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date: 25 May 2018

Tamerlane and the Timurids

Summary and Keywords

The Timurid dynasty was founded in 1370 by the Turkic warlord Temür, usually known in the west as Tamerlane (Temür the lame). Rising to power within the realm of Chinggis Khan’s second son Chaghadai, Temür established his capital at Samarqand and embarked on a career of conquest throughout the former Mongolian Empire and the Central Islamic lands. While his campaigns ranged from Delhi almost to Moscow and from the eastern Turkestan to western Anatolia, Temür established an administration only over the central regions, including Iran and Transoxiana; these were largely settled and Persian-speaking territories. Temür and his followers were Turks loyal to the Mongol tradition, but they were also Muslim and well acquainted with Perso-Islamic culture. The dynasty lasted three more generations—those of Shāhrukh (1409–1447); Abu Sa`īd (1451–1469); and Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bayqara (1469–1506). During this time, the Timurid state shrank in size but gained fame for its wide-ranging cultural patronage and sophisticated styles in architecture, literature, and the arts of the book. In 1507, the Uzbek Shibani Khan overthrew the Timurid dynasty and took over its eastern territories. The Timurid prince Babur Mirza retreated from his region of Ferghana to Kabul and then in 1526 conquered Delhi and founded the Mughal or Later Timurid dynasty.

Keywords: Tamerlane, Timurid, Shāhrukh, Chaghatay, Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bayqara, `Alī, Shīr Navā’i, Ulugh Beg, Samarqand, Naqshbandī, Herat, Mongol

The Timurid dynasty was founded by Temür, also known as Tamerlane (Tīmūr the lame). We do not know the date of his birth; the one given in the histories (April 8, 1336) was probably invented.1 He rose to power in Transoxiana in 1370, within a world shaped by both the Mongol Empire and the Islamic caliphate. Despite the destruction of the caliphate and the division of the Mongol Empire, both Islamic and Mongolian imperial traditions remained in force, and no ruler could afford to ignore them. Temür’s region belonged to the Chaghadayid Khanate, ruled by the descendants of Chinggis Khan’s son Chaghadai. By the late 14th century, this and other western Mongol states were formally Muslim and their nomad population spoke Turkic, while remaining within the Mongol tradition. Many of the elite, including Temür, were also well acquainted with Persian culture. In the 1340s, Transoxiana and other western regions separated from the eastern section and formed a nomad tribal confederation known as the Ulus Chaghatay; its leaders were not descended from Chinggis Khan, and they legitimized their power through a Chinggisid puppet khan. The eastern Chaghadayid Khanate remained under Chinggisid khans. In the south, the Mongol Ilkhanate had collapsed, and regional states had taken over.

The Formation of the Timurid Empire

Temür first appears in written sources in 1360, when he succeeded temporarily in becoming head of the Barlas, one of the major tribes of the Ulus Chaghatay. Allying with the ruler of the Ulus, Amīr Ḥusayn Qara’unas, he campaigned inside and outside the territory of the Ulus at the head of a small band of personal followers from various tribes. In 1370, he attacked Amīr Ḥusayn, had him executed, and married some of his wives, including the Chinggisid Saray Malik. This marriage gave Temür the right to use the title güregen—royal son-in-law. Temür took over the puppet khan, whom he had enthroned and recognized in Samarqand. All titles that implied sovereignty in Islamic or Mongol tradition—Khan, Sulṭān, Pādshāh—were reserved for the khan, while Temür used the title of Amīr, or commander.

Temür’s power remained contingent on the cooperation of the tribal leaders within the Ulus Chaghatay, who were suspicious of strong central leadership. Over the next decade, Temür pursued two related goals—the subjugation of nearby Mongol powers and the neutralization of tribal power. His campaigns were aimed at the powers to the east and north: the Eastern Chaghadayid Khanate and the region of Khvarazm. As he called on tribal leaders to participate in these campaigns, a number refused or formed alliances against him. Such behavior was usually forgiven the first few times, but as Temür gained strength, he replaced rebellious tribal leaders with members of his personal following. Newly gained territory, manpower, and riches were handed to his followers. Over time, he transformed the largely tribal powers of the Ulus Chaghatay into a decimally organized army of conquest, in which the major commanders were personal followers who answered to him directly. Tribes no longer served as a base for independent power.

In 1380–1381, Temür turned his attention to Iran, the former Ilkhanid realm. He appointed his son Mīrānshāh as governor of Khorasan and then summoned local rulers to a convocation; when the Kartid king of Herat failed to attend, Temür attacked him. Over the next years, Temür undertook several other campaigns to expand and strengthen his control. In 1384–1385, he extended his campaigns into western Iran up to the city of Sultaniyya, which held particular importance as the necropolis of the Ilkhans. However, he was hampered in his progress by a new enemy, Tokhtamïsh Khan, a former protégé who had taken over the Mongol Blue Horde north of the Jaxartes with Temür’s help in 1379. Tokhtamïsh reunited the Golden Horde and pushed its traditional claim on the Caucasus and Azarbaijan, which he invaded in the winter of 1385–1386. In the disturbances following the invasion, the post-Mongol Jalayir dynasty retook the Azarbaijani city of Tabriz.

Tokhtamïsh posed a significant danger to Temür’s power, both militarily, through attacks on the northern borders, and symbolically, as a figure of prestige in the Mongol world. As a descendant of Chinggis Khan, Tokhtamïsh could legally claim the title of Khan and like Temür, he claimed to re-create earlier Mongol glory. The vast number of coins he issued testifies to his ambition, and his lasting reputation in the steppe shows his success in building a persona larger than life.2 In 1386, Temür gathered a large army and set out for his “three-year campaign” to central Iran and the Caucasus, pushing the Jalayir out of Tabriz and repulsing another attack by Tokhtamïsh. In the winter of 1387–1388, he returned east on the news that Tokhtamïsh had attacked Transoxiana, winning over some of Temür’s vassals. Temür undertook a major campaign into the steppe, culminating in a defeat for Tokhtamïsh north of Samara in June 1391. Tokhtamïsh fled to Poland–Lithuania, and Temür returned in triumph to Samarqand.

