Timur (also known as Tamerlane) was reportedly born in 1336,and was taken prisoner early in his life by an invading Mongol army. Timur soon built a coalition of allies, and repelled another Mongol invasion army. Timur himself claimed descent from Genghis Khan himself (and married a descendent of Genghis Khan), but this claim was never proven. Timur called his growing empire the beacon of Islam, and set out to extinguish the other Islamic nations. There were three other major Islamic empires at the time, but Timur dispatched them one by one. Persia was undergoing a dynastic crisis, and Timur was able to come in and annex the country. The Golden Horde, the remnant of Genghis Khan’s former empire, turned on its ally and was subsequently broken up by Timur, never again to re-gain its former status. Timur then focused his attention on the very wealthy Delhi Sultanate in India, capturing Delhi itself in 1398 in one of his greatest victories. The Ottoman Empire under its sultan Beyezid I was the last empire that Timur sought. Beyezid was sieging Constantinople (the final remnant of the Byzantine Empire) at the time, but was forced to break off the siege to engage Timur’s invading army. Beyezid was captured in this battle and forced to be a slave of Timur, enduring public humiliation until his death a year later.
After Beyezid’s death, the Ottoman Empire was in disarray and in dynastic chaos. However, revolts closer to home forced Timur to return to his own borders, and he died shortly afterwards in 1405. Timur had conquered three empires and defeated another, and his territory extended from Southeastern Turkey to the Chinese border. Timur was the ruler of the Middle East for sure. He truly had achieved “greatness,” but only in one respect. Timur was widely known for his ruthlessness. When Baghdad revolted against him in 1402, he announced that every soldier of his was to bring him two severed heads to prove to him that the city was his again. The civilian death was massive, and some soldiers resorted to killing members of their own family to spare themselves from Timur’s wrath.
However, Timur proved to be over-ambitious. The greatness of the Timurid empire disintegrated shortly after Timur’s death. His descendants proved less adept at ruling his once-mighty empire, and soon it was no longer an empire. By 1507 it had completely disappeared from the maps of the world. What might possibly have been the most ruthless era in History was over, yet much changed due to Timur’s ambitions. Three empires disappeared, and one former empire was saved, the former Byzantine empire, which hung on to Constantinople only. It would not be until 1453 that the Ottomans had enough strength to once again siege it, and this time win.