Local space building as state building?

Mediating clergy on the Russo-Swedish borderland

Jenni Merovuo


After the Russo-Swedish war of 1741-1743, the new borderland needed to be established and the state power redefined. The new state border between Sweden and Russia intersected several parishes dividing them between the two states. However, as the parishes divided, most of the congregations remained united despite the border. Parishioners kept going to their old church across the border, and the parish assemblies kept gathering together from both states to decide on local matters. In 1780, Parson Zacharias Cygnaeus (Junior) reminisced in the history of Mântyharju that his father, who led the congregation in the time of the Peace of 1743 and after it, was the glue holding the Mantyharju Congregation together.1 The clergy held a central position in the local community, and the priests had a visible role in arranging the local circumstances on the borderland. When discussing how to proceed with the congregations on the border, the priests were in key position mediating between the local community and the regional authorities. They also had the networks and authority to negotiate with the state and with the authorities across the border, but whose interest did they pursue?

This chapter concentrates on the from-below impact in building the borderland space in the mid-18th century. I examine the formation of the cross-border space in contrast to the state territory. The 18th century is described as the era of high territoriality in state building, when efficient and vital state territory became an increasingly important aspect of manifesting power. It was important to gather information on the geography and the population to rule most effectively. Constant wars shifted borders which created new regions. Russia seized regions throughout the 18th century, while Sweden lost territory in most wars. The state manifested her power on borders as indicators of rule, jurisdiction, subservience, and trade. The 18th century state borders were, nevertheless, porous and flexible, and border control was temporal and sectional.2 The Russo-Swedish border of 1743 was incoherent in practice and vague even on paper. The process of attempting to divide the congregations that were crossing the border reveals the spatiality of the state building process. Continuing communal practices,

Local space building as state building? 275 despite the new state border in the middle of the community, alone exposes the contradiction between state territory and local space. The local space was also insisted on and built from below continuously, and priests were visibly involved in this process. In this chapter, I focus on the clergy’s agency via the parson Zacharias Cygnaeus of the Mantyharju Congregation.

Mantyharju Parish in southern Savonia was repeatedly attempted to be divided without it ever fully happening. The discussion over dividing the congregations on the border was not limited to the Mantyharju congregation; the border cut through seven parishes altogether. The sources show that the cases were mainly managed individually rather than as a larger phenomenon of bipartite congregations on the border. Seldom were these congregations grouped up, which indicates that the border was not understood as a consistent line throughout the state.

By focusing on the division process of the Mantyharju congregation, I study the network of influence from the clergy’s viewpoint. My focus is on the first 20 years after the peace, from 1743 to 1763. The discussion begun shortly after the Peace Treaty of 1743; it heated up in the 1750s and calmed down in the early 1760s. The case was not concluded in these 20 years, however. On the contrary, the political development of the 1770s brought the division of the Mantyharju Congregation back into discussion. Because the political atmosphere had developed further from the original situation, I will not discuss it in this chapter. Some agents insisted on the division of Mantyharju until the beginning of the 19th century. The Russo-Swedish war in 1808-1809 resulted in shifting the state border westwards and, thus, the congregations were no longer on the border.

I study the correspondence between the Mantyharju priests and the authorities on both sides of the border. The minutes of the Borga Chapter and the Consistory of Fredrikshamn provide a good base for the analysis. The Borga Chapter oversaw the borderland congregations on the Swedish side, and the Consistory of Fredrikshamn was its equivalent on the Russian side. In addition, the correspondence of the principality governor of Savonia and Kymmenegard embraces the flow of information on the Swedish side. The highest unit of the local communal decisionmaking was the parish assembly, where the parishioners agreed on the execution of common responsibilities. Usually, it was led by the parson. The assembly handled the secular matters of the parish.3 In Mantyharju, the parish assembly discussed little of the division of the parish during the time studied here, but the commoners had the means to make an impact. Unfortunately, the parish assembly minutes from 1740 to 1753 are missing from the congregation archive.

State building on the borderlands

State building is a spatial process that eventually affected the governmental structure, practices, or functions of the state. The bargaining-state perspective on state building highlights the interactive nature of developing the state apparatus. Interaction, practices, and reactions to factual or imaginary issues developed the state in unintentional ways, too.4 In researching state building on borderlands, the interaction across the border is an equally important factor for development of communication within the state. The local community rarely submitted to be ruled without also interacting, protesting, or trying to benefit from their position.5 Therefore, shifting state borders alone did not reshape local practices.

