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In the 15th and 16th centuries, a certain German family of merchants known as the Fuggers rose to become one of the richest and the most powerful bankers and venture capitalists of Europe. The family business included a huge empire of stockhouses, factories and banks, and later mines. At one point, the Fuggers family had a near monopoly on the European copper market, and a major influence on European economy as well as politics.

Much of the Fuggers’ growth can be attributed to the business acumen of Jakob Fugger, who amassed such an obscene amount of wealth that people called him “Jakob the Rich”. Today, he is considered to be the wealthiest person to ever live with a net worth of 400 billion USD (in today’s value) surpassing 20th century industrialists such as John Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.

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Photo credit: Yuri Turkov/Shutterstock

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