Do You Know The Richest Person Who Has Ever Lived in World History?

He was way richer than the combined fortunes of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, the richest men of the contemporary age.

Mansa Musa the richest person
The Richest Person Who Ever Lived in World History. Twitter Images

Several people still think Bill Gates is the world’s richest person. He was indeed, but never even came close to being the wealthiest person who has ever lived. In 2018 to-date, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, and CEO replaced Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder, as the wealthiest man in recent times, with a reported net worth of $113bn. However, Jeff is not the wealthiest man of all time. Mansa Musa I of Mali is the richest person who has ever lived throughout the world’s history, with an average worth of $400 billion and more. No man on has ever surpassed his fortune.

This title, ‘the richest of the rich’ applies to Mansa Musa, a West African monarch in the 14th century, who was so wealthy that his extravagant gifts once ruined another nation’s economy. Some people have probably never heard of this King unless they are citizens in a region that was greatly influenced by his leadership, which would consist of many African Muslim-held countries.

Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are household names for the modern billionaires but are nothing compared to Mansa Musa I of Mali, the richest person who ever lived.

Mansa Musa I
His extravagant gifts once ruined another nation’s economy. Facebook Images

The economic experts estimate his riches to an unimaginable $400 billion. Yet, some still argue that no one can limit his resources to a certain number. It is impossible to place an exact figure on his wealth. Some people probably think his contemporaries have somewhat set Mansa Musa’s incredible wealth on a hyperbolic level.

Who was Mansa Musa I?

Mansa Musa was born in 1280 and sat on the throne in 1312. He was a grandnephew of Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Malian dynasty. The Malian Emperor was a devoted Muslim, mostly recognized by the world beyond Africa, and ruled over one of the world’s greatest and largest empires. 

Mansa Musa, the richest person
The man who advertised Africa’s wealth. Facebook Images

The events of Mansa Musa’s ascension to the throne are not less interesting. Before him, Mansa Abu-Bakr was king of the Mali empire until 1312 when he resigned for an adventure.

The Syrian writer, Shibab al-Umari in the 14th century, claimed Abu-Bakr II had become fascinated with exploring the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. He embarked on a journey with a fleet of 2,000 ships and thousands of men, women, and slaves. They floated abroad and never came back. Upon the death of Abu-Bakr II, Musa was crowned and appointed the Mansa, meaning the Emperor. 

Mansa Musa was a conventional Muslim. The Kingdom of Mali developed substantially under his leadership. He occupied twenty-four cities, Timbuktu inclusive. Although he is probably forgotten today, Mansa Musa is remembered in Gao and Timbuktu by the many monuments, mosques, and madrasas he built.

Most importantly, he established the Sankoré University, which has one of the world’s largest libraries with about one million ancient manuscripts and currently staffed with over 25,000 learners. Musa was Mali’s tenth Mansa. He controlled more than what was beforehand, the Ghana empire, currently known as Mauritania and Mali.

How Mansa Musa I Acquired his Wealth

The Mali Kingdom was unpopular, although it had so much gold. Mansa Musa accumulated the vast majority of his riches from salt and gold production and business and managed over twice the production capacity in the world at that time. Major trading centers of gold and other resources were within his territories since he owned vast chunks of land.


Amongst his titles, closely linked to his cash piles, are: “Emir of Melle,” “Lord of the Mines of Wangara,” “The Golden King” and “Conqueror of Ghanata.” Musa managed to conquer twenty-four cities and their outlying areas throughout his rule, accumulating riches north, west, and central. He became the world’s largest manufacturer and dealer in gold, as the metal was a significant symbol of rank and prosperity in that era.


Why is Musa I the Most Popular of all the Rich Men?

It is no secret that Mansa Musa wasted tons of gold during his ornate pilgrimage to Mecca. His prodigious hospitality, fine clothing, and admirable conduct created an impression in the world’s eyes. In 1324, his dynamic journey to the holy Muslim city made him known among the leaders in the Middle East and Europe.

