Elevation Of Timour Or Tamerlane To The Throne Of Samarcand. -- His Conquests In Persia, Georgia, Tartary Russia, India, Syria, And Anatolia. -- His Turkish War. -- Defeat And Captivity Of Bajazet. -- Death Of Timour. -- Civil War Of The Sons Of Bajazet. -- Restoration Of The Turkish Monarchy By Mahomet The First. -- Siege Of Constantinople By Amurath The Second.
The conquest and monarchy of the world was the first object of the ambition of Timour. To live in the memory and esteem of future ages was the second wish of his magnanimous spirit. All the civil and military transactions of his reign were diligently recorded in the journals of his secretaries: ^1 the authentic narrative was revised by the persons best informed of each particular transaction; and it is believed in the empire and family of Timour, that the monarch himself composed the commentaries ^2 of his life, and the institutions ^3 of his government. ^4 But these cares were ineffectual for the preservation of his fame, and these precious memorials in the Mogul or Persian language were concealed from the world, or, at least, from the knowledge of Europe. The nations which he vanquished exercised a base and impotent revenge; and ignorance has long repeated the tale of calumny, ^5 which had disfigured the birth and character, the person, and even the name, of Tamerlane. ^6 Yet his real merit would be enhanced, rather than debased, by the elevation of a peasant to the throne of Asia; nor can his lameness be a theme of reproach, unless he had the weakness to blush at a natural, or perhaps an honorable, infirmity. ^*
[Footnote 1: These journals were communicated to Sherefeddin, or Cherefeddin Ali, a native of Yezd, who composed in the Persian language a history of Timour Beg, which has been translated into French by M. Petit de la Croix, (Paris, 1722, in 4 vols. 12 mo.,) and has always been my faithful guide. His geography and chronology are wonderfully accurate; and he may be trusted for public facts, though he servilely praises the virtue and fortune of the hero. Timour's attention to procure intelligence from his own and foreign countries may be seen in the Institutions, p. 215, 217, 349, 351.]
[Footnote 2: These Commentaries are yet unknown in Europe: but Mr. White gives some hope that they may be imported and translated by his friend Major Davy, who had read in the East this "minute and faithful narrative of an interesting and eventful period." *
[Footnote 3: I am ignorant whether the original institution, in the Turki or Mogul language, be still extant. The Persic version, with an English translation, and most valuable index, was published (Oxford, 1783, in 4to.) by the joint labors of Major Davy and Mr. White, the Arabic professor. This work has been since translated from the Persic into French, (Paris, 1787,) by M. Langlès, a learned Orientalist, who has added the life of Timour, and many curious notes.]
[Footnote 4: Shaw Allum, the present Mogul, reads, values, but cannot imitate, the institutions of his great ancestor. The English translator relies on their internal evidence; but if any suspicions should arise of fraud and fiction, they will not be dispelled by Major Davy's letter. The Orientals have never cultivated the art of criticism; the patronage of a prince, less honorable, perhaps, is not less lucrative than that of a bookseller; nor can it be deemed incredible that a Persian, the real author, should renounce the credit, to raise the value and price, of the work.]
[Footnote 5: The original of the tale is found in the following work, which is much esteemed for its florid elegance of style: Ahmedis Arabsiad (Ahmed Ebn Arabshah) Vitæ et Rerum gestarum Timuri. Arabice et Latine. Edidit Samuel Henricus Manger. Franequer, 1767, 2 tom. in 4to. This Syrian author is ever a malicious, and often an ignorant enemy: the very titles of his chapters are injurious; as how the wicked, as how the impious, as how the viper, &c. The copious article of Timur, in Bibliothèque Orientale, is of a mixed nature, as D'Herbelot indifferently draws his materials (p. 877--888) from Khondemir Ebn Schounah, and the Lebtarikh.]
