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Decorative map of the region north of the Adriatic Sea, with a decorative cartouche.

Philipp Clüver Biography

Philipp Clüver (also spelled Klüwer, Cluwer, or Cluvier, Latinized as Philippus Cluverius and Philippi Cluverii) was an Early Modern German geographer and historian who made significant contributions to the field of historical geography. 

Clüver was born in Danzig (Gdańsk), in Royal Prussia, a province of the Kingdom of Poland. He initially spent time at the Polish court of Sigismund III Vasa before commencing the study of law at the University of Leiden in the Dutch Republic. However, he soon shifted his focus to history and geography under the influence of Joseph Scaliger. Clüver's father, who was a Münzmeister (coin master) in Danzig, provided him with a scientific education but ceased financial support when Clüver diverged from his initial studies.

Clüver’s travels took him across Hungary to Bohemia, where he engaged in military service for a few years. During his time in Bohemia, he translated a defense of Baron Popel Lobkowitz into Latin, an act that nearly led to imperial sanctions upon his return to Leiden. With the support of his friends at Leiden, he managed to avoid these sanctions.

Clüver also journeyed on foot through England, Scotland, and France before settling back in Leiden. After 1616, he received a regular pension from the university and was appointed as a geographer, tasked with overseeing the university's library. 

Philipp Clüver was renowned as an antiquary and geographer, gaining recognition for his general study of the geography of Antiquity. His approach combined classical literary sources with empirical knowledge from his extensive travels and local inspections, laying the groundwork for the field of historical geography.

His first significant work in 1611, Commentarius de tribus Rheni alveis, et ostiis; item. De Quinque populis quondam accolis; scilicet de Toxandris, Batavis, Caninefatibus, Frisiis, ac Marsacis, focused on the lower reaches of the Rhine and its inhabitants during Roman times, striking a chord with the Dutch during their struggle for independence. His Germaniae Antiquae Libri Tres (1616) drew upon Tacitus and other Latin authors to explore ancient Germany. Sicilia Antiqua (1619), which included notes on Sardinia and Corsica, became a valuable resource with references from ancient writers and detailed maps. His Introductio in Universam Geographiam, published posthumously from 1624, became the first comprehensive modern geography and a standard textbook in the field.

Clüver was also known for his contributions to mathematical and theological writings and is remembered by cartography enthusiasts for his edition of Ptolemy's Geographia and his miniature atlases.  His major works include:

  • Introductio in Universam Geographiam (1624-29, posthumous)
  • Commentarius de tribus Rheni alveis, et ostiis; item. De Quinque populis quondam accolis; scilicet de Toxandris, Batavis, Caninefatibus, Frisiis, ac Marsacis (1611)
  • Germaniae Antiquae Libri Tres (1616)
  • Siciliae Antiquae Libri Duo (1619)
  • Sardinia et Corsica Antiqua (1619)
  • Italia Antiqua (1624, posthumous)

Of these works, his Introductio in Universam Geographiam would continue to be published well into the 18th Century in a number of editions.