And the winner is…

27 November 2009 | In the news

Tandefelt: PorvooThe winner of the Finlandia Prize for Non-Fiction 2009, worth €30,000, is Borgå 1809. Ceremoni och fest (‘Borgå [Porvoo] 1809. Ceremony and feast’) by historian Henrika Tandefelt (born 1972; see this review).

The final choice was made by Björn Wahlroos, Chairman of the Board of the Sampo Insurance Group. No doubt the historical period described in Tandefelt’s book is of great interest to Wahlroos, as he is the owner of the Åminne (in Finnish, Joensuu) estate, which is located in the south-west of Finland and dates from the 18th century. Wahlroos has recently restored the manor house to its full 19th-century glory. The Åminne estate was once the home of Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt, a Finnish-born statesman and officer. Armfelt was also King Gustav III’s trusted adviser – and later adjutant-general under Tsar Alexander I in St Petersburg, and finally, before his death, governor-general of Finland (1813).

Tandefelt’s book (also published in Finnish by the Finnish Literature Society, under the title Porvoo 1809. Juhlamenoja ja tanssiaisia) portrays the elaborate procedures, in all their pomp, involved in the handover of the regime in Finland: the Finnish Diet was held in the town of Porvoo between autumn 1808 and summer 1809. Finland was formally annexed to Russia after 700 years of Swedish rule, and Tsar Alexander I officially confirmed this changeover in the presence of the Diet in July 1809.