1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Fugger
FUGGER, the name of a famous German family of merchants and bankers. The founder of the family was Johann Fugger, a weaver at Graben, near Augsburg, whose son, Johann, settled in Augsburg probably in 1367. The younger Johann added the business of a merchant to that of a weaver, and through his marriage with Clara Widolph became a citizen of Augsburg. After a successful career he died in 1408, leaving two sons, Andreas and Jakob, who greatly extended the business which they inherited from their father. Andreas, called the “rich Fugger,” had several sons, among them being Lukas, who was very prominent in the municipal politics of Augsburg and who was very wealthy until he was ruined by the repudiation by the town of Louvain of a great debt owing to him, and Jakob, who was granted the right to bear arms in 1452, and who founded the family of Fugger vom Reh—so called from the first arms of the Fuggers, a roe (Reh) or on a field azure—which became extinct on the death of his great-grandson, Ulrich, in 1583. Johann Fugger’s son, Jakob, died in 1469, and three of his seven sons, Ulrich (1441–1510), Georg (1453–1506) and Jakob (1459–1525), men of great resource and industry, inherited the family business and added enormously to the family wealth. In 1473 Ulrich obtained from the emperor Frederick III. the right to bear arms for himself and his brothers, and about the same time he began to act as the banker of the Habsburgs, a connexion destined to bring fame and fortune to his house. Under the lead of Jakob, who had been trained for business in Venice, the Fuggers were interested in silver mines in Tirol and copper mines in Hungary, while their trade in spices, wool and silk extended to almost all parts of Europe. Their wealth enabled them to make large loans to the German king, Maximilian I., who pledged to them the county of Kirchberg, the lordship of Weissenhorn and other lands, and bestowed various privileges upon them. Jakob built the castle of Fuggerau in Tirol, and erected the Fuggerei at Augsburg, a collection of 106 dwellings, which were let at low rents to poor people and which still exist. Jakob Fugger and his two nephews, Ulrich (d. 1525) and Hieronymus (d. 1536), the sons of Ulrich, died without direct heirs, and the family was continued by Georg’s sons, Raimund (1489–1535) and Anton (1493–1560), under whom the Fuggers attained the summit of their wealth and influence.
Jakob Fugger’s florins had contributed largely to the election of Charles V. to the imperial throne in 1519, and his nephews and heirs maintained close and friendly relations with the great emperor. In addition to lending him large sums of money, they farmed his valuable quicksilver mines at Almaden, his silver mines at Guadalcanal, the great estates of the military orders which had passed into his hands, and other parts of his revenue as king of Spain; receiving in return several tokens of the emperor’s favour. In 1530 Raimund and Anton were granted the imperial dignity of counts of Kirchberg and Weissenhorn, and obtained full possession of these mortgaged properties; in 1534 they were given the right of coining money; and in 1541 received rights of jurisdiction over their lands. During the diet of Augsburg in 1530 Charles V. was the guest of Anton Fugger at his house in the Weinmarkt, and the story relates how the merchant astonished the emperor by lighting a fire of cinnamon with an imperial bond for money due to him. This incident forms the subject of a picture by Carl Becker which is in the National Gallery at Berlin. Continuing their mercantile career, the Fuggers brought the new world within the sphere of their operations, and also carried on an extensive and lucrative business in farming indulgences. Moreover, both brothers found time to acquire landed property, and were munificent patrons of literature and art. When Anton died he is said to have been worth 6,000,000 florins, besides a vast amount of property in Europe, Asia and America; and before this time the total wealth of the family had been estimated at 63,000,000 florins. The Fuggers were devotedly attached to the Roman Catholic Church, which benefited from their liberality. Jakob had been made a count palatine (Pfalzgraf) and had received other marks of favour from Pope Leo X., and several members of the family had entered the church; one, Raimund’s son, Sigmund, becoming bishop of Regensburg.
