Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Fuggers of Augsburg

The Fuggers of Augsburg: Pursuing Wealth and Honor in Renaissance Germany

MARK HÄBERLEIN
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wrhpb
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Fuggers of Augsburg
    Book Description:

    As the wealthiest German merchant family of the sixteenth century, the Fuggers have attracted wide scholarly attention. In contrast to the other famous merchant family of the period, the Medici of Florence, however, no English-language work on them has been available until now.The Fuggers of Augsburgoffers a concise and engaging overview that builds on the latest scholarly literature and the author's own work on sixteenth-century merchant capitalism. Mark Häberlein traces the history of the family from the weaver Hans Fugger's immigration to the imperial city of Augsburg in 1367 to the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648. Because the Fuggers' extensive business activities involved long-distance trade, mining, state finance, and overseas ventures, the family exemplifies the meanings of globalization at the beginning of the modern age.

    The book also covers the political, social, and cultural roles of the Fuggers: their patronage of Renaissance artists, the founding of the largest social housing project of its time, their support of Catholicism in a city that largely turned Protestant during the Reformation, and their rise from urban merchants to imperial counts and feudal lords. Häberlein argues that the Fuggers organized their social rise in a way that allowed them to be merchants and feudal landholders, burghers and noblemen at the same time. Their story therefore provides a window on social mobility, cultural patronage, religion, and values during the Renaissance and the Reformation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3258-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE TO THE AMERICAN EDITION
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. FUGGER (“VON DER LILIE”) GENEALOGY: FIFTEENTH TO SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES
    (pp. x-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-8)

    The name Fugger (pronounced Fooger), at least in German, has a good ring to it. Travelers arriving at Augsburg’s main train station are welcomed in the “Fugger city,” and tourists visiting Augsburg can follow in the footsteps of the city’s most famous family in the Fuggerei, the world’s oldest social settlement still in existence; in the Fugger chapel in the church of St Anna; and in front of Albrecht Dürer’s impressive portrait of Jakob Fugger the Rich in Augsburg’s state gallery. The Fuggers show up as literary figures in popular historical novels, and they have even become the subject of...

  6. 1 THE FUGGER FAMILY IN LATE MEDIEVAL AUGSBURG
    (pp. 9-30)

    In 1367, the tax book of the city of Augsburg recorded the arrival of the weaver Hans Fugger. The immigrant paid a property tax of 44 pennies, which indicates a considerable estate worth 22 pounds. Hans Fugger initially lived as a renter in a house near the Church of the Holy Cross but was able to buy the house no later than 1378. One year after Hans’s arrival, Augsburg’sAchtbuch,a record of criminal investigations, mentions his brother Ulin (Ulrich) Fugger as a weaver’s manservant. From 1382 onward, Ulin also lived in his own house. According to the sixteenth-century Fugger...

  7. 2 JAKOB FUGGER THE RICH: THE MAKING OF AN ENTERPRISE, 1485–1525
    (pp. 31-67)

    On August 18, 1494, the brothers Ulrich, Georg, and Jakob Fugger signed a contract in which they proclaimed their willingness to continue their existing “common brotherly trade.” The company contract of the firm Ulrich Fugger and Brothers of Augsburg was valid for a period of six years. During this period, the capital that the associates had invested and the profits earned were to remain in the company, and the brothers obliged themselves to conduct no trade on their own account during the contract period. Each associate was equally entitled to represent the company in its external affairs, to do business...

  8. 3 ANTON FUGGER, THE HOUSE OF HABSBURG, AND THE EUROPEAN WORLD ECONOMY, 1525–1560
    (pp. 68-98)

    While Jakob Fugger’s name is intimately linked to the establishment of the great enterprise, that of Anton Fugger, who managed the firm from 1525 to 1560, stands for the preservation of his uncle’s heritage. Writing on the occasion of Anton Fugger’s five-hundredth anniversary in 1993, the Augsburg historian Johannes Burkhardt emphasized his contributions to the continuity of the family and firm. In the economic realm, Burkhardt views the “institutionalization of financial policy” and “growing autonomy of the idea of the firm” as Anton Fugger’s major achievements. By cultivating close ties to the House of Habsburg, which regularly called on his...