[Footnote 6: Demir or Timour signifies in the Turkish language, Iron; and it is the appellation of a lord or prince. By the change of a letter or accent, it is changed into Lenc, or Lame; and a European corruption confounds the two words in the name of Tamerlane. *
[Footnote *: He was lamed by a wound at the siege of the capital of Sistan. Sherefeddin, lib. iii. c. 17. p. 136. See Von Hammer, vol. i. p. 260. -- M.]
In the eyes of the Moguls, who held the indefeasible succession of the house of Zingis, he was doubtless a rebel subject; yet he sprang from the noble tribe of Berlass: his fifth ancestor, Carashar Nevian, had been the vizier ^! of Zagatai, in his new realm of Transoxiana; and in the ascent of some generations, the branch of Timour is confounded, at least by the females, ^7 with the Imperial stem. ^8 He was born forty miles to the south of Samarcand in the village of Sebzar, in the fruitful territory of Cash, of which his fathers were the hereditary chiefs, as well as of a toman of ten thousand horse. ^9 His birth ^10 was cast on one of those periods of anarchy, which announce the fall of the Asiatic dynasties, and open a new field to adventurous ambition. The khans of Zagatai were extinct; the emirs aspired to independence; and their domestic feuds could only be suspended by the conquest and tyranny of the khans of Kashgar, who, with an army of Getes or Calmucks, ^11 invaded the Transoxian kingdom. From the twelfth year of his age, Timour had entered the field of action; in the twenty-fifth ^! he stood forth as the deliverer of his country; and the eyes and wishes of the people were turned towards a hero who suffered in their cause. The chiefs of the law and of the army had pledged their salvation to support him with their lives and fortunes; but in the hour of danger they were silent and afraid; and, after waiting seven days on the hills of Samarcand, he retreated to the desert with only sixty horsemen. The fugitives were overtaken by a thousand Getes, whom he repulsed with incredible slaughter, and his enemies were forced to exclaim, "Timour is a wonderful man: fortune and the divine favor are with him." But in this bloody action his own followers were reduced to ten, a number which was soon diminished by the desertion of three Carizmians. ^!! He wandered in the desert with his wife, seven companions, and four horses; and sixty-two days was he plunged in a loathsome dungeon, from whence he escaped by his own courage and the remorse of the oppressor. After swimming the broad and rapid steam of the Jihoon, or Oxus, he led, during some months, the life of a vagrant and outlaw, on the borders of the adjacent states. But his fame shone brighter in adversity; he learned to distinguish the friends of his person, the associates of his fortune, and to apply the various characters of men for their advantage, and, above all, for his own. On his return to his native country, Timour was successively joined by the parties of his confederates, who anxiously sought him in the desert; nor can I refuse to describe, in his pathetic simplicity, one of their fortunate encounters. He presented himself as a guide to three chiefs, who were at the head of seventy horse. "When their eyes fell upon me," says Timour, "they were overwhelmed with joy; and they alighted from their horses; and they came and kneeled; and they kissed my stirrup. I also came down from my horse, and took each of them in my arms. And I put my turban on the head of the first chief; and my girdle, rich in jewels and wrought with gold, I bound on the loins of the second; and the third I clothed in my own coat. And they wept, and I wept also; and the hour of prayer was arrived, and we prayed. And we mounted our horses, and came to my dwelling; and I collected my people, and made a feast." His trusty bands were soon increased by the bravest of the tribes; he led them against a superior foe; and, after some vicissitudes of war the Getes were finally driven from the kingdom of Transoxiana. He had done much for his own glory; but much remained to be done, much art to be exerted, and some blood to be spilt, before he could teach his equals to obey him as their master. The birth and power of emir Houssein compelled him to accept a vicious and unworthy colleague, whose sister was the best beloved of his wives. Their union was short and jealous; but the policy of Timour, in their frequent quarrels, exposed his rival to the reproach of injustice and perfidy; and, after a final defeat, Houssein was slain by some sagacious friends, who presumed, for the last time, to disobey the commands of their lord. ^* At the age of thirty-four, ^12 and in a general diet or couroultai, he was invested with Imperial command, but he affected to revere the house of Zingis; and while the emir Timour reigned over Zagatai and the East, a nominal khan served as a private officer in the armies of his servant. A fertile kingdom, five hundred miles in length and in breadth, might have satisfied the ambition of a subject; but Timour aspired to the dominion of the world; and before his death, the crown of Zagatai was one of the twenty-seven crowns which he had placed on his head. Without expatiating on the victories of thirty-five campaigns; without describing the lines of march, which he repeatedly traced over the continent of Asia; I shall briefly represent his conquests in, I. Persia, II. Tartary, and, III. India, ^13 and from thence proceed to the more interesting narrative of his Ottoman war.
