Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege

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Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege (born November 15, 1777 in Aue , Hesse ; † February 1, 1855 in Wolfsanger near Kassel , Hesse) was a German miner , geologist and geographer .


Eschwege came from the noble family of the von Eschwege belonging to the Althessian knighthood and was born in the Aue mansion . He was a son of the district administrator and manor owner Johann Christian Ludwig von Eschwege (1746–1798) and his wife Sophie, née. Mosebach (1753-1813). In 1823 he married Sophie von Baumbach (1785–1869), daughter of the Hessian district administrator Ludwig Wilhelm von Baumbach (1755–1811) and his wife Christiane von Wangenheim (1764–1841). The marriage remained childless.


After an initial education by private tutors, he attended grammar school in Eisenach and then from 1796 to 1799 the Georg-August University in Göttingen . There he was u. a. Student of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach and fellow students of Friedrich Konrad Hornemann , Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff and Johann Kaspar Horner . After completing his studies in 1801 he was employed as a mining authority assessor in Richelsdorf in Hesse, but in 1803 he went to Portugal as director of an ironworks .

During the invasion of Portugal by Napoleonic troops in 1807, Eschwege was captain of the artillery in the Portuguese army. In 1809 he followed the exiled royal family to Brazil , where over the next ten years he set up a total of 29 ironworks , especially in the state of Minas Gerais . In December 1812, he brought Brazil's first iron to the river in the ironworks in Congonhas do Campo . In 1817 he was appointed general director of the Brazilian gold mines and head of the royal (from 1822 imperial) minerals cabinet in Rio de Janeiro . Eschwege used his stay in Brazil to travel the country and do geognostic research. He became one of the most thorough diamond connoisseurs of his time, drew the first profiles and the first colored geological map of Minas Gerais, and published the results of his explorations in numerous publications.

In 1821 he returned to Europe, and from 1823 to 1830 he worked again in Portugal, where from 1824 he was chief miner and genius at the head of the mining industry . In 1830 he was forced to leave Portugal by the political situation under the usurper Michael I. He went back to Hesse and founded the "Hessisch-Waldeckische Compagnie for the extraction of gold from the Edder River" in Kassel in 1832. Prince Elector and co-regent Friedrich Wilhelm von Hessen-Kassel and Prince Georg II. Heinrich von Waldeck took part as shareholders and "highest protectors", and a number of Hessian and Waldeck nobles as well as respected citizens of the region became shareholders. The company built Europe's largest gold panning facility at the time on the Eder near Bergheim , but the expensive company was a flop because it did not produce gold nuggets , but only the finest gold leaves, and went into liquidation in May 1835 .

In 1834 Peter IV called him back to lead the mining industry in Portugal and appointed him major general of the genius corps . He was the Portuguese chief miner until the dissolution of this office in 1836. After that, he stayed in Portugal to secure his traditional rights. 1839–1849 he built the palace Palácio Nacional da Pena near Sintra at the behest of the Portuguese prince consort and titular king Ferdinand II .

In 1850 he retired and moved back to Wolfsanger near Kassel , where a cold water sanatorium with medical care had existed since 1841.

In 1815 he was accepted as a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg .


  • Journal of Brazil or mixed news from Brazil, collected on scientific trips . Landes-Industrie-Comptoir, Weimar 1818 (2 booklets, edited by Friedrich Justin Bertuch )
  • Geognostic painting of Brazil and probable host rock of the diamonds . Landes-Industrie-Comptoir, Weimar 1822
  • Brazil: The new world in topographical, geognostic, mining, natural history, political and statistical aspects during an eleven-year stay from 1810 to 1821; with reference to the more recent events . Vieweg, Braunschweig 1830 (2 volumes)
  • Contributions to the mountaineering of Brazil . Reimer, Berlin 1832
  • Pluto brasiliensis: A series of treatises on Brazil's gold, diamond and other mineral wealth, on the history of its discovery, on the occurrence of its deposits, the operation, the yield and the related legislation, etc. Reimer, Berlin 1833
  • Portugal: A painting of the state and morals in sketches and pictures after thirty years of observation and experience . Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1837


