Enigmatic copper pulo with a double-headed eagle, Khan Jani Beg I (1342-1357 AD), Qirim mint, 1342 AD, Jochid Mongols (Lebedev 50-1)

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Zarb Qirim seven hundred and fourty three (743 AH = 1342) in a number of lines, all within a double square within a large circle / Double-headed stylized eagle within a multiple border. 16mm, 1.60 grams. Mint of Qirim (?). Lebedev #50-1; Yanina 51; Zeno 43350.

Very interesting type with a lot of history - the long arabic inscription on this coin is very blundered and confused and was not read until 1920's, when Hermitage orientalist R.Fasmer suggested the inscription should be read as "seven hundred and fourty nine" (that is, the written out date). In 1954, the famous numismatist S.Yanina suggested the legend should be read as "Struck in Saray al-Jadid, 16 (to a) dang", but only a few years later changed her reading to agree with the earlier reading of R.Fasmer. In 1961 she suggested the inscription should be read as "Zarb Qirim in Seven hundred and fourty four". However, this type is often found in the lower Volga region and in Bulgar, so it is far from certain it was minted in Qirim. The current reading is "Zarb Qirim, seven hundredand fourty three". The last number is sometimes read as "four", but coins bearing a clear date "744" seem to be unknown, and it would seem that all coins of this type are dated to 743 (perhaps a frozen date).

Jani Beg (died 1357) was a khan of the Golden Horde from 1342 to 1357, succeeding his father Uzbeg Khan. After putting two of his brothers to death, Jani Beg crowned himself in Saray-Jük. He is known to have actively interfered in the affairs of Russian principalities and of Lithuania. The Grand Princes of Moscow, Simeon Gordiy, and Ivan II, were under constant political and military pressure from Jani Beg. Jani Beg commanded a massive n Tatar force that attacked the n port city of Kaffa in 1343. The siege was lifted by an Italian relief force in February. In 1345 Jani Beg again besieged Kaffa, however, his assault was again unsuccessful due to an outbreak of the Black Plague among his troops. It is thought that Jani Beg's army catapulted infected corpses into Kaffa in an attempt to use the Black Death to weaken the defenders. Infected Genoese sailors subsequently sailed from Kaffa to Genoa, introducing the Black Death into Europe. The reign of Jani Beg was marked by the first signs of the feudal strife which would eventually contribute to the demise of the Golden Horde. Jani Beg's assassination in 1357 opened a quarter-century of political turmoil within the Golden Horde.