King Mansa Musa of Mali Named World's Richest Man Of All Time. You've probably never heard of him, but Mansa Musa is the richest person ever recorded.
King Mansa Musa became ruler of the Mali Empire in 1312, taking the throne after his predecessor, Abu-Bakr II, for whom he’d served as deputy, went missing on a voyage he took by sea to find the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. King Mansa Musa’s rule came at a time when European nations were struggling due to raging civil wars and a lack of resources. During that period, the Mali Empire flourished thanks to ample natural resources like gold and salt.
And under the rule of King Mansa Musa, the prosperous empire grew to span a sizeable portion of West Africa, from the Atlantic coast to the inland trading hub of Timbuktu and parts of the Sahara Desert. As the territory grew while Musa was on the throne, so did the economic standing of its citizens.
Musa Keita I came into power in 1312. When he was crowned, he was given the name Mansa, meaning king. It is said that Mansa Musa had conquered 24 cities, each with surrounding districts containing villages and estates, during his reign. Mansa Musa was in charge of a lot of land. To put it into perspective, he ruled all (or parts) of modern day Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad.
His wealth was made known to the world during 1324 pilgrimage to mecca, crossing a distance of nearly 4000 miles. His procession reportedly included 60,000 men, including 12,000 servants who each carried four pounds of gold bars and heralds dressed in silks who bore gold staffs, organized horses, and handled bags.
King Mansa Musa provided all necessities for the procession, feeding the entire company of men and animals. Those animals included 80 camels which each carried between 50 and 300 pounds of gold dust. King Mansa Musa gave the gold to the poor he met along his route. King Mansa Musa not only gave to the cities he passed on the way to Mecca, including Cairo and Medina, but also traded gold for souvenirs. It was reported that he built a mosque each and every Friday.
But King Mansa Musa’s generous actions inadvertently devastated the economy of the regions through which he passed. In the cities of Cairo, Medina, and Mecca, the sudden influx of gold devalued the metal for the next decade. Prices on goods and wares greatly inflated. To rectify the gold market, on his way back from Mecca, King Mansa Musa borrowed all the gold he could carry from money-lenders in Cairo, at high interest. This is the only time recorded in history that one man directly controlled the price of gold in the Mediterranean.
After reigning for 25 years. King Mansa Musa died in 1337. He was succeeded by his son, Maghan I. “The king’s rich legacy persisted for generations and to this day, there are mausoleums, libraries, and mosques that stand as a testament to this golden age of Mali’s history. His wealth is estimated at $400 Billion.
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