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Rothschild family

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Jewish noble banking family
Coat of arms granted to the Barons Rothschild in 1822 by Emperor Francis I of Austria
Current regionWestern Europe (mainly United Kingdom, France, and Germany)[1]
EtymologyRothschild (German): 'red shield'
Place of originFrankfurter Judengasse, Frankfurt, Holy Roman Empire
Founded1760s (1577 (1577))
FounderElchanan Rothschild (b. 1577)
TraditionsGoût Rothschild
MottoConcordia, Integritas, Industria (Latin for 'Harmony, Integrity, Industry')
Cadet branches

The Rothschild family (/ˈrɒθ(s)ld/ ROTH(S)-chylde German: [ˈʁoːt.ʃɪlt]) is a wealthy Ashkenazi Jewish noble banking family originally from Frankfurt that rose to prominence with Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744–1812), a court factor to the German Landgraves of Hesse-Kassel in the Free City of Frankfurt, Holy Roman Empire, who established his banking business in the 1760s.[2] Unlike most previous court factors, Rothschild managed to bequeath his wealth and established an international banking family through his five sons,[3] who established businesses in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Vienna, and Naples. The family was elevated to noble rank in the Holy Roman Empire and the United Kingdom.[4][5] The family's documented history starts in 16th century Frankfurt; its name is derived from the family house, Rothschild, built by Isaak Elchanan Bacharach in Frankfurt in 1567.

During the 19th century, the Rothschild family possessed the largest private fortune in the world, as well as in modern world history.[6][7][8] The family's wealth declined over the 20th century, and was divided among many descendants.[9] Today, their interests cover a diverse range of fields, including financial services, real estate, mining, energy, agriculture, winemaking, and nonprofits.[10][11] Many examples of the family's rural architecture exist across northwestern Europe. The Rothschild family has frequently been the subject of conspiracy theories, many of which have antisemitic origins.[12]


Mayer Amschel Rothschild, founder of the Rothschild banking dynasty.

The first member of the family who was known to use the name "Rothschild" was Isaak Elchanan Rothschild, born in 1577. The name is derived from the German zum rothen Schild (with the old spelling "th"), meaning "at the red shield", in reference to the house where the family lived for many generations (in those days, houses were designated not by numbers, but by signs displaying different symbols or colours). A red shield can still be seen at the centre of the Rothschild coat of arms. The family's ascent to international prominence began in 1744, with the birth of Mayer Amschel Rothschild in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He was the son of Amschel Moses Rothschild (born circa 1710),[13] a money changer who had traded with the Prince of Hesse. Born in the "Judengasse", the ghetto of Frankfurt, Mayer developed a finance house and spread his empire by installing each of his five sons in the five main European financial centres to conduct business. The Rothschild coat of arms contains a clenched fist with five arrows symbolising the five dynasties established by the five sons of Mayer Rothschild, in a reference to Psalm 127: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth." The family motto appears below the shield: Concordia, Integritas, Industria (Unity, Integrity, Industry).[14]

House of the Rothschild family, Judengasse, Frankfurt
Palace of Baron Albert von Rothschild (photo 1884)

Paul Johnson writes "[T]he Rothschilds are elusive. There is no book about them that is both revealing and accurate. Libraries of nonsense have been written about them... A woman who planned to write a book entitled Lies about the Rothschilds abandoned it, saying: 'It was relatively easy to spot the lies, but it proved impossible to find out the truth.'" Johnson writes that, unlike the court factors of earlier centuries, who had financed and managed European noble houses, but often lost their wealth through violence or expropriation, the new kind of international bank created by the Rothschilds was impervious to local attacks. Their assets were held in financial instruments, circulating through the world as stocks, bonds and debts. Changes made by the Rothschilds allowed them to insulate their property from local violence: "Henceforth their real wealth was beyond the reach of the mob, almost beyond the reach of greedy monarchs."[15] Johnson argued that their fortune was generated to the greatest extent by Nathan Mayer Rothschild in London; however, more recent research by Niall Ferguson indicates that greater and equal profits also were realised by the other Rothschild dynasties, including James Mayer de Rothschild in Paris, Carl Mayer von Rothschild in Naples and Amschel Mayer Rothschild in Frankfurt.[16]

Another essential part of Mayer Rothschild's strategy for success was to keep control of their banks in family hands, allowing them to maintain full secrecy about the size of their fortunes. In about 1906, the Jewish Encyclopedia noted: "The practice initiated by the Rothschilds of having several brothers of a firm establish branches in the different financial centres was followed by other Jewish financiers, like the Bischoffsheims, Pereires, Seligmans, Lazards and others, and these financiers by their integrity and financial skill obtained credit not alone with their Jewish confrères, but with the banking fraternity in general. By this means, Jewish financiers obtained an increasing share of international finance during the middle and last quarter of the 19th century. The head of the whole group was the Rothschild family..." It also says: "Of more recent years, non-Jewish financiers have learned the same cosmopolitan method, and, on the whole, the control is now rather less than more in Jewish hands than formerly."[17] Mayer Rothschild successfully kept the fortune in the family with carefully arranged marriages, often between first- or second-cousins (similar to royal intermarriage). By the late 19th century, however, almost all Rothschilds had started to marry outside the family, usually into the aristocracy or other financial dynasties.[18] His sons were:

