Biography of Familia Fugger (1376-1650)

Family of merchants and German bankers that, since its origins in the 14th century as related to the textile industry negotiators, became the 15th - 16th in one of the largest enterprise networks in Europe. Through this network, the Fugger showed the ability to extend their economic interests to multiple fields of activity and, also, take on a transnational character, since their companies operated in the European continent and at the same time kept representatives both in America Spanish as in the India. In addition, until the 17TH century, its members were closely linked to the financial movements of the Spanish monarchy, with what their economic power enabled them to exercise a significant influence on the effective policy of rulers such as Carlos V and Felipe II.

Therefore, the Fugger represented the best model of a new genre of entrepreneurs is very common in an era like his, which passed between the end of the middle ages and the beginning of the modern age: fully qualifying employers of capitalists, and whose career was nurtured the situational use of resources such as the formation of monopoliesobtaining State protection, the improvement of economic techniques, the search for productivity, diversification of risk, the confusion of the commercial networks, financial and diplomatic and even the Foundation of charitable and social investment. Look, this last, very significant, inasmuch as the Fugger attempted through it to dispel fears that the huge size of its organization caused among other merchants and the public in the countries where it was established, especially in Germany.

Obviously, the different resources that had just been noted not deployed quickly, but they were the result of an evolution which facilitated family, modesty, booting to scale higher positions on. In this escalation we checked different phases, of which the most important and complicated perhaps developed until the years 1490-1500, because they decided to many of the features that would characterize the dynasty in subsequent periods.

The origins of the family expansion (1367-1469)

The first key date in the biography of the Fugger occurred in September 1367, when Hans Fugger left his hometown of Graben (in Swabia) to go to the nearby Augsburg. He/She settled there with his family as a fustanes Weaver and, also, as a merchant. With this move, and the gradual transition from manufacturing to trade, the lineage started its progression. He/She was also positively influenced by the socio-political strategy that Hans developed since then and which led him, first, to marry the daughters of leaders of the Guild of weavers of the city twice. And then, thanks to such marriages, to obtain the privileges of citizenship augsburguesa, as well as the right to participate in the corporate and urban representation bodies. As a symptom of their success, and died in 1408, Hans left a fortune of 3,000 guilders, encrypt already considerable for that time.

Two of his sons (Andreas and Jakob I the old) inherited not only this heritage, but also some of the lines of action set by his father. On the one hand, from the economic point of view, both continued the momentum given to commercial businesses, engaged in the traffic of products such as spices, silk trade, cloths or precious objects. On the other hand, from a social perspective, Jakob particularly prolonged already known strategies, and that enabled him to marry the daughter of the head of the ECSC from Augsburg (1441) and be elected a member of the Guild of merchants of the city (1463). However, based on these bases, the fate of the two brothers and their respective descendants was very different, especially since 1454, moment in which the joint family venture that kept disbanded.

In principle it was Andreas who achieved greater visibility and a more immediate. Married a woman belonging to the urban patriciate, he/she and his sons expanded soon its wealth and activities with investments in the Netherlands, Leipzig, and even Denmark. But the overvaluation of the possibilities of their businesses, the loss of some loans recklessly and certain judicial setbacks caused the collapse of his company to 1495. Starting from that moment, this family branch, called the Fugger vom Reh ('Fugger of the deer') by the image contained in its coat of arms, fell into decadence and its successors became artisans or employees self-employed operators.

On the contrary, the race followed by Jakob I drew a slower path, but at the same time, firmer foundation. Bankruptcy in 1444 of the monetary business of his father-in-law made it advisable to maintain prudence in the commercial and financial dealings that he/she might undertake in the future. Such dealings were gradually increasing the level of profits achieved by Jakob and facilitated, to his death in 1469, he/she could bequeath to their children a consolidated company in the process of growth. A fact which depended on personal this Fugger skill and ability, but that, no doubt, was not alien own boom town where he/she resided the family (Augsburg) and, in general, of the territory where it was (the southern Germany or high Germany).

