John Conduitt Posted August 28, 2022 · Supporter Share Posted August 28, 2022 I've posted this elsewhere before, but I noticed we have very few posts about the Golden Horde, and I think it would be nice to encourage some. Little is said in ‘the West’ of this huge empire or even the much larger Mongol Empire of which it was part, aside from Genghis Khan and the vastness of his progeny. But I find it fascinating, not least because of how far west these unsophisticated nomads got. I remember asking an elderly Muscovite why Moscow’s Kitai Gorod (‘China Town’) isn’t anything like China Town in London or Vancouver. He told me it was because the Mongols left 500 years ago. The Mongols? A few feet from Red Square? Their coins are fascinating too, despite some of them looking like they’ve been run over by a Soviet tractor. It doesn’t help that they adhere to Islamic aniconism, even though many Mongol rulers weren’t Muslim. But there’s little you can find on a coin as curious as a tamga – an abstract emblem of a tribe, used by Eurasian nomads to brand animals and identify their clans on coins and seals. I’ve illustrated these below where they appear.Al-Nasir Jital, recognising Genghis Khan, 1221Ghazna, Afghanistan. Billon, 17mm, 4.16g. Al-Nasir li-Din Allah (the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad) / Amir al-Mu'minin (‘Leader of the Faithful’). Adl Khaqan al-Azam (‘coin of the Great Khan’) (Tye 329; Album 1969). This is the only common coin securely attributed to Genghis’s lifetime. It was struck in 1221 at a military base during the Mongol chase of Mangubarni, the last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire, to the Indus River. The Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad, Al-Nasir, had appealed to Genghis Khan (‘Universal Ruler’) to stop what he saw as the threat of the Khwarazmian Empire along his northern border. Genghis obliged by annihilating several Khwarezm cities, including Ghazni. Al-Nasir was left with a new threat – Genghis Khan. When Genghis died in 1227, he was not the ruler of the largest empire the world would ever see. Despite being the only Mongol most have heard of, his empire merely reached northern China and the Caspian Sea. He did, however, unite the nomadic tribes of northern Asia and developed a highly successful method of conquest, involving extreme brutality, that laid the foundations for the famous empire. The Mongols traded in horses, weapons and livestock, and didn’t mint coins under Genghis. Ironically, the last thing you’d do as a nomad in the ‘Horde’ was put your wealth in the ground. But the cities they conquered did mint coins, and understandably felt the need to acknowledge the Great Khan. The Mongols were not Muslims at this time but tolerated other religions, so the Caliph’s title ‘Leader of the Faithful’ on the coin above posed no threat.Malik of Kurzuwan ‘Siege’ Jital, June-July 1221 Kurzuwan, Khwarezm. Bronze, 19mm, 3.7g. Rabi II (4th month in the Islamic calendar) around / al-Malik in centre. Kurzuwan (mint) / First Kalima in 3 lines (‘There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’) (Tye 324). Struck in Kurzuwan by an anonymous local ruler (known as a malik) while under siege by the Mongols. Weeks after it was struck, Ghengis completely destroyed the city and slaughtered the population. It was Genghis’s descendants who established the largest ever contiguous empire. They took what he’d started and rampaged through China, Persia, Russia and into eastern Europe. Like the Romans before them, the Mongols found managing a vast empire required more than one leader. On Genghis’s death it was divided between his sons and grandsons, each subordinate to a Supreme Khan. An argument between his eldest sons Jochi and Chagatai over how completely they should destroy Urgench led to Genghis’s third son, Ögedei, being made the next Supreme Khan, followed by his son, Güyük. Just as the Romans divided their empire between four rulers, so did the Mongols: the Golden Horde in Russia and Eastern Europe (under Batu Khan, son of Genghis’s eldest son Jochi who’d died in 1227) the Chagatai Khanate in Central Asia (under Chagatai Khan from 1227) the Ilkhanate in Southwest Asia (under Hulagu Khan from 1259) the Yuan Dynasty in China (under Kublai Khan from 1271). Batu expanded the Golden Horde by raiding Poland and Hungary, subjugating Bulgaria and sacking Kiev in 1240. The bickering Rus' princes acknowledged his supremacy. He even laid siege to Vienna, right in the heart of Europe. The Golden Horde now extended from