Mameluks, 1 Dinar, Al Ashraf Sayf al Quaitbay

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Mamekukken, 1 Dinar
Al Ashraf Sayf al Qaitbay 1468-1496



The mamelukes or ghilman were military slaves of Central Asian or Eastern European origin in many Islamic dominions. The Arabic word mamlūk literally means "the one taken into possession" and in this specific sense refers to a white male slave imported for the purpose of military service. They were mostly Christians who were enslaved in childhood and adolescence and prepared for their service through forced conversion to Islam and training as mounted soldiers. These soldiers were loyal to their ruler and were able to gain their freedom. The Mamluks were institutionalized as a power factor by the Abbasid caliphs and also used their dominant position as army commanders and kingmakers to establish their own empires from the 9th century onward. The two most important of these empires were the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526), which at times dominated almost all of India, and the Egyptian Sultanate of the Bahri and Burji Mameluks. The Egyptian sultanate was subjugated by the Ottomans in 1517. Nevertheless, the Mameluks remained as the local ruling elite until Napoleon's invasion in 1798 and their final elimination by Muhammad Ali Pasha (1811).

Al Ashraf Sayf al Qaitbay from the line of Burji Mameluks was Sultan of Egypt and Syria from 1468-1496. He was born between 1416 and 1418 in the Circassian region of the Caucasus, bought by Sultan Barsbay and finally released by Jazqmaq. Under Inal and Khuzhqadam, he rose to the highest positions as emir. In 1468, the then took over the rule of Timurbugha. During his tenure as sultan, he saucceeded in asserting his personal rule against the emirs. However, he was less successful politically and economically, as he was unable to avert the decline of the empire despite spending heavily on armaments. Instead, the population continued to impoverish and was increasingly subject to the arbitrary rule of the Mamluk caste. In addition, Syria was increasingly plundered by Bedouins and Turkmen. In addition, epidemics and famine caused the population to decline. The resulting economic problems and loss of income for the Mameluks from their military fiefdoms led to an increase in intra-Mameluk power struggles. Already under an-Nasir Farai (1399-1405), there was a currency crisis. The influx of Sudan gold declined as gold was exported to Europe. At the same time, the influx of European silver coins stopped because Europe had problems minting coins. The Sultan did try to introduce a copper currency, but was unsuccessful. It was not until minting increased again in Europe that the monetary crisis under Al Asraf Sayf al Qaitbay came to an end.  In addition, during a plague epidemic in 1492, a third of all Mamelukes died, which further weakened the ruling caste.

He was succeeded by his son an-Nasir Muhammad IV (1496-1498). However, he was succeeded shortly thereafter by three other sultans before al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghuri (1501-1516) took power.

Additional product information

Origin Orient
Grading VF
Material Gold
Full weight


Literature Frbg. 39, Mitch 1191

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