Fugger family

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The House of Fugger (German pronunciation: [ˈfʊɡɐ]) is a German family that was historically a prominent group of European bankers, members of the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century mercantile patriciate of Augsburg, international mercantile bankers, and venture capitalists. Alongside the Welser family, the Fugger family controlled much of the European economy in the sixteenth century and accumulated enormous wealth. The Fuggers held a near monopoly on the European copper market.

County of Kirchberg and Weissenhorn
Grafschaft Kirchberg und Weißenhorn
Coat of arms of Fugger
Coat of arms
Map of Württemberg before the French Revolutionary Wars, showing the County of Fugger, with the Danube shown running through the centre of the image and the Iller forming the border between Württemberger lands (coloured) and Bavarian lands (non-coloured)
Map of Württemberg before the French Revolutionary Wars, showing the County of Fugger, with the Danube shown running through the centre of the image and the Iller forming the border between Württemberger lands (coloured) and Bavarian lands (non-coloured)
CapitalWeißenhorn (nominally)
Imp. City Augsburg (de facto)
Historical eraEarly modern Europe
1507 1536
• Raised to Imperial nobility
• Gained immediate
Lordship of Glött
• Fugger lands' immediacy
• Joined Swabian Circle
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Duchy of Bavaria Duchy of Bavaria
Duchy of Württemberg Duchy of Württemberg
Imperial City of Augsburg Augsburg
Kingdom of Bavaria
Kingdom of Württemberg

This banking family replaced the Medici family who influenced all of Europe during the Renaissance. The Fuggers took over many of the Medicis' assets and their political power and influence. They were closely affiliated with the House of Habsburg whose rise to world power they financed. Unlike the citizenry of their hometown and most other trading patricians of German free imperial cities, such as the Tuchers, they never converted to Lutheranism, as presented in the Augsburg Confession, but rather remained with the Roman Catholic Church and thus close to the Habsburg emperors.[1]

Jakob Fugger "the Rich" was elevated to the nobility of the Holy Roman Empire in May 1511 and assumed the title Imperial Count of Kirchberg and Weissenhorn in 1514. Today, he is considered to be one of the wealthiest people ever to have lived, with a GDP-adjusted net worth of over $400 billion, and approximately 2% of the entire GDP of Europe at the time. While the company was dissolved in 1657, the Fuggers remained wealthy landowners and ruled the County of Kirchberg and Weissenhorn. The Babenhausen branch became Princes of the Holy Roman Empire in 1803, while the Glött branch of the family became Princes in Bavaria in 1914.

History edit

Founding edit

The founder of the family was Hans Fugger, a weaver at Graben, near the Swabian Free City of Augsburg.[2] The last name was originally spelled "Fucker" – the first recorded reference to the family comes when Johann's son, also named Johann (or Hans), moved to Augsburg in 1367, with the local tax register laconically noting Fucker advenit, "Fugger has arrived".[3][4] He married Klara Widolf and became an Augsburg citizen. After Klara's death, he married Elizabeth Gattermann. He joined the weaver's guild, and by 1396, he was ranked high in the list of taxpayers. He added the business of a merchant to that of a weaver.[2]

His eldest son, Andreas Fugger, was a merchant in the weaving trade, and was nicknamed "Fugger the Rich"[5] after buying land and other properties. The Fugger family itemized and inventoried a large number of Asian rugs, an unusual undertaking at the time.[6] Andreas's son, Lukas Fugger, was granted arms by the Emperor Frederick III, a golden deer on a blue background, and he was soon nicknamed "the Fugger of the Deer".[2] He was too ambitious, however, and went bankrupt[editorializing]. His descendants served their cousins of the famous younger branch and later went to Silesia. Contemporary members of the Fugger of the Deer (German: Fugger vom Reh) are descendants of Matthäus Fugger (1442–1489/92). The current head of the family is Markus Fugger von dem Rech (born 1970).[citation needed]

Portrait of Georg Fugger by Giovanni Bellini, 1474

Hans Fugger's younger son, Jakob the Elder, founded another branch of the family. This branch progressed more steadily and they became known as the "Fuggers of the Lily" after their chosen arms of a flowering lily on a gold and blue background. Jakob was a master weaver, a merchant, and an alderman. He married Barbara Bäsinger, the daughter of a goldsmith. His fortune progressed, and by 1461, he was the twelfth richest man in Augsburg. He died in 1469.