And it is that, right in the middle of the 15th century, towards the whole area began to move much of the leadership of the early capitalism that until that time had kept Italy exclusive. The flourishing of mining and the Central European textile and metallurgical industries, the advantageous situation of the area in the continental trade circuits, control of their cities by a patriciate open and dynamic, and the growing consumer role of a State which, like the Habsburg, extended his dominions by the region were conditions that contributed to the development of entrepreneurial skills. This development not only exploited Augsburg and the Fugger, but also other urban sources (the first Nuremberg and, later, places like Ulm, Memmingen, Munich and Strasbourg) and other family groups of relief and cosmopolitan economic vocation (the Welser, Hewart or Hoechstetter,) for example. Thus, it was in this context of global expansion, where their activities were carried out both Jakob I as, in particular, their early descendants.

Jakob II periodthe richand his brethren (1469-1525)

Five males survived to Jakob Ulrich, Georg and Peter then continued the work of his father, while Markus and Jakob II (the youngest of all) were destined to the ecclesiastical life. Peter died in 1473 and, that same year, the Emperor Federico III granted the five brothers a coat of arms depicting a few lilies, so this dynastic line began to be call of the Fugger von der Lilie ('lilies Fugger'). Jakob II also then left the Church, became a merchant and joined the society family, revealing it later as a great businessman and to who the Fugger surname really owes its historical significance. Not in vain, the nickname of the rich ('der Reiche') that is known to this second Jakob underlines such importance.

In principle, the elder brother (Ulrich) took with her mother address and ownership of issues of lineage and, in a successful way, engaged in relations with Antwerp, Poland, Hungary, and Italy. In Venice in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, the Fugger had an agency of your property, where Jakob II learned double-entry and accounting at least since 1478. In those moments, the brothers managed all their businesses in common and came to stipulate that his heirs and male successors should keep indivisos the assets of the company, while daughters would be compensated through the skills so that House Fugger remained United under any circumstances.

Confirming this joint orientation of economic activities, Ulrich, Georg and Jakob II closed in 1494 a first official contract of company in which Ulrich remained giving title to the firm, as until then. The capital of departure from the institution was set at 54.385 guilders. This contract was renewed in 1502 while Jakob was gradually getting greater role within the company. Georg died in 1506 and Ulrich followed in 1510, with what the surviving sibling happened to become the absolute owner of the society. And this also from the perspective of nominal, since, after a second contract renovation in 1512, Jakob II, which did not have own descent, joined the sons of Ulrich (Ulrich and Hieronymus) and Georg (Raymund and Anton) to constitute the social reason known as Jakob Fugger and nephews. However, this Association was conducted under conditions of unequal for parts, since the nephews had to leave in the business participation in the profits and losses of the same, unless they could have them.

Around these recent days, exactly in 1511 and according to Ehrenberg, the liquid fortune of the company already reached the 196.791 florins, which came to 2.021.202 guilders in 1527, two years after the death of Jakob II. That is, in seventeen years, an increase of benefits of the 927 total %, an annual average of 54' 5%. Magnitudes that would be even greater if began accounts from the little more than 54,000 guilders in 1494. This, ultimately, shows to what extent the final years of the 15th century and initials of the 16th determined the conversion of the company into an entity of gigantic dimensions. Several factors led to this great growth, whose characterization should be analysed in more detail.

The financial with the Habsburgs relations

During the period that has just been mentioned, the Fugger were linked to various European States such as bankers, which provided an excellent position from which to consolidate and extend their economic dominance. Firstly, this linkage affected the Germanic rule of the Habsburgs, with which society contacts dated back already to 1473 (with the cited Federico III), although they were only reinforced with the rise to power of Maximiliano I, first King of Romans and Archduke of Tyrol and, since 1493, as emperor.

From 1491, and with an initial loan of 120,000 guilders, the Fugger became habitual actions of this ruler funders. In 1496 ahead of him 121,600 guilders to subsidize his expedition to Italy, while in 1507 they returned to give other 50,000 guilders to favour a new trip to Rome. Obviously these are just some examples isolated from a business strategy very constant over time and that led to that, to 1515, debt largely not refunded with the Fugger Maximiliano closer to the 300,000 guilders. Be that as it may, many of these funds is advancing as a guarantee in favour of the company augsburguesa taking delivery of silver or copper obtained in the mines of central Europe, although there were also loans involving collateral property. Thus was the case described in 1507, in which the transferred amount was granted in Exchange for a mortgage on the County of Kirchberg and the lordship of Weißenhorn. Finally, both properties passed into the hands of the Fugger and were its first important territorial acquisitions, after the oldest family possessions that themselves administered in Graben or Augsburg. In the following decades, this trend towards the incorporation of real estate business heritage it did nothing more than increase.

