Russian: Генерал-губернатор Финляндии) was the military commander and the highest administrator of Finland sporadically under Swedish rule in the 17th and 18th centuries and continuously in the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland between 1808 and 1917.

After the final abolishment of the Duchy of Finland and related feudal privileges in the late 16th century, King of Sweden sporadically granted most or all of Finland under a specially appointed governor-general, who took care of the matters in the eastern part of the country more or less according to his own best judgement. Best known of these officials is count Per Brahe whose reign is still referred to in Finland as the "count's days" (kreivin aikaan), meaning something positive that happens just in time.

During the time when Finland was a part of Russian Empire, governor-general's position was permament. He was the vicar of the emperor, who was not personally present in Helsinki, but resided in St Petersburg, just outside Finnish borders. Thereby, governor-general was constitutionally the chairman of the Senate of Finland, the government in the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland (the chairmanship, with two votes, belonged constitutionally to the Grand Duke of Finland). The governor-general was the highest representative of the Russian Tsar/Grand Duke of Finland and received his instructions directly from the Tsar.

Finnish citizenship was not required of the governor-general, contrary to all other highest positions such as senators (members of the senate) and Finnish Minister Secretary of State. Most governors-general, and all the later ones, were Russians, men whom the emperor trusted as counterparts of potential Finnish separatism. Many of them, up to baron Rokassovski, however were made also Finnish subjects, by granting them a Finnish nobility rank.

Many of the governors-general were disliked by the Finnish population. The first man on the post, Georg Magnus Sprengtporten, resigned after only a year and Nikolai Bobrikov was assassinated in 1904 by Finnish nationalist Eugen Schauman. On the other hand, several governors-general worked in a way that guaranteed the Finnish autonomy in face of interests of ministers of Russian general government.

Governor-general Prince Menshikov (1831-55) sojourned his entire term in St Petersburg, being simultaneously the Russian Minister of Navy. Gubernatorial duties in Helsinki were cared for by the deputy governor-general. For most of the term, in that position was general Alexander Amatus Thesleff.

List of Governors-General of Finland (Sweden)

List of Governors-General of Finland (Russian)

See also



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