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Timur
Emir of the Timurid Empire
Timur reconstruction03.jpg
Forensic facial reconstruction of Timur by M. Gerasimov (1941)
Reign 1370-1405
Coronation 1370, Balkh
Born April 6, 1336(1336-04-06)
Birthplace Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan
Died February 18, 1405 (aged 68)
Place of death Otrar, Syr Darya
Buried Gur-e Amir, Samarkand
Predecessor Amir Husayn
Successor Khalil Sultan
Royal House Timurid
Father Mukhammad Taraghay
Mother Tekina Mohbegim

Timur (from the Perso-Arabic form تیمور Tīmūr, ultimately from Chagatai (Middle Turkic) Temür "iron"; 8 April 1336 – 18 February 1405), also known as Tamerlane (from Tīmūr-e Lang "Timur the Lame"), was a 14th-century conqueror of much of western and central Asia, founder of the Timurid Empire and Timurid dynasty (1370–1405) in Central Asia, and great great grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived until 1857 as the Mughal Empire of India.[1][2][3][4][5]

Born into the Mongol[6][7] Barlas tribe who ruled in Central Asia,[8][9] Timur was in his lifetime a controversial figure, and remains so today. He sought to restore the Mongol Empire, yet his heaviest blow was against the Islamized Tatar Golden Horde. He was more at home in an urban environment than on the steppe. He styled himself a ghazi yet some Muslim states, e.g. the Ottoman Empire were impacted severely by his wars. A great patron of the arts, his campaigns also caused vast destruction. Timur told the qadis of Aleppo, during the sack of that newly-conquered city,"I am not a man of blood; and God is my witness that in all my wars I have never been the aggressor, and that my enemies have always been the authors of their own calamity."[10]

Contents

Name

Temür means "iron" in the Chagatai language and in Mongolian (compare Temüjin "ironworker", the given name of Genghis Khan). The term temür is ultimately derived from a Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit word *čimara ("iron").[11]

As an adult he was better known as Timūr Gurkānī (تيمور گوركانى), Gurkān being the Persianized form of the original Mongolian word kürügän, "son-in-law", as the first of Timur's ancestors called by the name "kara-sharnoban" embraced Islam and married the daughter of Chagatai Khan, the son of Genghis Khan, and so became the son-in-law of Chagatai Khan.

Various Persian sources use a byname, Tīmūr-e Lang (تیمور لنگ) which translates to "Timur the Lame", as he was lame after sustaining an injury to the leg in battle. During his lifetime his enemies used to tease him with it, much to Timur's discomfort. In the West, he is commonly known as Tamerlane, which derives from his Persian byname.

Early life

Timur was born in Transoxiana, in City of Kesh (an area now better known as Shahrisabz, 'the green city,'), some 50 miles south of Samarkand in modern Uzbekistan. His father Taraqai was a small-scale landowner and belonged to the Barlas, a nomadic Turkized Mongol tribe in the steppes of Central Asia. They were remnants of the original Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan, many of whom had embraced Turkic or Iranian languages and customs. Timur was a Muslim, his official religious counselor was the Hanafite scholar 'Abdu 'l-Jabbar Khwarazmi. However, there is evidence that he had secretly converted to extremist Shia Nusayri sect under the influence of his spiritual mentor Sayyed Barakah, a Nusayri leader from Balkh. Moreover, the spurious genealogy on his tombstone tracing his descent back to Ali, as well as the presence of Shiites in his army, led some observers and scholars to call him a Shiite. However, he also constructed one of his finest buildings at the tomb of Ahmed Yesevi, an influential Turkic Sufi saint who spread Sufi Islam among the nomads.

Military leader

Map of the Timurid Empire

In about 1360 Timur gained prominence as a military leader whose troops were mostly Turkic tribesmen of the region.[9][12]. He took part in campaigns in Transoxania with the Khan of Chagatai, a fellow descendant of Genghis Khan. His career for the next ten or eleven years may be thus briefly summarized from the Memoirs. Allying himself both in cause and by family connection with Kurgan, the dethroner and destroyer of Volga Bulgaria, he was to invade Khorasan at the head of a thousand horsemen. This was the second military expedition which he led, and its success led to further operations, among them the subjection of Khwarizm and Urganj.

After the murder of Kurgan the disputes which arose among the many claimants to sovereign power were halted by the invasion of the energetic Jagataite Tughlugh Timur of Kashgar, another descendant of Genghis Khan. Timur was dispatched on a mission to the invader's camp, the result of which was his own appointment to the head of his own tribe, the Barlas, in place of its former leader, Hajji Beg.

