Bunsen, Christian Charles Josias von

BORN 25 Aug 1791, Korbach, Waldeck - DIED 28 Nov 1860, Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen
GRAVE LOCATION Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen: Alter Friedhof

Christian Bunsen was the son of a poor farmer who had become a soldier. He studied in Marburg and in Göttingen, where he financed his studies by teaching and by tutoring the American William Backhouse (1792-1875), the son of John Jacob Astor (1763-1848). In 1812 he won a prize for an essay.

He travelelled in Southern Germany with Blackhouse and continued his studies in law, literature and language. In 1817 he married Frances Waddington. He became secretary to Bathold Niebuhr (1776-1831) when the latter became Prussian envoy at the papal court. After his time in Rome he represented Prussia in England. He was a friend of king Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who ascended to the throne in 1840.

From 1839 to 1841 Bunsen was Prussian ambassador to Switzerland. Back in England Queen Victoria selected him from a list of proposed names to become ambassador to the Court of St. James's. He held this post for thirteen years. After the revolution of 1848 his advices were no longer appreciated in Prussia and in 1854 he resigned. He retired to a villa in Heidelberg and spent the last part of his life in Bonn and he spent most of his time on his literary work. In 1857 he received a peerage for life from the king.

Shortly afterwards the king's mental instability led to the appointment of his brother, the future emperor Wilhelm, as regent. After a personal request from Wilhelm, Bunsen took a seat in the Prussian House of Lords where he quietly supported the new ministry. He died in 1860 and on his request his wife collected his memories and published them in 1868.


The grave of Christian von Bunsen at the Alter Friedhof, Bonn.
Picture by Androom (17 Jun 2012)


Christian Charles Josias von Bunsen - Wikipedia

Bunsen, Marie von

Published: 28 Jan 2017
Last update: 10 Mar 2022