Charles de l’Écluse or Carolus Clusius was born in the Flemish region of northern France and studied law and medicine. He traveled throughout Europe to collect, describe, cultivate and study plants and became one of the first botanists. He had a passion for plants, but also had excellent connections with everyone who was interested in plants. This network is being studied at the Scaliger-institute, a division of the University’s library here in Leiden, where a large amount of his correspondence is stored.
For a long time, Clusius lived in Vienna where he planted a garden for Emperor Maximillian II. Here, he started his collection of bulbous plants, including the tulip, which was being cultivated in Turkey at the time. Clusius came to Leiden in the autumn of 1593 and he lived here until his death in 1609. Up to the death of Cluyt in 1598 he remained involved in the garden, but devoted his final years to writing his experiences and knowledge down in Rariorum Plantarium Historia (1601) and Exoticorum Libri Decem (1605).