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Rothschild family

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rothschild_family

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Rothschild Coat of Arms
Rotschilds arms.jpg
Ethnicity Ashkenazi Jewish
Current region Monaco, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, United Kingdom, Cayman Islands

Information
Place of origin Frankfurt am Main
One of the many castles built by the Austrian branch of the family, Schloss Hinterleiten

The Rothschild family (known as The House of Rothschild,[1] or more simply as the Rothschilds) is a European family of German Jewish origin that established European banking and finance houses from the late eighteenth century. Five lines of the Austrian branch of the family were elevated into the Austrian nobility, being given hereditary baronies of the Habsburg Empire by Emperor Francis II in 1816. The British branch of the family was elevated into the British nobility by Queen Victoria.[2][3] It has been argued that during the 19th century, the family possessed by far the largest private fortune in the world, and by far the largest fortune in modern history.[3][4]

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[edit] Origins

The family's rise to European prominence began with Mayer Amschel Rothschild (born Frankfurt am Main, Germany 1744), the son of Amschel Moses Rothschild,[5] a money changer. Born in the ghetto (called "Judengasse" or Jew Alley) of Frankfurt, he developed a finance house and spread his empire by installing each of his five sons in European cities to conduct business. An essential part of Mayer Rothschild's strategy for future success was to keep control of their businesses in family hands, allowing them to maintain full discretion about the size of their wealth and their business achievements. Following a technique used by the aristocracy, (which was also later copied by business dynasties such as the Du Pont family),[6] Mayer Rothschild successfully kept the fortune in the family with carefully arranged marriages, including between first or second cousins, although by the later 19th century, almost all Rothschilds had started to marry outside the family, usually into the aristocracy or other financial dynasties.[6] His sons were:

The Rothschild coat of arms contains a clenched fist with five arrows symbolizing the five sons of Mayer Rothschild, a reference to Psalm 127: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior". The family motto appears below the shield, in Latin, Concordia, Integritas, Industria, (Harmony, Integrity, Industry).[7] The German family name means "Red Shield". Today, it would be spelled "Rotschild", and is pronounced approximately ROTE-shillt in German, not wroth(s)-child as it is in English.

Families by country:

[edit] The Napoleonic Wars

The Rothschilds already possessed a very significant fortune before the start of Napoleonic Wars. From 1813 to 1815, Nathan Mayer Rothschild in London was instrumental in the financing of the British war effort, financing the shipment of bullion to the Duke of Wellington's army in Portugal and Spain, as well as arranging the payment of British financial subsidies to their Continental allies. In 1815 alone, the Rothschilds provided £9.8 million (in 1815 currency prices) in subsidy loans to Britain's continental allies.[8]

One of the smaller city houses, Vienna. A collection of far larger Viennese palaces known as Palais Rothschild were torn down during WW2

According to popular legend, the four brothers helped co-ordinate activities across the continent, and the family supposedly developed a network of agents, shippers and couriers to transport gold and information across Europe. According to this legend, the alleged private intelligence service enabled Nathan to receive in London the news of Wellington's victory at the Battle of Waterloo a full day ahead of the government's official messengers.[9] It is believed that this is a myth that originated in a partisan French pamphlet in 1846 and was embellished by John Reeves in 1887 in The Rothschilds: the Financial Rulers of Nations. It was then repeated in later popular accounts, such as that of Morton.[10][11] The basis for the Rothschild's most famously profitable move was made after the news of British victory had been made public. Nathan Rothschild calculated that the future reduction in government borrowing brought about by the peace would create a bounce in British government bonds after a two year stabilisation, which would finalise the post-war re-structuring of the domestic economy.[8][10][11] In what has been described as one of the most audacious moves in financial history, Nathan immediately bought up the government bond market, for what at the time seemed an excessively high price, before waiting two years, then selling the bonds on the crest of short bounce in the market in 1817 for a 40% profit. Given the sheer power of leverage the Rothschild family had at its disposal, this profit was an enormous sum.[8]

Nathan Mayer Rothschild started his London business, N. M. Rothschild and Sons in 1811 at New Court in St. Swithin's Lane, City of London, where it trades today. In 1818, he arranged a £5 million loan to the Prussian government, and the issuing of bonds for government loans formed a mainstay of his bank’s business. He gained a position of such power in the City of London that by 1825–6 he was able to supply enough coin to the Bank of England to enable it to avert a market liquidity crisis.

