Welcome to the life of Linnaeus!

Three portraits of Linnaeus in gray: to the left Linnaeus as a young student, dressed in typical sami clothes, in the middle LInnaeus in the 30s, with a long-haired, curly wig, and to the right an old, nobled Linnaeus. Above their heads iare illustrations of Linnaeus' favorite flower Linnea borealis.

The Life of Linnaeus

Carolus Linnaeus - Carl von Linné - is the most well known inhabitant of Uppsala through the ages. What made him famous?

Did you know that Linnaeus kept monkeys in Uppsala? That he had a very well known thermometer made and thought that Eve offered Adam a banana in Paradise? Did you know that he courted his girlfriend dressed in a Sami costume?

Carl Linnaeus spent most of his life in Uppsala. Learn more about his life here.

Why is Linnaeus world-famous?

Linnaeus’ way of classifying Nature was so good that this system, called Systema naturae, came to be used all over the world.

He simplified the scientific nomenclature of plants and animals. This system, with two Latin names for every species of animal or plant, is still used the world over and simplifies communication between scientists, gardeners, birdwatchers etc.

Example: All the ornithologists of Europe know what a Parus major is. However a Danish birdlover may not know that what he calls a “musvit” is what the French call a “mésange charbonnière” and the English call a “great tit”. In Swedish it is “talgoxe”.

Linnaeus’ idea was that if we learn the scientific names we won’t need to know the names in other languages. Even in the same language there are often many dialectal names for the same species. In English the great tit is also called titmouse. In Latin there is only one name, Parus major. Thank you Professor Linnaeus!

A quick tour through the life of Linnaeus

1707 May 23rd (13th Old Style), Carl Linnaeus was born in Råshult, in the province of Småland in Southern Sweden.
1727 studies medicine for a year in Lund.
1728 continues his studies in Uppsala.
1732 scientific expedition to Lapland.
1734 scientific expedition to Dalarna.
1735 becomes a doctor of medicine at Harderwijk, Holland.
1735–1738 lives and works in Holland, publishing several important works.
  visits Denmark, Germany, England and France.
1735 publishes the first edition of Systema naturae.
1736 publishes Fundamenta Botanica.
1737 publishes Flora Lapponica.
1739–1741 works as a medical doctor in Stockholm.
1739 one of the founders and the first President of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.
  marries Sara Lisa Moraea at Sveden, near Falun, Dalarna.
1741 appointed professor of medicine at Uppsala University.
  first child, Carl Jr, born.
  scientific expedition to the islands of Öland and Gotland.
1744 elected to the Royal Society of Sciences, Uppsala.
1745 publishes Flora Svecica.
1746 scientific expedition to Västergötland.
  publishes Fauna Svecica.
1749 scientific expedition to Skåne.
1751 publishes Philosophia Botanica.
1753 publishes Species Plantarum where the binomial nomenclature for plants is consistently used for the first time.
1758 purchases the estate at Sävja, and of Hammarby, 12 km Southeast of Uppsala.
  publishes the 10th edition of Systema Naturae where the binomial system for animals is consistently used for the first time.
1762 official confirmation by the Swedish Parliament of an earlier royal decision to give knighthood to Linnaeus, thereafter (in Sweden) known as Carl von Linné.
1778 January 10th, Carl Linnaeus dies in his residence at Svartbäcksgatn 27 and was buried in Uppsala Cathedral.

Linnaeus or Linné - What was really his name?

In Linnaeus’ day it was usual for a man who studied to become a clergyman to exchange his patronym for something more refined. The new surname could, for instance, be the name of his village or home farm in a Latin form. So what is the origin of the name Linnaeus/ Linné?

Well, two brothers of Linnaeus’ paternal grandmother took the name Tiliander when they, the sons of a farmer, studied to become clergymen. They were inspired by the mighty linden tree (Latin: Tilia) that stood on their father's farm in Vittaryd, Småland. So when Linnaeus’ father set out to study theology he followed his uncles' example, taking the name of the linden tree but in its Swedish form "lind" - Linnaeus. The old tree is still there today, though in poor condition.

Linnaeus’ signature as a nobleman.

When he became famous internationally he was still Carl Linnaeus and is therefore known in many countries by that name. In Sweden Carl von Linné, his name as a nobleman, is generally used.

Last modified: 2023-08-14