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Timur...the lame Mongolian leader, “story of the worst conquerors in the Middle Ages”

Tamerlane, Timur, Timur Lang, or Amir Temur, a Turko-Mongol leader and conqueror, is undoubtedly considered one of the worst and most violent military leaders we have ever known in the history of humanity.

Statue of Amir Timur (Tamerlane) - Outside Ak-Saray Palace - Shakhrisabz - Uzbekistan
Statue of Amir Timur (Tamerlane) - Outside Ak-Saray Palace - Shakhrisabz - Uzbekistan, photo by Adam Jones, CC BY 2.0 DEED, via Flickr.

The man lived for 69 years, specifically in the period between the years (April 9, 1336: February 17 or 18, 1405), most of which he spent fighting, sabotaging, and controlling the lands and property of others, especially in Asia, where he held the title (Conqueror of Asia in the Fourteenth Century).

As for his name (Timur), it means in the Turkish language hardness or iron, so there are many sayings that this was not his name in the first place, especially when we know that he started his life as a thief, specifically as a sheep thief, and sources actually indicate that his real name was (Tergay Barkal).

Whatever his name, for some he is a model of governance and administration, and for others he is a mentally ill person who built an empire (the empire of Timur the Lame) in reference to the fact that he used to limp in his walk

 And the truth is that he was much worse than the mentally ill. He was one of the most terrifying names in history.

Mughal hero:

Although many historians and even lovers of military history focus their view of the Mongols on the period of Genghis Khan, which is undoubtedly worth examining, in the end it can be said with confidence that the Timurid period (1370: 1507) is the most glorious period in history of the Mongols in general.

Like his maternal grandfather, Genghis Khan, the grandson (Tamerlane) was able to become the leader of nomadic tribes and turn them into unbeatable warriors, forming a powerful empire in which many peoples were ruled only by sword and blood.

In addition to following the path of Genghis Khan in uniting the Mongolian tribes, he also imitated him in his cruel and destructive wars, achieving victories that sometimes seemed supernatural.

Thus, over a huge geographical area from Russia, through India, to the shores of the Mediterranean, and including Persia, Mesopotamia, Georgia, Syria, Turkey, and other countries, the Timurid empire was formed, which took its name from the name of its founder, and which reached the height of its glory and the greatest expansion of its area at the end of his reign and his death in the year 1405.

Statue of Tamerlane, Logga Wiggler, pixabay
Statue of Tamerlane, Logga Wiggler, pixabay.

With the exception of Alexander the Great, no military leader in history achieved geographical conquests of the same size as Tamerlane.

When we know what Tamerlane achieved, we realize that, in addition to his brutality, we are facing an exceptional personality. Many sources indicate that he was full of courage and possessed a lot of fear, in addition to his severe influence on the soldiers and fighters.

Side by side, we see Tamerlane as a real terrorist, and we mention here the statement of the late American historian (Iris Chang), who shed light for a long time on the “Nanking Massacre” committed by the Japanese army in China in 1937: (The Japanese army committed atrocities that even surpassed some committed by Timur).

It is as if Tamerlane had become the standard against which the horrific behavior and deeds were measured.

According to some estimates, Timur's campaigns and wars caused the deaths of approximately 17 million people, who at the time constituted about 5% of the planet's population.

However, the man is currently appreciated in Uzbekistan, and its former president (Islam Karimov) spoke of him with pride, considering him a model for building a strong central government, developing the economy, science, and nurturing the arts and religion.

Of course, we cannot forget his statue riding his horse, proudly placed in the city of Tashkent.

Tamerlane's origins:

Tamerlane's origins go back to the Turkicized Barlas tribe, a Mongol tribe that settled in the Transoxiana region (roughly present-day Uzbekistan), Specifically in the city (now called Shahrisabz).

