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Charles de l'Écluse, L'Escluse, or Carolus Clusius (Arras, February 19, 1526 – Leiden, April 4, 1609), seigneur de Watènes, was an Artois doctor and pioneering botanist, perhaps the most influential of all 16th-century scientific horticulturists.

Life

Clusius was born Charles de l' Écluse in 1526, in Arras (Dutch Atrecht), then in the County of Artois, Spanish Netherlands, now northern France (Hauts-de-France). At the urging of his father, who wanted him to enter the law, he commenced his studies in Latin and Greek at Louvain, followed by civil law. His father then gave him some money to move to Marburg to further his legal studies, but after eight months when his mentor moved away from Marburg he switched to theology, initially at Marburg and then on the suggestion of one of his professors at Wittenberg, where he also began a study of philosophy. Even at Marburg he had also developed an interest in plants that he continued in Wittenberg. Aware of the emerging study of botany, he decided to move to France to study medicine at the University of Montpellier (1551–1554),[1] under professor Guillaume Rondelet, though he never practiced medicine, or styled himself as a physician.[2][3] He died in Leiden in the Netherlands in 1609, at the age of 83.

While little is known of his relationships, he formed many friendships, both male and female, and his extensive preserved correspondence throws considerable light on those friendships. His male friends were largely academic, with whom he corresponded in Latin, his female friends (at least 35 are known) predominantly collectors and horticulturalists with whom he corresponded in their vernacular, but treated all with the same respect.[4] Unlike his male friends, who were from all over the world, his women friends were all in the Habsburg countries, especially the southern Netherlands and Austria.[2]

Work

In the 1560s Clusius was employed by the Fugger banking family as tutor to one of Anton Fugger's sons and as agent, including a plant collecting expedition to Spain, where he became familiar with plants introduced from the New World.[5] In 1573, with the help of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, he was appointed prefect (director) of the imperial medical garden in Vienna by Emperor Maximilian II (1564–1576) and made Gentleman of the Imperial Chamber. Busbecq, who had been ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1554–1562) under the previous emperor, Ferdinand I (1558–1564), was a keen gardener and soon arranged for exotic bulbs to be sent from the court at Constantinople to the gardens in Vienna. Clausius was discharged from the imperial court shortly after the death of Maximilian and accession of his son Rudolf II (1576–1612) in 1576.

After leaving Vienna in the late 1580s he established himself in Frankfurt am Main, before his appointment as professor at the University of Leiden in October 1593, where he also became the first praefectus (prefect) of the city's new botanical garden, the Hortus Academicus, associated with the university.[6] There he helped to create one of the earliest formal botanical gardens of Europe and his detailed planting lists have made it possible to recreate his garden near where it originally lay. He was invited to join the Accademia dei Lincei as a corresponding member in 1604, but declined.[7]

He traveled extensively throughout Europe, furthering his knowledge of plants.[8] Clusius was among the first to study the flora of Austria, under the auspices of Maximilian II. He was the first botanist to climb the Ötscher and the Schneeberg in Lower Austria, which was also the first documented ascent of the latter. His illustrated works form an important chapter in sixteenth century natural history,[9] producing a large body of drawing and watercolours. The latter, forming part of an important collection of late sixteenth century botanical illustration, the Libri picturati.[10][a] He was responsible for the cultivation of a number of plants, new to Europe, including the tulip, potato, and horse chestnut. Clusius was widely influential in European science and cultu

Clusius was born Charles de l' Écluse in 1526, in Arras (Dutch Atrecht), then in the County of Artois, Spanish Netherlands, now northern France (Hauts-de-France). At the urging of his father, who wanted him to enter the law, he commenced his studies in Latin and Greek at Louvain, followed by civil law. His father then gave him some money to move to Marburg to further his legal studies, but after eight months when his mentor moved away from Marburg he switched to theology, initially at Marburg and then on the suggestion of one of his professors at Wittenberg, where he also began a study of philosophy. Even at Marburg he had also developed an interest in plants that he continued in Wittenberg. Aware of the emerging study of botany, he decided to move to France to study medicine at the University of Montpellier (1551–1554),[1] under professor Guillaume Rondelet, though he never practiced medicine, or styled himself as a physician.[2][3] He died in Leiden in the Netherlands in 1609, at the age of 83.

