“God created the world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands”, says the most famous Dutch proverb. That is why the seawalls on the coast are one of the country’s symbols, a quarter of which lies below sea level. Seawalls are the same symbol of Holland as windmills, picturesque water channels, and tulips. But do you know where tulips came to Holland from? Yes, it was from the Czech Kingdom.
Most tulip species come from the Pamir and Hindu Kush mountains and the Kazakh steppes. Tulips were very popular in Turkey, evidenced by the name “tulip”, derived from the Turkish word “tülbend,” i.e. turban.
(Of course, there is also a legend connected to this: a certain young man received a tulip from a girl and put it in his turban. Then he headed with it to a teahouse where an unknown European sat and asked what was on his head. The young man replied: tülbend, not realizing the stranger was asking about the flower tucked into the turban. Thus, the name tulip came about.)
When King Ferdinand I founded the Royal Garden in Prague, belonging to Queen Anne’s Summer Palace, he planted many exotic plants and trees there.
Among them were the first tulip bulbs, which came to Bohemia in 1554 as a gift from the Turkish Sultan to Emperor Ferdinand I Habsburg (paradoxically, from the same sultan who inadvertantly had helped Ferdinand become King of Bohemia. He ascended the throne after the death of his wife’s brother, the twenty-year-old Louis. Louis had died in the Battle of Mohács when the soldiers of Sultan Suleiman defeated his troops.)
The founder of tulip cultivation in Nederland in the 16th century was the botanist Carolus Clusius, who expanded many trees, shrubs, and crops in Europe. For example, potatoes, tobacco, chestnut, lilac, or plane tree. But also many plants – including crocuses, irises, hyacinths, as well as tulips. Clusius first encountered tulips when he came to Vienna in 1573, where he was the director of the Imperial Medical Garden under Maximilian II (the same Maximilian who ascended the throne after his father, Ferdinand I).
Tulips came to Holland thanks to the Czech king, who loved his wife very much and wanted the garden built in her honor to be as beautiful as possible. If it were not for this great love between the royal couple on the Czech throne, the tulips would undoubtedly have come to Holland at a different time and in a different way.
But it’s nice to know that it happened like this.
(These photos from the Keukenhof tulip paradise prove how well tulips are doing in Holland.)