title=Emir of the Timurid Empire

caption=Statue of Timur in Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan
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Timur, also written Emir Timur or Amir Temur (Chagatai: تیمور - Tēmōr, "iron") (1336 – 19 February 1405), among his other names, ["Tīmūr bin Taraghay Barlas", after his marriage into Genghis Khan's family, took the name "Timūr Gurkānī" ( _fa. تيمور گوركانى), "Gurkān" being the Persianized form of the original Mongolian word "kürügiän" ("son-in-law"). See: cite book |author=Zahir ud-Din Mohammad |title=The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor |editor=Wheeler M. Thackston (trans.) |isbn=0375761373 He is also known by variations of his pejorative Persian name "Timur-e-Lang" ( _fa. تیمور لنگ) which translates to "Timur the Lame", as he was lame after sustaining an injury to the leg in battle. This title of contempt was used by his Persian enemies. Other sources like the reports of the contemporary witness Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo use a non-Persianized notation for this title of Timur, for example' "Timur Kurkhan", and describe the meaning of "Kurkhan" as "of the lineage of sovereign princes". Alternative spellings of his name are: "Temur", "Taimur", "Timur Lenk", "Timur-i Leng", "Temur-e Lang", "Amir Timur", "Aqsaq Timur", as well as the Latinized "Tamerlane" and "Tamburlaine".] commonly called TamerlaneBritannica|9072544|Timur. "...also spelled Timour, byname Timur Lenk , or Timurlenk (Turkish: 'Timur the Lame'), English Tamerlane, or Tamburlaine. Turkic conqueror."] or Timur the Lame, was a 14th century Turco-MongolBritannica|73545|History of Central Asia: Timur. "Timur first united under his leadership the Turko-Mongol tribes located in the basins of the two rivers."] conqueror of much of western and Central Asia, and founder of the Timurid Empire and Timurid dynasty (1370–1405) in Central Asia, which survived until 1857 as the Mughal dynasty of India.Manz, B.F. "Tīmūr Lang", in Encyclopaedia of Islam.] [http://www.bartleby.com/65/ti/Timur.html Timur] in The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001-2005. "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."]

Timur belonged to a family of the Turkicized Barlas clan of Mongol origin. Although Timur was not a direct male-line descendant of the great Khan Genghis, he claimed descent from one of Genghis' granddaughters and took two of Genghis's descendants as his wives to link himself to Genghis. He was Turkic in identity and language, [Roux, Jean-Paul Roux (2000). "Historie des Turks: Deux mille ans du Pacifique á la Méditerranée". Librairie Arthème Fayard.] [Britannica|26920|Islamic world: Timur's efforts to restore Mongol power. "Timur (Tamerlane) was a Turk, not a Mongol; but he aimed to restore Mongol power."] [Britannica|9072546|Timurids. "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."] [Grousset, René (1988). "The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia". Rutgers University Press, p.409. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9. google books|CHzGvqRbV_IC|Limited preview. [http://books.google.de/books?id=CHzGvqRbV_IC&pg=PA409&dq=Barlas+Turkic&hl=tr&sig=Eenkx86afOfm0RKKnq4Y5fDggD8 p.409] . "In fact, he was no Mongol, but a Turk."] Chaliand, Gérard (2004). "Nomadic Empires: From Mongolia to the Danube" translated by A.M. Berrett. Transaction Publishers, p.75. ISBN 076580204X. google books|xKVAbb6Tc4wC|Limited preview. [http://books.google.de/books?id=xKVAbb6Tc4wC&pg=PA75&dq=Timur+Turkic+speaking&hl=tr&sig=9Dxl3dFIql2fIK7XMXoIvswcg5o 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."] [Garthwaite, G.R. (2007). "The Persians". Blackwell, p.148. ISBN 9781557868602. google books|RpiywbMvG5gC|Limited preview. [http://books.google.de/books?id=RpiywbMvG5gC&pg=RA1-PA148&dq=Timur+Turkic+speaking&hl=tr&sig=9tWp001dj7GoDBdAjveeJclsQD8 p.148] . Timur's tribe, the Barlas, had Mongol origins but had become Turkic-speaking..."] [cite book |last=Ashrafyan |first=K.Z. |chapter=Central Asia under Timur from 1370 to the early fifteenth century |title=History of civilizations of Central Asia |editor=Ahmad Hasan Dani, et.al.(ed.) |publisher=Motilal Banarsidass |pages=p.320 |isbn=8120814096 google books|lodSckjlNuMC|Limited preview. [http://books.google.de/books?id=lodSckjlNuMC&pg=PA320&dq=Barlas+Mongol&sig=cN44v5xp9_EavlNucAW4Aa-btPo#PPA320,M1 p.320] ] and he aspired to restore the Mongol Empire. He was also steeped in Persian culture and in most of the territories which he incorporated, 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 adept in Persian culture, regardless of ethnicity. [Manz, Beatrice Forbes (1999). "The Rise and Rule of Tamerlane". Cambridge University Press, p.109. ISBN 0521633842. google books|2xDm2DCPRKMC|Limited preview. [http://books.google.com/books?id=2xDm2DCPRKMC&pg=PA109&source=gbs_search_r&cad=1_1&sig=ytSQjI0k8nWCk3ntQbz-Ea75Xt8 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 solely civil, and the Turko-Mongolian solely with military government. It is in fact difficult to define the sphere of either side of the administration and we find Persians and Chaghatays sharing manys 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."] . In addition to this, during his reign Turkic became a state and literary language, and some of the greatest contributions to Turkic literature were made during the Timurid era. Turkic culture was restored from the Mongol expansion and flourished. Major Turkic cultural sites like the Ahmad Yasavi shrine were constructed. Timur's short-lived empire consolidated the Turco-Persian cultural synthesis in Transoxiania: a literary form of Chaghatay Turkish was used alongside Persian as both cultural and official language. [cite book |title=The new Central Asia |last=Roy |first=Olivier |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2007 |publisher=I.B.Tauris |location= |isbn=184511552X |pages=7 ]

