The Mongols and the Black Sea Trade in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries

Ultimo aggiornamento: 11 maggio 2021

Ciocîltan V.

The Mongols and the Black Sea Trade in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries

BRILL Leiden, The Netherlands 2012

Collana: East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450-1450, Volume 20


The inclusion of the Black Sea basin into the long-distance trade network – with its two axes of the Silk Road through the Golden Horde (Urgench-Sarai-Tana/Caffa) and the Spice Road through the Ilkhanate (Ormuz-Tabriz-Trebizond) – was the two Mongol states’ most important contribution to making the sea a “crossroads of international commerce”.
The closest recorded working relationship between European and Asian powers in the medieval period, achieved by the joint efforts of the Chinggisid rulers and the Italian merchant republics, was not realised via the usual geographic channels of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Fertile Crescent, but rather by roundabout routes to the Black Sea. Thus at the same time as the sea fulfilled its function as a crossroads of long-distance Eurasian trade, it was also a bypass.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ... vii
List of Maps ... ix

1 Preliminary Remarks ... 1
1.1 The Mongols and Trade ... 2
1.1.1 Sources and Historiographical Concepts ... 3
1.1.2 The Khan and the Merchants: A Symbiotic Relationship ... 8
1.1.3 The Silk Road as the Spine of Eurasian Commerce ... 20
1.1.4 The Nomads and the Silk Road ... 23
1.2 The Mongols and the Black Sea ... 30
1.2.1 Continental Possessions, Maritime Horizons ... 30
1.2.2 Expansion and Blockade ... 32
1.2.3 The Black Sea—A Crossroads of Eurasian Trade ... 34

2 The Mongol Expansion and the Eurasian Commercial Axes ... 37
2.1 The Silk Road as a Channel for Expansion ... 37
2.1.1 Chinggis Khan and the Silk Road ... 37
2.1.2 The Silk Road Under the Protectorate of the Golden Horde ... 42
2.2 The Spice Road: Assault on the Fertile Crescent ... 55
2.2.1 The Last Pan-Mongol Campaign to the West: Half a Victory ... 55
2.2.2 The Ilkhanate—Chief Benef?iciary of Western Asian Expansion ... 58

3 The Disintegration of the Empire: Intra- and Extra-Mongol Commercial Rivalries ... 61
3.1 The Jochid-Ilkhanid Struggle for Tabriz ... 61
3.2 Cilician Armenia in the Ilkhanid-Mamluk Struggle for the Fertile Crescent ... 68
3.3 Political Consequences: The Sarai-Cairo-Tabriz Triangle ... 88
3.3.1 The Sarai-Cairo Axis and its Allies ... 89
3.3.2 The Ilkhanid-Genoese Alliance ... 95
3.4 The Commercial Implications: Connecting the Black Sea to the Eurasian Trade Network ... 95
3.4.1 The Jochid Branch: Urgench-Sarai-Tana/Cafffa ... 96
3.4.2 The Ilkhanid Branch: Tabriz-Trebizond ... 114

4 The Golden Horde and the Black Sea ... 141
4.1 The Origin of the Golden Horde’s Black Sea Policy ... 141
4.1.1 The Cumans and the Black Sea Trade ... 141
4.1.2 Batu: Black Sea Trade in the Shadow of Tabriz ... 144
4.1.3 Berke and the Loss of Tabriz: The Basis of the Golden Horde’s Black Sea Policy ... 148
4.2 Cooperation and Confrontation with the Italian Merchant Republics ... 150
4.2.1 The Beginnings ... 152
4.2.2 Noghai and Toqta, the Genoese and Venetians: The Battle for the Black Sea Trade ... 157
4.2.3 Toqta: Cooperation and Rupture ... 163
4.2.4 Ozbek: Cooperation Reaches Its Peak ... 173
4.2.5 Janibek: The Great Rupture ... 199
4.2.6 Berdibek and Mamai: The Low Point ... 219
4.2.7 Toqtamish: A Brief Revival ... 225
4.3 The Problem of the Straits and the Tartar Solution ... 241
4.3.1 The Battle for the Straits and for the Seljuk Sultanate ... 241
4.3.2 A Guardian of the Straits: The Khanate of the Lower Danube ... 248
4.3.3 Tartar Policy Between the Carpathians and the Straits After the End of Noghai’s Khanate ... 259

5 Conclusion: The Black Sea, Crossroads and Bypass of Eurasian Trade ... 281

The Main Chinggisid Rulers ... 283

Bibliography ... 285
Index ... 301


A cura di Giulia Tarquini

Scheda a cura di: Ciocîltan V.