Crusader coins banned by Pope Innocent IV

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Oct 23, 2021.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    I am attempting to make some sense of these dirhems - some coins that I don't collect, but have accumulated. I am unsure about the attributions - any expertise from CT is much appreciated. The metal on this first coin is a bit unusual, is it a fourree? or perhaps some copper from neighboring coins? low silver coin with some sort of leaching effect? I think it is Christian crusader imitation of an Islamic dirhem from AD 1236-59.
    Saladin Dirhem.jpg
    Christian Crusader Imitation of Islamic, Ayyubids, al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf II, Prince of Aleppo, 634-658 AH 1236-1259 AD, BALOG 755 (655 AH), AR Dirham, six-pointed-star type, Halab (Aleppo) mint

    These imitation dirhems were minted by crusaders in the 13th century in imitation of regional coinage as they were well accepted in trade. The practice continued for many years before Odo of Chateauroux from the Court of Louis the IXth of France, was scandalized by the idea that the Franks were minting coins professing Muslim faith and the name of Mohammad. He wrote to Pope Innocent IV to inform him. In 1253, a letter from Pope Innocent called out the practice as unworthy and abominable, and forbade the practice of minting coins with the name of Mohammad and his birth date.

    This didn't deter the crusaders from minting dirhems: they tried minting coins in 1251, after Odo’s complaint and before the pope took action, with Christian legends and some with crosses. As seen on this coin from 2018 Leu Web Auction 4 Lot 1335 (not my coin):
    These weren't well accepted, so they found a loophole in the order, and began again imitating the Ayyubid coins, shifting to non-sectarian legends in the margins "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate" (Bates Type V or VI) which didn't offend either faith.
    Crusader coin imitating AR Dirhem of Ayyubid al-Salih I Isma'il, mint Acre Israel ~AD 1252-1253

    Here are 3 others that I haven't been able to identify beyond "Kings of Jerusalem, Crusader imitating AR dirhem". The first two both appear to imitating a coin of Ayyubid al-Salih Isma'il / Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir.
    Unknown 3 Dirhem.jpg upload_2021-10-23_11-45-52.png upload_2021-10-23_11-46-9.png

    Maintained notes on these coins with relevant references can be found in my "Notes on Ancient Coins".

    Any info on attribution and opinions on the metal on the first coin are much appreciated. Post your dirhems from this period or anything else you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
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  3. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray Holy Land and vicinity Supporter

    Thank you for your interesting post, @Sulla80 — I too am interested in what Ancients Forum members have to say about the dirham that you posted. I’ve seen them on VCOINS and was curious about them.

    I’m still without a coin from the Crusades period but I do have a coffee mug design using an avatar image that I used a few years ago.


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  4. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter Dealer

    I can't help you, but that's an intriguing bit of history and a wonderfully arcane bit of collecting!
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  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    What an interesting article, @Sulla80! I knew nothing about crusader imitations and I'm just a little more knowledgeable about them thanks to your post! Fascinating coins and history!
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  6. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    @Deacon Ray, thanks for teh note - your graphics are always amazing. I like the several permutations of this mug with different coins and devices that you shared in another thread.

    @Roman Collector and @John Anthony, these coins are intriguing. I am hoping someone like @dltsrq; @Pellinore; @THCoins; or @EWC3 might drop by this thread and know more.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2021
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  7. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    I think the first coin must be a contemporary counterfeit. Whether made by Christians or Muslims I can't say other than the style and calligraphy are pretty good. Of the three at the end, the first two do indeed cite al-Mustansir. You are probably correct that they are imitations. The third appears to be an official dirham of al-Salih Isma'il from Dimashq, citing the caliph al-Mustasim and Ayyubid overlord al-Salih Ayyub.
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  8. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Thank you for your help on these, @dltsrq!
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2021
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  9. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I don’t read Arabic. Are the legends legible, or gibberish like you often see in Gallic and Indian/Sri Lankam imitations of Roman coins
    Sulla80 likes this.
  10. dltsrq

    dltsrq Grumpy Old Man

    Legible but a bit off.
  11. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Two more additions to this thread. First a question:

    does anyone know if dirhem and dirham are interchangable ways of describing this denomination or do the different spellings suggest some subset of coins or regions?

    and second Another Dirhem - this time an Ayyubid coin during the period when they occupied Mardin 1230/31. Another of these coins that stirs up interesting people and history.
    Islam, Artuqids of Mardin, Nasir ad-Din Artuq Arslan (597 - 637 AH / AD 1201 - 1239), AR dirhem (silver), 628 AH, Dunaysir mint.
    Obv: In the six-pointed star mention of the superior ruler Al-Kamil Muhammad, title and name; outside mint and year
    Rev: In the six-pointed star the title and name of the caliph al-Mustansir; outside Kalima
    Ref: Album 1831.1; Dar al Katub 3284
    Notes: Dunaysir (city south of Mardin), hexagram type, Ayyubid style with the Ayyubid al-Kamil Muhammad cited as overlord. Al-Kamil is known as a just and compassionate ruler, who sought peace with the crusaders. He is also said to have met for peaceful dialog with St. Francis of Assisi during the 5th crusade ~1219 AD. He negotiated a peace treaty in 1229 with Frederick II King of Sicily, ceding Jerusalem while retaining other rights and holy sites.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2021
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  12. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    A very interesting write-up, thread, and discussion!

    I am trying my best at deciphering Arabic legends, but since I am still rather bad at it, I find it very hard to distinguish between official Ayyubid dirhems and contemporary imitations. My impression is, though, that official Ayyubid coins are often mislabeled as crusader imitations in order to attract buyers and bidders. Caveat emptor.

