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The Donation

"Their minds should early gain the lift, which the true hope of brilliant deeds gives."

In 1622, Johan Skytte donated land and property to establish a professorship in Eloquentia et Politices (Latin for eloquence and politics) at Uppsala University. At the time, Europe was engulfed in war, with Sweden emerging as one of the major powers on the continent. Recognizing this, Johan Skytte understood that Sweden required a new class of well-educated civil servants and diplomats. These individuals needed training in the art of political negotiation and eloquence to solidify Sweden's newfound position on Europe's political map. The Skytte chair would provide this training in perpetuity.

The donation letter from 1622

Johan Skytte

Johan Skytte, born to a middle-class merchant and mayor of a small Swedish town, rapidly ascended the ranks to become a prominent 17th-century Swedish statesman. After earning his Master’s degree from Marburg University in Germany, Skytte became a tutor to the Crown Prince, a remarkable achievement for someone from a middle-class background. He was soon elevated to the nobility and began serving as a councilor to the Crown.

During Skytte's lifetime, Sweden rose to a great power status and reforming her educational system became crucial. Skytte played a pivotal role in this endeavor, being deeply learned, skilled in eloquence, and possessing a keen interest in didactics. In 1622, he was appointed vice-chancellor of Uppsala University, an institution he significantly modernized. That same year, he generously funded a professorship in Political Science and Eloquence at the university, believing that teaching these subjects together would bolster Sweden's political influence. His educational approach, favoring inspiration over demands, was notably progressive for his time. The 1626 university statutes reflected this philosophy, stating: "Their minds should early gain the lift, which the true hope of brilliant deeds gives."

In 1629, Skytte became Governor General of the Baltic provinces of Livonia and Karelia, continuing his educational pursuits. He played a key role in founding and later chairing the University of Tartu in 1631, making it Sweden's second oldest university.

Skytte’s dedication to education extended beyond the university level. He was instrumental in establishing several regular schools, including one in Lycksele, Northern Sweden, in 1631 and Sweden's first rural school in Ålem in 1637. His lasting impact on education in northern Sweden is commemorated by the Royal Skytte Society in Umeå, established in 1956 in his honor.

Johan Skytte

The Patronage

In the donation letter, Johan Skytte specified that his direct descendants would oversee the donation as patrons. Over 400 years, twelve patrons have managed the donation in accordance with Johan Skytte's will.

Originally, the patrons held full authority in appointing the Johan Skytte Professor, with their decisions typically endorsed by the King. However, in the 20th century, this role has largely become symbolic. Since 1972, the appointment process follows Uppsala University's standard procedures for the appointment of chair professors.

In 1979, Nils-Axel Mörner, the eleventh patron, established the Johan Skytte Foundation to manage the donation and promote the legacy of Johan Skytte.

Jonas Mörner at prize ceremony 2022

The Johan Skytte Foundation

In 1979, the eleventh patron of the donation and descendant of Johan Skytte, Count Nils-Axel Mörner, founded the Johan Skytte Foundation to manage the Johan Skytte donation. A significant amount of funds and assets were transferred to the Foundation. The board resolved to use these assets in ways that honor the memory of Johan Skytte.

In 1994, the idea of a Prize in political science was conceived, initiated by Nils-Axel Mörner and Johan Skytte Professor Leif Lewin. Over time, the Skytte Prize gained significant prestige within the discipline.

The Johan Skytte Foundation is dedicated to preserving and enhancing Johan Skytte's educational legacy. The Johan Skytte Prize is designed to recognize the most significant contributions to political science, promoting the discipline and encouraging innovative research within the field.

Skyytteanum, Uppsala


Skyteanum, located in central Uppsala is still the residence of the Johan Skytte Professor of Political Science and Eloquence.

The Board

Count Jonas Mörner

Patron of the donation and chairman of the board

Li Bennich-Björkman 

Johan Skytte Professor in Political Science and Eloquence and vice-chair of the board

Anders Hagfeldt

Vice Chancellor of Uppsala University and board member

Anders Barth


Jacob von Ehrenheim


Henrik Borelius

Board member

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