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Who is the Richest Man That Ever Lived?

When you come across the question of riches and men, you’re probably thinking of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, or maybe even the royalties of Southeast Asia. But on the contrary, there is a man who is much richer than you’d have imagined. But who is this man, and how did he come to be?

Jakob Fugger, also known as Jakob Fugger II the Rich, was a German merchant who was arguably the richest man who has ever lived. He also had a hand in shaping history by influencing kings and popes to his own benefit. In today’s money he is said to have $400 Billion to his name.

Who is Jakob Fugger?

Jakob Fugger II was born on March 6, 1459. He was the tenth of the eleven children of Jakob Fugger the Elder and his wife, Barbara Bäsinger. The Fugger family had already established themselves as successful merchants. Fugger’s older brothers established their company in Europe, and their factories rose in Venice and Nuremberg. Back then, these were the essential points of trading.

The Fugger family gave loans to Emperor Federick III. They also supplied his entourage with needs. For this reason, they were given the Lily Coat of Arms in 1473. The extension to their names of the lily was added shortly after replacing the original of the doe.

Historians believed that Jakob Fugger lived as a canon in a church in Herrieden. Still, documents from the Austrian state archive show that Fugger represented his family business in Venice at the young age of 14. He spent most of his years at the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, the house of German merchants in Venice. His extended stay in Italy helped shape the renaissance style to the German region. (Source: The Slovak Spectator)

By 1948, Fugger married Sybille Arzt, who was just 18-years-old at the time. This union opened an opportunity for Jakob to elevate to Grand Burgher of Augsburg. He was later given a seat in the city council. Four years into the marriage, Fugger bought his young wife 40,000 guilders worth of jewels from the treasures of Burgundy. Among the jewels included the Three Brothers, which was later sold to Edward VI of England to become part of the Crown Jewels of England. 

Fugger passed away on December 30, 1525. After his passing, his heirs revealed that his assets totaled 3,000,058 guilders and liabilities. Due to the fact that he did not have children or direct descendants, the company and the asserted were bequeathed to his nephews Raymund and Anton Fugger instead. (Source: Britannica)

How Did Jakob Fugger II The Rich Get His Fortune?

In 1952, at the time of Fugger’s passing, the family was granted the revenues from the Spanish orders of knighthood together with the profits of the mercury and silver mines. Fugger’s personal wealth was equivalent to 2% of the entire GDP of Europe. The foundation of his wealth was based on the textile trade his father and elder brothers established with Italy.

In addition to his family’s wealth, his marriage to Sybille Arzt added to his influence in European politics due to the support of the Habsburg dynasty. (Source: Britannica)

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