Tamerlane, more correctly Temur, was born in Transoxiana, near Samarkand, Kesh village in 1336. Temur’ s family was a member of the Barlas clan and his father Taraghai was described as minor noble of this tribe. Tamerlane spent his childhood and young in Kesh. Around 1363, when Timur tried to steal a sheep from a neighbor, he was shot by two arrows, which seriously injured him. So, he was called Timur the lame. But some sources mentioned that Timur became lame in a battleground in 1360 with Sistan Empire.[i]
In 1370, Tamerlane established Timurid Empire (1370-1507) and ruled it until his death in 1405 in Otrar, town in Kazakhstan. During his reign Tamerlane invaded a large number of territories. In 1371, he annexed Transoxiana, but Khwarazmians resisted for another eight years. Timus’s efforts in 1375-1377 to drive the Jagatai Khans out of their remaining territory northwest of the Tien Shan Mountains were more successful. In 1378 Timur had helped Tokhtamysh, a rebel member of the ruling family, to seize control of the White Horde. Timur seems to have been flattered that a member of Genghis Khan’s Golden Family should have sought his support, but two years later Tokhtamysh also took over the Golden Horde. Timur had unwittingly created a rival on his northern frontier. Then he himself started reuniting Mongol imperial territory within the Muslim world.[ii]
He began attacking Ghiyath al Din of the Kart dynasty in 1381. And Timur captured it and then Herat rose in revolt, but this was savagely crushed. Then from 1392 for five years, Timur fought against the Golden Horde. Timur’s army moved into Iraq. Ahmad ibn Uwais, the Jalayrid ruler of Baghdad, refused to face this appalling swarm and fled to Egypt. Timur left Baghdad early in 1394, but then he moved Georgia, Darband Gates, Caucasus. On 15th April 1395 the armies of Tamerlane and Tokhtamysh met near the river Terek, a strategic point where so many battles had been fought. This fight was ended victory of Timur. These two, Timur and Tokhtamysh, competed over Azerbaijan as well.
Then Timur attacked India and at the battle of Delhi he captured city, despite the fact that Indian army used war elephants against Timur. After this fight Timur’s eyes were already set on China. But when he went China, he died near the Otrar.[iii]
In 1402, Timur faced Ottoman Empire in the Ankara battle. Tamerlane divided his army into seven divisions against Bayezid I. Because of Tamerlane’s victory over the Ottomans, European countries survived not only from his campaigns, but also powerful Ottomans. [iv]
Tamerlane’s campaigns in Azerbaijan
After the collapse of Hulaguids Empire, the south of Azerbaijan was under control of the Jalayirid dynasty in 1359, which forced to recognize his suzerainty by the Shirvanshahs in 1367. In 1385 Tokhtamysh marched Azerbaijan and firstly captured Darband and Shirvan, besieged Tabriz. When Tokhtamysh attacked Azerbaijan Timur got angry of him, because he considered Azerbaijan as his ulus, which was divided by Genghis Khan. So he started his campaign, and he attacked Azerbaijan for three times.
Generally, period of 23 years history that dated from 1385 to 1405 of Southern Caucasus exposed Timur’s campaigns. Result of Timurids campaigns all south and north Azerbaijani territories, besides the Shirvanshahs, were destroyed. Between 1385-1392, Tamerlane and Tokhtamysh marched Tabriz for 8 times. Millions of Azerbaijanis were murdered at the battle of Maragha in 1385, Nakhchivan in 1386, Shaki in 1387, Shirvan in 1387 and 1394, Merend in 1388, Alinja in 1387,1393, 1397 and 1400.
Tamerlane’s first campaign in Azerbaijan
- This campaign began in 1386
- Supporter I Ibrahim’s aim of being ally of Tamerlane was save Shirvan from distractions against Golden Horde.
- Opponents: Jalairids (in Alinja), Qara Muhammad Qaraqoyunlu, Seydi Ali Orlat of Shaki, Hurufis.
- Results: Tamerlane captured and destroyed all lands of Azerbaijan exception Alinja.
During this campaign, so-called ‘three-years’ campaign, Timur restored the Darband walls, aiming to save lands belonged his ulus from Tokhtamysh.
Tamerlane’s first defeat
Tamerlane was defeated by Qara Muhammad Qaraqoyunlu in 1387 in the Chapaqcur battle near the Erzurum. Qara Muhammad was killed by Pir Hasa, one of his army emirs, in despite of his victory over invincible ruler of East. [v]
Tamerlane’s second campaign to Azerbaijan
- This campaign began in 1392.
- Supporters: I Ibrahim
- Opponents: Jalairids (Alinja), Qara Yusif, Seydi Ali Orlat, Hurufids
- Results: Timur destroyed Baghdad and Georgia, defeated Shaki ruler Seydi Ali, but he could not capture Alinja again.
Tamerlane’s third campaign to Azerbaijan
- This campaign happened in 1399-1400
- Supporters: I Ibrahim, Seydi Ahmed of Shaki
- Opponents: Jalairids (Alinja), Qara Yusif, Hurufids
- Results: Timur captured Alinja
After his Indian campaign India in 1398, Tamerlane launched another campaign to Azerbaijan in 1399. Tamerlane could not capture the Alinja fortress for 14 years. In 1400 Tamerlane captured Alinja without resistance. This period the smartest policy was provided by Ibrahim I of Shirvanshah, who understood meaninglessness of struggle against Tamerlane. [vi]
In 18 February 1405 Tamerlane died, aged 68. He was buried in Samarkand by his grandson Khalil Sultan near Muhammad Sultan’s madrasa, Ruhabad mosque. After his death his empire weakened because of dynastic clashes.[vii]
Tamerlane was a great warlord and his aim was to become a world conqueror. Most of his targets were Turko-Muslim countries. Tamerlane built historical buildings, which are the pearls of Muslim architecture and gathered historians, scientists, poets and etc. in his palace.
[i]“Timur/ Biography, Conquests, Empire & Facts/ Britannica- Encyclopedia Britannica”. https://www.britannica.com
[ii]“ The Mongol Warlords” David Nicolle plates by Richard Hook, 1944, Pages 156-159
[iii] “The Mongol Warlords” . David Nicolle plates by Richard Hook, 1944. Page 178-179
[iv]“Category: Timur-Battle of Ankara”. https://commons.m.wikimedia.org
[v] “Azərbaycan tarixi/ Teymur və Azərbaycan”. https://az.m.wikibooks.org
[vi] “Əmir Teymurun Azərbaycanda möhkəmlənmək uğrunda hərbi-siyasi mübarizəsi”. https://kayzen.az
[vii] “After Tamerlane” by John Darwin. https://www.theguardian.com