By the mid 19th century, the Rothschilds began to enjoy the fruits of their labours, and when they were at their height, the Rothschild family collectively possessed one of the largest private fortunes in the world, which enabled them to create houses, gardens and great collections that have become a significant part of the heritage of Europe.
The Rothschild style
From magnificent country estates with flamboyant gardens to elegant townhouses and exotic villas, the Rothschilds stamped their distinctive style on their many residences. Their homes also provided wonderful settings for their many and varied collections, themselves testament to the family's drive for perfection in all they set out to achieve. As dedicated collectors, from books to butterflies, stamps to silver, they vied among themselves to develop the most spectacular collections. Not content with merely gathering, the Rothschilds acquired the skills to develop collections of significance, adding to the knowledge of scientists and art historians worldwide. Other members of the family, with scientific inclinations, sought out zoological and horticultural specimens; others pursued political as well as banking careers.
Brought up in the Jewish ghetto of Frankfurt, the five Rothschild brothers were imbued with a strong sense of the tradition of Zedaka, which places expectations on members of the community to work for social justice by offering material support for those in need. As the family's wealth and influence grew, so did their commitment to this principle, along with their ability to apply it in more ambitious ways, and the family endowed and supported hospitals, schools and many other charitable institutions. Many of the family's great collections were bequeathed to libraries, galleries and museums, where they can be seen today.
Read more about individual family members, their estates, style, interests and collections in these pages.