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Hermann Ludwig Heinrich von Pueckler-Muskau

Pueckler-Muskau, Hermann Ludwig Heinrich von (Prince), 1785—1871

Hermann Ludwig Heinrich von Pückler-Muskau was born on 30 October 1785 in Saxony, the son of Ludwig Erdmann von Pückler and Countess Clementine Muskau, who by the terms of their marriage changed their surname to Pückler-Muskau. After an early childhood of relative neglect, Pückler-Muskau was educated at a Moravian boarding school, Halle, and Dessau, before returning home around 1798 when his parents divorced. His mother married her lover the following year and had little to do with her son thereafter.

Pückler-Muskau studied law at Leipzig University, but abandoned this to enrol in the Red Life Guards regiment at Dresden as a Lieutenant, leading a life of dissipation and falling into debt. He resigned his commission in 1804, residing successively in Prague, Vienna, Augsburg, and Munich. A walking tour through France, Switzerland, and Italy in 1808 confirmed his love of travel, and he began keeping a journal.

After his father’s death in 1811, Pückler-Muskau inherited the family estates. Serving briefly in the Russian army’s third German corps, Pückler-Muskau followed Tsar Alexander I to England as the Napoleonic wars concluded and, with an interest in picturesque landscape gardens, toured leading estates, befriending Richard Colt Hoare at Stourhead. After an unsuccessful courtship of the widowed Lady Lansdowne, he returned to Saxony in April 1815.

In April 1816, Pückler-Muskau met Lucie Countess Pappenheim, daughter of the Prussian State Chancellor Prince Hardenberg, and they were marred a year later after the Countess secured her divorce from Count Pappenheim. With her assistance, Pückler-Muskau landscaped the Saxony estates according to English taste, and the results both made him famous as a gardener and impoverished him. Fearing his bankruptcy, Lucie Pückler-Muskau offered Pückler-Muskau a divorce so that he might repair his fortunes by remarrying; and he agreed so long as she would continue to reside with him. The decree absolute was signed in February 1826 and Pückler-Muskau immediately began his matrimonial tour in search of a rich heiress. While marriage eluded him his account of the tour proved popular and critically well received in Germany and was translated by Sarah Austin into English in 4 volumes (1832). Herself unhappily married, Austin corresponded unguardedly with Pückler-Muskau, proposing to meet and travel with him, though nothing came of this rapport.

Pückler-Muskau had now turned author and continued to publish accounts of his adventures. English translations included Tutti Frutti (1833), an account of travels in Africa and Europe, as well as Adventures in Algiers (1837), and Travels and Adventures in Egypt (1847). After he sold his Saxony estates in 1845, he resided principally near Cottbus, Germany, where he landscaped his new estate, Schloss Branitz. He died there in 1871.

Sources:

Bowman, Peter James. The Fortune Hunter: A German Prince in Regency England. Oxford: Signal Books, 2010.

Texts

Title Published
Tour in England, Ireland, and France 1832
Tour in Germany, Holland and England 1832

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