Who’s who on the list of the richest people in the history of mankind? Check out and find the wealthiest and most influential figures of the past.
By today’s currency, William the Conqueror would be worth between $209 to $229 billion. The first Norman king of England derived his wealth in an old-fashioned way, mostly by pillaging. During his rule, William the Conqueror also built several immense castles, many of which still stand today.
The Scottish-American industrialist built his own empire by way of expansion of the steel industry. He founded the US Steel Corporation in 1901 which had made him about $310 billion richer. Despite his enormous health, Carnegie was very generous — in fact he gave away all of his fortune, leading him to become one of the world’s most well-known philanthropists.
Cornelius Vanderbilt was an American business tycoon and philanthropist who made a huge splash in the railroad and shipping industry during the 19th century. As one of the richest figures in the history of the United States, he was also the founder of Vanderbilt University. During his prime, Vanderbilt’s fortune reached up to about $185 billion, most of he earned in his later years as a result of growth of his railroad empire in the years after the Civil War.
Henry Ford was an American industrialist and business magnate who, of course, founded the Ford Motor Company. He envisioned that one day middle-class Americans would be able to buy and drive their own cars, so Ford helped develop the mass production of automobiles. For this he is credited with enhancing the assembly line technique and mass production, as well as higher wages for workers. During his heyday, Ford had a net worth of nearly $200 billion.
The name Jakob Fugger won’t ring a bell to you right away, but he is among the wealthiest figures in the world. Fugger (1459-1525) was a German merchant, entrepreneur and banker who was able to amass a fortune of $221 billion from his ventures. Aside from his huge textile trading business, Fugger also had lucrative mining and banking ventures.
One of the wealthiest and most influential business magnates and philanthropists in history, John D. Rockefeller was one of the people who earned his fortune from oil during the turn of the century. He was the co-founder and head of Standard Oil, and the oil boom brought him a fortune of $340 billion.
Mansa Musa doesn’t sound familiar to many of you, but the king of West Africa’s Malian Empire was richer than either Bill Gates or even John D. Rockefeller. Also known as Musa I, he is the richest person on earth with $400 billion in today’s money. He earned his fortune thanks to the vast resources of gold and salt.
Another name that is unknown to most of us, Mir Osman Ali Khan was also one of the richest men on earth, with $230 billion to his name. He was the ruler of Hyderabad State in India from 1911 upon the death of his father, Mahbub Ali Khan. Up to now he is believed to be the wealthiest man in South Asia during his time until his death in 1911.
Gaddafi was the late revolutionary and politician who ruled Libya from 1969 to his death in 2011. He is said to have amassed a total of $200 billion during his long reign. Gaddafi was an extremely controversial and divisive political figure who was worshiped as an anti-imperialist warrior but was also highly detested as a dictator. In 2011 he was overthrown in the heat of the Libyan civil war where he was reportedly captured and killed by revolutionaries.
Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov, also known as Tsar Nicholas II, was the last Russian emperor before the fall of the country during the Russian Revolution. Nicholas ruled from 1894 until 1917 when he abdicated his throne; during his reign he had a fortune amounting to $300 million.