Marie Favereau: Money as a Medium of Exchange in the Fourteenth-Century Golden Horde


The Jochid elites not only created the best conditions for the merchants to circulate and establish trading posts within the Golden Horde, they took also an active part in the exchanges, involving their finances and their own traders. Depending on the transaction size, the merchants could use a variety of golden, silver, and copper coins; and they used also silver ingots called summa in Latin. The khans implemented reforms to shift from this multiple currency system to a unified system based on a money of account denominated in silver. They also forced the merchants to exchange foreign currencies for Mongol currency although some foreign coins remained in use for certain periods of time in the western part of the Horde, such as the Byzantine hyperpyron and the Venetian ducat. In this paper, I intend to give a broad picture of the monetary system of the Golden Horde. First, I will explain why in the western wing the Mongols immediately adopted the Islamic coinage system; second, I will uncover the reasons behind the monetary reforms of the khans Toqta, Janibek, and Toqtamish; and their consequences on the trade system.



Aleksandar Uzelac: The Jochids and Crimea in the Second Half of the Thirteenth Century


Mongols first appeared in Crimea as early as in 1223, during the ‘raid’ of Subutai and Jebe. Batu’s armies subjugated the peninsula in 1239, but it was not before the mid-thirteenth century that the Jochids took decisive steps to establish their authority and to secure revenues coming from the exploitation of the natural resources and the international trade conducted via the Crimean cities. At that time, Crimea became a contact zone where Tatar and western political and economic interests influenced and overlapped each other. It was a consequence of the strategic disposition of the peninsula, commercial activities of its inhabitants, cosmopolitan character of Crimean urban centres, but also the Jochid policies in the region.

The role and the place of Crimean cities in the international trade during the second half of the thirteenth century have been thoroughly researched, mainly from Venetian or Genoese point of view. The Jochid perspective was somewhat neglected. However, western, Byzantine and oriental sources provide possibility to turn our attention to the Jochid aspects of the issue: the role of their rulers, delegation of political and administrative power in Crimea, and the place of the local Tatar elite in the trade activities during the first decades of the Tatar rule. Exactly these issues will be in the focus of this paper.



Csaba Göncöl: Tolu Bay, Emīr of Khan BerdiBek


In 1357 Khan Berdi Bek succeeded his father on the throne of the Golden Horde. His reign of two years marked the beginning of a civil war within the ruling dynasty that lasted for more than two decades, and eventually led to the disintegration of the Ulus of Joči in the following century. Chroniclers and historians of the later Golden Horde refer to this short period as the time, when the line of Batu died out. Following this tradition, Ötemiš Ḥāǰǰī of 16th century Khiva, and the 18th century Crimean ʿAbdulġaffār Qїrїmī, representatives of the historiography of the Golden Horde, state that a tutor of the khan, Tolu Bay of the Qanglї tribe, driven by his thirst for revenge, managed to persuade the khan to kill off his relatives and offsprings, so that they cannot usurp his throne. The khan fell for the mischief, did his tutors bidding, thus exterminating the line of the former rulers of the Golden Horde. Who was this Tolu Bay, and what was the background of this story? In my presentation I will introduce the available data on Tolu Bay preserved in Turkic, Persian and Russian sources, elucidate his role in Khan Berdi Beks actions and in the historiography of the later Golden Horde. Furthermore, I am going to make an attempt to determine his position in the administration of the Golden Horde and to follow its changes.



István Zimonyi: The Great Town – Men Kermen in “The Secret History of the Mongols”


The city name Men Kermen in “The Secret History of the Mongols” is identified with Kiev in the chapters concerning the great western Mongol campaign against Eastern Europe. It is based on the datum of Rashīd al-Dīn: “the great city of the Rus, which was called Men-Kermen.” It is beyond doubt that the Cumans called Kiev as Men Kermen meaning in Turkic Great Town as the spiritual and ecclesiastic center of Kievan Rus. However there is another possibility. The capital of the Volga Bulghars in the first decades of the 13th century has been excavated near to village Bilyarsk. It is called by the contemporary sources as VelikiyGorod in the Russian annals, magna civitas in the work of the Hungarian friar, Julian both meaning Great Town.



