The Rothschilds or the Rothschild family is a wealthy Jewish family of German descent whose fortune stem from the banking business and dates back to the 18th century. The pioneers of international finance, the Rothschilds held the largest private fortune in the world during the 19th century. However, claims that the family now controls about $2 trillion of the world’s wealth has been confirmed as arrant exaggeration made up by conspiracy theory enthusiasts. The Rothschilds’ wealth has been passed on to numerous generations across 5 European countries, making it extremely difficult to trace their wealth as it is not centralized, thus the vast speculations surrounding the subject matter of their current assets.
However, in recent years, the Rothschild family’s businesses continue to thrive, though only a shadow of its glory days. Their multi-national investment banking company Rothschild Group as of 2015 operates a revenue of about $500 million with a net income of $50 million. Those figures further nullify the alleged $2 trillion financial income.
Other sources have put the Rothchilds’ cash flow at $400 billion but it remains only a mere estimate. Here is a detailed look at how the Rothschild family rose to fame and fortune.
How The Rothschild Made Their Money
The patriarch of the Rothschild dynasty, the one who is to thank for the family’s global prominence is Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744 – 1812). Born in Frankfurt to a father who made a living off trading coins, Amschel was at an early age exposed to the essentials of business. After he became orphaned at the age of 12, Mayer Amschel went against his parents wish of becoming a Jewish Rabbi, choosing instead to apprentice at Simon Wolf Oppenheimer banking firm in Hanover Germany.
Mayer Amschel returned to his hometown of Frankfurt at the age of 19 fully equipped with the nitty-gritty of foreign trade and banking. He immediately followed in the footsteps of his father and began trading rare coins. With one of his initial clients including Crown Prince Wilhelm, Wilhelm IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel who became Europe’s wealthiest man, Amschel’s portfolio quickly became awash with the names of the noblemen he rubbed shoulders with.
The French Revolution brought Rothschild his biggest breakthrough. Mayer Amschel was vested with the highly lucrative role of supplying the Austrian army with numerous items from horses to wheat. He also served as the mediator of financial transactions between Britain and the Hessian mercenaries. By the start of the 19th century, Rothschild became one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful man.
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The 5 Arrows of Banking
In a bid to keep his fortune within his family, and expand his dynasty, Rothschild redeployed his 4 sons to the key areas of Europe to establish the family business. However, his first son Amschel “Anselm” Mayer Rothschild remained with him and later took over the Frankfurt arm. Second son Salomon Mayer Rothschild was sent to Austria the third son Nathan Mayer Rothschild to England, and the fourth son Calmann Mayer Rothschild to Naples and fifth and youngest son Jakob Mayer Rothschild was sent to Paris. This move saw the Rothschilds become the first bank to trade beyond borders.
Each of the banks quickly became successful thanks to their involvement in lending governments to finance war operations. However, out of the 4 sons abroad, the third son Nathan who began in England by establishing a textile business with £20,000 became the most successful. He established N. M. Rothschild & Sons which would become the 7th oldest bank in continuous operation in the United Kingdom.
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Regardless of the many speculations surrounding how much the Rothschilds are worth, the family would forever be counted among one of the world’s richest lineages. While no particular family member seems to be the face of the dynasty, it is an established truth that most Rothschilds are employees at Rothschild & Co. The financial holding company as controlled by the English and French branches of the Rothschild family has a revenue of around € 1.5 billion.
Benjamin de Rothschild, a descendant of the France banking family is the majority owner of Switzerland’s Edmond de Rothschild finance empire and is the only Rothschild with an income on Forbes list. Nathaniel Rothschild also has a Forbes page but with no exact value placed on his personal wealth.
Two centuries have come and gone and the Rothschilds are still well involved in the financial business. The firm has almost 3,000 employees across 40 countries and continues to expand.
In addition to banking, the family also has interests in diversified industries including real estate, energy, financial services, mixed farming, nonprofits and winemaking and mining.