With Tokhtamïsh apparently out of the way, Temür departed on his “five-year campaign” to Iran, taking full control over southern and central Iran and executing the Muzaffarid rulers who had controlled it. He pushed the Jalayir out of their seat in Baghdad and attacked the two large Turkmen tribal confederations that were active in eastern Anatolia and Azarbaijan, the Aqqoyunlu and the Qaraqoyunlu. In the meantime, however, Tokhtamïsh had returned and regathered his forces to attack the Caucasus. Temür answered with another campaign and in April 1395 inflicted a decisive defeat on Tokhtamïsh on the Terek River and then systematically destroyed the Horde’s winter pastures and the rich trading cities of the western steppe, which were the economic life blood of the Horde.3 He enthroned his own pretender over the Golden Horde and returned to Iran. With this campaign, Temür destroyed Tokhtamïsh’s power and that of the Golden Horde, achieving primacy within the western Mongol world.

Temür did not incorporate the western steppe regions into his realm. He made no attempt to ensure the continuance of his protégé’s power or to leave a permanent administrative presence. In Iran and Central Asia, however, he had begun to appoint his sons as provincial governors. The creation of a bounded realm did not end Temür’s campaigns; he apparently aimed to achieve primacy within the Islamic world, as he had within the Mongol one. On returning from the steppe, he remained for some time in Samarqand, building new palaces and gardens. In 1398, he set out against the Delhi Sultanate of India, in imitation of the famous conqueror Maḥmūd of Ghazna. Again, he was content to sack the city and did not secure permanent control. On his return to Samarqand in 1399, he ordered the building of a magnificent Friday mosque.4

Temür soon headed west again on his “seven-year campaign.” He reasserted control over the resurgent Qaraqoyunlu and the Jalayir, who had retaken Baghdad. Within the Islamic world, Temür still faced two great rivals: the Mamluk Sultans and the Ottoman Sulṭān Bāyezīt I (r. 1389–1402). Both were closely involved with the powers of eastern Anatolia. In the winter of 1400–1401, Temür attacked Mamluk Syria, taking several cities, including Aleppo, Hims, and Damascus.

In the spring of 1402, Temür headed against Sulṭān Bāyezīt. When the armies met near Ankara in July 1402, a number of Bāyezīt’s Mongol and Turkmen troops deserted and his army suffered decisive defeat, with Bāyezīt taken captive. Temür divided the Ottoman realm, now a vassal state, among three of Bāyezīt’s sons. Despite Temür’s success, he did not succeed in gaining a firm hold over Azarbaijan, nor did he weaken the Qaraqoyunlu or Aqqoyunlu for long. The struggle with these two powers over Azarbaijan lasted past Temür’s reign through that of his son and successor, Shāhrukh.

Temür returned to Samarqand and began to prepare for his most ambitious campaign: to retake China from the Ming dynasty and to place his own protégé on the throne of the Northern Yüan dynasty of Mongolia. He collected a huge army and called a convocation (khuriltay) in a magnificent tent city. The convocation was attended by an emissary from the court of Spain, Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, who has left us a vivid description.5 By this time, Temür was probably in his eighties and far from well. Several times he had to postpone his departure due to illness, but finally he and his army departed. They reached Otrar, a bit beyond the Jaxartes, where, on February 17–18, 1405, Temür died.

The core of Temür’s army was the nomads of the Ulus Chaghatay, led by his personal followers and their families. Many of these men intermarried with the dynasty, creating a strong new elite. The highest command was in the hands of Temür’s sons and grandsons; each prince was assigned an army, and the families of Temür’s followers were divided among them, preventing the creation of new centers of power. This was at least in part a salaried army, highly trained and disciplined. The army also contained soldiers conscripted from his conquered realm, primarily but not exclusively foot soldiers. Further troops were provided by local rulers allowed to keep their positions as vassals of Temür and obliged to join his army when asked. Most of these additional troops were probably not as highly trained as the Chaghatay core, but they were an important element in Temür’s military success.

The region over which Temür established an administration was far smaller than the area over which he campaigned. It included the territories that were formerly part of the Ilkhanate—Iran, including western Afghanistan and Iraq, and the western Chaghadayid regions, from Kashghar in the east through Transoxiana and eastern Afghanistan. Most of these regions were settled agricultural land interspersed with mountain and steppe, and they were largely Persian-speaking. These were divided into provinces under Shāhrukh’s sons and grandsons; the princes commanded both Chaghatay and regional troops, and had regional chancelleries (dīvāns) staffed by Persian bureaucrats. The most powerful local dynasties, including the Kartid dynasty centered in Herat and the Muzaffarids of central and southern Iran, were overthrown, but smaller ones remained in place.

Temür had four sons who survived to adulthood. Jahāngīr, the only one born of a free wife, was considered the senior son but died in 1376–1377. The others were `Umar Shaykh, who died in 1394, and two sons who survived Temür, Mīrānshāh and Shāhrukh. At Temür’s death, several of his grandsons were already adults, fully engaged in politics and military affairs. Temür’s chosen successor, Muḥammad Sulṭān b. Jahāngīr, died in 1402; it was only on his deathbed that Temür appointed Muḥammad Sulṭān’s younger brother, Pīr Muḥammad, as successor.

The Succession to Temür

At Temür’s death, a struggle for power broke out, which Pīr Muḥammad b. Jahāngīr could not win. The contest was fought at two levels: for preeminence within each region and for sovereign rule. Temür’s followers now showed that their allegiance had been to Temür himself, and so they were quick to rebel or change sides. The Qaraqoyunlu and the Jalayir joined forces and set out to win back their territories. Sulṭān Aḥmad Jalayir returned and took over Baghdad in 1407; in 1408, the Qaraqoyunlu killed Mīrānshāh in battle and took over Azarbaijan. Elsewhere the Timurids retained most of their territories, but their struggles impoverished the realm. Khalīl Sulṭān b. Mīrānshāh immediately seized power in Transoxiana, emptying its treasuries to retain the loyalty of his soldiers. Among the sons of `Umar Shaykh in south and central Iran, Iskandar emerged as the most powerful, taking Shiraz in 1409–1410 and Isfahan in 1411–1412; soon thereafter he began to use the title Sulṭān.