[edit] International High Finance

"I have not the nerve for his operations. They are well-planned, with great cleverness and adroitness in execution – but he is in money and funds what Napoleon was in war." —Baron Baring on Nathan Rothschild[12]
Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire

In 1816, four of the brothers were each elevated to the hereditary nobility by Austrian Emperor Francis I; Nathan was elevated in 1818. All of them were granted the Austrian title of baron or Freiherr on 29 September 1822. As such, some members of the family used "de" or "von" Rothschild to acknowledge the grant of nobility. In 1885, Nathan Mayer Rothschild II (1840–1915) of the London branch of the family, was granted the hereditary peerage title Baron Rothschild in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

Rothschild family banking businesses pioneered international high finance during the industrialisation of Europe and were instrumental in supporting railway systems across the world and in complex government financing for projects such as the Suez Canal. The family bought up a large proportion of the property in Mayfair, London. Major businesses directly founded by Rothschild family capital include Alliance Assurance (1824) (now Royal & SunAlliance); Chemin de Fer du Nord (1845); Rio Tinto Group (1873); Société Le Nickel (1880) (now Eramet); and Imétal (1962) (now Imerys). The Rothschilds financed the founding of De Beers, as well as Cecil Rhodes on his expeditions in Africa and the creation of the colony of Rhodesia. From the late 1880s onwards, the family controlled the Rio Tinto mining company.

The Japanese government approached the London and Paris families for funding during the Russo-Japanese War. The London consortium's issue of Japanese war bonds would total £11.5 million (at 1907 currency rates).[13]

After amassing huge fortunes, the name Rothschild became synonymous with extravagance and great wealth, and the family was renowned for its art collecting, for its palaces, as well as for its philanthropy. By the end of the century, the family owned, or had built, at the lowest estimates, over 41 palaces, of a scale and luxury perhaps unparalleled even by the richest Royal families.[8] The soon to be British Prime Minister Lloyd George claimed, in 1909, that Lord Nathan Rothschild was the most powerful man in Britain.[14][3]

In 1901, with no male heir to take it on, the Frankfurt House closed its doors after more than a century in business. It was not until 1989 that they returned when N M Rothschild & Sons, the British investment arm, plus Bank Rothschild AG, the Swiss branch, set up a representative banking office in Frankfurt.

[edit] French branches

Chateau de Ferrieres, the largest Chateau of the 19th century, was built in 1854 to house James Mayer de Rothschild, east of Paris. It is set in a 30 km² estate.

There are two branches of the family connected to France. The first was son James Mayer de Rothschild (1792–1868), known as "James", who established de Rothschild Frères in Paris. Following the Napoleonic Wars, he played a major role in financing the construction of railroads and the mining business that helped make France an industrial power. James' sons Gustave de Rothschild and Alphonse James de Rothschild continued the banking tradition and was the guarantor of the 5 billion in reparations [15] demanded by the occupying Prussian army in the 1870s Franco-Prussian War.[citation needed] Ensuing generations of the Paris Rothschild family remained involved in the family business, becoming a major force in international investment banking. The Rothschilds have since led the Thomson Financial League Tables in Investment Banking Merger and Acquisition deals in the UK, France and Italy.

James Mayer de Rothschild's other son, Edmond James de Rothschild (1845–1934) was very much engaged in philanthropy and the arts, and was a leading proponent of Zionism. His grandson, Baron Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild, founded in 1953 the LCF Rothschild Group, a private bank. Since 1997, Baron Benjamin de Rothschild chairs the group. The group has €100bn of assets in 2008 and owns many wine properties in France (Château Clarke, Château des Laurets), in Australia or in South Africa.