To follow Henri Lefebvre’s theorisation of space is to examine it as a process rather than as a subject. Space is multidimensional, temporal, and political - yet it is hard to grasp. Space is the emplacement of the social and mental ensembles, where the ideas and actions present themselves. The dimensions of space evolve and vary depending on the viewpoint - and not necessarily at a concurrent pace. Therefore, the geographical portrayal of a political entity does not necessarily equal the social space. Political space, then, refers to the field of political expressions where the interaction takes place. The place, as the embodiment of the social sphere, is built in interaction, in the outlook of its significance and history at different times. Place is not necessarily geographically stationary, but rather a shifting entity.6

Lars Bo Kaspersen and Jeppe Strandsbjerg foreground space building as an essential process of state building. The state’s territorialisation process originated from the emergent aspiration to control and to rule the realm up to its territorial ends. The external and internal power of the state was manifested at the borders. The borderlands could not be designated beforehand but were rather generated as a side product of control, cooperation, and rivalry that forged the territory through these processes.7 Space, as Kaspersen and Strandsbjerg point out, is not equivalent to territory or state, which can especially be seen in borderlands where the space building process became more visible in contrast with the territorialisation process of the state.8

As the presence of the state was not continuous on the borderland, the researcher must ask not only what interested the state but also how and why did the local communities made themselves heard. The state, in general, aimed at reconciling the conflicts with generic solutions to secure taxation income, army resources, and to avoid unrest. The temporality of the state’s presence was reflected in the borderland local communities, and overlapping spaces were characteristic of the borderlands.9 Baud and van Schendel 1997 recommend a closer look on the social dynamics of the cross-border regions in border studies. The real consequences cannot be revealed without considering several levels of influence. The ways the locals exploited the state borders were often unforeseen from above.10

Ethnographer Madeleine Reeves suggests looking at building the space for the ‘below’ in relation to the presence and absence of authority. She insists that the porosity of the state borders should not be mistaken for an exception, but to research the gaps as an essential part of the construction of the state.11 Therefore, the significance of the periphery to the central

Local space building as state building? 277 power is reflected not only by the direct desires of the state, but with the anticipated utility and the threats on the borderland. On the Russo-Swedish borderland under investigation here, the cross-border parishes were territorially divided in half. Both sides - Sweden and Russia - had their own local officials, their own court houses, and taxation systems. However, everyday life adopted no political borders voluntarily.

The clergy as an intermediary group was influential in building the borderland space. How did the borderland space come to diverge from the state territory in the process? How did the agents justify their ambitions to divide the congregation or to keep it together? The priests approached the ecclesiastical, regional, and state authorities to plead their cases. Due to their border-crossing authority, the clergy reached out to both sides of the state border - Sweden and the Vyborg Governorate in Russia. Depending on the situation, they described themselves as representatives of the state or of the locals. At times, they even seek their own benefit quite openly.

The local historians have different interpretations of the motives of the local agents, but they foreground three main reasons for the priests to support or oppose the division; national identity, their own income level, and the feeling of togetherness within the congregation. Martti Favorin suggests that the parson of Mantyharju, identified himself a Swede and, therefore, could not see himself working across the border. Favorin sees loyalty to the Swedish crown as the main motivation behind the plans to divide the congregation. On the other hand, the priests were concerned over their income level. The bigger the congregation, the more income the clergy would receive from the parishioners. For the same reason, the priests of surrounding parishes invited the Swedish subjects to join their congregations. And finally, very often the historians mention the feeling of togetherness. The commoners preferred to stay with their own community despite being subjects of different states.12 What has been left out of the focus is the spatial formation of the borderland and its effects on the territorial practices of the state. By taking the spatial dimension into consideration, we can reconsider the priests’ motives in contrast with what they declared.

The agency

Zacharias Cygnaeus was appointed as the parson of the Mantyharju congregation in 1733. Officially, he served for 41 years until his death in 1774. His father served as priest in Joutseno. When Zacharias Cygnaeus moved to Mantyharju, he married his predecessor’s widow Elisabet Helsingius and took in her eight children. The couple had two more children together.13 The rectory was not the only position that ran in the family. The Chaplain Fredrik Gustaf Berner - also a priest’s son - was the first of five clergymen serving in Mantyharju from 1735 to 1914. He was appointed as substitute chaplain in 1735, only 2 years after Cygnaeus became the parson of Mantyharju. Berner married Elisabet Helsingius’ daughter Brigita

Alopaeus. Cygnaeus and Berner became related via marriage and soon Berner’s assignment in the congregation was made permanent. Brigita died in 1742. By 1743, Cygnaeus and Berner had worked together for 8 years. Berner had a significant role beside Parson Cygnaeus during and after the war of 1741-1743. Berner died in 1762 and was succeeded by his son Emanuel.14

The Lutheran church was the most important institution to connect the Vyborg Governorate to Sweden. On the Russian side, the Lutheran church held on to their authority in the regional and local administration. The priests did not leave their positions after the border change. In the 1750s, a little over half of the priests in the Vyborg Government came from the Swedish side of Finland. In time, however, the number of domestic clergy increased in the Governorate of Vyborg.15