The papacy and the sale of indulgences

The connections established by the dynasty with the papacy were also very significant. The stay in Rome from Markus Fugger (remember their ecclesiastical status) provided support to the company to open there an own factory in 1495, and manage large sums of money in relation with the Pontifical curia as each of the Princes of the Church in particular. In 1507, the Pope Julius II had saved 100,000 ducats at the company, which acted as well as true banking deposit, and two years later, in 1509, the same Pontiff sent to enter therein a year money retirement. From 1508 to 1515, the Fugger leased the papal Mint. And in 1514 they provided 21,000 ducats to Brandenburg Alberto, already Archbishop of Magdeburg, to help pay what it owed to the Papacy as access rights to the see of Cologne, which had been recently appointed.

With all this, the Fugger became the first German business, apart from the Welser men, able to hold the mercatores Romanam Curiam category sequentes and, consequently, to occupy a place privileged as the Pontifical power financial providers. In this role they came to relegate even to the Italian merchants who had taken it traditionally. For these reasons, it is not surprising that, as a result of the topic mentioned in 1514 and prior payment of other 10,000 ducats, the society obtain from Pope Leo X the payment of half of the alms of the indulgences that raise in Saxony and other parts of Germany. Surely, the Fugger sought thereby to recover as soon as possible the loan given to Brandenburg Alberto, but the agreement with the papacy made them promoting the sale of indulgences he/she was at the base of the outbreak of the Lutheran reformation. In fact, a representative of the company was traveling next to the preacher of such indulgences and possessed a collection box wrench.

The imperial Carlos v choice and Spanish interests

But, undoubtedly, all the networks economic sunsets underway by the saga augsburguesa in the years of transition between the XV - XVI, the greater future projection was established with the Spanish monarch who succeeded the German imperial throne Maximiliano I: Carlos V. While it was still in the Netherlands, the agent of the Fugger in Antwerp (Wolff Haller) already enjoyed a great favor in the vicinity of the young ruler and his advisers. And the own Haller moved to Spain to lead the negotiations that would allow advertising and finance between the German electors princes the appointment of Carlos as emperor, against the rival candidacy of the French King Francisco Iin 1519.

The overall cost of the election that year was more than 850,000 guilders, of which the Welser contributed 143,000; the Italians Gualterotti, Fornari and Vivaldi, 55,000 each; and the Fugger, themselves, 543.000, i.e., almost 2/3 of the total. Therefore it is no surprise that, in 1523, Jakob II Fugger was directed to the new emperor reminding him that it was well known that, without their help, Carlos "had could not get ever Roman Crown". The return of this huge loan stipulated by the disposal of various Spanish properties, which was the base used by the Fugger thereafter to disembark in the Castilian economy with their interests and associative structures.

The main goods donated by the Spanish Crown were income from the lordship of the military order of Alcantara and Santiago Calatrava, whose enjoyment in German hands through the formula of the lease lasted, with interruptions, between 1525-1645. The lordship were the surfaces of which the Grand Masters of every order sought resources, and were distributed mainly in Extremadura and Castilla - La Mancha. They included large tracts of pastures, cereals and agricultural leases, rights of toll. Also, inside, included mines of mercury from Almadén (Ciudad Real), which were vital at the time for the production of gold and silver by the amalgam procedure. If to all this we add various mining concessions achieved also by the Fugger mid-sixteenth in Sierra Morena, Cartagena and Lorca, draws a global image of the interests which kept the company in Spain.

