Ramism, Rhetoric & Reform
An Intellectual Biography of Johan Skytte (1577-1645)

By Jenny Ingemarsdotter
July 2011
Uppsala University Press
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9789155480714
322 pages, Illustrated
$89.50 Paper original

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 ideals were shaped by nationally motivated arguments as well as by a Late Renaissance huminist heritage, celebrating education as the foundation of all prosperous civilizations. It is shown that Johan Skytte skillfully combined Ramist arguments of utility, inspired by the French humanist Petrus Ramus (1515-1572), 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.

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