Neither Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos nor Elon Musk are the richest men of all time. In fact, there is a man at the helm here whose name very few of us have ever heard of. Mansa Musa I, ruler of Mali, were he still alive today, he would still be the richest man who ever existed. According to the latest calculations, he would own over 400 billion dollars. Mansa Musa lived from 1280 to 1337 and was already called “King of Kings” during his lifetime.
Mansa Musa achieves its wealth through clever economic and educational policies. With this he led the city of Timbuktu to great wealth. He used the large salt deposits and the mineral resources of his country to become immeasurably rich himself. Gold was one of the natural resources, as Mali had huge gold mines. In addition, the gold was not deep in the ground and could be mined from simple earth pits.
Musa skillfully sold Mali’s natural resources to Arab caravan traders and used his money to finance huge palaces and mosques, among other things.
Even ancient Arabic scrolls report on the incredible wealth of Musa.
His pilgrimage to Mecca, which he undertook in 1324/25, is particularly mentioned. Musa is said to have spent so much gold that there was hyperinflation in Egypt. Chroniclers estimate that he carried 17 tons of gold with him on his journey.
Musa was accompanied on his pilgrimage by no fewer than 8,000 soldiers and 12,000 slaves. Among the retainers were porters, personal servants, cooks and singers. Relatives and other powerful figures in the country forced Musa to accompany him on his journey, because he did not want to leave any rivals unnoticed in Mali.
His son sat on the throne in his absence.
Musa and his entourage spent the money lavishly in Cairo. They bought clothes, literature and also slaves. The Egyptian traders realized very quickly that money was not an issue for Musa and were able to sell their goods at completely exorbitant prices. So more and more money and gold came into circulation and there was inflation in Egypt.
During his journey, Musa generously gave away gold. He either gave alms to the poor or he gave gifts of gold to officials, dignitaries and emirs as a token of appreciation.
When he and his entourage passed through the city gates of Cairo on July 19, 1324, the whole city was in turmoil. The Egyptians had seen many powerful men in their city on their way to Mecca.
But that someone was traveling with such a huge following was new to the people of Cairo.
Of course, this incredibly huge entourage also had to be fed and the value of the Egyptian currency of the time was ruined for years. However, this madness also affected Mansa Musa himself. When he returned to Mali, his gold was all but worthless due to hyperinflation. So he had to borrow money himself from a merchant.
After the death of Musa in 1337, his kingdom sank into the Chos. Nothing remains of the former prosperity. Civil wars and struggles against invaders have destroyed the country, which is now one of the poorest in the world.
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The richest man in the world of all time: Mansa Musa