The exigencies of Timur's quasi-sovereign position compelled him to have recourse to his formidable patron, whose reappearance on the banks of the Syr Darya created a consternation not easily allayed. The Barlas were taken from Timur and entrusted to a son of Tughluk, along with the rest of Mawarannahr; but he was defeated in battle by the bold warrior he had replaced at the head of a numerically far inferior force.

Rise to power

Monument of Emir Timur in Tashkent

Tughlugh's death facilitated the work of reconquest, and a few years of perseverance and energy sufficed for its accomplishment, as well as for the addition of a vast extent of territory. It was in this period that Timur reduced the Jagatai khans to the position of figureheads, who were deferred to in theory but in reality ignored, while Timur ruled in their name. During this period Timur and his brother-in-law Husayn, at first fellow fugitives and wanderers in joint adventures full of interest and romance, became rivals and antagonists. At the close of 1369 Husayn was assassinated and Timur, having been formally proclaimed sovereign at Balkh, mounted the throne at Samarkand, the capital of his dominions. This event was recorded by Marlowe in his famous work Tamburlaine the Great:[13]

Then shall my native city, Samarcanda...
Be famous through the furthest continents,
For there my palace-royal shall be placed,
Whose shining turrets shall dismay the heavens,
And cast the fame of lion's tower to hell.

A legendary account of Timur's rise to leadership, recorded among the Tatar descendants of the Qıpchaq Khanate in Tobol, goes as follows:
One day Aksak Temür[14] spoke thusly:

"Khan Züdei (in China) rules over the city. We now number fifty to sixty men, so let us elect a leader." So they drove a stake into the ground and said: "We shall run thither and he who among us is the first to reach the stake, may he become our leader". So they ran and Aksak Timur (since he was lame) lagged behind, but before the others reached the stake he threw his cap onto it. Those who arrived first said: "We are the leaders". (But) Aksak Timur said: "My head came in first, I am the leader". In the meanwhile an old man arrived and said: "The leadership should belong to Aksak Timur; your feet have arrived but, before then, his head reached the goal". So they made Aksak Timur their prince.[15][16]

It is notable that Timur never claimed for himself the title of khan, styling himself amir and acting in the name of the Chagatai ruler of Transoxania. Timur was a military genius but sometimes lacking in political sense. He tended not to leave a government apparatus behind in lands he conquered, and was often faced with the need to conquer such lands again after inevitable rebellions.

Period of expansion

Statue of Timur in his birthplace of Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan

Timur spent the next 35 years in various wars and expeditions. He not only consolidated his rule at home by the subjugation of his foes, but sought extension of territory by encroachments upon the lands of foreign potentates. His conquests to the west and northwest led him among the Mongols of the Caspian Sea and to the banks of the Ural and the Volga. Conquests in the south and south-West encompassed almost every province in Persia, including Baghdad, Karbala and Northern Iraq.

One of the most formidable of Timur's opponents was another Mongol ruler, a descendant of Genghis Khan named Tokhtamysh. After having been a refugee in Timur's court, Tokhtamysh became ruler both of the eastern Kipchak and the Golden Horde. After his accession, he then quarreled with Timur over the possession of Khwarizm and Azerbaijan. However, Timur still supported him against the Russians and in 1382 Tokhtamysh invaded the Muscovite dominion and burned Moscow.[17]

After the death of Abu Sa'id, ruler of the Ilkhanid Dynasty, in 1335, there was a power vacuum in the Persian. In 1383 Timur started the military conquest of Persia. He captured Herat, Khorasan and all eastern Persia by 1385 and captured almost all of Persia by 1387. These conquests were characterised by exceptional brutality. For example, when Isfahan surrendered to Timur in 1387, he initially treated it with relative mercy as he commonly did with cities that surrendered without resistance. However, after the city revolted against Timur's punitive taxes by killing the tax collectors and some of Timur's soldiers, Timur ordered the complete massacre of the city, killing a reported 70,000 citizens. An eye-witness counted more than 28 towers, each constructed of about 1,500 heads.[18]

In the meantime, Tokhtamysh, now khan of the Golden Horde, turned against his patron and invaded Azerbaijan in 1385. This action would cause a counter by Timur that would become the Tokhtamysh–Timur war. In the initial stage of the war, Timur won a victory at the Battle of the Kondurcha River, however Tokhtamysh and his army were allowed to escape. After Tokhtamysh's initial defeat, Timur then invaded Muscovy to the north of Tokhtamysh's holdings. Timur's army burned Raizan and advanced upon Moscow, only to be pulled away before reaching the Oka River by Tokhtamysh's renewed campaign in the south.[17]

In the first phase of the conflict with Tokhtamysh, Timur led an army of over 100,000 men north for more than 700 miles into the uninhabited steppe, then west about 1000 miles, advancing in a front more than 10 miles wide. The Timurid army almost starved, and Timur organized a great hunt where the army encircled vast areas of steppe to get food. It was then that Tokhtamysh's army was boxed in against the east bank of the Volga River in the Orenburg region and destroyed at the previously mentioned Battle of the Kondurcha River. During this march, Timur's army got far enough north to be in a region of very long summer days, causing complaints by his Muslim soldiers about keeping a long schedule of prayers in such northern regions.

