Linné, Carl von

Linné, Carl von Image 1

Carl von Linné

In 1707, Carl Linnaeus was born to the priest’s family in the parish of Råshult in the Swedish province of Småland. 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 put aside. 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.
In Dalarna, Carl met 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.
Carl Linnaeus’ lifetime achievements include 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.