In Brief: Little Known Facts From Ismaili History – (I) The Imitation of Fatimid Gold Coins in Christian Kingdoms

BRIEF FACTS FROM ISMAILI HISTORY

Three gold quarter dinars of the Fatimid Imam-Caliph al-Hakim were among the Fatimid objects found in a shipwreck in Turkey. Please visit Simerg's new photo blog. Click http://simergphotoblog.wordpress.com or on image. Photo credit: Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

Three gold quarter dinars of the Fatimid Imam-Caliph al-Hakim were among the Fatimid objects found in a shipwreck in Turkey. Photo credit: Institute of Nautical Archaeology.

“In the twelfth century the gold dinars of the Fatimid caliphs of Egypt were so highly valued throughout the Middle East, especially by Syrian merchants, that the Christian kingdoms founded in Palestine by the Crusaders began to issue imitations of them. These imitations, the so-called “Saracenic besants”, were clumsily produced at first, but their design was gradually improved until they were such faithful copies of the dinar that the horrified papal legate who accompanied King Louis IX of France (Saint Louis) on the Crusades in 1250 threatened those responsible with excommunication for daring to issue coins to the glory of Allah for commercial profit. A compromise was reached. The Saracenic besant was replaced by another issue which was almost identical to its predecessor but bore a cross and Arabic inscriptions to the glory of the Holy Trinity and the Lord Jesus Christ”  – Source: “Dinars Club” by Gerard Krebs, UNESCO Courier, January 1990, page 29.

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For an excellent photo essay about the shipwreck in which thousands of pieces of Fatimid artifacts and objects including the gold dinars (shown above) were found please click Fatimid Shipwreck. For a detailed essay about the Fatimids, please click on Great Moments in Ismaili History: The Establishment of the Fatimid Caliphate

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