The moving city in the desert
Musa’s ornate pilgrimage to Mecca. Twitter Images

During his reign, Mansa Musa invaded the Songhai Empire and declared it part of the Mali Kingdom. This happened during his pilgrimage to Mecca, when one of his commanders, Sagaman-dir, captured Gao, the Songhai capital, thus expanding the Mali Empire. Several hundred miles covering the Songhai Empire, the invasion meant gaining an extensive area. Mansa Musa claimed it took him a year to travel from one end of his empire to the other. Though this was possibly an overstatement, the king was so delighted with the new land acquisition that he postponed his return from Mecca to Niani and took a trip to Gao. He wanted to witness the Songhai King’s abdication and take the king’s two sons as his captives.

Mansa Musa’s rule guaranteed decades of stability in Western Africa, a region that stretched about two thousand miles from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Chad, including all or most of the current independent nations of Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad.

THe ancient Map
The Mali Empire, Twitter Images

Resources like gold and salt came with such a massive area of land. According to a British museum, the kingdom of Mali owned about half of the ancient world’s gold during Mansa Musa’s rule, and it all belonged to the king. Musa, as the emperor, had virtually unrestrained access to the most coveted center of wealth, the king of all metals, gold. The current accounts of Musa’s riches are so extensive that one can barely imagine how rich and influential he was. He was richer than anyone would claim.

His Pilgrimage to Mecca

Mansa Musa started his memorable hajj pilgrimage in the 17th year of his sovereignty (1324), traveling across the Sahara Desert and Egypt. One of the major Mamluk sultans, Al-Malik al-Nasir, controlled Cairo, where Mansa Musa toured. However, due to the sultan’s civilization and Mansa Musa, who was overwhelmed by his religious customs, the encounter of the two men, may have resulted in a significant political crisis. 

His jorney to Mecca
Musa’s Pilgrimage to Mecca. Twitter Images

His travel introduced Mali’s extensive riches to the world. Mansa Musa was the first Muslim King in West Africa to travel almost four thousand miles to Mecca. He prepared this pilgrimage for many years and involved experts from several cities to research about the journey and make it a success.

Musa embarked on his journey to Mecca with thousands of escorts. He also carried large quantities of gold, some distributed during the trip. He foolishly wasted tons of gold, and as a Mansa, naturally, he had to ride both in comfort and class. Not one to travel on a spending plan, he ushered a caravan that stretched further than one could see. The sixty thousand strong caravans comprised tens of thousands of richly adorned workers, thousands of followers, and countless musicians who entertained the Mansa. On horseback, the emperor rode ahead of 500 slaves, each with his gold-staff.

A city in the desert
A moving city in the desert. Facebook Images

Furthermore, Mansa Musa had a traveling supply train of 100 camels weighing 300 pounds of pure gold each. He took almost his entire royal court, officials, military personnel, entertainers, and traders. For food, he took a huge tribe of goats and a flock of sheep. It was like a moving city in the desert, whose travelers wore the most golden brocade and beautiful Persian silk, all slaves inclusive. It was a wonder to marvel at, indeed!

Musa’s Generosity Crashed Egypt’s Gold Market

The Mansa donated generously to the underprivileged, charity organizations, and to the leaders of the countries where his entourage passed. When the caravan got to Cairo, where they would display their wealth, the sight was far more exorbitant. The Mansa distributed even more gold during his stay in Egypt that the gold’s worth deteriorated gradually. Mansa Musa created an unforgettable impression that Al-Umari, who visited Egypt twelve years later, found nearly a million people in that region, still singing the praises of Mansa Musa.

Musa in Cairo
Musa shows off his wealth. Twitter Images

So extravagantly did he flood the market of Cairo with gold during his three-month visit, that its price dropped significantly in the area for 10 years, which led to an economic collapse. Although West African rulers had taken trips to Mecca ere Mansa Musa, his flashy voyage advertised both him and Mali beyond Africa. This inspired the Muslim kings and the European countries to find the root of his unimaginable riches. Mansa Musa’s journey created financial havoc close to $1.5 billion across the middle east, owing to the gold devaluation.