For its management, the Fugger had permanent representatives in the Royal Court, Toledo, Almadén, or Seville, but all of them were moving under the command of a general agent company residing in Almagro. Thus, the Germans gave their actions in Spain of a rational organization, getting the benefits derived from them to increase progressively: already in 1527, the profits of the Germans in the Iberian Peninsula is coding in 200,000 guilders, much of which came from Almaden, where the rate of net profit reached levels close to 40%.

Mining investments

This means that, next actions as banking, and inextricably linked to them, the Fugger diversified investments balance with intervention in other deals, basically for industrial series. But these were not limited to the investments made in Spain, but expanded remarkably with businesses that were signed also now on Central European mines of silver and copper.

Although Jakob I had already made some attempts in this regard, dates that the entry of the company in this sector were the eighties of the 15th century. In 1485, Ulrich, Georg and Jakob II advanced a first amount of money to Sigismund, Archduke of Tyrol, in Exchange for ore of silver in the area. In 1487, Jakob II and the Genoese Antonio di Cavallis gave you other 23.627 guilders, achieving the rights of enjoyment of the mining companies of the entire Tyrolean counterpart. In 1488, the Fugger were already in a position to anticipate 150,000 guilders to Sigismund, who, for his reinstatement, ceded them in advantageous conditions the income of silver from the mines of Schwaz. And since 1494 they joined the exploitation of Slovak copper or norhungarico, by associating this with the engineer Johann Thurzo, Krakow, who pledged to build a foundry that was producing 15 tons of copper per week in Hungary.

In this way, the factories and the augsburgueses metallurgical factories were spreading towards Carinthia, Breslau, Leipzig, Thüringen, Ofen, Pressburg and even further East continental, which developed them quickly in a financiero-industrial power international and allowed them to have many metalliferous reservations: in 1492, when already Maximiliano I was the Government of Tirol, the Fugger had only there about half a million guilders of silver, much of which went abroad. This latter shows what was the true aim of the Fugger to get into this business: control the European trade in minerals and thereby increase the possibilities for enrichment of the company. And is that, the same age at the end of the century XV, verified in the field of mining technical advances and the increased demand made around the silver (precious metal used in monetary coinage) and copper (more used to war and ordinary life material) very lucrative contracts could be close. On these bases, the opening of new oceanic markets in Africa and the India he/she stimulated even more since the 16th the pace of traffic, there being almost as dear as gold European metals.

In order to ensure the benefit of this trade, the Fugger devised different formulas associative and monopolistic. Between 1498 - 1499 founded a powerful business Consortium with other families of Augsburg to dominate the copper market, at the same time that get shipments of this kind to the Netherlands through Dantzig in Venice. In 1502-1503, already 24% of Hungarian copper exported by the Fugger arrived at Antwerp, which are handed out in 1508-1509 between 49% for Antwerp and 13% for Venice. By then, the society had managed to eliminate several competitors and was awarded exclusively for some years the production of silver Tyrolean (1506) and copper (1514). However, such attempts coronados were not always successful, and still in 1515, Jakob II Fugger had to share with the Hoechstetter exploitation of the mines. So is underlined how difficult that was, even for a company of the size of the Fugger, a sole trader could order a mine set in view of the importance of capital to invest.

Global business broadcast

In any case, this last nuance must not reduce at all the extraordinary momentum experienced by the Fugger during the period of Jakob II and his brothers saga. I urge that, as you have seen, it caused a real implementation of the family to the length and breadth of the entire European continent: in southern Germany, the rest of central Europe and part of the East, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. In this spacious, international business networks are mixed with shorter range regional networks, although the direct acting in all of the Fugger was restricted geographically: for example, at the beginning of the 16th century, Jakob ceded to the sons of Johann Thurzo Hungarian common trade and commercial representation in Hungary and Poland, retaining for himself only trafficking in metals to Germany and the rest of the West. Hereinafter, the company concentrated its attention in Augsburg and Nuremberg, and, also in Antwerp, where the office of the society (dating from 1494) got in 1508 a great home.

