Timour, Or Taimerlane (a corruption of Ti-mour Lenk, i. e., Timour the Lame), an Asiatic conqueror, born at Sebz, a suburb of Kesh, about 40 m. S. E. of Samarcand, April 9,1336, died at Otrar on the Jaxartes, Feb. 18, 1405. He was the son of the chief of the Turkish tribe of Berlas, which inhabited Kesh, and claimed to be on his mother's side a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. In 1361 he became chief of his tribe, and supported the cause of Hussein, khan of northern Khorasan; and after driving out the Calmucks of the khan of Kashgar he married Hussein's sister. With him he had frequent contentions, and after the death of his wife in 1365 a war broke out between them, which ended in the defeat and death of Hussein, and the taking of Balkh, his capital, in 1369, after a siege of three years. Soon after a general Mongol assembly was held, and Timour was proclaimed khan of Jaga-tai (Transoxiana), Samarcand being chosen as his residence. He now aspired to the dominion of all the countries once under the power of Genghis Khan, and attacked the neighbor-ing princes in detail. The khan of the Getes, ruling the country between the Jaxartes and the Irtish, was forced to render homage, and in 1379 the khan of Khiva was conquered.
He then undertook the reduction of Khorasan (1380), and received the submission of a part of it, but was met with a fierce resistance by Gaiyath ed Din Pir Ali, whose capital was Herat. His efforts were all in vain, and the taking of his capital by storm led to the conquest of the remainder of the country. All Khorasan was now in Timour's power; but the town of Sebsewar revolted and was stormed, and thousands of its inhabitants were subjected to a cruel death. Timour now aspired to the conquest of the world. All Persia was soon in his power; the country between the Tigris and the Euphrates, from the sources to the mouths of those rivers, submitted to his authority; and the Christian princes of Georgia also became his tributaries. An invasion of Timour's territory by Tokhtamish, whom he himself had established in the Mongol empire of the north, led to the conquest of Kiptchak. The pursuit of his enemy having led the conqueror of the East into the provinces of Russia, he threatened Moscow, marched to the south, and sacked and burned Azov, at the mouth of the Don. In 1398 he crossed the Indus at the passage of Attok, and, after a long march, in which he massacred 100,000 captives, stood before Delhi, which soon capitulated.
He penetrated still further into the country, but was recalled by the news of insurrections in Georgia and adjoining parts, and of the designs of Bajazet, sultan of Turkey. His first care was to crush the rebellion in Georgia, and as the Mongol and Ottoman conquests now bordered upon one another, a collision was soon rendered certain. Timour overran Syria, then a dependency of Egypt, and then stormed the revolted city of Bagdad, July 9, 1401, leaving in the public places of the town a pile of 90,000 slaughtered human beings. At last the two great armies of the sultan and the Mongol conqueror met on, July 20, 1402, on the plains of Angora, and the former was totally defeated and captured. (See Bajazet.) Timour's dominions now covered all Asia from the Irtish and Volga to the Persian gulf, and from the Ganges to Damascus and the archipelago. He made Solyman, a son of Bajazet, ruler of European Turkey, and his brother Musa of Turkey in Asia. The sultan of Egypt also became his vassal. He now retired to Samarcand (July, 1404), and spent two months in festivities, but did not long remain idle.
He had planned an invasion of China, from which the house of Genghis had recently been expelled, and previous to his return from his Ottoman conquests had sent an army beyond the Jaxartes to prepare the way for his own advance. At the head of 200,000 veteran troops he began his march, crossed the Jaxartes on the ice, and had gone 300 miles from his capital when he died. His army was disbanded, and the invasion of China was given up. He died after a reign of 35 years, all of which was spent in military operations, and left 36 sons and grandsons and 17 granddaughters. A large proportion of his conquests, especially in the northern and western parts of Asia, were lost immediately by his successors. The glory of his race was revived in his descendant Baber, the conqueror of India. - The great authority for the life of Tamerlane is the Persian history of Sheref ed-Din Ali, to whom the journals of his secretaries were intrusted, and whose work has been translated into French by Petis de la Croix, under the title of Histoire de Timur-Bec, con-mi, sous le nom du grand Tamerlan (4 vols. 12mo, Paris, 1722). The writings attributed to Timour have been preserved in Persian, and are of questionable authenticity.
The work on the "Institutions" of his government, with an English translation and a valuable index, was published at Oxford in 1783 (4to) by Major Davy and White, the professor of Arabic, and has also been translated from the Persian into French by Langles. The autobiographical "Commentaries" of Timour have been translated from a manuscript of Major Davy by Major Stewart, and published by the oriental translation committee of London. These only contain his life from his birth to his 41st year, no version having as yet appeared of the remaining portions. See also the translation of the narrative of Clavijo, envoy of Henry III. of Castile to Timour, by C. R. Markham (Hak-luyt society, 1860), and Lamartine, Les grands hommes de l'Orient (Paris, 1865).
Timothy Grass (Phleurn pratense).