In 1961, the 35 year old Baron Edmond purchased the company Club Med, after he had visited a resort and enjoyed his stay.[16][17] His interest in Club Med was sold off by the 1990s. In 1973, he bought out the Bank of California, selling his interests in 1984 before it was sold to Mitsubishi Bank in 1985.

The second French branch was founded by Nathaniel de Rothschild (1812–1870). Born in London he was the fourth child of the founder of the British branch of the family, Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836). In 1850, Nathaniel Rothschild moved to Paris, ostensibly to work with his uncle, James Mayer Rothschild. However, in 1853 Nathaniel acquired Château Brane Mouton, a vineyard in Pauillac in the Gironde département. Nathaniel Rothschild renamed the estate, Château Mouton Rothschild and it would become one of the best known labels in the world. In 1868, Nathaniel's uncle, James Mayer de Rothschild acquired the neighboring Chateau Lafite vineyard. By 1980, Guy de Rothschild's business had an annual turnover of 26 billion francs (in the currency rates of 1980).[18] But then the Paris business suffered a near death blow in 1982 when the Socialist government of François Mitterrand nationalized and renamed it Compagnie Européenne de Banque.[needs citation] Baron David de Rothschild, then 39, decided to stay and rebuild, creating a new entity Rothschild & Cie Banque with just three employees and $1 million in capital. Today, the Paris operation has 22 partners and accounts for a significant part of the global business.

[edit] Austrian branch

Grüneburgschlößchen, Frankfurt, 1845, one of the Rothschilds' many German garden-mansions. This particular estate was destroyed in an allied bombing raid, 1944.

In Vienna, Salomon Mayer Rothschild established a bank in the 1820s and the family became admired and respected citizens. The Austrian Rothschilds were elevated to nobility by the Austrian emperor for their services. The crash of 1929 brought problems, and Baron Louis von Rothschild attempted to shore up the Creditanstalt, Austria's largest bank, to prevent its collapse. Nevertheless, during World War II they had to surrender their bank to the Nazis and flee the country. Their Rothschild palaces, a collection of vast palaces in Vienna built and owned by the family, were confiscated, plundered and destroyed by the Nazis. The palaces were famous for their sheer size, and for their huge collections of paintings, armour, tapestries, statues (some of which were restituted to the Rothschilds by the Austrian government in 1999). All family members successively escaped the Holocaust, some of them moving to the United States, and only returning to Europe after the war. In 1999, the government of Austria agreed to return to the Rothschild family some 250 art treasures looted by the Nazis and absorbed into state museums after the war.

[edit] Naples branch

The C M de Rothschild & Figli bank arranged substantial loans to the Papal States and to various Kings of Naples plus the Duchy of Parma and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. However, in the 1830s, Naples followed Spain with a gradual shift away from conventional bond issues that began to affect the bank's growth and profitability. The Unification of Italy in 1861, with the ensuing decline of the Italian aristocracy who had been the Rothschild's primary clients, eventually brought about the closure of their Naples bank, due to declining profits, growth and their forecasts for long-term business sustainability.

[edit] Jewish Identity and Positions on Zionism

Some Rothschilds were supporters of the State of Israel, although other members of the family opposed the creation of the state.[15] In 1917 Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild was the addressee of the Balfour Declaration to the Zionist Federation,[19] which committed the British government to the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. Lord Victor Rothschild was against granting asylum or even help to Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.[15]

After the death of James Jacob de Rothschild in 1868, Alphonse Rothschild, his oldest son, who took over the management of the family bank, was the most active in support for Eretz Israel.[20] The Rothschild family archives show that during the 1870s the family contributed nearly 500,000 francs per year on behalf of Eastern Jewry to the Alliance Israélite Universelle.[21] Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, James Jacob de Rothschild's's youngest son was a patron of the first settlement in Palestine at Rishon-LeZion, and bought from Ottoman landlords parts of the land which now makes up present-day Israel. In 1924, he established the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA), which acquired more than 125,000 acres (22,36 km²) of land and set up business ventures.[22] In Tel Aviv, he has a road, Rothschild Boulevard, named after him as well as various localities throughout Israel which he assisted in founding including Metulla, Zikhron Ya'akov, Rishon Lezion, and Rosh Pina. A park in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, the Parc Edmond de Rothschild (Edmond de Rothschild Park) is also named after its founder.[23]