[Footnote !: In the memoirs, the title Gurgân is in one place (p. 23) interpreted the son-in-law; in another (p. 28) as Kurkan, great prince, generalissimo, and prime minister of Jagtai. -- M.]
[Footnote 7: After relating some false and foolish tales of Timour Lenc, Arabshah is compelled to speak truth, and to own him for a kinsman of Zingis, per mulieres, (as he peevishly adds,) laqueos Satanæ, (pars i.
[Footnote 8: According to one of the pedigrees, the fourth ancestor of Zingis, and the ninth of Timour, were brothers; and they agreed, that the posterity of the elder should succeed to the dignity of khan, and that the descendants of the younger should fill the office of their minister and general. This tradition was at least convenient to justify the first steps of Timour's ambition, (Institutions, p. 24, 25, from the MS. fragments of Timour's History.)]
[Footnote 9: See the preface of Sherefeddin, and Abulfeda's Geography, (Chorasmiæ, &c., Descriptio, p. 60, 61,) in the iiid volume of Hudson's Minor Greek Geographers.]
[Footnote 10: See his nativity in Dr. Hyde, (Syntagma Dissertat. tom.
[Footnote 11: In the Institutions of Timour, these subjects of the khan of Kashgar are most improperly styled Ouzbegs, or Usbeks, a name which belongs to another branch and country of Tartars, (Abulghazi, P. v. c.
[Footnote !: He was twenty-seven before he served his first wars under the emir Houssein, who ruled over Khorasan and Mawerainnehr. Von Hammer, vol. i. p. 262. Neither of these statements agrees with the Memoirs. At twelve he was a boy. "I fancied that I perceived in myself all the signs of greatness and wisdom, and whoever came to visit me, I received with great hauteur and dignity." At seventeen he undertook the management of the flocks and herds of the family, (p. 24.) At nineteen he became religious, and "left off playing chess," made a kind of Budhist vow never to injure living thing and felt his foot paralyzed from having accidentally trod upon an ant, (p. 30.) At twenty, thoughts of rebellion and greatness rose in his mind; at twenty-one, he seems to have performed his first feat of arms. He was a practised warrior when he served, in his twenty-seventh year, under Emir Houssein.]
[Footnote !!: Compare Memoirs, page 61. The imprisonment is there stated at fifty-three days. "At this time I made a vow to God that I would never keep any person, whether guilty or innocent, for any length of time, in prison or in chains." p. 63. -- M.]
[Footnote *: Timour, on one occasion, sent him this message: "He who wishes to embrace the bride of royalty must kiss her across the edge of the sharp sword," p. 83. The scene of the trial of Houssein, the resistance of Timour gradually becoming more feeble, the vengeance of the chiefs becoming proportionably more determined, is strikingly portrayed. Mem. p 130. -- M.]
[Footnote 12: The ist book of Sherefeddin is employed on the private life of the hero: and he himself, or his secretary, (Institutions, p. 3--77,) enlarges with pleasure on the thirteen designs and enterprises which most truly constitute his personal merit. It even shines through the dark coloring of Arabshah, (P. i. c. 1--12.)]
[Footnote 13: The conquests of Persia, Tartary, and India, are represented in the iid and iiid books of Sherefeddin, and by Arabshah,
[Footnote 14: The reverence of the Tartars for the mysterious number of nine is declared by Abulghazi Khan, who, for that reason, divides his Genealogical History into nine parts.]
