Holy Wars Box: Six Coins Highlighting Famous Battles Between Christians and Muslims (6-Coin Box)

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#1: The Battle of Tours, 732 CE | Umayyad silver dirham

     After a century of incredible success expanding the Caliphate by Mohammad, the Rightly Guided Caliphs, and the subsequent Umayyads, the spread of Islam into Europe was thwarted by Charles ”The Hammer“ Martel at the Battle of Tours in the south of France. The Franks won the battle despite not having cavalry. Historians describe Tours as ”the turning point of one of the most important epochs in the history of the world.“

#2: The First Crusade, 1096-1099 | Seljuk silver dirham

     Pope Urban II called upon Christians to retake the Holy Lands from the infidels. The Franks heeded the call, retaking important Middle Eastern cities from the Seljuk Turks, and establishing a Latin Kingdom in Jerusalem. While subsequent Crusades would prove less successful, the Latin knights would hold Jerusalem for almost 200 years.

#3: The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, 1212 | Spanish Almohad silver dirham

     Islamic forces began the conquest of the Iberian peninsula in 711. They would hold most of that territory until 1212, when the Almohads were defeated by Christian forces led by King Alfonso VIII of Castile at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. While the Muslims would not be repulsed from the whole of Spain until 1492, this battle was the turning point; after the defeat, Muslim influence in Iberia waned, never to recover.

#4: The Siege of Vienna, 1529 | Silesia silver half groschen

     Seeking to re-establish Ottoman control over Hungary, Suleiman the Magnificent sensed an opportunity to expand further into Western Europe by sacking the city of Vienna. It was as far into Central Europe as the Ottomans would ever get. Christian forces repulsed the Turks, successfully defending the city, and turning the tide against a century of Islamic incursion into Europe.

#5: The Fall of Constantinople, 1453 | Ottoman Empire silver akche

     The seat of the mighty Byzantine Empire, for centuries a Christian bulwark against Turkish designs on the West, Constantinople was the greatest city in Christendom for a thousand years—and a prize coveted by the Ottomans. After seven centuries of trying, the Muslims finally took the Emerald City in 1453, effectively ending the Byzantine Empire in the process.

#6: The Battle of Vienna, 1683 | Ottoman Empire, Suleyman II bronze mangir

     At its height, under Suleiman the Magnificent in the mid-16th century, the Ottomans possessed arguably the most powerful kingdom on earth, a vast and diverse dominion that included most of Northern Africa, the whole of the Balkan peninsula, Persia, Arabia, the Crimea, and the Holy Land, as well as modern-day Turkey. By the end of the 17th century, however, the Empire had begun its slow but inexorable decline. The Ottoman sultan Mehmed IV suffered repeated crushing defeats by the combined forces of Europe, including the disastrous battle that ended the protracted siege of Vienna in 1683. By 1700, the Ottoman Empire had lost Hungary, Transylvania, Slavonia, and Dalmatia to its enemies. Its expansion into Europe was halted for good.

(Limit: 5)

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