The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: The Life and Times of Jacob Fugger

By Greg Steinmetz
"A colorful introduction to one of the most influential businessmen in history" (The New York Times Book Review), Jacob Fugger--the Renaissance banker "who wrote the playbook for everyone who keeps score with money" (Bryan Burrough, author of Days of Rage).
In the days when Columbus sailed the ocean and Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, a German banker named Jacob Fugger became the richest man in history.
Fugger lived in Germany at the turn of the sixteenth century, the grandson of a peasant. By the time he died, his fortune amounted to nearly two percent of European GDP. In an era when kings had unlimited power, Fugger dared to stare down heads of state and ask them to pay back their loans--with interest. It was this coolness and self-assurance, along with his inexhaustible ambition, that made him not only the richest man ever, but a force of history as well. Before Fugger came along it was illegal under church law to charge interest on loans, but he got the Pope to change that. He also helped trigger the Reformation and likely funded Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe. His creation of a news service gave him an information edge over his rivals and customers and earned Fugger a footnote in the history of journalism. And he took Austria's Habsburg family from being second-tier sovereigns to rulers of the first empire where the sun never set.
"Enjoyable...readable and fast-paced" (The Wall Street Journal), The Richest Man Who Ever Lived is more than a tale about the most influential businessman of all time. It is a story about palace intrigue, knights in battle, family tragedy and triumph, and a violent clash between the one percent and everybody else. "The tale of Fugger's aspiration, ruthlessness, and greed is riveting" (The Economist).


    REVIEW QUOTES
"One of the most influential financiers who ever lived, Jacob Fugger has long been shrouded in mystery. If you want to understand this visionary (he backed Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe), controversial (he vigorously challenged Martin Luther), and daring money man, read Greg Steinmetz's captivating, clear-eyed account. You'll be richer for it."--Laurence Bergreen, author of Columbus: The Four Voyages and Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe
"Jacob Fugger was the Rockefeller of the Renaissance. He was a capitalist genius who, in Greg Steinmetz, has finally found the English-language biographer he deserves. Steinmetz's fast-moving tale--of money-making, religious tumult, political chicanery and violent clashes between the disciples of capitalism and communism--is one for all time, but especially for our time."--James Grant, author of The Forgotten Depression: 1921, the Crash That Cured Itself
"Fascinating."--Andrew Ross Sorkin "The New York Times "
"Greg Steinmetz has unearthed the improbable yet true story of the world's first modern capitalist. Born in fifteenth-century Germany, Jakob Fugger overcame a common birth to build a fortune in banking, textiles, and mining that, relative to the size of the economy of that era, may be the greatest fortune ever assembled. Schooled in Renaissance Venice, he became a banker to successive Hapsburg emperors and kings in the dynamic decades when duchies and principalities were clawing to independence from the grasping clutches of the Holy Roman Empire. Steinmetz not only depicts the rise of novel industrial trends from metallurgy to mercantilism, he shows us the nation-state in its early, tentative incubation. At the story's center is Fugger, a wily lender and capitalist who courted risk, defied potential bankruptcy, and made kings his virtual dependents. He emerges from this solidly researched and briskly narrated biography as surprisingly recognizable--a moneymaker from a distant time that, one suspects, would be thoroughly at home with the Midases of today."--Roger Lowenstein, author of When Genius Failed and Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist



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About the Paperback

Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publish date 08/09/2016
Pages 304
ISBN-13 9781451688566
ISBN-10 1451688563
Language English

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