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Lived from 1333-1405

Tamerlane was the son of the chief of a Mongolian tribe in Central

Asia. His real name was Timour, but as he was lamed in battle

when a youth he was generally called Timour the Lame, and this name

was gradually changed to Tamerlane. He was born in 1333, so that

he lived in the time of the English king, Edward III, when the

Black Prince was winning his victories over the French. He
as a

descendant of a celebrated Tatar soldier, Genghis (jen'-ghis) Khan,

who conquered Persia, China, and other countries of Asia. When

twenty-four years old Tamerlane became the head of his tribe, and

in a few years he made himself the leader of the whole Mongolian


He was a tall, stern-looking man, of great strength, and, although

lame in his right leg, could ride a spirited horse at full gallop

and do all the work of an active soldier. He was as brave as a

lion--and as cruel.

He chose the ancient city of Samarcand (Sa-mar-cand'), in Turkistan

(Tur-kis-tan'), for his capital; and here he built a beautiful

marble palace, where he lived in the greatest luxury.

After he had enjoyed for some time the honors which fell to him as

chief ruler of the Mongolians, he began to desire further conquests.

He determined to make himself master of all the countries of Central


"As there is but one God in heaven," he said, "there ought to be

but one ruler on the earth."

So he gathered an immense army from all parts of his dominion, and

for weeks his subjects were busy making preparations for war. At

length he started for Persia in command of a splendid army. After

gaining some brilliant victories he forced the Persian king to flee

from his capital.

All the rich country belonging to Persia, from the Tigris to the

Euphrates, submitted to the Mongolian conqueror.

Tamerlane celebrated his Persian conquest by magnificent festivities

which continued for a week. Then orders were given to march into

the great Tatar empire of the North. Here Tamerlane was victorious

over the principal chiefs and made them his vassals. In pursuing

the Tatars he entered Russia and sacked and burned some of the

Russian cities. He did not, however, continue his invasion of this

country, but turned in the direction of India.

At last his army stood before the city of Delhi, and after a fierce

assault forced it to surrender. Other cities of India were taken

and the authority of Tamerlane was established over a large extent

of the country.

Bajazet (baj-a-zet'), sultan of Turkey, now determined to stop

Tamerlane's eastward march.

News of this reached the conqueror's ears. Leaving India, he

marched to meet the sultan. Bajazet was a famous warrior. He was

so rapid in his movements in war that he was called "the lightning."

Tamerlane entered the sultan's dominions and devastated them. He

stormed Bagdad, and after capturing the place killed thousands of

the inhabitants.

At length the rivals and their armies faced each other. A great

battle followed. It raged four or five hours and then the Turks

were totally defeated. Bajazet was captured.

Tamerlane then ordered a great iron cage to be made and forced the

sultan to enter it. The prisoner was chained to the iron bars of

the cage and was thus exhibited to the Mongol soldiers, who taunted

him as he was carried along the lines.

As the army marched from place to place the sultan in his cage was

shown to the people. How long the fallen monarch had to bear this

humiliating punishment is not known.

Tamerlane's dominions now embraced a large part of Asia. He

retired to his palace at Samarcand and for several weeks indulged

in festivities.

He could not, however, long be content away from the field of

battle. So he made up his mind to invade the Empire of China. At

the head of a great army of two hundred thousand soldiers he marched

from the city of Samarcand towards China. He had gone about three

hundred miles on the way when, in February, 1405, he was taken

sick and died. His army was disbanded and all thought of invading

China was given up.

Thus passed away one of the greatest conquerors of the Middle Ages.

He was a soldier of genius but he cannot be called a truly great

man. His vast empire speedily fell to pieces after his death. Since

his day there has been no leader like him in that part of Asia.