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Suomen Kunnallisvaakunat - Finlands Kommunvapen
Finnish Civic Heraldry

National Coat of arms of FINLAND

Origin/meaning:
Finland did not get her own territorial arms until the 16th century.
King Gustav Vasa of Sweden had created his son John Duke of Finland, and in 1557 he bestowed the coat of arms for the Dutchy. In addition to (Swedish) national symbols it carried two special symbols on a quarterly shield : one for North Finland, one for South Finland. Both symbols were later used as provincial arms for Varsinais-Suomi and Satakunta.

After ascending to the throne of Sweden in 1581, John III took the title Grand Duke of Finland, thereby de facto making Finland a Grand Dutchy. Soon after this the arms were designed. According to general belief the arms were based on the tomb of Gustav Vasa in Uppsala (Sweden). Historical data, however, indicate that the symbols may be older.

The lion is derived from the Swedish royal arms, derived from the Folkung-dynasty (see Sweden). The weapons have been copied from the arms of Karelia. The charge as a whole, features the political situation of that time. Sweden was at war with Russia and was winning at the time (the war was fought in Karelia). Roses appearing on the arms are merely decorations. Later they became symbols of the Finnish provinces.
The main colours may be taken from the arms of Turku cathedral, but may also be accidental.
The coronet was added in the 16th century, apparently following the example of Lithuania.

Although the arms originally were the arms of the Grand Duke, they became soon the arms of the country itself. The arms were not changed after Finland became part of the Russian Empire and later an independent Republic.

Just after independence there was a movement to replace the lion with the, in Finland more common bear. But as the lion was used for centuries as a national symbol, this change never took place.



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