Tamerlane (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Tamerlane combined extraordinary military talent with strong administrative leadership to create the first large independent Central Asian state to throw off the domination of the Mongols. In the process, he altered the regional balance of power and revived Central Asia’s main cities as international trading and cultural centers.
Ahmed ibn Arabshah, captured by Tamerlane at Damascus in 1401, later composed a generally critical history about him, entitled Kitab aja’ib almaqdur fi akhbari timur (1410; Tamerlane: Or, Timur the Great Amir, 1936). Writing soon after the death of Tamerlane, the historian described him as a brave, big-hearted youth friendly with the sons of the viziers, main advisers to the ruler at court. Contemporaries and later Central Asians called the formidable ruler “Timur” or “Timur Lang” (Timur the Lame), from which Europeans derived the form Tamerlane. His skeleton, found buried at Samarkand below a royal mausoleum, the Gur-e Amir, showed his damaged right leg attached to a tall, sturdy frame.
Tamerlane’s Barlas tribal origin sharply defined his outlook and behavior. Like the other nomadic tribesmen of the region, he virtually lived and usually fought on horseback. Habits of nomadic life kept the youth from any inclination toward ease and settled existence. Emulating the former Mongol masters of the area, Tamerlane displayed a...
(The entire section is 1812 words.)
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Tamerlane (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Tamerlane created an empire that extended from Muscovy to India and from the Near East to Eastern Turkestan and Mongolia.
The son of a petty Mongol lord in Central Asia, Tamerlane joined a many-sided struggle for power in the collapsing Chagatai realm of the former empire of Genghis Khan. He belonged to a Mongol subgroup called Barlas that had adopted Islam and the local Turkish language. Tamerlane chose to ally with his brother-in-law Amir Husayn to defeat all rivals and gain control of Transoxiana by 1366. Within four years, Tamerlane turned against Husayn, and when the latter attempted to flee, he was captured and killed. Taking the title emir of Transoxiana, Tamerlane based his capital at Samarkand and claimed to have restored the Mongol Empire. Tamerlane was unable to assume the title of khan because that was reserved for blood relatives of Genghis Khan, but he later added for himself the title of great lord.
In 1375, Tamerlane helped Tokhtamysh assume the position of khan of the Blue Horde in Kazakhstan, and in 1380, he supported his effort to displace Emir Mamai as ruler of the Golden Horde, which included most of the Russian principalities. Mamai, ruling via puppet khans, suffered defeat at the hands of Grand Duke Dmitry Donskoy of Moscow in 1380 at Kulikovo Field in a premature Russian bid for independence. Tokhtamysh seized the opportunity to overthrow Mamai and defeated him...
(The entire section is 1001 words.)