Station: [13] Life of Dr. Georg Anton von Schäffer

Our stop number 13 is devoted to a very special man, the physician Georg Anton von Schäffer, M.D. Here are some of the events of his life.

Although Georg Anton von Schäffer was a doctor, he actually ran the Obertor Pharmacy from 1805 to 1806. This brief period of activity in Marktheidenfeld wouldn’t be worth mentioning, because the doctor left town after just over a year. But...

... Schäffer lived an extraordinary life that took him around almost the whole world.

After his time in Marktheidenfeld, Schäffer first worked as personal physician to Prince Konstantin von Löwenstein in the neighbouring town of Wertheim. Then he moved to St. Petersburg and on to Moscow as a doctor in service with the military or the police. In 1813, he became a ship's doctor and travelled around the world under the Russian flag, stopping off in Brazil and then Alaska and the Russian colonial possessions in California – which were known as “Russian America” until the middle of the 19th century. 

Afterwards, the Russian governor dispatched him to Hawaii to seize the cargo of a stricken ship. Though he had no authority, Schäffer built forts and fortifications on behalf of the Russians – and promptly got himself expelled from Hawaii. 

Finally, after returning to Europe, he was sent to Brazil, where fellow physician Georg von Langsdorff, an acquaintance from his student days, was in charge of the Russian legation. There, he met the future Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro the First and recruited more than 600 German settlers and several thousand German mercenaries on his behalf in 1822. The Schäffer Group founded Frankenthal, the first German settlement in Brazil. 

An uprising by the German mercenary guard led to Georg Anton von Schäffer being banished to the country’s interior, where he died in 1836.

What a life! And not entirely uncontroversial! But let's continue at the large display case by the window.

All depictions: © Trüpschuch