Fingerin, Agnes (d. 1515)

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Fingerin, Agnes (d. 1515)

German textile merchant. Born in Gorlitz, Germany; died in 1515 in Gorlitz; married (husband died in 1465).

The child of a wealthy weaver, Agnes Fingerin was a textile merchant and an important townswoman in the German town of Gorlitz. Though she ran her own business even while she was married for a short time, the years after her husband's death in 1465 saw her greatest prosperity. Fingerin outlived her husband by 50 years, and during her widowhood she was one of the wealthiest textile merchants in the town. In addition to buying and selling in Gorlitz, like many merchants Fingerin did a fair amount of traveling, both for business and pleasure. After she had established her fortune, she even journeyed to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage.

However, most of the time she remained in Gorlitz, importing raw wool and selling it to cloth manufacturers. Although she was a shrewd manager of her money, out of a sense of piety she also felt a strong obligation to help those less fortunate. Toward this end, she gave generously to local hospitals and to other charitable causes. Fingerin used her considerable wealth to set up a permanent endowment to aid the needy by distributing bread; it remained active for hundreds of years, and its founder was remembered by the endowment's name, the Agnetenbrot (Agnes-bread).

Laura York , Riverside, California