Who was Johan Skytte?

Baron Johan Skytte (1577–1645) was a Swedish statesman and governor-general of Livonia. He was born in Nyköping, where his father was the mayor. After studying in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, he was hired as a tutor for the crown prince of Sweden, later to become King Gustav II Adolf. 

Johan Skytte was the initiator of the idea of founding a university in Tartu, and since 1632, the first chancellor of the University of Tartu. In his inaugural address, he said that besides noblemen and burgesses the peasants, too, should have the right to study at the university. Jakob Skytte, the son of Johan Skytte, was a student of the University of Tartu, and at the same time the first rector (rector illustris) of it.

Fragment by Ilmar Malin's painting of Johan Skytte. Malin, Ilmar: Portrait of Johan Skytte, KMM MA 225, University of Tartu Art Museum, painting collection

Quote from David Linden's book „Johan Skytte. The Architect of Great Power“, 2018. Translation from Ivar Rüütli's version, 2021

Thus not only the nobility and the citizens of the townspeople must enjoy this high benefit, but also the poor peasants, who until now were almost forbidden and impermissible to learn anything, to be able to imprison and enslave the spirit with their bodies. But now it would certainly be an indefinite great deed /.../

Johan Skytte's Academia Gustaviana Tartuensis opening speech, 1632

Call for Applications: 1st Skytte REPAIR Graduate Conference


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