Who are the cheapest billionaires in history?
This is how Jakob Fugger became the richest person in history
On a spring day in 1523, Emperor Charles V received a letter. As head of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, King of Spain, King of Naples, King of Jerusalem, Duke of Burgundy and holder of 76 other titles, he was considered the most powerful man in the West.
His empire stretched across Europe and the Atlantic to South America and was the first empire in which the sun never sets. The letter was a dunning letter in which the Habsburg was bluntly requested to repay his debts, "together with any interest and without further delay".
No normal person could have dared to call upon the emperor in the ultimate form to repay a loan, that ruler to whom the people ascribed healing powers and whom some called a god on earth.
But the sender of the warning letter was not a normal person, but a kind of emperor in his field, a god of money: Jakob Fugger.
The Medici looked pale compared to the super-rich
At the time of writing, a farmer's grandson was not only the most powerful banker in Europe, he was also by far the richest man of his day. The Augsburg merchant, who lived from 1459 to 1525 in the age of the early Renaissance, overshadowed the Medici in Florence.
But even today's super-rich cannot compete with the wealth of Jakob Fugger, if one estimates his wealth according to today's purchasing power.
Even if the ascent of the man from Swabia is unparalleled, it still provides a kind of formula for what is necessary to become not only rich, but super-rich. The solution is encouraging and sobering at the same time.
Jakob Fugger, the man who was able to put pressure on the emperor, did not invent anything and discover nothing. But he combined the familiar and the tried and tested in a new way, such as double-entry bookkeeping - and thus achieved a great management achievement.
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