He first studied theology at Giessen, but after the campaign of 1814, in which, like his brother August, he took part as a Hessian volunteer, began the study of jurisprudence, and in 1818 established himself as Privatdocent of civil law at Giessen.
During 1883-6 he held the position of Privatdocent in the university of Munich.
After studying law at the universities of Berlin, Gottingen and Heidelberg (1813-1817), he settled as a Privatdocent, in 1821, at the university of Berlin, where he became ordinary professor of law in 1827.
He was educated in his native town and at Berlin, and after teaching in a private family became Privatdocent at Erlangen (184r) and then professor of theology at Zurich (1844).
After the completion of his university studies at Kiel, Leipzig and Berlin, he travelled for three years in France and Italy; in 1839 he became privatdocent at Kiel, and in 1842 professor-extraordinary of archaeology and philology at Greifswald (ordinary professor 1845).
At Berlin, becoming privatdocent a few years afterwards and assistant professor in 1866.
In 1819 he entered Bonn University, where he became privatdocent in 1824, extraordinary professor of physiology in 1826, and ordinary professor in 1830.