Statue of Amir Timur (Tamerlane) - Outside Ak-Saray Palace - Shakhrisabz - Uzbekistan, photo by Adam Jones, CC BY 2.0 DEED, via Flickr.
Statue of Amir Timur (Tamerlane) - Outside Ak-Saray Palace - Shakhrisabz - Uzbekistan, photo by Adam Jones, CC BY 2.0 DEED, via Flickr.

The Tamerlane tribe settled in this region after years of fighting in the ranks of the armies of (Chagatai), the son of Genghis Khan. Tamerlane was born in what was known at the time as (Chagatai Khanate) and set out from there to spread corruption in the land.

His parents are Taraghai Bahdur and Tegina Begim.

These circumstances shaped Tamerlane's character, making him part of the character of a sheep shepherd, another part of the character of the grandson of one of the greatest conquerors in history, and a third part of a young man who lives near major cities and is fascinated by what is in them.

The boy began his life as a troublemaker, leading a group of Bedouins in robbery and plundering, even though his father was the leader of his tribe.

In the year 1370, Timur declared himself king of the Chagatai dynasty of khans and the restorer of the Mongol Empire... and the story began.

Despite all the victories Timur achieved, and despite his personal desire, Tamerlane did not bear the title (Khan) because he was not descended from the male descendants of Genghis Khan.

Was Timur a Muslim?:

There is great historical disagreement on this particular point.

Many sources say that the man was a Muslim, while other sources deny this information, including the Islamic sources themselves, which believe that only Timur was claiming Islam, in order to facilitate his rule of the lands that were subject to him, and most of the population there were Muslims.

Timur. Forensic facial reconstruction by M.Gerasimov. 1941,
Timur. Forensic facial reconstruction by M.Gerasimov. 1941, 

Rather, we have in Islamic sources incidents of the most famous Muslim jurist at that time, namely (Ibn Taymiyyah), who issued a fatwa that Tamerlane and his army were “infidels” and that Muslims must fight against them.

This is the most likely point of view, as history says that Timur fought the Muslims for a long time and a lot, and killed more of them than he killed others. He also plundered their wealth and occupied their countries.

In any case, Timur defeated four powers who were seen as among the most powerful in the world at that time, and ironically, they were all Muslims: the Ottomans, the Mamluks,  the Sultan of Delhi, and the Golden Horde, a Muslim Mongol tribe.

Occupation of Delhi:

The swords of Timur's army did not differentiate between Muslims and Indians. On his march towards Delhi, he killed everyone.

Before he crossed the Yamuna River to attack Delhi, the historian Yahya bin Ahmad Al-Sahrandi, who lived through the events, describes to us in his famous book, The History of Mubarak Shahi, that Timur ordered the slaughter of all the prisoners held by his army, and he estimated their number at fifty thousand prisoners in a massacre the likes of which is rare to find in history.

This incident was also documented by the historian (Sharaf al-Din Ali Yazdi) in his book (Zafar Nama)... Although the book is considered to express the official Timurid point of view, he did not hesitate to mention it.

The kings of Central Asia used to record their battles in blogs bearing this name (Zafarnama) or (Fathnamah), which means (message of conquest) or (message of victory).

But the surprise is that this book doubles the death toll of the massacre of prisoners at the Yamuna River (100,000 prisoners killed).

The Taj Mahal is located on the bank of the Yamuna River, where Timur committed a massacre of prisoners
The Taj Mahal is located on the bank of the Yamuna River, where Timur committed a massacre of prisoners, Gary Denham, CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED, Via Flickr.

This massacre had a profound psychological impact on the forces of Muhammad Tughluq, the ruler of Delhi. In the end, Tamerlane's army was victorious, and the people of Delhi were granted amnesty in exchange for paying him money.

This was not an exceptional event. Looting money was one of Tamerlane's most important policies. This enabled him to build his magnificent capital (Samarkand).

But who said that Timur would be true to his word? .. Only after four days, after the people paid him their money, did he order to be taken as slaves.