The eventual winner was Shāhrukh, who had governed the rich province of Khorasan since 1399. After the murder of Pīr Muḥammad b. Jahāngīr by a follower in 1407, he aimed for Transoxiana and seized Samarqand on May 13, 1409; this was the formal beginning of his rule as Timurid sultan. He appointed his eldest son, Ulugh Beg, as governor of Transoxiana and returned to Herat, which now became the capital of the realm. In 1414, he headed against Iskandar b. `Umar Shaykh, who had been attempting to widen his influence. Isfahan quickly submitted, and Shāhrukh appointed his son, Ibrāhīm Sulṭān, as governor of Fars. Disturbances continued, and another campaign the next year was needed to restore Ibrāhīm Sulṭān to his province. Baghdad and Iraq remained outside the Timurid realm.

The loss of Azarbaijan was more serious, both because it had been central to the Ilkhanate, to which the Timurids laid claim, and because the Qaraqoyunlu attempted to expand into neighboring regions. Shāhrukh led three major expeditions against Azarbaijan. The first was in 1420–1421 against Qara Yūsuf Qaraqoyunlu. Shāhrukh was spared a major battle by Qara Yūsuf’s sudden death on November 17, 1420. He took Sultaniyya and Tabriz without difficulty, defeated Qara Yūsuf’s sons in July 1421, and then returned to Herat without securing the region. Qara Yūsuf’s son Iskandar later took power and in 1428–1429 seized several Timurid cities, including Sultaniyya. Shāhrukh set out with a large army, defeated Iskandar at Salmas on September 18, 1429, and installed Qara Yūsuf’s youngest son Abū Sa`īd in his place. Iskandar soon killed Abū Sa`īd but was not able to unify the Qaraqoyunlu. The continued dissension brought Shāhrukh west in 1434 to install another brother, Jahānshāh, at the head of the Qaraqoyunlu. Thus, the best that Shāhrukh could do was to maintain a fiction of suzereignty over Qaraqoyunlu rule in Azarbaijan.

In the northeastern borders, the Timurids also faced challenges, which Ulugh Beg was not able to meet successfully. After the rise of Abū’l Khayr Khan as head of the Uzbek confederation in 1428–1429, the Uzbeks posed a regular threat; they took northern Khvarazm briefly in 1430–1431, permanently in 1435. By 1440, they were entrenched on the Syr Darya border raiding Timurid territories. The valuable region of Kashghar was lost to the eastern Chaghadayids in about 1434–1435.

Within the central regions, Shāhrukh’s reign was a period of consolidation and prosperity. The neighboring powers that Temür had conquered but not incorporated—the Delhi Sultanate, the Mamluks, and the Ottomans—were still considered vassals and posed no challenge. The largest Timurid provinces were governed by Shāhrukh’s sons, and smaller ones by his emirs. Governors enjoyed more independence than they had under Temür, especially in cultural patronage. However, they remained subordinate to Shāhrukh and were expected to participate in his campaigns. Two provincial governorships, Fars and Transoxiana, were particularly important, with major courts and regional armies. Shāhrukh’s son Baysunghur, governor of Mazandaran, was likewise prominent but was most active in Herat, both as cultural patron and within the dīvān. In dealing with subordinate rulers within the realm, Shāhrukh seems to have achieved somewhat greater centralization than Temür, with a number of regions coming under more direct rule.

Throughout Shāhrukh’s reign and those of his successors, the Chaghatay nomads remained the backbone of the army and an important element in civil administration. As under earlier nomad dynasties, the distinction between the Turkic military and Arab or Persian civil spheres was less clear-cut in practice than in theory. In addition to the Persian dīvān, the Timurids maintained a chancellery writing in Turkic in the Uighur script; it seems likely that this was a primarily symbolic institution. The administration of Shāhrukh may be counted among the most centralized and systematic in medieval and early modern Iran.

In Shāhrukh’s last years, the effectiveness of his government declined. Corruption grew in the central and provincial dīvāns, and some regions were ruthlessly overtaxed while others withheld all taxes. As Shāhrukh began to suffer from illness, his hold loosened, and his grandson, Sulṭān Muḥammad b. Baysunghur, made governor of Qum, Qazwin, Rayy and Sultaniyya in 1442, began to expand his territories. Shāhrukh, alarmed at these developments, headed against him but died of illness in March 1447. In part owing to disagreement with his powerful chief wife Gawharshād, he had failed to appoint a successor.

Shāhrukh’s death brought instant chaos. His surviving son, Ulugh Beg, claimed power but was challenged by several of Shāhrukh’s grandsons; senior Chaghatay commanders, local rulers, and notables also played a part. The struggle soon turned into a contest between three major contestants: Ulugh Beg in Transoxiana, Sulṭān Muḥammad in central Iran, and his brother, `Abū’l Qāsim Babur based in Mazandaran, all aiming to gain Khorasan. One factor that damaged the dynasty was the murder of defeated rivals. The first murder was that of Ulugh Beg by his estranged son, `Abd al-Laṭīf, in October 1449. After only a few months `Abd al-Laṭīf was murdered by his commanders. In 1452, when `Abū’l Qāsim Babur defeated Sulṭān Muḥammad, he had him killed. The histories written for the dynasty openly condemn these murders. Once again, the Qaraqoyunlu profited from Timurid disorders, and in October 1447 Jahānshāh Qaraqoyunlu seized much of western Iran; by 1452, he had taken Iran up to Isfahan and Yazd.

