Tamerlane

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Born in Uzbekistan of the Barlas tribe, Tamerlane (also known as Amir Timur or Timur the Lame) claimed decent from Genghis Khan himself. Whilst he was certainly of Mongol descent there is no evidence to suggest that his claim was true – nevertheless, his reputation was easily the match of Khan’s.

Speaking Turkish as his first language, Tamerlane was brought up a Muslim. His father died when he was 10, forcing him to look after himself. By the 14th century the Mongol hold on the Middle East was fracturing and tribes were warring amongst themselves. Initially more bandit than warrior, Tamerlane began his career as a thief, but on one raid was badly wounded; his left side was disabled, and so he became known as “Timur the Lame”.

With a growing force of followers, Tamerlane swore loyalty to a local ruler and was made ruler of Transoxiana (1364). Gradually he rose to power and by 1370 he took over the region that was formerly Genghis Khan’s empire. Clever as always, Tamerlane distributed the wealth from his campaigns around to the different communities that formed his people – this kept grumbles down. Over the next 10 years he set out to conquer regions beyond his present empire and by 1381 he fought over Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Syria and part of India, finally capturing Turkey from the sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Campaigns he waged against Persia occupied him until 1387. By that time he had in his possession the lands stretching E from the Euphrates River. He advanced (1392) across the Euphrates, conquered the territory between the Caspian and Black seas, and invaded several of the Russian states. By weakening the Crimean Tatars he helped clear the way for the conquests of the grand duchy of Moscow. Timur abandoned some of his Russian conquests to return to Samarkand and invade (1398) India along the route of the Indus River. He took Delhi and brought the Delhi Sultanate to an end, but he withdrew with little addition to his domain. No man’s hold on this territory is immortal and Tamerlane’s rival, Tokhtamish, was emerging as a powerful enemy in Russia. By 1042 CE he was only holding on to his far-flung khanates by a delicate thread. Timur's reputation is that of a cruel conqueror. After capturing certain cities he slaughtered thousands of the defenders (perhaps 80,000 at Delhi) and built pyramids of their skulls. Although a Muslim, he was scarcely more merciful to those of his own faith than to those he considered infidels. His positive achievements were the encouragement of art, literature, and science and the construction of vast public works. He had little hope that his vast conquests would remain intact, and before his death he arranged for them to be divided among his sons. His burial site is one of the religion’s greatest architectural monuments. The Timurids are the line of rulers descended from him.

At the end of XIV century and at the start of XV century, Tashkent was under the supervision of Temur and Temurids. In 1404 Amir Temur bequeathed the town to his grandson Ulughbek as a free property. At this time the city turned into a fortressed castle on the border between the valley and the nomadic desert. Its territory had extended, manufacturing, trade and culture had developed. Monuments such as Registan, temples in Sheykhantaur ensemble and cathedral mosques had been built during that period. Archeological discoveries reveal that the local traditions of the architectural monuments were harmonized with the cultural traits of neighboring eastern countries.

The battle for the throne started among the Temurids and resulted in Tashkent is falling into the hands of Mongol khan Yunuskhan in 1485 and the city became his residence. But Yunuskhan period didn’t last long and he died in Tashkent in 1487. After Yunuskhan his son Sultan Mahmud khan took the throne but his rule also didn’t last long. In 1503 Sheybanikhan had taken Tashkent and he gave the governance of Tashkent to Suyunchkhujakhan and Kuchlukkhan.

Despite the general decline of the cities of the Old Silk Road, the town once again grew prosperous under Sheybanids in the late 15th and 16th centuries and most of its surviving architectural monuments date from that period. The city had been surrounded by new walls. Architectural monuments arose, some of them (Sheykhantaur temple, Kukaldosh and Baroqkhon medresses) are still standing today.

Starting from the Sheybanid period, Tashkent’s name was seldom referred in socio-political events. In 1558 Tashkent was able to resist Kyrgyz-kaysak blockade. In 1579 Bukhara khan Abdullakhan II occupied the city. In 1588 the city population rebelled against the viceroy of Abdullakhan II, the hakim of Tashkent region Uzbekkhan. The rebels for some time kept Kazakh sultan Jonali as their khan, but not much time passed before the rebellion had been suppressed. In 1597 Kazakh khan Tavakkal (died in 1598) took the city. Not much time later, Tashkent again passed to Bukhara khanate: Imamqulikhan from Ashtarkhaniys who, having beaten the Kazakhs in 1611, appointed his son Iskandar as Tashkent’s viceroy. The city population rebelled against Iskandar and he was killed. A furious Imamqulikhan then took severe revenge from Tashkent’s population and terrible massacre ensued. In the first quarter of XVIII century Tashkent again passed into the hands of Kazakhs and was governed by Kazakhs until 1740.

In the middle of XVIII century, though the city had passed from hand to hand, it had been still divided into four parts: Sheykhantaur, Sebzor (for some time it was called as Qaffol-Shoshiy), Kukcha (Shaykh Zainiddin) and Beshyoghoch (Zangiota) dahas and each had been ruled independently by hakims. In the history of Tashkent it was called “Chor hokimlik” – “Four kingdom ships”. In 1784 Yunuskhuja, the hakim of Sheykhantaur daha, took over governing of the other three dahas, putting an end to Tashkent’s feudal disintegration and organized an independent Tashkent state. Though the Tashkent state had been under the pressure of Middle Juz sultans, especially under Kokand khanates, it survived 20 years of life. In order to strengthen his government’s political and economic status, Yunuskhuja tried to establish ties with the Russian state. In autumn of 1802 he sent a Tashkent ambassadorial delegation of 7 people, headed by Prime Minister Mullojon Okhundomullo Makhsum to St. Petersburg. The main focus of the deputation was to set up trade agreements with the Russian government, asking for 500 soldier’s rifles, 1000 pounds (a pound is 16 kilos) of copper, and to send a specialist in gun manufacture to Tashkent for a period of 5 years. In 1803 Tashkent ambassadors had been received by Emperor Alexander the I and by the state counselor and minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia graph A. Vorontsov.