Despite the similarity of the governmental systems on both sides of the state border, the transition process called for the re-establishment of administrative rule16. The Mântyharju congregation remained under the jurisdiction of the Borgâ Chapter, although the church and the parsonage stood on the Russian side. The Borgâ Chapter appointed the priests from the Swedish side, but the Consistory of Fredrikshamn still had influence on the Russian side of the parish. The Borgâ Chapter was especially active in communicating between the local and state levels. However, word travelled to the central government of Sweden via several paths. The Consistory of Fredrikshamn did not have a similar political position as the Borgâ Chapter on the Swedish side. In theory, the regional religious and secular responsibilities were distributed between the Consistories and the regional administration in the Governorate of Vyborg, but in practice the institutions cooperated closely. The Consistory of Fredrikshamn operated under the College of Justice of Estonia, Livonia, and Finland.17 The clergy was accustomed to getting guidance from the Consistory on a wide range of local matters, but in the Vyborg Governorate the Consistory often passed political issues forward for the College of Justice to decide.

The state could not control everything at all times, so taking into consideration the masses was more a consistent state of things than an exception. Kaspersen and Strandsbjerg define the ‘state’ as a relational concept perpetually changing. Thus, we need to define who declared themselves as the representatives of the state and possessed her authority to more than a remote extent.18 The core of the ‘state,’ in my study, consisted of the central executive power, mainly the Royal Majesty (Kungliga Majestet) and the Riksdag, which was the Diet of the Swedish Estates. In the Age of Liberty in Sweden, the Royal Majesty referred not only to the king in person, but also to the Privy Council.19 These institutions were not beyond the reach of the people, not even for the communities of the periphery. The priests could relay messages especially via the regional authorities and all estates could send representation or at least a complaint to the Riksdag. The provincial governors of Savonia and Kymmenegârd, the eastern province of Sweden

Local space building as state building? 279 bordering Russia, were involved with arranging the borderland conditions after the war. Carl Stiernstedt - provincial governor from 1743 to 1747 -participated particularly actively. Stiernstedt held two offices at the borderland. He was the leading commissar of the Swedish border commission and the provincial governor of Savonia and Kymmenegard. His successor Otto Wilhelm de Geer continued addressing borderland issues. In the matter of dividing the Mantyharju Congregation, he mostly followed Stiernstedt’s policy.20

Different interest groups could uphold or erode the state authority. State building was seldom the primary goal of the local agents, but their attempts to influence, and the means of resistance, were at times effective enough to forge the state.21 Who, then, acted from below or from above, is a multifaceted question. People with several official or personal positions, geographically wide social networks, or bidirectional intentions are challenging to position in the above-below dichotomy. Often the official and the personal were so intertwined that the motives can only be interpreted case specifically. The ambitions of the office holders may explain their actions better than their status as servants of the state.22

With the ‘from-below,’ I refer to the participation of actors operating outside the central government.23 The local elite in the periphery can, thus, be identified as ‘from-below’ actors. The elites and mediators between the local, the regional, and the state level had a significant role in the interactive process. Faithful priests benefitted the state since they operated as key mediators in legitimising state power on the local level. Antti Raiha evaluates that the loyalty of the clergy towards the state was essential for the central power.24 The church was one of the main public arenas in the early modern local community. The building had a purpose beyond religion. At church, people met each other, created networks, mingled, and heard the latest news. The clergy was in responsible for many secular duties, such as collecting population data, assisting the tax collectors, and reading state proclamations to the community. Priests introduced reforms to their communities. However, the lay people did not follow the clergy without reservations. It was not uncommon for the local individuals or interest groups to contradict the clergy or one another.25

The balance between the ecclesiastical and the secular power reflected the church administration. On the one hand, the priests were part of the state control machinery, but on the other they represented the local community. It was common in the Lutheran church of Sweden that sons followed their fathers into the priesthood. The same convention continued in the governorate of Vyborg on the Russian side. Thus, many of the borderland priests grew up in Finland. They often knew the language and the culture and were well networked. Also, if the priests’ families were known in the community, it evoked trust.26 The tradition of priest families was maintained on both sides of the border throughout the 18th century.

Plans concerning the division

The discussion over the division of the congregation began soon after the ratification of the Peace Treaty. It was not a unique situation to have parishes on the border that reached across two states. On the border of 1721, minor parts of five Swedish parishes reached over to the Russian side. Now in 1743, however, the Russian side was more influential and the division territorially more balanced.27 The Peace Treaty of 1743 provided some guidelines for organising the borderland, such as the descriptions of the borderline and the definition of the legal and economic hierarchy in the Vyborg Governorate of Russia. Swedish laws, rights, and privileges were adopted in the seized province.28 The newly established Peace Treaty of Abo between Sweden and Russia appointed the state border to cross in the middle of parson Cygnaeus’ parish - Mäntyharju - and he was concerned that the congregation was going to be divided as well, along with his income. One of the borderland congregations - Pyttis (Fin. Pyhtää) on the Gulf of Finland - was divided during the peace negotiations leaving Cygnaeus’ colleague Parson König in quite a predicament. He was struggling to hold on to any position after the border shift.29 Evidently stricken by his colleague’s destiny, Cygnaeus prepared to confront similar difficulties.

