M.A. Franz Karg

Fugger Archive, archivist 1983–2021

Fürstlich und Gräflich Fuggersches Familien- und Stiftungsarchiv

(The Fugger Family and Foundation Archive)

The Fugger Archive is one of the leading trade archives of the early modern period, with its origins in the sixteenth century. In 1877, it was newly founded in Augsburg and assigned to the Fugger Foundations. In the 1940s it was evacuated in time before Augsburg was bombed in February 1944. In 1956, it found a new home in modern buildings in Dillingen a. d. Donau.

The full name of the archive says it all: Family and Foundation Archive. The largest part of the archive is taken up by the documents of the Fugger real estate and manors, followed by the holdings of the various foundations. The archives continue to be supplemented by the families and their modern administrations as well as by the foundations.

The trade archive is the best known and at the same time the smallest part. It was completed as the Fuggers ceased trading in the middle of the seventeenth century. It is divided into four independent parts: the ‘Common Trade’ and the Tyrolean, Hungarian and Spanish Trade sections.

The Fugger Family Seniorat, which decides on matters concerning the entire family and above all the nine Fugger foundations, has been promoting research into the history of the Fuggers for about 100 years. This research was begun in chronological order and currently stands at 1560, the year of Anton Fugger’s death. It has also been accompanied by several series of publications since 1907, beginning with the ‘Studien zur Fuggergeschichte’ studies on the family history.

In recent years, the archive’s central holdings  have been scanned for security purposes. Parts are available to researchers offline as digital copies in the archive’s reading room. The focus of these central holdings is on trade and the family, selected estates and especially their extensive series of accounts from the sixteenth to the beginning of the nineteenth century. The intention is to promote research into the history of the estates in particular and to satisfy the increased demand in the field of cultural history.

Two research projects are currently underway, funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation): one on the new approach to resilience research, which aims to clarify, on the basis of the accounting records, how the Fuggers’ company was able to be successful over such a long period of time. The second project deals with the Schneidhaus Foundation in Augsburg, an early European surgical institution.

The objects selected for the publication all date from the sixteenth century. They are all linked by the figure of Matthäus Schwarz, the Fuggers’ well-known chief accountant. The objects document his activities in trade with Tyrol, Hungary, Italy and Spain: on the one hand, correspondence, calculations and audits, on the other hand, preparation of the accounts through supervision of the factors and employees working in each of the Fuggers’ different European branches or Faktoreien. Finally, the document dating from 1557 incorporates the connection with Philip II, silver from America and the effects of the first state bankruptcy.

Although European trade archives before 1550 are for the most part incomplete and fragmentary, bringing some of them together in a volume of this sort, which samples significant documents from each of them, contributes to provide the public with a wider and more comprehensive picture.

Literature and data on the Fugger Archive

Heinz Friedrich Deininger, ‘Zur Geschichte des fürstlich und gräflich Fuggerschen Familien- und Stiftungs-Archives zu Augsburg,’ Archivalische Zeitschrift 37 (1928): 162–83.
Minerva-Handbücher, Archive im deutschsprachigen Raum (Berlin-New York2: 1974), 200.
Hermann Kellenbenz, ‘Das Fugger-Archiv,’ Archiv und Wirtschaft 12 (1979): 39–42, updated in: Zeitschrift des Historischen Vereins für Dillingen 87 (1985): 110–18.
Franz Karg, ‘“Damit nichts davon kome, noch vertragen oder verloren werdt”. Das Handelsarchiv der Fugger,’ in Archiv und Wirtschaft 27 (1994): 69–74.

Overview of the Fugger Archive’s holdings:
(the contact details are no longer up to date)

Studien zur Fugger-Geschichte, since 1952 also series 4 of the Schwäbische Forschungsgemeinschaft, vols 1–46 (1907–2016).
Materialien zur Geschichte der Fugger, ed. the Fugger Archive, vol. 1–9 (1999–2017).
fugger digital, ed. the Fugger Archive, vols 2–4 (2014–21).

Translated by Sarah Schmid