The German family name "Rothschild" is pronounced [ˈʁoːt.ʃɪlt] in German, unlike /ˈrɒθ(s)ld/ in English. The surname "Rothschild" is rare in Germany.[19]

Families by country:

The five sons of Mayer Amschel Rothschild were elevated to the Austrian nobility by Emperor Francis I of Austria, and they were all granted the Austrian hereditary title of Freiherr (baron) on 29 September 1822.[20] The British branch of the family was elevated by Queen Victoria, who granted the hereditary title of baronet (1847)[21] and later the hereditary peerage title of Baron Rothschild (1885).[22]

Napoleonic Wars

A landmark Rothschild palace in Frankfurt, Germany, Villa Günthersburg (photographed 1855)

The Rothschilds already possessed a significant fortune before the start of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), and the family had gained preeminence in the bullion trade by this time.[23] From London in 1813 to 1815, Nathan Mayer Rothschild was instrumental in almost single-handedly financing the British war effort, organising the shipment of bullion to the Duke of Wellington's armies across Europe, as well as arranging the payment of British financial subsidies to their continental allies. In 1815 alone, the Rothschilds provided £9.8 million (equivalent to about £710 million in 2019) in subsidy loans to Britain's continental allies.[24]

One of the smaller city houses, Vienna. A collection of far larger Viennese palaces known as Palais Rothschild were torn down during the Second World War.

The brothers helped coordinate Rothschild activities across the continent, and the family developed a network of agents, shippers and couriers to transport gold across war-torn Europe. The family network was also to provide Nathan Rothschild time and again with political and financial information ahead of his peers, giving him an advantage in the markets and rendering the house of Rothschild still more invaluable to the British government.

In one instance, the family network 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.[23] Rothschild's first concern on this occasion was not to the potential financial advantage on the market which the knowledge would have given him; he and his courier immediately took the news to the government.[23] That he used the news for financial advantage was a fiction then repeated in later popular accounts, such as that of Morton.[25][26] The basis for the Rothschilds' most famously profitable move was made after the news of British victory had been made public. Nathan Rothschild calculated that the future reduction in government borrowing brought about by the peace would create a bounce in British government bonds after a two-year stabilisation, which would finalise the post-war restructuring of the domestic economy.[24][25][26] In what has been described as one of the most audacious moves in financial history, Nathan immediately bought up the government bond market, for what at the time seemed an excessively high price, before waiting two years, then selling the bonds on the crest of a short bounce in the market in 1817 for a 40% profit. Given the sheer power of leverage the Rothschild family had at their disposal, this profit was an enormous sum.[24]

Nathan Mayer Rothschild started his business in Manchester in 1806 and gradually moved it to London, where in 1809 he acquired the location at 2 New Court in St. Swithin's Lane, City of London,[23] where it operates today; he established N M Rothschild & Sons in 1811.[27][28] In 1818, he arranged a £5 million (equal to £360 million in 2019) 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 1825–26 he was able to supply enough coin to the Bank of England to enable it to avert a market liquidity crisis.

International high finance

"I have not the nerve for his operations. They are well-planned, with great cleverness and adroitness in execution – but he is in money and funds what Napoleon was in war." —Baron Baring on Nathan Rothschild[29]
"... your friends at the West End have the business in their hands to decide between Portugal & Brazil and an early intimation from you may serve us materially."—Samuel Phillips & Co to Nathan Rothschild, referring to the question on whether or not to support Brazilian independence[30]
The family financed the creation of the country Rhodesia, and it became the site of the first international expansion of one of their mining enterprises—the Rio Tinto mining company.
The Frankfurt terminus of the Taunus railway, financed by the Rothschilds. Opened in 1840, it was one of Germany's first railways.

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. From 1895 through 1907 they loaned nearly $450,000,000 (equivalent to $14,700,000,000 in 2023[31]) to European governments.[32] During the 19th century, the family bought up a large proportion of the property in Mayfair, London.[33]

The Rothschild family was directly involved in the independence of Brazil from Portugal in the early 19th century. Upon an agreement, the Brazilian government should pay a compensation of two million pounds sterling to the Kingdom of Portugal to accept Brazil's independence.[30] N M Rothschild & Sons was pre-eminent in raising this capital for the government of the newly formed Empire of Brazil on the London market. In 1825, Nathan Rothschild raised £2,000,000, and indeed was probably discreetly involved in the earlier tranche of this loan which raised £1,000,000 in 1824.[30][34] Part of the price of Portuguese recognition of Brazilian independence, secured in 1825, was that Brazil should take over repayment of the principal and interest on a £1,500,000 loan made to the Portuguese government in 1823 by N M Rothschild & Sons.[30] A correspondence from Samuel Phillips & Co. in 1824 suggests the close involvement of the Rothschilds in the occasion.

Major 19th-century businesses founded with Rothschild family capital include:

The family funded Cecil Rhodes in the creation of the African colony of Rhodesia. From the late 1880s onwards, the family took over control of the Rio Tinto mining company.

