Augsburg, Germany Recent History

On the way to the modern age

With the instrument maker Georg Friedrich Branders (1713–1783), Augsburg experienced a new heyday in the art of instrument making in the 18th century. Branders’ instruments sold more than well in all parts of Europe. In 1784 and 1785 there were weavers’ unrest in Augsburg. This culminated in a great weaving rebellion in 1794, based on the fact that the ever-developing textile industry with its factories – Johann Heinrich Schüle had established the first factory on the European continent in Augsburg in 1771 – threatened the traditional weaving trade.

In connection with the Napoleonic Wars, Augsburg came to Bavaria through the Peace Treaty of Pressburg (1805). The city had previously lost its imperial freedom and was occupied by Bavarian troops. Augsburg was once again able to achieve great importance in the 19th century as an important center for the textile industry and mechanical engineering. The Allgemeine Zeitung, the most important German daily newspaper at the time, was also published here. The following decades witnessed technical progress: first electric tram (1898), electric light from 1917, etc.

From 1933 until today

In Augsburg, where the NSDAP was able to win 32.3% of all votes in the Reichstag elections in 1933, the persecution of political opponents began with the “National Revolution in Bavaria” in the same year. The city council elected in 1929 was dissolved and newly appointed. Not only the fire in the Singer Hall, today’s Wittelsbacher Park, in April 1934 served as an occasion for several waves of arrests, which mainly communist functionaries fell victim to. In 1938 the city’s synagogue was set on fire; Jewish shops and homes had been devastated. Because of the importance of the city as an important location for important armaments companies and their production facilities, Augsburg was of course a military target of the Allies. The city was badly damaged as a result of several aerial bombardments.

According to thereligionfaqs, most of Augsburg’s old town was reconstructed after the war. Some works, such as the renovation of the Golden Hall, could not be completed until 1996 or even later. Augsburg now functions as the capital of the Bavarian administrative district of Swabia.

The Fugger

The Fuggers – often referred to as the Medicis of Augsburg – were the richest and most influential financiers in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Historians even claim that the power and thus the political and economic influence of Jakob and Anton Fugger were more pronounced at the time than the influence of today’s largest companies is even close. The Fuggers gave their name to an entire age, and today we still speak of the “Age of the Fuggers”.

The ancestors of Jakob Fugger
The history of the Fugger began in 1376 with the immigration of the weaver Hans Fugger from the village of Graben – in today’s Augsburg district – to the city of Augsburg. Three years later, in 1370, Hans Fugger married Klara Widolf, daughter of an Augsburg master weaver, and thereby became a citizen of Augsburg. After the death of his wife, he married Elisabeth Gfattermann in 1380, the daughter of a wealthy master weaver from Augsburg. Six years later he himself became a master of the municipal weavers’ guild. Jakob Fugger the Elder was born in 1398. He is the father of the “great” Jakob Fugger. Hans Fugger died in 1408, while his wife Elisabeth lived for another 28 years and continued the business of her husband’s weaving mill together with her son Ulrich Fugger.

In 1441 Jakob Fugger (the elder) married the daughter of a wealthy mint master and goldsmith from Augsburg – Barbara Bäsinger. In 1463 the Fugger family changed from the weavers ‘guild to the merchants’ guild. An important event was the fact that Ulrich Fugger Emperor Friedrich III. and equips his son Maximilian I (the last knight) for marriage negotiations. When the Nuremberg branch transferred money from the indulgence trade to Rome, the Fuggers also began to play a role in the indulgence trade.

Jakob Fugger
Jakob Fugger – nicknamed “the rich” – was born on March 6, 1459 and joined the company in 1478, traveling to Rome that same year and then starting his apprenticeship in Venice. In 1480, the Augsburg Fugger gave loans to Archduke Sigmund of Tyrol and above all to King Maximilian I, from 1508 Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1484 the Fugger family in Venice received their own chambers in the house of the German merchants and just a year later Jakob Fugger became head of the Innsbruck branch, from where he ran the business in Tyrol and Italy.

There he knew how to gain a foothold in silver mining in 1488. After the death of Emperor Friedrich III. Maximilian I took power in 1493, and in 1493/1494 he received large loans from the Fuggers for his marriage to a Milanese princess. In the same year, 1494, the three brothers Ulrich, Jakob and Georg sign a contract that would be called a partnership agreement today.

