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The Fuggers of Augsburg

Pursuing Wealth and Honor in Renaissance Germany

Mark Häberlein

Publication Year: 2012

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 Augsburg offers 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.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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Preface to the American Edition

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pp. vii-ix

This book is an English translation of my work Die Fugger: Geschichte einer Augsburger Kaufmannsfamilie (1367– 1650), originally published in Germany in 2006. As the wealthiest and most prominent German merchant family of the sixteenth century, the Fuggers have attracted wide scholarly attention, and most textbooks and general accounts of the period refer to them...

Fugger (“von der Lilie”) Genealogy

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pp. x-xiv

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pp. 1-8

Th e 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...

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1. The Fugger Family in Late Medieval Augsburg

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pp. 9-30

In 1367, the tax book of the city of Augsburg recorded the arrival of the weaver Hans Fugger. Th e 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 aft er Hans’s arrival, Augsburg’s Achtbuch...

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2. Jakob Fugger: The Rich the Making of an Enterprise, 1485– 1525

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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...

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3. Anton Fugger, the House of Habsburg, and the European World Economy, 1525– 1560

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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...

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4. Decline or Reorientation? The Fugger Firms, 1560– 1650

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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 aft er 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...

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5. Servants and Masters: The Personnel of the Fugger Companies

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pp. 125-148

A commercial, mining, and financial enterprise like the Fugger firm was highly dependent on a reliable and competent workforce. Th e 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...

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6. Patronage and Self- Display

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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...

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7. The Fuggers in Sixteenth-century Urban Society

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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...

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8. Citizens and Noblemen Investment Strategies, Career Patterns, and Lifestyles

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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...

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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...


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pp. 225-252


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pp. 253-270


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pp. 271-286

Back Matter

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813932583
E-ISBN-10: 0813932580
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813932446
Print-ISBN-10: 0813932440

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 21 b&w illus., 6 maps, 1 figure, 6 tables
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 793899309
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Fuggers of Augsburg

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Subject Headings

  • Fugger family.
  • Augsburg (Germany) -- Biography.
  • Renaissance -- Germany -- Augsburg.
  • Capitalists and financiers -- Germany -- Augsburg -- Biography.
  • Wealth -- Germany -- Augsburg -- History.
  • Honor -- Germany -- Augsburg -- History.
  • Augsburg (Germany) -- Social conditions.
  • Augsburg (Germany) -- Economic conditions.
  • Europe -- Commerce -- History -- To 1500.
  • Europe -- Commerce -- History -- 16th century.
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