The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Iv Trebizond and The Journey Through Armenia

Timur at Erzincan

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While Timur Beg was at Erzingan , the Moors of the city quarrelled with the Christians who were there, saying that Zaratan, their lord, allowed them to have churches which were better than the mosques; and Timur Beg sent for Zaratan, and told him what the Moors had said. Zaratan answered that he allowed the Christians to be in the land, that he might take advantage of their industry. Timur Beg then sent for a Greek priest who lived there, and when he came before him, he, on account of the great hatred he had for the people of Constantinople, and for the Genoese of the city of Pera, ordered him to apostatize; and, because the priest did not wish to do so, Timur Beg commanded all the Christians in the city to be put to death. Zaratan interceded with Timur Beg, for them, and ransomed them for nine thousand esperas, each espera being worth half a silver rial; but Timur Beg caused all the churches of the Christians to be destroyed, and he took a castle of that city, called Camag, and gave it to one of his Chatagais. He did this because the castle was very strong, and guarded all that country. From this city much merchandize goes to Syria, and to Turkey. The reasons why the Turk and Timur Beg came to know of each other, and why Timur Beg came to Turkey, to fight the Turk Bayazid, are as follows:-This cavalier Zaratan, lord of this city of Erzingan , held a territory which bordered on the dominions of the Turk. The Turk, being desirous of possessing the land of this Zaratan, and especially the castle of Camag, sent to demand tribute from him, and that he should give up the said castle of Camag. Zaratan replied that he would pay tribute, but that he would not give up the castle; and the Turk declared that if he did not, he should be deprived of all his land. Zaratan, having heard of the great power of Timur Beg, and that he was then waging war in Persia, sent an embassy to him, with presents and letters, beseeching him to defend him from the Turk, and protesting that he was ready to obey him. Timur Beg, therefore, sent his ambassador to the Turk, with letters, in which he declared that Zaratan was his subject, and that the Turk must not molest him, threatening, if he did, to do as much for him. The Turk, never having heard of Timur Beg, until that time, and believing that there was no man in the world equal to himself, got into such a passion that it was quite wonderful, and sent back letters to Timur Beg, in which he said that he was astonished that there could be a man so mad and insolent as to write such great folly; that he would do what he chose against Zaratan, and against every other man in the whole universe. He further promised to come and seek for Timur Beg, and that he could not escape from falling into his hands. He also swore that he would disgrace him, by dishonoring his principal wife. Timur Beg, being possessed of great confidence, determined to show his power, and marched from the beautiful plains of Carabaque {Karabagh}, in Persia, where he had wintered that year, with a great army, straight to the city of Erzingan . Thence he advanced into the land of Turkey, and besieged the city of Sabastria. The people of Sabastria sent to the Turk, their lord, for help; and when he heard that Timur Beg was in his territory, he got into a great passion, and collected a force, which he sent against him, under his eldest son Muzulman Chalabi. The force consisted of two hundred thousand cavalry, and he intended to follow himself, with a larger army; but before the Turks could arrive, Timur had entered the city; and he did so in this manner: he fought the besieged very fiercely, so that at last they came to speak with him, and he agreed that certain men of the city should come to him; that he would cause no blood to be shed; and that they should give him a certain quantity of gold and silver. When Timur Beg had received the tribute which he demanded, he said that he desired to tell those of the city certain things, which were much to their advantage; and that, for this purpose, the chief men should come to him. These, trusting in the safe conduct he had given them, came to him; and Timur Beg, as soon as he had got them outside the city, caused great holes to be made; and said to them that he had certainly promised not to shed their blood, but that he would stifle them in those holes; and he ordered his troops to enter the city. He buried all who had come out to him, alive, and ordered the city to be pillaged, pulled down, and destroyed. When this was done, he marched away, and on the day that he departed the son of the Turk arrived, with his two hundred thousand cavalry; and when he found that the city of Sabastria was destroyed, and Timur Beg gone, he waited there for his father; and Timur Beg marched straight to the land of the Sultan of Babylon. Before he arrived there, he met with a race, called the white Tartars, who always wander over the plains; and he fought and conquered them, and took their lord prisoner; and took away as many as fifty thousand men and women with him. He then marched to Damascus; against the people of which city he was much enraged, because they did not pay tribute; and he imprisoned their ambassadors, and entered their city, and destroyed it. All those who understood any art, he took with him to the city of Samarkand, together with the white Tartars, and the people of Sabastria, amongst whom were many Armenian Christians. After this, he returned to the land of Persia; and passed the summer in a land called Alara, in Upper Armenia. Meanwhile the Turk marched to the city of Erzingan ; and, on account of the rage and fury which he felt against Zaratan, because he had been the cause of this insult, he attacked the city and entered it by force, capturing the wife of Zaratan. But he ordered her to be released, and that no harm should be done to the city. He then returned to his own land. They say that he thus displayed very little courage, in not destroying that city, as Timur Beg had destroyed the city of Sabastria. After these two lords had returned to their own territories, they sent ambassadors to each other; but they were unable to come to any reconciliation. At this time the emperor of the great city of Constantinople, and the Genoese of Pera sent to Timur Beg, to say that if he was going to make war upon the Turk, they would be able to assist him with troops and galleys; and it should be in this way: that they would arm certain galleys, in a short time, to prevent the Turks who were in Greece, from passing back into Turkey; and they also offered to assist him with a certain quantity of money. When the Turk would not come to any terms with the city of Constantinople, or with Timur Beg, they each began to collect their forces; but Timur Beg, who could do this with great rapidity, because he was astute and sagacious in war, marched quickly from Persia into Turkey, by the same road as he had taken before, passing through the cities of Erzingan and Sabastria. When the Turk knew that Timur Beg was in his territory, he marched, with his army, to a strong castle called Ankara. As soon as Timur Beg heard of this sagacious movement of the Turk, he left the road by which he was marching, and led his army over a high mountain. When the Turk, therefore, found that Timur Beg had left the road, he thought that he had fled, and marched after him as fast as he could. Timur Beg, after marching through the mountains for eight days, returned to the plain, and came to the castle of Ankara, where the Turk had left all his baggage, and he pillaged it. When the Turk heard this, he came back as fast as he could, and when he arrived, his men were tired. Timur Beg had made this movement, to throw his enemy into disorder; and they fought, and the Turk was taken prisoner. But the Emperor of Constantinople, and the Genoese of Pera, instead of doing what they had promised, allowed the Turks to pass from Greece into Turkey; and when they were defeated, they assisted them to escape; and this bad faith made Timur Beg very furious against the Christians. The name of this Turk, who was conquered by Timur Beg, was Ilderim Bayazid, which means 'lightning.' The name of his father was Amurath, a very good knight, who was killed by a Christian count, called Lazaro, on the field of battle, by two thrusts is his breast, which came out at his back. Afterwards this Ilderim Bayazid avenged the death of his father, by killing Count Lazaro in battle, with his own hand. The son of this Lazaro marched with Bayazid, and he now lives with Muzulman Chalabi, the son of this Ilderim Bayazid. I have written this, that it may be understood whom they call Murate; because all the lords of Turkey are known by the name of Murate. Also Timur Beg is the proper name of that lord, and not Tamerlane, as we call him; for Timur Beg is as much as to say, in his language, the same as the lord of iron; because Beg means lord, and Timur is iron. Tamerlane, on the contrary, is an insulting name; and means lame, because he became lame on the left side, and was wounded in the two small fingers of the right hand, from blows which were given him when he was stealing some sheep one night, as will be more fully related to you presently.