On his journey home, Mansa Musa crossed Egypt again, and some insist he attempted to assist Egypt’s economy back to its feet by withdrawing some gold from circulation. He borrowed it from Egyptian lenders at absurdly high-interest rates. The Malian griots, who were singing historians, were furious about their King’s behavior. The King distributed the Malian gold so much so, that the historical musicians ceased to sing about him. They genuinely believed the King squandered much of the empire’s resources to the outside world. Cairo’s gold market price did not completely stabilize even after a decade.

How Timbuktu Became a Household Name Worldwide

Timbuktu became Africa’s pot of gold and people traveled from far away to have a glimpse. Branding it the lost city of gold at the edge of the planet during the mid-nineteenth century, was a myth. But, it became a landmark for both Western explorers and colonists, mainly due to Mansa Musa’s accomplishments, 500 years earlier. When Mansa Musa returned from Mecca, he brought with him Muslim scholars, the Prophet Muhammad’s immediate descendants, officials from various governments, and architects. The King also returned with the architect, Ishaq El Teudjin, who introduced modern construction techniques in Mali. 

He built several Emperor’s structures, including the newest palace in Madagou, the emperor’s chamber in the Malian capital, Niani, the mosque in Gao (Mali’s second-largest city), and the still-existing Great Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali’s largest city. The architect constructed the Gao mosque with baked bricks, which were uncommon construction materials in West Africa then. 

The Great Mosque
The Great Mosque and the City of Timbuktu. Facebook Images

Mansa Musa’s long journey enhanced Islamic teachings in Mali through financing mosques, libraries, and academic institutions. When several Islamic leaders distinguished Musa I, it greatly improved businesses, brought in intellectuals, writers, and craftsmen. In the period when Islam was the most dominant religion in advanced nations from Spain to central India, Timbuktu was among the major cities in the Islamic world.

Abu es Haq es Saheli, an Andalusian poet and architect, was appointed by Mansa Musa to construct the renowned Djinguereber mosque in 1327 and was widely praised for it. The king paid him 200 kg of pure gold (440 pounds), which is $8.2 million in current funds. 

The core of the Islamic Sub-Saharan Africa was distinctly Timbuktu. Several mosques still stand up-to-date on the backbone of Musa’s extensive riches. He also financially supported literature and top-ranked universities, and furthermore, promoted arts and architecture. The wealthy emperor is usually lauded for the genesis of West African academic history. Later, Timbuktu became an educational center, and visitors from all over the globe travel to study at what is now the Sankore University.

The Sankore University
The Sankore University built by Mansa Musa. Facebook Images

Additionally, Timbuktu became a significant trade town under Mansa Musa. He had caravan links to Egypt and many other major trade centers in North Africa. Europe became conscious of Mali after Musa’s religious journey. Italian, German and Spanish mapmakers developed world maps showing Mali with Mansa Musa for the next 200 years. A Catalan atlas map from 1375 has a picture of the African emperor, Mansa Musa, on a golden throne above Timbuktu, with gold in his hand. The earliest map with Mansa Musa’s name and his image appeared in 1339 in Italy.

The Catalan Map
The Ancient Catalan Map with Mansa Musa on it. Facebook Images
Mansa Musa’s Death

In 1337, after 25 years of his reign, Mansa Musa died at the age of 57. His sons, who were unable to keep things afloat, inherited the kingdom. His son Maghan I replaced him. Musa left his descendants a substantial amount of money. His sons not only wasted the best of it but also did nothing to preserve the dignity of the dynasty. The minor states collapsed, and the monarchy crashed. In a civil conflict, the empire was overthrown, and international nations invaded it. 

Mansa Musa left behind a kingdom renowned for its size and wealth as his legacy. He is well-known in the Middle East and Europe for his famous journey to Mecca.

 Had a significant number of Europeans arrived during Musa’s regime instead of a couple of hundred years later, with Mali at the height of its military and economic power, the trend almost certainly would have been different,” says Mr. Ware.

When Europeans invaded Africa later on, it hammered the ultimate nail into the regime’s casket. Mansa Musa’s strong managerial abilities in Mali during his conquest of the Songhai empire, his organization and stable management, the establishment of the Sankore University, the commerce expansion in Timbuktu, and his contemporary architectural developments, portray him as a once-powerful ruler. Furthermore, Mansa Musa’s subjects sustained the moralistic and theological core values he had introduced even after his death.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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