The Emperor of the Malian Empire gave away so much gold to the poor that the economy of the Middle East and North Africa was devastated for years.

This generous but naive soul was named Emperor Mansa Musa-which translates to “king of kings” or “emperor.” Musa was a devoted Muslim, and spent much of his time facilitating the growth of Islam in his empire. 

Musa made his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324, with a butt-load of resource; from men to gold. It is recorded that every Friday, he built a new mosque! On the way, he also gave away gold to the poor he encountered on his route, mostly in the cities of Cairo, Medina, and Mecca. 

While he meant well, this sudden influx of gold devastated the value of the metal for the next decade. To accommodate the newfound wealth, prices on goods and services were eventually inflated. To fix his mess, Musa borrowed all the gold he could from money-lenders in Cairo at a high interest. 

For the first and (so far) only time in history, one man single-handedly controlled the price of gold in the Mediterranean.