Ieronim Munchhauzen

Ieronim Munchhauzen

Famous baron storyteller
Date of Birth: 11.05.1720
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Hieronymus Carl Friedrich von Munchausen
  2. Early Life and Family
  3. Service in Russia
  4. Military Career and Marriage
  5. Life in Bodenwerder and the Munchausen Stories
  6. Later Years and Death

Biography of Hieronymus Carl Friedrich von Munchausen

Early Life and Family

Hieronymus Carl Friedrich Baron von Munchausen was born on May 11, 1720, in the estate of Bodenwerder near Hanover. The Munchausen family house still stands in Bodenwerder and currently serves as the town hall and a small museum. Sculptures of the famous local and literary hero adorn the town on the banks of the Weser River. Hieronymus was the fifth child among eight siblings, and his father passed away when he was only four years old. As was customary in his family, a military career was expected for Hieronymus and his brothers. At the age of 15, he began serving as a page in the court of the Duke of Brunswick.

Ieronim Munchhauzen

Service in Russia

During his time as a page, Hieronymus had the opportunity to accompany the Duke's son, Prince Anton Ulrich of Brunswick, to Russia. Prince Anton was preparing to take command of a Cuirassier regiment and was also a potential suitor for Anna Leopoldovna, the niece of the Russian Empress. However, their marriage was delayed for almost seven years. Meanwhile, Hieronymus volunteered to go to Russia as a replacement for the fallen pages who could not be easily replaced from Germany. In 1738, Hieronymus traveled to Russia and became a part of Prince Anton's entourage. He witnessed the court of Empress Anna and took part in military parades and campaigns, including the war against the Turks in 1738. In 1739, Prince Anton and Anna Leopoldovna finally married, and Hieronymus decided to pursue a military career in Russia.

Military Career and Marriage

In 1739, Hieronymus von Munchausen joined the Brunswick Cuirassier regiment as a cornet. Thanks to the patronage of his chief, Prince Anton Ulrich, he quickly rose through the ranks and became a lieutenant and the commander of the first company of the regiment. He proved to be a competent officer and was dedicated to his duties. In 1740, Prince Anton and Anna Leopoldovna's first child, Ivan, was born and proclaimed the heir to the Russian throne as Ivan III. However, in 1741, Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, seized power, leading to the arrest of the Brunswick family and their allies. Hieronymus found himself in the position of guarding his former patrons who were held as prisoners in the Riga Castle. Although he was not directly affected by the events, he faced delays in promotions and only attained the rank of captain in 1750.

In 1744, Captain Munchausen commanded an honorary guard that received the bride of the Russian crown prince, Sophia Frederica Augusta, who would later become Empress Catherine II. In the same year, Hieronymus married Jacobine von Dunten, the daughter of a judge in Riga. After being promoted to the rank of major, Munchausen requested leave to settle his inheritance affairs and returned to Germany with his young wife. He extended his leave twice and was eventually discharged from the regiment. Hieronymus then took control of the family estate in Bodenwerder, marking the end of his "Russian odyssey" and the beginning of his famous storytelling.

Life in Bodenwerder and the Munchausen Stories

From 1752, Hieronymus von Munchausen lived in the family estate in Bodenwerder. The small town had a population of around 1200 people, and initially, Munchausen did not have a good relationship with them. He mainly socialized with neighboring landowners, enjoyed hunting in the surrounding forests and fields, and occasionally visited nearby towns like Hanover, Hamelin, and Göttingen. In his estate, Munchausen built a pavilion in the fashionable "grotto" style to entertain his friends. However, the pavilion later earned the nickname "the pavilion of lies" because it was there that he would tell his guests his fantastical stories.

It is believed that the Munchausen stories first circulated among hunting parties. His experiences in Russia, especially hunting, left a lasting impression on him, which is why his stories about hunting adventures in Russia were particularly vivid. Over time, his humorous and imaginative tales became known in Lower Saxony, and after their publication, they gained popularity throughout Germany. Unfortunately, Munchausen's fictional persona completely overshadowed the real person, and he was labeled the "lying baron," the "king of liars," and the "greatest liar of all."

Later Years and Death

In 1790, Munchausen's beloved wife Jacobine passed away, leaving him devastated. He mourned for four years until he was captivated by a young woman named Bernardine von Brunn. Their unequal marriage caused numerous problems, and Bernardine, known for her frivolous lifestyle, brought further financial troubles to Munchausen. The scandalous divorce proceedings ultimately bankrupted him. Unable to recover from these hardships, Hieronymus Carl Friedrich Baron von Munchausen died on February 22, 1797, and was buried in the family vault beneath the floor of the church in the village of Kemnade near Bodenwerder.