Jakob Fugger, 1459-1525, was known as Jakob the Rich because his family was among the most wealthy in the world. Fugger lived in Augsburg, in southern Germany, then part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Fuggers owned extensive land and ships, but most of their wealth was from the proceeds of banking and a virtual monopoly in the mining and trading of metals and ores; silver, copper, and mercury in particular.

Jakob is well known for financing the activities of Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian I and Charles V. Charles rewarded Jakob with a title, granted the Fuggers sovereign rights over their lands, and permitted them to coin their own money.

One of Jakob's philathropic experiements was a housing project for the poor. The Fuggerei, in Augsburg, still stands and operates to this day.