Jani Beg (Persian: جانی بیگ, Turki/Kypchak: جانی بک‎; died 1357), also known as Janibek Khan, was Khan of the Golden Horde from 1342 until his death in 1357. He succeeded his father Öz Beg Khan.

Jani Beg
جانی بک
Jani Beg on the 1375 Catalan Atlas, with his flag ().
Khan of the Golden Horde
Western Half (Blue Horde)
PredecessorTini Beg
SuccessorBerdi Beg
IssueBerdi Beg and others
DynastyGolden Horde
FatherÖz Beg Khan
MotherTaydula Khatun

Reign edit

With the support of his mother Taydula Khatun, Jani Beg made himself khan after eliminating his older brother and rival Tini Beg at Saray-Jük in 1342; he had already killed another ambitious brother, Khiḍr Beg. He is known to have actively interfered in the affairs of the Russian principalities and of Lithuania.[1] The grand princes of Moscow, Simeon and Ivan II, were under constant political and military pressure from Jani Beg.

Jani Beg commanded a massive Crimean Tatar force that attacked the Crimean port city of Kaffa, then a Genoese colony, 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 plague among his troops. Jani Beg's army catapulted infected corpses into Kaffa in an attempt to use the plague to weaken the defenders. Infected Genoese sailors subsequently sailed from Kaffa to Genoa, Messina, and Constantinople, introducing the Black Death into Europe.[2] The story involving the catapult has been disputed. It is originally based on Gabriel de Mussis of Piacenza in Italy, who wrote about the plague in 1348. It is more likely that rats carrying plague infested fleas went from camp to city and thereby infected the Genoese.[3][4]

Golden Horde coinage of Jani Beg (Jambek) II. AH 767-768 AD 1365-1366

In 1356, Jani Beg conquered the city of Tabriz, installing his own governor. He also asserted Jochid dominance over the Chagatai Khanate, attempting to unite the three khanates of the Mongol Empire. After accepting surrender from Shaikh Uvais, Jani Beg boasted that three ulus (districts/nations) of the Mongol Empire were under his control. Soon after this, he faced an uprising in Tabriz resulting in the rise to power of the Jalayirid dynasty, an offshoot of Ilkhanate, and ultimately in the death of the Khan.

The Chudov Monastery in Moscow, founded at about the time of Jani Beg's fall by Metropolitan Aleksii and Sergii of Radonezh, was built on land that according to legend was granted to Aleksii by the Khan as thanks for the miraculous curing of his mother Taydula by the former.

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. Twenty-five khans succeeded each other between 1357 and 1378.

Catalan Atlas (1375) edit

Jani Beg of the Golden Horde, as depicted in the Catalan Atlas (1375), with the flag of the Golden Horde:  .[5]

Jani Beg appears in the 1375 Catalan Atlas: the Mongol polity of the Golden Horde is accurately depicted north of the Caspian sea. Jani Beg has been identified in this representation, being mentioned as "Jambech senyor de Sarra", and the flag of the Golden Horde also appears ( ).[6] The caption to the right of his depiction reads:

Here resides the emperor of this northern region whose empire starts in the province of Bulgaria and ends at the city of Organcio. The sovereign is named Jambech, Lord of the Sarra.[7]

The symbolism of the Golden Horde flag depicted by the Catalan Atlas ( ) is fairly similar to the type of tamgha symbols (such as  ) actually found on the coinage of the Golden Horde.[8][9] Such symbols were used until the time of Jani Beg, but essentially disappear thereafter.[10]

Family edit

Coin of Jani Beg, New Serai mint. Dated AH 748 (1347-8 CE)
Coin of Jani Beg, Gulistan mint. Dated AH 753 (1352-3 CE)

Jani Beg had a number of sons, only one of whom, Berdi Beg, reigned after him but who proceeded to eliminate his brothers. Two or three more khans appear to have claimed to be Jani Beg's sons and are sometimes treated as such by modern scholars.[11]

Genealogy edit

Popular culture edit

The 2012 Russian film The Horde is set during the reign of Jani Beg and is a highly fictionalised narrative of how Aleksii healed Taidula from blindness.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Buell, Paul D.; Fiaschetti, Francesca (6 April 2018). Historical Dictionary of the Mongol World Empire. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-5381-1137-6.
  2. ^ "How the Plague Spread to Italy". Brown University. March 12, 2010. But then, in 1347, to the Italians' delight, their opponents began to die off at an alarming rate - Janibeg's army was overcome by the Plague. Janibeg had no choice but to call off his siege, but not until he performed one last act of warfare against Genoa. Using the catapults designed to throw boulders and fireballs over the walls of fortified cities like Kaffa, Janibeg launched the Plague infested corpses of his dead men into the city. The Italians quickly dumped these bodies back into the sea, but the damage was done. Due to the squalid conditions forced upon Kaffa by the siege, it was ripe for the quick desolation of the Plague.
  3. ^ O. Benedictow: The Black Death 1346–1353: The Complete History. Woodbridge 2006.
  4. ^ Matthew J. Broughton Catapulted Death: Can a Flying Corpse Distribute the Plague? Retrieved: 30 June 2022.
  5. ^ Massing, Jean Michel; Albuquerque, Luís de; Brown, Jonathan; González, J. J. Martín (1 January 1991). Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration. Yale University Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-300-05167-4.
  6. ^ Massing, Jean Michel; Albuquerque, Luís de; Brown, Jonathan; González, J. J. Martín (1 January 1991). Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration. Yale University Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-300-05167-4.
  7. ^ "The Cresques Project - Panel V". www.cresquesproject.net.
  8. ^  Coinage of Mengu-Timur. Bulghar mint. Dated AH 672 or 3 (AD 1273-1275)
  9. ^ Asiatische Forschungen. O. Harrassowitz. 1982. p. 184. ISBN 978-3-447-02273-6. The tamga ( a sign of ownership or of belonging to a clan ) drawn on the flag can be seen on coins minted in Bulgar and Bilyar at the time of the early Golden Horde. (...) Besides the Catalan atlas of 1375 there is also a 50 x123 cm Catalan map preserved in Paris.
  10. ^ Fedorov-Davydov, German A. (2003). "The Monetary System of The Golden Horde" (PDF). Paleograph Press: 349. Tamga in the form of a two-pointed prong was retained on the coins minted in Bolgar, Mokhsha and the Crimea up until the reign of Janibek, marking the disappearance of this image for the rest of the 14th century.
  11. ^ E.g., Buell 2003: 76; contrast Gaev 2002: 18-19, and Počekaev 2010: 122, 124.
  12. ^ Martin Bernard Dickson, Michel M. Mazzaoui, Vera Basch Moreen, Intellectual studies on Islam: essays written in honor of Martin B. Dickson (1990), p. 113.

Bibliography edit

Preceded by Khan of Blue Horde and Golden Horde
Succeeded by