This is a comprehensive study of Britain's 250 richest people in
history, from the time of William the Conqueror to the present. In
this new book, Philip Beresford, the author of "The Sunday Times"
annual 'Rich List' and history expert William D. Rubinstein, have
turned their attention to the wealthiest individuals in British
history, revealing how they made their fortunes, the role played by
luck, contacts and violence, and how successful they were in
hanging on to their gains. It includes people like: William of
Warenne, the Earl of Surrey in the 1050s, who if he were alive
today would be worth nearly GBP74bn - over three times richer than
Britain's current richest man (steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal);
Archbishop Thomas Beckett, who took 250 servants with him on a
visit to Paris in 1158, and was worth over GBP24bn - Not that his
fortune was much use when he was murdered in his own cathedral on
the orders of Henry II; Robert Spencer, forebear of Princess Diana,
who made a fortune in the wool trade, owned vast tracts of land in
the colony of Virginia and accumulated a fortune equivalent to
GBP19bn in today's money; and, John Scott, a celebrated gambler
whose skills and luck helped him to a GBP500,000 (GBP3.1bn) fortune
- "As rich as Scott" was a popular saying of eighteenth century
society. The authors provide a fascinating account of personal
wealth and influence, noting how, throughout history, the
opportunities for aggrandising wealth have been changed by
technology, demographics, taxation, politics and war. If you are
interested in business, society and the shifting patterns of
advantage then you will find this book absorbing, intriguing and
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