In addition to the bishop, three of Raimund Fugger’s sons attained some degree of celebrity. Johann Jakob (1516–1575), was the author of Wahrhaftigen Beschreibung des österreichischen und habsburgischen Nahmens, which was largely used by S. von Bircken in his Spiegel der Ehren des Erzhauses Österreich (Nuremberg, 1668), and of a Geheim Ernbuch des Fuggerischen Geschlechtes. He was also a patron of art, and a distinguished counsellor of Duke Albert IV. of Bavaria. After the death of his son Konstantin, in 1627, this branch of the family was divided into three lines, which became extinct in 1738, 1795 and 1846 respectively. Another of Raimund’s sons was Ulrich (1526–1584), who, after serving Pope Paul III. at Rome, became a Protestant. Hated on this account by the other members of his family, he took refuge in the Rhenish Palatinate; greatly interested in the Greek classics, he occupied himself in collecting valuable manuscripts, which he bequeathed to the university of Heidelberg. Raimund’s other son was Georg (d. 1579), who inherited the countships of Kirchberg and Weissenhorn, and founded a branch of the family which still exists, its present head being Georg, Count Fugger of Kirchberg and Weissenhorn (b. 1850).
Anton Fugger left three sons, Marcus (1529–1597), Johann (d. 1598) and Jakob (d. 1598), all of whom left male issue. Marcus was the author of a book on horse-breeding, Wie und wo man ein Gestüt von guten edeln Kriegsrossen aufrichten soll (1578), and of a German translation of the Historia ecclesiastica of Nicephorus Callistus. He founded the Nordendorf branch of the family, which became extinct on the death of his grandson, Nicolaus, in 1676. Another grandson of Marcus was Franz Fugger (1612–1664), who served under Wallenstein during the Thirty Years’ War, and was afterwards governor of Ingolstadt. He was killed at the battle of St Gotthard on the 1st of August 1664.
Johann Fugger had three sons, Christoph (d. 1615) and Marcus (d. 1614), who founded the families of Fugger-Glött and Fugger-Kirchheim respectively, and Jakob, bishop of Constance from 1604 until his death in 1626. Christoph’s son, Otto Heinrich (1592–1644), was a soldier of some distinction and a knight of the order of the Golden Fleece. He was one of the most active of the Bavarian generals during the Thirty Years’ War, and acted as governor of Augsburg, where his rule aroused much discontent. The family of Kirchheim died out in 1672. That of Glött was divided into several branches by the sons of Otto Heinrich and of his brother Johann Ernst (d. 1628). These lines, however, have gradually become extinct except the eldest line, represented in 1909 by Karl Ernst, Count Fugger of Glött (b. 1859). Anton Fugger’s third son Jakob, the founder of the family of Wellenburg, had two sons who left issue, but in 1777 the possessions of this branch of the family were again united by Anselm Joseph (d. 1793), Count Fugger of Babenhausen. In 1803 Anselm’s son, Anselm Maria (d. 1821), was made a prince of the Holy Roman Empire, the title of Prince Fugger of Babenhausen being borne by his direct descendant Karl (b. 1861). On the fall of the empire in 1806 the lands of the Fuggers, which were held directly of the empire, were mediatized under Bavaria and Württemberg. The heads of the three existing branches of the Fuggers are all hereditary members of the Bavarian Upper House.
Augsburg has many interesting mementoes of the Fuggers, including the family burial-chapel in the church of St Anna; the Fugger chapel in the church of St Ulrich and St Afra; the Fuggerhaus, still in the possession of one branch of the family; and a statue of Johann Jakob Fugger.
In 1593 a collection of portraits of the Fuggers, engraved by Dominique Custos of Antwerp, was issued at Augsburg. Editions with 127 portraits appeared in 1618 and 1620, the former accompanied by a genealogy in Latin, the latter by one in German. Another edition of this Pinacotheca Fuggerorum, published at Vienna in 1754, includes 139 portraits. See Chronik der Familie Fugger vom Jahre 1599, edited by C. Meyer (Munich, 1902); A. Geiger, Jakob Fugger, 1459–1525 (Regensburg, 1895); A. Schulte, Die Fugger in Rom, 1495–1523 (Leipzig, 1904); R. Ehrenberg, Das Zeitalter der Fugger (Jena, 1896); K. Häbler, Die Geschichte der Fuggerschen Handlung in Spanien (Weimar, 1897); A. Stauber, Das Haus Fugger (Augsburg, 1900); and M. Jansen, Die Anfänge der Fugger (Leipzig, 1907).