Konstantin Golev: The Cuman-Qïpchaqs, the Khwārazmshāhs and the Cities on the Lower Course of Syr Darya


During almost two centuries of their domination in the steppes of Western Eurasia, the Cuman-Qïpchaqs as a rule did not demonstrate interest in conquests or establishment of any form of political control over territories beyond the borders of the steppe world. Some notable exceptions of this trend were the rich urban centers that lied on the very edge of the steppe and the sawn. This “lighthouses” of sedentary civilizations were often surrounded by and sometimes dependent on the nomads, and flourished due to their location on the crossroad between the steppe dwellers and the “outside world”. The history of the Cuman-Qïpchaq tribes in the Pontic Steppes demonstrates that they were ready to assert a kind of loose political suzerainty over such rich trading centers as Sudaq for example. Can we recognize the same pattern in the relations of the Qïpchaqs with the Central Asian cities along the lower course of Syr Darya—Jandand Sïqnaq? Were these urban centers somehow connected with the socio-political structure of the eastern Qïpchaq tribes? What was the effect of the Khwārazmian expansion over the Qïpchaq presence in the cities along Syr Darya? The present paper will try to answer these questions on the basis of the Persian Chronicles and the preserved documents of the chancellery of the Khwārazmshāhs.



Yihao, Qiu: Postal System, Rabat (Inns) and Caravansaries on the Post-Mongol Silk Road. Accounts of the Routes linked the Ming Empire and Timurid Central Asia


As the previous researchers already pointed out, during the era of the Mongol Empire (13th -14th), the postal and road system which was established in Ögedei’s (r. 1229-41) reign linked the Yuan (1271-1368) and Chaghatai Khanate (1225-1370 in Transoxania/17th in Turkestan). The envoys, official and semi-official missions continuously passed to and fro between two regimes through these roads. Most of our sources, e.g. Chinese, Turkic, Mongolian and Persian preserved data on the eastern part of the postal and road system, we have only rudimentary knowledge on the western part of them.

Nevertheless, the Ming (1368-1644) and Timur dynasty (1370-1507), which inherited the legitimacy, institutional legacies of the Mongol Empire separately, continued to utilize these routes to keep the diplomatic contacts with each other, and thus had more detailed acquaintance with the routes and geographical knowledge. Given the roads and residences in the journey, to a large extent, relying on the geographical environment, it is reasonable to assume that the road system between Ming and Timurid Central Asia followed Yuan-Chaghatai tradition. In addition, quite amount of the geographical accounts, in Chinese and Persian — mostly based on the envoys’ reports, were quoted and re-edited by the contemporary and later authors. But till now, there is lack of the adequate discussion on the above-mentioned accounts.

The current paper is a preliminary survey on some new-found geographical sources, including: 1) a 16th century illustrated map, “Mongolian Landscape Map” (menggushanshuiditu, 蒙古山水地圖); 2) “The Commentary on the Territories and Peoples of the Western Regions” (xiyutudirenwulue, 西域土地人物略); 3) “Jurjānī’s Book of Roads and Kingdoms, (Masālik va mamālik Jurjānī, edited in 16th century). According to the accounts of the places-names and the routes from Ming China to Timurid Central Asia recorded in above sources, the author tries to discuss the continuities and the changes occurred on the Silk Road during the Post Mongol era.



Francesca Fiaschetti: Mongols at Sea: the maritime Silk Roads and mid-Yuan China


The paper investigates the engagement of the Mongol Yuan dynasty on the sea, and its long-term impact on the subsequent economic and political development of Southeast Asia. At the center of the investigation will be data from understudied sources (including the local gazetteer dadenahnaizhi, and the section on sea transport of the “Compendium for Governing the World”). The paper will provide an overview of the scale, administrative apparatus, the routes and goods involved in the Mongol maritime trade. Thus, the paper highlights the significance of the Mongol context in the history of the maritime Silk Roads. At the same time, it addresses the innovations brought forth by the Yuan dynasty in the Southeast Asian environment, in terms of technological exchange, political and cultural dynamics.