The estate of Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege contains personal papers as well as the private and scientific correspondence of the chief miner. The documents are stored as a deposit in the Hessian State Archive in Marburg (inventory 340 Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege), are fully indexed and can be researched online via HADIS. The remainder of his mineral collection is now in the Mineralogical Institute of the Technical University in Clausthal-Zellerfeld.


in alphabetical order

  • Hanno Beck: Results of Wilhelm Ludwig v. Eschwege research . In: Journal for Hessian History and Regional Studies 67 (1956), pp. 164–173.
  • Hanno Beck:  Eschwege, Wilhelm Ludwig von. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 4, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1959, ISBN 3-428-00185-0 , p. 652 ( digitized version ).
  • Hanno Beck: Wilhelm Ludwig v. Eschwege - the pioneering Brazilian explorer (1777-1855). In: Hanno Beck: Great travelers. Discoverer and explorer of our world. Verlag Georg DW Callwey, Munich 1971, ISBN 3-7667-0190-8 , pp. 146-160.
  • Wilhelm von GümbelEschwege, Wilhelm Ludwig von . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 6, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1877, p. 373.
  • Franz Kühn: Wilhelm Ludwig v. Eschwege . In: Life pictures from Kurhessen and Waldeck = Publication of the Historical Commission for Hesse and Waldeck 20, Vol. 3. Marburg 1942.
  • Sylk Schneider: "Brazilian diamonds and minerals - John Mawe and Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege". In: Sylk Schneider: Goethe's trip to Brazil . Weimar 2008 ISBN 978-3-937939-69-8 ; Pp. 44-65.
  • Uwe Schwarz: Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege (1777-1855). A German miner and geographer in Brazil. In: Tópicos. German-Brazilian notebooks. Zeitschrift für Politik, Wirtschaft und Kultur 40 (2001), 1/2001, ISSN  0949-541X , pp. 30–32 (summary of the lecture given on November 18, 2000 in the Karl Rahner Academy Cologne as part of the open symposium “500 Years Brazil").
  • Friedrich Toussaint: Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege (1777-1855), a German Engineer of Mining an Metallurgy in Portugal and Brazi l. In: History of Technology 22 (2000), 155-169.
  • Friedrich Sommer (Ed.): Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege, 1777-1855: Life picture of a German living abroad with cultural-historical memories from Germany, Portugal and Brazil . Abroad u. Heimat, Stuttgart 1928.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Ludwig Wilhelm von Baumbach in Kaestner & von Urach's Genealogical Aristocratic Database.
  2. August von Baumbach: History of the von Baumbach family belonging to the old Hessen knighthood. Elwert, Marburg, 1886, pp. 43-44
  3. During his exploration work he visited a. a. the iron ore deposit at Itabirito and noted the band ore rock found there as Itabirite in his work Geognostic Painting of Brazil and Probable Mother Rock of Diamonds, published in 1822 . (Karl Caesar von Leonhard: Characteristics of the rock types. First division, dissimilar rocks . Heidelberg 1823, p. 202)
  4. ^ Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege: Invitation to participate in the Hessisch-Waldeckische Compagnie for the extraction of gold from the Edder river. Kassel, 1832
  5. Harald Elsner (2009): Gold mining in Germany - history and potential
  6. Ulrike Hanschke: Romantic visions in the "Glorious Eden" - the drafts of the Kassel architect Julius Eugen Ruhl for the Pena Castle in Sintra / Portugal . In: In: INSITU. Zeitschrift für Architekturgeschichte 1 (2/2009), pp. 91-102 (91).
  7. ^ Foreign members of the Russian Academy of Sciences since 1724. Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege. Russian Academy of Sciences, accessed November 15, 2015 .
  8. Overview of the holdings "Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege's estate"  (HStAM inventory 340 von Eschwege - Wilhelm Ludwig). In: Archive Information System Hessen (Arcinsys Hessen), status: 1980, accessed on July 20, 2011.