World-Magnates Database

“While any number of solar systems exists in the visible night sky, the most recognizable point of those systems is almost always a star—burning brightly and leaving an imprint that is both identifiable and mappable. In this sense, history’s richest individuals—who we call ‘world-magnates’—shone brightly like a star, burning an imprint in history that can be recognized. And through the identification, collection, and mapping of these stars, a more complete understanding of their respective systems can be discerned.”


The World-Magnates Project is a multi-faceted study on the richest individuals in history — the historical equivalents of today’s billionaires — from the mid-fifteenth century to the present. By understanding these individuals as epicenters of wealth accumulation that can be identified in space, time, and industry, we can address longstanding questions about the historical development of capitalism, processes of creative destruction, and inequalities.

The project is based out of the University of Maryland (College Park) and is currently under the direction of Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz (UMD) and Corey R. Payne (Johns Hopkins).


Corey Payne (cpayne@jhu.edu)

Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz (korzen@umd.edu)