The Japanese government approached the London and Paris families for funding during the Russo-Japanese War. The London consortium's issue of Japanese war bonds would total £11.5 million (at 1907 currency rates; £1.08 billion in 2012 currency terms).[36]

The name of Rothschild became synonymous with extravagance and great wealth; and the family was renowned for its art collecting, for its palaces, as well as for its philanthropy. By the end of the century, the family owned, or had built, at the lowest estimates, 41 palaces, of a scale and luxury perhaps unparalleled even by the richest royal families.[24] The British Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George claimed, in 1909, that Nathan, Lord Rothschild was the most powerful man in Britain.[6][failed verification][37]

Niles' Weekly Register, Volume 49 had the following to say about the Rothschilds' influence on international high finance in 1836:

The Rothschilds are the wonders of modern banking ... we see the descendants of Judah, after a persecution of two thousand years, peering above kings, rising higher than emperors, and holding a whole continent in the hollow of their hands. The Rothschilds govern a Christian world. Not a cabinet moves without their advice. They stretch their hand, with equal ease, from [Saint] Petersburgh to Vienna, from Vienna to Paris, from Paris to London, from London to Washington. Baron Rothschild, the head of the house, is the true king of Judah, the prince of the captivity, the Messiah so long looked for by this extraordinary people. He holds the keys of peace or war, blessing or cursing. ... They are the brokers and counselors of the kings of Europe and of the republican chiefs of America. What more can they desire?[38]

Changes to family fortunes

The Neapolitan Rothschilds was the first branch of the family to decline when revolution broke out and Giuseppe Garibaldi captured Naples on 7 September 1860 and set up a provisional Italian government. Because of the family's close political connections with Austria and France, Adolphe Carl von Rothschild [fr] was caught in a delicate position. He chose to take temporary sanctuary in Gaeta with the last Neapolitan king, Francis II of the Two Sicilies. However, the Rothschild branches in London, Paris, and Vienna were not prepared nor willing to financially support the deposed king. With the ensuing unification of Italy, and the mounting tension between Adolph and the rest of the family, the Naples house closed in 1863 after forty-two years in business.

In 1901, the German branch closed its doors after more than a century in business following the death of Wilhelm Rothschild with no male heirs. It was not until 1989 that the family returned to Germany, when N M Rothschild & Sons, the British branch, plus Bank Rothschild AG, the Swiss branch, set up a representative banking office in Frankfurt.

By the start of the 20th century, the introduction of national taxation systems had ended the Rothschilds' policy of operating with a single set of commercial account records, which resulted in the various branches gradually going their own separate ways as independent banks. The system of the five brothers and their successor sons all but disappeared by World War I.[39]

The rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s led to a precarious situation for the Austrian Rothschilds under the annexation of Austria in 1938 when the family was pressured to sell its banking operation at a fraction of its real worth. While other Rothschilds had escaped the Nazis, Louis Rothschild was imprisoned for a year and only released after a substantial ransom was paid by his family. After Louis was allowed to leave the country in March 1939, the Nazis placed the firm of S M von Rothschild under compulsory administration. Nazi officers and senior staff from Austrian museums also emptied the Rothschild family estates of all their valuables. Following the war, the Austrian Rothschilds were unable to reclaim much of their former assets and properties.

Later, the fall of France during the Second World War led to the seizure of the property of the French Rothschilds under German occupation. Despite having their bank restored to them at the end of the war, the French Rothschilds were powerless in 1982 as the family business was nationalised by the socialist government of newly elected President François Mitterrand.[40]

In addition, The New York Times wrote that the Rothschilds "grossly misjudged the opportunities directly across the Atlantic" and quoted Evelyn de Rothschild as saying that despite the accomplishments made by the various branches of the family in international high finance for over 200 years, "we never seized the initiative in America and that was one of the mistakes my family made."[41]

Hereditary titles

In 1816, four of the five sons of Mayer Amschel Rothschild were elevated to the Austrian nobility by Emperor Francis I of Austria.[20] The remaining son, Nathan, was elevated in 1818.[dubiousdiscuss] All of them were granted the Austrian hereditary title of Freiherr (baron) on 29 September 1822.[20] As a result, some members of the family used the nobiliary particle de or von before their surname to acknowledge the grant of nobility.

In 1847, Anthony de Rothschild was made a hereditary baronet of the United Kingdom.[42] In 1885, Sir Nathan Rothschild, 2nd Baronet, was granted the hereditary peerage title of Baron Rothschild in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.[22] This title is currently held by the 5th Baron Rothschild.


English branch

A Rothschild house, Waddesdon Manor in Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire, England, donated to the National Trust by the family in 1957

The Rothschild banking family of England was founded in 1798 by Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777–1836), who first settled in Manchester but then moved to London. Nathan Mayer von Rothschild, the third son of Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744–1812), first established a textile jobbing business in Manchester and from there went on to establish N M Rothschild & Sons bank in London.[43]

During the early part of the 19th century, the Rothschild family's London bank took a leading part in managing and financing the subsidies that the British government transferred to its allies during the Napoleonic Wars. Through the creation of a network of agents, couriers and shippers, the bank was able to provide funds to the armies of the Duke of Wellington in Portugal and Spain, therefore funding the war. The providing of other innovative and complex financing for government projects formed a mainstay of the bank's business for the better part of the century. N M Rothschild & Sons' financial strength in the City of London became such that, by 1825–26, the bank was able to supply enough coin to the Bank of England to enable it to avert a liquidity crisis.

