• Rhizaldy Manalo

Timur The Lame, Man or Devil

Leah heard the last, faint hooves steps seemingly on its way out of the city. She doesn't know if it's safe to come out. All she knows is that her mother told her to stay until she doesn't hear any more bad noises. She waited for another hour.

Alas, she stood up from the soft and damp ground of their cellar - her dad always leaves his fine wines here so the smell makes her puke. She started for the ladder and heard a loud thump upstairs. Terrified, she went back to where she was clutching her knees in fear, closed her eyes, and started humming silently. Another hour passed.

When she hasn't heard any more noises, she went up the ladder and pushed the door up. As soon as the door opened, she smelled something burning. Something so foul she vomited on her shirt. But she still continued.

Out of their cellar, she found their house, burned to the ground. She saw what seems to be a charred animal, as she approached - she gasped at what she was seeing, her mother - burnt to a crisp, the only thing she recognizes was the dress her mother was wearing.

Crying and running toward her mother, Leah tripped over something on the ground. As she looked at what tripped her, she cried, so loudly she could swear that the desert animals were howling on her behalf. Her father's arm, strewn across the floor - just the arm.

Terrified and surprised, she got up and ran outside. She kept on crying as she ran, her feet taking her to the city's center - her eyes tears running down them like there's no tomorrow, and then she bumped onto something.

She didn't know what she bumped into yet, but as she smelled blood - lots and lots of blood, she dreaded opening her eyes. "Did I bump onto a soldier?" "Are they going to kill me?"

She looked and dried her eyes of tears, and saw the most horrifying thing she could ever see in her life.

A mountain, no - a tower. A tower made of human heads.

After Tamerlane put down the rebellion in Khorasan and having conquered much of the Ilkhanate, he started his planning to reconquer the Golden Horde. After his capture of the Christian city of Georgia, Timur placed his then confidant, and student, Toktamysh in charge of the Golden Horde. A decision he would later regret.

Surprised to see the captured cities in the Ilkhanate in order, without much rebellion, he decided to continue westward to capture the cities of Isfahan and Shiraz.

Both cities surrendered quite meekly to Timur’s conquest - only rebelling because of Timur’s excessive taxing policies. One day a tax collector was cornered in the streets and massacred along with some of Timur’s soldiers. This was unforgivable for Timur.

He ordered the massacre of the entire city’s population. Eyewitness accounts after the devastation state that there were 28 towers in the city center built with roughly 1,500 heads each of the city’s populace. 200,000 people died that day.

No rest for the wicked, as Timur’s student - Toktamysh, turned against his patron, and captured present-day Azerbaijan to the west of the Caspian Sea - this act started the Toktamysh-Timurid War in 1385.

At the start of the war, Timur won a victory at the Battle of the Kondurcha River, but Timur still held affection for his student and allowed him and some retainers to escape.

Timur then invaded Muscovy to the north of Tokhtamysh's holdings. Timur's army burned Ryazan and advanced on Moscow. Sadly, Toktamysh would not surrender meekly and have pulled Timur back before reaching the Oka River by his renewed campaign in the south.

Tokhtamysh's army was once again defeated in the east bank of the Volga River in the Orenburg region at the Battle of the Kondurcha River, in 1391.

In 1395, Timur finally ended Tokhtamysh’s reign in the Battle of the Terek River, concluding the struggle between the two monarchs - but was still unable to execute his old friend. Tokhtamysh will never be able to again restore his power or prestige, and he was killed about a decade later in the area of present-day Tyumen.

During the course of Timur's campaigns, his army destroyed Sarai, the capital of the Golden Horde, and Astrakhan, subsequently disrupting the Golden Horde's Silk Road tirade. The Golden Horde no longer held power after their losses to Timur. Being a fan of Genghis Khan, he decided to do what his hero could not - capture Delhi. His excuse was that the Sultan of Delhi, Nasr Ud Din Mahmud, a Muslim like himself was being too lenient to his populace.

On the way to Delhi, he was forced to execute 100,000 captives he had taken along the way that was slowing him down on his journey to Delhi.

On arrival, Timur encountered one of the greatest armies he would ever see.

Across the battlefield, Timur saw - with his own eyes - rows upon rows of war elephants. They were clad in chainmail to protect against arrows, headgear for bashing against siege machines, and what appears to be tusks tipped with poison against infantry, and cavalry.