It was in the second phase of the conflict that Timur took an easier route against the enemy, invading the realm of Tokhtamysh via the Caucasus region. The year 1395, saw the Battle of the Terek River, when Tokhtamysh's power was finally broken, concluding the titanic struggle between the two monarchs.

Tokhtamysh was not able to restore his power or prestige. He was killed about a decade after the Terek River battle in the area of present day Tyumen, by agents of an emir named Edigu.

Timur during the course of his campaigns destroyed Sarai, the capital of the Golden Horde, and Astrakhan, subsequently wrecking the Golden Horde's economy based on Silk Road trade. The Golden Horde saw of political disintegration after such losses, with Mongol unity in the region shattered permanently.

Indian campaign

Timur began a trek starting in 1398 to invade the reigning Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud of the Tughlaq Dynasty in the north Indian city of Delhi.[19] His campaign was officially based on rectifying the fact that the Muslim Delhi Sultanate was too tolerant toward its Hindu subjects, but was motivated greatly by the considerable wealth to be gained.[20]

Timur crossed the Indus River at Attock (now Pakistan) on September 24, 1398, but Timur's invasion did not go unopposed and he did meet some resistance during his march to Delhi, by the Governor of Meerut. Timur was able to continue his relentless approach to Delhi, arriving in 1398 to combat the armies of Sultan Mehmud, already weakened by an internal battle for ascension within the royal family.

Timur defeats the Sultan of Delhi, Nasir Al-Din Mahmum Tughluq, in the winter of 1397-1398, painting dated 1595-1600.

The Sultan's army was easily defeated on December 17, 1398. On this day the army of Sultan Mahmud Khan had prepared 120 war elephants armored with chain mail. He had put poison on the tusks, which put fright into the Tatar lines. Timur took action and the Tatars dug out a trench in front of their positions. Timur then took his camels and placed all the wood and hay he could on their backs. When the war elephants charged he lit the camels on fire and then prodded them with iron sticks. They charged at the elephants howling in pain. Timur had understood that elephants were easy creatures of panic. Faced with the strange specter of the burning camels flying straight at them with flames leaping from their backs, the elephants turned around and stampeded back toward their own lines. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Before the battle for Delhi, Timur executed 100,000 captives, mostly Hindus:[4][19]

"At this Court Amír Jahán Sháh and Amír Sulaimán Sháh, and other amírs of experience, brought to my notice that, from the time of entering Hindustán up to the present time, we had taken more than 100,000 infidels and Hindus prisoners, and that they were all in my camp. On the previous day, when the enemy's forces made the attack upon us, the prisoners made signs of rejoicing, uttered imprecations against us, and were ready, as soon as they heard of the enemy's success, to form themselves into a body, break their bonds, plunder our tents, and then to go and join the enemy, and so increase his numbers and strength. I asked their advice about the prisoners, and they said that on the great day of battle these 100,000 prisoners could not be left with the baggage, and that it would be entirely opposed to the rules of war to set these idolaters and foes of Islám at liberty. In fact, no other course remained but that of making them all food for the sword. When I heard these words I found them in accordance with the rules of war, and I directly gave my command for the Tawáchís to proclaim throughout the camp that every man who had infidel prisoners was to put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. When this order became known to the gházís of Islám, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death. 100,000 infidels, impious idolaters, were on that day slain. Mauláná Násiru-d dín 'Umar, a counsellor and man of learning, who, in all his life, had never killed a sparrow, now, in execution of my order, slew with his sword fifteen idolatrous Hindus, who were his captives."

Timur himself recorded the invasions in his memoirs, collectively known as Tuzk-e-Taimuri.[4][19][21][22] In them, he vividly described the massacre at Delhi:

