- (18–20th century)European bankers and philanthropists. For nearly two centuries, the Rothschilds have formed a financial dynasty without parallel either in Jewish or general history. In the remotest shtetl of the Russian Pale of Settlement, the name stood for unimaginable wealth, a life-style of oriental splendour, benefactions on a vast scale - and yet an obstinate Jewishness. In the demonology of anti-Semites, the Rothschilds embodied a sinister ‘Jew-power’, manipulating thrones, currencies and the press. Throughout it all, the family went its own exotic and cohesive way. The story starts in the 18-century Frankfurt ghetto, where a Jewish community of some three thousand souls were squeezed along one narrow street. Most of the families were desperately poor, living off tiny shops or from peddling goods. Here Mayer Amshel (1744– 1812.) was born in one of the meaner houses, part of which was occupied by his family and their second-hand clothing business. There were no street numbers, and the houses were identified by signs hanging above their front doors. Formerly, the family had been in a better house, marked with the sign of a red shield - in German rotschild - and that name stuck to them. Being a bright and studious boy, Mayer Amshel was sent to a yeshivah (religious school) in another town, since rabbinical study was the most important vocation a Jewish lad could have. But his father died, and he came home to join his two brothers in the business. As a sideline, he developed a special interest in old coins, and started selling them to well-born collectors in the surrounding district.Germany at that time consisted of a large number of little states, each under its own king, prince or duke. One of these was Prince William of Hanau, son and heir of Landgrave Frederick of Hesse-Cassel, and a grandson of George II of England. Although its domain was small, this was the richest ruling house in Europe. It had made a fortune from profitable loans with the income from hiring out Hessian mercenary soldiers - mostly for use in British colonies. The young Mayer Amshel made a humble connection with the castle at Hanau through selling some coins to Prince William and a few of his courtiers. He was permitted to hang a board in front of his ghetto home, calling himself a court factor. His coin business grew, and in a small room in the family back yard he opened a wechselstube or money exchange - the first Rothschild bank. Through one of the prince’s financial advisers, Karl Buderus, he was given some minor bank drafts and mortgages to handle. He began to prosper, and married Gudele (1753– 1849), the daughter of another ghetto shopkeeper. When the family grew, they moved to a better house (this time marked by a green shield). Altogether Gudele was to bear him twenty children, of whom ten survived: five sons and five daughters. The sons were Amshel Mayer (1773–1855), Salomon Mayer (1774– 1855), Nathan Mayer (1777– 1836), Karl Mayer (1788–1855) and James (Jacob) (1792–1868).While still in their teens, they were drawn into the debt-collecting and cashing of drafts their father increasingly did for the court. These activities became more important when Prince William succeeded his father and moved to the capital at Cassel. Salomon was frequently at the court to maintain contact. Meanwhile, the shop had grown. Part of its business was importing from textile jobbers in Manchester. In 1797, Nathan was sent to Manchester and in 1803, he moved to London. In Frankfurt, Mayer Amshel took his two eldest sons, Amshel and Salomon, into partnership, and set up the house of M.A.Rothschild und Sohne.Napoleon had become the master of Europe, and Landgrave William fled to his uncle, the king of Denmark. Napoleon’s financial agents tried to lay their hands on the vast wealth contained in the landgrave’s outstanding loans. But the mortgages and promissory notes had been spirited away, and the Rothschilds became William’s main debt-collectors. The money that accumulated with Nathan in London was put to use on the stock exchange or for the contraband goods that flowed into enemy-occupied Europe. At the same time, the landgrave got his redeemed debts and interest. Within a few years, Nathan had established his own bank, N.M. Rothschild and Sons, at New Court, St Swithin’s Lane, and was recognized as a rising power in the City of London. He now entered into a major transaction with the British government itself. It had become a difficult and costly problem to finance Wellington’s Peninsular campaign in Spain. Nathan undertook to handle the whole matter. Through a series of devious and complicated arrangements, funds were transmitted through France itself. Huge amounts of gold bullion also found their way through France to Britain’s other European allies in the anti-Napoleon coalition. The French were induced to believe that this outflow of gold was a crippling drain on the English war economy. In 1812 the youngest brother, James, was established in Paris to help with these complex transmissions. Nathan was the first man in England to get news of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815. The Rothschilds operated their own means of rapid communication, and had their agents all over Europe. A despatch reached Nathan from Brussels, either by carrier pigeon or by a special courier. After passing on the information to the government, he immediately went to the Stock Exchange, took his accustomed position at the ‘Rothschild pillar’, and brought off a coup in British Consuls, the main government stock. In the period of post-war reconstruction, the family consolidated its newly- won financial status on the European scene. At the conference of the victorious powers at Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1818, the Rothschilds were given the handling of a huge French indemnity loan.Mayer Amshel, the founder of the dynasty, died in 1812 in his Frankfurt ghetto home. Gudele lived on for nearly forty years, to the age of ninety-six. Even when her sons had become multi-millionaires and lived in palaces, she refused to move and successive generations of Rothschilds came on family occasions to call on the old lady in the ghetto. To the end she remained sharp- witted and masterful. A few years before her death, she was asked on her birthday whether she hoped to live to a hundred. She replied: ‘Why should God wait to take me at one hundred when he can get me at ninety-two ?’ In his will Mayer Amshel enjoined his sons always to work together and trust each other. They were soon to be dispersed: Nathan in London (from 1803), James in Paris (from 1812), Salomon in Vienna (from 1816), Karl in Naples (from 1821), and the eldest, Amshel, remaining in the ancestral city, Frankfurt. But the unity of the family was to remain its most important asset. The family emblem that appeared in their baronial escutcheons and above their banks was a cluster of five arrows held together in the middle by a fist. Their solidarity was re-inforced by an intricate network of inbreeding. Of the twelve sons born to four of the brothers (Amshel was childless), nine married Rothschild cousins. The pattern of ‘marrying in the family’ persisted to a dwindling extent with later generations. There is a story that Nathan was once asked by his small son how many nations there were in the world. ‘Only two’, he is said to have answered, ‘that you need bother about: the mishpoche (family) and the others.’The German BranchAfter the death of their father, the eldest son Amshel Mayer was accepted as the head of the family. Remaining in Frankfurt, he became the most powerful banker in the country, and acted as treasurer to the German Confederation, that met annually in Frankfurt. He befriended the young Otto von Bismarck, who represented Prussia at the meetings of the Confederation from 1851 onwards. In one of Bismarck’s despatches, he described him as ‘a little thin person …a poor man in his palace’.Amshel remained a pious Jew. He wore ghetto garb, kept strict kashrut and maintained the local synagogue. He was childless, and sought consolation from this sorrow in endless charities, a keen interest in the family affairs of his brothers, and his garden of rare plants.On his death, the direction of the Frankfurt bank passed to his nephew from Naples, Mayer Karl (1820–86). Taking an active interest in German political life, he was elected a member of the North German Reichstag in 1867, and then appointed to the Prussian House of Lords - one of two Jews ever to take their seats in that exclusive body. An observant Jew like his uncle, Mayer Karl worked hard to eliminate anti-Jewish taxes and restrictions in Germany, where the tide of anti-Semitism was rising. Mayer Karl was succeeded by his younger brotherWilhelm Karl (1828–1901). Between them they had ten daughters but not one son. On Wilhelm Karl’s death, the German branch of the bank was dissolved. The Italian BranchWhen the Bourbon throne was restored in Naples in 1821, with Austrian help, Karl, the fourth Rothschild brother, went there to deal with the Austrian loan to the new regime. He established a bank that became the financial