Phil Slavin: The Road to Hell: The Origins and Spread of Cattle Disease along the Silk Road, c.1280-1310


The proposed paper looks at the geographic origins and the extent of cattle panzootic, which ravaged practically all of Eurasia in the late thirteenth and the early fourteenth century. The disease, caused most likely by Rinderpest, has received some scholarly attention in Europe, but its Asian origins have been entirely neglected. The paper attempts to fill up this gap by looking on the available evidence to establish the environmental context, the main contours and means of the spread of the disease, its impact on different parts of the Mongol Empire (all the way from Yuan China to the Ulus Juchi) and governmental responses to cope with the disaster. As it will argue, the bovine mortality crisis seems to have had a harsh impact on local economies and societies and it contributed a great deal to the ‘crisis of the fourteenth century’ – just as in Christian Europe. The paper will link the bovine crisis to wider bio-environmental issues and in particular, the role of health and disease in the decline of the Mongol Empire in the course of the fourteenth century.



Márton Vér: The ortok-Merchants in the Old Uyghur documents


The ortok-merchants played a decisive role in the economic life of the Mongol Empire in general and in the four uluses in particular. They were the “partner” merchants of the ruling elite, who supplied them with capital to invest in commercial activity and moneylending. This type of partnership between the Central Asian merchants and the empire building nomads of Central Eurasia had a long tradition before the Mongol era, at least since the time of the First Türk Khaganate.

While most of our knowledge about these privileged merchants derives from narrative sources, the Old Uyghur documentary sources offer a unique insight to the actual functioning of agents. This paper will provide an overview of the Old Uyghur documents, which can be connected to ortok-merchants or ortok-associations, with a special focus on some so far unpublished texts.



Yoichi Isahaya: Bīrūnī’s Revival along the Mongol Silk Roads


Abū Rayḥān Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (973–1048) was an eleventh-century savant who contributed to the development of mathematical and astral sciences in the eastern Islamic world. He also broadened the horizon of Muslim knowledge through his writings such as the “Description of India” which takes all India as its subject and “The Chronology of Ancient Nations” dealing with calendars used from ancient times onwards in the known world. This presentation aims to give insight into a less-known “revival” of his works in the period of the Mongol empire (1206–1368). It has already been known that some of his works were revitalized in the new context of Mongol-ruled Iran under the regime of the Ilkhanate (ca. 1256–1357). Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (1201–74) referred to al-Qanūn al-Masʿūdī, al-Bīrūnī’s astronomical handbook, in order to compile his Zīj-i Īlkhānī. An illuminated manuscript of the Chronology of Ancient Nations, the so-called “Edinburgh al-Bīrūnī manuscript,” was produced along with concern of Rashīd al-Dīn (1249–1318) who had immense interest in the chronologies of other communities in the process of compiling his world history, Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh. On the other hand, I will turn our attention toward the eastern part of the empire by demonstrating that al-Qanūn al-Masʿūdī was also transmitted along with the Mongol Silk Roads into the intellectual sphere of the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) probably through the hands of Jamāl al-Dīn (d. ca. 1289). The argument will be cemented in consideration of a linkage between the work and others also brought into Yuan China.



Szilvia Kovács: Friars on the road(s) in the Mongol world (13–14th centuries)


The first papal envoys traveled to the Mongol Empire in 1245–47. These papal-sponsored missions to the Mongols began with John of Plano Carpini’s travel. The Franciscan and his brothers reached the court of the Great Khan via the territory of the Golden Horde. The Dominican-led embassies, launched at the same time, made contact with the Mongols in territories adjacent to the Middle East. The first friar traveled with missionary aim was William of Rubruck. Plano Carpini and Rubruck left us detailed reports about their routes, observations, and activities as they traveled in the territory of the Mongol Empire. After them, European missionaries entered the Mongol Empire in relatively large number in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

In this paper, I intend to give answers to the following questions:

  1. Why did the friars choose the particular routes to reach their missionary territories?
  2. From which sources do we have information on their routes?
  3. How did the missionaries keep contact with their order in the West? How did their letters get to Europe?
  4. Are there any other missionary sources about the Mongol postal system (yam), in addition to the well-known reports?