On the 16th of the month some incidents occurred which led to the sack of the city of Dehlí, and to the slaughter of many of the infidel inhabitants. One was this. A party of fierce Turk soldiers had assembled at one of the gates of the city to look about them and enjoy themselves, and some of them laid violent hands upon the goods of the inhabitants. When I heard of this violence, I sent some amírs, who were present in the city, to restrain the Turks. A party of soldiers accompanied these amírs into the city. Another reason was that some of the ladies of my harem expressed a wish to go into the city and see the palace of Hazár-sutún (thousand columns) which Malik Jauná built in the fort called Jahán-panáh. I granted this request, and I sent a party of soldiers to escort the litters of the ladies. Another reason was that Jalál Islám and other díwáns had gone into the city with a party of soldiers to collect the contribution laid upon the city. Another reason was that some thousand troopers with orders for grain, oil, sugar, and flour, had gone into the city to collect these supplies. Another reason was that it had come to my knowledge that great numbers of Hindus and gabrs, with their wives and children, and goods, and valuables, had come into the city from all the country round, and consequently I had sent some amírs with their regiments (kushún) into the city and directed them to pay no attention to the remonstrances of the inhabitants, but to seize and bring out these fugitives. For these several reasons a great number of fierce Turkí soldiers were in the city. When the soldiers proceeded to apprehend the Hindus and gabrs who had fled to the city, many of them drew their swords and offered resistance. The flames of strife were thus lighted and spread through the whole city from Jahán-panáh and Sírí to Old Dehlí, burning up all it reached. The savage Turks fell to killing and plundering. The Hindus set fire to their houses with their own hands, burned their wives and children in them, and rushed into the fight and were killed. The Hindus and gabrs of the city showed much alacrity and boldness in fighting. The amírs who were in charge of the gates prevented any more soldiers from going into the place, but the flames of war had risen too high for this precaution to be of any avail in extinguishing them. On that day, Thursday, and all the night of Friday, nearly 15,000 Turks were engaged in slaying, plundering, and destroying. When morning broke on the Friday, all my army, no longer under control, went off to the city and thought of nothing but killing, plundering, and making prisoners. All that day the sack was general. The following day, Saturday, the 17th, all passed in the same way, and the spoil was so great that each man secured from fifty to a hundred prisoners, men, women, and children. There was no man who took less than twenty. The other booty was immense in rubies, diamonds, garnets, pearls, and other gems; jewels of gold and silver; ashrafís, tankas of gold and silver of the celebrated 'Aláí coinage; vessels of gold and silver; and brocades and silks of great value. Gold and silver ornaments of the Hindu women were obtained in such quantities as to exceed all account. Excepting the quarter of the saiyids, the 'ulamá, and the other Musulmáns, the whole city was sacked. The pen of fate had written down this destiny for the people of this city. Although I was desirous of sparing them I could not succeed, for it was the will of God that this calamity should fall upon the city.

Timur left Delhi in December 1398 and went to Meerut. Then he rode up to Hardwar and sacked the holy city on January 23, 1399. Before he crossed the Ganges, he faced stiff resistence from Hindus at Bhokarhedi. He praises the courage of Hindus at Bhokarhedi in his autobiography. In April he had returned to his own capital beyond the Oxus (Amu Darya). Immense quantities of spoils were taken from India. According to Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, 90 captured elephants were employed merely to carry precious stones looted from his conquest, so as to erect a mosque at Samarkand – what historians today believe is the enormous Bibi-Khanym Mosque.

Last campaigns and death

Painting by Stanisław Chlebowski, Sultan Bayezid imprisoned by Timur, 1878, depicting the capture of Bayezid by Timur.

Before the end of 1399, Timur started a war with Bayezid I, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and the Mamluk sultan of Egypt. Bayezid began annexing the territory of Turkmen and Muslim rulers in Anatolia. As Timur claimed sovereignty over the Turkmen rulers, they took refuge behind him. Timur invaded Syria, sacked Aleppo and captured Damascus after defeating the Mamluk army. The city's inhabitants were massacred, except for the artisans, who were deported to Samarkand. This led to Timur's being publicly declared a Hero and Ghazi of Islam.

In 1400 Timur invaded Armenia and Georgia (see also Timur's invasions of Georgia). More than 60,000 people from the Caucasus were captured as slaves, and many districts were depopulated.[23]

He invaded Baghdad in June 1401. After the capture of the city, 20,000 of its citizens including Muslims were massacred. Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur).

In the meantime, years of insulting letters had passed between Timur and Bayezid. Finally, Timur invaded Anatolia and defeated Bayezid in the Battle of Ankara on July 20, 1402. Bayezid was captured in battle and subsequently died in captivity, initiating the 12-year Ottoman Interregnum period. Timur's stated motivation for attacking Bayezid and the Ottoman Empire was the restoration of Seljuq authority. Timur saw the Seljuks as the rightful rulers of Anatolia as they had been granted rule by Mongol conquerors, illustrating again Timur's interest with Genghizid legitimacy.

After the Ankara victory, Timur's army ravaged Western Anatolia, with Muslim writers complaining that the Timurid army acted more like a horde of savages than that of a civilized conqueror. But Timur did take the city of Smyrna, a stronghold of the Christian Knights Hospitalers, thus he referred to himself as ghazi.

