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When we think Rothschild, it is almost inevitable that banking and high finance are the first things to spring to mind. Conspiracy theories come in a close second. But beyond their involvement in shaping the monetary map of modern Europe, or leading the lizard people, the Rothschilds were also major contributors to culture. (Baron Phillipe alone was a prolific vigneron, race car driver, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and poet). Even the family rebels had much to help give the world.
Charles, son of the first Baron Rothschild, was a Harrow and Cambridge educated banker who loved nothing quite so much as chasing after insects in the English countryside and around the world. In the Sudanese town of Shendi, a former stronghold of the Nubian Ja’alin tribe, he discovered and named Xenopsylla cheopis; what we know as the Oriental rat flea, the primary vector for the bubonic plague which devastated Asia, Africa, and Europe in the 14th century. He was a dedicated partner at NM Rothschild and Sons, though, and never missed a day at the bank. Instead, he used his scientific bent to the family’s benefit, keeping a close watch on the company’s gold refinery and working on new inventions for the extraction, location, and refinement of the precious metal.