The Rothschilds also played a significant part in the funding of Israel's governmental infrastructure. James A. de Rothschild financed the Knesset building as a gift to the State of Israel[24] and the Supreme Court of Israel building was donated to Israel by Dorothy de Rothschild.[25] Outside the President's Chamber is displayed the letter Mrs. Rothschild wrote to, the then current, Prime Minister Shimon Peres expressing her intention to donate a new building for the Supreme Court.[26]

[edit] Modern business

Château Lafite Rothschild, Bordeaux, perhaps the most famous of the many Rothschild wine estates
The family owns a 99 year lease and has fully restored Spencer House, St. James's Park, London

Since the end of the 19th century, the family has taken a low-key public profile, donating many of their most famous estates, as well as vast quantities of art, to charity, keeping full anonymity about the size of their fortunes, and eschewing conspicuous displays of wealth.[27] The family once had one of the largest private art collections in the world, and a significant proportion of the art in the world's public museums are Rothschild donations which were sometimes, in the family tradition of discretion, donated anonymously.[28]

In July 2003, a major reorganization of the Rothschild business structure took place when the two main London and Paris investment banks were united through a new Dutch-registered master holding company, Concordia BV, under the chairmanship of Baron David René de Rothschild. Under this banner, Rothschild et Cie Banque controls the Rothschild banking businesses in France and continental Europe, while Rothschilds Continuation Holdings AG controls the Rothschild banking elsewhere, including N M Rothschild & Sons in London.[29] Twenty percent of Rothschild Continuation Holdings AG was sold in 2005 to Jardine Strategic, which is a subsidiary of Jardine, Matheson & Co. of Hong Kong. In November 2008, Rabobank Group, the leading investment and commercial bank in the Netherlands, acquired 7.5% of Rothschild Continuation Holdings AG, and Rabobank and Rothschild entered into a co-operation agreement in the fields of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) advisory and Equity Capital Markets advisory in the food and agribusiness sectors.[30] It was believed that the move was intended to help Rothschild Continuation Holdings AG gain access to a wider capital pool, enlarging its presence in East Asian markets.[31]

A London investment bank, N M Rothschild & Sons does most of its business as a mergers and acquisitions advisor. In 2004, the investment bank withdrew from the gold market, a commodity the Rothschild bankers had traded in for two centuries.[15] In 2006, it ranked second in UK M&A with deals totalling $104.9 billion.[32] In 2006, it publicly recorded a pre-tax annual profit of £83.2 million with assets of £5.5 billion.[33]

One member of the French branch of the family, Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild (1926–1997) founded the LCF Rothschild Group, based in Geneva, with €100 billion in assets, which today extends to 15 countries across the world. Although this Group is primarily a financial entity, specialising in asset management and private banking, its activities also cover mixed farming, luxury hotels, and yacht racing. The LCF Rothschild Group's committee is currently being chaired by Benjamin de Rothschild, Baron Edmond's son.

Rothschild family banks include, amongst others, Compagnie Financière Edmond de Rothschild and Banque privée Edmond de Rothschild, La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild S.A., and COGIFRANCE.

To this day, the family maintains a close relationship with the Rio Tinto mining corporation. The Rothschild family also owns many wine estates: their estates in France include Château Clarke, Château de Ferrières, Château des Fontaines, Château Lafite, Château de Laversine, Château des Laurets, Château Malmaison, Château de Montvillargenne, Château Mouton Rothschild, Château de la Muette, Château Rothschild d'Armainvilliers, Château Rothschild, Boulogne-Billancourt. They also own wine estates across North America, South America, South Africa and Australia.