Timur was furious at the Genoese and Venetians whose ships ferried the Ottoman army to safety in Thrace. As Lord Kinross reported in The Ottoman Centuries, the Italians preferred the enemy they could handle to the one they could not.

Tamerlane's tomb seen from a distance

By 1368, the new Chinese Ming Dynasty had driven the Mongols out of China. The first Ming Emperor Hongwu, and his successor Yongle demanded, and received, homage from many Central Asian states paid to China as the political heirs to the former House of Kublai. The Ming's emperor's attempts to treat the Timur himself as a vassal did not do well: when in 1394 the Hongwu's ambassadors presented Timur with a letter addressing him in this way, he had the ambassadors Fu An, Guo Ji, and Liu Wei detained, and the 1500 soldiers of their guard, executed.[24] Neither the following Hongwu's embassador, Chen Dewen (1397) nor the delegation announcing the accession of the Yongle Emperor fared any better.[24]

Timur wished to restore the Mongol Empire, and eventually planned to conquer China. To this end, Timur made an alliance with the Mongols of the Northern Yuan Dynasty and prepared all the way to Bukhara. The Mongol leader Enkhe Khan sent his grandson Öljei Temür, also known as Buyanshir Khan. In December 1404, Timur started military campaigns against the Ming Dynasty and detained the Ming envoy, but he was attacked by fever and plague when encamped on the farther side of the Sihon (Syr-Daria) and died at Atrar (Otrar) in on February 17, 1405,[25] without ever reaching the Chinese border.[26] Only after that were the Ming envoys released.[24]

Timur's scouts explored Mongolia before his death, and the writing they carved on trees in Mongolia's mountains could still be seen even in the 20th century.[citation needed]

Gur-e Amir, the tomb of Timur.

Although he preferred to fight his battles in the spring, Timur died enroute during an uncharacteristic winter campaign against the ruling Chinese Ming Dynasty. It was one of the bitterest winters on record; his troops are recorded as having to dig through five feet of ice to reach drinking water. Records indicate though, that for part of his life at least, he was a surreptitious Ming vassal and that his son Shah Rukh visited China in 1420.[27] He ruled over an empire that, in modern times, extends from southeastern Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait and Iran, through Central Asia encompassing part of Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, North-Western India, and even approaches Kashgar in China. Northern Iraq remained predominantly Assyrian Christian until attacked, looted, plundered and destroyed by Timur leaving its population decimated by systematic mass slaughter. All churches were destroyed and any survivors forcefully converted to Islam by the sword.[28] Of Timur's four sons, two (Jahangir and Umar Shaykh) predeceased him. His third son, Miran Shah, died soon after Timur, leaving the youngest son, Shah Rukh. Although his designated successor was his grandson Pir Muhammad b. Jahangir, Timur was ultimately succeeded in power by his son Shah Rukh. His most illustrious descendant Babur founded the Mughal Empire and ruled over most of Pakistan and North India. Babur's descendants Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, expanded the Mughal Empire to most of the Indian subcontinent along with parts of modern Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Markham, in his introduction to the narrative of Clavijo's embassy, states that his body "was embalmed with musk and rose water, wrapped in linen, laid in an ebony coffin and sent to Samarkand, where it was buried." His tomb, the Gur-e Amir, still stands in Samarkand, though it has been heavily restored in recent years. Timur had carried his victorious arms on one side from the Irtish and the Volga to the Persian Gulf, and on the other from the Hellespont to the Ganges River.

Contributions to the arts

Timur became widely known as a patron to the arts. Much of the architecture he commissioned still stands in Samarkand, now in present-day Uzbekistan. He was known to bring the most talented artisans from the lands he conquered back to Samarkand, and is credited with often giving them a wide latitude of artistic freedom to express themselves.

According to legend, Omar Aqta, Timur's court calligrapher, transcribed the Qur'an using letters so small that the entire text of the book fit on a signet ring. Omar also is said to have created a Qur'an so large that a wheelbarrow was required to transport it. Folios of what is probably this larger Qur'an have been found, written in gold lettering on huge pages.

Timur was also said to have created Tamerlane Chess, a variant of shatranj (also known as medieval chess) played on a larger board with several additional pieces and an original method of pawn promotion. These pieces included the camel, siege-weapon, giraffe, and several others as well as boasting a complicated system involving the ability to exchange pawns for certain pieces should they reach the other side of the board.

Timur's mandating of Kurash wrestling for his soldiers ensured for it a lasting and legendary legacy. Kurash is now a popular international sport and part of the Asian Games.

Exchanges with the West

Letter of Timur to Charles VI of France, 1402, a witness to Timurid relations with Europe.