In the words of Braudel, Antwerp was at the beginning of the 16th the "living Centre of the world". The high Germany merchants resided in the city on a massive scale and traded it with Rhine wine, Central European metals and, likewise, with pepper that came there from Portugal. The economic attraction of this spice, of Eastern origin, caused even the Fugger to participate in 1505 in the financing of Portuguese fleets to the India and, for a time, they make Lisbon a key contact center. Thus, the augsburgueses inmiscuyeron in the path that took the ORB and who was taking Europe out of its borders. Thus, its presence in countries more dynamic and early in that orientation (Portugal and Spain) is no accident and, in fact, also from Spain they obtained the Fugger after 1519 the right to intervene in America and send, with little success, to its own factors in the first Spanish expeditions to the Moluccas.

The difficulties of a decisive stage

Without abandoning never entirely their business, the truth is that the decanting of the company to bancario-financieras functions, your income on a large scale in the industrial business and the global dimension of their interests to the Fugger in the most important economic power of Europe at the time. However, this boom was not without risks, both material and political and even moral or ethical.

On the one hand, sliding toward the banking firm left her increasingly exposed to the liquidity that could have their debtors or depositors, and obvious dangers it entailed. Melchor de Meckau, Cardinal and Prince-Bishop of Brixen, which had invested in the company allegedly close to the 300,000 florins, significant sums died in 1509. Immediately, and according to Canon law, Pope Julius II claimed all the heritage of Meckau, and therefore also the money they owned the Fugger, who were doomed as well to an imminent bankruptcy. The crisis was averted after skillful negotiations, but served to Jakob II provide for the legal division of the assets of the company in sectors equivalent (credit investments, production and trade, territorial properties and precious booking agencies), so the possible fall of one of them not dragged the rest.

On the other hand, the same economic strength that he/she enjoyed the company, together with its attempts to control the market, did the object both supervisors desires of States and the hatred of a population that was guilty to the powerful of their problems. In Nuremberg, the imperial authorities called for actions against it to curb its monopolistic tendencies. In Augsburg, the own Jakob II was threatened by a rising craft. But the most important difficulties occurred in Hungary between 1524-1525. The incompetence of one of the Thurzo in management there abandoned and monetary business awoke unrest among miners and, also, between the nobility and the rest of social strata. Then the currency depreciation was achacada to the Fugger and the Hungarian King, by the side of the rebels, ordered seize mines and the augsburgueses properties and imprisoning its representatives. Although the Germans would then recover their property, these events caused a loss of more than 200,000 guilders.

Finally, the same elements that gave sense to a company like the of the Fugger served to provide arguments for rejection against it to intellectuals as the humanist Ulrich von Hutten , and above all, Martin Luther. The user use of investments and its position player in the sale of indulgences ecclesiastical were the aspects that most criticized members of the family. Perhaps to ease your conscience, Jakob II actively defended the papacy against the Lutheran reformation, and also instituted multiple works of charity, the most famous of which is the Fuggerei, a group of houses in Augsburg that should serve as refuge to the poorest citizens. This completes the portrait of a period which, despite everything, observed the final economic consolidation of the lineage Fugger, one of whose components (Jakob II) was described by the contemporary chronicler Clemens Sender as "the glory of all Germany". With the death of this character in 1525 he/she went missing not only the best exponent of the dynasty, but also one of the largest seen in European history.

Anton Fugger and his successors (1525-1650)

The death of this Jakob did not involve, for practical reasons, an immediate amendment or structures or the name of the company, which followed is called as usual since 1512, i.e., Jakob Fugger and nephews. One of these nephews died also in 1525 (Ulrich), but only seven years later, in 1532, the surviving relatives agreed to a new framework for relations between them, organized under the company Raymund, Anton and Hieronymus, the Fugger, brothers and cousins. The three headlines, the most capable maintained one-way associative hierarchical and, as such, Jakob II had appointed already in 1517 to Anton Fugger. Anton was the youngest of his nephews (was born in 1493), although, no doubt, was the most ambitious and the gifted of a greater talent for business.

Thus began a new phase in the biography of the family, during which it reached its peak, extending the lines of action established at previous times. But, at this stage, did not miss the manifestation of worrying signs of economic exhaustion, announcing the further decline of the lineage already at the end of the 16th. Such contrast of characters generated an alternation of situations in the future of the firm, which are well illustrated by the figures of various balances always offered by Ehrenberg.