In 1980, Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild resigned from N M Rothschild & Sons and took independent control of Rothschild Investment Trust (now RIT Capital Partners, one of the UK's largest investment trusts.) He went on to found J. Rothschild Assurance Group (now St James's Place Capital) with Sir Mark Weinberg in 1991.[34] In December 2009, Jacob Rothschild invested $200 million of his own money in a North Sea Oil company. He also currently chairs another Rothschild family investment trust, RIT Capital Partners, which has reported assets of $3.4 billion in 2008.[35][36] In January 2010, Nathaniel Philip Rothschild bought a substantial share of the Glencore mining and oil company's market capitalization. He is also buying a large share of the aluminium mining company United Company RUSAL.[37]

[edit] Popular culture references

Rothschildschloss, Waidhofen
Kasteel de Haar

The story of the Rothschild family has been featured in a number of films. The 1934 Hollywood film titled The House of Rothschild, starring George Arliss and Loretta Young, recounted the life of Mayer Amschel Rothschild. Excerpts from this film were incorporated into the National Socialist (Nazi) propaganda film Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) and another German film Die Rothschilds (also called Aktien auf Waterloo) was directed by Erich Waschneck in 1940. A Broadway musical entitled The Rothschilds, covering the history of the family up to 1818, was nominated for a Tony Award in 1971. Nathaniel Mayer ("Natty") Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild appears as a minor character in the historical-mystery novel Stone's Fall, by Iain Pears.

In France, the word "Rothschild" was throughout the 19th and 20th centuries a synonym for seemingly endless wealth, neo-Gothic styles, Byzantine splendour, grand manners and epicurean glamour.[38] The family also has lent its name to "le goût Rothschild," a suffocatingly glamorous style of living whose decorative elements include neo-Renaissance palaces, extravagant use of velvet and gilding, vast collections of armour and sculpture, a sense of Victorian horror vacui, and the highest masterworks of art. Le goût Rothschild has much influenced interior designers such as Robert Denning, Vincent Fourcade, and others. In the words of the Daily Telegraph: "The multinational banking family is a byword for wealth, power – and discretion... the Rothschild name has become synonymous with money and power to a degree that no other family has ever matched."[39]

The name Rothschild used as a synonym for extreme wealth inspired the song "If I Were a Rich Man", which is based on a song from the Tevye the Dairyman stories, written in the Yiddish as Ven ikh bin Rotshild, meaning "If I were a Rothschild".

The German surnames "Rothschild" and "Rothchild" are not related to the Protestant surname "Rothchilds" from the United Kingdom.

[edit] Conspiracy theories

Over more than two centuries,[10][11] the Rothschild family has frequently been the target of conspiracy theories.[40][41][42] These theories take differing forms, such as claiming that the family belongs to the Illuminati,[43] or controls the world's wealth and financial institutions.[44][45] Supposedly, the Rothschild family encouraged wars between governments. Discussing this and similar views, the historian Niall Ferguson wrote: "As we have seen, however, wars tended to hit the price of existing bonds by increasing the risk that a debtor state would fail to meet its interest payments in the event of defeat and losses of territory. By the middle of the 19th century, the Rothschilds had evolved from traders into fund managers, carefully tending to their own vast portfolio of government bonds. Now having made their money, they stood to lose more than they gained from conflict. The Rothschilds had decided the outcome of the Napoleonic Wars by putting their financial weight behind Britain. Now they would.. sit on the sidelines."[46]

[edit] Prominent descendants of Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Prominent lineal descendants of Mayer Amschel Rothschild include amongst many others:

Baron David René de Rothschild, current French chairman of N M Rothschild & Sons and formerly of De Beers
A Rothschild Villa, photographed in 1900, Königstein, Germany
Lord Ferdinand von Rothschild (1839–1898)
Countess Sibyl Sassoon (1894-1989)
Halton House, England
Lionel de Rothschild, whose colt won the 1879 Epsom Derby
Vermeer's The Astronomer, donated to charity by the family in 1982
Beatrice de Rothschild's villa on the Côte d'Azur, France

Prominent marriages into the family include, amongst many others:

[edit] See also

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