Timur was a military genius and loved to play chess in his spare time to improve his military tactics and skill. His troops were essentially Turkic-speaking. He wielded absolute power, yet never called himself more than an emir, and eventually ruled in the name of tamed Chingizid Khans, who were little more than political prisoners. His heaviest blow was against the Mongol Golden Horde, which never recovered after his campaign against Tokhtamysh. Despite wanting to restore the Mongol Empire, Timur was more at home in a city than on a steppe as evidenced by his funding of construction in Samarkand. He thought of himself as a ghazi, but his biggest wars were against Muslim states. [ [http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=Timur The Life of Timur] Verify credibility|date=November 2007]

He died during his campaign against the Ming Dynasty, yet records indicate that for part of his life he was a surreptitious Ming vassal, and even his son Shah Rukh visited China in 1420.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..." ] 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 approaching Kashgar in China. Northern Iraq remained predominantly Assyrian Christian until attacked, looted, plundered and destroyed by Timur and its population decimated by systamatic mass slaughters and genocide, Churches were all destroyed and survivors were forcefully converted to Islam by the sword. [ [http://www.geocities.com/somasushma/Timur4.html The annihilation of Iraq] Verify credibility|date=August 2007] [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/topic-409819/article-9055340 Nestorians, or Ancient Church of the East] at Encyclopædia Britannica] [http://www.nupi.no/cgi-win/Russland/etnisk_b.exe?Assyrian Ethnic groups] Verify credibility|date=November 2007] This is based on what is written by Christian monks and historians.

Timur's military talents were unique. He is known to have employed what is known nowadays as information warfare. Timur's campaigns were preceded by spies whose tasks included collecting information and spreading horrifying reports about the cruelty, size and might of his armies - eventually weakening the morale of the population and causing panic among enemy forces.