The Last Stage of the Timurid State: Abu Sa`īd and Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bayqara

In June 1451, Abū Sa`īd, a descendant of Mīrānshāh, took Samarqand with the help of the Uzbek Abū’l Khayr Khan and soon thereafter conquered Balkh. In 1458, he seized Herat from Jahānshāh Qaraqoyunlu, who had briefly occupied it. However, his reputation was tarnished by his execution of Shāhrukh’s distinguished widow, Gawharshād, who had supported a rival. In 1468, Abu Sa`id made an attempt to win back western Iran, switching his alliance to the Qaraqoyunlu, against their western rivals, the Aqqoyunlu, who were poised to take over the region. He set out without waiting for the organization of his baggage train and was captured near Mughan by Uzun Ḥasan Aqqoyunlu, who had him executed as retribution for his killing of Gawharshād. Abu Sa`īd was not a skilled commander, but he did attempt to restore the economy of his realm; he was notable for his interest in agriculture and his attempt to modify the tax system to benefit production. He was succeeded in Transoxiana by his sons. The eldest, Sulṭān Aḥmad, held Samarqand and Bukhara and was considered preeminent. The younger sons held the eastern regions: `Umar Shaykh centered in Ferghana, and Sulṭān Maḥmūd in Badakhshan, Tirmidh, Caghaniyan, and Hisar.

Abū Sa`īd’s death opened the way for a new contestant—Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bayqara, descended from `Umar Shaykh. Sulṭān Ḥusayn had spent much of his early life in military activity, in the service of other Timurid princes, first Abū’l Qāsim Babur and later Abū Sa`īd, and often also on his own. During Abū Sa`īd’s reign, he had established his base in the Caspian region and contested Mazandaran with the ruler, making two attempts against Khorasan. On March 24, 1469, he took Herat from Sulṭān Maḥmūd b. Abū Sa`īd; from now on, Transoxian and Khorasan were separate realms, under different Timurid rulers. Uzun Ḥasan Aqqoyunlu, having taken most of Iran from the Qaraqoyunlu, sent the Turkmen prince Yār `Alī, descended from Shāhrukh and Gawharshād on his mother’s side, to lead an expedition against Khorasan. Yār `Alī took Herat, but Sulṭān Ḥusayn regained the city and executed him on August 21, 1470. From this time, Sulṭān Ḥusayn was securely in control of the capital city.

Relatively little is known about the internal life of Transoxiana under Abū Sa`īd’s descendants. The reign of Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bayqara, however, is richly described in Timurid and modern writings. Despite Sulṭān Ḥusayn’s long military career, as a ruler he showed little interest in campaigning, devoting himself instead to cultural patronage and the promotion of agriculture. The long struggle over Khorasan had left it badly damaged. Sulṭān Ḥusayn and several of his followers showed a strong interest in agriculture, both intellectually and practically. Temür, Shāhrukh, and Abū Sa`īd had all undertaken significant irrigation projects, but under Sulṭān Ḥusayn, ruling over a small region with no attempt at expansion, agriculture took on new importance and the region of Herat became a center for intensive agriculture. Trade and artisanal production were also major sources of income.

The Chaghatay military aristocracy remained at the center of Timurid government despite the decline in military activity, but Persians were in no way excluded. Sulṭān Ḥusayn gave out significant grants of landed income (soyurghal) to his servitors, both Turco-Mongolian emirs and members of the Iranian elite, thus alienating part of his tax base. At the same time, he appears to have increased the power of the Persian dīvān, and particularly that of powerful bureaucrat Majd al-Dīn Muḥammad Khvāfī. Majd al-Dīn attempted centralizing reforms but was thwarted by the opposition of Sulṭān Ḥusayn’s emirs, most particularly his powerful advisor Mīr `Alī Shīr Navā’ī.6 The greatest danger to Sulṭān Ḥusayn’s power however, came from his sons, appointed as provincial governors; several rebelled against him in his later years, and one, Badī`al-Zamān, besieged Herat in 1499.

In 1494, Abū Sa`īd’s sons Sulṭān Aḥmad and `Umar Shaykh died; the rule of Samarqand went to their brother Sulṭān Maḥmūd, who died the next year. The death of the three brothers triggered a succession struggle in which rival princes invited in allies from the eastern Chaghadayids and the Uzbeks, now under Abū’l Khayr’s grandson, Muḥammad Shibani. The Shibanids quickly became a threat. In 1500, Muḥammad Shibani took Samarqand and Bukhara; Samarqand was soon regained by `Umar Shaykh’s son, Babur Mīrzā, but after less than a year, Muḥammad Shibani retook it permanently. In 1502, Muḥammad Shibani campaigned in Ferghana and took Tashkent, and in 1505 he seized Balkh.

Despite the rapid rise of the Uzbeks and several raids on Khorasan, Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bayqara made no effort to oppose them until early 1506 when he mounted a campaign in the course of which he died, on May 5, 1506. His sons, Badī` al-Zamān and Muẓaffar Ḥusayn, agreed to a joint succession but were soon defeated by Muḥammad Shibani Khan, who took Herat on May 20, 1507. This was the end of the Timurid state in Transoxiana and Khorasan.

`Umar Shaykh’s son, Babur Mīrzā, remained active. After his father’s death in 1494, he had attempted to expand his powers beyond Ferghana, and he had twice succeeded in taking Samarqand before its definitive conquest by Muḥammad Shibani in 1501. Babur turned to his mother’s family, the eastern Chaghadayid khans, in an attempt to hold his territory, but in 1504 he fled Transoxiana and took over the southern Timurid region of Kabul, where he remained for two decades. At the end of 1510, he took advantage of Muḥammad Shibani’s death to retake Samarqand with Safavid help. He was soon pushed out again by the Uzbeks and returned to Kabul. In 1526, he conquered Delhi and founded the Mughal or Later Timurid dynasty.

Tamerlane and the TimuridsClick to view larger

Figure 1. Simplified family tree of the Timurid dynasty.

