Ilkka's father Pentti was the second largest landowner in Ilmajoki,
Seinäjoki , in northern Ostrobothnian Finland. After his
father's death, Ilkka, an accomplished horse rider among his many
other talents, took over the family business in 1585. He moved around
the country doing land deals for some years. Ilkka was also the owner
of a ship and visited
In 1595, the whole of Ostrobothnia was in revolt, with peasants refusing to pay crippling taxes owed to the Swedish crown that at the time ruled Finland. Ilkka led the peasants' resistance movement. The Cudgel War name comes from the fact that the rebels armed themselves with various blunt weapons, such as cudgels, flails and maces that were considered the most efficient weapons against their heavily armoured enemies. The yeomen involved in the uprising also had swords, some firearms and two cannons at their disposal. Their opponents, the troops of Swedish noble Clas Ericsson Fleming, were professional, heavily armed and outnumbered them.
Ilkka, who, like most educated Finns, could speak Swedish and
Finnish, rose to prominence after being elected to lead the peasant
Cudgel War began on Christmas Eve 1595 and was initially
successful, with the rebels winning some infantry battles, forcing
Fleming to start negotiating a truce. On December 31, 1596, Fleming's
troops attacked Ilkka-held land at his Nokia manor stronghold at
A statue of the Ilkka was erected at Ilmajoki in 1924.
Ilkka is said to have inspired composers and librettists more than
any other figure in Finnish history. As many as three operas have been
dedicated to him. One of them, eponymously named
Jaakko Ilkka by Jorma
Panula , was composed between 1977 and 1978, best known for its
performance, directed by leading filmmaker
A junior high school in Ilmajoki is named after Ilkka.