Jakob's eldest son, Ulrich, took over the business on his father's death, and in 1473 he provided new suits of clothes to Frederick, his son Maximilian I, and his suite on their journey to Trier to meet Charles the Bold of Burgundy and the betrothal of the young prince to Charles's daughter Maria. Thus began a very profitable relationship between the Fugger family and the Habsburgs.

With the help of their brother in Rome; Marx, Ulrich and his brother George handled remittances to the papal court of monies for the sale of indulgences and the procuring of Church benefices. From 1508 to 1515, they leased the Roman mint. Ulrich died in 1510.

When the Fuggers made their first loan to the Archduke Sigismund in 1487, they took as security an interest in silver and copper mines in the Tyrol. This was the beginning of an extensive family involvement in mining and precious metals.[7] The Fuggers also participated in mining operations in Silesia, and owned copper mines in Hungary. Their trade in spices, wool, and silk extended to almost all parts of Europe.[2]

Jakob Fugger "the Rich" edit

Jakob Fugger, "the Rich" (1459–1525), by Albrecht Dürer

Ulrich's youngest brother Jakob Fugger, born in 1459, was to become the most famous member of the dynasty. In 1498, he married Sibylla Artzt, Grand Burgheress to Augsburg, the daughter of an eminent Grand Burgher of Augsburg (German: Großbürger zu Augsburg). They had no children, but this marriage gave Jakob the opportunity to elevate to Grand Burgher of Augsburg and later allowed him to pursue a seat on the city council (Stadtrat) of Augsburg. He was elevated to the nobility of the Holy Roman Empire in May 1511, made Imperial Count in 1514, and in 1519, led a consortium of German and Italian businessmen that loaned Charles V 850,000 florins (about 95,625 oz(t) or 2974 kg of gold) to procure his election as Holy Roman Emperor over Francis I of France.[8] The Fuggers' contribution was 543,000 florins.

In 1494, the Fuggers established their first public company. Jakob's aim was to establish a copper monopoly by opening foundries in Hohenkirchen and Fuggerau (named for the family, in Carinthia) and by expanding the sales organization in Europe, especially the Antwerp agency. Jakob leased the copper mines in Besztercebánya in the Kingdom of Hungary (today Banská Bystrica, Slovakia) in 1495, eventually making them the greatest mining centre of the time.

At the height of his power Jakob Fugger was sharply criticized by his contemporaries, especially by Ulrich von Hutten and Martin Luther, for selling indulgences and benefices and urging the Pope to rescind or amend the prohibition on the levying of interest. The imperial fiscal and governmental authorities in Nuremberg brought action against him and other merchants in an attempt to halt their monopolistic practices.

In 1511, Jakob deposited 15,000 florins as an endowment for some almshouses. In 1514, he bought up part of Augsburg and in 1516 came to an agreement with the city that he would build and provide a number of almshouses for needy citizens. By 1523, 52 houses had been built, and the Fuggerei had come into existence. It is still used today.[9]

Jakob died in 1525. He is considered to be one of the richest persons of all time,[10] and today he is well known as Jakob Fugger "the rich". At its peak his wealth is estimated to be 2% of Europe's GDP.[11]

Later years edit

10 ducats (1621) minted as circulating currency by the Fugger family[12]

Jakob's successor was his nephew Anton Fugger, son of his elder brother Georg. Anton was born in 1493, married Anna Rehlinger, and died in 1560.

In 1525, the Fuggers were granted the revenues from the Spanish orders of knighthood together with the profits from mercury and silver mines.[13] The formerly rich yield of the Tirolean and Hungarian mines decreased, but Anton established new trade ties with Peru and Chile and started mining ventures in Sweden and Norway. He was involved in the slave trade from Africa to America, but was more successful in the spice trade and the importation of Hungarian cattle. Eventually, he was forced to renounce the Maestrazgo lease after 1542 and to give up the silver mines of Guadalcanal.

