Tamerlane (1336 - 1405) and the Timurids
- The name Tamerlane was derived from the Persian Timur-i lang, meaning "Temur the Lame" by Europeans during the 16th century.
- Timur claimed direct descent from Jenghiz Khan through the house of Chagatai. He was born at Kesh, fifty miles south of Sarmarkand in 1336, a son of a chief of the Barlas tribe.
- In spite of his lameness, by 1369 he had taken the domains of Chagatai and made Samarkand his capital.
- Like Jenghiz Khan before him, Timur rose from being a nomad ruler to leader of a mobile army that ravaged all of Asia. His troops consisted of “tumen”, military units of 10,000 taken from his own loyal nomads and recruits from his conquered territories.
- He campaigned against Persia until 1387, occupying everything east of the Euphrates River.
- In 1392 he moved across the Euphrates, and conquered the territory between the Caspian and Black seas, and invaded several of the Russian states. By weakening the Crimean Tatars he helped clear the way for the conquests of the grand duchy of Moscow.
- Timur returned to Samarkand in 1398 and invaded India along the valley of the Indus River. He took Delhi and brought the Delhi Sultanate to an end, but he withdrew with little additional territory.
- In 1400, he ravaged Georgia and proceeded to then proceeded to take Aleppo and Baghdad.
- He fought in Asia Minor against the Ottoman Turks, and on 28th July 1402, at Ankara, he captured their sultan, Beyazid I,
- In China, the first Ming ruler, Hung-wu (1368-1398), sent embassies to former Yuan (Mongol dynasty of China) asking to be recognized as the new overlord. One of these reached Samarkand in 1395 and was promptly imprisoned by Tamerlane who was already planning to restore the Yuan.
- The second Ming ruler, Yung-lo emperor (1402-1424), anticipated an invasion from Tamerlane, and in 1405, launched the first of his great naval expeditions to the west under the eunuch Cheng Ho, to end China's isolation in the event of an attack.
- While preparing the attack, on 17th or 18th February 1405, Tamerlane died.
- Tamerlane sacked the prosperous city of Herat (now in Afghanistan) in 1398, yet within two generations it had become the favoured seat of art and literature in the east, based on Islamic principles. Timur’s son shah Rukh (1405-47) was particularly keen on fine calligraphy and commissioned many excellent Korans. see example.