Therefore, Cygnaeus applied for a secondment to another parish. He wrote to the Borgä Chapter in 1744 and later the same year he pleaded his case to the Provincial Governor Stiernsted, attaching a letter of appeal to be forwarded to the Swedish Royal Majesty?0 In his letters, Cygnaeus announced his desire to abandon his soon-to-be dismembered congregation and requested a reassignment. Since almost half of his congregation had been left on the Russian side, like Parson König’s, Cygnaeus asked to be transferred into another parish. Evidently, Cygnaeus foresaw the destiny of the Pyttis congregation for his own parish. He was concerned over the sufficiency of the parish tax. Half of his income would not stretch to sustain the living standards that his parsonage was accustomed to. The solution Cygnaeus proposed was to be reassigned to Rantasalmi parish nearby with an opening to the parson’s position.’’1

In the meantime, establishing the state border proved to be a challenge. Active negotiations over the concrete location of the border continued for over 10 years and the border commissar’s correspondence continued until 1761. Even then, the state border was left partly unestablished. Because the negotiations over the state border had only just begun in 1744, the Borgä Chapter did not wish to encourage changes on the borderland for fear of losing control over the disputed territory. The Chapter advised Cygnaeus to stay in Mäntyharju until the border was settled?2 The unestablished border was thus used as an argument in governing the borderland. The clergy used this argument as well. When the Consistory of Fredrikshamn insisted on Cygnaeus taking the oath of allegiance to Elisabeth of Russia, Cygnaeus referred to this argument to avoid unnecessary absoluteness. He replied

Local space building as state building? 281 that no actions should take place before the border is settled.’3 He never took the Oath of Allegiance and remained a subject of the Swedish king until his death. The unstable state border was an argument to leave other issues inconclusive for the time being. Later, Cygnaeus’ authority over the unstable borderland grew into a personal asset for him.

Provincial Governor Stiernstedt supported Cygnaeus. Stiernstedt was convinced that Parson Cygnaeus would lose his privileges sooner or later on the territory 'under the foreign might'.34 Thus, in the early stages of establishing the border, the Border Commissar believed that the border would divide the community consistently throughout the borderline. Cygnaeus and Stiernstedt - preparing for the division - wished to establish a new church for the Swedish side of the Mantyharju congregation. To transfer some of the church’s fortune for the new congregation, they requested from the Royal Majesty that the church property could be regarded as Cygnaeus’ personal belongings, which, according to the peace treaty, would have enabled shifting part of the property to the Swedish side. The assets would have made building the new church on the Swedish side somewhat more appealing and secure, but the plan was unsuccessful. The church, the parsonage, and the church possessions were public property and could not, therefore, be removed. The peace treaty forbade seizing public property from the Russian side.35

Cygnaeus appealed to the Clergy Estate at the Riksdag suggesting the division of the Mantyharju congregation but did not get the project endorsed by his peers. The commoners also appealed to the Riksdag to keep Mantyharju undivided.36 In the beginning, the parson seems to have rushed to secure his own position and income, which did not benefit his congregation and therefore pushed the commoners to act against his aims.

The state within the church

Argumentation justifying the division of the Mantyharju congregation was strongly related to the state territory. The borderland space, though, developed somewhere in between and within two states. In the 1740s, the local circumstances were maintained to preserve stability while establishing the new order. However, the protracted negotiations over the borderline provoked mutual frustration over escaping control within the regional authorities. The church was a public space at the congregation’s disposal and both states insisted on making use of it. The church buildings stood on the Russian side, but the priests in Mantyharju were ‘Swedish vassals'37 as the Consistory of Fredrikshamn phrased it rather accurately, since the Borga Chapter appointed the clergy in Mantyharju.38

In 25 March 1751, the Swedish king Frederick I died. The bells were tolled in his honour everyday for an hour for a full month - in every parish church in Sweden except Mantyharju. Dean Heinricius reported to the Borga Chapter that the bell-ringer was unwilling to perform the duty forthe Swedes. Could the bell-ringer be blamed for he was a subject of Russia and the church stood on Russian territory? Disrespecting the deceased Swedish king was a serious matter that, in the dean’s opinion, externalised the absurdity of the church outside the state. The list of disadvantages for the arrangement across the border was long. For example, when a service was held in the church on the Russian side together with Russian subjects, one did not know which authority to mention first in the intersession, not to mention the awkwardness of sending state’s proclamations to be read in a church standing on foreign territory. The Borga Chapter also came up with several concerns over the security of Swedish subjects in Russian territory. The Chapter appealed to the Royal Majesty convinced that they would receive support from Stockholm and the congregation would be ordered to be divided.’’9 They received no reply.

