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The legendary Marshal of Finland and President of Finland Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (1867–1951) led the Finnish Defense Forces in four major wars during the 20th century, helping to secure the continuation of Finland as a free, sovereign and independent nation.

Mannerheim spent total of 30 years in the service of the Russian Imperial Armed Forces, in the end of the era when Finland was the Grand Duchy of Finland (1809–1917), an autonomous part of the Russian Empire. For 28 years, Saint Petersburg (Finnish: Nevanlinna) was the hometown of Mannerheim.

Mannerheim volunteered to serve in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904. He was promoted to colonel for his bravery in the Battle of Mukden in 1905, after which he led an exploratory mission into Inner Mongolia. In 1906–1908, Mannerheim served as a secret intelligence officer in Asia.

In 1909–1910, Mannerheim served as a regiment commander in Poland. He was promoted to major general in 1910. In 1912, Mannerheim became part of the Russian Imperial entourage, and in 1913 was appointed cavalry brigade commander.

At the beginning of World War I, Mannerheim served as a brigade commander on the Austro-Hungarian and Romanian fronts. In December 1914, after distinguishing himself in combat against the Austro-Hungarian forces, Mannerheim was awarded the Order of St. George, 4th class. In March 1915, he was appointed to command the 12th Cavalry Division.

In early 1917, Mannerheim witnessed the outbreak of the February Revolution in Saint Petersburg. After returning to the front, he was promoted to lieutenant general in April 1917 (promotion was backdated to February 1915), and took command of the 6th Cavalry Corps in the summer of 1917. However, as Mannerheim did not support the Russian revolution, he returned to Finland.

As the commander-in-chief of the defense forces of the newly-independent country of Finland, Mannerheim and his forces, the Finnish White Guard, defended the government of Finland against a coup-attempt orchestrated by the Finnish Red Guard, during the Finnish Civil War. The war broke out on January 27, 1918. The coup-attempt by the Finnish Red Guard was inspired by the October Revolution (1917) of Russia, and was supported by Vladimir Lenin. plus wedding of the size

Mannerheim was promoted to general of cavalry in March 1918, shortly before the final victory of the Finnish White Guard in the Finnish Civil War. Following this, in the Civil War of Estonia, fought in 1918–1920, c. 4000 Finnish men loyal to Mannerheim played a critical role in the achieving of independence for Estonia.

In the two Finnish-Soviet wars fought during World War II, the Winter War (1939–1940) and the Continuation War (1941–1944), Mannerheim led the Finnish Defense Forces against the attempts of the Soviet Union to conquer Finland. The Finnish-Soviet warring ended to series of nine Finnish defensive victories in the summer of 1944, and retreat of the Soviet forces in the final major battle, fought in Ilomantsi.

• Mannerheim saved St. Petersburg (Leningrad) from Nazi occupation – Continuation War (1941–1944):

In his final victory, the now Marshal of Finland Mannerheim commanded the Finnish Defense Forces in the Lapland War, fought between Finland and Germany from September 1944 to April 1945. In that war, Finnish forces led by Mannerheim chased away the German forces from Northern Finland.

Mannerheim was appointed the President of Finland on August 4, 1944, shortly before the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War ended. He remained in office until March 4, 1946, when he resigned and retired, 19 months after the Continuation War had ended.

• In June 2016, a memorial plaque honoring Mannerheim was erected in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Learn more:

During the era of the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1809–1917, over 300 Finns rose to generals and admirals in the Russian Imperial Armed Forces. When the coronation of the last Emperor of Russia, Tsar Nicholas II, formally took place on May 26, 1896, Nicholas's ceremonial bodyguard of seven high-ranking officers in the coronation included three Finns. The bodyguard was headed by Mannerheim.

Great-uncles of Mannerheim, the brothers Johan and Lars Bengtsson Skytte, governed the Swedish Empire for King Gustav II Adolf, including what today is St. Petersburg:

• Johan Skytte delivers marriage proposal to Princess Stuart in 1610:

• Lars Bengtsson Skytte (1574–1634) – Stadtholder of Sweden: