Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Lived from 1333-1405
Tamerlane was the son of the chief of a Mongolian tribe in Central Asia. His real name
was Timour, but as he was lamed in battle when a youth he was generally called Timour
the Lame, and this name was gradually changed to Tamerlane. He was born in 1333, so
that he lived in the time of the English king, Edward III, when the Black Prince was
winning his victories over the French. He was a descendant of a celebrated Tatar soldier,
Genghis (jen'-ghis) Khan, who conquered Persia, China, and other countries of Asia.
When twenty-four years old Tamerlane became the head of his tribe, and in a few years
he made himself the leader of the whole Mongolian race.
He was a tall, stern-looking man, of great strength, and, although lame in his right leg,
could ride a spirited horse at full gallop and do all the work of an active soldier. He was
as brave as a lion--and as cruel.
He chose the ancient city of Samarcand (Sa-mar-cand'), in Turkistan (Tur-kis-tan'), for
his capital; and here he built a beautiful marble palace, where he lived in the greatest
After he had enjoyed for some time the honors which fell to him as chief ruler of the
Mongolians, he began to desire further conquests. He determined to make himself master
of all the countries of Central Asia.
"As there is but one God in heaven," he said, "there ought to be but one ruler on the
So he gathered an immense army from all parts of his dominion, and for weeks his
subjects were busy making preparations for war. At length he started for Persia in
command of a splendid army. After gaining some brilliant victories he forced the Persian
king to flee from his capital.
All the rich country belonging to Persia, from the Tigris to the Euphrates, submitted to
the Mongolian conqueror.
Tamerlane celebrated his Persian conquest by magnificent festivities which continued for
a week. Then orders were given to march into the great Tatar empire of the North. Here
Tamerlane was victorious over the principal chiefs and made them his vassals. In
pursuing the Tatars he entered Russia and sacked and burned some of the Russian cities.
He did not, however, continue his invasion of this country, but turned in the direction of