Although the chaplains were no longer the parsons’ hirelings in the late 18th century, but established clergymen,40 Cygnaeus was the head of the congregation for the Swedish regional and state authorities. Chaplain Berner built a trusted relationship with the Consistory of Fredrikshamn, despite being a subject of Sweden. He never took the Oath of Allegiance, but he settled his affairs in the Governorate of Vyborg so that he earned the trust of the Russian authorities.41

The priests, the state, and the time

The loyalty of the clergy was a constant concern for the regional ecclesiastical authorities. According to the peace treaty, the conditions of the Lutheran congregations were to be preserved on the Russian side,42 but the agreement did not define how far the Lutheran congregations should extend their harmony in contrast with the state. Intercession days and religious holidays were not synchronous in Sweden and Russia. In the Vyborg Governorate, the Russian subjects celebrated feast days that did not exist in Sweden, such as the coronation day of the Empress.43 After the division, Cygnaeus received criticism from the Russian side for ignoring the Russian subjects’ intercession days.44

The local dissatisfaction grew after Sweden adopted the improved calendar45 in 1753, and the borderland parishes faced yet another problem dividing the congregation in half from within. In Sweden, March 1st followed February 17th. For now, the days of the week remained the same on the Swedish and on the Russian side, but the Swedish calendar was 11 days ahead. According to the improved calendar of 1753, Good Friday was on April 20th on the Swedish side, which was only April 9th on the Russian side.46 Adopting the improved calendar immediately caused increased friction in Mantyharju.

Chaplain Berner asked the Consistory of Fredrikshamn for support. He announced himself as the spokesman for all the parishioners, and especially the Russian side of the congregation, when he requested instructions

Local space building as state building? 283 on the chronology. Berner explained that the temporal disconnection was separating the Swedish subjects from the Russian subjects within the congregation. The Consistory sympathised and wanted a satisfactory solution but replied that by adopting the improved calendar on the Russian side of Mantyharju, the Consistory would be exceeding their political authority. Further, it was too much of a concession to be made for Sweden before the border had been fully settled. After all, the peace treaty stated that congregations should follow the traditions and chronology of Sweden in 1743 -not adopting changes made after the establishment of peace.47

Even before Sweden adopted the improved calendar, it seemed not only that the priests were determined to separate the parish halves, but that the cooperation between Cygnaeus and Berner was put to the test. The clergymen accused one another of favouring their so-called own parish halves. Parson Cygnaeus favoured the Swedish half and Chaplain Berner the Russian half of the parish.48 In 1753, the power struggle between the priests in Mantyharju turned in favour of Chaplain Berner, because Parson Cygnaeus started suffering from a mental disability and could not fully perform his duties. He was confused, inconsistent, and behaved peculiarly. Berner declared graciously that he was in good terms with Cygnaeus’ illness, and that the Consistory of Fredrikshamn had empowered him to take over the Russian side of the congregation. Cygnaeus felt that Berner was attacking him, and the Borga Chapter saw Berner’s actions as the Russians’ attempt to take over the congregation. They refused to let the Consistory of Fredrikshamn dictate over Mantyharju’s ecclesiastical authority, even though the priest that the Consistory endorsed was under Russian jurisdiction.49

There was little consistency between the parson’s efficiency in carrying out his duties and the endorsement he received from the community. The peasants complained about incompetent priests, at times, refused to pay the church tax, or even attacked the priests for poor management. But when the priest had the respect of the community, his shortcomings were better tolerated. Most often, the parson was the head of the congregation until his death.50 Cygnaeus needed assistance because his mental disability hindered his ability to meet his duties. Based on the sources, though, there were no demands to replace the parson. Cygnaeus requested that Israel Cajander become his deacon and the Borga Chapter granted permission.51 The Chapter complicated the situation even more by suggesting that the new priest should take over the whole congregation, which would mean that Berner was no longer needed. The Consistory of Fredrikshamn aligned with Chaplain Berner to support his position. The Consistory addressed the College of Justice to interfere with the Swedish takeover.52

Concerned about Cajander’s takeover, Chaplain Berner requested authorisation from the Consistory of Fredrikshamn to take over the Russian side of Mantyharju. Cajander complained to the Borga Chapter. Cajander accused Berner of segregating part of the congregation with the old chronology and

Russian feast days. The Borga Chapter agreed that Berner had exceeded his authority when trying to rule the whole congregation even though over half of the houses stood on Swedish territory. Berner admitted that the bipartite chronology was alienating the two parts of the congregation from each other, and it increased the workload of the clergy, but he refused to blame it on the Russians. To the Consistory of Fredrikshamn, he presented himself as the representative of the parishioners - not as a priest nominated by the Borga Chapter or a Swedish vassal. Eventually, the improved calendar was adopted in the whole congregation, and the Chapter and the Consistory granted Berner the authority to take over Cygnaeus’ duties on both sides of the state border in the Mantyharju congregation.55 Cajander was reassigned to another congregation and the conflict settled.