Variable and unstable business structures

Already between 1534-1536, the company's profits totaled 120,000 guilders, which meant little more than 2% of annual increase. One much smaller magnitude that the accomplished with Jakob II and, what is worse, it hid a trend towards the increase of liabilities, which practically doubled from 1527 to 1536, then reaching 1.770.000 guilders. Ten years later, in 1546, the debt not descended (supposed to almost two million guilders), but the gains had accelerated their pace until the 19% annual. On the latter date, the company had a capital valued at 5.111.883 dollars, the highest ever reached by the network of the Fugger. Finally, in 1553, the level of benefits had become to reduce up to 5' 6% per year. At this time, Anton already was proposing limited interests and endeavored not so much to conclude new initiatives, to preserve the undertaken in previous decades. And the innovations that were introduced now on certain occasions only sought to offset start-up losses from other businesses.

In the midst of this evolution, the House of Fugger transformed its internal organization chart. Two of the owners of the company were killed in 1535 (Raymund) and 1538 (Hieronymus). Anton then allied himself with the children, and the company was renamed Anton Fugger and nephews. This new corporate arrangement, however, was not very helpful: with absolute control of the firm and without having that accountable to no one, Anton carried out risky operations and began to also express little confidence in a few nephews who didn't expect anything in the field of business. Perhaps that is why, between 1548-1550, the same Anton projected a partition of capital among members, which would have meant the effective demise of the company. Only contextual circumstances of the times avoided this fragmentation.

Anton economic initiatives

What economic issues marked in this period of the Fugger business performance? Essentially, and as noted, were the same as those developed up to 1525.

On the one hand, the maintenance of sectoral and multinational expansion of commercial, industrial and financial dealings. The traditional presence of the augsburgueses in the Germany of the South, in the Tyrol, part of Eastern Europe, in Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, were added more or less sporadic deployments in Chile (1531), Dubrovnik (1559), and for the same dates, in Scandinavian regions. And this, not to mention the participation of the family in colonial traffics as African slaves or the Asian spices. Anyway, more symptomatic of the new horizons of the saga was the progressive concentration of activities in Germany, which demanded the Fugger preferential attention by customers in this area that were under the rule of the local Princes. Serve as an example the large investments made until 1555 in a fustanes factory located in Weißenhorn, from which came streams of distribution to almost all of Europe.

On the other hand, the recovery of the mining interests. After the shock of the confiscation of 1524-1525, Anton renewed in 1526 Hungary mining contract for fifteen years, while between that year and the next established in Tyrol other three metallurgical industries. The bankruptcy of its competitor Hoechstetter left him free to found in this field a domain which lasted, at least until 1546. Then, the Agency of Antwerp of the Fugger stored copper quantified in half a million guilders, and perhaps because of this over-accumulation, Anton decided to cancel the Hungarian leasing. At the same time, however, tried to ensure the monopoly of trade in Tin for central and Eastern Europe, constituting a true sign of companies in Bohemia and Saxony. But this initiative was not completed successfully, and it led to huge losses.

This failure explains some of the difficulties that began across the company at the end of the life of Anton. However, the true basis of those problems settled elsewhere: the strengthening of the role of the Fugger as financiers of different European States. Not only of the Hapsburgs, Spain or several Central European countries, but also in England and Portugal. This Bank work intensified monetary transactions of the company to the detriment of the transport of goods, which, naturally, was one of the fundamentals that caused the sharp increase of liabilities of which has already been mentioned.

In this regard, particularly serious was the situation created in Spain, where the credit obligations of the Fugger did not cease growing. Between 1522-1525, Jakob II, concerned about retrieving their large previous investments, had not concluded new loans with the Spanish monarchy. But since 1527, Anton radically changed strategy and came to grant to the Crown until 1532 a lump sum of 1.181.470 Duchies, which made him the main economic support of Carlos V. And in 1546, the financial commitments of the Fugger in Spain already amounted to more than half (about 2 million guilders) of total banking interests of the firm.

