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Family of bankers and philanthropists. Meyer Amschel Rothschild (1743-1812) was the son of a German Jewish merchant. Meyer entered banking when he agreed to invest the fortune of an Austrian nobleman. He was so successful that he soon found himself in charge of the finances of several royal families. At his death, he bequeathed to his five sons a banking establishment with enormous assets and branches in several financial centers. The eldest son, Anselm Mayer (1773-1855), became the head of the Frankfort bank; Solomon Mayer (1774-1855) headed the Vienna establishment; Nathan Mayer (1777-1836), the London bank; Carl Mayer (1788-1855), the Naples Bank; Jacob (James) Mayer (1792-1868) founded and headed the Paris bank. Because of the extent of the Rothschild family enterprises, they came to be known as the financial kings of Europe. Their influence was enormous. By refusing loans to warlike governments they could help to prevent the outbreak of war; by extending credit, they helped launch educational systems in France and Germany and accelerated the industrial development of many European countries.

Later generations of the Rothschild family gained prominence as patrons of the arts and philanthropists. Outstanding among them was Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934), one of the chief builders of modern Palestine. Anonymously at first, he poured millions into the support of the early agricultural settlements. In fact, from the early 1890’s until 1905, most Jewish settlers were directly dependent on “the Baron” or “the well-known benefactor,” as he was known.

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