MUNZINGER, WERNER (1832-1875), Swiss linguist and traveller, was born at Olten in Switzerland, on the 21st of April 1832. After studying natural science, Oriental languages and history, at Bern, Munich and Paris, he went to Egypt in 1852 and spent a year in Cairo perfecting himself in Arabic. Entering a French mercantile house, he went as leader of a trading expedition to various parts of the Red Sea, fixing his quarters at Massawa, where he acted as French consul. In 1855 he removed to Keren, the chief town of the Bogos, in the north of Abyssinia, which country he explored during the next six years. In 1861 he joined the expedition under T. von Heuglin to Central Africa, but separated from him in November in northern Abyssinia, proceeding along the Gash and Atbara to Khartum. Thence, having meantime succeeded Heuglin as leader of the expedition, he travelled in 1862 to Kordofan, failing, however, in his attempt to reach Darfur and Wadai. After a short stay in Europe in 1863, Munzinger returned to the north and north-east borderlands of Abyssinia, and in 1865, the year of the annexation of Massawa by Egypt, was appointed British consul at that town. He rendered valuable aid to the Abyssinian expedition of 1867-68, among other things exploring the almost unknown Afar country. In acknowledgment of his services he received the C.B. In 1868 he was appointed French consul at Massawa, and in 1871 was named by the khedive Ismail governor of that town with the title of bey. In 1870, with Captain S. B. Miles, Munzinger visited southern Arabia. As governor of Massawa he annexed to Egypt the Bogos and Hamasen provinces of northern Abyssinia, and in 1872 was made pasha and governor-general of the eastern Sudan. It is believed that it was on his advice that Ismail sanctioned the Abyssinian enterprise, but on the war assuming larger proportions in 1875 the command of the Egyptian troops in northern Abyssinia was taken from Munzinger, who was selected to command a small expedition intended to open up communication with Menelek, king of Shoa, then at enmity with the negus Johannes (King John) and a potential ally of Egypt. Leaving Tajura Bay on the 27th of October 1875 Munzinger started for Ankober with a force of 350 men, being accompanied by an envoy from Menelek. The desert country to be traversed was in the hands of hostile tribes, and on reaching Lake Aussa the expedition was attacked during the night by Gallas Munzinger, with his wife and nearly all his companions, being killed.
Munzinger's contributions to the knowledge of the country, people and languages of north-eastern Africa are of solid value. See Proc. R.G.S., vol. xiii.; Journ. R.G.S., vols. xxxix., xli. and xlvi. (obituary notice); Petermanns Mitteilungen for 1858, 1867, 1872 et seq. ; Dietschi and Weber, Werner Munzinger, ein Lebensbild (1875); J- v - Keller-Zschokke, Werner Munzinger Pasha (1890). Munzinger published the following works: Vber die Sitten und das Recht der Bogos (1859); Ostafrikanische Studien (1864; 2nd ed., 1883; his most valuable book) ; Die deutsche Expedition in Ostafrika (1865) ; Vocabulaire de la langue de Tigre (1865), besides papers in the geographical serials referred to, and a memoir on the northern borders of Abyssinia in the Zeitschrift fur allgemeine Erdkunde, new series, vol. ih.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)