Rumford and nutrition

It was a beautiful spring day on Friday, on the fifth of June, in Munich, Germany in the year 1784. A smart-looking horse and carriage came to a stop on the fashionable SchwabingerStreet in front of a palatial villa. The carriage had a single rider, obviously a person of importance if one were to judge by his clothing. The distinguished occupant was the 32-year-old Benjamin Thompson, recently knighted Sir Benjamin Thompson by King George III of Great Britain. Just having taken the oath of office as a colonel in the Bavarian army, he was basking in the joy of the moment. He chuckled to himself as he strode towards the entrance to his villa, thinking, “Little do the Bavarians know what is in store for them! When I 
complete my plan to reform the military, everything will change.” The Elector ofBavaria, Karl Theodor, had not so long ago employed him as a colonel of one of the cavalry regiments of the army. In reality, though, Sir Benjamin had been given the post to become a troubleshooter for the army. The low-level position was a cover, and Karl Theodor had advised Sir Benjamin to take the time to learn German and French and gain detailed knowledge of the local situation before offering any advice.

  • Storytelling Resources

A Primary Sources
Rumford, Benjamin Thompson: Of Food ; and Particularly of Feeding the Poor, The Complete Works of Count Rumford VOL IV 1875, S. 395–490, online available:
Rumford, Benjamin Thompson: The Complete Works of Count Rumford VOL IV 1875, online available:

B Secondary Sources
Brown, G. I.: Scientist, Soldier, Statesman, Spy - Count Rumford: ¬The Extraordinary Life of a Scientific Genius. Stroud (Gloucestershire): Sutton 1999.
Brown, S. C.: Count Rumford: Physicist Extraordinary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press 1979.
Gratzer, W. B: Terrors of the table: the curious history of nutrition, Oxford 2006.


see also