Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On April 9, 1336 AD, Amir Timur Gorkani, the fearsome Turko-Mongol conqueror, was born in the city of Kesh, now known as Shahr-e Sabz, 80 km south of the famous Iranian city of Samarqand, in what is now Uzbekistan. He started life as leader of a band of raiders, and during one such raid was shot by arrows that crippled his right leg for life; hence his epithet in Persian “Taimour-e Lang” or Timur the Lame, which was corrupted by the Europeans to Tamerlane.
He took over the Chaghatay Mongol Khanate of Central Asia and Khorasan, destroyed the Golden Horde of Eurasia, defeated the Mamluk Empire of Egypt-Syria, conquered the Sultanate of Delhi, and subjugated the emerging Ottoman Empire, whose sultan, Bayazid I, he captured in battle and brought him as prisoner to Samarqand.
On April 15, 1395 AD, Amir Timur (Tamerlane) defeated Tokhtamysh, the ruler of the vast Golden Horde Khanate of Eurasia, at the Volga in the Battle of Terek River, during the bloody 16-year struggle between the two, known as the Tokhtamysh–Timur War. The Golden Horde capital city, Sarai, was razed to the ground and Amir Edigu, installed on the throne. Tokhtamysh escaped to Lithuania, where with help from Duke Vytautas, he made a bid to regain his throne, but the combined forces were defeated in the Battle of the Vorskla River in 1399 by Edigu and Timur’s general, Khan Temur Qutlugh.
In the late 1370s, Timur had helped Tokhtamysh to assume supreme power in the White Horde against the latter's uncle Urus Khan. Tokhtamysh united the White and Blue Hordes to form the Golden Horde, and launched a massive military campaign between 1381 and 1382 to re-establish Turko-Tartar Muslim suzerainty over Russia. In 1383, after defeating Lithuania, Tokhtamysh thirsted for territorial ambitions in Iran and Central Asia, by turning against his ally, Timur, who resolved to punish him. After a series of defeats, Tokhtamysh was pursued and killed in Tyumen, Siberia, in 1406.
Timur died in 1405 at the age of 69, while on an expedition against China, after conquering all the lands from the Mediterranean coast of Syria to the River Ganges in India, and from the Persian Gulf in the south to Moscow in the north. He was of ferocious nature and at times used to destroy entire cities and massacre whole populations.
At the same time he patronized art, architecture and literature, especially the Persian language, and showed his devotion to the household of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). He was buried in his capital Samarqand in a beautiful mausoleum called Gur-e Amir. His empire was inherited by his youngest son, Shahrukh, whose mother was an Iranian and who during his long and peaceful reign did not pursue any policy of expansionism.
A century after Timur’s death, his empire was no more as all his descendants vanished from the political scene, except for a great-great grandson, Zaheer od-Din Mohammad Babar, who established the Mughal Empire of the Subcontinent that finally ended in 1857 with the fall of Delhi to the British and the exiling to Burma of Bahadur Shah Zafar.