A south German family of bankers and merchants, the creditors of many rulers in the Middle Ages. The family first achieved prominence under Jacob I (1410–69), head of the Augsburg weavers' guild. Ulrich (1441–1510) supplied cloth, and then lent money to the Habsburgs. Jacob II (1459–1525), headed the family from 1510 and lent enormous sums to Maximilian I and Charles V, financing Charles's candidacy as Holy Roman Emperor in 1519. Resources came from silver and mercury mines in Germany and later from the Spanish empire in South America. The Fuggers were deeply involved in the finances of the papacy, and in the sale of indulgences. The family was ennobled and, in 1546 attained a peak of prosperity. Thereafter, Habsburg bankruptcies and the ravages of the Thirty Years War damaged their position. They safeguarded their remaining wealth by shrewd management of their extensive estates.
Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700).