In order to supply this large demand for capital, Anton was forced increasingly to use foreign funds and share business with other companies. This generated a spiral of indebtedness that undermined the foundations of the House. If this move together, first, the increase of State cash demands that led to the release in the middle of the sixteenth of the European wars of religion between Protestants and Catholics (with the clear positioning of the Fugger in favour of the latter) and, later, the suspensions of payments of some countries (such as the Spain of Felipe II in 1557, which had the Germans 1.660.809 Duchies)a hypothetical global picture of the reason of the depletion of the company is.

But evident connection with political power in these moments, the Fugger extracted not only economic troubles, but also obvious advantages and good opportunities for social advancement. In 1530, the Emperor Carlos V gentled Anton, Raymund and Hieronymus Fugger by granting them an hereditary County. And between 1534-1535, the three cousins returned to benefit from certain privileges, consistent now in the right to print money for the manors of Kirchberg, Weißenhorn and Biberbach, and the reaffirmation of the possession of stately and County titles both in Germany and in Hungary.

After all the vicissitudes exposed series, Anton Fugger died in 1560. But, before, left several testamentary codicils written instructions on what should be the future of the company. Before scarce entrepreneurial skills of his nephews (who were also partners of Anton from 1538, remember this fact), entrusted to his firstborn son (Markus) and the greatest of these nephews (Hans Jakob) the rapid liquidation of businesses, conservation of the firm for six years without making it any kind of change, the prohibition to alienate the immovable of the lineage, and custody of the most important family archives. Such provisions show that Anton already manifested signs of concern for the future of his dynasty. And this concern was not trivial.

The decline of the House from 1560

In fact, with the next generation of the Fugger, broke out the genuine process of decline of the family. A process that led to the augsburgueses to retire from most modern traffic flows, to lose almost any spirit of entrepreneurship, and to be clearly overcome at European level by other competing groups as the Genoese.

As already had feared Anton, Hans Jakob was not the most appropriate person to govern the economic destinies of the Fugger. This had a knightly conception of business and, therefore, used to entertain more acting of patrons, rich collector or individual who enjoyed privileged relations with the German princes, that by adopting measures appropriate to the contemporary problems of your company. Thus, although the society remained United for longer than the prescribed by Anton, its credibility and prestige are altered quickly. Again, Ehrenberg figures are very important in this regard.

In 1563, the assets of the House amounted to 5.661.493 guilders, while liabilities was 5.399.188 guilders. The precarious balance between both magnitudes was already in itself alarming, but is, in addition, such numbers reflected a balance in which real estate had disappeared as joint property of the dynasty, merchandise trade had ceased, many international connections vegetaban, and the financial situation was more than doubtful. The operations of Spain remained decisive in making these difficult circumstances understandable: in 1562, the Spanish monarchy recognized due to Markus Fugger 1,116 millions of maravedis. And in 1577, the overall situation had not improved, with an active assured the company of 6.558.059 guilders and a liability of 6.537.355 guilders. Although there were still periods fortunate on the future of the firm (for example: from 1594-1600, in which the Fugger won 575.397 guilders), they were accustomed to come followed by phases in which almost all accomplished was lost in the good years.

In this context, some expansion attempts carried out by then (as which led to the participation of the Fugger in an international consortium of pepper in Lisbon, or the possession for his part of a representative in the India in 1587) seem to be more recent rales of a dying organization, than a coherent business action symbols. And the coup de grace to the family crisis came given by successive bankruptcies of the Spanish State. In 1575, Felipe II excluded the Germans from the effects of the suspension of payments made that year by the Crown, in Exchange for several loans. But did not the same with the bankruptcies of 1596 and 1607, the last of which was at the augsburgueses losses of more than 3 million ducats. And if the Fugger ended up not wasting all its capital in these circumstances, it was because they had managed to remove a part of his property, the business investing it in real estate. So, they ended up becoming landowners without any political or economic influence. Before such events, no wonder the Italian Octavio Centurione would dare say in 1630 that the richness of the Fugger was imaginary.

