He was born in Breslau (Wroclaw) on 19 December 1540 from a rich and noble family. He studied law, theology and philosophy at Wittenberg, where he was also Philip Melanchthon’s disciple. He mastered classical languages. In May 1561, he went on a tour to France and the Netherlands. In Paris he made friends with the botanist Carolus Clusius. In the same year he escaped from the plague in Antwerp, and in 1567 went to Italy. In 1571 he moved to Cologne where he died on 5 January 1576.
He paid visit to the main libraries and his personal patrimony allowed him to purchase a rich set of valuable books. In 1645 his collection consisting of about 300 handwritten and 6.000 printed works was given in legacy to his hometown thanks to an agreement with his heirs.