Mentmore Towers, one of the many Rothschild mansions built in Buckinghamshire

Nathan Mayer's eldest son, Lionel de Rothschild (1808–1879), succeeded him as head of the London branch. Under Lionel, the bank financed the British government's 1875 purchase of Egypt's interest in the Suez Canal. The Rothschild bank also funded Cecil Rhodes in the development of the British South Africa Company. Leopold de Rothschild (1845–1917) administered Rhodes's estate after his death in 1902 and helped to set up the Rhodes Scholarship scheme at the University of Oxford. In 1873, de Rothschild Frères in France and N M Rothschild & Sons of London joined with other investors to acquire the Spanish government's money-losing Rio Tinto copper mines. The new owners restructured the company and turned it into a profitable business. By 1905, the Rothschild interest in Rio Tinto amounted to more than 30 percent. In 1887, the French and British Rothschild banking houses loaned money to, and invested in, the De Beers diamond mines in South Africa, becoming its largest shareholders.

The London banking house continued under the management of Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882–1942) and his brother Anthony Gustav de Rothschild (1887–1961), and then to Sir Evelyn de Rothschild (1931–2022). In 2003, following Sir Evelyn's retirement as head of N M Rothschild & Sons of London, the British and French financial firms merged under the leadership of David René de Rothschild.

French branches

Château de Ferrières, the largest château of the 19th century, was built in 1854. It is set on a 30 km2 (12 sq mi) estate outside Paris. It was charitably donated by the family to the University of Paris in 1975.

There are two branches of the family connected to France.

The first was the branch of James Mayer de Rothschild (1792–1868), known as "James", who established de Rothschild Frères in Paris; he married his niece Betty von Rothschild. Following the Napoleonic Wars, he played a major role in financing the construction of railways and the mining business that helped make France an industrial power. By 1980, the Paris business employed about 2,000 people and had an annual turnover of 26 billion francs (€4.13 billion or $5 billion in the currency rates of 1980).[44]

"No kings could afford this! It could only belong to a Rothschild."

Wilhelm I, Emperor of Germany, on visiting Château de Ferrières.[45]

However, the Paris business suffered a near death blow in 1982, when the socialist government of François Mitterrand nationalised and renamed it as Compagnie Européenne de Banque.[46] Baron David de Rothschild, then 39, decided to stay and rebuild, creating a new entity named Rothschild & Cie Banque, with just three employees and €830,000 (US$1 million) in capital. Today, the Paris operation has 22 partners and accounts for a significant part of the global business.

Ensuing generations of the Paris Rothschild family remained involved in the family business, becoming a major force in international investment banking. The Paris Rothschilds have since led the Thomson Financial League Tables in Investment Banking Merger and Acquisition deals in the UK, France and Italy.

A former Rothschild family house, at the site of Château de la Muette, Paris. Built as a family residence by the secondary branch of the French Rothschild family, today it houses the headquarters of the OECD.

James Mayer de Rothschild's other son, Edmond James de Rothschild (1845–1934), was very much engaged in philanthropy and the arts, and he was a leading proponent 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 has €100bn of assets in 2008 and owns many wine properties in France (Château Clarke, Château des Laurets), in Australia, or in South Africa. In 1961, the 35-year-old Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild purchased the company Club Med, after he had visited a resort and enjoyed his stay.[47][48] His interest in Club Med was sold off by the 1990s. In 1973, he bought out the Bank of California, selling his interests in 1984 before it was sold to Mitsubishi Bank in 1985.

Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, built in 1872 as a Paris townhouse for Salomon James de Rothschild

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 to work with his uncle James Mayer Rothschild. 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 neighbouring Château Lafite vineyard.

Austrian branch

Palace of Baron Albert von Rothschild in Vienna.

In Vienna, Salomon Mayer Rothschild established a bank in the 1820s and the Austrian family had vast wealth and position.[49] The crash of 1929 brought problems, and Baron Louis von Schwartz Rothschild attempted to shore up the Creditanstalt, Austria's largest bank, to prevent its collapse. Nevertheless, during the Second World War 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 and statues (some of which were restored to the Rothschilds by the Austrian government in 1999).

All family members escaped the Holocaust, some of them moving to the United States, and returning to Europe only after the war. 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.[50]

Neapolitan branch

Villa Pignatelli, Naples, with views onto Mount Vesuvius

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, with the ensuing decline of the Italian aristocracy who had been the Rothschilds' primary clients, eventually brought about the closure of their Naples bank, due to a forecasted decline in the sustainability of the business over the long-term. However, in the early 19th century, the Rothschild family of Naples built up close relations with the Holy See, and the association between the family and the Vatican continued into the 20th century.[citation needed]

In 1832, when Pope Gregory XVI was seen meeting Carl von Rothschild to arrange the 1832 Rothschild loan to the Holy See (for £400,000, worth €43,000,000 in 2014), observers were shocked that Rothschild was not required to kiss the Pope's feet, as was then required for all other visitors to the Pope, including monarchs.[51] The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia described the Rothschilds as "the guardians of the papal treasure".[52]

Jewish identity and positions on Zionism

Jewish solidarity in the family was not homogeneous. Many Rothschilds were supporters of Zionism, while other members of the family opposed the creation of the Jewish state. In 1917 Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild was the addressee of the Balfour Declaration to the Zionist Federation,[53] which committed the British government to the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. His nephew, Victor, Lord Rothschild was against granting asylum or helping Jewish refugees in 1938.[a][54]

After the death of James Jacob de Rothschild in 1868, his eldest son Alphonse Rothschild took over the management of the family bank and was the most active in support for Eretz Israel.[55] The Rothschild family archives show that during the 1870s the family contributed nearly 500,000 francs per year on behalf of Eastern Jewry to the Alliance Israélite Universelle.[56]

Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (known in Israel simply as "the Baron Rothschild" or "the Benefactor" (Hebrew: "HaNadiv"), youngest son of James Jacob de Rothschild, was a patron of the first permanent settlement in Palestine at Rishon-LeZion (1882). He also provided funding for the establishment of Petah Tikva as a permanent settlement (1883). Overall, he bought from Ottoman landlords 2–3% of the land which now makes up present-day Israel.[57][b] After Baron de Hirsch died in 1896, the Hirsch-founded Jewish Colonisation Association (ICA) started supporting the settlement of Palestine (1896), and Baron Rothschild took an active role in the organization and transferred his Palestinian land holdings as well as 15 million francs to it. In 1924, he reorganized the Palestinian branch of the ICA into the Palestine Jewish Colonisation Association (PICA), which acquired more than 125,000 acres (50,586 ha) of land and set up business ventures.[58] In Tel Aviv, the Rothschild Boulevard is named after him, as are a number of localities throughout Israel which he assisted in founding, including Metulla, Zikhron Ya'akov, Rishon Lezion and Rosh Pina. A park in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, the Parc Edmond de Rothschild (Edmond de Rothschild Park), is also named after its founder.[59] The Rothschilds also played a significant part in the funding of Israel's governmental infrastructure. James A. de Rothschild financed the Knesset building as a gift to the State of Israel[60] and the Supreme Court of Israel building was donated to Israel by Dorothy de Rothschild.[61] Outside the President's Chamber is displayed the letter Dorothy de Rothschild wrote to then Prime Minister Shimon Peres expressing her intention to donate a new building for the Supreme Court.[62] The Rothschilds also established the "Yad Hanadiv" philanthropic foundation in 1958.

Interviewed by Haaretz in 2010, Baron Benjamin Rothschild, who was a Swiss-based member of the banking family, said that he supported the Israeli–Palestinian peace process: "I understand that it is a complicated business, mainly because of the fanatics and extremists – and I am talking about both sides. I think you have fanatics in Israel. ... In general I am not in contact with politicians. I spoke once with Netanyahu. I met once with an Israeli finance minister, but the less I mingle with politicians the better I feel."[63] Due to a dispute with the Israeli tax authorities, the baron refused to visit Israel. But his widow Ariane de Rothschild often visits Israel where she manages the Caesarea Foundation. She says: "It is insulting that the state [Israel] casts doubt on us. If there is a family that does not have to prove its commitment to Israel, it's ours."[64]

Places in Israel named after Rothschild family members

Primarily due to the generosity and influence of Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, HaNadiv (the Benefactor), on the history of the Land of Israel and the State of Israel, a tradition exists of naming cities, towns and other settlements in Israel in honor of members of the Rothschild family. Six of these places are grouped in the same vicinity, on the Sharon plain, while the others are scattered throughout the country. They are, listed in order of founding:

Modern businesses, investments, and philanthropy

The family has fully restored Spencer House, St. James's Park, London.

Since the late 19th century, the family has taken a low-key public profile, donating many famous estates, as well as vast quantities of art, to charity, and generally eschewing conspicuous displays of wealth. Today, Rothschild businesses are on a smaller scale than they were throughout the 19th century, although they encompass a diverse range of fields, including: real estate, financial services, mixed farming, energy, mining, winemaking and nonprofits.[10][11]

The Rothschild Group

Since 2003, a group of Rothschild banks have been controlled by Rothschild Continuation Holdings, a Swiss-registered holding company (under the chairmanship of Baron David René de Rothschild). Rothschild Continuation Holdings is in turn controlled by Concordia BV, a Dutch-registered master holding company. Concordia BV is managed by Paris Orléans S.A., a French-registered holding company.[69] Paris Orléans S.A. is ultimately controlled by Rothschild Concordia SAS, a Rothschild's family holding company.[70] Rothschild & Cie Banque controls Rothschild banking businesses in France and continental Europe, while Rothschilds Continuation Holdings AG controls a number of Rothschild banks elsewhere, including N M Rothschild & Sons in London. Twenty per cent 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 private 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.[71] It was believed that the move was intended to help Rothschild Continuation Holdings AG gain access to a wider capital pool, enlarging its presence in East Asian markets.[72]

Paris Orléans S.A. is a financial holding company listed on Euronext Paris and controlled by the French and English branches of the Rothschild family. Paris Orléans is the flagship of the Rothschild banking group and controls the Rothschild Group's banking activities including N M Rothschild & Sons and Rothschild & Cie Banque. It has over 2,000 employees. Directors of the company include Eric de Rothschild, Robert de Rothschild and Count Philippe de Nicolay.[73]

N M Rothschild & Sons, an English investment bank, does most of its business as an advisor for mergers and acquisitions. In 2004, the investment bank withdrew from the gold market, a commodity the Rothschild bankers had traded in for two centuries.[54] In 2006, it ranked second in UK M&A with deals totalling $104.9 billion.[74] In 2006, the bank recorded a pre-tax annual profit of £83.2 million with assets of £5.5 billion.[75]

"Treat the stock exchange like a cold shower (quick in, quick out)."

