The Rothschilds are a wealthy Jewish family that rose to prominence in the second half of the 18th century. Their ascent began in 1744 with the birth in Frankfurt of Mayer Amschel Rothschild who, from humble beginnings, went on to develop successful business and financial interests based there. As his wealth accumulated, and seeking business opportunities further afield, in the early part of the 19th century he despatched each of his five sons to different European cities. Nathan went to London, Calmann to Naples, Jacob to Paris, while Amschel, the eldest, remained in Frankfurt. Close cooperation between the brothers enabled the business to grow into a pan-European network that not only handled money, but information, which gave the family a competitive edge in a field in which timely and reliable intelligence is an essential ingredient in making sound investment decisions. Thus, the businesses prospered, creating exceptional wealth that translated into property and the creation of great country houses and estates across the Continent and beyond.