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This is the Richest Man in History – Executive Summary

This is the Richest Man in History – Executive Summary

Who is the richest man in history? If the question is asked, the intuition would probably point to current names, such as Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, but it is necessary to go back a few centuries in time to reach the correct answer: researchers and historians point out that it was Musa I, the leader of the Mali empire in the sixteenth century.

Mansa Musa I (‘Mansa’ what would be equivalent to ’emperor’) ruled between 1312 and 1337, with a control that today includes the lands of southern Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Hambia, Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Algeria, Chad, and Niger.

He came to rule over 50 million people, which is an impressive figure if we consider that the world population is estimated between 360 and 432 million people.

The rise of this emperor to the title of the richest man in the world is explained by the mining exploration launched that allowed the preservation of the salt market and large quantities of gold in the kingdom, at the same time that after centuries the greatest world power, Europe, is experiencing a health crisis with the devastation left by the Black Death.

It is known that Moses I controlled the trans-Saharan trade routes, which ran from North Africa to the Middle East, via the Catalan Atlas, a writing written by the Majorcan Jewish historian Cresque Abraham, which dates back to 1375 and is kept in the National Library of France.

“This black man is called Musse Melly, lord of the blacks of Guinea. This king is the richest and noblest lord because of the abundance of gold that he collects in his land,” is described in the first book of Mansa Musa, who has a crown, gram and center in his hands, and sits on a golden throne.

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He is identified on the map as the chieftain of the region between Timbuktu and Gao, which later became the capital of the Islamic Songhai Empire.

The Confidential reports that in “Mansa Musa – Pilgrim of the Desert, King of Timbuktu,” writer Miguel Guerrero has already identified the Emperor of Mali as the richest person ever, and he adjusts to inflation.

In addition to salt and gold, it also dominated the slave trade in Africa. It was also he who established Islam as the religion of his country, but at the same time he “respects the tribal beliefs and magic of the subjects.”

His journey across the desert, with a retinue of more than 10,000 camels, until he reached Mecca is also reported. However, his actions have been ignored by medieval history, and of little interest to historians over the years.

From the investigations already made, it was found that he was born around 1280, into a family of royal lineage. It was named by “Mansa” Abu Bakari I, who set up an expedition in the Atlantic Ocean with 2,000 ships, but ended up never returning.

Musa I, deeply religious, was also tenacious in collecting taxes: for any gold nugget mined in his lands, “another nugget of equal weight” had to be handed over to the king.

But how does the emperor’s wealth compare to a land strewn with gold mines? In 2019 the richest person in the world was Jeff Bezos, with a fortune of €107.400 million. In the sixth century, the estimated wealth of a Mali emperor would have been equivalent to 367 million euros today,” says Charlie Harris, a researcher at the University of Oxford.

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Moses was also invested in cultural exchange, and greatly appreciated the advances in science, mathematics, and mysticism coming from India, Iran, Egypt, or China, as he ‘imported’ Muslim specialists to perfect the crafts in the kingdom. He is said to have paid 170 kilograms of gold to a group of these scholars to build one of Africa’s architectural gems, the Djingribere Mosque.

His death coincided with a period of stability and then decline of the Mali Empire, which would be absorbed by the Songhai Empire shortly thereafter. The Black Death did not affect Mali, but rather ended up interrupting some of the main trade routes to preserve the wealth of the kingdom, plunging it into crisis, opening the door to invasion by Sultan Sassi, and losing the legacy of Mansa Musa, the first in history.