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The Rothschild family (often known as The House of Rothschild, or more simply as the Rothschild) is an international dynasty of German Jewish origin that established worldwide banking and finance houses. Five brothers of the Austrian branch of the family were given hereditary baronies of the Habsburg Empire by Emperor Francis II in 1816 and 1818. The British branch of the family was made into a hereditary barony by Queen Victoria. Although family financial records have not been preserved, at its height, in the 19th century, the total family worth, spread across Europe, would have been in the many hundreds of billions ($US) in today's terms.


The family's rise to international prominence began with Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744–1812), the son of Amschel Moses Rothschild, a money changer. Born in the ghetto (called "Judengasse" or Jew Alley) of Frankfurt am Main, 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),Mayer Rothschild successfully kept the fortune in the family with carefully arranged marriages, including between first and second couisins, although by the later 19th century, most Rothschilds had started to marry outside the family, usually into the aristocracy or other financial dynasties.

His sons were:

  • Amschel Mayer Rothschild (1773–1855): Frankfurt
  • Salomon Mayer Rothschild (1774–1855): Vienna
  • Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836): London
  • Calmann Mayer Rothschild (1788–1855): Naples
  • Jakob Mayer Rothschild (1792–1868): Paris

Hannah de Rothschild inherited the largest fortune in Victorian England, including the largest private art collection in Europe The Rothschild coat of arms contains a clenched fist with five arrows symbolizing the five sons of Mayer Rothschild, a reference to Psalm 127. The family motto appears below the shield, in Latin, Concordia, Integritas, Industria, (Harmony, Integrity, Industry). The German family name means "Red Shield".

Families by country:

  • Rothschild banking family of Naples
  • Rothschild banking family of England
  • Rothschild banking family of Austria
  • Rothschild banking family of France

British war effort and Napoleon

The basis for the Rothschild fortune was laid during the latter stages of the Napoleonic Wars. From 1813 to 1815, Nathan Mayer Rothschild in London was instrumental in the financing of the British war effort, handling 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. Through the commissions earned on these transactions, the Rothschild fortune grew enormously.

Halton House

The four brothers helped co-ordinate activities across the continent, and the family developed a network of agents, shippers and couriers to transport gold and information across Europe. This 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.

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. Elevated to the nobility

Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire

One of the smaller city houses, Vienna. A collection of far larger Viennese palaces known as Palais Rothschild were torn down during WW2 In 1816, four of the brothers were each ennobled 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. 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 Cecil Rhodes on his expeditions in Africa. After amassing huge fortunes, the name Rothschild became synonymous with extravagance, philanthropy, and great wealth, and the family was renowned for its art collecting, for its palaces, as well as for its philanthropy. The British Prime Minister Lloyd George claimed, in 1909, that Lord Nathan Rothschild was the most the powerful man in Britain.

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.

French branches

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 were responsible for raising the money to pay the compensation demanded by the occupying Prussian army in the 1870s Franco-Prussian War. Ensuing generations of the Paris Rothschild family remained involved in the family business, becoming a major force in international investment banking. The Rothschilds have led the Thomson Financial League Tables in Investment Banking Merger and Acquisition deals in the UK, France and Italy. In the United States, their Investment Banking Restructuring group has landed such deals as United Airlines and Delphi. The onslaught of competition from publicly traded banking giants from the United States and the European Union, with enormous capital at their disposal, resulted in the 2003 merger of the privately owned Rothschild banking house in France with its British banking cousins to create a single umbrella holding company.

James Mayer de Rothschild's other son, Edmond James de Rothschild (1845-1934) was a strong supporter 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 owns many wine properties in France (Château Clarke, Château des Laurets), in Australia or in South Africa.

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. 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. 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.

Austrian branch

In Vienna, Salomon Mayer Rothschild established a bank in the 1820s and the family became admired and respected citizens. The Austrian Rothschilds were later 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). Some of these family members sought sanctuary in the United States. 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.

Italian 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 eventually brought about the closure of their Naples bank, due to declining profits and growth. Zionism

Many Rothschilds were and are supporters of the State of Israel, and Baron Edmond James de Rothschild was a patron of the first settlement in Palestine at Rishon-LeZion, and bought from Ottoman landlords, parts of the land which makes up present-day Israel. In 1917 Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild was the addressee of the Balfour Declaration, which committed the British government to the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

James A. de Rothschild financed the Knesset building as a gift to the State of Israel. The Supreme Court of Israel building was donated to Israel by Dorothy de Rothschild. Outside the President's Chamber is displayed the letter Mrs Rothschild wrote to Prime Minister Shimon Peres expressing her intention to donate a new building for the Supreme Court.

Modern business

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 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. 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 commmercial 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. It was believed that the move was intended to help Rothschild Continuation Holdings AG gain widen its capital pool, enlarging its presence in East Asian markets.

N M Rothschild & Sons does most of its business as a mergers and acquisitions advisor. In 2006, it ranked second in UK M&A with deals totalling $104.9 billion. In 2006, it publicly recorded a pre-tax annual profit of £83.2 million with total assets of £5.5 billion.

