Greater Wrath

Greater Wrath

The Greater Wrath ( _fi. Isoviha _sv. Stora ofreden) is a term used in Finnish history for the Russian invasion and subsequent military occupation from 1714 until the treaty of Nystad 1721, which ended the Great Northern War, although sometimes the term is used to denote all of the Great Northern War.

In the war there were Finnish troops fighting in Poland and Russia but they were also deployed in large numbers in the defense of the Baltic territories, where they slowly succumbed to Peter the Great's attacks. After the disaster of Poltava in 1709, the shattered continental army provided very little help. Russia captured Viborg in 1710 and invaded the rest of Finland in 1713, defeating the Finnish army in the battles of Pälkäne in 1713 and Storkyro (Isokyrö) in February, 1714.

After the victory at Isokyrö, Mikhail Golitsyn, became governor of Finland. The Finnish peasants were forced to pay large contributions to the occupying Russians (as was the custom in that time). Plundering was widespread, especially in Ostrobothnia and in communities near the major roads. Churches were looted, Isokyrö was burned to the ground. A scorched earth zone several hundred kilometers wide was burned to hinder Swedish counteroffensives. About 5,000 Finns were killed and some 10,000 taken away as slaves, of which a few thousand returned later. ["Suomen historian pikkujättiläinen". ISBN 951-0-1425-0. Page 265.] Thousands, especially officials, also fled to the (relative) safety of Sweden. The poorer peasants hid in the woods to avoid the ravages of the occupiers and their press-gangsUppslagsverket Finland, 1985] . Atrocities were at their worst between 1714-17 when the infamous Swedish Count Gustaf Otto Douglas, who had defected to the Russian side during the war, was in charge of the occupation.

In addition to the predations of the Russian occupants, Finland was struck – as were most other Baltic countries at the time – by the plague. In Helsinki, 1,185 people died: nearly two thirds of the population.

Even the Swedish western side of the Gulf of Bothnia was ravaged by the Russians. The city of Umeå was burned to the ground by the Russians on September 18, 1714, and after struggling to rebuild was razed again in 1719, 1720, and 1721.

It took several decades for the Finnish population and economy to recover after the peace in 1721, at which point Finland was scourged again during the Lesser Wrath which was however less devastating.



* "Svenska slagfält", 2003, (Wahlström & Widstrand, ISBN 91-46-21087-3)

ee also

* Great Northern War
* History of Finland
* Lesser Wrath
* Old Wrath

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