Linnaeus smoked a pipe to ease his chronic toothache. Artist:
Jean-Eric Rehn, 1747 or 1750. Art collection at Linnaeus’
From Råshult to
In 1707, a boy was born to the priest’s family in the parish
of Råshult in the Swedish province of Småland. His
name was Carl Linnaeus. Much later, ennobled in the
year 1762, he changed his name to Carl von Linné. His father
Nils was interested in horticulture and his son inherited an interest
in nature. The parents’ plans for Carl to become a priest
were serving put to one side. At this time, the academic study of nature
was categorised under medicine, so Carl began to study for a medical degree,
first in Lund, then in Uppsala where he lived from
1728. While still a student, he was commissioned by the
Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala to undertake his first two scientific
expeditions: to Lapland in 1732 and to Dalarna in 1734.
Doctor in Holland
In Dalarna, Carl met a beautiful young girl – Sara Lisa
Moraea from Falun. Marriage was planned, but the father of the
bride insisted that his daughter’s betrothed should first
acquire his doctoral degree in medicine and be able to provide for
a family. It was at the time not yet possible to become a doctor of medicine in Sweden, so Linnaeus went to Leyden in Holland. In 1735 he defended with
acclaim his doctoral thesis on the subject of gluttony. He had
written papers which were then successively published, establishing
his reputation. The first work to be published was Systema Naturae (1735).
In 1738 he returned to Sweden, set up a practice in Stockholm
and where he became one of the founders of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
In 1739, he married Sara Lisa and they eventually had seven children, two
of whom died in childhood. In 1741, Linnaeus was awarded a professorship
in theoretical medicine at Uppsala University. He was diligent
as a professor and bore a heavy workload. He was particularly
popular as a teacher and his scientific excursions – his
"Herbationes Upsalienses" – were much discussed and attended
by students, to the annoyance of his less popular colleagues.
Comprehensive lifetime achievements
It is difficult to briefly summarise Carl Linnaeus’ lifetime
achievements, since they are so vast. He published more than 70
books and 300 scientific papers; he corresponded with scientists
all over the world; carried out scientific expeditions in Sweden;
developed the botanical garden in Uppsala; taught and inspired
his students and, like many other scientists of his day, turned
his attention to other scientific disciplines. In addition, he
was skilled at marketing his ideas and spreading his enthusiasm.
Linnaeus died in 1778.
His life and work
Traveller and writer
and the sexual system
The Hammarby estate near Uppsala became a private refuge for
Linnaeus and a summer cottage for the family. In the summertime
it is open to the public.