Campaign of the Month: August 2011
Le Ballet de l'Acier
Les frères de Vitoria
The Vitoria family of bankers originated with Baltasar de Vitoria, a draper and moneylender in the city of Barcelona. Baltasar was a founder of the Table of Exchange, Spain’s first public bank, established in 1401, and his descendents continued the famly business in lending and investment.
By the sixteenth century, the Vitoria family was one of the Spanish crown’s leading financiers, making loans to the king and purchasing juros (crown securities). However, the family fortune was greatly impacted by the crown’s default on its loans in 1557, and an attempt to diversify its investments in the New World ended disastrously ten years later when six ships from the Spanish treasure fleet wrecked in a storm on the coast of Dominica; efforts to salvage the treasure came to naught, and the Vitoria family faced ruin. Santiago de Vitoria married the daughter of a Genoese merchant family in Seville in 1569, recapitalizing the family banking interests and diversifying its investments. His sons, Alvaro and Gaspar, continue to operate the banking house, with branches in Madrid, Seville, Genoa, Naples, Paris, Toulouse, and Bordeaux.