—A traditional family maxim.[76]

Edmond de Rothschild Group

The Large Mansion at Gunnersbury Park, London

In 1953, one Swiss member of the family, Edmond Adolphe de Rothschild (1926–1997), founded the LCF Rothschild Group (now Edmond de Rothschild Group) which is based in Geneva and today extends to 15 countries across the world. Although this group is primarily a financial entity, specializing in asset management and private banking, its activities also cover mixed farming, luxury hotels and yacht racing. Edmond de Rothschild Group's committee is currently being chaired by Ariane de Rothschild.

In late 2010, Baron Benjamin Rothschild, the chairman at the time, said that the family had been unaffected by the financial crisis of 2007–2010, due to their conservative business practices: "We came through it well, because our investment managers did not want to put money into crazy things." He added that the Rothschilds were still a small-scale, traditional family business and took greater care over their clients' investments than American companies, adding: "The client knows we will not speculate with his money".[63][77]

Edmond de Rothschild group includes these companies.

RIT Capital Partners

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, a British investment trust), which has reported assets of $3.4 billion in 2008.[78] It is listed on London Stock Exchange. Lord Rothschild is also one of the major investors behind BullionVault, a gold trading platform.[79]

In 2010 RIT Capital Partners stored a significant proportion of its assets in the form of physical gold. Other assets included oil and energy-related investments.[80]

In 2012, RIT Capital Partners announced it was to buy a 37 per cent stake in a Rockefeller family wealth advisory and asset management group.[81] Commenting on the deal, David Rockefeller, a former patriarch of the Rockefeller family, said: "The connection between our two families remains very strong."[82]


In 1991, Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild, founded J. Rothschild Assurance Group (now St. James's Place Wealth Management) with Sir Mark Weinberg. It is also listed on London Stock Exchange.[83]

In 2001, the Rothschild mansion located at 18 Kensington Palace Gardens, London, was on sale for £85 million, at that time (2001) the most expensive residential property ever to go on sale in the world. It was built in marble, at 9,000 sq ft, with underground parking for 20 cars.[84]

In December 2009, Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild, invested $200 million of his own money in a North Sea oil company.[85]

In January 2010, Nathaniel Rothschild, 5th Baron Rothschild, bought a substantial share of the Glencore mining and oil company's market capitalisation. He also bought a large share of the aluminium mining company United Company RUSAL.[86]

During the 19th century, the Rothschilds controlled the Rio Tinto mining corporation, and to this day, Rothschild and Rio Tinto maintain a close business relationship.[87]


Château Lafite Rothschild, Bordeaux. Alongside Château Mouton Rothschild, it is perhaps the most prestigious of the many Rothschild wine estates.

The Rothschild family has been in the winemaking industry for 150 years.[88] In 1853, Nathaniel de Rothschild purchased Château Brane-Mouton and renamed it Château Mouton Rothschild. In 1868, James Mayer de Rothschild purchased the neighbouring Château Lafite and renamed it Château Lafite Rothschild.

Today, the Rothschild family owns many wine estates: their estates in France include Château Clarke, Château de Malengin, Château Clerc-Milon, Château d'Armailhac, Château Duhart-Milon, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château de Laversine, Château des Laurets, Château L'Évangile, Château Malmaison, Château de Montvillargenne, Château Mouton Rothschild, Château de la Muette, Château Rieussec and Château Rothschild d'Armainvilliers. They also own wine estates across North America, South America, South Africa and Australia.

Especially, Château Mouton Rothschild and Château Lafite Rothschild are classified as Premier Cru Classé—i.e., First Growth, the status referring to a classification of wines from the Bordeaux region of France.

Saskia de Rothschild was named Chairwoman of Château Lafite Rothschild in 2018, succeeding her father, Éric de Rothschild.[89] Château Mouton Rothschild was managed by Philippine de Rothschild until her death in 2014. It is now under the direction of her son Philippe Sereys de Rothschild.[90]

Art and charity

The family once had one of the largest private art collections in the world, and a significant proportion of the art in the world's public museums are Rothschild donations which were sometimes, in the family tradition of discretion, donated anonymously.[91]

Hannah Rothschild was appointed in December 2014 as chair of the board of the National Gallery of London.[92]

List of financial holdings

The following is a list of businesses in which the Rothschild family have held a controlling or an otherwise significant interest.

Cultural references

The neo-Gothic Castle de Haar

In the words of The Daily Telegraph: "This multinational banking family is a byword for wealth, power – and discretion... The Rothschild name has become synonymous with money and power to a degree that perhaps no other family has ever matched."[102]

The neo-Gothic Rothschildschloss, Waidhofen

Writing of the Rockefeller and Rothschild families, Harry Mount writes: "That is what makes these two dynasties so exceptional – not just their dizzying wealth, but the fact that they have held on to it for so long: and not just the loot, but also their family companies."[103]

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 and Nathan Mayer Rothschild (both played by Arliss). Excerpts from this film were incorporated into the Nazi propaganda film Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) without the permission of the copyright holder. Another Nazi 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. Nathaniel Mayer ("Natty") Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild appears as a minor character in the historical-mystery novel Stone's Fall, by Iain Pears. Mayer Rothschild is featured in Diana Gabaldon's novel Voyager as a coin seller summoned to Le Havre by Jamie Fraser to appraise coins, prior to the establishment of the Rothschild dynasty, when Mayer is in his early 20s. The Rothschild name is mentioned by Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World, among many names of historically affluent persons, scientific innovators and others. The character, named Morgana Rothschild, played a relatively minor role in the story. The name Rothschild used as a synonym for extreme wealth inspired the song "If I Were a Rich Man", which is based on a song from the Tevye the Dairyman stories, written in the Yiddish as Ven ikh bin Rotshild, meaning 'If I were a Rothschild'.[104]

In France, the word "Rothschild" was throughout the 19th and 20th centuries a synonym for seemingly endless wealth, neo-Gothic styles, and epicurean glamour.[105] The family also has lent its name to "le goût Rothschild," a suffocatingly glamorous style of interior decoration whose elements include neo-Renaissance palaces, extravagant use of velvet and gilding, vast collections of armour and sculpture, a sense of Victorian horror vacui, and the highest masterworks of art. Le goût Rothschild has influenced designers such as Robert Denning, Yves Saint Laurent, Vincent Fourcade and others.

