Ernest de Bunsen

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Ernst Christian Ludwig von Bunsen or Ernest de Bunsen (1819 in Rome – 1903 in London) was an Anglo-German writer whose speculative works proposing common origins of Buddhism, Essene Judaism and Christianity were later taken up as part of racist Aryan mythology. He was father of Maurice de Bunsen.


Bunsen was born in Rome where his father Christian von Bunsen was serving as a Prussian diplomat to the Vatican. His mother was Frances Waddington (1791-1876).[1][2][3] His father was the patron both of the mainstream orientalist Max Müller and of the strongly antisemitic orientalist Paul de Lagarde.[4][5]

Ernest was educated at Berlin in a school for cadets and served in the Prussian Guards.[6][7] He married Elizabeth Gurney, daughter of Samuel Gurney, the banker in 1845 and moved to London.[8][9][10]

Bunsen's writings identified Brahmans as "pure Aryans."[11] According to Bunsen the account of Genesis was to be read that Adam was the first Aryan, and the serpent in Eden the first Semite.[12] Bunsen's theory that the "doctrine of the Angel-Messiah in Buddhism," as he called it, was transmitted first to the Essenes and then to Christianity fared little better in Britain than the theories of the British officer in India, Arthur Lillie, who converted to Buddhism and became the author of a number of texts on religion (and croquet).[13]

On 13 May 1903, he died at Abbey Lodge, and was buried at Leytonstone churchyard.[14]


On 5 August 1845, he married Elizabeth (died January 1903), daughter of Samuel Gurney and niece of Elizabeth Fry. Their eldest son, Fritz, died in 1870; they had a second son, Sir Maurice de Bunsen.[14]

Works (selected)[edit]

  • Die Einheit der Religionen im Zusammenhange mit den Völkerwanderungen der Urzeit und der Geheimlehre (Berlin, 1870).
  • Plejaden und der Thierkreis (Berlin, 1879).
  • The Angel-Messiah of Buddhists, Essenes and Christians (London, 1880).


  1. ^ National Library of Wales Journal; Vol. 16, 1970 "20 Frances Waddington (1791-1876), eldest and only surviving sister of Lady Llanover, married Christian Carl Josiah ... 25 Elizabeth Gurney (died 1903), daughter of Samuel Gurney of Ham House, Stratford (1786—1856) and niece of Mrs."
  2. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, ..., ed. Hugh Chisholm; Vol. 4, 1910 "In July 1817 he married Frances Waddington, eldest daughter and co-heiress of B. Waddington of Llanover, Monmouthshire.
  3. ^ Elizabeth Fry's Journeys on the Continent 1840-1841: from a diary ...; 1931 "My grandfather had married in 1817, at Rome, Frances Waddington, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Waddington of Llanover. 1 My mother used to say, as she pointed to the portraits of my Bunsen and Gurney grandfathers, that I ought to be ..."
  4. ^ The Aryan Myth: a history of racist and nationalist ideas in Europe Léon Poliakov - 1974 "... Christian von Bunsen, a patron of Max Muller and de Lagarde, tried by means of a theology of "natural revelation" to reconcile religion and science 243; his son, Ernst von Bunsen (1817-1893), employed considerable ingenuity in inventing an Aryan form of sun-worship based on[clarification needed]...."
  5. ^ Léon Poliakov -Le mythe aryen: essai sur les sources du racisme et des nationalismes; 1987 "L'érudit diplomate Christian von Bunsen, le protecteur de Max Mùller et de Lagarde, cherchait, à l'aide de la théologie d'une « révélation naturelle », à concilier religion et science *; son fils, Ernst von Bunsen (1817-1893), "
  6. ^ "Ernst von Bunsen (Rom 1819 - London 1903), Offizier und Schriftsteller, Sohn von Christian Karl Josias von Bunsen. "
  7. ^ "Ernest de Bunsen. Born, in 1819, at Rome where his father, afterwards Prussian Minister in London, was then Minister to the Vatican. Educated at Berlin in a school for cadets and served in the Guards. Author of some theological[clarification needed] "
  8. ^ Karl Marx Werke, Artikel, Entwürfe, Januar bis Dezember 1855; p. 1575 2001 "Bunsen, Ernst von (1819-1903) zweiter Sohn des Vorigen, preußischer Offizier, Kammerherr, Schriftsteller und Übersetzer; seit 1845 verheiratet mit der Tochter des Bankiers Samuel Gurney."
  9. ^ Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research; Volumes 51-52 University of London. Institute of Historical Research - 1978 Christian von Bunsen married Frances Waddington, of Llanover, near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire. His second son, Ernst, married Elizabeth Gurney, daughter of Samuel Gurney, the famous banker, settled in London, and became a British[clarification needed] ..."
  10. ^ Charles Knight Biography: or, Third division of "The English encyclopedia" - 1872 "The Baroness Bunsen, whose beautifully-written biography is the noblest memorial of her husband, was married, as Miss Frances Waddington, to Bunsen in 1817. Their second son, Ernest De Bunsen, born 1819, took orders in the English Church" ?
  11. ^ Ernst von Bunsen -Die Ueberlieferung: ihre Entstehung und Entwicklung; Volume 1 1889 "Von ihnen wurden die reinen Arier, zu denen die Brahmanen ausschließlich gehörten, stets unterschieden. Aber die Jadavas oder gemischten Arier hießen ebenfalls Arier, weil sie den arischen Glauben angenommen hatten, ."
  12. ^ Christian Bouchet Karl Maria Wiligut le Raspoutine d'Himmler - 2007 "C'est ainsi qu'Ernst von Bunsen (1817-1893) faisait une lecture de la Bible en général et de la Genèse en particulier, telle que la Révélation biblique, sans être expressément niée, devenait une religion aryenne et solaire fonctionnant ...selon un schéma dualiste où Adam était le premier Aryen et le serpent du jardin d'Eden, le premier Sémite"
  13. ^ Philip C. Almond The British Discovery of Buddhism; p. 127 1988 “5 Ernest de Bunsen's The Angel-Messiah of Buddhists, Essenes, and Christians was less historically quixotic. But his argument that the doctrine of the Angel-Messiah in Buddhism was transmitted to the Essenes and then to Christianity fared little better."
  14. ^ a b Fryer, S. E. (1912). "Bunsen, Ernest de" . Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co.