But the economic disasters of this era did not come alone, but combined with disagreements personal between the members of the team and an acceleration of the pace of generational among them, who brought logical problems of instability. Towards 1565-1570, Hans Jakob Fugger had to leave the direction of the company due to certain risky operations it undertook, and from 1572, was Markus Fugger who took solo head of it, without any initial assistance or his surviving cousins (nephews of Anton) or of other siblings (the son of Anton). And this, despite the fact that the company joined holder Markus Fugger and brothers. In 1591, a very old Markus left the management of the business in hands, now yes, his brother Hans, who transmitted it in turn to his son Markus in 1597. Anyway, little matter already the name of the principal administrator of the company Fugger, an entity that lost day by day its prominence.

From 1598, the family was divided in two: the branch of the old Fugger, very present in Spain, in managing both the lordship of military orders and the mines of Almadén, both business increasingly less profitable and in clear decline; and the new Fugger, led by the brothers Hieronymus, Hans and Maximilian, less active than the previous one. In any case, the future of the augsburgueses as dynamic merchants and bankers was sentenced, and since the mid 17th century, with the complete dissolution of the company, characters from the dynasty were limited to survive as landowners and nobles rentiers. Thus ended the bright business history of the surname Fugger, in whose evolution was fulfilled promptly that path traced by Braudel by which the families of merchants, lasted two or three generations at most, after which left that profession to deal with tasks less risky and more honorable as those relating to the possession of lands, revenues and manors.

Bibliography commented

Two are the basis of the information summarized in the biography. On the one hand, studies directly related to the Fugger of EHRENBERG, R. Le Siècle des Fugger. Paris, SEVPEN, 1955 (original German ed. of 1896), especially in the pp. 35-86; and KELLENBENZ, H. The Fugger in Spain and Portugal until 1560. Salamanca, Junta de Castilla y León, 2000 (original German ed. of 1990), especially in the pp. XIII-XVIII ("preface" of the book, signed by F. RUIZ MARTIN), 7-57 and 627-658. And, on the other hand, the more contextualized references scattered consist in general works such as for BRAUDEL, F. material civilization, economy and capitalism, 15th - 18th, 3 vols., Madrid, Alianza Ed., 1984; WALLERSTEIN, I. The modern world-system, vol. I. Madrid, Ed. Siglo XXI, 1979, on the chapter 4; CONTAMINATE, p. et al. The medieval economy. Madrid, Ed. Akal, 2000, pp. 367-371; and CUVILLIER, j.-p.. Histoire de l'Europe occidentale au Moyen Âge (IVe siècle - début du XVIe siècle). Paris, Ellipses, 1998, pp. 321-333 logically, these two latest appointments are valid to see details about the beginnings of the lineage during the XIV - XV.

Separately, any vision of the Fugger need to resort to the works of G. F. von PÖLNITZ, both his general book on the family (Die Fugger. Frankfurt, 1960), as his works on featured characters from the same (Jakob Fugger, Kaiser, Kirche und Kapital in der oberdeutschen Renaissance, 2 vols. Tübingen, J. C. Möhr, 1949-1952; and Anton Fugger, 5 vols. Tübingen, J. C. Möhr, 1958-1986). In this regard, see also SCHICK, L. Jacobo Fucar. A great man of business from the 16th century. Madrid, Ed. Aguilar, 1961.

While knowledge of its Spanish activities since the sixteenth fundamentally arises from the work already cited Kellenbenz, and CARANDE, R. Carlos V and their bankers, 2 vols., abridged edition. Barcelona, Ed. criticism, 19832. But also of the works included in the gold and silver from the Indies in the time of the Habsburgs. Catalogue of the exhibition. Madrid, Fundación ICO, 1999; Article de FRANCISCO OLMOS, j. Mª. DE - PRESA GARCIA, Mª. A. "the Fugger and the leasing of the lordship. The last contract. 1635 - 1645 "romá Pérez, j. (Coordinator). The military orders in the Iberian Peninsula, vol. II: modern age. Ed. from the University of Castilla - La Mancha, Cuenca, 2000, pp. 1759-1776; and General works of DOMINGUEZ ORTIZ, to. The old regime: The Catholic monarchs and the Hapsburgs. Madrid, Ed., 1973, and MARCOS MARTÍN, A. Spain in the 16th, 17TH and 18th centuries. Economy and society. Barcelona, Ed. criticism, 2000.

As David Luis (University of Castilla - La Mancha)