University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume VI: The impact of the Crusades on Europe
(1989)

XI: Crusader coinage with Arabic inscriptions,   pp. 421-473 PDF (5.7 MB)


Page 427

 Ch. XI CRUSADER COINAGE WITH ARABIC INSCRIPTIONS 427 
ever, be others still attributed to the F~timids in various collections.
One example might be a dinar of Mi~r, 443, in the British Museum with a gold
fineness of only 89.1 percent according to Oddy's measurement.12 All the
crusader imitations of al-Mustansir's issues are attributed in the next section
to the county of Tripoli. 
 The last Fatimid type, beginning in 490 (1096/7), bears the words ' dl ghayah,
"high standard (of fineness)" (p1. XII, no. 6), 13 and this issue, like its
predecessor, was initially higher in fineness, probably as close to pure
gold as technology permitted at the time, although this standard was not
always maintained during the issue's century of life. On the other hand,
the ' dl ghayah coins do not seem to have been struck to any weight standard.
This mattered little, since dinars were usually weighed in payment. 
 It was this type that was most extensively imitated by the crusaders, specifically
the issues of the caliph al-Amir (1101—1130), whose dinars would have
been the most common in circulation in the earliest years of the crusading
principalities. According to Metcalf's chronology (below, pp. 441 —448),
these imitations would have begun at a date around the middle of the twelfth
century and continued until the third quarter of the thirteenth; they are
attributed to the kingdom of Jerusalem. 
 Egypt's rulers took pride in the high quality of their gold coinage, and
the mint discriminated against foreign gold coins, even those of nearly the
same level of purity. Generally speaking, this high quality was maintained:
with few exceptions, F~timid gold coins are better than 90 percent pure,
and most are as pure as contemporary technique permitted.'4 Nevertheless,
it would be gathered from what has been said that the picture of the F~timid
dinar as the "dollar of the Middle Ages", absolutely standard in weight and
purity from the beginning to the end of the dynasty, is seriously misleading.
Both the weight standard (or the standard of the weights used to measure
transactions) and the purity of the Fätimid dinar were changed from
time to time; contemporaries were well aware of these variations, but to
reconstruct the exact sequence of changes will require a more minute study
of the coinage than has yet been made.'5 
 Egyptian dinars issued under the Aiyübid sultan Saladin do not seem
 12. Oddy, "The Gold Contents of Fãtimid Coins Reconsidered," Metallurgy
in Numismatics, I (London, 1980), 116, no. 811, plate 9. 
 13. For ghayah as a synonym for "fineness", or more precisely "intended
fineness", see IbnKhaldUn, Al-mu qaddimah, I, ed. Etienne M. Quatremere,
Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliotheque nationale, XVI (Paris,
1858), 407; Fr. trans. William MacGuckin de Slane, ibid., XIX (1862), 460;
Eng. trans. Franz Rosenthal (Bollingen Series, no. 43, New York, 1958), I,
464. 
 14. Oddy, op. cit., pp. 99-118. 
 15. For a fuller discussion of these problems see Bates, "The Function,"
pp. 86—91. 


Go up to Top of Page