[Footnote 15: According to Arabshah, (P. i. c. 28, p. 183,) the coward Timour ran away to his tent, and hid himself from the pursuit of Shah Mansour under the women's garments. Perhaps Sherefeddin (l. iii. c. 25) has magnified his courage.]
[Footnote 16: The history of Ormuz is not unlike that of Tyre. The old city, on the continent, was destroyed by the Tartars, and renewed in a neighboring island, without fresh water or vegetation. The kings of Ormuz, rich in the Indian trade and the pearl fishery, possessed large territories both in Persia and Arabia; but they were at first the tributaries of the sultans of Kerman, and at last were delivered (A.D. 1505) by the Portuguese tyrants from the tyranny of their own viziers, (Marco Polo, l. i. c. 15, 16, fol. 7, 8. Abulfeda, Geograph. tabul. xi.
[Footnote 17: Arabshah had travelled into Kipzak, and acquired a singular knowledge of the geography, cities, and revolutions, of that northern region, (P. i. c. 45--49.)]
[Footnote 18: Institutions of Timour, p. 123, 125. Mr. White, the editor, bestows some animadversion on the superficial account of Sherefeddin, (l. iii. c. 12, 13, 14,) who was ignorant of the designs of Timour, and the true springs of action.]
[Footnote 19: The furs of Russia are more credible than the ingots. But the linen of Antioch has never been famous: and Antioch was in ruins. I suspect that it was some manufacture of Europe, which the Hanse merchants had imported by the way of Novogorod.]
[Footnote 20: M. Levesque (Hist. de Russie, tom. ii. p. 247. Vie de Timour, p. 64--67, before the French version of the Institutes) has corrected the error of Sherefeddin, and marked the true limit of Timour's conquests. His arguments are superfluous; and a simple appeal to the Russian annals is sufficient to prove that Moscow, which six years before had been taken by Toctamish, escaped the arms of a more formidable invader.]
[Footnote 21: An Egyptian consul from Grand Cairo is mentioned in Barbaro's voyage to Tana in 1436, after the city had been rebuilt, (Ramusio, tom. ii. fol. 92.)]
[Footnote 22: The sack of Azoph is described by Sherefeddin, (l. iii. c. 55,) and much more particularly by the author of an Italian chronicle, (Andreas de Redusiis de Quero, in Chron. Tarvisiano, in Muratori, Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. xix. p. 802--805.) He had conversed with the Mianis, two Venetian brothers, one of whom had been sent a deputy to the camp of Timour, and the other had lost at Azoph three sons and 12,000 ducats.]
[Footnote 23: Sherefeddin only says (l. iii. c. 13) that the rays of the setting, and those of the rising sun, were scarcely separated by any interval; a problem which may be solved in the latitude of Moscow, (the 56th degree,) with the aid of the Aurora Borealis, and a long summer twilight. But a day of forty days (Khondemir apud D'Herbelot, p. 880) would rigorously confine us within the polar circle.]
[Footnote 24: For the Indian war, see the Institutions, (p. 129--139,) the fourth book of Sherefeddin, and the history of Ferishta, (in Dow, vol. ii. p. 1--20,) which throws a general light on the affairs of Hindostan.]
[Footnote *: Gibbon (observes M. von Hammer) is mistaken in the correspondence of the ninety-two squadrons of his army with the ninety-two names of God: the names of God are ninety-nine. and Allah is the hundredth, p. 286, note. But Gibbon speaks of the names or epithets of Mahomet, not of God. -- M.]
[Footnote 25: The rivers of the Punjab, the five eastern branches of the Indus, have been laid down for the first time with truth and accuracy in Major Rennel's incomparable map of Hindostan. In this Critical Memoir he illustrates with judgment and learning the marches of Alexander and Timour. *
Note : See vol. i. ch. ii. note 1. -- M.]
