(sold for $229.0)


1516, Egypt, Burji Mamluks, Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghauri. Gold Ashrafi Dinar Coin.

Condition: VF-XF! Mint Place: Uncertain Reference: Album 1041. Mint Period: 1501-1516 AD Denomination: Gold Ashrafi Dinar Ruler: Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghauri (1501-1516 AD), Diameter: 16mm Material: Gold! Weight: 3.4gm

For your consideration a rare gold ashrafi coin, struck  in Egypt, during the 15th Century, by the Burji (Tower) Mamluks, who ruled Egypt for nearly 150 years, centering their power in a towered citadel. Mamluk means "slave", as most of the rulers started their lives as slaves, working their way up the system through merit. Mamluk gold Ashrafis were struck to a weight of approximately 3.5g, which was the same as that of the standard gold trade coin of the period, the Venetian Ducat. They are generally of the highest purity.

Another historic fact often mentioned with the gold ashrafi coins is that it was included in the original tale of Ali Baba and the 40 thieves:

"When he stood within the cave, its door had closed upon him, yet he was not dismayed, since he had kept in memory the magical words, and he took no heed of the precious stuffs around him, but applied himself only and wholly to the sacks of ashrafis." (The Ali Baba & the 40 Thieves tale, first translated by Sir Richard Burton, 1850)

Bidwith confidence!

Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghauri (Arabic: الأشرف قانصوه الغوري‎‎) was the second-to-last of the Mamluk Sultans. One of the last of the Burji dynasty, he reigned from 1501 to 1516.

The reign began as usual with the removal of all Tuman bay's adherents.   As dangerous to the throne, they were laid hold of, imprisoned or exiled   and their property escheated; while the opposite party were restored to   freedom and raised again to power and office. Tuman bay I from his   hiding-place was found to be plotting against the new Sultan; after some   weeks, betrayed by his friends, he was murdered by the Mamluks of an Emir whom he had put to death; and so Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri was saved   from that danger without arousing the hostilities of his predecessor's   party. On the other hand, the remains of Sultan Al-Ashraf Janbulat were   brought from Alexandria where Tuman bay I had caused him to be executed, and royally interred at Cairo.

Present danger thus averted, Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri turned to the   revenue administration. To replenish the empty treasury, exorbitant   demands were levied on every kind of property to the extent of from   seven to ten months' income; even religious and charitable endowments   not escaping. This was exacted with such severity, not only from Jews   and Christians, but from every class, as to create outbreaks in the   city.

There is not much of importance to tell of the earlier years of this   reign. The outrages of the royal Mamluks must have become intolerable,   for twice while Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri took fresh oaths of loyalty   from his Emirs, he also on his own part swore upon Quran,   that he would no more suffer his Mamluks to do them harm. We read also   of some suspected treason, which led to punishments of more than   ordinary barbarism. Till near the close of the Sultanate, much was not done in fighting. The Bedouins attacked Kerak and Jerusalem, but were repulsed by the Syrian Emirs. Rebellion and rival factions at Mecca and Yanbu also rendered measures necessary for chastising the Sharifs and restoring order.

On 15 June 1512, Al-Ghawri received an envoy of the King of Georgia with 20 horses, who was dressed in gold and his cap was adorned with ermine. He came to Al-Ghawri to ask for reopening of the Church of Holy Sepulchre which was closed down for Christians for two years.

The chief concern was the fitting-out a fleet which should protect   the Eastern seas from Portuguese attack. For it was at this time that Vasco da Gama, having in 1497 found his way round the Cape and obtained pilots from the coast of Zanzibar, pushed his way across the Indian Ocean to the shores of Malabar and Kozhikode, attacked the fleets that carried freight and Muslim pilgrims from India to the Red Sea, and struck terror into the potentates all around. The Rulers of Gujarat and Yemen turned for help to Egypt. Sultan Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri accordingly fitted out a fleet of 50 vessels under his Admiral, Hussein the Kurd. Jeddah by forced labor was soon fortified under Barakat II bin Muhammad better   known as Barakat Efendi as a harbor of refuge from the Portuguese; now Arabia and the Red Sea were protected. But the fleets in the Indian Ocean were at the mercy of the enemy.