After hard times under Anton's nephew and successor Johann Jakob, Anton's oldest son, Markus, carried on the business successfully, earning some 50,000,000 ducats between 1563 and 1641 from the production of mercury at Almadén alone, but the Fugger company was completely dissolved after the Thirty Years' War when Leopold Fugger returned the mines in Tyrol to the Habsburgs in 1657.

Fugger chapel of 1509 at St. Anne's Church, Augsburg

The burial chapel of the Fuggers in St. Anne's Church, Augsburg of 1509 is the earliest example of Renaissance architecture in Germany with its memorial relief tablets in the style of Dürer in the choir of the church. It became the burial place of the three brothers Jacob Fugger, Georg Fugger and Ulrich Fugger the Elder and their two nephews Raymund Fugger and Hieronymus Fugger (1499–1538). When St. Anne's Church became Protestant in 1548, the Fugger Chapel remained Catholic because the Fugger Foundation continued to look after it and contributed to the upkeep of the church. This is how the remarkable fact came about that part of the church is denominationally different from the rest, and that the burial place of the Fugger family, who are considered strictly Catholic, is now in a Protestant church.[14] Adding to the oddity is that Jacob Fugger's loans to Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg and the indulgence to repay them were what triggered Martin Luther's Reformation.

Anselm Maria Fugger von Babenhausen (1766–1821) was created Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1803.[2] The present head of this branch is Prince Hubertus Fugger von Babenhausen who owns Jakob the Rich's former business seat, the Fuggerhäuser in Augsburg, as well as nearby Wellenburg Castle and the castle at Babenhausen, Bavaria (purchased by Anton Fugger in 1539 and today housing a museum on the family history); he is also co-owner of a small private bank, the Fürst Fugger Privatbank, in Augsburg.

The branch Fugger von Glött, descendants of Johann Ernst, a great-grandson of Anton, was elevated to the rank of a Bavarian prince in 1914 with Carl Ernst Fürst Fugger von Glött; the branch ended in the male line with his son Joseph-Ernst Fürst Fugger von Glött (1895–1981), husband of Princess Stephanie of Hohenzollern (1895–1975), his estate including the castle at Kirchheim in Schwaben (acquired in 1551 by Anton Fugger) being inherited by his sister Maria's (1894–1935) son, Albert Count von Arco-Zinneberg (b. 1932), whom he adopted, and who took on the name Fugger von Glött.

The comital branch Fugger von Kirchberg und zu Weissenhorn is today represented by countess Maria-Elisabeth von Thun und Hohenstein, née countess Fugger, heiress of Kirchberg Castle at Illerkirchberg (bought in 1507 by Jakob Fugger). She also heads the charitable family foundations including the Fuggerei in Augsburg and Welden monastery.

In Augsburg, a museum of Fugger and Welser history (Fugger und Welser Erlebnismuseum) was opened.[15][16]

Findings edit

In April 2019, Dutch maritime investigators unearthed a 16th-century shipwreck during an exploration for container ship MSC Zoe which lost containers overboard in January 2019. Copper plates with emblem of the Fugger family were found in the ship built around 1540 in the Netherlands during the reign of Charles V.[17][18][19]