Court Patronage and Cultural Achievements

The Timurid period is remembered for its cultural achievements over a broad spectrum, from astronomy to the arts of the book. The Inner Asian and Chinese influences brought in by the Mongols were assimilated, and a new synthesis of Turco-Mongolian and Perso-Islamic culture was developed. The breadth of the Timurid realm led to a mixing of styles from different areas; Timurid rulers used the scholars and craftsmen of the regions they ruled and collected new ones on their conquests. The artistic personnel of two successor dynasties to the Ilkhanid state in Iran made particularly strong contributions to Timurid artistic achievements: the Iranian Muzaffarid dynasty (1314–1393) and the Turco-Mongolian Jalayirids (1336–1432).

Temür was concerned with creating an image of grandeur, and court patronage was an important aspect of this process. Although he was illiterate, Temür was bilingual in Persian and Turkic, and had impressive intellectual abilities. His intellect is attested by the accounts of the great scholar Ibn Khaldūn, who met him at the conquest of Damascus and noted his knowledge and love of argumentation. Temür’s activity concentrated in three areas: monumental architecture, historical writing and religious sciences. Over the course of his reign, Temür commissioned several histories of his conquests, in both Turkic and Persian; of these, only the Persian Ẓafarnāmah of Niẓām al-Dīn Shāmī has survived intact.7 He brought three outstanding religious scholars to his court at Samarqand: Sa`d al-Dīn al-Taftazānī from Khorasan; Sayyid `Alī Jurjānī from Shiraz; and Muḥammad ibn al-Jazarī who had been serving the Ottomans. These men and their offspring remained important figures well after Temür’s death. The buildings Temür commissioned stand out for their large size and for several innovations, notably lavish exteriors of glazed tiles, painted interiors, and tall, elliptical double domes (Shrine of Khvāja Aḥmad Yasavī). They represented a mixture of styles, among which the most important was that of the Muzaffarids, many of whose craftsmen Temur brought to Samarqand.

After Temür’s death, provincial courts also became important cultural centers, particularly Shiraz and Samarqand. `Umar Shaykh’s son, Iskandar, presided briefly over a brilliant court first in Shiraz and later in Isfahan. He continued his grandfather’s interest in history and religion, and added new subjects, inviting scholars in the occult sciences and cultivating the arts of the book—calligraphy, illumination, and painting—which became a hallmark of Timurid art. It was in the Timurid period that the newly developed nasta`līq script became standard in Persian calligraphy. In Samarqand, the patronage of Shāhrukh’s son Ulugh Beg centered around mathematics and particularly astronomy. In 1420, he began work on his observatory, the most advanced of this period in the Middle East, and gathered a group of astronomers and mathematicians. The most outstanding of these figures was Ghiyāth al-Dīn Kāshī. The astronomical tables they produced, known as the Zīj-iSulṭānī or Zīj-i Ulugh Beg, were translated into Latin and widely used throughout the Islamic world and Europe.

Unlike Temür, Shāhrukh spent much of his time in his capital in Herat, which now became a center for building and cultural activity. When Shāhrukh defeated Iskandar in 1413, he took over his treasury and may well have also brought back artists since many works created in Herat continue the styles introduced under Iskandar. Another major patron of the arts of the book was Shāhrukh’s son Baysunghur (1397–1433),8 himself an accomplished calligrapher. Although he was governor of Mazandaran, Baysunghur spent much of his time in Herat, the location of his famous scriptorium. According to the sources, production here was overseen by the calligrapher Ja`far al-Tabrīzī, whom Baysunghur had acquired on the conquest of Tabriz from the Jalayirids in 1420 (“Laila and Majnun at School,” from khamsa of Niẓāmī [Metropolitan Museum of Art]). One major focus for illustration during this period was Firdawsī’s Shāhnāmah; several Timurid princes commissioned illustrated copies, and Baysunghur supervised the creation of a new edition of the text, which remained popular for many years thereafter.

The writing of history remained an important preoccupation throughout the Timurid period. In addition to histories of Temür’s reign, there were numerous local histories and a number of universal histories. Shāhrukh commissioned a continuation of Rashīd al-Dīn’s history by the historian Ḥāfiẓ-Abrū (d. 1430), who brought the history of the post-Mongol states and the Timurids up to 1427. This became the base for later histories, which carried the narrative through the Timurid period: the Maṭla` al-sa`dayn wa majma`al-baḥrayn of `Abd al-Razzāq Samarqandī (d. 1482) and the Ḥabīb al-siyar fī akhbar-i afrād-i bashar of Khvāndamīr. A separate history of Temür’s reign was written for Ibrāhīm Sulṭān b. Shāhrukh (1394–1435), governor of Fars, by the polymath Sharaf al-Dīn `Alī Yazdī. This work was written in ornate prose and portrayed Temür as a person larger than life and guided by God. It enjoyed enormous popularity both at the time and later.

The reign of Shāhrukh was notable also for architecture; the styles introduced by Temür were retained, though buildings were on a more modest scale. Shāhrukh and his powerful wife Gawharshād both built complexes of madrasas and khānaqāhs (sufi hospices) in Herat, and Shāhrukh also built a magnificent shrine to the religious scholar Anṣārī at Gāzurgāh, still standing (Shrine of `Abd Allāh Anṣārī, Herat). In Mashhad, the site of the shrine of the eighth imam Riḍā, Shāhrukh had a madrasa constructed, and Gawharshād provided several important buildings, including a magnificent mosque (Gawharshād mosque, Mashhad). Ulugh Beg also pursued an active building program, including madrasas in Bukhara and in Samarqand. Other princes and emirs sponsored building projects throughout the realm, making this a rich period for Islamic architecture.

The reign of Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bayqara does not seem to have been as strong a period for architecture, generally showing less decoration, judging from the surviving examples. In other ways, Ḥusayn Bayqara’s reign is seen as the apogee of Timurid culture, particularly in history, literature, and the arts of the book. Some of the most famous practitioners of calligraphy and miniature painting worked in Herat at this period; these include the painter Bihzād and the calligraphers Sulṭān `Alī Mashhadī and Mīr `Alī Haravī. These and other artists continued their careers under the Safavids and Uzbeks, and their fame also spread to the Mughal and Ottoman realms. The court of Sulṭān Ḥusayn was also famous for its gathering of poets, in both Persian and Turkish. The most famous among the Persian poets was `Abd al-Raḥmān Jāmī, who produced several masnavīs; Jāmī was also a shaykh of the rising Naqshbandī order and the author of a well-known collection of Sufi lives, the Nafaḥāt al-uns. Another outstanding figure was Kamāl al-Dīn Ḥusayn al-Vā`iz Kāshifī, author of the Rawz̤at al-shuhadā’, a martyrology of the Shi`ite imams, and the Anvār-i Suhaylī, a reworking of the Bidpai fables; both have enjoyed great popularity since.

