In Pursuit of an Heiress

Nicholas Penny

In 1811, at the age of 26, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau inherited the estate of Muskau (nearly 200 square miles in size, annexed to Saxony in 1806 but allotted to Prussia by the Congress of Vienna and partly absorbed by Poland in the 20th century), together with the smaller estate of Branitz. He was determined not only to carry out improvements but to create a landscape park on the English model. Unfortunately, he also inherited massive debts which frustrated these ambitions. And then his father-in-law bequeathed his fortune to his mistress. So, at the suggestion of his wife, his close collaborator in such enterprises, Pückler divorced her, and set off to Britain in the hope of finding an heiress to marry. The opportunity to inspect the planting and draining and new styles of gardening was an additional draw. He left in September 1826, visiting Goethe en route, and stayed for more than two years.

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