Pressure ‘from above’

In the 1760s, the complete division was close to becoming reality. A general collection was called from all parishes in Sweden to raise the money for a new church on the Swedish side.54 One of the leaders of this attempt was Abraham Argillander who had settled on the Grohndal estate on the Swedish side of Mantyharju parish. He was the inspector of saltpetre burners in Nyland, Tavastland, and Savonia. He was a notable and visible regional advocate for the Swedish state. He also had a personal connection with Cygnaeus. Argillander’s father was a parson in Kuopio and with Cygnaeus he organised regional matters in south-eastern Finland during the war in 1741-1743.55 With the support of the provincial governor de Geer, Argillander decided to use his leverage to help one to divide the congregation. Argillander contacted the Borga Chapter to hasten the division process. The Chapter had asked for advice on the Mantyharju matter from Stockholm in 1759 the previous time but received no answer. In 1761, the Borga Chapter repeated the question, but in reply they learned only that his Royal Majesty had yet given his final say on the matter.56 The Borga Chapter even negotiated for the Russian subjects of Mantyharju to help one with the construction work to persuade the Swedish commoners to support the division.57 When even the peasantry appealed to Stockholm requesting the funds to establish a new church on the Swedish side, the state granted permission for a general collection within the realm.58 The collection money was sent to Mantyharju, but still nothing happened. Construction projects in Mantyharju were problematic because the peasants were usually reluctant to take on extra work.59 The peasants often had low opinions on great construction projects, such as churches.60 It seems that the majority of the Mantyharju parishioners did not stand behind the plan after all.

At this point, dividing the congregation and building a new church on the Swedish side did not seem favourable for Chaplain Berner. He was still a Swedish subject, appointed by the Borga Chapter, but living

Local space building as state building? 285 on the Russian side. If the congregation was to be divided, he probably would not have benefitted from it anymore. In the beginning, he was the most likely candidate to become the parson of the Russian side and had the congregation been divided. But after 20 years of provisional arrangements, his position was no longer as assured. Berner was determined to convince the Borga Chapter of his loyalty to Sweden and the value of his good relations with the Russian authorities. Berner ensured the Borga Chapter that his actions with the Russians stemmed from loyalty to the Swedish crown.61

Berner did not get to witness the progress of his congregation for much longer, however, because he died later in 1762. The attempt to divide the congregation had come to a halt yet again, and now one of the priests with cross-border authority was disabled and the other was deceased. The congregation was in hands of a temporary clergyman. To uphold what little balance the congregation had between the two states, Cygnaeus’ son Zacharias Cygnaeus62 was invited to come to assist his father in 1763.63 As the deacon, the younger Cygnaeus took over the duties of the parson in Mantyharju. The following year, the son of the deceased chaplain, Emanuel Berner, was elected as the new chaplain.64 This way, the cross-border authority was inherited by the next generation of priests. The inclination to divide the Mantyharju Congregation never ceased. During the 1760s, as the new generation of priests was introduced in the congregation, it was pushed to the background, but in the 1770s the issue was revived. Only the next border shift in 1809 settled the controversy, as Russia seized Finland up to the Bay of Bothnia and Mantyharju was no longer on the border.


The priests were important mediators between the local community and the state authorities, also balancing between the two states. The sources show that the clergy changed their stand on whether or not the congregation on the state border should be divided. Especially in the beginning, the priests assumed the congregation to be divided and were even pushing for division against the parishioners’ wishes. Parson Zacharias Cygnaeus was among the first to address the matter. The state, however, did not wish to hasten any decisions for the fear of losing control over the borderland. Later, as the regional authorities’ actions became more and more purposeful towards dividing the congregation, the special status of the clergy as mediators was highlighted. After the death of Cygnaeus, he was remembered as the congregation leader who held on to the unification of the Mantyharju congregation.

The priests of Mantyharju were in a special position, since their authority, however well it was divided in theory, crossed the states’ territorial boundaries. Both states relied on loyal clergy on the borderland. The expression of loyalty was not merely a territorial question; the state wasalso concerned with ecclesiastical tradition and chronology. Cygnaeus’ and Berner’s authority in relation to territory was not consistent. The priests were appointed by the Swedish Borga Chapter, but they attempted to sustain favourable relations with both sides. There was no consistent subject of loyalty for the borderland clergy. As the case of Deacon Cajander shows, the authority of the Borga Chapter was ostensible, because the control over the whole congregation required international unanimity. At times, the priests’ ambitions clashed, leading to successful interference from other agents, but their authority was never completely overruled, since neither state’s authority could claim control over the whole parish. The cross-border authority became personal capital that not all could possess, but in Mantyharju it was something that could be inherited. Both clergymen, Parson Cygnaeus and Chaplain Berner, were succeeded by their sons.