"Yes, my dear fellow, it all amounts to this: in order to do something first you must be something. We think Dante great, and he had a civilization of centuries behind him; the House of Rothschild is rich and it has required much more than one generation to attain such wealth. Such things all lie much deeper than one thinks."

— Johann Wolfgang Goethe, October 1828[106]

Conspiracy theories

Over more than two centuries,[25][26] the Rothschild family has frequently been the subject of conspiracy theories.[12][107][108] These theories take differing forms, such as claiming that the family controls the world's wealth and financial institutions[109][110] or encouraged or discouraged wars between governments. Discussing this and similar views, the historian Niall Ferguson wrote that,

Without wars, nineteenth-century states would have little need to issue bonds. As we have seen, however, wars tended to hit the price of existing bonds by increasing the risk that a debtor state would fail to meet its interest payments in the event of defeat and losses of territory. By the middle of the 19th century, the Rothschilds had evolved from traders into fund managers, carefully tending to their own vast portfolio of government bonds. Now having made their money, they stood to lose more than they gained from conflict. [...] The Rothschilds had decided the outcome of the Napoleonic Wars by putting their financial weight behind Britain. Now they would [...] sit on the sidelines.[111]

Many conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family arise from anti-Semitic prejudice and various antisemitic tropes.[112][113][114][115][116][117]

Prominent descendants of Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Prominent lineal descendants of Mayer Amschel Rothschild include among many others:

Baron David René de Rothschild, current French chairman of N M Rothschild & Sons and formerly of De Beers
Bertha-Clara von Rothschild (Princess of Wagram) (Ellis William Roberts, 1890)
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, M.P. (1839–1898)
Sybil Cholmondeley, Marchioness of Cholmondeley (1894–1989), painted by John Singer Sargent
Halton House, a Rothschild family mansion in Buckinghamshire, England
Lionel de Rothschild, whose colt Sir Bevys won the 1879 Epsom Derby
The Astronomer, by Johannes Vermeer given to the Louvre Museum by the Rothschild family in 1982
Palace Nathaniel Rothschild, Vienna
Ascott House, donated to charity by the family in 1947
Exbury House, a Rothschild estate in England
Hôtel Lambert, Paris

Prominent marriages into the family include, among many others:

Coat of arms

Coat of arms of Rothschild family
Coat of arms of the Rothschild family[134]
1822 (granted by Emperor Francis I of Austria)
Crests: 1st, out of a ducal coronet Or a mullet of six points Or between two horns per fess alternately Or and Sable, Sable and Or; 2nd, issuant from a ducal coronet Or an eagle displayed Sable; 3rd, out of a ducal coronet Or three ostrich feathers, the centre one Argent and the exterior ones Azure[135]
Quarterly: 1st, Or an eagle displayed Sable langued Gules; 2nd, Azure issuing from the sinister flank an arm embowed proper grasping five arrows points downward Argent; 3rd, Azure issuing from the dexter flank an arm embowed proper grasping five arrows points downward Argent; 4th, Or a Lion rampant Gules; over all an inescutcheon Gules charged with an oval target with pointed center Argent per bend sinister[135]
Dexter: a lion rampant Or langued Gules
Sinister: a unicorn Argent langued Gules
Concordia, Integritas, Industria (Latin for "Harmony, Integrity, Industry")

See also


  1. ^ The Independent reported that he "shocked an audience by saying that in spite of 'the slow murder of 600,000 people' on the continent 'we probably all agree that there is something unsatisfactory in refugees encroaching on the privacy of our country, even for relatively short periods of time.'"
  2. ^ The PICA obtained about 450–550 km2 (170–210 sq mi) of land in Palestine, out of about 1,850 km2 (710 sq mi) (7% of the area Mandatory Palestine) that were Jewish-owned by 1947. Today's Israel proper, excluding the West Bank, Gaza, Golan and East Jerusalem, is about 21,000 km2 (8,100 sq mi), but the Mandatory Palestine was larger.


