Mansa Musa travelled to Mecca with a caravan of 60,000 men and 12,000 slaves
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, according to the 2019 Forbes billionaires’ list released this week. With an estimated fortune of $131bn (£99bn) he is the wealthiest man in modern history.
But he is by no means the richest man of all time.
That title belongs to Mansa Musa, the 14th Century West African ruler who was so rich his generous handouts wrecked an entire country’s economy.
“Contemporary accounts of Musa’s wealth are so breathless that it’s almost impossible to get a sense of just how wealthy and powerful he truly was,” Rudolph Butch Ware, associate professor of history at the University of California, told the BBC.
Mansa Musa was “richer than anyone could describe”, Jacob Davidson wrote about the African king for Money.com in 2015.
In 2012, US website Celebrity Net Worth estimated his wealth at $400bn, but economic historians agree that his wealth is impossible to pin down to a number.
The 10 richest men of all time
Mansa Musa (1280-1337, king of the Mali empire) wealth incomprehensible
Augustus Caesar (63 BC-14 AD, Roman emperor) $4.6tn (£3.5tn)
Zhao Xu (1048-1085, emperor Shenzong of Song in China) wealth incalculable
Akbar I (1542-1605, emperor of India’s Mughal dynasty) wealth incalculable
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919, Scottish-American industrialist) $372bn
John D Rockefeller (1839-1937) American business magnate) $341bn
Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov (1868-1918, Tsar of Russia) $300bn
Mir Osman Ali Khan ( 1886-1967, Indian royal) $230bn
William The Conqueror (1028-1087) $229.5bn
Muammar Gaddafi (1942-2011, long-time ruler of Libya) $200bn
Source: Money.com, Celebrity Net Worth