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

Red Shield and Green Shield

The name Rothschild comes from the house in which the family lived in the sixteenth century…

Like most of the other inhabitants of the Frankfurt Judengasse, the Rothschilds took their name from their house. Although their civil status was uncertain, the inhabitants of the Judengasse derived a proud sense of identity from their ancestral homes. Pictorial representations of names were engraved or painted onto keystones and doors, and people often retained their names, and emblems, when they moved to another house.

The Rothschild name can be traced back to a sixteenth-century ancestor of Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812), Isaak Elchanan who took the name Rothschild from a small house he occupied at the southern end of the Judengasse called zum Roten Schild ("House at the Red Shield").

When his grandson, Naftali Hirz left the "House at the Red Shield" in 1664 and moved to the Hinterpfann (a tenement in the back of a house at the northern end of the Judengasse), he took the name Rothschild with him.

By the early 18th century there were ten or twelve Rothschild families in Frankfurt, changing money or buying and selling cloth and second-hand goods. Mayer Amschel Rothschild was born in the Hinterpfann in 1744. He lived here throughout his childhood and much of his married life, until, in 1784, together with his wife Gutle and their first five children, he was able to buy a larger house in the Judengasse.

The property was known as the "House at the Green Shield" and Gutle was to remain here until her death in 1849. It was in this fourteen foot wide by thirty-eight foot long four-storey house illustrated here, that Mayer and Gutle's ten children grew up, their five sons to become the future bankers to European monarchs and governments.

The Green Shield House was made famous by the Rothschild brothers' success and was much photographed and described by contemporaries. The family bought it to save it from the City's demolition programme, turning it into a museum in the late nineteenth century. The property survived until the Allied bombing of Frankfurt during the Second World War.

For further information about life in the Frankfurt Judengasse, see Amos Elon's Founder: Meyer Amschel Rothschild and his time, (London: HaperCollins, 1996)

The House of the Green Shield c.1780

The House of the Green Shield c.1780