Who was Johan Skytte
Johan Skytte, born to a middle-class merchant and mayor of a small Swedish town, quickly rose through the echelons of power to become one of the most influential Swedish statesmen of the 17th Century. He obtained his Master’s degree from Marburg University in Germany and went on to become a tutor of the Crown Prince, at that time a remarkable honour for someone with a middle-class background. He was swiftly promoted to join the ranks of the nobles and served as a councilor to the Crown on many occasions.
During Skytte’s life, Sweden emerged as a great power, and it thus became of fundamental importance to improve her educational system. On this front, Skytte came to play a central role. He was a deeply learned person, a master in eloquence and a person of great interest and skill in didactics and made it his personal mission to improve the Swedish educational system. In 1622, he was appointed vice-chancellor of Uppsala University, an institutions he helped to modernise. The same year, he donated a considerable sum to the University to set up a professorship in Political Science and Eloquence in a belief that teaching these in concord would help Sweden further her political power. His educational technique was built on inspiration rather than demands, which was very progressive for the period.
In 1629, Johan Skytte was appointed Governor General of the Baltic provinces of Livonia and Karelia and continued with his educational mission there. In 1631, he helped to establish and later chair the University of Tartu, which became the second oldest University in Sweden.
Johan Skytte’s involvement in education was not only limited to University level. He also helped to or directly established several ordinary schools, for instance a school in Lycksele in Northern Sweden in 1631 or the first rural school in Sweden in Ålem in 1637. The Royal Skytte Society in Umeå, established in 1956, was named after Johan Skytte in appreciation of his impact on education in the northern parts of Sweden.
The Johan Skytte Foundation aims to preserve and further the educational legacy of Johan Skytte. The Johan Skytte Prize aspires to identify the most valuable contributions to Political Science and thus help to further the discipline and encourage innovative research within the field.