Sources claim that when Timur conquered Persia, Iraq and Syria, the civilian population was decimated and their women and children raped, looted and converted to Islam by force. In the city of Isfahan, he ordered the building of a pyramid of 70,000 human skulls, from those that his army had beheaded, [ [http://user.it.uu.se/~timka/timour-lenk/timour-lenk.html Timur's history] ] [ [http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Esfahan.html Esfahan] ] and a pyramid of some 20,000 skulls was erected outside of Aleppo. [ [http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=Battle%20of%20Aleppo The Seven Years Campaign] Verify credibility|date=November 2007] Timur herded thousands of citizens of Damascus into the Cathedral Mosque before setting it aflame, [ [http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=Battle%20of%20Damascus Battle of Damascus] Verify credibility|date=November 2007] and had 70,000 people beheaded in Tikrit, and 90,000 more in Baghdad. [http://www.nupi.no/cgi-win/Russland/etnisk_b.exe?Assyrian Ethnic groups] Verify credibility|date=November 2007] [ [http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/civilsociety/articles/eav042806.shtml New Book Looks at Old-Style Central Asian Despotism] ] As many as 17 million people may have died from his conquests. [ [http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat0.htm#Timur Timur Lenk (1369-1405)] ]

Timur is historically considered to be a contradictory and controversial figure, as was the case even during his lifetime. He was a patron of the arts, but also destroyed the great centres of learning during his conquests.

Early life

Timur was born in Transoxiana, near Kesh (an area now better known as Shahrisabz, 'the green city,'), situated some 50 miles south of Samarkand in modern Uzbekistan. His father Taraghay was the head of the Barlas, a nomadic Turkic-speaking tribe in the steppes of Central Asia. They were remnants of the original Mongol invaders of Genghis Khan of whom many had embraced Turkic or Iranian languages and customs. Timur means "iron" in the Turkish language("Demir") Mongolian language ("Tomor") and Chagatai language.

The spurious genealogy on his tombstone taking 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, his official religious counselor was the Hanafite scholar Abd alJabbar Khwarazmi. There is evidence that he had converted to extremist Shia Nusayri sect under the influence of Sayyed Barakah, a Nusayri leader from his mentor, Balkh. He also constructed one of his finest buildings at the tomb of Ahmed Yesevi, an influential Turkic Sufi saint who was doing most to spread Sunni Islam among the nomads.

In his memoirs Timur gave the following information about his ancestry:

Military leader

In about 1360 Timur gained prominence as a military leader. He took part in campaigns in Transoxania with the khan of Chagatai, a fellow descendant of Genghis Khan. His career for the next 10 or 11 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

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": [ [http://www.oxuscom.com/timursam.htm#timur The Timurid Dynasty] ] 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

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 his opponents was Tokhtamysh who, after having been a refugee at the court, became ruler both of the eastern Kipchak and the Golden Horde and quarreled with him over the possession of Khwarizm and Azerbaijan. Timur supported Tokhtamysh against Russians and Tokhtamysh, with armed support by Timur, invaded Russia and in 1382 captured Moscow. After the death of
Abu Sa'id, ruler of the Ilkhanid Dynasty, in 1335, there was a power vacuum in the Persian Empire. In 1383 Timur started the military conquest of Persia. He captured Herat, Khorasan and all eastern Persia by 1385 and massacred almost all inhabitants of Neishapur and other Iranian cities.

In the meantime, Tokhtamysh, now khan of the Golden Horde, turned against his patron and invaded Azerbaijan in 1385. It was not until 1395, in the battle of Kur River, that Tokhtamysh's power was finally broken after a titanic struggle between the two monarchs. In this war, Timur first 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. Tokhtamysh's army finally was cornered against the Volga River in the Orenburg region and destroyed. 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. Timur led a second campaign against Tokhtamysh via an easier route through the Caucasus. Timur then destroyed Sarai and Astrakhan, and wrecked the Golden Horde's economy based on Silk Road trade.

Indian Campaign

Informed about civil war in India, 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.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. [http://persian.packhum.org/persian/pf?file=80201013&ct=97 1. Online copy] , [http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/h_es/h_es_malfuzat_frameset.htm 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.] His campaign was politically pretexted that the Muslim Delhi Sultanate was too tolerant toward its Hindu subjects, but that could not mask the real reason being to amass the wealth of the Delhi Sultanate. [ [http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/islam/mongols/timurid.html The Islamic World to 1600: The Mongol Invasions (The Timurid Empire)] ]

Timur crossed the Indus River at Attock (now Pakistan) on September 24. The capture of towns and villages was often followed by the looting, massacre of their inhabitants and raping of their women, as well as pillaging to support his massive army. Timur wrote many times in his memoirs of his specific disdain for the 'idolatrous' Hindus, although he also waged war against Muslim Indians during his campaign.