Family members edit

(Mediatized) Princes of Fugger-Babenhausen (1803) edit

Coat of arms of the Princes of Fugger-Babenhausen
  • Anselm, 1st Prince 1803–1821 (1766–1821), m. Countess Maria Antonia of Waldburg zu Zeil-Wurzach
    • Anton, 2nd Prince 1821–1836 (1800–1836), m. Princess Franziska of Hohenlohe-Bartenstein und Jagstberg
      • Leopold, 3rd Prince 1836–1885 (1827–1885), m. Countess Anna von Gatterburg
      • Karl, 4th Prince 1885–1906 (1829–1906), m. Countess Friederike von Christalnigg von und zu Gillitzstein
        • Karl, 5th Prince 1906–1925 (1861–1925), m. Princess Eleonore of Hohenlohe-Bartenstein
          • Georg, 6th Prince 1925–1934 (1889–1934), m. Countess Elisabeth von Plessen
            • Friedrich Carl, 7th Prince 1934–1979 (1914–1979), m. Countess Gunilla Bielke
              • Prince Carl-Anton Maria, renounced his rights 1970 (b. 1944)
              • Hubertus, 8th Prince 1979–present (b. 1946), m. Princess Alexandra of Oettingen-Oettingen und Oettingen-Spielberg
                • Hereditary Prince Leopold (b. 1980); m. Annina Kammer
                  • Prince Antonius (b. 2013)
                  • Prince Ferdinand (b. 2016)
                • Prince Alexander (b. 1981)
                • Prince Nikolaus (b. 1993)
              • Prince Markus (b. 1950)
              • Count Johannes (b. 1957), m. 1983 Princess Miriam of Lobkowicz (b. 1961)

Gallery edit

Acquisitions edit

The following historic buildings are still owned by the Fugger family:

Further reading edit

  • Kluger, Martin (2014). The Fugger Dynasty in Augsburg – Merchants, Mining Entrepreneurs, Bankers and Benefactors. Augsburg: context verlag. ISBN 978-3-939645-74-0.
  • Steinmetz, Greg (2015). The Richest Man Who Ever Lived. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-8855-9.

Family tree edit

References edit

  1. ^ S. Lott, Elizabeth (2019). The Holy Roman Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 293. ISBN 9781440848568. ... because even though Augsburg welcomed Protestants during and after the Reformation, the Fugger family remained Catholic.
  2. ^ a b c d e Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Fugger" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 287–288.
  3. ^ Steinmetz, Greg. (2015). The richest man who ever lived : the life and times of Jacob Fugger. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-4516-8856-6. OCLC 965139738.
  4. ^ Mark Häberlein: The Fuggers of Augsburg: Pursuing Wealth and Honor in Renaissance Germany. (= Studies in early modern German history). University of Virginia Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-8139-3244-6, Kapitel The Fugger family in late medieval Augsburg
  5. ^ Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Fugger" . The American Cyclopædia.
  6. ^ Appraiser, D. Dilmaghani, Certified Rug. "Oriental Rugs & Oriental Carpets – Dilmaghani". Retrieved 3 September 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "History of Banking, 1487 – The Fuggers and the Archduke". Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  8. ^ Brechin, Gray A. (1999). Imperial San Francisco: urban power, earthly ruin. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22902-9.
  9. ^ Esterl, Mike (26 December 2008). "In This Picturesque Village, the Rent Hasn't Been Raised Since 1520". The Wall Street Journal.
  10. ^ "Jakob Fugger II (1459–1525)". The Wall Street Journal.
  11. ^ Steinmetz, Greg. "Opinion: 7 money-making lessons from the richest man who ever lived". MarketWatch. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  12. ^ Cuhaj, George S., ed. (2009). Standard Catalog of World Gold Coins 1601–present (6 ed.). Krause. p. 496. ISBN 978-1-4402-0424-1.
  13. ^ "History of Banking, 1487 – The Fuggers and the Archduke". Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  14. ^ Website of the Evangelical Lutheran Deanery Augsburg: 500 Jahre Fuggerkapelle (500 years Fugger Chapel, 2018).
  15. ^ "Home". Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  16. ^ Allgemeine, Augsburger. "Museum für die Fugger und Welser". Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  17. ^ Rogers, James (4 April 2019). "Search for lost sea containers leads to discovery of 16th-century Dutch shipwreck". Fox News. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Dutch container search reveals rare ancient shipwreck". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  19. ^ "Dutch container search reveals rare ancient shipwreck – CNA". 3 April 2019. Archived from the original on 3 April 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  20. ^ Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser XIV. "Fugger". C.A. Starke Verlag, 1991, pp. 269–270, 303. (German). ISBN 3-7980-0700-4.
  21. ^ Beeche, Arturo (2017). "Eurohistory: The European Royal History Journal". 20 (4). California, US: Kensington House Books: 48. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

External links edit