It was at the court of Sulṭān Ḥusayn that eastern literary Turkic (Tūrkī or Chaghatay) came into its own. Sulṭān Ḥusayn himself wrote verse in Chaghatay (Dīvān of Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bayqara (Metropolitan Museum of Art)), and his powerful intimate, Mīr `Alī Shīr Navā’ī, produced brilliant poetry of enduring popularity and several important prose works. Navā’ī was also competent in Persian; the influence he wielded over both political and cultural affairs in Herat was enormous. Although Chaghatay never equaled Persian in importance, it remained a widely used literary language in Central Asia.

Ideology and Religion

Although the Mongol and Islamic traditions differed on a number of points, they coexisted over a large area after the beginning of the fourteenth century. As stated in the section “Formation of the Timurid Empire,” Temür ruled through a Chinggisid puppet khan; he also deliberately imitated Chinggis Khan in his court etiquette and particularly in his spectacular punishment of recalcitrant cities, in which he copied Mongol massacres. Toward the end of his life, Temür began to connect his family directly to Mongol prestige by emphasizing the role of his Barlas ancestors and the common ancestry they shared with Chinggis Khan. At the same time, he patronized religious scholars and mystical Sufi shaykhs and justified some of his campaigns in the name of the Islamic shari`a. Shāhrukh no longer ruled through a puppet khan, taking the sovereign titles for himself. He was a man of exceptional piety and early in his rule announced the restoration of the shari`a and the abrogation of the Mongol yasa. However, the myth of Barlas ancestry and the connection to Chinggis Khan was further elaborated, and Mongol custom was still invoked. Reports that Ulugh Beg, in Samarqand, still kept a puppet khan and gave greater honor to Mongol custom have been contested in recent scholarship.9

The fifteenth century was a period of religious experimentation. Veneration of the House of the Prophet was widespread among Sunnis as well as Shi`ites, as were millennarian expectations. Thus, Timurid patronage of the imams’ shrines does not suggest adherence to Shi`ism. A number of religious movements of the 15th century had a political aspect, seen as a potential threat to the dynasty; this was particularly true during the reign of Shāhrukh. The earliest challenge he faced came from Muḥammad Nūrbakhsh, a disciple of Kubrawī shaykh Khvājah Isḥāq of Badakhshan, who claimed to be the mahdī (messiah). This led to a split in the order and a struggle that brought in Timurid troops in 1422–1423. Shāhrukh had Khvājah Isḥāq executed but released Nūrbakhsh on condition that he renounce his claims. Within a year, Nūrbakhsh was active in Luristan and Kurdistan, still claiming to be the mahdī, and according to one later source, striking coins and having the khuṭbah (Friday sermon) read in his own name, both signs of sovereignty. Shāhrukh had him arrested twice again, in 1334–1335 and 1437, after which he retired to Shirwan and Gilan, and apparently gave up his political ambitions. His disciples continued the Nūrbakhshiyyah order after his death but without the overt messianic overtones.

In 1427, an attempt was made on Shāhrukh’s life as he emerged from the Friday prayers, apparently by a member of the Ḥurūfī sect. The founder of the sect, Faz̤l Allāh Astarābādī, had made claims to be the mahdī and espoused a doctrine according to which all secrets of the universe could be understood from the letters of the alphabet, by people of superior understanding. He was active primarily in Azarbaijan and was executed in 1394 at the order of Mīrānshāh. While the movement created by Faẕl Allāh was relatively limited, espoused the doctrine of lettrism, according to which the philosophy of lettrism became popular among religious intellectuals of the 15th century. The attack on Shāhrukh led to an investigation into the leadership of the Ḥurūfī, with numerous arrests and several executions. Suspicion also fell on scholars and Sufis known for their beliefs in the occult or for doctrines considered questionable. Among those affected was Qāsim al-Anvār, a poet and Sufi whose poetry was much admired, but who had collected a large following and espoused doctrines disapproved by many of the Herat ulama’. He was exiled to Samarqand on the grounds that a copy of his poems had been found in the room of the assassin.10

A third movement arose in Iraq in 1436 when a Shi`ite claiming to be a descendant of the seventh imam Mūsā al-Kāẓim declared himself mahdī and gathered followers among the Arab tribes of southern Iraq, in a movement known as the Musha`sha`. In 1442, al-Kāẓim and his followers seized Huwayza, within the territory of Fars. Raids by the group became a problem, and when a military expedition was sent out against them from Shiraz, the expedition suffered an embarrassing defeat. The Musha`sha` remained unsubdued, but with the takeover by the Qaraqoyunlu, it ceased to be a problem for the Timurids. These movements provide the context for the rise of the militantly Shi`ite and Sufi Safavid order that took over Iran at the beginning of the next century.

By the time of Temür’s rise, Sufism had become an important force in religious, social, and political life. However, it was only in the course of the 15th century that most Sufi orders or paths (ṭarīqa/ṭuruq) emerged as organizations with clearly recognized hierarchies, set practices, and a demand for exclusive loyalty. In the early Timurid period, Sufi adepts often studied with several shaykhs of quite different persuasions, and gatherings often included shaykhs and disciples of different orders. Like the `ulama, with whom they overlapped significantly, the Sufi community was divided by differences of doctrine and practice. One particular source of controversy was Ibn `Arabī’s doctrine of the unity of being (waḥdat al-wujūd), which some considered suspect and dangerous. Another and related issue was the importance of strict adherence to the sunna and, conversely, the primacy of esoteric over exoteric knowledge.