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.

The Sultan's army was easily defeated on December 17 1398. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins. Before the battle for Delhi, Timur executed more than 100,000 captives, mostly Hindus.

Timur himself recorded the invasions in his memoirs, collectively known as Tuzk-e-Taimuri‎. [cite book |title=History of India |first=Stanley |last=Lane-Poole |year=1907 |publisher=The Grolier Society |chapter=Chapter IX: Tinur's Account of His Invasion google books|4a1jSn1oQxkC|Full text] In them, he vividly described the massacre at Delhi:quote
In a short space of time all the people in the Delhi fort were put to the sword, and in the course of one hour the heads of 10,000 infidels were cut off. The sword of Islam was washed in the blood of the infidels, and all the goods and effects, the treasure and the grain which for many a long year had been stored in the fort became the spoil of my soldiers. They set fire to the houses and reduced them to ashes, and they razed the buildings and the fort to the ground....All these infidel Hindus were slain, their women and children, and their property and goods became the spoil of the victors. I proclaimed throughout the camp that every man who had infidel prisoners should 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 ghazis of Islam, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death.

One hundred thousand infidels, impious idolaters, were on that day slain. Maulana Nasiruddin Umar, a counselor 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....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 enemies of Islam at liberty... no other course remained but that of making them all food for the sword.

As per Malfuzat-i-Timuri, Timur targeted Hindus. In his own words, "Excepting the quarter of the saiyids, the 'ulama and the other Musalmans [sic] , the whole city was sacked". In his descriptions of the Loni massacre he wrote, "Next day I gave orders that the Musalman prisoners should be separated and saved."

During the ransacking of Delhi, almost all inhabitants not killed were captured and enslaved.

Timur's memoirs on his invasion of India describe in detail the massacre of Hindus, looting plundering and raping of their women and children, their forced conversions to Islam and the plunder of the wealth of Hindustan (Greater India). It gives details of how villages, towns and entire cities were rid of their Hindu male population through systematic mass slaughters and genocide and their women and children forcefully converted en masse to Islam from Hinduism.

Timur left Delhi in approximately January 1399. 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. Ironically, the mosque was constructed too quickly and suffered greatly from disrepair within a few decades of its construction.

Last campaigns and death

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 an enemy 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. [ [http://rbedrosian.com/atmi4.htm The Turco-Mongol Invasions] ]

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). After years of insulting letters passed between Timur and Bayezid, 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.

By 1368, the Ming had driven the Mongols out of China. The first Ming Emperor Hongwu demanded, and received, homage from many Central Asian states paid to China as the political heirs to the former House of Kublai. Although Timur more than once sent to the Ming Government gifts, he wished to restore the Mongol Empire, and eventually planned to conquer China. To this end, Timur made an alliance with the Mongols and prepared all the way to Bukhara. The Mongol leader Enkhe Khan sent his grandson Öljei Temür, also known as Buyanshir. In December 1404, Timur started military campaigns against the Ming Dynasty, 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 mid-February 1405. [ [http://www.silk-road.com/artl/timur.shtml Tamerlane (1336 - 1405) - "The Last Great Nomad Power"] ] His 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.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 North India. Babur's descendants, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, expanded the Mughal Empire to most of the Indian subcontinent along with parts of modern 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 Samarqand, 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.

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.


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, and millions of people were slaughtered. Thus, while Timur still retains a positive image in Central Asia, he is vilified by many in Arab, Persian and Indian societies.


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 that of 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.

Famously, a curse has been attached to opening Timur's tomb. [S. Z. Ahmed. "Twilight on the Silk Road". Infinity Publishing, 2002. ISBN 0-7414-1112-1. Page 23.] In the year of Timur's death, a sign was carved in his tomb warning that whoever would dare disturb the tomb would bring demons of war onto his land. Gerasimov's expedition opened the tomb on June 19, 1941. Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany, began three days later. Timur's skeleton and that of Ulugh Beg, his grandson, were reinterred with full Islamic burial rites in 1942. On that same day, the Soviets won a major victory at Stalingrad.

