There were the Robber Barons, the 1%, and those the Democrats demonize as “the rich.” But they are Salvation Army bell ringers compared to Jakob Fugger, the 16th century money man who was one of the founders of the banking system and a prime mover in many of the royal schemes, shady investments, and bribery conspiracies in the late-Middle Ages and early Renaissance.
It was the Fuggers who lent the money used by the Archbishop of Mainz to bribe the Pope into appointing him to various church offices, with the three-way agreement that the loan would be paid back through the sale of indulgences in Germany. A venture that led a certain monk to post 95 theses.
The Fugger fortune is long gone, but Jakob set up an endowment to provide housing for poor people, on the condition that they would pray each day for his soul’s release from Purgatory. This is still going on! The cost of the rent has not gone up for 500 years and comes to just $1.23 per month. And the beneficiaries are still praying for him, which suggests that he must still be in Purgatory after 500 years. [Read more…]