[Footnote !: They took, on their march, 100,000 slaves, Guebers they were all murdered. V. Hammer, vol. i. p. 286. They are called idolaters. Briggs's Ferishta, vol. i. p. 491. -- M.]
[Footnote *: See a curious passage on the destruction of the Hindoo idols, Memoirs, p. 15. -- M.]
[Footnote !: Consult the very striking description of the Cow's Mouth by Captain Hodgson, Asiat. Res. vol. xiv. p. 117. "A most wonderful scene. The B'hagiratha or Ganges issues from under a very low arch at the foot of the grand snow bed. My guide, an illiterate mountaineer compared the pendent icicles to Mahodeva's hair." (Compare Poems, Quarterly Rev. vol.
[Footnote 26: The two great rivers, the Ganges and Burrampooter, rise in Thibet, from the opposite ridges of the same hills, separate from each other to the distance of 1200 miles, and, after a winding course of 2000 miles, again meet in one point near the Gulf of Bengal. Yet so capricious is Fame, that the Burrampooter is a late discovery, while his brother Ganges has been the theme of ancient and modern story Coupele, the scene of Timour's last victory, must be situate near Loldong, 1100 miles from Calcutta; and in 1774, a British camp! (Rennel's Memoir, p. 7, 59, 90, 91, 99.)]
It was on the banks of the Ganges that Timour was informed, by his speedy messengers, of the disturbances which had arisen on the confines of Georgia and Anatolia, of the revolt of the Christians, and the ambitious designs of the sultan Bajazet. His vigor of mind and body was not impaired by sixty-three years, and innumerable fatigues; and, after enjoying some tranquil months in the palace of Samarcand, he proclaimed a new expedition of seven years into the western countries of Asia. ^27 To the soldiers who had served in the Indian war he granted the choice of remaining at home, or following their prince; but the troops of all the provinces and kingdoms of Persia were commanded to assemble at Ispahan, and wait the arrival of the Imperial standard. It was first directed against the Christians of Georgia, who were strong only in their rocks, their castles, and the winter season; but these obstacles were overcome by the zeal and perseverance of Timour: the rebels submitted to the tribute or the Koran; and if both religions boasted of their martyrs, that name is more justly due to the Christian prisoners, who were offered the choice of abjuration or death. On his descent from the hills, the emperor gave audience to the first ambassadors of Bajazet, and opened the hostile correspondence of complaints and menaces, which fermented two years before the final explosion. Between two jealous and haughty neighbors, the motives of quarrel will seldom be wanting. The Mogul and Ottoman conquests now touched each other in the neighborhood of Erzeroum, and the Euphrates; nor had the doubtful limit been ascertained by time and treaty. Each of these ambitious monarchs might accuse his rival of violating his territory, of threatening his vassals, and protecting his rebels; and, by the name of rebels, each understood the fugitive princes, whose kingdoms he had usurped, and whose life or liberty he implacably pursued. The resemblance of character was still more dangerous than the opposition of interest; and in their victorious career, Timour was impatient of an equal, and Bajazet was ignorant of a superior. The first epistle ^28 of the Mogul emperor must have provoked, instead of reconciling, the Turkish sultan, whose family and nation he affected to despise. ^29 "Dost thou not know, that the greatest part of Asia is subject to our arms and our laws? that our invincible forces extend from one sea to the other? that the potentates of the earth form a line before our gate? and that we have compelled Fortune herself to watch over the prosperity of our empire. What is the foundation of thy insolence and folly? Thou hast fought some battles in the woods of Anatolia; contemptible trophies! Thou hast obtained some victories over the Christians of Europe; thy sword was blessed by the apostle of God; and thy obedience to the precept of the Koran, in waging war against the infidels, is the sole consideration that prevents us from destroying thy country, the frontier and bulwark of the Moslem world. Be wise in time; reflect; repent; and avert the thunder of our vengeance, which is yet suspended over thy