The Rothschild banking family was at one point the richest family on Earth and, unsurprisingly, today it is one of the most popular subjects of conspiracy theories. But just how much of what you might read online is true?
The Rothschild family came from Frankfurt, where the house they had lived in for generations was marked with the sign of the Red Shield (Roth + Schild). Like many Jewish families at the time, the Rothschilds were involved in finance, specifically currency exchange and collectible coins.
That was the business of the Rothschild patriarch: Mayer Rothschild. His success in this business attracted many wealthy customers, including Wilhelm, the future ruler of Hesse. Mayer managed Wilhelm’s fortune and successfully protected it from Napoleon’s invasion, for which he was greatly rewarded. Mayer had 5 sons, which he spread throughout Europe. Each established his own family and banking business in the five great European capitals at the time: London, Paris, Frankfurt, Vienna and Naples.
Throughout the 19th century the five brothers and (eventually) their heirs cooperated in numerous financing projects, lending money to governments and the nobility. By the end of the 19th century the wealth of just the French branch was the equivalent of $500 million today.
The 20th century, however, wasn’t kind to the Rothschilds. The Naples and Frankfurt branches became effectively extinct when their last patriarchs produced no male heirs. A more sinister fate befell the branches in Vienna and Paris, who had the vast majority of their wealth confiscated in the course of the Second World War.
Only the branch in London survived intact, and today it is still a powerful force in Britain. At present the wealth of the Rothschilds is hidden in a series of shell companies originating in Switzerland. It is unclear exactly how rich they are, but by all visible measures they appear to have lost the majority of their richest during the 20th century.
Thus, ironically, one of the most popular subjects of conspiracy theories today has instead been on the decline for well over a century. Under the kind patronage of Nagabhushanam Peddi, Dan Supernault, Samuel Patterson, James Gallagher & Brett Gmoser.