In the service of the Czar
1867 – 1914
Gummerus Kirjapaino Oy, Jyväskylä 2003.
320 pages, ISBN 952-5170-33-0.
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (1867 - 1951) is the most
notable person when it comes to the history of independent Finland. But how did
this young Finnish baron become a stylish cosmopolite and the most solid
guarantee for the independence of his home country?
Gustaf was a lively young man,
when his debt-ridden father fled to Paris with his mistress. The young man was
expelled from school for misbehaviour and he had to leave Louhisaari, the
family manor, when the house was auctioned. Later Gustaf was also expelled from
the Hamina Cadet School. He then graduated as a private student. His studies
were financed by his uncle, Albert von Julin, who was the proprietor of
Fiskars ironworks. Gustaf graduated from the Nikolai Cavalry School in St.
Petersburg as a commissioned officer and was accepted to the Chevalier Guards
of the Czar.
The young officer married Anastasia
Arapova, a wealthy Russian heiress. When Anastasia fled to France with
their two daughters, Gustaf joined the Russian forces in the war against Japan.
He returned from the war as a hero and was sent to China for two years as a
secret agent. In China he met among others Dalai Lama, the
spiritual leader of Tibetan people.
Mannerheim was appointed
commander of an Ulan Regiment in Poland and was promoted to the rank of General
in the Imperial Entourage. Mannerheim had the opportunity to follow at close
range the lives of Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra. He
came to know the Grand Dukes, the Generals and the Cabinet Ministers of Russia
as well as the society beauties of St. Petersburg and Warsaw. His hobbies
included horses, hunting and gambling. He followed also closely the hectic
political life of his times.