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Professor’s Household – The Royal Academy of Turku as a Family Network in the 17th Century

Tampere University
Area of focusSociety
Frans Halsin maalaus hollantilaisesta perheestä 1600-luvulla

In the project, we study the professoriate of the Royal Academy of Turku as a family network during the 17th century.

The Academy was established in 1640 in Turku on the southeastern coast of what is now Finland. Turku was one of Sweden’s largest and most significant towns in the 17th century. It engaged in international trade and was the centre of ecclesiastical, judicial, and secular power in the eastern part of the Swedish realm.

The Academy’s founding also led to a new group emerging within the town’s clergy: the professoriate. During the 17th century, the Academy’s disciples and those linked to the academic community by family ties dominated the professoriate. The Royal Academy of Turku was not an anomaly, for nepotism was common in early modern academic communities.

The project focuses on the concepts of family and family life that prevailed among the professoriate and familial networks within the Academy. We also study the role(s) of the professors’ spouses within the household, family networks, and, more generally, in the university town and prebend congregations the professors held not far from Turku. This project examines the academic community from the perspective of family history, while previous research has primarily focused on the history of sciences and ideas.

Research themes

Professors’ households, theoretical conceptions of the family, and family networks are studied from three viewpoints, which are as follows:

1) What kinds of conceptions the academic dissertations and other learned texts held about family and family relations? How did these conceptions manifest in the professoriate’s daily lives?

2) What were the broader family ties based on reciprocal assistance and aid (patron-client relationships)? How were these relationships created among family members? What effect did these networks have on the families and the Academy?

3) What position did professors’ wives have in the families and household? What role(s) did they play in establishing and sustaining the family connections?

The Jalmari Finne Foundation is funding and Ph.D. Mari Välimäki is leading this two-year project. MA Minna Vesa (University of Helsinki) and MA Robin Engblom (Åbo Akademi) are the researchers.

Workshop: Professor's Household in the Early Modern Times

The program for the workshop on Professor's Household in the Early Modern Times (February 9–10, 2023 in Tampere University, Finland) has been published! The workshop can be participated free in Zoom. The link for the event can be received by contacting Mari Välimäki (mari.i.valimaki [at] (mari[dot]i[dot]valimaki[at]tuni[dot]fi)). You can find the program below.