|Winter 1999/2000AD / 1420AH Vol. 1.2|
Ottoman Coinage Part II, A new Empire is born
By Slobodan Sreckovic, With editorial assistance from Fawzan Barrage
The growing Ottoman state needed to expand, but Anatolia was not yet the theatre for now. The Balkans were a much riper stage with new lands to conquer from non-muslim kings, thus fulfilling the goal of Ottoman expansion while at the same time gaining more land for the banner of Islam.
After the conquest of Bulgaria Murad I moved on Serbia. In June 1389 (Rejeb 791) in the battle on the field of Kosova, the Serbian army overran the Ottomans and Murad I was killed. There was no winner in the battle of Kosovo, only two defeated armies. Bayezid, the eldest of Murads son took control of the Ottoman army and had his younger brother Yakub killed to prevent a possible mutiny and to claim the Ottoman leadership uncontested. Bayezid retreated with the rest of army to the safety of his capital in Edirne.
To secure the Anatolian domains from possible rebellions, Bayezid I had his father Murad I and his brother Yakub secretly buried in Bursa. Although he would have been expected to strike his own coins after the battle thus claiming the right of Sikka as the new ruler, he refrained from doing so. His eastern borders were unsecured and he needed time before informing his neighbors of the change in power that took place. Instead, he minted anonymous mangyrs (city coin) in his capital with similar ornaments, on the obverse and the reverse (Fig. 1 - type S.J. # 91). By desiphering the symbols on the mangyrs one could tell that the coins were of Ottoman origin (three lines), minted by Bayezid (big five-pointed star in the middle) in the capital (two small stars on each side of the big one). It is likely that in the same, early period of his rule he minted similar mangyr in Bursa, but on those mangyrs beside the three lines in the middle of coin and ornaments (six pointed-star and three dots on the each side of star), there was the inscription HAN (Fig. 2 - coll.C.O.)
Bayezids nickname was YILDIRIM (Turkish = Lightning). The same root has the word YILDIZ (Turkish = star), thus the star came to symbolize Bayezit on these early coins. In the European part of the Ottoman state, a five-pointed star was used, but in Anatolian, the old Karamans symbol of the six-pointed star was placed on the coins minted there. One can decipher from these symbols who minted the anonymus mangyrs during that short period and where they were minted.
Six months later (December,20th, 1389 = 792 AH) when Bayezid had consolidated his rule, new akches were minted (Fig. 3 - Authors coll.). The inscription on the obverse reads: Bayezid/ bin Murad, and on the reverse: Hullide Mulkehu/ Sene (word designed as divider) / 792. Mangyrs were also minted, with the inscription on the obverse reading: Bayezid/ bin Murad, and on the reverse ornaments (three dots on the each side of star), and the inscription: Hullide Mulkehu (Fig. 4 - Authors coll. and Fig. 5 - type S.J. 89).
Bayezid led several campaigns in Anatolia in 1390 and 1391. After conqueering the Isfendyiar emirate and capturing Kastamonu and Sinop new mangyrs were minted. Those mangyrs were designed as akches but instead of the year 792 the year 794 is struck on the reverse. So far two types of those mangyrs have been identified. The first one, an early type, is with three lines in the middle of the obverse (as on previous mangyrs). On the reverse instead of the word SENE there is a single line (Fig. 6 - type Y.K.-ny # 5, coin no.3). The second type is with a single line in the middle of obverse, with the word SENE written out in the middle of the reverse ( Fig 7 - coll. C.O.).
After the great victory in the battle of Nicopolis in June,25th 1396, (Ramazan 798) Bayezid obtained permission from Mamluks to use the title Sultan. This title was not used on the coinage though, despite several opportunities presenting themselves.
Several varieties of Bayezids akche have been identified, with three dots on the right (Fig. 8 - Authors coll.) or left side (Fig. 9 - Authors coll.) of year (792), one or two dots (Fig. 10 - RJE coll.) at the text separator (single line or word SENE). Probably all of them occurred from different mintplaces. The rarest akche are those with errors, where separators are switched (instead of a single line there is the word SENE on the obverse) (Fig. 11 - Authors coll.).
In the battle of Ankara on July 28th ,1402 (Zul Hijdje 804), the Ottomans were defeated by Timur (Timur-lenk) and Bayezid was captured with two of his sons. He died in captivity on March 8th 1403 (Saban 805).
S.J. - Sultan Jem, Coins of the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republik, Thousand Oaks, U S A, 1977.
coll. C.O. - ex collection of Cüneyt Olçer (present of Yapi ve Kredi Bankasi)
Y.K.-ny # 5 - Nümismatik Yayinlari no. 5, Rare Ottoman Coins, Yapi ve Kredi Bankasi A.S., Istanbul, 1973.
RJE coll. - Collection from Germany
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