Siberia and Persia to the Carpathian Mountains in Poland. It’s not surprising Batu didn’t feel the need to be subservient to anyone, let alone Güyük, who’d insulted him. They nearly came to war, but Güyük died before their armies met, possibly poisoned.Batu Khan Dang, 1249-1250Bolgar (capital of Volga Bulgaria, Russia). Silver, 15mm, 1.19g. Möngke (Mengu) Khan / Möngke’s tamga / Supreme. Struck at / Möngke’s tamga / Bulgar (Sagdeeva 4; Album 2018). The first coins of the Golden Horde were struck in Bolgar from 1240-1250. At the time, Batu was a vassal of the Supreme Khan Möngke, and so the coin features Möngke’s name and fork-like tamga. Batu helped his cousin Möngke succeed Güyük as Supreme Khan in 1251. Their friendship ensured stability and made Batu the most influential person in the Empire. Free of control, he harshly put down a rebellion in Russia where his destruction was only stopped by the Livonian Order. His son Alexander, a Christian, was made the ruler of Russia. Batu founded his capital, Sarai Batu, on the lower stretch of the Volga River. Even the Golden Horde was too unwieldy to rule alone. Batu, who had primacy, took the west, counterintuitively called the ‘right hand’ (unless you’re looking southwards) and referred to as either the White Horde (in Russian sources) or the Blue Horde (in Timurid and Western sources). His brother Orda took the east, the ‘left hand’, confusingly known as either the Blue Horde (in Russian sources) or the White Horde (in Timurid and Western sources). The Mongols never used these terms. The Golden Horde (a Russian term), also known as the Kipchak Khanate or the Ulus of Jochi, was known to them simply as Ulug Ulus (‘Great State’). Batu died in 1256, succeed by his son Sartaq, who promptly died. The regency of the infant Ulaghchi ended quickly with his death. Batu's younger brother Berke, who’d converted to Islam (and may have poisoned his rivals), took control in 1258. So, when Supreme Khan Möngke died with no successor in 1259 in the Siege of Diaoyu Castle (near Chongqing, China), civil war ensued. The four khanates became autonomous if not independent, nominally pledging allegiance to Kublai Khan in China (as the next Supreme Khan) when it suited them.Hulagu Khan Fals, 1260-1261, overstruck on a Badr al-Din Lu'lu' Fals, 1258-1259Sinjar (Iraq), the Ilkhanate. Bronze, 24mm, 6.87g. Shahada in three lines. 8-point star, ‘the Ilkhan Hulagu, may Allah increase his greatness’ (Album 2125.3; Zeno 35480, this coin). Overstruck on a Fals of Badr al-Din Lu'lu' (Album 1876). Badr al-Din Lu'lu' (ruler of Mosul, Iraq) surrendered to Hulagu Khan (founder of the Ilkhanate), sparing his city from destruction. He recognised Möngke as Supreme Khan on the under-coin above. Hulagu overstruck it after their deaths in 1259 and his devastating destruction of Baghdad, where he killed up to 2 million people in less than two weeks. He destroyed Baghdad’s vast, invaluable libraries and threw so many books into the Tigris (perhaps including now-lost Greek, Roman and Islamic masterpieces) the river ran black. It was the end of the Islamic Golden Age. Hulagu was a Buddhist and his slaughter of Muslims enraged Berke, resulting in war and the division of the Empire. Berke savagely attacked Lithuania, Poland and Prussia, and demanded the submission of both the Hungarian monarch and Louis IX, the French King. The Lithuanians had to pay him tribute, as did the Byzantines after Berke assisted an invasion that almost reached Constantinople. The great powers of Europe were at his feet. Berke was at least friendly with the Mamluks of Egypt, in so far as they could assist him against their enemies and enrich him through the slave trade. Berke moved the capital upstream to Sarai Berke, home to as many as 600,000 people. Sarai is near modern Astrakhan in southern Russia, the etymology of which is ‘the Great Khan who visited Mecca’. He supported Hulagu’s conquest of Iran, but when some of his princes and the Abbasid Caliph Al-Musta'sim (an ally of devout Muslim Berke) died suspiciously, Berke went to war with the Ilkhanate. Many of Hulagu's men drowned in the frozen Terek River as they retreated.Berke Khan Yarmak, 1265Qrim (formerly Solkhat, Crimea). Silver, 23mm, 2.0g. Padishah (‘the Great King’) / Islam Nasir / ‘Defender of the Faith and Peace’. Struck at Qrim / Berke’s tamga / ‘Blessed be this year of the black cow’ (this translation of the crude Persian is strongly disputed) (Sagdeeva 6; Album 2019G; Zeno 82173, this coin). Qrim was the Horde’s next centre of coin production after