Exchanges with the West

Timur had numerous epistolary exchanges with Western, especially French, rulers. The French archives preserve:
*A July 30th, 1402, letter from Timur to Charles VI, king of France, suggesting him to send traders to the Orient. It was written in Persian. [Document preserved at Le Musée de l'Histoire de France, code AE III 204. Mentioned [http://www.archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr/chan/chan/fonds/EGF/SA/InvSAPDF/SA_index_J/J_suppl_pdf/J0932-0940.pdf Dossier II, 7, J936] ]
*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. [Mentioned [http://www.archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr/chan/chan/fonds/EGF/SA/InvSAPDF/SA_index_J/J_suppl_pdf/J0932-0940.pdf Dossier II, 7 bis] ] A copy has been kept of the answer of Charles VI to Timur, dated June 15th, 1403. [Mentioned [http://www.archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr/chan/chan/fonds/EGF/SA/InvSAPDF/SA_index_J/J_suppl_pdf/J0932-0940.pdf Dossier II, 7 ter] ]

After death

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 recognised as a national hero of newly independent Uzbekistan. His monument in Tashkent takes the place where Marx's statue once stood. [Mark Dickens, [http://www.oxuscom.com/phoenix.htm A Phoenix Rises in the Desert] ]


Timur's generally recognized biographers are Ali Yazdi, commonly called Sharaf ud-Din, author of the "Zafarnāma" 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 "Zafarnāma", 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,Request quotation|date=November 2007 although most of the historical facts are accurate.

More recent biographies include Justin Marozzi's "Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World" (2006) [cite book
title=Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World
first=Justin |last=Marozzi
year= 2006 |publisher=Da Capo Press |isbn=030681465X
google books|Ay23EpKGFi0C|Limited preview.
] and Roy Stier's "Tamerlane: The Ultimate Warrior" (1998). [cite book
title= Tamerlane: The Ultimate Warrior
first=Roy |last=Stier
year=1998 |publisher=BookPartners



* "Timour the Tartar" - popular Irish reel.
* "Tamerlano" (1724) - opera by George Frideric Handel, in Italian, based on the 1675 play "Tamerlan ou la mort de Bajazet" by Jacques Pradon.
* "Bajazet" (1735) - opera by Antonio Vivaldi, portrays the capture of Bayezid I by Timur


* "Tamburlaine the Great, Parts I and II" - play by Christopher Marlowe (English, 1563-1594).
* "Tamerlane" - first published poem of Edgar Allan Poe (American, 1809-1849).
* "Lord of Samarcand" - short story by Robert E. Howard (American, 1906-1936), with a fictional account of Timur's last campaign and death.
* "T the Great" - poem by W. H. Auden (Anglo-American, 1907-1973), contrasting the terror inspired by Tamburlaine with the use of his name as a crossword anagram: "a nubile tram".
* "The Years of Rice and Salt" (2002) - alternate history novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, portrays a different outcome of Timur's last campaign.

Film and television

** "War, Inc." (2008) - set in the future, when the fictional desert country of Turaqistan is torn by a riot after a private corporation, Tamerlane (based on Halliburton), owned by the former Vice President of the United States (Dan Aykroyd, based on Dick Cheney), has taken over the whole country.
** "Day Watch" (2006) - prologue features Tamerlane's assault on a citadel containing the Chalk of Fate.
** "History Bites" (1998-2003) - television episode with Bob Bainborough portraying Tamerlane.


* "" (1999) - computer game, Tamerlane only available in the "Map Editor".
* "" (2002) - video game, Pious Augustus quotes Tamerlane's line before the sacking of Damascus.
* "" (2007) - computer game, the Timurids appear on the campaign map late int he campaign, lead by "Timur the Lame".
* "Unreal Tournament" (1999) - video game, Tamerlane is an enemy bot.
* "Hellgame" (2003) - board game, Tamerlane is one of the lieutenants in Hell.

ee also

*Tokhtamysh-Timur war
*List of wars and disasters by death toll
*List of wars in the Muslim world
*List of the Muslim Empires
*Nomadic people
*Global Empire
*Genghis Khan
*Ahmad (Jalayirids)
*Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent


External links

* [http://www.oxuscom.com/timursam.htm#timur Timur's Life]
* [http://www.poli.duke.edu/undergrad/TOWERS%20OF%20TERROR.doc Towers of Terror]
* [http://members.core.com/~turgut/ankara.htm The Battle of Ankara]
* [http://www.geocities.com/somasushma/Timur1.html The rise of Timur-i-Leng]
* [http://www.umid.uz/Main/Uzbekistan/History/Timurid_Dynasty/timurid_dynasty.html The Timurid Dynasty]
* [http://historyview.blogspot.com/2008/05/titles-of-timur.html The Names and Titles used by Timur]
* [http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/h_es/h_es_malfuzat_frameset.htm Memoir of the Emperor Timur (Malfuzat-i Timuri)] Timur'. Compiled in the book: "The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period", by Sir H. M. Elliot, Edited by John Dowson; London, Trubner Company; 1867–1877
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=37621&pageno=5 Tamburlaine the Great Part One]
* "Narrative of the Embassy of Ruy Gonzalez De Clavijo to the Court of Timour, at Samarcand, A.D.1403-6" - google books|ZVkMAAAAIAA|Full text.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Timur — Denkmal in Taschkent Tīmūr bin Taraghay Barlas (Mitteltürkisch: ‏تیمور‎ Temür‎, „das Eisen“), in der abendländischen Geschichtsschreibung besser bekannt als Tamerlan bzw. Timur Lenk (ugs. Timur der Lahme [1], * 8. April 1336 in Kesh, heute… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Timur — [tē moor′] var. of TAMERLANE * * * or Tamerlane or Tamburlaine born 1336, Kesh, near Samarkand, Transoxania died Feb. 19, 1405, Otrar, near Chimkent Turkic conqueror of Islamic faith whose conquests reached from India and Russia to the… …   Universalium

  • Timur — Timur, Timur leng Timur lengprop. n. See {Tamerlane}. Syn: Tamerlane, Timour. [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Timur —   [osttürkisch temür »Eisen«], bei den Persern Timur i Lạ̈ng [»Timur der Lahme«], daraus entstellt Tamerlan, asiatische Eroberer aus Transoxanien, * bei Käsch (heute Schahr i säbs, bei Samarkand) 8. 4. 1336 (traditionell überliefertes, wohl nur… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Timur — (»Eisen«), auch Timur Lenk, der »lahme T.« (infolge einer Verwundung), oder verstümmelt Tamerlan genannt, geb. 1333 in Kesch bei Samarkand, gest. 17. Febr. 1405, focht 1355 gegen Husein Kert von Chorasan, wurde um 1360 von den Dschagataïden als… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Timur — (d.i. Eisen), auch Timur Beg oder Timur Leng (lahmer T.), gewöhnlich Tamerlan genannt, asiat. Eroberer, geb. 9. April 1336 zu Sebz in der Prov. Ketsch, bemächtigte sich 1370 Tschagatais, eroberte ganz Zentralasien, Persien und Indien, nahm den… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Timur [1] — Timur, Volksstamm, zu den Eimack (s.d.) gehörig …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Timur [2] — Timur, 1) (T. Beg od. T. Leng, d.h. der Hinkende, gewöhnlich Tamerlan genannt), geb. um 1336 zu Kesch, nach Einigen Sohn eines Emirs, nach Andern eines Hirten, er selbst leitete seine Abstammung von Dschingis Khan ab. Als glücklicher Krieger kam… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Timur — (Timurbeg, Timurleng, Tamerlan), geb. 1336 zu Kesch, einer der herabgekommenen Sprößlinge Dschingischans, ein fanatischer Moslem und mordsüchtiger Mongole; bemächtigte sich durch glückliche Kriege der Herrschaft in Turkestan (1370), eroberte… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • TIMUR — cognomine Lenck, i. e. claudus, vulgo Tamerlanes, eirca A. C. 1370. Tartarorum res mutuis dissidiis pene collapsas, velut alter Schinguis Khan, ad summam iterum et longe maiorem, quam unquam, meiestatem perduxit: omnium terrarum a China usque ad… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Timur — [tē moor′] var. of TAMERLANE …   English World dictionary

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