The case of Mantyharju shows that local mediators had an impact on borderland practices. The defining political interaction did not take place merely at the centre, but local and regional interest groups participated actively. We cannot simplify it as domestic politics, yet it is not within the international nor diplomatic field either. The borderland space was a public cross-border arena of influence. It was not established from above, but it built up in close communication with the local community. The way the clergy managed to exploit their networks, foregrounds the spatial capacity at their disposal. The justification for keeping the congregation united focused on the ambiguity of the unestablished borderline. When the division was pushed further by the state, the commoners could at least stall through passiveness.

The case of the Mantyharju clergy demonstrates the contradiction between the fields of agency of the state and the local community. To investigate the ways the local community constructed and exploited the borderland space, there must be further studies of the from-below agency of the borderland peasantry. Belonging to a cross-border congregation provided the commoners with room beyond the state, which deserves to be investigated further.

Primary sources

Kansallisarkisto (KA)

Borga Chapter Archive Ca:7-Ca:25. The Chapter minutes 1743-1762.

Consistory of Fredrikshamn Archive 41. The Consistory minutes 1744-1768.

Letters to the Royal Majesty mf FR 30-31. The provincial governors’ letters 1743-1762.

Mantyharju Congregation Archive II Ha:l. History of Mantyharju church and congregation 1780, Zacharias Cygnaeus.

Mantyharju Congregation Archive II Ca:l. Parish assembly minutes 1724-1774.


  • 1 History of Mäntyharju church and congregation 1780, Zacharias Cygnaeus. Mäntyharju Congregation Archive II Ha:l. KA.
  • 2 Baud & Schendel 1997, pp. 214-215; Nordin 2000, p. 20; Sunderland 2007, p. 49; Katajala 2011, pp. 79-81; Lerbom 2012, p. 31, pp. 36-38.
  • 3 Gustafsson 1994, p. 59; Viitaniemi 2016, pp. 58-63.
  • 4 Tilly 1990, p. 5; Gustafsson 1994, pp. 75-78; Holenstein2009, p. 5; Kaspersen Sc Strandsbjerg 2009, p. 236; Hallenberg & Hohn 2017, pp. 34-35.
  • 5 Sahlins 1989, pp. 5-7; Massey 1995, pp. 188-189; Baud & Schendel 1997, pp. 211-212.
  • 6 LeFebvre 1991; Massey 1995, pp. 185-189; Massey 2005, pp. 9-11; Kaspersen & Strandsbjerg 2009, pp. 235-237; Hallenberg & Linnarsson 2014, pp. 8-10; Klimin 2015, pp. 230-232; Stock 2015, pp. 1-9.
  • 7 Baud & Schendel 1997, p. 217; Lerbom 2012, p. 31, pp. 36-38; Räihä 2012, pp. 23-24.
  • 8 Kaspersen & Strandsbjerg 2009, pp. 240-241.
  • 9 Baud & Schendel 1997, pp. 214-219; Scott 1998, p. 2; Hadley 2009, pp. 18-20; Reeves 2014, pp. 7-8.
  • 10 Baud & Schendel 1997, pp. 211-212, p. 216.
  • 11 Reeves 2014, pp. 7-8, pp. 240-242; see also Kaspersen & Strandsbjerg 2009, p. 238.
  • 12 Favorin 1975, pp. 233, 235-239; Väänänen 1975, p. 95; Mielonen 1993, pp. 396-400.
  • 13 Ruuth 1945, pp. 50-52.
  • 14 Ruuth 1945, pp. 52-53; Kotivuori 2005, Fredrik Gustaf Berner.
  • 15 Borgâ Chapter minutes 15.2.1744, Borgâ Chapter Archive I, Ca:7; Stiernstedt to Royal Majesty 22.10.1744. Principality Governor’s letters mf FR 30. KA. Väänänen 1975, p. 95; Knapas 2014, pp. 167-169.
  • 16 Räihä 2012, pp. 23-24.
  • 17 Räihä 2016, pp. 432-434; Räihä & Paaskoski 2018, pp. 580-581, p. 586.
  • 18 Kaspersen Sc Strandsbjerg 2009, p. 239.
  • 19 Gustafsson 1994, p. 50.
  • 20 Principality governor to KM. Skrivelse till KM, Landhövdingars skrivelse mf FR 30-31. KA.
  • 21 Sahlins 1988, p. 237, pp. 246-247; Hallenberg, Holm & Johansson 2008, pp. 251-260; Holenstein 2009, p. 5.
  • 22 Koskinen 2011, p. 155.
  • 23 Österberg 1989, pp. 74-75.
  • 24 Räihä 2016, p. 431.
  • 25 Mäntylä 1985, p. 164; Gustafsson 1994, p. 59, pp. 77-78; Ihalainen 2004, p. 78; Villstrand 2012, pp. 109-110; Viitaniemi 2016, p. 63; Ahokas & Räisänen-Schröder 2018, pp. 9-14.
  • 26 Gustafsson 1994, p. 59; Knapas 2014, p. 168; Hiljanen 2019, pp. 67.
  • 27 Knapas Sc Paaskoski 2013, p. 63.
  • 28 The Peace Treaty of Âbo 7.8.1743.
  • 29 Borgâ Chapter minutes 22.6.1744. Borgâ Chapter archive I, Ca:7. KA.
  • 30 Borgâ Chapter minutes 15.2.1744. Borgâ Chapter Archive I, Ca:7; Stiernstedt to Royal Majesty 22.10.1744, Principality Governor’s letters mf FR 30. KA.
  • 31 Peace Treaty of Abo 7.8.1743, §5-6; Borgâ Chapter minutes 22.6.1744. Borgâ Chapter archive I, Ca:7. KA.
  • 32 Stiernstedt to Royal Majesty 19.8.1745. Principality governor’s letters mf FR 30. KA.