mainstay of the monarchy, and spread its activities through other Italian states. In 1832, he was received in audience by the pope, maybe because the Vatican was one of his banking clients. His four sons all married Rothschild cousins from other branches of the family. One of the sons, Adolf Karl (1823–1901), succeeded him until the bank was wound up after the unification of Italy in 1860.The Austrian BranchSalomon, the second of the five brothers, settled in Vienna in 1816, just after the end of the Napoleonic wars. His was a daunting task. Vienna was the snobbish and reactionary capital of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, with an anti- Semitic nobility. Jews could not own land or houses, hold public office or practise various professions, and they were subject to special taxes. Salomon took a room in a city hotel and quietly rented more rooms until he was the sole tenant of the building. The most important connection he made was with the powerful Austrian chancellor, Prince Metternich, then the leading statesman in Europe. He was astute enough to want the redoubtable Rothschilds enlisted for Austria’s needs. At Metternich’s request, Salomon performed a discreet and delicate service for Emperor Franz Joseph I. The emperor’s daughter, Grand Duchess Marie Louise, was married to Napoleon, now languishing in exile on the island of St Helena. She consoled herself with an affair that produced two illegitimate off-spring. Salomon devised a method whereby the emperor could provide for the future of his bastard grandchildren in a way that attracted no attention and could not be traced to him. In 1822, Metternich obtained from the emperor a grant of the hereditary title of baron for Salomon and his four brothers.Salomon’s financial power was launched with the floating of an Austrian state loan, and in course of time broadened to include the first railway construction in the country and the founding of a bank, the Oesterreichische Kreditanstalt. By the time he died at the age of eighty-one, the Austrian branch was established as the wealthiest family in the country, with ramified banking, industrial and mining interests. It had an assured place in society and maintained it by lavish entertainment, charities and patronage of the arts. World War I shattered the Austro-Hungarian empire, leaving behind a rump Austrian republic as one of the successor states. The financial power wielded by the Austrian house of Rothschild declined sharply in this bleak post-war world, though they remained wealthy and influential.When Hitler’s troops occupied Austria in 1938, the Gestapo arrested Baron Louis (1882–1955), who had refused to flee. A proud and reserved bachelor with impeccable taste, Louis remained completely unruffled as he shared his prison cellar with Communists. The Nazi ransom for Louis’ release was the surrender of all the Austrian Rothschild assets. The main property was the Witkovitz coal and iron mines in Czechoslovakia. With typical Rothschild foresight, Louis had quietly transferred the title in them to British owners.Negotiations were carried on with other Rothschilds in Geneva and Paris. Himmler, the dreaded head of the Gestapo, personally visited Louis in his cell. He was too valuable to be mishandled. In July 1939, Louis was released on agreeing to forfeit his personal possessions. The mines were to be bought by the German government, but hostilities intervened. After the war, they were nationalized by the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, with payment of compensation. Louis had meanwhile settled in the United States, and married an expatriate Austrian lady. The Rothschild branch that had started at the imperial Hapsburg court ended on a farm in Vermont.The French BranchJames, the youngest of the five Rothschild brothers, arrived in Paris in 1812, at the age of twenty, small and pudgy, red-haired and without a word of French. Before he was forty, Rothschild Frères in the Rue Lafitte was the leading bank in France, and the main financial prop of the Bourbon regime that had been restored after the fall of Napoleon. Among its other clients was Leopold I of Belgium. James had married his attractive seventeen-year-old niece from Vienna, Betty (1805–86), and for a home bought the splendid Hotel Fouché. Here Betty’s receptions were attended by a throng of celebrities, including HEINE, Balzac and Rossini. At Terrières, James built the most lavish of all Rothschild country mansions; and in Burgundy he acquired the vineyards renamed Chateau Lafitte. By virtue of the Austrian title acquired