Sue Young Histories

Alexander von Humboldt 1769 – 1859

May 05, 2010

{::}**Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt** 1769 – 1859 was a German naturalist and explorer, and the younger brother of the Prussian minister, philosopher, and linguist, Wilhelm von Humboldt. Humboldt’s quantitative work on botanical geography was foundational to the field of biogeography.

Alexander von Humboldt was a profound influence on Charles Darwin, who was given a copy of Alexander von Humboldt’s Personal Narrative of travels to the equinoctial regions as a parting gift when he set off on his travels on the Beagle by his friend John Stevens Henslow. Charles Darwin said of Alexander von Humboldt ’… like another sun’ Humboldt ’… illumines everything I behold’.

Alexander von Humboldt was a friend of Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, Constance Marie Theis Princess de Salm Dyck (a close friend of Melanie Hahnemann), Joseph Hyppolyte Pulte (one of the first pioneers of homeopathy in America who remains a widely influential homeopath today),

Between 1799 and 1804, Alexander von Humboldt traveled extensively in Latin America, exploring and describing it for the first time in a manner generally considered to be a modern scientific point of view.

His description of the journey was written up and published in an enormous set of volumes over 21 years.

He was one of the first to propose that the lands bordering the Atlantic Ocean were once joined (South America and Africa in particular). Later, his five volume work, Kosmos (1845), attempted to unify the various branches of scientific knowledge.

Humboldt supported and worked with other scientists, including Joseph Louis Gay Lussac, Justus von Liebig, Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, Matthew Fontaine Maury, and most notably, Aime Bonpland, with whom he conducted much of his scientific exploration.

Of interest:

Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Humboldt 1767 – 1835, brother of Alexander von Humboldt, was a government functionary, diplomat, philosopher, founder of Humboldt Universität in Berlin, friend of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (who was a patient of Christoph Wilhelm von Hufeland) and in particular of Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (who was also  a patient of Christoph Wilhelm von Hufeland),

Wilhelm von Humboldt’s wife Karoline and her daughters were patients of David Ferdinand Koreff (who was a close friend of Wilhelm von Humboldt), and in 1817, David Ferdinand Koreff and Wilhelm von Humboldt were appointed Professors by Royal Cabinet Order in chairs for animal magnetism, created in 1817 at the University of Berlin.

Wilhelm von Humboldt was also a friend of Friedrich Carl von Savigny (an advocate of homeopathy and the brother in law of Bettina von Arnim), Christian Karl Josias Bunsen (who was a patient of Johann Wilhelm Wahle in Rome, and in London, he was a patron of the Hahnemann Hospital at 39 Bloomsbury Square in 1850), 

Wilhelm von Humboldt consulted Christoph Wilhelm von Hufeland regarding the planning of the new medical faculty for the the new university in Berlin in 1810, where Christoph Wilhelm von Hufeland was given the Chair of Special Pathology and Therapy and served as the first Dean of Medicine,

William von Humboldt, the nephew of Alexander von Humboldt, used the homeopathic principle of ‘like cures like’ to develop a vaccination against yellow fever from the venom of a small viper,


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