Various engagements took place; in one of these, an Egyptian ship   belonging to Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri, and in the following year a   fleet of seventeen vessels from Arabian harbors- were after a hard   struggle taken by the Portuguese, the cargo seized, the pilgrims and   crew slain, and the vessels burned. The Sultan was affronted and angry   at the attacks upon the Red Sea, the loss of tolls and- traffic, the   indignities to which Mecca and its Port were subjected, and above all at the fate of his own ship,   and he vowed vengeance upon Portugal. But first, through the Prior of Zion, he threatened the Pope that if he did not check Ferdinand and Manuel I of Portugal in their depredations on the Indian Seas, he would destroy all   Christian holy places, and treat Christians as they were treating the   followers of Islam. Foiled in this demand, a naval enterprise was set on   foot and carried out with various successes. In Battle of Chaul in 1508, Lourenço de Almeida was defeated and lost his life; but in the following year this defeat   was avenged by a terrible defeat of the Egyptian fleet at the Battle of Diu in which the Port city of Diu was wrested from the Gujarat Sultanate of India by Francisco de Almeida. Some years after, Afonso de Albuquerque tried to take Aden,   while the Egyptian troops suffered disaster in Yemen. Al-Ashraf Qansuh   al-Ghawri now fitted out a new fleet to punish the enemy and protect the   Indian trade; but before its results were known, Egypt had lost her   sovereignty, and the Red Sea with Mecca and all its Arabian interests   had passed into Ottoman hands.

Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II was still engaged in Europe when there suddenly in 1501 appeared a new ground of hostility with Egypt. It arose out of the relations of the two kingdoms with the Safavid dynasty in Persia. Shah Ismail I of Persia was a Shia Muslim who had embarked on a war with the Sunni Ottoman Sultanate over the Caucasus and religious differences. Many Sufi sects had been arrested or exiled by Sultan Bayezid II as dangerous to   his rule; and Shah Ismail I's request, that instead they should be   allowed free transit into Europe across the Bosporus, was rejected. Upon this, Shah Ismail I sent an Embassy to the Venetians via Syria inviting them to join his arms and recover the territory taken from them by the Porte. Sultan Bayezid II, angry with the Mamluk Sultan Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri, complained bitterly that this   Embassy had been suffered to pass through Syria. To appease him,   Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri placed in confinement the Venetian merchants then in Syria and Egypt. And although, fearing reprisals from   Venice, he after a year released them, yet the relations between Egypt   and the Porte remained peaceful for a time.

On the succession, however, of Selim I to the throne of Ottoman Sultanate, things took a very different turn.   Not only had the attitude of Shah Ismail I become more threatening, but   Sultan Selim I himself was more of the warrior than his father. Selim I   set out against him, and the Battle of Chaldiran was fought near Tabriz on August 23, 1514. The fanaticism of the Sufis, which led even to   their women joining in the combat, failed against the cavalry and   artillery of the Turks, and Ismail after a disastrous defeat fled and   escaped. Selim I, his provisions failing, returned westward and spent   the winter at Amasia. In the spring taking the field again, he attacked the bey of Dulkadirids who as Egypt's vassal had stood aloof, and sent his head with tidings   of the victory to Mamluk Sultan Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri. Selim I   later overran Diyarbakır and Iraq, taking Roha, Nisibin, Mosul and other cities. Secure now against Shah Ismail I, a larger project   dawned upon Selim I; it was the conquest of Egypt, and the fact that the   invasion must be made from Syria. With no anxieties toward the North,   he could now safely make the advance, and so in the spring of 1516 CE he   drew together for this end a great and well-appointed army; and with   the view of deceiving Egypt, represented his object to be the further   pursuit of Shah Ismail I.

Leaving Al-Ashraf Tuman bay II the Vizier, in charge, Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri marched against the Ottoman Turks. He was defeated by Selim I at the Battle of Marj Dabiq, north of Aleppo,   on August 24, 1516; the betrayal of two Mamluk leaders Janberdi   Al-Ghazali and Khayr Baig led to the Mamluk defeat and to the death of   the Sultan Qansuh. This marked the end of Mamluk control of the Middle   East that eventually passed to the Ottomans. Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri   himself fell upon the field and his head was carried to the Conqueror.

Accounts however vary to how he met his end. It is said that Khayr   Baig spread report of his death to precipitate the Egyptian flight.   According to some the Sultan was found alive on the field, and his head   cut off and buried to prevent its falling into the enemy's hands. The   Ottoman account is that he was beheaded by a Turk whom Sultan Selim I   would have put to death, but afterwards pardoned.

Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri had reigned a little more than 15 years.   Of his private life and domestic administration we know but little, for   as we reach the later years of the Mamluk Sultanate, details become too   scanty for a judgment. He could, as we have seen, be cruel and   extortionate, but so far as our information goes, there is less to say   against him than against most of the previous Sultans.




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This coin has been sold for   $229.0

Notes: https://www.ebay.com/itm/153114070839 2018-08-08

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