by the family, he was always called baron, as were his male descendants up to the present.James showed remarkable skill in maintaining his position intact through the political changes in France. In 1830 the Bourbon ruler Charles x was ousted, and James transferred his banking allegiance to the new monarch, Louis Philippe. The upheavals of 1848 produced a French republic with Napoleon’s nephew Louis Napoleon as its president. Four years later, he proclaimed himself emperor. A critical period set in for Rothschild Frères.The fierce power struggle between James and the rival Jewish banking house of Péreire came about over railway concessions. James had pioneered two short lines from Paris to St Germaine and Versailles, and then expanded into a more ambitious project, the Chemin de Fer du Nord (northern line). Péreire, allied to the emperor’s finance minister Achille FOULD, obtained the royal assent for further concessions. Péreire’s financial instrument, the Crédit Mobilier, became the main banker for the Second Empire, and began pushing its power into Austria and elsewhere. It looked as if the Rothschild magic was finished. But the different branches of the family combined forces in a counter-offensive. By 1867, the Péreire interests were crushed in a dramatic coup. James died in 1868, and was succeeded by his eldest son Alphonse (1827– 1905). Two years later Prussia invaded and defeated France and the Second Empire collapsed, to be replaced by the Third Republic. Alphonse negotiated and guaranteed a war indemnity agreement with the German victors. Ironically, it was in the Rothschild chateau at Terrières that the kaiser, Bismarck and the German commander, Von Moltke, had established their headquarters. James’s second son, Gustave (1829– 1911), was associated with Alphonse in the bank, in large-scale philanthropy, and in leadership of the French-Jewish community. These activities were maintained through the next two generations: Alphonse’s son Edouard (1868– 1949) and grandson Guy (b. 1909); and Gustave’s son Robert Phillipe (1880– 1946) and grandson Alain (1910–82). However, it was James’s youngest son, Edmond James (1845–1934), who was to play the most significant role of any Rothschild in Jewish history as such. His support for Jewish colonization in Palestine came to dominate his life, though without the group approval or support of the family. The Baron and the Colonies. In 1882, with the Jewish world shaken by the pogroms in Russia, the chief rabbi of Paris asked Baron Edmond to receive a strange visitor. He was Rabbi Samuel MOHILEWER, a leader of the Lovers of Zion movement in Russia, accompanied by Joseph Feinberg, one of the members of Rishon le-Zion, a pioneer Jewish settlement in Palestine. They explained to him that the settlement, started by idealistic young Jews from Russia, desperately needed help. He gave them thirty thousand francs. By that (for him) modest donation, this wealthy, cultured and benevolent Parisian Jew had involved himself for the rest of his life with the struggle to revive the soil of the Holy Land.His assistance was extended to two other villages, Rosh Pina and Zamarin, the latter afterwards re-named Zichron Ya’acov (‘the memory of Jacob’) in honour of the baron’s father. Then a new village, Ekron, was started by him near Jaffa and others followed. Believing that the most suitable type of farming in Palestine was viticulture, he brought vines and experts from the Rothschild estate at Chateau Lafitte, and built great cellars at Rishon le-Zion and Zichron Ya’acov, still used today. He took a direct interest in every detail of the settlements, and in 1887 came on an inspection visit, arriving at Jaffa on his luxurious yacht fitted with a private synagogue. Other visits followed in 1893 and 1899. Baron Edmond had become the ‘father of the colonies’ and was known by the Hebrew phrase ha- nadiv ha-yaduah (‘the well-known benefactor’). Someone less tenacious would have abandoned the benefactor’s role in sheer exasperation. There was constant friction between the Jewish farmers and the baron’s overseers, whose interference was resented. There were unexpected religious problems - for instance, in 1889 the Jerusalem rabbis demanded that all farm work should cease for a sabbatical year in accordance with biblical precept, and the baron had to get round this by a fictitious transfer of the land to non- Jewish owners for that year. On top of it, his methods were attacked by the Lovers of Zion movement itself. Its intellectual mentor, AHAD HA-AM, decried his aid as charity that robbed the