Alexander Von Humboldt was one of the most important travellers and researchers of his time. His discoveries helped advance science and open up a whole new world for people looking to discover more. Let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about Alexander Von Humboldt.
Alexander Von Humboldt Facts
1: Alexander Von Humboldt was born in September 1769
Alexander Von Humboldt was born in Berlin in the region of Prussia on 14 September 1769. Von Humboldt was born into a wealthy and well-connected family. His father, Alexander Georg von Humboldt, was a member of a prominent Pomeranian family and was also a major in the Prussian army. an interesting fact about Alexander Von Humboldt.
Von Humboldt’s father died young but his family still ensured that he received an excellent education. He studied finance at the University of Frankfurt for six months.
2: Alexander Von Humboldt died in 1859
Alexander Von Humboldt suffered a stroke in February 1857 and was the start of a decline in his general health. Things began to get much worse through the winter of 1858-59 and he eventually died on 6 May 1859 in his home city of Berlin. He was 89 years old. After a state funeral in Berlin, he was interned at his family resting place at Tegel.
3: He Inspired Charles Darwin
Alexander Von Humboldt is one of the most influential thinkers and writers of the 18th century. His work has influenced millions of others and still resonates with a great many people today. Perhaps the biggest influence his book had was on the work of Charles Darwin.
Charles Darwin was said to have been hugely inspired after reading Von Humboldt’s travel reports and is not have likely to have set sail on the beagle if he had never read them.
4: Exploring South America
When he was 27 years old, Alexander Von Humboldt’s mother died and left him a great fortune. He took this money and used it as a chance to begin his travels, a crazy fact about Alexander Von Humboldt. Within a year of his mother’s death, he set off on a journey around South America with the botanist Aime Bonpland.
It was during these travels that Von Humboldt and Bonpland mapped out large portions of South America. They mapped 1,700 miles of the Orinoco River, climbed Mt. Chimborazo and measured the Peruvian current, which was later renamed the Humboldt current.
5: Publication of the Kosmos
The Kosmos was Alexander Von Humboldt’s multi-volume work that was published late in his life with the intention of bringing together all of the studies he had made during his years travelling.
The first two volumes of the Kosmos were published between the years of 1845 and 1847. These were originally intended to be the complete collection but Von Humboldt released three more volumes, one of which was released after his death.
The impact of the Kosmos has been difficult to measure. Some have argued that the book is his most important and influential piece of work, while others have argued that the Kosmos is little more than an academic curiosity that doesn’t add all of that much to his wider body of work and findings.
6: Legacy of Alexander Von Humboldt
Alexander Von Humboldt was one of the most important thinkers and writers of his time and his influence on the world can still be felt today. There are many famous locations, institutes and even some animals that have been named after him in the years following his death.
Perhaps the most famous is the Humboldt University in Berlin, which is famous for its studies of the sciences and is located in the popular Berlin neighbourhood of Mitte. There is also a type of penguin that is named after Humboldt and a park that is found in Chicago, Illinois.
7: Expedition in Russia
Alexander Von Humboldt stayed fit and healthy into his later years, so much so that he began an expedition in Russia when he was 60 years old. The idea has previously been proposed to Von Humboldt on two previous occasions but he had had to turn it down for various different reasons.
The expedition was authorised by the Russian foreign minister with the intention of seeing whether or not a platinum-based currency was possible in Russia. Von Humboldt travelled through the Urals and Siberia all the way up to the Chinese border, completing one of the biggest expeditions of his life.
8: He was a keen networker
Alexander Von Humboldt wrote extensively about his travels and the people that he encountered and one of the reasons his travels are likely to have been so successful is because of his ability to build connections with people when travelling, an interesting fact about Alexander Von Humboldt.
Von Humboldt was said to have been an excellent communicator and his networking skills are evident through the number of letters that he both wrote and received during his lifetime. The number of letters he sent in his lifetime is believed to be around 50,000, while he is believed to have received well over 100,000.
He was also a skilled linguist and many of his letters were written in the multiple languages he spoke, including French, English, Latin and Spanish, as well as his native German.
9: An early witness of Climate Change
Long before the world was even aware of such problems, Alexander Von Humboldt was pointing out the impact that humans were having on the environment and the planet as a whole. He made several notes on his travels about the way humans were treating the environment.
He realised the impact man was having on the environment the most during his visits to South America, where he noticed and wrote about colonists abusing the environment for their own advantage.
10: He never married
Despite having made connections and built strong relationships all over the world, Alexander Von Humboldt never married. He was said to have had a great many relations with women and there is a lot of speculation that he may have even had some romantic relationships with some men during his years travelling.
Alexander Von Humboldt was one of the most important researchers of his time, and his legacy and discoveries are still relevant nearly 200 years after his death.
I hope that this article on Alexander Von Humboldt facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Page!