Stiernstedt to Royal Majesty 19.8.1745. Principality governor’s letters mf FR 30. KA.

‘...under et fremmande Walde.’ Stiernstedt to the Royal Majesty 22.10.1744. Principality Governor’s letters mf FR 30. KA.

Stiernstedt to the Royal Majesty 22.10.1744, 19.8.1745. Principality governor’s letters mf FR 30. KA.

Favorin 1975, p. 235.

‘stuenska wasaller.’ Consistory minutes 8.3.1754. Consistory of Fredriks-hamn archive, 41. Minutes 1744-1768. KA.

Consistory minutes 8.3.1754. Consistory of Fredrikshamn archive, 41. Minutes 1744-1768. KA; Borga Chapter minutes 22.10.1744, 19.8.1745. Borga Chapter Archive I, Ca:7, Ca:8. KA.

Borga Chapter minutes 15.5.1751. Borga Chapter Archive I, Ca:14. KA.

Suolahti 1919, pp. 184-185.

Favorin 1975, p. 234.

The Peace Treaty of Abo 7.8.1743, §8.

Raiha & Paaskoski 2018, p. 587.

Stiernstedt to Royal Majesty 19.8.1745, Principality governor’s letters mf FR 30. KA.

The new almanac was not named the Gregorian calendar because of the friction between the Catholic and the Protestant world, but apart from the slight alteration on the spring equinox, the new almanac was consistent with the Gregorian calendar and in historiography, the new Swedish almanac is often referred to as the Gregorian calendar.

Finnish Almanac for 1753. University Almanac Office, University of Helsinki. https://almanakka.helsinki.fi/fi/arkisto/yliopiston-almanakat-universi-tetets-almanackor-1608-1999/1700-luvun-almanakat.html

Consistory minutes 12.10.1753, 8.3.1754. Consistory of Fredrikshamn archive, 41. Minutes 1744-1768. KA.

Borga Chapter minutes 19.5.1752. Borga Chapter Archive I, Ca:15.

Borga Chapter minutes 15.8.1753, 15.9.1753 , 5.12.1753. Borga Chapter Archive I, Ca:16.

Suolahti 1919, pp. 58-60.

Borga Chapter minutes 15.9.1753, The Borga Chapter Archive I, Ca:16.

Consistory minutes 12.10.1753, 8.3.1754. Consistory of Fredrikshamn archive, 41. Minutes 1744-1768. KA.

Borga Chapter minutes 15.8.1753, 15.9.1753, The Borga Chapter Archive I, Ca:16; Consistory minutes 12.10.1753 , 8.3.1754, 22.12.1753. Consistory of Fredrikshamn archive, 41. Minutes 1744-1768. KA. Ruuth 1945, pp. 54-55. Favorin 1975, pp. 435-436.

Argillander, Abraham, SBL. https://sok.riksarkivet.se/sbl/Presentation.aspx-?id=18795; Harjula 2000.

Borga Chapter to Argillander 7.11.1761. Mantyharju congregation archive. Parish assembly minutes 1724-1774, II Ca:l. KA.

Parish assembly minutes 7.11.1761. Mantyharju Congregation Archive II Ca:l. KA.

Favorin 1975, p. 237.

Several building projects during the 18th century were delayed, remained incomplete, or never started. Mantyharju congregation archive. Parish assembly minutes 1724-1774. Mantyharju Congregation Archive II Ca:l. KA. Viitaniemi 2016, p. 76.

Consistory minutes 16.8.1762. Consistory of Fredrikshamn archive, 41. Minutes 1744-1768. KA.

  • 62 Often known as Zacharias Cygnaeus senior (1733-1809), whose son is referred to as Zacharias Cygnaeus Junior (1763-1830).
  • 63 Ruuth 1945, 50-52.
  • 64 Parish assembly minutes 1762-1764. Mântyharju Congregation Archive II Ca:l. KA.


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