From Genghis Khan to J.P. Morgan

Jul 18, 2022 By Triston Martin

The estimation of wealth from ancient times isn't easy because what is considered to be rich is different from era to time. What is the value of the land holdings of Persian Emperors? Do you think multiplying the weight in the ounces of Genghis Khan's collection by $1,754.85 (the most recent value in gold per ounce at the time of April 2021) will reveal the worth of his fortune in the past? In a world without real money, a tax was collected on grain, and literacy may as well be considered a science that was not so advanced; putting dollar values on things is a way of engaging in wild speculation.

However, that doesn't mean it's any less enjoyable. For instance, Marcus Licinius Crassus was estimated to have a value of 170 million sovereigns. The founder of the Value investor purchased entire stretches of Rome in the event of a fire and then sent his army of slaved architects and builders to put out the fires in exchange for payment from the owners. When Spartacus launched a revolt in the year 73 B.C., Crassus personally led two legions. The legend says that he perished by pouring molten gold through his mouth, signifying his desire for wealth.

It's not necessary to go back to the past to find those with shocking wealth, but John D. Rockefeller had anything from $300 billion to $400 billion, based on estimates. J.P. Morgan was the U.S. lender of the last option before FR was established, stabilizing economy with an enormous loan to the government in 1893.

However, rather than define money in terms of absolute value, perhaps it's better to consider those who, in their period and time, were so wealthy that they were the ones who personally defined the worth of money. In the entire history of mankind, two individuals controlled such a large amount of wealth compared to the rest of us that their spending (voluntarily or otherwise) could put the entire economy of the world to a halt.

Mansa Musa

The year 1324 was when Mansa (meaning the Emperor) Musa of the Malian Empire took part in the hajj, the Muslim religious pilgrimage in Mecca. His entourage included around 60 000 people and an amount of gold that sent ripples throughout the Mediterranean. He lavished the cities he visited with gold, offering it to the less fortunate, and according to one account, he built a mosque each Friday. He splurged heavily at Cairo and Medina; the rapid influx of cash increased prices for daily goods.

Convinced that he was the one who caused a flurry of hyperinflation, which afflicted the all-encompassing region, the president initiated the quantitative easing plan by acquiring the entire gold stock of Cairo for a loan at a hefty cost of borrowing. He was a single-man macroeconomic cycle.


In 1532, a bloody conflict of succession in which halfbrothers Atahualpa and Huascar were coming to an end, while it was the time that the Incan Empire was beginning its recovery process. In the context of the Incan Empire, economic issues are particularly difficult. It was the only complicated large-scale, massive civilization to be built without the semblance of an economy. There was no concept of money in any way.

Instead, the whole state was arranged in the form of the family unit. One person, the Inca (The Emperor), oversaw all things: food, clothing, luxury goods, houses, and even individuals. As men, you worked for the Emperor as a worker, farmer, craftsman, or soldier. In return, you received everything you required to survive. When Spanish conquistadors attacked Atahualpa during the battle of Cajamarca and took him into prison, he was able to collect a ransom unlike any other, saturating the space with gold. His power was unquestioned that he could even have whole temples demolished of gold, and it was done. There was nothing in the empire that it did not have the right to own.

While the figure is irrelevant in the context of the event, the ransom he was able to pay is worth about $1.5 billion in today's dollars. The Spanish did not kill him and destroy his empire; however, the billions of silver and gold poured into Europe following 1500 led to the highest inflation in history and a long-lasting economic downturn. The bulk of the huge amounts of gold that devastated Europe's economy during the 16th century originated from Atahualpa.

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