Another descendant of James, Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild (1926–1997) founded the LCF Rothschild Group, based in Geneva, financing €100 billion in assets, which today extends to 15 countries across the world. Rothschild businesses include, amongst others, Compagnie Financière Edmond de Rothschild and Banque privée Edmond de Rothschild, La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild S.A., and COGIFRANCE. Although this Group is primarily a financial entity, specialising in asset management and private banking, its activities also cover winemaking (with estates in Bordeaux, South Africa and Argentina), 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, who is also said to have an additional personal fortune of $3.9 billion in 2008. Rothschild wine 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 in 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.) In 1985, Rothschild purchased and fully restored Spencer House (St. James's, London, England). He went on to found J. Rothschild Assurance Group (now St James's Place Capital) with Sir Mark Weinberg in 1991. In December 2009, Jacob Rothschild, said to have a $2 billion personal fortune, invested $200 million of his own money in a North Sea Oil company. He also currently chairs another investment trust, RIT Capital Partners, which has reported assets of $3.4 billion in 2008.

Popular culture references

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. In France, Rothschild is still considered a synonym for extreme wealth, though such usage is now dated. 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 masterworks of art. Le goût Rothschild has much influenced interior designers such as Robert Denning, Vincent Fourcade, and others.

The name Rothschild is still used as a synonym for extreme wealth in Israel. In the Hebrew language version of the song "If I Were a Rich Man", the title line goes 'lu ha'yiti Rothschild, literally if I were a Rothschild. The origin of the song is from the Tevye the Dairyman stories, written in the Yiddish as Ven ikh bin Rotshild, meaning the same thing.

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's album Old Money references the Rothschilds in the song title, "Family War Funding (Love Those Rothschilds)." The German surnames "Rothschild" and "Rothchild" are not related to the Protestant surname "Rothchilds" from the United Kingdom. Conspiracy theories

In Fritz Springmeier's book Bloodlines of the Illuminati, he argues that the Rothschild family is one of 13 dynastic bloodlines linked to the Illuminati. New World Order conspiracy theories present the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Phipps', DuPonts, Vanderbilts, Bush family, etc. as the real rulers or would-be rulers of the world.

The poet and Fascist Mussolini sympathizer Ezra Pound; in his World War II radio propaganda broadcasts from Fascist Italy, openly named the Rothschilds as the masters of a clique of banking houses that caused the World Wars in order to profit from them and get countries in debt to the lending central banks, which Pound claimed the Rothschild interests owned and exercised control of a nation's policy by having the power to issue the nation's money. Earlier, in 1935, Pound had speculated that "organized anti-Semitism might be the hidden war of Swiss Protestant dynasties against the Rothschilds, whom they had never forgiven for breaking into their banking monopoly."

According to the book Currency Wars written by Song Hongbing, Rothschild Family has a wealth of $5 trillion dollars. This well exceeds the wealth of Bill Gates, who has $40 billion dollars. The book claims that Rothschild family has provoked many wars in order to expand their financial empire. The book claims that these include the Battle of Waterloo when Rothschild family found out the result of the battle before anyone and eventually overtook the Bank of England.