    Mine are, as far as I can tell, all official:

    Orient, MA – Ayyubiden in Ägypten, Saladin, 1169-93, AR ½ Dirham, A-789.png
    Ayyubids of Egypt, under al-Nasir Yusuf I (Saladin), AR ½ dirham, 1169–1193 AD, Hamah mint. Obv: title and name of Saladin; kalima around. Rev: title and name of the Abbasid caliph an-Nasir (strongly off center). 14.5mm, 1.33g, Ref: Album 789.2.

    Orient, MA – Ayyubiden in Ägypten, al-Kamil, 1226–1239 AD, AR Dirham, A-812.3.png
    Ayyubids of Egypt, under al-Kamil Muhammad I, AR dirham, 1226–1237 AD (623–634 AH), Dimashq (Damascus) mint. Obv: "al-malik al-kamil / nasir al-dunya wa al-/ din muhammad ibn abi bakr" (name and titles of al-Kamil) in square; partial mint and date formula for Dimashq around. Rev: "al-imam al-mustansir / billah abu ja'far / al-mansur amir al-mu'minin" (name and titles of the caliph al-Mustansir) in square; partial kalima around. Ref: Album 812.3. 22.5mm, 2.87g.

    Orient, MA – Ayyubiden in Aleppo, al-Nasir Yusuf II, Dirham, Stern.png
    Ayyubids of Aleppo, under al-Nasir Yusuf II (“al-Nasir Yusuf II”), AR dirham, 1236–1259 AD (struck 646 AH/ 1249 AD ?), Halab (Aleppo) mint. Obv: regent’s title, kalima around. Rev: title of caliph al-Musta‘sim, in six-pointed star, mint and date formula around. 22mm, 2.8g. Ref: Album 842.4.

    Orient, MA – Ayyubiden in Aleppo, al-Nasir Yusuf II, Dirham Quadrat.png
    Ayyubids of Aleppo, under al-Nasir Yusuf II (“al-Nasir Yusuf II”), AR dirham, 1250–1259 AD, Dimashq (Damascus mint). Obv: regent’s title in square: “al-malik al-nasir / salah ad-din yusuf / ?”; circle with partial legend around. Rev: title of caliph al-Musta‘sim in square: “al-imam al-musta'sim / billah abu ahmad / amir al-mu'minin,” circle with partial legend around. Ref: Album 843.1. 23mm, 2.7g.
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  13. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Thanks for posting your interesting coins! I agree - and thanks for raising an important caveat on seller attributions - I am prompted to edit the OP to say "share your dirhems" regardless of certainty in origin. Incomplete legends from small flans, partial strikes, and wear make this challenging.

    From what I've read so far, the anachronistic dates (e.g. citing al-Mustansir on coins dated in the 640's) and use of Christian symbols or margin legends is the only way to attribute the imitations with certainty. Michael Bates in his 1974 article is explicit "epigraphical errors and elisions occur on both Ayyubid and Crusader issues...and constitute no bass for distinguishing between the two".

    I remain interested to learn more from others expert in these coins. There is no shortage of interesting history on all sides - Ayyubid and crusader, and Byzantine. Here is another coin of a type that I don't collect, but happen to own.
    Alexius I Comnenus Aspron Trachy. Alexius I, the Byzantine ruler when the first crusade was launched.
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  14. VD76

    VD76 Well-Known Member


    County of Tripoli , imitation of al-Zahir Ghazi AR dirham, AH625 (1227)

    obverse : al-Malik


    al-Zahir Ghazi

    الظاهر غازي

    Ibn Yusuf Bin

    ﺍﺑﻦ ﻳﻮﺳﻒ ﺑﻦ



    reverse : al-Imam


    al-Nasir Ahmad

    ﺍﻟﻨﺎﺻﺮ ﺍﺣﻤﺪ

    al-Malik al-'Adil

    ﺍﻟﻤﻠﻚ ﺍﻟﻌﺎﺩﻝ

    Abu Bakr

    ﺍﺑﻮ ﺑﻜﺮ

    A-836 CCS-1

    Ex Stephen Album


    Crusaders. Pseudo-Damascus series. Imitating Ayyubid emission of al-Salih I Ismail. Dirhem. AH 646 /8 1248/50 AD


    Bates I.B.2
    Small fleurs-de-lis in central legend
  15. VD76

    VD76 Well-Known Member

    Crusader Imitation of Ayyubid al-Salih Isma'il AR dirham 641 AH (1243 AD )

    Dies as SNAT Palestina #445

    21 mm/ 2.88 g.

    Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem AR Dirham Akka (Acre) mint. Dated AD 1252

    Obverse : within square, Christian legend in Arabic reading - " One God, one Faith, one Baptism" in centre cross pattee within linear circle, outer margin legends - " struck in Acre in the year one thousand and two hundred and two and fifty of the Incarnation" .

    Reverse : within square Christian legend in Arabic reading - " The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit one Divinity" outer margin legend - " His is the glory forever and ever, amen, amen" .


    Unpublished date . Only four other coins are known, struck from the same obverse dies .
  16. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    An fantastic addition to the thread - thank you! nice to see this example of a coin that was for obvious reasons not the most useful for trade between Christians and Muslims, and therefore not minted in large quantities. The fleurs-de-lis was a more subtle touch.
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  17. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    To second @Sulla80, that second one is pretty amazing, @VD76. One compelling detail is that, between 1250 and 1254, Louis IX was personally in Palestine. He'd just been ransomed, following his capture during the earlier, disastrous Egyptian phase of the 7th Crusade. Yeah, papal envoys, and a very conspicuously pious European king in your backyard. Giving only more resonance to @VD76's observation, that once the immediate pressure eased up, the local Franks went back to less explicit legends.
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