farmers of self-reliance and failed to serve the national awakening.Baron Edmond’s motives were indeed philanthropic, and his attitude paternalistic, and for the Zionist movement as such he had little sympathy. Dr HERZL called on him in 1896 and failed to enlist his support for the programme set out in The Jewish State. Mass immigration seemed to him Utopian, and the idea of statehood likely to be exploited by anti-Semites. When a Russian Jewish delegation, including NORDAU, Ahad Ha-am and USSISHKIN, visited the baron to urge reforms in the administration of the Palestine colonies, he told them curtly, ‘These are my colonies, and I shall do what I like with them’. In course of time, however, he came to see his work in its wider historical context. On returning from a visit to Palestine in 1914, he remarked to Dr WEIZMANN, ‘Without me the Zionists could have done nothing, but without the Zionists my work would have been dead’.At the end of the century, Baron Edmond handed over the administration, together with substantial funds, to the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA). Its officials imposed less control and helped to diversify farming. Villages evolved into small towns, or merged into the general agricultural life of the yishuv. In 1924 the baron vested all his holdings in Palestine in a new company, The Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA), with his son James as its president. The revenues from PICA continued to support land reclamation and settlement, to finance the Palestine Electric Corporation and industrial enterprises, and to endow higher education, hospitals and research. In 1929, when the Jewish Agency for Palestine was created, the baron became its honorary president. He died five years later, at the age of ninety. He and his wife were re-interred at Zichron Ya’acov in 1954, in a hilltop tomb surrounded by a beautiful garden.James Armand (1878–1957), Edmond’s elder son, settled as a young man in England, and became a British citizen. During World War I he served as a captain in the British army. In 1918 he was attached as a liaison officer to the Zionist Commission led by Dr Weizmann. As the head of PICA from 1924, he was responsible for many munificent grants to Jewish institutions in Palestine. A member of Parliament from 1929–45, ‘Jimmy’ de Rothschild attacked both the PASSFIELD White Paper of 1929 and the MACDONALD White Paper of 1939 as a betrayal of the BALFOUR Declaration and the mandate. After his death, the PICA interests were transferred to the Israel government by his widow, Dorothy, a member of the well-known English Sephardi family of Pinto. She made a donation of IL 6,000,000 for the Knesset building in Jerusalem, which she was invited to open.The interest of Ha-Nadiv in Zionism and Israel was also continued through his grandson, the second Baron Edmond (b. 1926), who joined Rothschild Frères as a partner only in 1972. Edouard’s daughter Batsheva (b. 1914) formed two Israel dance companies, called Batsheva and Bat-Or.The English BranchNathan emerged from the Napoleonic wars as one of the most powerful financiers in England. He married Hannah (1783–1850), a daughter of Levi Barent Cohen, a well-to-do Amsterdam merchant who had settled in London (another daughter was the wife of Sir Moses MONTEFIORE). At first Nathan and Hannah lived above the bank at New Court, then they moved to a Piccadilly mansion. The duke of Wellington, a neighbour and friend, often appeared at Hannah’s parties. Nathan himself had little interest in society and disdained to use the title and coat-of-arms Salomon had obtained from the emperor of Austria. Many stories are told of his brusqueness with anyone who bothered him or tried to patronize him.Of Nathan’s four sons, the eldest, Lionel Nathan (1808–79) succeeded his father as head of the bank and of the family. Anthony (1810–76) was knighted by Queen Victoria. He became the first president of the United Synagogue, the union of the three main Ashkenazi congregations in London. Nathaniel (1812– 70),disabled by a hunting accident, went to live in Paris and became a noted art collector. He bought the famous Mouton Rothschild vineyards near Bordeaux afterward run by Baron Philippe (b. 1902). The main preoccupation of Mayer Carl (1820–86), the youngest brother, was his racing stable, and he was the first Rothschild to win the Derby.During Lionel’s reign of over forty years at New Court, the bank was involved in many important government loans, such as those connected with the emancipation of the slaves, the Irish famine of 1847, the