Linnaeus Applies for the Professorship in Medicine

The professorships in medicine vacated by Rudbeck and Roberg were now open for applications, and Linnaeus submitted his. Of course, Rosén did so as well, as did Rosén's protégé, the medical adjunct J G Wallerius. Some problems arose regarding the appointment. Rosén was ranked highest to succeed Rudbeck. Linnaeus had superior scientific qualifications, but mainly in botany, while Rosén had qualifications from having carried out Rudbeck's teaching for nine years and above all was skilled in the field of anatomy. Linnaeus contacted Tessin, who put in a good word for him with the Chancellor. But the University Board demanded that Linnaeus pass an examination for the professorship. The Chancellor maintained that this was unnecessary. The Board opposed the Chancellor, but there was disunity within the Board.  Wallerius then moved that there was reason to scrutinize Linnaeus’ doctoral dissertation. Linnaeus adduced a memorandum listing all of his publications together with the tremendously supportive letters he had received from a number of internationally renowned scientists. The result of this was that it was deemed unnecessary for Linnaeus to undergo questioning but that Wallerius would have to instead. Wallerius submitted a dissertation that in principle was a comprehensive critique of the works Linnaeus had written. In February 1741 this dissertation was defended publicly. There was a large crowd in attendance, and the proceedings were stormy, to say the least.

In the end it was all cleared up, and Linnaeus and Rosén each received a professorship. In May 1741 Linnaeus was appointed professor of theoretical and practical medicine at Uppsala, but after less than a year (Jan. 1742) the University Board took the initiative to swap the subjects of Rosén's and Linnaeus’ professorships. Linnaeus was to lecture on botany and materia medica, among other subjects, while Rosén took charge of anatomy, physiology, etiology, and the science of preparing medicines.

Last modified: 2022-02-16