Timur had numerous epistolary exchanges with Western, especially French, rulers. The French archives preserve:

  • A July 30, 1402, letter from Timur to Charles VI, king of France, suggesting him to send traders to the Orient. It was written in Persian.[29]
  • A May 1403 letter. This is a Latin transcription of a letter from Timur to Charles VI, and another from Amiza Miranchah, his son, to the Christian princes, announcing their victory over Bayezid, in Smyrna.[30]

A copy has been kept of the answer of Charles VI to Timur, dated June 15, 1403.[31]

Legacy

Timur's legacy is a mixed one. While Central Asia blossomed under his reign, other places such as Baghdad, Damascus, Delhi and other Arab, Persian, Indian and Turkic cities were sacked and destroyed. He was responsible for the effective destruction of the Christian Church in much of Asia. Thus, while Timur still retains a positive image in Central Asia, he is vilified by many in Arab, Persian and Indian societies.

Timur's military talents were unique. He used propaganda in what is now called information warfare as part of his tactics. His campaigns were preceded by the deployment of spies whose tasks included collecting information and spreading horrifying reports about the cruelty, size, and might of Timur’s armies. Such disinformation eventually weakened the morale of threatened populations and caused panic among enemy forces. He planned all his campaigns years in advance, including planting barley for horse feed two-years ahead of his campaigns. Whilst Timur’s uncharacteristic (for the time) concern for his troops inspired fierce loyalty, he did not pay them. Their only incentives were from looting captured territory — a bounty that included horses, wives, precious metals and stones; in other words whatever they, or their newly indentured slaves, could carry away from the conquered lands.

Timur's short-lived empire also melded the Turko-Persian tradition in Transoxiania, and in most of the territories which he incorporated into his fiefdom, Persian became the primary language of administration and literary culture (diwan), regardless of ethnicity.[32] In addition, during his reign, some contributions to Turkic literature were penned, with Turkic cultural influence expanding and flourishing as a result. A literary form of Chagatai Turkic came into use alongside Persian as both a cultural and an official language.[33]

Timur became a popular figure in Europe for centuries after his death, not in the least because of his victory over the Ottoman Sultan and the humiliations to which he is said to have subjected his prisoner Bayezid.

Timur was officially recognized as a national hero of newly independent Uzbekistan. His monument in Tashkent takes the place where Marx's statue once stood.[34]

Biographies

Timur's generally recognized biographers are Ali Yazdi, commonly called Sharaf ud-Din, author of the Zafarnāmeh in Persian (ظفرنامه), translated by Petis de la Croix in 1722 , and from French into English by J. Darby in the following year; and Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Abdallah, al-Dimashiqi, al-Ajami (commonly called Ahmad Ibn Arabshah) translated by the Dutch Orientalist Colitis in 1636. In the work of the former, as Sir William Jones remarks, "the Tatarian conqueror is represented as a liberal, benevolent and illustrious prince", in that of the latter he is "deformed and impious, of a low birth and detestable principles." But the favourable account was written under the personal supervision of Timur's grandson, Ibrahim, while the other was the production of his direst enemy.

Among less reputed biographies or materials for biography may be mentioned a second Zafarnāmeh, by Nizam al-Din Shami, stated to be the earliest known history of Timur, and the only one written in his lifetime. Timur's purported autobiography, the Tuzk-e-Taimuri ("Memoirs of Temur") is a later fabrication, although most of the historical facts are accurate.[4]

More recent biographies include Justin Marozzi's Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World (2006)[35] and Roy Stier's Tamerlane: The Ultimate Warrior (1998).[36]

Exhumation

Timur's body was exhumed from his tomb in 1941 by the Soviet anthropologist Mikhail M. Gerasimov. From his bones it was clear that Timur was a tall and broad chested man with strong cheek bones. Gerasimov also found that Timur's facial characteristics conformed to partial Mongoloid features, which he believed, in some part, supported Timur's notion that he was descended from Genghis Khan. Gerasimov was able to reconstruct the likeness of Timur from his skull. His height was 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 meters), tall for his era. He also confirmed Timur's lameness due to a hip injury.

Timur's tomb is protected by a slab of jade in which are carved the words in Arabic: "When I rise, the World will Tremble". [37] It is said that when Gerasimov exhumed the body, an additional inscription inside the casket was found reading "Whosoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I."[38] In any case, two days after Gerasimov had begun the exhumation, Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, its invasion of the U.S.S.R.[39] Timur was re-buried with full Islamic ritual in November 1942 just before the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad (ref Marozzi 2004)

In the arts

Timur
Preceded by
Not applicable
Timurid dynasty
1370–1405
Succeeded by
Pir Muhammad
Miran Shah
Khalil Sultan