Capture of Bayezid I (Bayezid the Thunderbolt):

Tamerlane's victory over the Ottomans was so resounding that his army succeeded in capturing the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I, who was nicknamed the Thunderbolt, as a metaphor for his speed in military movements.

To understand the magnitude of this event, the capture of any Ottoman sultan is an exceptional event in itself, but Bayezid I was not an ordinary Ottoman sultan. Rather, he was one of the most powerful Ottoman sultans, and he had tremendous military victories against the Europeans.

This is precisely what made many of the European princes whom Bayezid I fought and defeated, make them join Timur's army.

At first, the two men exchanged letters of challenge, which were not devoid of insults as well.

Tamerlane's massacres in Anatolia were terrible.

Sultan Bayezid I after he was captured by Timur
Sultan Bayezid I after he was captured by Timur، academia.edu، public domain via wikimedia commons.

The city of Sivas was a harsh example of this.

As the city's residents went out asking for peace from Timur and his army, they gathered their children in the plain in front of the city, each of them carrying a copy of the Holy Qur’an.

In response, Timur ordered his heavy cavalry to trample the children to death under the hooves of horses.

As for the captives from the city's defenders who surrendered on the promise that their blood would be spared, and who numbered 36 thousand, they were buried alive after they were tied with their heads between their thighs.

From the same city, thousands of virgins were transferred to the imperial harem... Thus, there was no escape from war.

This remarkable historical event occurred in the Battle of Ankara on July 20, 1402, near the city of Ankara (currently the capital of Türkiye), As it was inevitable that the two most powerful men in the world would clash, Bayezid I wanted to kick Timur out of Anatolia.

The Ottoman Sultan and his army made a big mistake in underestimating Timur and his army.

The fact that the fighting took place in the heat of summer presented an opportunity for Timur's army, while the hot July sun was not the best for the Ottomans.

In actual combat, Timurid archers played a decisive role in the fighting that ended with the siege of the Ottoman army, and The Sultan was captured.

In the end, Bayezid I could not bear the captivity and died several months later

Timur death:

A painting painted approximately in 1480 and showing the distribution of food on the occasion of Timur’s accession to power, Author: text by Sharaf al-Din ’Ali Yazdi (Islamic, died 1454) Painter: illustrations by Bihzad (Persian, 1450-1536). John Work Garrett Library John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.
A painting painted approximately in 1480 and showing the distribution of food on the occasion of Timur’s accession to power, Author: text by Sharaf al-Din ’Ali Yazdi (Islamic, died 1454)
Painter: illustrations by Bihzad (Persian, 1450-1536). John Work Garrett Library John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

On waterfalls of blood and mountains of skulls, Tamerlane died before he could finish what he started and lived his life for, which was rebuilding the Mongol Empire that collapsed after the defeat by the Mamluk army from Egypt in the Battle of Ain Jalut (1260).

Immediately and quickly after his death, the empire he built began to collapse, and instead of the preparations he was making to invade the Ming Dynasty in China, his state began to disappear.

This failure of his successors to continue after him in a strong and successful manner was the greatest evidence that he was nothing but a thug who wanted to incite conflicts, rule and control, because if he was been a true statesman, he would have established a regime capable of continuing the day after his death.

The struggle of his successors caused the fragmentation of the state, each of them seeking control over this or that part.

In Otars in Kazakhstan, Tamerlane died, the world rested, and the Middle Ages rested from him.

Timur had dozens of children, those who ruled his empire after his death include Pir Muhammad Jahangir (1374–1407, ruled 1405–1407), Shahrukh Mirza (1377–1447, r. 1407–1447), and Ulegh Beg (1393–1449). , r. 1447–1449).

Ironically, one of the descendants of this serial killer, Ulugh Bey, became a famous astronomer and mathematician.

His character was also embodied in the play (Tamburlaine the Great), which was presented in the late sixteenth century, where he appeared with a very expressive name: “Scourge of God.”
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