The Rothschild family is known for being one of the wealthiest banking family empires in history. At the height of their power, one family controlled all of the financial institutions in Europe.
It is said that the Rothschild family decided the outcome of the Napoleonic Wars by throwing their significant financial weight into the benefit of Great Britain. This significant financial weight single-handedly funded the British war effort, winning the war.
Meyer Amschel Rothschild, initially a court factor is the Free City of Frankfurt, laid the foundation for this vast empire. He managed to establish a successful banking business, the wealth from which he bequeathed to his sons.
The sons, using this wealth as capital, each went and expanded the business by setting up shop in five of the world’s financial centers at the time. Amschel Rothschild took over the bank at Frankfurt, Saloman Rothschild went to Vienna, Nathan Rothschild to London, Calmann Rothschild to Naples, and Jakob Rothschild to Paris.
Together, they built a banking empire that encompassed all of Europe.
As with royal families of the time, in-breeding was a common practice with the Rothschilds. Meyer insisted on marrying his nephews with his nieces. He did this to keep the family fortune and business empire within the family.
However, by the late 19th century, this practice was abandoned, and most of the Rothschilds married out of the family.
Family as Bargaining Chips
Rothschilds marrying out of the family were used by the Rothschilds as bargaining chips. They would marry their children off to Europe’s high society, effectively tying the Rothschild family to various nobilities. Other financial dynasties were also targeted by the Rothschilds, and soon, many of Europe’s high aristocracy had familial ties with the Rothschilds.
Ties with the Rothschilds were a double-edged sword. On the one hand, these aristocrats had the support of the Rothschild family’s vast financial holdings, but on the other hand, the family wielded greater influence over the aristocrat’s decisions.
Eventually, all five brothers were named Barons of the Austrian Empire. Today, all that remains in the spotlight are the British and French Rothschild Houses(the Austrian Houses were ransacked by the Nazis in WW2). These two houses were merged in 2003, unifying the Rothschild dynasty for the first time in 200 years.
Stories of Fiction
Being such a wealthy family with hundreds of years of legacy, numerous fictional stories about the family are bound to surface. Some based on actual historical events, and others based on nonsensical conjectures such as the accusation that the Rothschilds were vampires set on world domination.
Most of these stories have anti-semitic origins, but some, such as the inbreeding, are true. One popular story that is more based on historical events is the story of how Nathan Rothschild, from the London branch of the family, heard of the news of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo.
Upon hearing the news, he immediately bought up the government bond market, theorizing correctly of the great profits he would make upon the confirmation of Wellington’s victory. Needless to say, from this, one of the richest families in history became even richer.