Crimean War of 1854, and the purchase of the Suez Canal shares from the khedive of Egypt in 1875. The latter purchase, then of enormous political and strategic value, was made possible by an on-the-spot loan of four million pounds by Lionel to the DISRAELI government.In the 19-century struggle for Jewish emancipation, one of the most dramatic episodes was Lionel’s assault on the House of Commons. Jews were excluded from it by the need to take an oath ‘on the true faith of a Christian’. In 1847 Lionel (urged on by Disraeli) stood as a Liberal candidate for the City of London and was elected. The House of Lords rejected a bill adopted by the House of Commons that would have enabled him to be seated. During the next eleven years, Lionel resigned and was re-elected five times. Each year the bill passed through the Commons and was voted down in the Lords. Finally in 1858, the deadlock was broken by a formula entitling each House to determine its own form of oath. Lionel then marched into the House and, with his head covered, took an oath omitting the reference to Christian faith. He occupied his seat for the next decade without opening his mouth in debate. Short and pudgy, and reserved by nature, he had no taste for public life and had gone through the ordeal of the oath battle only to establish the principle. In 1869 Gladstone, the prime minister, proposed to Queen Victoria that Lionel be elevated to the House of Lords. The queen refused, stating flatly that she could not bring herself to make a Jew a peer. On Lionel’s death, his eldest son Nathaniel Mayer (1840–1915) usually known as ‘Natty’, took over as head of the bank. In 1885 the queen, under Disraeli’s influence, granted him the peerage she had withheld from his father. He was sworn in on a Hebrew Bible as the first Lord Rothschild.A gruff and strong-willed man, rather like his grandfather Nathan, Lord Rothschild was the lay leader of the Anglo-Jewish community for nearly forty years. His standing in the City was marked by his appointment as a director of the Bank of England. In Parliament he was a right-wing Tory, and was later accused by LLOYD GEORGE of obstructing every Liberal reform measure. Towards the turn of the century, there was strong public pressure to restrict the flow of Russian Jewish immigrants. Lord Rothschild was appointed as a member of the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration, and fought stubbornly to keep the gates open. Dr Theodor Herzl, the president of the recently formed World Zionist Organization, was invited to make a statement before the commission. He was received at the bank by Natty, who rejected the Zionist aim, and warned Herzl against saying anything which might prejudice the right of Jews to settle in England. Herzl at one point shouted back at him, goaded by his peremptory tone. But they parted amiably. In spite of Natty’s efforts, a restrictive immigration bill was put through in 1905.Although overshadowed by Natty, his brothers Alfred (1842–1918) and Leopold (1845–1917) were prominent in the social, artistic and sporting life of England. Alfred, who remained a bachelor, was a noted aesthete and dandy. He kept a private orchestra and circus, and was capable of stopping the traffic by driving a coach drawn by four zebras. In their Victorian heyday the family entertained lavishly in their town mansions in and around Piccadilly, and their great country estates in Buckinghamshire. Their blue and amber colours were carried by jockeys on all the fashionable racecourses, and Leopold’s horses twice won the Derby - a regal distinction in England. The Rothschilds were friends and companions of the jovial Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. In his official biography of the king, the historian Sir Sidney Lee writes: ‘…the prince somewhat shocked Queen Victoria and his German kinsfolk by forming a close intimacy with the great Jewish financiers, the heads of the Rothschild family.’The most palatial and sumptuously furnished of the country homes was the 222-room Waddesdon Manor built by Ferdinand James (1839–98), an Austrian cousin brought to England when young and absorbed into the English family. Queen Victoria honoured Waddesdon with a visit, perhaps curious to see its splendours. Ferdinand married the first Lord Rothschild’s sister Evelina (1839– 66), who died in childbirth. A children’s hospital in London and a girls’ school in Jerusalem were built by her husband in her memory. Lionel Walter (1868–1937), Natty’s son and heir, was a tall, shy young man whose aim in life was to be a