The Blood of Lorraine by Barbara C Pope - Author Barbara Corrado Pope

The Rothschilds

The Rothschild story begins in the Jewish ghetto of a German city. Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) was the brightest son of a poor merchant’s family in Frankfurt-am-Main. Through quiet determination and a fortuitous relationship with his overlord, Mayer made a fortune as a trader, money lender, and “court Jew.” He founded the Rothschild dynasty by sending four of his five sons to European capitals (London, Paris, Vienna, and Naples) to establish their own banks. The banks, financial investments, and families were linked through joint decision-making and carefully arranged marriages.

The dispersed brothers helped to bankroll the war against Napoleon and were given the title of Baron by Francis I of Austria in 1822. They invested in railroads and mines internationally. A French branch of the family also heavily invested in wine production. The family became fabulously wealthy.

In 1871, after France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, Gustave and Alphonse James de Rothschild raised the money the Republican government needed to pay off the huge indemnity demanded by the occupying German army. (Thus they enacted a modern version of the “court Jew.)

The Rothschilds were connoisseurs of art, philanthropists, and leaders of their national Jewish communities. Anti-Semites accused them of exploiting the “little man” and labeled them “cosmopolitans” and international intriguers who owed no country their allegiance. While the Neapolitan branch of the family was dislodged after Italian unification (1860), the Austrian, French and English Rothschilds continued to demonstrate great devotion to their adopted homelands.

Not until the spring of 2010 did the leadership of a Rothschild bank pass to a non-family member. In March, the English Baron David de Rothschild announced his appointment of Nigel Higgins as co-head of the banking dynasty’s investment unit.

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