Prominent descendants of Mayer Amschel Rothschild

  • Baron David René de Rothschild, current French chairman of N M Rothschild & Sons and formerly of De Beers
  • Baron Ferdinand von Rothschild (1839–1898)
  • Lionel de Rothschild (1808-79), whose colt won the 1879 Epsom Derby
  • Sibyl Sassoon (1894-1989), Marchioness of Cholmondeley
  • Prince Alexandre Louis Philippe Marie Berthier, (1883-1918), died fighting in WW1
  • Albert Salomon von Rothschild (1844-1911), the once majority shareholder of Creditanstalt
  • Alice Charlotte von Rothschild (1847-1922) close friend of Queen Victoria
  • Aline Caroline de Rothschild (1885-1909), French socialite
  • Lady Aline Caroline Cholmondeley (1916-)
  • Baroness Alix Hermine Jeannette Schey de Koromla (1911-1982)
  • Alphonse James de Rothschild (1827–1905)
  • Amschel Mayor James Rothschild (1955–1996, Paris), patron of motor racing
  • Anthony Gustav de Rothschild(1887–1961), horse-breeder
  • Anthony James de Rothschild (born 1977)
  • Anselm von Rothschild (1803–1874), Austrian banker
  • Sir Anthony de Rothschild, 1st Baronet (1810–1876)
  • Alain James de Rothschild (1910-1982)
  • Miriam Caroline Alexandrine de Rothschild
  • Ariane de Rothschild
  • Ariella de Rothschild
  • Arthur de Rothschild (1851-1903)
  • Benjamin de Rothschild(born 1963, Paris)
  • Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild (1864-1934)
  • Bethsabée de Rothschild (1914–1999)
  • Carl Mayer von Rothschild (1788-1855)
  • Charlotte de Rothschild
  • Charlotte Henriette de Rothschild(born 1955), British opera singer
  • Charlotte von Rothschild(1818-84)
  • Charles Rothschild (1877–1923), banker and entomologist
  • Constance Flower, 1st Baroness of Battersea, (1843-1931)
  • David Cholmondeley, 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley (1960-), Lord Great Chamberlain of England
  • David Lionel de Rothschild (b. 1955), British horticulturist
  • David Mayer de Rothschild (b. 1978), billionaire British adventurer and environmentalist
  • David René de Rothschild (born 1942)
  • Dorothy de Rothschild (1895 – 1988), on her death she left the largest probated estate in Britain
  • Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild
  • Edouard Etienne de Rothschild, (born 1957), majority shareholder of Libération newspaper
  • Édouard Alphonse James de Rothschild (1868–1949) financier and polo player
  • Edmond James de Rothschild (1845–1934)
  • Edmund Leopold de Rothschild (1916–2009)
  • Elie de Rothschild (1917–2007)
  • Emma Rothschild (born 1948)
  • Evelina de Rothschild(1839-66)
  • Evelyn Achille de Rothschild(1886-1917), died fighting for the British army in WW1
  • Sir Evelyn de Rothschild (born 1931), banker
  • Guy de Rothschild (1909–2007)
  • Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839–1898)
  • Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery née Hannah Rothschild (1851–1890)
  • Henri James de Rothschild (1872–1946)
  • Henriette Rothschild (1791–1866) married Sir Moses Montefiore (1784–1885)
  • Hugh Cholmondeley, 6th Marquess of Cholmondeley (1919-90), Lord Great Chamberlain of England
  • Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild, (born 1936), investment banker
  • James Armand de Rothschild (1878–1957)
  • James Mayer Rothschild (1792–1868)
  • Lord John George Cholmondeley (–1986)
  • Marie-Hélène de Rothschild (1927-94), French socialite
  • Mayer Amschel de Rothschild (1818–1874)
  • Neil Primrose, 7th Earl of Rosebery (1929-)
  • Captain Neil Primrose (1882-1917), MP, killed fighting in WW1
  • Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild (Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter) (1913–1988)
  • Baron Léon Lambert(1929-87), Belgium art collector
  • Leopold de Rothschild (1845–1917)
  • Leopold David de Rothschild (1927-)
  • Lionel Nathan Rothschild (1808–1879)
  • Louis Nathaniel de Rothschild(1882-1955
  • Miriam Louisa Rothschild (1908–2005)
  • Lionel Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild of the United Kingdom (1868–1937)
  • Nathaniel de Rothschild (1812–1870)
  • Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836)
  • Nathan Mayer Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild of the United Kingdom (1840–1915)
  • Nathaniel Charles Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild of the United Kingdom (born 1936)
  • Nathaniel Robert de Rothschild (1946), American financier
  • Nathaniel Mayer Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild of the United Kingdom (1910–1990)
  • Nathaniel Philip Rothschild (born 1971), co-chairman of Atticus Capital, a £7billion hedge fund
  • Nathaniel Anselm von Rothschild(1836-1905), Austrian socialite
  • Sir Philip Sassoon, 3rd Baronet(1888-1939), British First Commissioner of Works and Under-Secretary of State for Air
  • Philippe de Rothschild (1902–1988), vintner
  • Philippine de Rothschild (born 1935), vintner
  • Jacqueline Rebecca Louise de Rothschild, born November 6, 1911, chess and tennis champion
  • Harry Primrose, 6th Earl of Rosebery(1882 – 1974) Earl of Roseberry
  • Salomon James de Rothschild, (1835-1864)
  • Lady Serena Dunn Rothschild, (born 1935)
  • Lady Sybil Grant (1879–1955), British writer
  • Sybil Rachel Betty Cecile Sassoon, Marchioness of Cholmondeley, (1894-1989)
  • Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild
  • Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, zoologist

By marriage:

  • Maurice Ephrussi (1849 - 1916), of the Ephrussi banking dynasty
  • Ben Goldsmith (1980-), son of financier James Goldsmith
  • Abraham Oppenheim (1804-1878), of the Oppenheim Family, married Charlotte Beyfus (1811-1887)
  • Elisabeth de Rothschild (1902–1945), (born Baroness Pelletier de Chambure), the only member of the Rothschild family to die in the holocaust.
  • George Cholmondeley, 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley,(1883–1968), of the Walpole family
  • Pauline de Rothschild (1908–1976), fashion designer and translator of Elizabethan poetry
  • Jeanne de Rothschild (1908–2003), actress
  • Liliane de Rothschild (1916–2003) art collector
  • Serena Dunn Rothschild (b. 1935), grand-daughter of Sir James Hamet Dunn, 1st Baronet
  • Marlene de Rothschild (born 1943) art collector
  • Lynn Forester de Rothschild (born 1954), business woman
  • Carola Warburg Rothschild (1894-1987), philanthropist, born into the Warburg family