December 14

This Day in History

World War I

Dec 14, 1918:

New king renounces Finnish throne

In the latest bump on Finland's rocky road from Swedish and Russian duchy to independent nation, the newly-crowned Frederick, German-born and the brother-in-law of Kaiser Wilhelm II, renounces the Finnish throne after barely two months.

After Finland declared its independence from Russia in December 1917, a struggle for power began within the country. While government forces worked to disarm and expel the remaining Russian troops, the socialist Red Guard rebelled in late January 1918, seeking to spread a Bolshevik-inspired revolution. The clash between the Reds and the Whites, as government troops were known, ended in victory by the government, due in part to the assistance of German troops sent by the Kaiser to southern Finland.

In an effort to reestablish order in the form of monarchal government, conservative forces, in league with the Germans, gave the throne to Frederick, a German prince, in October 1918. His coronation was seen as a confirmation of the close relations between Finland and Germany. After the war ended on November 11, however, the choice of Frederick as a ruler no longer seemed viable. The Kaiser had abdicated two days earlier, and Germany itself was no longer a monarchy. Moreover, it seemed unlikely that the triumphant Allied powers would look kindly upon a German prince on the throne in Finland. In light of these considerations, Frederick abdicated on December 14, leaving the way clear for the Finnish parliament to adopt a new republican constitution in July of the following year.

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