Rothschild family

19.10.2015 |

Episode #9 of the course “Most powerful families in history”


“Rothschild” means “red shield” in German, and it is the surname for a family that is likely the wealthiest in history. With humble beginnings as German Jews, the Rothschild family grew from being moneylenders in the early 17th century to the most important banking family by the 19th century.

The dynasty founder, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, established his banking business in the 1760s to ensure his family’s fortune. He sent each of his five sons to different banking capitals across Europe—London, Paris, Naples, Vienna, and Frankfurt—therefore creating a family network that spanned the riches of multiple monarchies and economies. The Rothschild family’s influence and holdings grew; the family financed huge events in world history and for over 200 years were known as the most important bankers in the world. They were elevated to nobility by Queen Victoria in England and by the Habsburg family of the Holy Roman Empire.


9.2 Nathan Mayer RothschildNathan Mayer Rothschild


Many say that the most important and influential Rothschild was Nathan Mayer Rothschild, who operated from London, but some argue that other family members accumulated as much or more wealth for the family. The Rothschilds worked behind the scenes for multiple events, including financing the Napoleonic Wars, the Suez Canal, and the founding of the countries of Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) and Brazil.

Although the Rothschild family has a great deal of wealth across all its members, there are hundreds of inheritors to its fortune. While still incredibly wealthy, most of today’s Rothschild family members keep a low profile. This has led to conspiracy theories about their contemporary influence on world events. Family members today include a number of models, tennis players, philanthropists, environmentalists, professional musicians, actresses, horse breeders, vineyard owners, and of course, prominent bankers.


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