Bolgar. Initially, coins weighed 2g but reduced to 1.45g by the end of the century. ‘Dang’, ‘dirham’ and ‘yarmag’ are synonymous but the dirham of Qrim before about 741 was known as the yarmag (or yarmaq) and later coins were known as the dang. At the same time there was an uprising in Vladimir-Suzdal, Russia, and Berke set off to brutally suppress it. But Vladimir’s Grand Price, Alexander Nevsky, persuaded him not to (as he often did). This helped forge Saint Alexander’s place in the hearts of Russians forevermore. Berke, meanwhile, died in 1266 on the way to another war with the Ilkhanate. He was succeeded by his nephew, Möngke Temür (Mengu Timur, ‘Eternal Iron’).Möngke Temür Pūl, 1266-1282Qrim (formerly Solkhat, Crimea). Bronze, 15.7mm, 1.18g. Möngke Temür’s tamga, Mint of Qrim. 48 (such coins) is 1 Yarmak (Zeno 64329). There were 16 pūls per dannik, where a dannik weighed 0.78g. 6 danniks were equal to 1 miskal (4.68g). The Mongols minted many ‘anonymous’ coins that nevertheless featured a tamga that identified the ruler (or at least their clan). The vast majority of inscriptions were in Arabic, even though the Mongols and their subjects spoke Turkic (Kipchak) languages, Persian, Mongolian (with Uyghur script) and much else besides. Möngke Temür, a shamanist, unsuccessfully plotted against Kublai Khan and the Ilkhanate. But in 1269 at the Talas Kurultai, the rulers of the khanates subordinate to Kublai Khan made an agreement recognising each other as sovereign rulers and allying against Kublai in case he didn’t. They even agreed not to destroy cities or slaughter the civilian populations when attacking them. Möngke Temür became the first ruler of the Golden Horde to call himself ‘khan’ and to put his name (along with Batu Khan’s tamga) on his coins. He consolidated power and gave trading rights to the Genoese, Venetians and Germans, giving the economy a boost. But he died of an abscess in his throat around 1282 and was succeeded by his Muslim brother Töde Möngke (Tuda Mengu). At the same time, Nogai Khan, a Muslim who’d been given control of lands west of the Dnieper (which runs south to the Black Sea), established himself as an independent ruler. Together with Köchü, son of Orda and Khan of the White Horde (eastern Golden Horde), they acknowledged Kublai as Supreme Khan. Savage raids resumed across Eastern Europe.Töde Möngke Dang, 1283-1287Qrim (formerly Solkhat, Crimea). Silver, 22mm, 1.87g. Batu’s tamga in triangle / Coin of Qrim outside triangle. Töde Möngke in square, Equitable / Silver / Legal in segments (Sagdeeva 40; Zeno 270295, this coin). The coin features the tamga of Töde Möngke’s grandfather Batu (as founder of the Golden Horde). All the Golden Horde’s tamgas were variations of Batu’s (to demonstrate the succession), which in turn was based on Genghis Khan’s tamga, which comprised the circle, arm and one horizontal line beneath. In 1285, Nogai invaded Hungary alongside Töle Buqa (Talabuga or Tula Buga), a great grandson of Batu. They ravaged Poland in 1286, and when they were done destroying Europe, they returned home to overthrow Töde Möngke, who departed peacefully. Töle Buqa, a Muslim, was installed as ruler of the Golden Horde, and promptly launched an unsuccessful invasion of the Ilkhanate. Töle Buqa feared Nogai was trying to overthrow him and mustered an army to kill him. He was persuaded by his mother, who’d received letters from Nogai, to meet him alone. Instead, it was Nogai who brought an army, killed Töle Buqa and beheaded all the nobles who supported him. Nogai replaced him with Tokhta in 1291, although Nogai, who did not have the birth right to rule, was de facto leader.Töle Buqa Dang, 1287Qrim (formerly Solkhat, Crimea). Silver, 20mm, 1.47g. Töle Buqa’s Tamga in hexagram. Töle Buqa / Qrim (mint) / year 686AH (1287AD) (Sagdeeva 44; Album 2022.2). Around this time composite tamgas appeared including some cruciform, possibly incorporating a tamga of Nogai. Tokhta set about sacking 14 Russian cities to stop them squabbling but this annoyed Nogai, who felt that was his job. Tensions escalated until they were at war, eventually resulting in Nogai’s death in 1299. Thereafter, Tokhta’s reign was peaceful. He established an alliance with Byzantium and although he was Buddhist and Tengerist he was amiable with Christians and Muslims. Of course, he fought with the Ilkhanate, and he fought with the Genoese because they were enslaving his people and selling them to the Egyptians. But he acknowledged the supremacy of the Yuan Emperor and managed to keep the peace for