only 21 years old. By 1358 he had already established himself as a military
leader. Timur’s army consisted mainly of Turks and Turkic-speaking
Mongols. He began his campaign by subduing rival forces in Turkistan. By
1370, both Turkistan and Samarkand were under his control.
He established a stronghold in Samarkand, the capital city, in the form of
a citadel in the western section with deep ravines around it. Samarkand
became his favorite city, which he rebuilt into an opulent city with
magnificent architecture to project himself as a wealthy and powerful ruler.
From his military base in the city, Timur launched attacks on neighboring
lands. His objective was to conquer as many countries as possible to gain
Timur and his ally Mir Hussain conquered Transoxania in 1364 by
driving out the Chaqatai (Jagatai) khans. Breaking away from Mir Hussain,
Timur marched onward to Khwarazm, a fertile zone lying on the southern
shore of the Aral Sea, in 1371, where war was to last another eight years
resulting in a victory for Timur. He crushed the Chagatai khans and annexed
their territory after three years of warfare.
Timur continued to conquer land westward until he reached Herat
(present-day Afghanistan) in 1381. In 1386 he invaded western Iran, Iraq,
and Georgia. The method of massacre this time around was pushing men off
the cliffs. In 1391 he took on Toqtamish. Toqtamish retreated, even though
his forces were greater in number than those of Timurlane; as the morale of
his forces dipped, Timur seized his land, harem, and treasures. Georgia was
again attacked by Timurlane in 1399 and was defeated.
In 1400 Timur advanced into Anatolia, which had recently become part
of the Ottoman Empire. Finally after taking Damascus and Aleppo, Timur
faced his most formidable adversary, Bayezid I, the Ottoman sultan. In 1402
Timur besieged Ankara and after a gruelling battle Bayezid was defeated.
Timur was also known for his sadistic cruelty in dealing with those who
stood in his way during his conquests. He often launched savage massacres of
his enemies and resistors such as in Delhi, where he slaughtered 80,000
individuals and built grisly pyramids of their skulls to commemorate his
victory. The same piling of skulls occurred earlier in Aleppo. By the time he
died, Timur had conquered expansive regions in Russia, Iran, India, and