At the same time, the company starts mining copper in Hungary. However, the Fuggers are also significantly involved in the abuse of church offices and increasingly involved in the indulgence trade. Almost 90 dioceses in Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and Hungary were occupied with the help of the Fugger’s money. And in 1500 the Fuggers officially became “bankers” of the Popes and took over part of the administration of the sale of indulgences. Luther, the declared opponent of the indulgence trade and the ever-increasing church corruption, also became the opponent of the Fuggers.

With the establishment of factories in Antwerp, Danzig and Lübeck, the Fuggers even competed with the powerful Hanseatic League. In 1503 the Fuggers took over the Roman coin and began trading in spices with the Orient from Portugal and with the East Indies in 1506. They also helped finance the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica (construction began in 1506) and the upkeep of the Swiss Guard.

In 1507 they even acquired the county of Kirchberg (near Ulm) and the city of Weißendorn. Maximilian I was appointed Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in Trento with financial support from the Fuggers. Due to the death of the Prince-Bishop of Brixen in 1509, the house ran into liquidity problems, which Jakob Fugger masterfully overcame. In 1510 Jakob Fugger took over sole management of the company. And in 1511 Jakob Fugger was raised to the nobility by the emperor.

Between 1516 and 1523 the houses of the “Fuggerei” were built – the first social housing estate in the world. The great threat to the power of the Fuggers was Martin Luther, who (probably) posted his 95 theses in 1517 at the castle church of Wittenberg.

Incidentally, the world-famous portrait of Jakob Fugger by Albrecht Dürer dates from the years 1518 to 1520. In the meantime – in 1519 – Emperor Maximilian died, who had visited the city of Augsburg a total of 17 times.

Funds from the Fuggers also decided to succeed him in favor of the later Charles V (1500-1558) – “in whose empire the sun never set”. Charles V, who was born in 1500, abdicated voluntarily in 1556 and died two years later in a monastery in Spain. During this time, from 1524 to 1525, the so-called peasant wars broke out in large parts of the empire. In the region around Augsburg, Jakob Fugger played a key role in the mostly cruel crackdown. There were also revolts among miners in Tyrol and Hungary. Jakob Fugger did not live to see the consequences of these upheavals, but above all Luther’s triumphant advance – he died on December 25, 1525 with no descendants in his home town of Augsburg.

Anton Fugger, Jakob Fugger’s successor

He was born on 10. Born June 1493 in Augsburg as the son of Georg Fugger, one of Jacob’s brothers. After Jakob Fugger’s death, he, Jacob’s nephew, became his successor in the management of the company. Anton Fugger continues his uncle’s policy and finances the appointment of Ferdinand I of Habsburg as King of Hungary and Bohemia. On the occasion of the defense of Vienna against the Turks in 1529, he supported the defenders with considerable financial resources. Anton Fugger also took part in the slave trade around 1536 and in 1538 he acquired control of Babebhausen in what is now Unterallgäu, and had its castle redesigned there. In 1545 Henry VIII, the father of the future Queen Elizabeth I, received a loan of 500,000 guilders. In the following years Anton Fugger was probably the richest man in the world.
Anton Fugger achieved a political masterpiece, lending Emperor Charles V 450,000 guilders during the Schmalkaldic War, while Augsburg sided with the emperor’s opponents. After the city was occupied by imperial troops in 1547, he was able to save his hometown by “kneeling down” from the emperor in Ulm. Probably it was not so much his kneeling down as his money that saved the city from plunder and destruction. In the years that followed, the Fuggers joined the Counter Reformation and helped re-Catholicize the city.
Anton Fugger died on September 14, 1560.

The Fuggers to this day
After the death of Anton Fuggers, the influence of the Fuggers diminished over the decades and centuries. The national bankruptcy in Spain in 1607 brought the Fuggers losses of over a million guilders. The “Thirty Years War” also destroyed many of the Fugger’s business connections. In 1650 all possessions in Spain were lost and in 1657 they ceded their rights in Tyrolean mining to Archduke Leopold without compensation. The Fugger Society was officially considered extinct from 1658. In 1803 the last Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire – Emperor Franz II – elevated Anselm Maria Graf Fugger to the rank of prince, which, for example, the Fugger Foundation and today’s private bank still carry in their name.

Fürst Fugger Privatbank
Maximilianstr. 38
86150 Augsburg
Tel.: 0049 – (0) 821 – 3201 – 0

Princely and Countess Fugger Foundation Administration
The Foundation Administration manages the Fuggerei and eight other foundations.
The proceeds from the forestry and property holdings of the other foundations primarily serve to maintain the Fuggerei.
Fuggerei 56
86152 Augsburg
Tel.: 0049 – (0) 821 – 31 98 81 – 0

Augsburg, Germany Recent History