Welcome toThe Rothschild Archive'swebsite

Sources for business history: catalogues of bank files

Sources for art history: Catalogue of the pictures of Alfred de Rothschild 1901

Sources for yachting history: Plans for Nathaniel von Rothschild's yacht Veglia 1905

Sources for natural history: Walter 2nd Lord Rothschild and his zebra carriage: c.1910

Sources for global financial history: Map of lines of the Brazil Railway Company: c.1920

Sources for business history: index cards to bank files

Sources for social history: Rothschild Hospital Paris: 1920s

Sources for business history: detail of a Rothschild bond coupon

Sources for architectural history: Halton House: 1890s

Sources for the history of travel: Lionel de Rothschild's tours of Spain: 1909

Sources for local history: Tring Park: c.1900

Sources for Royal history: shooting party with Edward Prince of Wales: 1893

Sources for political history: Lionel de Rothschild: first Jewish MP: 1858

Sources for sporting history: St Amant winner of the Derby: 1904

Sources for local history: gardeners at Aston Clinton: 1899

Sources for Rothschild family history: Lionel de Rothschild's yacht Rhodora: 1927

Sources for London history: entrance to New Court: 1965

Sources for design history: plans for Lionel de Rothschild's Rolls-Royce: 1930

Sources for business history: Rothschild gold bars produced by the Royal Mint Refinery: 1930s

Sources for business history: letters of August Belmont Rothschild Agent in New York: 1860s

Brief history of the Paris house, de Rothschild Frères

Origins

James Mayer de Rothschild (1792-1868) was in Paris from the age of 19, co-ordinating the purchase of specie and bullion for his brother Nathan (1777-1836). Between 1814 and 1815 he was the lynchpin in Nathan’s plan to supply Wellington’s armies with funds. Originally trading as J M Rothschild, James changed the name of the firm to de Rothschild Frères with James, Amschel (1773-1855), Salomon (1774-1855), Nathan (1777-1836) and Carl (1788-1855) as partners. By 1823 the Paris House was firmly established as banker to the French government.

Early business

After the death of his brother Nathan in 1836, James took over the reins of the family firm and became the trusted adviser of ministers and kings. The Paris House continued to fund many loans to European governments, but the decline in public sector borrowing led James to concentrate on new lines of business. These included the financing of raw materials trading, railway construction and manufacturing industries. This diversification was continued when James’ sons, Alphonse (1827-1905), Gustave (1829-1911) and Edmond (1845-1934), became partners in the bank. The French House continued to fund and build railways, playing a major role in the development of the French and European rail network. However, of greatest significance was the French Rothschild's petroleum concession in Baku. This concession was so large that the Rothschilds quickly became the chief competitors of Rockefeller’s company, Standard Oil, before selling out their oil interests in 1912.

The twentieth century

After Alphonse' death in 1905, his son Edouard (1868-1949), took over the firm, followed by his son, Guy (1909-2007). The bank’s industrial concerns continued to play a major role throughout the 20th century. Following French government reform of banking regulations, de Rothschild Frères became Banque Rothschild, a limited-liability company in 1967. Banque Rothschild was created on January 1st 1968, functioning as a deposit bank. In 1969 Guy de Rothschild was the chairman; Alain de rothschild and Elie de Rothschild were vice-chairmen and cousin Evelyn de Rothschild was on the board. At Easter 1970, a new modern bank building was inaugurated at 21 rue Laffitte, Paris. As the only remaining Rothschild houses, the London business, N M Rothschild & Sons Limited and Banque Rothschild began increasingly to undertake joint ventures. Between 1981-1982, Banque Rothschild, was one of 39 to be nationalised by the French government, and the Rothschilds were obliged to leave the rue Laffitte. The bank founded by James de Rothschild as de Rothschild Frères became Compagnie Européenne de Banque. 

The French business after nationalisation

But with nationalistion, Rothschild banking was not at an end in France. Following nationalisation of the business, the former Directors of Banque Rothschild, David and Nathaniel de Rothschild and Jacques Getten set up P.O. Gestion as banking operation. In October 1986, the Rothschild family were granted the right to use family name again, as Rothschild & Associés Banque. In January 1992, David became deputy chairman of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited In 2003, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild stepped down as chairman of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited in London, to be succeeded by his cousin David. In 2003, the French and English Rothschild businesses were merged, unifying their capital under a business registered in France. Today the business is known as Rothschild & Co.

For a detailed history of the Paris house, and information about its archives, Go to The Guide to the collections of The Rothschild Archive »

James de Rothschild (1792-1868)

James de Rothschild (1792-1868)

Offices of de Rothschild Frères in the rue Lafitte

Offices of de Rothschild Frères in the rue Lafitte