One Sufi order close to the Timurid dynasty in the early period was that of Aḥmad-i Jām (d. 1141), centered at the shrine at Turbat-i Jām, in Quhistan. Both Temür and Shāhrukh visited and sponsored building at the shrine, as did several of their emirs. The shrine at Jam was welcoming both to the elite and to shaykhs of widely different persuasions; the poet Qāsim al-Anvār, whose relations with the Timurids were not always serene, ended his life there.11 The order most closely associated with the later Timurid sultans is the Khvājagān/Naqshbandiyyah. The founder of the order, Bahā’al-Dīn Naqshband (d. 791/1389), was active in the Bukhara region during Temür’s reign. In Shāhrukh’s period, the order grew at a modest rate and came to be known for its adherence to the sunna and rejection of the use of dance and music. The expansion of the order began with the career of Khvājah Aḥrār (1404–1490). After a youth spent in travel and study in the eastern Timurid domains, Khvājah Aḥrār gained a preeminent position in part through his support of Abū Sa`īd in his takeover of Samarqand in 1451. At this point, Khvājah Aḥrār moved to Samarqand, where he expanded his following, built a Sufi lodge, and amassed enormous property in charitable endowments (waqf). Because of his close association with the Timurid rulers, Khvājah Aḥrār wielded considerable political power, serving as advisor and mediator to several members of the dynasty. Although he remained in Samarqand, he was in close communication with important figures in Herat, including Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bayqara, `Abd al-Raḥmān Jāmī, and Mīr `Alī Shīr Nava’ī. Under his leadership, the Naqshbandiyyah became more tightly organized, and as Khvājah Aḥrār sent disciples to distant regions, the order began also to spread well beyond the Timurid realm.

Discussion of the Literature

Despite the importance of Temür and his dynasty, for a long time there was little scholarship on the Timurids outside of the former Soviet Union. Early studies were written by V. V. Bartol’d (1869–1930); who wrote accounts of the careers of Ulugh Beg and Sulṭān Ḥusayn Bayqara, translated into English.12 Later Soviet works on the Timurids were produced under heavier censorship, which discouraged favorable discussion of non-Russian military leaders. Scholars worked primarily on issues of social or intellectual history that could be studied largely with the materials available within the USSR, most notably art history and the analysis of documents.13

From the 1950s to the 1980s, the French scholar Jean Aubin produced a number of outstanding articles on aspects of Timurid rule in Iran, many of them having to do with local history.14 A major step forward came with the publication in 1986 of the sixth volume of the Cambridge History of Iran, covering the Timurid and Safavid period, containing an overview of Timurid history by Hans Robert Roemer.15

In 1989, the conference of the Middle East Studies Association held in Toronto devoted its plenary session and several special panels to the Timurids. The same year saw the publication of two books in the United States: Beatrice F. Manz, The Rise and Rule of Tamerlane, and Thomas Lenz and Glenn Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision, the catalogue of an exhibit shown that year at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.16 These events marked the beginning of a surge of scholarship on the Timurids. In general, political history has received only moderate attention; interest has focused particularly on ideology, intellectual and artistic movements, and religion. Art history has been particularly active; in addition to the scholarship mentioned in “Further Reading,” one can mention the work of David Roxburgh, Priscilla Soucek, and Linda Komaroff.17

As with other periods of the Middle Eastern history, much attention has been focused on Sufism; both trajectories of individual orders and contemporary understandings of spiritual power have been a focus of attention.18 In the last several decades, an effort has been made to allow for the teleological slant of Sufi biographical literature and to recognize the loose organization and overlapping contacts of most orders before the late 15th century. During this period, there has also been a change in scholarly understanding of reverence toward the House of the Prophet, and particularly the `Alid imāms; this is now seen as a widespread phenomenon among Muslims of the period, including Sunnis. Some movements and uprisings previously perceived as Shi’ite now are seen simply as fitting in with the religiosity of the period. More recently, there has also been increasing interest in the messianic movements that sprang up during the period, both in Timurid territories and elsewhere in the Islamic world.19

In the 1980s and 1990s, most studies of political ideology and legitimation focused on the Turco-Mongolian heritage and the question of assimilation to Islamic traditions.20 In the last two decades, in connection with the interest in messianic movements, scholars have also begun to examine the use of astrological and millenarian ideas in political legitimation.21

Primary Sources

Almost no original primary sources exist for the Timurid period, though copies of some letters and decrees exist, largely in collections of selected documents for chancellery use. Our main sources are histories written at the period or slightly later, often by bureaucrats and based on earlier histories, documents, and personal experience. The basic narrative is preserved in a series of chronicles, each incorporating those before. This begins with the Ẓafarnāmah of Niẓām al-Dīn Shāmī, a life of Temür completed in 1404;22 it was enlarged and continued by Ḥāfiẓ-i Abru in his Majma`al-tawārīkh, ending in 830/1427.23 The narrative is carried to 875/1470 in the Maṭla al-sa`dayn wa majma`-al-baḥrayn of `Abd al-Razzāq Samarqandī (d. 887/1482).24 The final period of Timurid history is chronicled in the universal history Ḥabīb al-siyar fī akhbar-i afrād-i bashar, of Ghiyās̄ al-Dīn b. Humām al-Din Muḥammad, known as Khvāndamīr (d. probably 942/1535–1536), the last version of which was completed in India in 935/1529.25

Two other histories of Temür derive from independent sources: the Ẓafarnāmah of Sharaf al-Dīn `Alī Yazdī (d. 1454), completed in Shiraz probably in 1436; and the defamatory history of Temür written in Arabic by Ibn `Arabshāh (d. 854/1450) in or after 840/1436.26 The Timurid prince Babur, who founded the Mughal dynasty, left a memoir of his life in Chaghatay Turkic.27 The memoir of the Eastern Chaghadayid Mirza Muḥammad Ḥaydar Dughlat provides valuable information on the last years of Timurid rule.28

