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Ramism, Rhetoric and Reform: An Intellectual Biography of Johan Skytte (1577–1645)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis is an intellectual biography of the Swedish statesman Johan Skytte (1577–1645), focusing on his educational ideals and his contributions to educational reform in the early Swedish Age of Greatness. Although born a commoner, Skytte rose to be one of the most powerful men in Sweden in the first half of the seventeenth century, serving three generations of regents. As a royal preceptor and subsequently a university chancellor, Skytte appears as an early educational politician at a time when the Swedish Vasa dynasty initiated a number of far-reaching reforms, including the revival of Sweden’s only university at the time (in Uppsala). The contextual approach of the thesis shows how Skytte’s educational reform agenda was shaped by nationally motivated arguments as well as by a Late Renaissance humanist heritage, celebrating education as the foundation of all prosperous civilizations.

Utilizing a largely unexplored source material written mostly in Latin, the thesis analyzes how Skytte’s educational arguments were formed already at the University of Marburg in the 1590s, where he learned to embrace the utility-orientated ideals of the French humanist Petrus Ramus (1515–1572). Moreover, the analysis shows that the expanding Swedish state administration in the early seventeenth century was in urgent need of educated civil servants, and that this basic demand favored an ideology based on education, skill and merit. It is shown that Skytte skillfully combined a Ramist and patriotic rhetoric with narratives of individual merit and rewards, conveying not least himself as an example. The thesis argues that Skytte’s rhetoric reflects the formation of a new professional category in the Swedish society, one that was distinguished from the royal courtier, the clergyman, the merchant, the warrior, and the scholar. This category is the professional civil servant whose identity was dependent on skills and education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2011. , 322 p.
Uppsala Studies in History of Ideas, ISSN 1653-5197 ; 42
Keyword [en]
Johan Skytte, history of education, Ramism, Petrus Ramus, utility, merit, humanism, Late Renaissance, Sweden, Age of Greatness, patriotism, Hesse-Kassel, the University of Marburg, Uppsala University, Charles IX, Gustav II Adolf, Vasa, Neo-Latin, dissertation, oration, rhetoric, reform, the mathematical arts, eloquence
National Category
History of Ideas
Research subject
History of Sciences and Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-151487ISBN: 978-91-554-8071-4 (print)OAI: diva2:410145
Public defence
2011-05-28, Auditorium Minus, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2011-05-05 Created: 2011-04-12 Last updated: 2012-08-27Bibliographically approved

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