Imperial Borderland

Bobrikov and the Attempted Russification of Finland, 1898–1904

Imperial Borderland

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: 8 b&w photographs Published: August 1995

Author: Tuomo Polvinen

Translator: Steven Huxley

History > European History, Politics > Political Science

In 1904 the Russian Governor-General in Helsinki, Nikolai Ivanovich Bobrikov, was assassinated by a Finnish nationalist. In this study by Finland’s leading diplomatic historian, Tuomo Polvinen examines the tense and troubled relationship of Finland to the tsarist empire and the nature of Russian nationality policy at the turn of the century.
Bobrikov’s appointment to the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1898 by Nicholas II led to a policy of intensified Russification that ended nearly a century of political equilibrium between the two states. With access to previously unavailable Russian archival material, Polvinen provides a uniquely balanced and informed view of this dramatic new phase in Russian-Finnish relations. Presenting Bobrikov in the overall context of Russian policy toward Finland, Polvinen investigates such issues as Bobrikov’s goals for Finland, the effect of Russian politics on its Finnish policy, and the influence of Russian journalists during this crucial period.
Offering insight into the workings of the Russian government and its borderland policy during a time of rising international tension, Imperial Borderland will attract readers of Baltic, Finnish, Russian, and Scandinavian history. Those with an interest in the continuing importance of nationalism and nationalities policy in this region of the world will also find this book valuable.


“Tuomo Polvinen’s book, which was published in Finnish in 1984, is the first detailed monograph on Russian policy with regard to Finland during these years. The publication of this English translation, with minor corrections by the author, makes this useful study available to a wider audience. . . . Polvinen’s research in published as well as unpublished sources is exhaustive. His book retains its value even though the collapse of the Soviet Union has improved access to archival holdings for foreign scholars.” — Toivo U. Raun , American Historical Review

from a review of the Swedish edition
"[Polvinen’s] success has been helped by his approach, which is to see Bobrikov’s career in Finland as an episode in Russian history. . . . It is a major achievement to allow us to look at Bobrikov’s work from a Russian point of view, and set in its proper perspective, as a characteristic attempt by an imperialist power to adjust the security situation in one of its border provinces." — A. F. Upton, English Historical Review

"Polvinen is the first historian to provide an original, scholarly synthesis of the events in Finland at the beginning of the twentieth century. He is the dean of Finnish historians who are concerned with Finland’s relations with Russia and the Soviet Union during this century. The publication of Imperial Borderland will oblige American surveys of Russian history to revise their references to Bobrikov." — Edward Thaden, University of Illinois, Chicago


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Tuomo Polvinen is Research Professor at the Academy of Finland. He is the author of many books, including Between East and West: Finland in International Politics, 1944–1947

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Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1563-6
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