It’s the middle of the 1800s, and a sense of war, dread, and panic is spreading throughout Europe. France and Germany are in constant conflict, Hungary is dying for independence, and Italy is itching for freedom. A German grandmother sits safely in her attic as a young man stops by to express his concerns for the future. He speaks of war and famine and uncontrollable conflict, but she smiles and says not to worry, that war won’t occur. When doubted, she simply smiles and confirms that her sons won’t allow one to happen. And as the year unfolds, her prediction comes true. Those sons were Nathan Mayer and James Mayer de Rothschild, and at one point, they controlled the world.
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The Rothschilds were a family of bankers that originated from Frankfurt, Germany. Their power and influence went on to span the globe, and relatively quickly, they became one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in history. Their geopolitical influence changed the outcome of wars, created countries, and established connections and conflicts among nations that still echo through the culture of today. They were alchemists who turned money into power and maintained both throughout several generations. Their techniques for acquiring wealth are still pertinent today and can be traced back to the late 1700s, where under the guidance of Mayer Amschel Rothschild and his German banking enterprise, greed became good.
Mayer Amschel Rothschild: Germany’s golden child
Mayer Amschel Rothschild was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1744 and grew up in Judengasse, a small Jewish community outside of the Holy Roman Empire. After several years of training at the Simon World Oppenheimer banking firm, Amschel became a dealer in rare coins, which attracted the patronage of Crown Prince Willhelm of Hesse, who became Wilhelm IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Lassel. This connection would profit Mayer Amschel, who would navigate through the French Revolution as Britain’s broker for the Hessian mercenaries.
With the recognition of international merit, Rothschild expanded his business and started issuing loans through borrowed capital from the Landgrave. But as Napoleon invaded Hesse due to international conflicts in Prussia, Landgrave was forced into exile while Rothschild acted as his secret banker, moving funds from Germany to London and profiting off of smuggled goods through Napoleonic blockades throughout the United Kingdom. As the business expanded in Europe, Mayer Amschel sent his third-born son to England to expand the empire.
Nathan Mayer Rothschild: the Napoleonic Wars
Nathan Mayer Rothschild became the richest member of the Rothschild family due to his international reputation and significance. At the age of 21, Nathan moved to England and established himself in the world of textiles trading and finance. It was during this period that Nathan also became a freemason of the Premier Grand Lodge of England, through which he established connections among the wealthy and elite. By 1809, he was dealing them gold bullion, which led to a partnership with Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington. Rothschild dealt with the payment of Wellington’s troops in Portugal and Spain during the Napoleonic wars. Following the French invasion of Russia, Rothschild also supported British allies, which led to early conspiracies surrounding the family.
It was reported that in the 1840s, Nathan Rothschild knew the result of the Battle of Waterloo prior to the British cabinet, a strategic situation that supposedly allowed Nathan to invest in the London Stock Exchange, resulting in an unprecedented wealth. His legacy in England carried on as his son Lionel de Rothschild went on to become a Member of Parliament.
Lionel de Rothschild: the Suez Canal
Following in the footsteps of his father, Lionel de Rothschild first established himself as a Baron of the Austrian Empire. He proved himself as an asset during the Crimean war, where he became responsible for large sums of funding for French allies in the fight against Russia. He also became the number one private provider of relief during the Great Irish Famine. His philanthropic efforts led to his election to the British House of Commons, where he served as one of four Members of Parliament for the City of London constituency. His most famous contribution in parliament was financing the government’s purchase of the Suez Canal from Egypt, a £4 million deal at the time. The purchase changed the course of politics and culture forever, allowing for faster sea transport to India, which increased Britain’s strategic interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. The connections to Asia and lands in then-Ottoman Palestine paved the way for Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild and his future investments in Israel.
Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild: Geneva connection
Baron Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild was a Swiss member of the Rothschild family who established himself internationally early on through education in Geneva. He founded the LCF Rothschild Group, which extended into 15 separate countries. In 1961, he visited Club Med, a French travel and tourism operator known for its high-profile clientele and connections. Edmond was a large shareholder of the company at the time, owning 34% of the company. He leveraged his status within Club Med to acquire connections stakes in the Bank of California, Banca Tiburtina, and the first hedge fund, the ‘Fund of Funds.’
In the late 1950s, Edmond chose to donate his grandfather’s land in Ottoman Palestine to the new Israeli State. He provided 7,500 acres of the town of Caesarea to the Caesarea Rothschild Foundation as well as the Israeli State. The land and accompanying donation served as the foundational funding for education throughout Israel. It was then that Edmond invested deeply into Tel-Aviv and the Israel General Bank, later serving as President of the financial institution. After financing the Six-Day War, a battle that established Israel as a national power and formed the basis for the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, Edmond helped establish the Israel Corporation Investment fund. His continued success throughout Israel eventually led to Edmond establishing the Supreme Court building in Jerusalem. After his death, his son Benjamin succeeded him as head of the Compagnie Financiere Edmond de Rothschild.
Jacob Rothschild: the 4th Baron Rothschild
Back in England, Jacob Rothschild, the 4th Baron Rothschild, worked at establishing his relationship with the United States. He helped expand the Rothschild Investment Trust, which consisted of large investments on the London Stock Exchange, culminating in a net value of nearly £2 billion. In addition to venturing into oil and international policy, Jacob Rothschild formed relationships with several key figures within the United States, including Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and James Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank. His international ties led to Jacob becoming a member of the International Advisory Board of The Blackstone Group. Jacob’s company, RIT Capital Partners, used this international acclaim to purchase a stake in Rockefeller Financial Services. The decision merged the two wealthiest families in human history, the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers, for the very first time. His international decisions and influence earned him several honors across nations, including a Member of the Order of Merit in the U.K., The J. Paul Getty Medal from the U.S., and the Weizmann Award from Israel. At 85 years old, he is the oldest living member of the Rothschild family.
Several new generations of Rothschilds are beginning to venture into the family business. Alexandre de Rothschild, a 7th generation member of the family, announced he would be taking over as Chairman of the bank at 37 years old, and Emma Georgina Rothschild serves as a trustee of the Rothschild Archive. But other family members have delved into other avenues and interests. David Meyer de Rothschild has dedicated his life to environmental concerns and has published several books on climate change and global warming, while Charlotte Henriette de Rothschild is a soprano singer who gained popularity throughout Japan. The family continues to maintain their international acclaim through diverse interests, but none can compare to the first generation of Rothschilds, who started from the slums of Frankfurt and ended in the highest-echelon societies, governments, and organizations throughout the world.
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Sources: VanityFair, Medium, Investopedia, LAProgressive, NowThis, HowToTakeOverTheWorld, TheClever, SquareMile, Reuters, JPost, Caesera, TheFinanceFriday
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