The Fuggers of Augsburg
Pursuing Wealth and Honor in Renaissance Germany
As the wealthiest German merchant family of the sixteenth century, the Fuggers have attracted wide scholarly attention. In contrast to the other famous merchant family of the period, the Medici of Florence, however, no English-language work on them has been available until now. The Fuggers of Augsburg offers a concise and engaging overview that builds on the latest scholarly literature and the author’s own work on sixteenth-century merchant capitalism. Mark Häberlein traces the history of the family from the weaver Hans Fugger’s immigration to the imperial city of Augsburg in 1367 to the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648. Because the Fuggers’ extensive business activities involved long-distance trade, mining, state finance, and overseas ventures, the family exemplifies the meanings of globalization at the beginning of the modern age.
The book also covers the political, social, and cultural roles of the Fuggers: their patronage of Renaissance artists, the founding of the largest social housing project of its time, their support of Catholicism in a city that largely turned Protestant during the Reformation, and their rise from urban merchants to imperial counts and feudal lords. Häberlein argues that the Fuggers organized their social rise in a way that allowed them to be merchants and feudal landholders, burghers and noblemen at the same time. Their story therefore provides a window on social mobility, cultural patronage, religion, and values during the Renaissance and the Reformation.
This is a readable and meticulously researched account of the fabulously wealthy house of Fugger. The author explores the Fuggers’ personal and professional relationships against a shifting backdrop of local and international politics, family life, and commerce during the Renaissance in the first in-depth examination of this extraordinary family available in English."
This eminently readable history of the rise of the Augsburg merchant dynasty of the Fuggers is an enormously welcome—and timely—addition to the English-language scholarship on early modern Germany, and indeed on early modern Europe as a whole. The Fuggers were involved in the rise of early capitalism, globalization, technological innovation, the patronage of Renaissance art, papal and imperial politics, and confessional conflict in the age of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. As they amassed their spectacular fortune, the Fuggers struggled with the sometimes conflicting demands of profit, religion, ethics, and honor—which makes this book very topical as we grapple with the ethical quandaries and inequities of global capitalism in our own time."
This translation of Haberlein's 2006 German work traces the history of the Fugger family from the late-14th to the mid-17th century.... Written in concise, accessible prose and including a useful family genealogy and a thorough bibliography, this should prove a useful addition to college and university libraries.... Recommended."
Mark Häberlein, Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Bamberg in Germany, is author of The Practice of Pluralism: Congregational Life and Religious Diversity in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1730–1820.