The Rothschild family is one of the most infamous and wealthiest families in the world, and the numerous members all have one relative from the 1700s to thank for the enormous private fortune they possess today. However, while they got their start in banking, the Rothschild family today continues to accumulate wealth through numerous business enterprises and transactions.
Anyone who accumulates such a large amount of money is a source of fascination. As a result, Rothschild family conspiracy theories are common. Some conspiracy theorists believe the family is responsible for some of the world's most notable events, including the assassination of a US president and the genocide of millions of people. There is also a Rothschild Illuminati conspiracy theory circulating online that refuses to go away.
However, it isn't just their massive amount of inherited and continually accumulating capital that has made the Rothschild family the specific focus of world-domination conspiracy theories. This kind of charge is also a longstanding antisemitic canard; the idea that a powerful Jewish family or group, which the Rothschilds are, is controlling markets and forces that the average non-Jewish person can't see has fueled hatred and bigotry toward Jews for centuries. The Protocols of Zion, a piece of antisemitic propaganda published in 1903 – and utterly discredited – is seen by many contemporary scholars as the root of this line of thinking. It's this kind of thinking that Nazi Germany leveraged into the Holocaust.
What is for certain about the Rothschilds is that they've earned quite a bit of money over the course of the last couple centuries, and they've put it to interesting use.
The Family's Patriarch, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, Amassed An 18th-Century Fortune
The Rothschilds' wealth can be traced back to Mayer Amschel Rothschild, an 18th-century Jewish personal banker in Germany who worked with royalty and governors of the German state Hesse-Kassel. Mayer was raised in a Jewish ghetto. His father died when he was 12, and his mother died the following year. He learned about banking and foreign trading after interning with a firm in Hanover, Germany, at the age of 13. In 1760, Mayer launched a banking business in Frankfurt. Before long, he amassed a large sum of money.
Mayer's Five Sons Innovated The Banking World All Across Europe
When Mayer married Gutle Schnapper in 1770, his father-in-law offered up a sizable dowry. Mayer and Gutle had 10 children, five daughters and five sons, to whom he left his fortune. His sons, Nathan Mayer-Rothschild, Salomon-Mayer von Rothschild, James-Mayer de Rothschild, Carl-Mayer von Rothschild and Amschel Mayer Rothschild, all worked in banking in Vienna, London, Naples, Frankfurt, and Paris.
The siblings were pioneers in their field and introduced many advancements in the business, including diversification. They also made connections with powerful people in the countries in which they worked.
Mayer, His Brothers, And His Father Dabbled In Selling Rare Coins To Royalty
Mayer Rothschild's father sold rare coins to Crown Prince Wilhelm, and Mayer and his brothers carried on the business. Mayer provided financial services to Wilhelm and other nobles and was deemed "Crown Agent" in 1769. In 1785, the prince became Wilhelm IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, and Europe's wealthiest man.
In Order To Keep The Money In The Family, Some Rothschilds Married One Another
Taking notes from centuries of European royalty, Mayer Amschel Rothschild wanted to keep his money in the family. This made sense, given how much money former employees had stolen from him. So, he decreed that female heirs would be banned from receiving any inheritance. Once his heirs reached the age of marriage, they were cut off financially, forcing them to find someone to support them. And since they were raised in a life of privilege, they needed to find rich spouses. This led to several intermarriages. Four Rothschilds married cousins, and one married an uncle.