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Timur", Encyclopædia Britannica, Online Academic Edition, 2007.
  2. ^ "Central Asia, history of Timur", in Encyclopædia Britannica, Online Edition, 2007., Quotation: "... Timur first united under his leadership the Turko-Mongol tribes located in the basins of the two rivers...."
  3. ^ History of Central Asia, Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 13 Dec. 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d B.F. Manz, "Tīmūr Lang", in Encyclopaedia of Islam.
  5. ^ "Timur" The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001-05. Quotation: Tamerlane, c.1336–1405, Mongol conqueror, b. Kesh, near Samarkand. He is also called Timur Leng [Timur the lame]. He was the son of a tribal leader, and he claimed (apparently for the first time in 1370) to be a descendant of Jenghiz Khan. With an army composed of Turks and Turkic-speaking Mongols, remnants of the empire of the Mongols, Timur spent his early military career in subduing his rivals in what is now Turkistan; by 1369 he firmly controlled the entire area from his capital at Samarkand.
  6. ^ B.F. Manz, The rise and rule of Tamerlan, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1989, p. 28: "... We know definitely that the leading clan of the Barlas tribe traced its origin to Qarchar Barlas, head of one of Chaghadai's regiments ... These then were the most prominent members of the Ulus Chaghadai: the old Mongolian tribes - Barlas, Arlat, Soldus and Jalayir ..."
  7. ^ M.S. Asimov & C. E. Bosworth, History of Civilizations of Central Asia, UNESCO Regional Office, 1998, ISBN 9231034677, p. 320: "… One of his followers was […] Timur of the Barlas tribe. This Mongol tribe had settled […] in the valley of Kashka Darya, intermingling with the Turkish population, adopting their religion (Islam) and gradually giving up its own nomadic ways, like a number of other Mongol tribes in Transoxania …"
  8. ^ [1]
    • "Islamic world", in Encyclopædia Britannica, Online Edition, 2007. Quotation: "Timur (Tamerlane) was of Mongol descent and he aimed to restore Mongol power...."
    • "Central Asia, history of Timur", in Encyclopædia Britannica, Online Edition, 2007. (Quotation:"...Timur first united under his leadership the Turko-Mongol tribes located in the basins of the two rivers."
    • "Timurids", in Encyclopædia Britannica, Online Edition, 2007. Quotation: "Timurid dynasty (fl. 15th–16th century AD),Turkic dynasty descended from the conqueror Timur (Tamerlane), renowned for its brilliant revival of artistic and intellectual life in Iran and Central Asia."
    • René Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia, Rutgers University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9 (p.409) Quotation: "...In fact, he was no Mongol, but a Turk.http://www.oxuscom.com/cahist1.htm"
    • "Timur", Encyclopædia Britannica, Online Academic Edition, 2007.
    • Gérard Chaliand, Nomadic Empires: From Mongolia to the Danube translated by A.M. Berrett, Transaction Publishers, 2004. (p.75) Quotation:..."Timur Leng (Tamerlane) Timur, known as the lame (1336-1405) was a Muslim Turk from the Umus of Chagatai who saw himself as Genghis Khan's heir."
    • G. R. Garthwaite, "The Persians", Malden, ISBN 9781557868602, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2007. (p.148) Quotation:...Timur's tribe, the Barlas, had Mongol origins but had become Turkic-speaking ... However, Barlus tribe is considered one of the original Mongol tribes and there are "Barlus Ovogton" people who belong to Barlus tribe in modern Mongolia.
    • K.Z. Ashrafyan, "Central Asia under Timur from 1370 to the early fifteenth century", (p.320)
  9. ^ a b Chaliand, Gérard (2004). Nomadic Empires: From Mongolia to the Danube translated by A.M. Berrett. Transaction Publishers, p.75. ISBN 076580204X. Limited preview at Google Books. p.75. "Timur Leng (Tamerlane) Timur, known as the lame (1336-1405) was a Muslim Turk from the Umus of Chagatai who saw himself as Genghis Khan's heir. He aspired to recreate the empire of his ancestors. He was a military genius who loved to play chess in his spare time to improve his military tactics and skill. And although he wielded absolute power, he never called himself more than an emir."
  10. ^ Gibbon, Edward, Decline and Fall on the Roman Empire, Modern Library, v. iii, p. 665.
  11. ^ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, Cambridge University Press, 1972. Snippet, p.104.
