Jakob Fugger the RichMerchant, benefactor, visionary
Jakob Fugger the Rich, portrait with gold cap by Albrecht Dürer (© bpk, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung)
Under Jakob Fugger the Rich (1459-1525), the Fugger firm reached its first high point. Through a combination of businesses in precious metals, goods and financing, he was able to become the leading merchant and financier of his time. Jakob Fugger is the best-known face of the Fugger family. His portrait with the gold cap, which was made by Albrecht Dürer, shows him at the high point of his powers.
One deed for three foundations
Jakob Fugger is often named as the benefactor of the Fuggerei. However, he was not alone. Jakob established the special account with 10,000 florins on behalf of his deceased brothers Georg and Ulrich as well. From the interest yield, three Augsburg organisations were financed: The Fuggerei, the best-known foundation, the Fugger Chapel at St. Anna and the sermon endowment at St Moritz.
Business partner to popes and emperors
The name Jakob Fugger is, to this day, connected with an image of great wealth and influence. He was, however, far from any direct exercise of political power. He held no office in the Free Imperial City of Augsburg. His goals: long-lasting economic success for the firm, social advancement for his family and never-ending existence for the foundations. He maintained a special relationship with Emperor Maximilian I. His business connections with the Habsburgers were the foundation for the rise of the Fugger firm. He introduced internal changes to the firm, such as leadership by a "Regierer", or "governor" from the family and limitation of participation in business affairs to only male family members.
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