  9. 4 DECLINE OR REORIENTATION? THE FUGGER FIRMS, 1560–1650
    (pp. 99-124)

    For a long time, researchers held the generations that followed Anton Fugger in low esteem. Richard Ehrenberg characterized the history of the Fugger firm after 1560 as a “time of decay,” and in Baron Götz von Pölnitz’s view, the generations of the “founders” and “rulers” were followed by a generation of “epigons and Diadochi”—that is, unworthy successors who had neither the will nor the capability to master the challenges of their time. Allegedly, these “epigons” increasingly withdrew from active involvement in commercial affairs and used the wealth their ancestors had accumulated for other goals and interests—art collections, libraries,...

  10. 5 SERVANTS AND MASTERS: THE PERSONNEL OF THE FUGGER COMPANIES
    (pp. 125-148)

    A commercial, mining, and financial enterprise like the Fugger firm was highly dependent on a reliable and competent workforce. The far-flung distribution network of the Tyrolean and Hungarian trades; the extensive financial transactions in Antwerp, Rome, and Venice; the complex business affairs in Spain; and the multifaceted trade in goods had to be handled by skilled and experienced employees who were permanently present at important commercial centers. With their solid knowledge of foreign languages and legal codes, business organization and bookkeeping, these employees were the “actual backbone of commercial houses.”¹

    As a rule, the factors of the large trading companies...

  11. 6 PATRONAGE AND SELF-DISPLAY
    (pp. 149-172)

    When the French humanist Michel de Montaigne visited Augsburg in 1580, he noted in his diary: “The Fuggers, of whom there are several lines, all of them very rich, take up the most important social positions within the city. We were permitted to see two rooms in their palace: one of them large, high, and with marble floors, the other one low and filled with old and modern medallions, with a small cabinet in the back. These are the most magnificent rooms I have ever seen.” He was also impressed by the family’s summer houses and gardens: “With their extravagant...

  12. 7 THE FUGGERS IN SIXTEENTH-CENTURY URBAN SOCIETY
    (pp. 173-198)

    When Jakob Fugger died in 1525, the Benedictine monk Clemens Sender of Augsburg wrote that his name was “known in all realms and countries, and in the heathen world as well. . . . Emperors, kings, princes, and lords have sent their embassies to him, the pope greeted and received him as his beloved son, the cardinals rose before him: he has been the ornament of all Germany, but especially of the city of Augsburg.”¹ But what was the role of this wealthy and prominent family in the political and social life of its native city? In many of the...

  13. 8 CITIZENS AND NOBLEMEN: INVESTMENT STRATEGIES, CAREER PATTERNS, AND LIFESTYLES
    (pp. 199-220)

    In the history of the late medieval and early modern bourgeoisie, the frequency with which newly rich patrician and merchant families invested part of their wealth in rural property is well known. This process has been observed for the upper strata of the large southern German imperial cities, as well as for urban elites in Italy, England, France, and the Netherlands.¹ Sometimes the acquisition of landed property went hand in hand with the conferring of noble titles, marriage alliances with the landed nobility, and a withdrawal from urban life. These phenomena often have been described as a “feudalization” of the...

  14. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 221-224)

    Compared with older histories of the Fugger family, this book has attempted to provide some new perspectives. The rise of the enterprise under the leadership of Jakob and Anton Fugger was not only the work of individual personalities, but part of a general upsurge of the European economy in which an increasing demand for precious metals, as well as the emerging modern states’ need for credit, opened up new business opportunities. To realize these opportunities, the firm depended on a large number of agents and experts. The history of the Fugger firms after 1560 was not so much a story...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 225-252)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 253-270)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 271-286)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 287-288)