  12. ^ Timur in The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001-2005. "Tamerlane, c.1336–1405, Turkic conqueror, b. Kesh, near Samarkand. He is also called Timur Leng (Faisal R.). The son of a tribal leader, in 1370 Timur became an in-law of a direct descendant of Genghis Khan, when he destoyed the army of Husayn of Balkh. After the battle, he took Husayn of Balkh's widow, Saray Mulk-khanum (daughter of Qazan, the last Chaghatai Khan of Mawarannah, into his harem as his fourth wife. For the rest of his life he called himself Temur Gurgan - son-in-law- of the Great Khan <Tamerlame, by Justin Marozzi>. Supported by an army of Turkish tribes, Timur spent his early military career subduing his rivals in what is now Turkistan; by 1369 he controlled the entire area from his capital at Samarkand."
  13. ^ The Timurid Dynasty
  14. ^ Lame Timur, Tamerlane
  15. ^ Sinor, D., "XIV The Making of a Great Khan", page 242, Studies in Medieval Inner Asia, Variorum, 1997. ISBN 0860786323
  16. ^ Radloff, W., Proben der Volkslitteratur der türkischen stämme Süd-Sibiriens, IV. St Petersburg, page 308
  17. ^ a b Nicholas V. Raisanovsky; Mark D. Steinberg: A History of Russia Seventh Edition, pg 93
  18. ^ Fisher, W.B.; Jackson, P.; Lockhart, L.; Boyle, J.A. : The Cambridge History of Iran, p55.
  19. ^ a b c Volume III: To the Year A.D. 1398, Chapter: XVIII. Malfúzát-i Tímúrí, or Túzak-i Tímúrí: The Autobiography or Memoirs of Emperor Tímúr (Taimur the lame). Page 389. 1. Online copy, 2. Online copy) from: Elliot, Sir H. M., Edited by Dowson, John. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period; published by London Trubner Company 1867–1877.
  20. ^ The Islamic World to 1600: The Mongol Invasions (The Timurid Empire)
  21. ^ Lane-Poole, Stanley (1907). "Chapter IX: Timur's Account of His Invasion". History of India. The Grolier Society.  Full text at Google Books
  22. ^ http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat0.htm#Timur Death toll in wars from various sources
  23. ^ The Turco-Mongol Invasions
  24. ^ a b c Tsai, Shih-Shan Henry (2002), Perpetual Happiness: The Ming Emperor Yongle (2 ed.), University of Washington Press, pp. 188-189, ISBN 0295981245, http://books.google.com/books?id=aU5hBMxNgWQCpg=PA188 
  25. ^ Tamerlane (1336 - 1405) - The Last Great Nomad Power
  26. ^ Tsia 2002, p. 161
  27. ^ Needham, Joseph (1971). Science and Civilisation in China, Volume 4: Physics and Physical Technology, Part 2, Mechanical Engineering. Cambridge University Press, p.554. ISBN 0521058031, or ISBN 978-0521058032. ASIN 0521058031 . "At least one Arabic account exists. In +1420 Shāh Rukh, the son of Tīmūr, sent an embassy to the Ming emperor, and the narrative written by Ghiyāth al-Dīn-i Nagqāsh describes at Kanchow..."
  28. ^ Nestorians, or Ancient Church of the East at Encyclopædia Britannica
  29. ^ Document preserved at Le Musée de l'Histoire de France, code AE III 204. Mentioned Dossier II, 7, J936
  30. ^ Mentioned Dossier II, 7 bis
  31. ^ Mentioned Dossier II, 7 ter
  32. ^ Manz, Beatrice Forbes (1999). The Rise and Rule of Tamerlane. Cambridge University Press, p.109. ISBN 0521633842. Limited preview at Google Books. p.109. "In Temür's government, as in those of most nomad dynasties, it is impossible to find a clear distinction between civil and military affairs, or to identify the Persian bureaucracy as solely civil or the Turko-Mongolian solely with military government. In fact, it is difficult to define the sphere of either side of the administration and we find Persians and Chaghatays sharing many tasks. (In discussing the settled bureaucracy and the people who worked within it I use the word Persian in a cultural rather than ethnological sense. In almost all the territories which Temür incorporated into his realm Persian was the primary language of administration and literary culture. Thus the language of the settled 'diwan' was Persian and its scribes had to be thoroughly adept in Persian culture, whatever their ethnic origin.) Temür's Chaghatay emirs were often involved in civil and provincial administration and even in financial affairs, traditionally the province of Persian bureaucracy."
  33. ^ Roy, Olivier (2007). The new Central Asia. I.B.Tauris. pp. 7. ISBN 184511552X. 
  34. ^ Mark Dickens, A Phoenix Rises in the Desert
  35. ^ Marozzi, Justin (2006). Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World. Da Capo Press. ISBN 030681465X.  Limited preview at Google Books.
  36. ^ Stier, Roy (1998). Tamerlane: The Ultimate Warrior. BookPartners. ISBN 1885221770. 
  37. ^ http://www.cpamedia.com/history/architecture_of_samarkand
  38. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/asia/uzbekistan-on-the-bloody-trail-of-tamerlane-407300.html
  39. ^ http://www.oxuscom.com/timursam.htm

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

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