The Finnish Nobility is quite ancient, and dates back to the foundation of the Grand Duchy of Finland in the year of our Lord of 1809 by His Imperial Majesty the Tsar Alexander I of Russia.
The Nobility of Finland is famous for their beautiful manorial houses, in a peculiar Nordic-Baltic Style with some Russian influence.
The big majority of the Finnish Nobility comes from German and Swedish Stock, with some Slavonic additions due to the enormous influence of the Russian Empire, which actually created Finland as a political entity. Later, Finland proclaimed its independence in the amidst of the Russian Revolution, and had a difficult relationship with Communist Russia, including a war that made them lose a big part of their lands and territory. Ethnically and originally, the nobility of Finland comes from noblemen from Hesse, Sweden, Poland, Livonia, Finland and Russia.
The most famous member of the Finnish Nobility was the Field Marshall Baron Von Mannerheim, hero of the Finnish Independence, and also hero of the wars with Russia and a pivotal figure in the creation of the Finnish State.
The marriage rites and patters of the Finnish Nobility, and their wealth and influence, while small in comparison to other European countries, was significant, and we can affirm that the nobility of this country is a proud one, with a very interesting history.
There is to note that the Russians, when creating the Riddarhus (House of Nobles) in 1818 in order to ascertain which noble families had the right to be represented, introduced a system by which the families seeking registration had to pay a heavy monetary fee for the inscription. This meant that several previously registered noble families, due to the considerable cost of this process, did not seek to register.
The Finnish Titular Nobility is only comprised of Counts, Barons and noblemen without titles of nobility. There was in the past a Russian Princedom registered, but has become extinct.
The Finnish Ranks of Baron and Count are called respectively in Finnish: Friherrliga (Baron) and Grefliga (Count). It must be said that due to the peculiarities and legal framework of Finland, it is not possible to buy, sell or acquire Finnish Titles of Nobility, as the Nobility of Finland is a closed nobility, and titles do not have exactly a feudal nature in the Frankish, English, French or Italian way.
The Finnish Nobility is small in numbers, and it has been very much reduced in numbers over the years, as the Finnish Nobility titles cannot be transmitted by female line but only by male line primogeniture.
There are not many peers in Finland, and as an indication of the composition of this magnificent nobility, we can quote some figures that maybe very interesting in order to study this subject:
The Roll of the Nobility of Finland is a very good source to establish the number and rank of the titled and untitled nobility. In 1818, and according to the Roll, there were in Finland a total of 187 noblemen, exactly 2 counts, 22 Barons, and 163 untitled noblemen. As we can see, the number of noble peers was relatively small.
In 1897, the Rolls of the Finnish Nobility certify that the inscribed families had substantially increased to 344 noblemen, consisting of 1 Prince, 11 Counts, 61 Barons, and 271 untitled nobles.
By 1909, the nobility had 356 registered members, with 1 Prince, 11 Counts, 62 Barons, and 282 non-titled noblemen. Nowadays, however, the numbers are far smaller, as a good portion of these titles and families have become extinct. The Nobility of Finland was originally restricted to landed proprietors of vast feudal estates, military officers and high-ranking government officials. Now, this social class also has as members journalists, university professors, scientists, executives and some others that were ennobled by the Russian Tsars.
There is to note that in Finland, only the Head of the Family can sit in the College of Nobles, though in some occasions the closest members of the Family, or other noble representatives with power of attorney can represent them.
In the Nobility of Finland, it is common that the noble titles of Count and Baron are often borne by all the male descendants of the grantee of the title. Daughters can never transmit titles of nobility, as Finnish Titles never descend from females.
The Concept of Finnish Nobility begins with the establishment of the Duchy by the Russian Tsar, as before there was no notion whatsoever of a proper or distinct nobility in Finland, as the territory formed part of the Kingdom of Sweden, and the members of the four estates that comprised the province of Finland under Swedish sovereignty attended parliament in Stockholm as mere provincial delegates.
However, Emperor Alexander of Russia summoned a diet in Borga in March of 1809, and established the College of Nobles or House of Lords of Finland, called Riddarhus (The Finnish House of Nobility), which still exists nowadays and regulates the nobility of this country, which is mostly descendants of the historical nobility of Finland.