Alexander von Humboldt Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1769 - 1859 *** Full Name: Alexander von Humboldt *** Occupation: Prussian Geographer, Explorer and Naturalist *** Date of Birth: Alexander von Humboldt was born on September 14th 1769 *** Place of Birth: Alexander von Humboldt was born in Berlin, Prussia *** Family background: His father was Alexander George con Humboldt who was from a prominent Pomeranian family and a Prussian Army Major who served with the Duke of Brunswick and would also be godfather to their son Alexander. His mother was Maria Elizabeth Colomb and widow who already had a son, a very well educated woman, together they had three children although their little girl died very young *** Early life and childhood: He grew up with his brother Wilhelm and having very little to do with their older half-brother as he was a very bad influence and rarely mentioned *** Education: Alexander von Humboldt together with his brother were highly educated by Enlightenment thinkers such as Marcus Herz and Karl Ludwig Willdenow ***
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 1: Alexander von Humboldt was born on September 14th 1769 and during the 18th century period in history when the French Revolution took place, the Ottoman Empire went in a decline and Great Britain became a main power around the globe.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 2: His father Alexander Georg died when he was just a young boy of nine years leaving both boys in the charge of their mother who was by all accounts a very formal and unemotional woman who had high expectations for her sons to serve as civil servants in the Prussian state.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 3: When his mother died, the money she inherited from her first husband would contribute to around seventy percent of Alexanderís personal income.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 4: This money would also enable him to fund his own explorations.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 5: With his mother set on her sonsí having a career in the civil service Alexander attended the University of Frankfurt and later Gottingen.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 6: In his youth he was often found to be collecting and labeling insects, shells and plants and by the time he was attended Gottingen his interests in that area were already firmly embedded.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 7: He met George Forster while at Gottingen, he had travelled with Captain Cook as a naturalist and when Forster left to travel around Europe Humboldt went with him.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 8: Having travelled to England he was introduced to Sir Joseph Banks who was the President of the Royal Society. The two became firm friends until Banks died in 1820.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 9: Having decided on his life purpose he began to prepare himself for his scientific explorations by learning foreign languages as well as geology and astronomy together with the use of scientific instruments.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 10: In February of 1782 he would be appointed to a Prussian government position as a mines inspector.Alexander von Humboldt Fact 16: In the November they set sail for Cuba before journeying on to New Spain where they travelled for a year to difference Mexican cities.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 11: By 1792 having fulfilled his government duties to such an extent that he not only rose through the ranks to the most senior position but he was also trusted with various significant diplomatic missions.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 12: In 1796 his mother died. Neither of her sons attended her funeral, a testament of how loveless their relationship with their mother had been.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 13: Having been specifically and officially invited on Captain Baudinís voyage of circumnavigation the trip was postponed but did not stop Humboldt from pursuing his own travels.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 14: Together with Aime Bonpland they travelled to Spain and were convinced by Don Mariano Luis de Urquijo to make the trip to Spanish America for their exploration.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 15: They set sail on the Pizarro, stopped for a short time on Tenerife island before travelling on to Venezuela and then Caracus.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 17: From Mexico they travelled North to America and headed East to Washington D.C. where they stayed in the White House at the invitation of President Thomas Jefferson, a fellow scientist who enjoyed Humboldt's visit enormously.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 18: He discovered that the earthís magnetic field decreased in intensity from the poles to the equator.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 19: He also through painstaking patience and unravelling reams of data determined that specific plants grew under specific conditions in relation to biology, geology and meteorology and his extensive work would contribute to assist others in the future conduct their own work.
Alexander von Humboldt Fact 20: Alexander von Humboldt died on May 6th 1859 after a minor stroke that saw his health deteriorate, aged eighty nine years. His body was laid to rest with his family at Tegel.
Influence & Legacy: His legacy is vast considering the work he undertook, his travels and the samples he collected and copious papers and books written upon his various subjects.
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