When you think of the world’s richest people, you probably think of Elon Musk, the Waltons, Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates. However, if you look back in history, kings and queens had far more wealth than most billionaires today.
Mansa Musa I, with an estimated net worth of $400 billion, has more total wealth than Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Walton family member Sam Walton combined. Mansa Musa I of Mali, the first king of Timbuktu, was the richest person in world history, with an estimated fortune of $400 billion in today’s money.
Mansa Musa I of Mali, the World’s Richest Emperor, was born in Mali.
Mansa Musa (1280-1337), 10th emperor of Africa’s Mali Empire. When his predecessor Abu-Bakr II went on a pilgrimage to the Atlantic Ocean and did not return, he ascended the throne in 1312.
Musa (‘Mansa’ translates as king) amassed so much wealth during his lifetime that the details are difficult to calculate. Mansa Musa’s fortune is worth more than $400 billion after inflation.
The Mali Empire spanned more than 3,200 kilometers during his reign, including present-day Chad, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Senegal.
Mansa Musa not only conquered many cities, but he also received tribute from many other places. While Europe faced famine, plague, and war, African nations thrived during the Middle Ages.
Mansa Musa transformed Timbuktu into an Islamic cultural center by controlling important trade routes between the Mediterranean and West Africa.
Musa was instrumental in three folding the territory of his empire during his reign. He also took control of 24 cities, including Timbuktu, which was already a major academic and commercial center. Musa then built magnificent palaces, mosques, and universities here. Two of those monuments still stand today.
His vast kingdom spanned several modern African countries, including Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso. During Mansa’s reign, his capital Timbuktu became a center for artists and scholars, becoming one of the world’s most important centers and living through its golden age.
Mansa’s Origin Musa’s Fortune: Salt, Gold, and Land
Musa, in fact, was a king with lofty goals. It was not wealth gained through conquests or mergers that brought him riches. Mali’s natural resources have provided him with unimaginable wealth. The most well-known of these were pure gold mines, which were the most valuable metal in the world at the time.
Musa’s fortune is constantly increasing as his empire expands. According to researcher Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Mansa Musa had almost unlimited access to the most valuable sources of wealth in the medieval world as an emperor.
Musa’s territory was home to the major trading centers for gold and other commodities, and he quickly became wealthy from this trade.
Mansa’s modern-day net worth is estimated to be between $400 billion and $500 billion, though calculating a fortune based on gold, salt, and land can be difficult. However, many historians agree that his fortune was “richer than anyone could describe.”
Dominating the Egyptian Market and the Historical Hajj Pilgrimage
Despite his wealth, Mansa Musa first came to the attention of the world in 1324, when he performed the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Historians believe this journey was part of Musa’s calculations. He wanted to promote the wealth of the Mali Empire and demonstrate his devotion through the trip.
More than 60,000 judges, officials, merchants, servants, camel riders, and 12,000 slaves are said to have accompanied Emperor Musa. Everyone was dressed in opulent Persian silk, brocade, and gold jewelry.
According to historian Ibn Khaldun, the king treats his courtiers to rare and unusual food and drinks whenever he rests. 12,000 slaves were assigned the task of transporting belongings. They are dressed in brocade robes with brocade and Yemeni silk embroidery.
Musa spent lavishly during his stay in Cairo. In Cairo, he gave gold to the poor. The emperor of Mali’s action reduced the value of gold in Egypt, severely affecting the country’s economy. According to some historical documents, Egypt took 12 years to recover after Mansa Musa’s visit.
They estimate that Musa’s pilgrimage consumed 12.3 tonnes of gold, causing a devaluation throughout the Middle East that cost the economy $1.5 billion at the time. Emperor Musa spent so much that he ran out of gold before the end of his journey, which sparked public outrage. They believe he is squandering too much of the country’s resources.
Recognizing that his actions were somewhat “wrong,” he assisted Egypt on the way back by buying back all the gold he had given at high-interest rates.
Musa returned from Mecca, bringing the pilgrimage to a close.
Musa returned from Mecca, bringing the pilgrimage to a close. He invited several Islamic scholars, including descendants of Muhammad, as well as poet and architect Abu Es Haq es Saheli. According to legend, the king paid the poet 200kg of gold for his services.
Mansa Musa’s Worth and Legacy
Mansa Musa is remembered as a generous king. In fact, he is known as the “King of Kings.” The man gave so much gold to the poor that they became wealthy, sending the local economies into a tailspin.
Musa is credited with not only flaunting his wealth but also with building many of the most elaborate mosques in history, some of which are still standing today. He also built many schools and libraries and transformed Timbuktu into an educational center.
Musa died at the age of 57 in 1337, after ruling the Mali Empire for 25 years, and the throne passed to his son, Mansa Maghan. The young king, however, was unable to keep Mali’s wealth and peace.
Parts of Mali were gradually occupied by other empires by the end of the 14th century. As a result, the nation’s wealth is depleted. Mali became a Portuguese colony in the 15th century. The arrival of Europeans in West Africa signaled the end of the once-prosperous Mali Empire, which was ruled by the richest king in human history.