The New International Encyclopædia/Fugger

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FUGGER, fụg'gẽr. A German family of Augsburg, important in Continental financial history. The founder of the family was Johann Fugger, master-weaver in Graben, near Augsburg, about the middle of the fourteenth century, who married Marie Meissner of Kirchheim. His eldest son, Johann, acquired by marriage in 1370 the freedom of Augsburg, and began to carry on a trade in linen together with weaving. By a second marriage in 1382, with the daughter of a councilor, he had two sons and four daughters. This Johann Fugger was one of the council of twelve (Die Zwölfer), in the weaving guild, and an assessor of the famous Vehmgericht or secret tribunal of Westphalia. He died in 1409, and left a considerable fortune. His eldest son, Andreas, made such good use of his share of the inheritance that he was known as ‘the rich Fugger.’ He founded a noble line, which died out in 1586. Johann's second son, Jakob, who died in 1469, was the first of the Fuggers who had a house in Augsburg, and carried on an extensive commerce. Of his seven sons, three, Ulrich, Georg, and Jakob II., by industry, ability, and integrity, laid the foundation of the princely prosperity of the family. Its members married into the noblest houses, and were raised by the Emperor Maximilian to the rank of nobles. The Emperor mortgaged to them, for 70,000 gulden, the county of Kirchberg and the lordship of Weissenhorn, and received from them afterwards, through the mediation of Pope Julius II., 170,000 ducats, to assist him in carrying on the war against Venice. Ulrich (1441-1510) devoted himself specially to commerce with Austria, and there was hardly an object that did not enter into his speculations. Jakob (1459-1525) engaged in mining; he farmed the mines in Tyrol, and accumulated immense wealth; he lent to the Archduke of Austria 150,000 gulden, and built the magnificent castle of Fuggerau, in Carinthia. Under Charles V. the house attained its greatest splendor. Jakob having died childless, and the family of Ulrich being also extinct, the fortune of the house rested with the sons of Georg (died 1506), one of whom, Markus, entered, the Church. The two younger, Raimund and Antonius, carried on the business, and became the founders of the two chief and still flourishing lines of the House of Fugger. The two brothers were zealous Catholics, and with their wealth supported Eck in his opposition to Luther. During the Diet held by Charles V. at Augsburg, in 1530, the Emperor lived in Antonius Fugger's splendid house on the Weinmarkt. On this occasion he raised both brothers to the rank of counts, and invested them with the still mortgaged properties of Kirchberg and Weissenhorn; and a letter under the Imperial seal conferred on them the rights of princes. In 1535 they received the right of coining money. Antonius, at his death (1500), left 6,000,000 gold crowns in ready money, besides jewels and possessions in all parts of Europe and in both Indies. Ferdinand II. confirmed the Imperial letter of Charles V., and conferred additional privileges on the family. The Fuggers continued to carry on commerce, attained the highest posts in the Empire, and several princely houses prided themselves on their alliance with the House of Fugger. They possessed the most extensive libraries and collections of art, maintained painters and musicians, and liberally encouraged art and science. Ulrich, Georg, and Jakob, the sons of the first Jakob, bought houses in one of the suburbs of Augsburg, pulled them down, and built 108 smaller houses, which they let to poor citizens at a low rent. This was the origin of the ‘Fuggerei,’ which still remains under the same name, with its own walls and gates. Many other benevolent institutions were set on foot by Antonius and his sons. The race is continued in the two principal lines of Raimund and Antonius, besides collateral branches. The domains are chiefly in Bavaria. A collection of portraits of the most important members of this great house, executed by Dominicus Custos, of Antwerp, appeared at Augsburg (1593, et seq.). This collection, increased to 127, with genealogies written in Latin, was republished by the brothers Kilian (Augsburg, 1618), and in 1754 a new edition of the work, still further improved, and containing 139 portraits, was published at Ulm, under the title Pinacotheca Fuggerorum. Consult Stauber, Das Haus Fugger von seinen Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart (Augsburg, 1900).