The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Vii. The City of Samarkand

Timurid army organisation

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Now that I have written concerning the city of Samarkand, and of what happened to the ambassadors in it, I will relate, in this place, how Timur Beg conquered and destroyed Toktamish, formerly emperor of Tartary, a powerful and valiant man, and a greater sovereign than the Turk himself {Toktamish, or Tokhtamysh, was a Mongol leader of the Golden Horde from Siberia, known as the White Horde. He died c 1406. Tartary was the area of Asia east of the Ural mountain and ruled by the Mongols}. It is about eleven years since this emperor of Tartary, Toktamish, being a great lord, and having a large army, sallied forth from Tartary with a powerful host, invaded Persia,' and entered the province of Tabreez, devastating the land, and pillaging the towns and villages {In 1395}. After he had committed this havock in the territory of Timur Beg, he returned into Tartary. This aggression came to the knowledge of Timur Beg, so he marched after the invader, with a smaller force, and overtook him on the banks of a great river called Tesina, which is near Tartary. Timur Beg marched, as fast he could, to secure a pass over the river, for in that part of the country there was no ford, except the one which Timur was intent upon reaching. When he arrived, the emperor Toktamish had already crossed the river; and, as he knew that Timur Beg followed him, he turned round to defend the ford, and barricaded it with wood. When Timur Beg reached the river, and found that Toktamish guarded the ford, he sent to say that he did not come to fight, but that he was his friend. Notwithstanding this, the emperor continued to guard the ford; and next day Timur Beg marched up the river, Toktamish keeping abreast of him, on the opposite side, and when Timur Beg halted on one side, Toktamish encamped opposite. In this way they went on for three days, and on the third night Timur Beg ordered the women to put helmets on their heads, that they might look like men; and all the men rode on, with two horses a piece, leaving the royal encampment, the women who looked like men, the servants, and the prisoners. Timur then returned to the ford, and crossed the river. At midnight he fell upon the Tartar camp, routed the army, took all the spoils, and Toktamish escaped by flight. This was a famous deed; for Toktamish had a great army, and it was said to be one of the greatest victories of Timur Beg, for Toktamish was more powerful than the Turk. Notwithstanding this disaster, Toktamish assembled another army, but Timur Beg again defeated him, and he fled. Upon this the Tartars were disheartened, and they said that their lord had no luck, and there was discord amongst them. A knight, who was a servant of Timur Beg, named Ediguy, hearing that there was discord amongst the Tartars, proposed to fight against his master, and they chose him for their lord, so he rebelled against Timur Beg. Now this new lord of Tartary is a very powerful man, and there is much enmity between him and Timur Beg. The lord once marched against him, but Ediguy retreated; and this Ediguy has a horde of more than two hundred thousand cavalry {Kaverchik or Coiritchak Oglou, seems to have succeeded Toktamish}. Toktamish and Timur Beg then became friends, and worked together to entrap this Ediguy, to whom Timur Beg sent a message, saying that he loved him and pardoned him, and proposed that he should give one of his daughters in marriage to one of Timur's grandsons. The said Ediguy answered that he had lived with Timur for twenty years, and that he knew him well, and all his tricks, so that he could not deceive him; and that if they were to be friends, they must be friends with swords in their hands. The emperor Toktamish had a son who was also driven out of the land of Tartary by Ediguy; and Toktamish fled to a land, bordering on Samarkand, and his son to Caffa, a city of the Genoese. Ediguy marched against Caffa, and did much damage to the surrounding country, so the people of the city made peace with him, and the son of Toktamish fled to the court of Timur Beg. Toktamish, and his sons, are now alive, and friends of Timur Beg. Ediguy converts some of the Tartars to the faith of Mohammed every day, for, a short time ago, they were not good believers in that faith.