Maximilian I never had enough money for his military adventures, so he borrowed it. One family happy to lend the Holy Roman Emperor whatever he asked for was the House of Fugger.
Originally in the textile trade, the Fuggers expanded their range when Maximilian’s regular defaults gave them large holdings in the Habsburg mines he’d used as collateral.
Having learned the art of double-entry bookkeeping in Venice, brilliant young Jacob Fugger put profits to use in early versions of commodities futures contracts, currency arbitrage, bills of exchange and an information-gathering service.
Opportunities abounded as empires rose and fell during the first era of globalization. By 1500, the Fuggers could boast of wealth comparable to the combined 20th century fortunes of the Rockefellers and J.P. Morgan.
1. Rise of Portugal and Spain
2. Christians vs. Muslims
3. Squandering the Wealth
4. Ramping Up the Slave Trade
5. Dutch Advance
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