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European banking dynasty. It was founded by Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744–1812), who started out in a Frankfurt banking house. The family name derived from the red shield (rote Schild) on the house in the Jewish ghetto where Mayer's ancestors lived. The financial transactions of the Napoleonic Wars of 1792–1815 were the foundation of the Rothschild fortune. Mayer and his oldest son, Amschel (1773–1855), supervised the growing business from Frankfurt, while his other sons established offices elsewhere: Nathan (1777–1836) established a branch in London in 1804, James (or Jakob, 1792–1868) settled in Paris in 1811, and Salomon (1774–1855) and Karl (1788–1855) opened offices in Vienna and Naples, respectively, in the 1820s. The Rothschild business later focused on government securities and industrial companies, including railway, coal, ironworking, oil, and metallurgical investments. Their powerful position was eventually threatened by the new commercial banks, and by the late 19th century the Rothschild group was no longer the first banking consortium. The Rothschilds received many honours: Mayer's five sons were made barons of the Austrian Empire, a Rothschild was the first Jew to enter the British Parliament, and another was the first to be elevated to the British peerage. Members of the British and French familiesthe only ones still engaged in banking after the seizure of the Austrian house by the Nazisdistinguished themselves as scientists and philanthropists. Baron Philippe de Rothschild (1902–88) became a premier winemaker of the vineyard Mouton-Rothschild.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Rothschild family, visit Britannica.com.
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