The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Biography - Life of Timur Beg

Timurid Iran

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No chief in the boundless regions of Touran could now dispute the supremacy of the sovereign of Mawur-ul-naher; and Timur's ambition, increasing with his power, led him to contemplate the conquest of Iran. If Timur's theory of conquest could be admitted, that, 'it is the duty of every prince to invade any country where tyranny, oppression, and iniquity are predominant,' Persia certainly offered all these pretexts for aggression, to the lord of Touran. More than a century before, Holagou Khan, a grandson of Genghis, had founded a dynasty in Persia, and put an end to the rule of the caliphs at Bagdad. After a life of conquest and devastation, Holagou had fixed his capital at Maraga in Azerbijan, philosophers and poets assembled at his court, and his friend and adviser, Nasser-ud-Deen, was the most famous astronomer of the age. Holagou retained the pure theism of his grandsire, and, though tolerating both Christians and Mohammedans, he never embraced either of their religions. In 1264 he was succeeded by his son Abaka, a wise and prudent prince, who strove to remedy the evils caused by the conquests of his father; and Arghoun, Ghazan, and other princes of this dynasty, were equally illustrious; but Abu Said, the last prince of the family who retained a vestige of power in Persia, died the year before the birth of Timur. From that time the fair provinces of Iran had been in a state of anarchy, and in 1380 Sultan Ahmed, a descendant of Holagou, ruled at Bagdad; the family of Mozuffurs enjoyed the sovereignty of Fars, with their capital at Shiraz; and the other provinces of Persia groaned under the rapacious tyranny of numerous petty chieftains. Such was the state of things, when Timur, the lord of Touran, determined to conquer the land of Iran. In 1380 he sent his eldest son Miran, then aged fourteen, with some experienced Amirs, to assume the government of Khorassan (Iran/Afganistan) . An excellent bridge of boats was thrown across the River Oxus, the army advanced to Herat, and in 1381 the Persian provinces of Khorassan (Iran/Afganistan) and Mazanderan submitted to the conqueror. In the following years he added Seistan, Candahar, Azerbijan, and Georgia to his rapid conquests, and in 1387 he encamped before the Persian city of Ispahan (Isfahan or Esfahan). The inhabitants submitted, and Timur's forces entered the city, exacting a contribution from the people, but securing their lives and property. During the night of November 16th, a youth named Ali Cutchapa raised an unruly rabble, and massacred many of the Chatagai soldiers. Timur was furious at this breach of faith, and ordered a general massacre of the people. After having taken this terrible revenge, he marched to Shiraz, confirmed the Mozuffurs in their government, and returned to Samarkand in triumph {During Timur's stay in the beautiful city of Shiraz, he had a complimentary interview with Persia's greatest poet, the divine Hafiz, who died two years afterwards}. Iran had now become a province of the empire of Timur, and in 1389 he summoned a Couroultai at Akiar, near Kesh (Shakrisabz), to announce and celebrate his victories. The Amirs, and chiefs of Tomans and Hazarehs, were assembled at a solemn banquet, and two of the sons of the sovereign, Miran and Omar Sheik, received the government of the provinces of Khorassan (Iran/Afganistan) and Andijan.