head. Thou art no more than a pismire; why wilt thou seek to provoke the elephants? Alas! they will trample thee under their feet." In his replies, Bajazet poured forth the indignation of a soul which was deeply stung by such unusual contempt. After retorting the basest reproaches on the thief and rebel of the desert, the Ottoman recapitulates his boasted victories in Iran, Touran, and the Indies; and labors to prove, that Timour had never triumphed unless by his own perfidy and the vices of his foes. "Thy armies are innumerable: be they so; but what are the arrows of the flying Tartar against the cimeters and battle-axes of my firm and invincible Janizaries? I will guard the princes who have implored my protection: seek them in my tents. The cities of Arzingan and Erzeroum are mine; and unless the tribute be duly paid, I will demand the arrears under the walls of Tauris and Sultania." The ungovernable rage of the sultan at length betrayed him to an insult of a more domestic kind. "If I fly from thy arms," said he, "may my wives be thrice divorced from my bed: but if thou hast not courage to meet me in the field, mayest thou again receive thy wives after they have thrice endured the embraces of a stranger." ^30 Any violation by word or deed of the secrecy of the harem is an unpardonable offence among the Turkish nations; ^31 and the political quarrel of the two monarchs was imbittered by private and personal resentment. Yet in his first expedition, Timour was satisfied with the siege and destruction of Siwas or Sebaste, a strong city on the borders of Anatolia; and he revenged the indiscretion of the Ottoman, on a garrison of four thousand Armenians, who were buried alive for the brave and faithful discharge of their duty. ^! As a Mussulman, he seemed to respect the pious occupation of Bajazet, who was still engaged in the blockade of Constantinople; and after this salutary lesson, the Mogul conqueror checked his pursuit, and turned aside to the invasion of Syria and Egypt. In these transactions, the Ottoman prince, by the Orientals, and even by Timour, is styled the Kaissar of Roum, the Cæsar of the Romans; a title which, by a small anticipation, might be given to a monarch who possessed the provinces, and threatened the city, of the successors of Constantine. ^32
[Footnote 27: See the Institutions, p. 141, to the end of the 1st book, and Sherefeddin, (l. v. c. 1--16,) to the entrance of Timour into Syria.]
[Footnote 28: We have three copies of these hostile epistles in the Institutions, (p. 147,) in Sherefeddin, (l. v. c. 14,) and in Arabshah, (tom. ii. c. 19 p. 183--201;) which agree with each other in the spirit and substance rather than in the style. It is probable, that they have been translated, with various latitude, from the Turkish original into the Arabic and Persian tongues. *
[Footnote 29: The Mogul emir distinguishes himself and his countrymen by the name of Turks, and stigmatizes the race and nation of Bajazet with the less honorable epithet of Turkmans. Yet I do not understand how the Ottomans could be descended from a Turkman sailor; those inland shepherds were so remote from the sea, and all maritime affairs. *
Note: * Price translated the word pilot or boatman. -- M.]
[Footnote 30: According to the Koran, (c. ii. p. 27, and Sale's Discourses, p. 134,) Mussulman who had thrice divorced his wife, (who had thrice repeated the words of a divorce,) could not take her again, till after she had been married to, and repudiated by, another husband; an ignominious transaction, which it is needless to aggravate, by supposing that the first husband must see her enjoyed by a second before his face, (Rycaut's State of the Ottoman Empire, l. ii. c. 21.)]
[Footnote 31: The common delicacy of the Orientals, in never speaking of their women, is ascribed in a much higher degree by Arabshah to the Turkish nations; and it is remarkable enough, that Chalcondyles (l. ii.
Note: * See Von Hammer, p. 308, and note, p. 621. -- M.]
[Footnote !: Still worse barbarities were perpetrated on these brave men. Von Hammer, vol. i. p. 295. -- M.]
[Footnote 32: For the style of the Moguls, see the Institutions, (p. 131, 147,) and for the Persians, the Bibliothèque Orientale, (p. 882;) but I do not find that the title of Cæsar has been applied by the Arabians, or assumed by the Ottomans themselves.]