While little is known of his relationships, he formed many friendships, both male and female, and his extensive preserved correspondence throws considerable light on those friendships. His male friends were largely academic, with whom he corresponded in Latin, his female friends (at least 35 are known) predominantly collectors and horticulturalists with whom he corresponded in their vernacular, but treated all with the same respect.[4] Unlike his male friends, who were from all over the world, his women friends were all in the Habsburg countries, especially the southern Netherlands and Austria.[2]

Work

In the 1560s Clusius was employed by the Fugger banking family as tutor to one of Anton Fugger's sons and as agent, including a plant collecting expedition to Spain, where he became familiar with plants introduced from the New World.[5] In 1573, with the help of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, he was appointed prefect (director) of the imperial medical garden in Vienna by Emperor Maximilian II (1564–1576) and made Gentleman of the Imperial Chamber. Busbecq, who had been ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1554–1562) under the previous emperor, Ferdinand I (1558–1564), was a keen gardener and soon arranged for exotic bulbs to be sent from the court at Constantinople to the gardens in Vienna. Clausius was discharged from the imperial court shortly after the death of Maximilian and accession of his son Rudolf II (1576–1612) in 1576.

After leaving Vienna in the late 1580s he established himself in Frankfurt am Main, before his appointment as professor at the University of Leiden in October 1593, where he also became the first praefectus (prefect) of the city's new botanical garden, the Hortus Academicus, associated with the university.While little is known of his relationships, he formed many friendships, both male and female, and his extensive preserved correspondence throws considerable light on those friendships. His male friends were largely academic, with whom he corresponded in Latin, his female friends (at least 35 are known) predominantly collectors and horticulturalists with whom he corresponded in their vernacular, but treated all with the same respect.[4] Unlike his male friends, who were from all over the world, his women friends were all in the Habsburg countries, especially the southern Netherlands and Austria.[2]

In the 1560s Clusius was employed by the Fugger banking family as tutor to one of Anton Fugger's sons and as agent, including a plant collecting expedition to Spain, where he became familiar with plants introduced from the New World.[5] In 1573, with the help of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, he was appointed prefect (director) of the imperial medical garden in Vienna by Emperor Maximilian II (1564–1576) and made Gentleman of the Imperial Chamber. Busbecq, who had been ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1554–1562) under the previous emperor, Ferdinand I (1558–1564), was a keen gardener and soon arranged for exotic bulbs to be sent from the court at Constantinople to the gardens in Vienna. Clausius was discharged from the imperial court shortly after the death of Maximilian and accession of his son Rudolf II (1576–1612) in 1576.

After leaving Vienna in the late 1580s he established himself in Frankfurt am Main, before his appointment as professor at the Frankfurt am Main, before his appointment as professor at the University of Leiden in October 1593, where he also became the first praefectus (prefect) of the city's new botanical garden, the Hortus Academicus, associated with the university.[6] There he helped to create one of the earliest formal botanical gardens of Europe and his detailed planting lists have made it possible to recreate his garden near where it originally lay. He was invited to join the Accademia dei Lincei as a corresponding member in 1604, but declined.[7]

He traveled extensively throughout Europe, furthering his knowledge of plants.[8] Clusius was among the first to study the flora of Austria, under the auspices of Maximilian II. He was the first botanist to climb the Ötscher and the Schneeberg in Lower Austria, which was also the first documented ascent of the latter. His illustrated works form an important chapter in sixteenth century natural history,[9] producing a large body of drawing and watercolours. The latter, forming part of an important collection of late sixteenth century botanical illustration, the Libri picturati.[10][a] He was responsible for the cultivation of a number of plants, new to Europe, including the tulip, potato, and horse chestnut. Clusius was widely influential in European science and culture and his circle of correspondents included princes and aristocrats such as Wilhelm IV of Hessen-Kassel (1567–1592) and Princesse Marie de Brimeu, who was one of his most frequent correspondents.[12][13][2]

In the history of gardening he is remembered not only for his scholarship but also for his work on tulips. At Leiden, his cultivation of tulips in the botanic gardens there, laid the foundations of the Dutch tulip bulb industry. In particular his observations on tulip's "breaking" — a phenomenon discovered in the late 19th century to be due to a virus — causing the many different flamed and feathered varieties, which led to the speculative tulip mania of the 1630s. Clusius laid the foundations of Dutch tulip breeding and the bulb industry today.

Clusius' life and times

His contribution to the study of alpine plants has led to many of them being named in his honour, such as Gentiana clusii, Potentilla clusiana and Primula clusiana. The genus Clusia (whence the family Clusiaceae) also honours Clusius. His work formed an important step in the development of modern botany.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Libri picturati collection is held by the Jagiellonian Library of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, but were originally in the former Preussischer Staatsbibliothek of Berlin[11]
  2. ^ The illustrations in the Rariorum aliquot stirpium per Hispanias observatarum historia were based on drawings made by Clusius himself and the Flemish artist Pieter van der Borcht, which were cut by the engraver Gerard van Kampen, and the originals of these drawings are collected in theLibri picturati A. 16-31

References

Bibliography

Books