The German city of Frankfurt am Main has attracted Jews since the Middle Ages. Soon a cramped Jewish ghetto arose here, where a certain Ashmel Bauer was engaged in usury. Above his office was a red sign, which translates from German as "Rot Schild". Subsequently, Ashmel's son, Mayer Bauer, decided to change his own surname in this manner and called himself Rothschild. It was Mayer Ashmel Rothschild who became the ancestor of the dynasty. From a young age, helping his father in the office, he could become a Jewish rabbi, but he chose a different path for himself.
Thanks to his son, his father's business went uphill - the business expanded to ten offices with a turnover of 20 thousand marks. Mayer, having earned a business reputation, opened his bank office in Frankfurt in 1760. Connections with influential acquaintances led him to the local landgrave William IX. He, like him, was passionately fond of numismatics, and on this basis the usurer got along with him. Soon Rothschild became his court and loan agent, the landgrave entrusted him with all his financial affairs.
So, from 1800 to 1806, Wilhelm borrowed more than one and a half million thalers from Rothschild. Mayer even managed to save his property during the Napoleonic Wars, when the French swept away everything in their path. Mayer left his sons an impressive capital of 200 million gold francs. And to these sons - Anshel, Solomon, James, Nathan and Karl - he bequeathed to increase the family wealth.
Mayer's banking business was split between his five sons. They dispersed to the countries of the Old World. Karl, for example, went to Italy, Solomon - to Austria, James - to France, Anshel stayed in Germany. However, in the future, only England and France brought glory to the family. The remaining branches of the dynasty were either reunited or ended in the first generations.
Nathan Mayer Rothschild established himself firmly in Britain, where he arrived in 1809. After arriving on the island, Nathan dumped all the promissory notes and IOUs, spending eight months incessantly walking around the notaries. As a result, 20 thousand pounds sterling remained in his hands, which he invested in one of the most adventurous scams. Nathan sold ordinary jewelry at auction, passing it off as jewelry of one of the Baroness Geneva of Valois, who was allegedly a relative of the French king Charles VIII. According to eyewitnesses, a real scandal erupted in London society, because many people wanted to buy such jewelry.
Young Nathan Rothschild more than profited from the Napoleonic Wars. He took over many businesses that supplied the British army with military orders at a painful premium. Once Nathan Rothschild cleverly deceived everyone on the English stock exchange. So, he spread false rumors that Wellington lost to Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, which is why all the other players in a hurry sold off government bonds that had fallen in price. This played into the hands of Nathan Rothschild, because he bought them all at a ridiculous price, and Wellington, as we all know, won the battle.
The English branch of the clan possessed not only economic, but also political power in Great Britain. Thus, the British Prime Minister Disraeli borrowed 240 million in cash from the Rothschild banking house for the construction of the Suez Canal. The members of this family were extremely principled, as the following story proves.
Lionel Nathan Rothschild was unable to take a seat in the House of Commons because he had to take the oath of the Gospel. Not wanting to betray their faith, the Rothschilds launched a massive campaign to abolish this rule until they succeeded in 1858. Lionel won the next election and swore an oath on the Hebrew Bible.
There are many cases in history when the Rothschilds generously issued loans to European governments (including the Russian one), and even to the Pope. The French Rothschilds did not lag behind their English relatives. On the contrary, they even surpassed them, for they successfully led the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte himself by the nose.
In the spring of 1811, Jacob Rothschild came to Paris, who later called himself James. James immediately became interested in the Napoleonic authorities. “He is organizing the export of a large consignment of gold coins from England to Dunkirk and has already got in touch with the most influential Parisian financiers. He claims that the British will in every possible way obstruct this export operation, ”they reported to Napoleon.
So, the emperor believed that Rothschild was on the side of France, and allowed the import of gold. Money flowed like a river to Paris, where James turned it into checks, which then flowed to Spain. There, his men cashed in Spanish banks, and then the money was delivered to the enemy of the French, Wellington, through smuggling channels.
James Rothschild actively helped Louis-Philippe of Orleans, the future French king. After his coronation, Louis-Philippe, as a sign of friendship between them, allowed Rothschild, on behalf of the king, to acquire a large railway and take it for himself. By 1848, the wealth of his house was estimated at 600 million francs, while the capital of all Parisian banks was about half that. In addition to finance, the French Rothschilds also took up winemaking.
The founder of this tradition was Baron Nathaniel, who bought the Mouton wine estate in Bordeaux in 1853. His descendants learned how to make wine of the highest quality, and artists such as Chagall and Picasso were involved in the design of wine labels - they received royalties in the form of boxes of wine. By the way, the volume of sales of these boxes was 2 million units per year.
The Rothschilds had tremendous influence throughout Europe. There are theories claiming that they, on a par with the Rockefellers, generally run the governments of all countries. Their financial empire proved to be tenacious, because it was able to survive the Second World War. Now it exists in the form of numerous enterprises, but mostly banks. Experts believe that the secret of the dynasty's success lies in the following: The Rothschilds trusted the bank's management only to people from their family. Men never married non-Jewish women, and so that the property would not leave the family, they should have married cousins and second cousins.
Today, the Rothschilds' fortune is estimated at 350 billion dollars, according to other sources, at 3.2 trillion.