Fugger

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The Fugger (German pronunciation: [ˈfʊɡɐ]) family was a historically prominent group of European bankers, members of the fifteenth and sixteenth-century mercantile patriciate of Augsburg, international mercantile bankers, and venture capitalists like the Welser and the Höchstetter families. This banking family replaced the family known as the Medici who influenced all of Europe during the Renaissance. The Fuggers took over many of the Medici assets as well as their political power and influence.

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History

The first reference to the Fugger family in the Swabian Free City of Augsburg is the arrival of Hans Fugger recorded in the tax register of 1357. He married Klara Widolf and became an Augsburg citizen. After Klara's death, he married Elizabeth Gfattermann. He joined the Weaver's Guild, and by 1396 he was ranked high in the list of taxpayers.

His eldest son, Andreas Fugger, was a merchant in the weaving trade, and was nicknamed 'the rich Fugger', buying land and other properties. It is also now understood the Fugger family itemized and inventoried a large number of Oriental rugs, an unusually unique undertaking during this time period.[1]

Andreas's son, Lucas Fugger, was granted arms by the Emperor Frederick III, a golden deer on a blue background, and he was soon nicknamed 'the Fugger of the Deer'. However, he was too ambitious and went bankrupt.

Hans Fugger's younger son, Jakob the Elder, founded another branch of the family, This branch progressed more steadily and they became known as the 'Fuggers of the Lily' after their chosen arms of a flowering lily on a gold and blue background. Jakob was a master weaver, a merchant, and an alderman, and married Barbara Basinger, the daughter of a goldsmith. His fortune progressed, and by 1461, he was the 12th richest man in Augsburg. He died in 1469.

Jakob's eldest son, Ulrich, took over the business on his father's death, and in 1473 he provided new suits of clothes to Frederick, his son Maximilian I, and his suite on their journey to Trier to meet Charles the Bold of Burgundy and the betrothal of the young prince to Charles's daughter Maria. This started the very profitable relationship between the Fugger family and the Habsburgs.

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