Paholainen Oulussa?

Varhaismodernin Suomi-kuvan hyödyntäminen Englannin sisäisessä uskontopoliittisessa keskustelussa


  • Marko Lamberg Tampereen yliopisto


Suomi-kuva, kulttuurinen toiseus, varhaismoderni aika, yhteiskunnalliset debatit, Anglikaaninen kirkko


The Devil in Oulu? – Exploiting the Early Modern Image of Finland in English Religion-political Debate


The article analyses a short text, published anonymously in 1670 in London under the title ”A caveat to conventiclers being a letter from an English gentleman in Stockholme, to a person of quality in London relating, the manner of the devils appearance in the dutchy of Finland”.


The writing contains a phantastic description of the Devil’s alleged appearance in Finland and his solemn parade to the town of Strixbourg, also called Oulenstadt. The name must refer to Oulu, also spoken of as Uleå stad or Uleåborg in Swedish. The text deals also with the Devil’s activities and it ends by discussing conventicles, that is illegal religious gatherings prohibited by the Anglican Church and the English Crown.


The writing contains a mixture of themes which all can be regarded as part of cultural otherness to a cultivated Englishman devoted to the Anglican faith: the Devil, remote Finland, Turkish soldiers, coarse Irishmen, the Catholic Church, a wizard and naturally also conventicles. As its title implies, the writing was intended as a warning to those who participated in conventicles, but the author, who was most likely a relatively well educated man although not a clergyman on the basis of the contents and the style, did not want to condemn them nor did he want to preach to them. Instead, he created an exciting story by combining several cultural others and by utilising Finland as the main scene. No doubt the age-long international reputation of Finland as a strange, barbaric and unchristian territory helped his choice. It is also possible that the great witch hysteria which started in the northern parts of the Swedish realm in 1669 influenced on the contents of the description, although this potential connection remains uncertain.


Despite Finland being the main scene, the Irishmen are the only ethnic group of which the author leaves a detailed description – most likely because of the geographical proximity and the stereotypes which the Englishmen had towards them. The author’s core message can be found towards the end of the writing. He regards conventicles as harmful activities, but his tone is quite temperate. He focuses on warnings against the Devil’s ability of speaking and behaving in ways which make people follow it to damnation. Thus, he regards participants in conventicles – like the inhabitants of Finland – as victims of the Devil and not its allies.