much of his 21-year reign. He died in 1312 while trying to pacify his troublesome Russian princes.Tokhta Pūl, 1296-1297 Qrim (formerly Solkhat, Crimea). Bronze, 0.97g. Sun face. Tokhta’s tamga / Solkhat (Zeno 65213; Lebedev M8). The mint is given as Solkhat, which was not usually the name given by Mongols (who used Qrim). Pūls were often struck at the request of private customers who provided raw copper. Copper coins bearing a tamga and no khan's name were minted in the Crimea from 1270 onwards. Many pūls from Qrim, unlike other Golden Horde mints but like those from Persia, included images of such things as archers on horseback, birds, leopards and the sun face. Tokha reformed the coinage in 1310 (to his financial benefit) and copper coins were produced at all mints.Muhammad Öz Beg (Uzbeg) Khan’s long, peaceful reign from 1313 to 1341 saw the adoption of Islam as the state religion. Buddhism and Shamanism were forbidden amongst Mongols. Trade flourished and in Sarai there were quarters for merchants, Mongols and other ethnic groups. The city’s wealth and population grew as demand for their products grew, while their ongoing ties with the Mamluks helped fuel the slave trade. Inevitably, Öz Beg invaded the Ilkhanate a few times and assisted Bulgaria in their war with Byzantium, although he had been somewhat slighted when he married the Byzantine Emperor’s daughter only for her to flee when she feared she’d have to convert to Islam. But he re-established relations with the Yuan Dynasty and kept control of the unruly Russian princes, eventually backing the Muscovites under Ivan I to lead the Rus’ state (and collect his taxes). Öz Beg's reign was the military peak of the Golden Horde. His army of over 300,000 warriors was one of the largest in the world.Muhammad Öz Beg Dang, 1333-1334Saray al-Jadida. Silver, 1.50g. Sultan / Just / Öz Beg Khan, Mint of Saray and year (AH734). Symbol of Faith / Names of 4 Caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman and Ali (Sagdeeva 203; Album 2025). Saray had become the centre of coin production. Other mints such as Khorezm, Uvek, Azak and Bilar produced silver coins of half or quarter weight for small change. Like the Horde, under Öz Beg the coins were now unmistakably Islamic. From now on the coinage was standardised across mints. More infighting after Öz Beg’s death and the Black Death in the 1340s (spread to Europe by the Golden Horde) led to the Golden Horde’s painful demise. After Timur invaded in 1396, it broke into smaller khanates that slowly declined. By the mid-1400s, it was referred to as the Great Horde and Moscow was independent. The last remnants, the Crimean Khanate and the Kazakh Khanate, lasted until 1783 and 1847 respectively, 600 years after Genghis Khan started out.Useful References Often, you’re told to ‘buy the book before the coin’. But with Golden Horde coins, that’s not easy.Sagdeeva’s Silver Coins of the Khans of the Golden Horde, 2005 is an invaluable, well-illustrated reference for silver dangs and is widely quoted, but is not available in all good bookstores. Or any. And if you find one, it’s in Russian. If you can't get one, Numista has a growing list of Golden Horde coins, and includes the Sagdeeva illustrations.Pyrsov’s Catalogue of the Juchid Coins of the Saratov Reginal Museum of Local Lore, 2002 covers many bronze pulos. It's available to download, but is in Russian. Again, Numista has some illustrations.Robert Tye’s Jitals, 1995 is free to download, which like most useful Oriental coin references is illustrated with line drawings. But it only includes Great Mongol coins (not the Golden Horde).Stephen Album’s Checklist of Islamic Coins, 2011 is free to download and provides excellent information, although the lack of illustrations makes identification difficult and copper pūls are often not described.Huletski and Farr’s Coins of the Golden Horde: Period of the Great Mongols (1224-1266), 2016 adds context but the period covered is somewhat short – we’re seemingly waiting for ‘Volume 2’. (Huletski also wrote Russian Coins 1353-1533 with Petrunin and Fishman). And of course, there’s always Zeno, particularly if you have an idea of what you’re looking for or want to see examples of listings in Checklist of Islamic Coins.Sources Coinweek, Coinage of the MongolsMongol Tamga Fedorov-Davydov, Monetary System of the Golden HordeLebedev, Symbols and Language of Coins of Krim from the Golden Horde Period 20 2 1 1 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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