Ingeniously, he had his man dig deep trenches to protect themselves against the charging elephants, but his secret weapon was war camels - a battle tactic developed that very day.

He had hay and barley stocked to the backs of his hundreds of camels and set them on fire.

Just as the elephants charged against him and his armies, he had his men prod the camels' backs with hot steel - making the camels charge in screaming agony against the war elephants. This marked the defeat of the Delhi Sultanate.

As soon as the elephants saw the flaming camels they panicked and doubled back against the sultanate’s troops and trampled all over them.

After defeating the Indian army, he killed all the citizens in Delhi and left their rotting corpses in the city where they died leaving their bodies as food for the birds. He took so many treasures that it took 90 elephants to bring all the treasures and stones to Samarkand. Through these treasures and the stones in Delhi - he built the Bibi Khanum Mosque in his home, Samarkand.

He went on to conquer much of the eastern Mediterranean region of the world - devastating the cities of Baghdad - the second largest city in the Arab world, Aleppo, Damascus, and Anatolia - after defeating his long time rival Sultan  Bayezid I of the Ottoman Empire.

He has been exchanging letters with the sultan for years - trading insults, and eventually culminating in the battle of Ankara. Prior to the battle, Beyazid has been gathering allies in the form of his Serbian Vassals Stefan Lazarević and Đurađ Branković

The battle began with a large-scale attack from the Ottomans, countered by swarms of arrows from the Timurid horse archers - using the techniques passed on from their Mongol ancestors. Several thousand were killed and many surrendered to Timur during the initial onslaught.

Stefan Lazarević and his knights successfully fought off the Timurid assaults and cut through the Mongol ranks three times. Each time Stefan advised Bayezid to break out with him, Bayezid declined to do so. Decisions that Beyazid would later come to regret,

In the chaos, the Serbians managed to save one of Bayezid's sons and the treasury from the Mongols and made their way to Constantinople. The Serbian troops wore heavy black plate armor which was very effective against the Timurid arrows. Timur admired the Serbian troops who according to him "fight like lions”.

During the battle the main water supply of both armies, Çubuk creek, was diverted to an off-stream reservoir near the town of Çubuk by Timur - a feat he copied from his hero Genghis - which left the Ottoman army with no water.

The final battle took place at Catal hill, dominating the Çubuk valley. The Ottoman army, both thirsty and tired, was defeated, though Bayezid managed to escape to the nearby mountains with a few hundred horsemen.

However, Timur had the mountains surrounded and, heavily outnumbering Bayezid, soon captured him. He died in captivity three months later.

Now having conquered the IlKhanate, the Golden horde, and having hold of the Chagatai Khanate from the moment he started - Timur set his eyes onto the last khanate he has to conquer in order to bring the Mongol Empire back to its previous glory - the Great Khanate or the Yuan Dynasty of China.

Timur went back to Samarkand to enjoy his spoils and plan his conquest of China.

Before leaving he ordered the construction of the Gur-e-Amir, originally designed to be a large Masjid for his people, it became something he would have never thought of.

On his way to China, Timur would attempt to cross Kazakhstan up north through the northern passes across the Tian-Sham. But it was not Timur’s fate to conquer China.

In the year 1405 Timur, or Tamerlane, died of influenza.

Sadly, because of the brutal way he conquered - and have never really followed Genghis Khan’s idea of justice amongst the civilian populace - his Timurid Empire would collapse shortly.

He would be interred, the first of his dynasty into the Gur-e-Amir Masjid, turned Mausoleum.

Legends say that Timur - or Tamerlane - a play on what he was actually called, Timur the Lame on account of his childhood injury, is still alive.

Somewhere in the world, sowing seeds of anarchy, and destruction. It was said that all of the evil people in history were Tamerlane resurrected.

Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong - all bodies with the same soul.

Tamerlane the Conqueror, The Prince of Destruction, in the flesh.

Rhiz Manalo is the co-partner to CentrAsia Tours, Co-Founder, and Co-Owner of The White Dog Collective. He is a seasoned digital marketing expert, an experienced blogger, systems architect, web designer, and a loving father to a beautiful 7-year-old girl whom he misses so much!

Check out his portfolio here.


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