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  112. ^ Jovan Byford (2011). Conspiracy Theories: A Critical Introduction. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 104. ISBN 9780230349216. ... a further and more direct link with the conspiracy culture's antisemitic apparent in the treatment of the Rothschild family. Ever since the nineteenth century, the Rothchilds, who combined Jewishness, financial wealth and international connections, have been the epitome of the international Jewish conspiracy (Barkun, 2006). The family name continues to feature in conspiratorial narratives to the present day, although writers of the post-1945 era have tended to play down their importance.
  113. ^ Markku Ruotsila (2003). "Antisemitism". In Peter Knight (ed.). Conspiracy Theories in American History: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 82. ISBN 9781576078129. This new economic antisemitism issued in a variety of full-blown conspiracy theories in the 1870s through the 1890s. In these conspiracy theories all the perceived evils of modern capitalism and industrialism were ascribed to Jews, ... and, on a more precise level, because of the purported machinations of identifiable Jewish financiers. The latter type of theories tended to centre around the supposed power of the Rothschild banking family and those of its U.S. agents that were central in various reconstruction and public debt refinancing schemes after the Civil War...
  114. ^ Richard Allen Landes and Steven T. Katz (2012). The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred-year Retrospective on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. NYU Press. p. 189. ISBN 9780814749456. ... there are anti-Semitic claims of a vast conspiracy by Jews that structurally replicate the Protocols without mentioning the hoax document. Another way conspiracy theories try to avoid the label of anti-Semitic is to argue that there is a vast conspiracy by the "Rothschild family" or the "Khazars" or some other entity...
  115. ^ David Norman Smith (2013). "Anti-Semitism". In Carl Skutsch (ed.). Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities. Vol. 1 (A-F). Routledge. p. 110. ISBN 9781135193881. The great banking barons of the Rothschild family became, in anti-Semitic fantasy, living emblems of Jews everywhere. ... For anti-Semites, socialism and bank capitalism are just two sides of the Jewish conspiracy against order and tradition...
  116. ^ Michael Streeter (2008). Behind Closed Doors: The Power and Influence of Secret Societies. New Holland Publishers. pp. 146–47. ISBN 9781845379377. When it comes to conspiracy theories and the secret societies that supposedly run out world ... The finger of suspicion often points to bankers and Jews – and often to Jewish bankers – as the moneymen behind this world plot. Chief among the 'suspects' are the Rothschilds, the Jewish banking dynasty ... Yet there is little or nothing that the Rothschild bankers have done that is not perfectly explicable by normal banking practices. ... The fact that the Rothschilds feature at the centre of so many conspiracy theories is perhaps no coincidence. For it is sadly the case that many claims alleging secret societies have contained more than a tinge of anti-Semitism.[dead link]
  117. ^ Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (2002). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. NYU Press. p. 296. ISBN 9780814732373. [Conspiracy theorist Jan van] Helsing's dubious sources, his constant repetition of Jewish names as members of private and public organizations, and above all his emphasis on the assets and powerbroking influence of the Rothschilds as the top Illuminati family leave no doubt that his conspiracy theories are aimed at Jewish targets.
  118. ^ Morton, Frederic (1962)The Rothschilds; A Family Portrait, Secker & Warburg;London, UK.
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  121. ^ Francesco Rapazzini, Élisabeth de Gramont, Paris, Fayard, 2004.
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  124. ^ The Rothschilds and their 200 years of political influence Archived 1 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine Andy McSmith, 23 October 2008, The Independent (London).
  125. ^ Grand fortunes: dynasties of wealth in France (Algora Publishing, 1998), By Michel Pinçon, Monique Pinçon-Charlot, Andrea Lyn Secara, p. 124.
  126. ^ Young love will cement marriage of Britain's top three dynasties Archived 11 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Ingrid Mansell, The Times (London), 21 April 2003.
  127. ^ Carola W. Rothschild, Ex-Girl Scout Official Archived 20 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine, New York Times, 1 September 1987.
  128. ^ DRUON Maurice, "Ces Messieurs de Rothschild", Paris 1966.
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Further reading

  • Virginia Cowles: The Rothchilds: A Family of Fortune, 1973, (ISBN 978-0394487731)
  • Niall Ferguson: The House of Rothschild: Money's Prophets, 1798–1848 (ISBN 0-14-024084-5)
  • Niall Ferguson: The House of Rothschild: The World's Banker, 1849–1998 (ISBN 0-14-028662-4)
  • Frederic Morton: The Rothschilds: Portrait of a Dynasty (ISBN 1-56836-220-X)
  • Amos Elon: Founder: A Portrait of the First Rothschild and His Time, 1996. (ISBN 0-670-86857-4)
  • Egon Caesar Conte Corti: Rise of the House of Rothschild, B. Lunn (translator), Books for Business 2001 (reprint of 1928 translation published by Gollancz), ISBN 978-0-89499-058-8, Amazon.co.uk searchable online view
  • Joseph Valynseele & Henri-Claude Mars, Le Sang des Rothschild, ICC Editions, Paris [fr]. 2004 (ISBN 2-908003-22-8)
  • Derek A. Wilson: Rothschild: A Story of Wealth and Power (ISBN 0-233-98870-X)
  • Mir-Babayev M.F.: The role of Azerbaijan in the World's oil industry – "Oil-Industry History" (USA), 2011, v. 12, no. 1, p. 109–123.
  • Mir-Babayev M.F.: The Rothschild brother's contribution to Baku's oil industry – "Oil-Industry History" (USA), 2012, v. 13, no. 1, p. 225–236.
  • Pietro Ratto: I Rothschild e gli altri. Dal governo del mondo all'indebitamento delle nazioni: i segreti delle famiglie più potenti, Arianna Editrice, Bologna [it]. 2015 (ISBN 978-88-6588-115-6)
  • William Verity: The Rise of the Rothschilds – "History Today" (April 19680, Vol. 18 Issue 4, p225-233. covers 1770 to 1839.

Documentary film

External links