naturalist. He built up a great beetle collection, and bought unusual fauna like giant tortoises and New Zealand kiwis for his private zoo on the family estate at Tring. His father insisted at first on his being in the bank and entering Parliament. Later, he gained the right to pursue his scientific interests. On his father’s death in 1915, he became the second Lord Rothschild. He had come under the influence of Dr Weizmann, and it was to him, as the most important Jew in England, that the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917 was addressed.The control of the bank passed to Natty’s younger son, Nathaniel Charles (1877–1923). Since the second Lord Rothschild did not marry, and was prede- ceased by his brother Charles, the title was inherited by the latter’s son Nathaniel Mayer Victor (1910–90). Victor became what his uncle and his father would have liked to be - a professional scientist and a Cambridge don in the field of biology. An intrepid and enterprising man, he served during World War II as a bomb disposal expert, for which he was awarded a George Medal. Resuming his scientific work, he became an authority on the fertilization process. After a period as chairman of the British Agricultural Research Council, Victor took a position in 1965 as co-ordinator of scientific research for the giant Shell Oil Company. On his retirement in 1971, Prime Minister Edward Heath invited him to direct the Central Policy Review Staff, a ‘think-tank’ to study and advise the Cabinet on various long-term projects and problems. Closely interested in Israel, Victor served on the Boards of Governors of the Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.Victor’s elder sister, Mrs Miriam Lane (b. 1908), also became a biologist, developing her father’s interest in insect para-sites. She wrote a book called Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos (1952.) with Theresa Clay. Victor’s eldest son and heir Jacob (b. 1936) brought this branch back into the vocational mainstream of the family by becoming a partner in the bank. Natty’s brother Baron Leopold had three sons. One of them, Major Evelyn Achille (1886–1917) was killed while fighting in ALLENBY’S forces against the Turks. Two other sons, Lionel Nathan (1882–1942.) and Anthony Gustav (1887–1961), were both partners in the bank. The contemporary Rothschilds in the bank are Edmund Leopold (b. 1916), the senior partner, his brother Leopold David (b. 1927), his cousin Evelyn Robert (b. 1931) and his cousin Jacob, Lord Rothschild’s son. Edmund (Eddie) has maintained and developed the magnificent rhododendron and azalea garden founded by his father at Exbury, near Southampton - now operated as a trust. Evelyn became chairman of the Board of Governors of the Haifa Technion.All three of the ‘magnificent Roth-schilds’ - Natty, Alfred and Leopold - passed away during World War I, leaving a burden of death duties. In postwar Britain, marked by heavy taxation, and with the transition to a social welfare state and huge government budgets, there was a less important role for private merchant banks to play, and less inclination for lavish spending. The great town mansions and country manors have become national trusts or public institutions, or have been demolished; the English Rothschilds of today lead relatively modest lives, by the standards of their Victorian grandfather. Family names and titles. The different forms of the Rothschild family name and titles may be confusing without some explanation. The original Austrian title, awarded to the five brothers in 1822, was Baron von Rothschild. This form remained in use in Austria and Germany. The French branch throughout used the form Baron de Rothschild (the aristocratic prefix ‘de’ corresponding to the German ‘von’). The founder of the English branch, Nathan Mayer, chose not to use the title, and was known simply as Mr Rothschild; the bank he founded is called N.M.Rothschild & Sons. His sons and grandsons assumed the Austrian title, but in the French form, that is, Baron de Rothschild. The last of them to use this title were Baron Alfred and Baron Leopold, both of whom died during World War I. The English family surname has remained de Rothschild. When Nathan’s grandson Nathaniel (Natty) was granted a peerage by Queen Victoria, he became Lord Rothschild, the French ‘de’ being dropped in the English title. In that form the title has been handed down to the second and third Lords Rothschild.
Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. Joan Comay . 2012.
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