Local histories add considerably to our knowledge of several regions. Particularly notable are the history of the Caspian provinces to 881/1476–1477 by a relative of local rulers, Sayyid Ẓahīr al-Dīn b. Naṣīr al-Dīn Mar`ashī (d. 894/1489 or earlier),29 and a geography and history of the Herat region to 875/1470–1471 by Mu`īn al-Dīn Zamchī Isfizārī (d. 903/1498).30

There are several collections of biographies. An influential biographical work on poets, written in 892/1486–1487, is that of Dawlatshāh Samarqandī (d. 900/1494 or 913/1507).31 Many biographical works on Sufi shaykhs have survived; two of the most useful are those written by `Abd al-Raḥmān Jāmī32 and by Fakhr al-Dīn `Alī b. Ḥusayn Wā’iẓ Kāshifī, who wrote a spiritual genealogy of the Naqshbandī, culminating in Khvāja Aḥrār.33

Two useful collections of documents are a set of letters of rulers and elite edited by `Abd al-Ḥusayn Navā’ī34 and a collection of letters of Khvāja Aḥrār and his associates edited and translated by Jo-Ann Gross and Asom Urunbaev.35

The account of the Spanish ambassador Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, cited in endnote 5, provides a valuable description of Temür’s realm at the end of his reign and of his final khuriltay. The Austrian soldier Johannes Schiltberger claimed to have served Temür and Shāhrukh and wrote an account sometimes cited for Timurid history. However, analysis of his account suggests that he did not actually travel further east than Azarbaijan.36

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: The Art of the Timurid Period (ca. 1370–1507).

Islamic dynasty of rulers and patrons in Iran and western Central Asia that reigned from 1370 to 1507.

Further Reading

Political and Social History

Dale, Stephen Frederic. The Garden of the Eight Paradises: Bābur and the Culture of Empire in Central Asia, Afghanistan and India (1483–1530). Brill’s Inner Asian Library. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2004.Find this resource:

Manz, Beatrice Forbes. Power, Politics and Religion in Timurid Iran. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Manz, Beatrice Forbes. The Rise and Rule of Tamerlane. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989.Find this resource:

Subtelny, Maria. Timurids in Transition: Turko-Persian Politics and Acculturation in Medieval Iran. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007.Find this resource:

History of Art

Golombek, Lisa, and Donald Wilber. The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988.Find this resource:

Lentz, Thomas W., and Glenn D. Lowry. Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century. Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Los Angeles; Washington, DC, 1989.Find this resource:

O’Kane, Bernard. Timurid Architecture in Khurasan. Costa Mesta, CA: Mazdâ, 1987.Find this resource:

Ideology and Religion

Bashir, Shazad. Messianic Hopes and Mystical Visions: The Nūrbakhshīya between Medieval and Modern Islam. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Binbaş, Ilker Evrim. Intellectual Networks in Timurid Iran: Sharaf al-Dīn ` Alī Yazdī and the Islamicate Republic of Letters. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

Paul, Jürgen. Die politische und soziale Bedeutung der Naqšbandiyya in Mittelasien im 15. Jahrhundert. Berlin: W. de Gruyter, 1991.Find this resource:

Paul, Jürgen. Doctrine and Organization. The Khwājagān/Nashbandīya in the first Generation after Bahā’uddīn. ANOR 1, Halle; Berlin, 1998.Find this resource:

Historiography and Genealogy

Woods, John E. “The Rise of Tīmūrīd Historiography.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 46.2 (1987): 81–108.Find this resource:

Woods, John E. The Timurid Dynasty. Papers on Inner Asia, # 14. Indiana University, Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies. Bloomington, 1990. (A summary genealogy of the dynasty)Find this resource:


Michele Bernardini, ed. La civiltà timuride come fenomeno internazionale. Oriente Moderno, numero monografico. 2 vols. Naples, 1997.Find this resource:


(1.) Michele Bernardini, Mémoire et propaganda à l’époque timouride, Studia Iranica, cahier 37 (Paris: Peeters, 2008), 53–58.

(2.) Marie Favereau, La Horde d’Or: Les héritiers de Gengis Khan (Lascelles, France: Éditions de La Flandonnière, 2014), 149.

(3.) Favereau, La Horde d’Or, 174.

(4.) Lisa Golombek and Donald Newton Wilber, The Timurid Architecture of Iran and Turan, 2 vols., Princeton Monographs in Art and Archaeology 46 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), 255–260.

(5.) For an English translation see Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, Narrative of the Spanish Embassy to the Court of Timur at Samarkand in the years1403–6, trans. Guy Le Strange (London: Routledge, 1928).

(6.) Maria Subtelny, “Centralizing Reform and its Opponents in the Late Timurid Period,” Iranian Studies 21.1–2 (1988): 123–151.

(7.) John E. Woods, “The Rise of Tīmūrīd Historiography,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 46.2 (1987): 81–108.

(8.) Thus in the histories; one early manuscript of the genealogy Mu`izz al-ansāb gives the date 6 Rabī` II 937 for his death—January 1434. (Mu`izz al-ansāb fī shajarat al-ansāb, ms. Paris, Bibliotèque Nationale, #67, f. 143b; John E. Woods, The Timurid Dynasty, Papers on Inner Asia (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, 1990), 46.

(9.) John E. Woods, “Timur's Genealogy,” in Intellectual Studies on Islam: Essays Written in Honor of Martin B. Dickson, Michael Mazzaoui and Vera B. Moreen, eds. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990), 116, 24–25, note 29; Beatrice F. Manz, “Ulugh Beg, Transoxania and Turco-Mongolian Traditions,” in Iran und iranisch geprägte Kulturen: Studien zum 65. Geburtstag von Bert G. Fragner. Markus Ritter, Ralph Kauz, and Birgitt Hoffmann, eds. (Wiesbaden, Germany: Reichert, 2008), 20–27.

(10.) Evrim Binbaş, “The Anatomy of a Regicide Attempt: Shāhrukh, the Ḥurūfīs, and the Timurid Intellectuals in 830/1426-7,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Series 3, 23.3 (2013): 391–428.

(11.) Beatrice Forbes Manz, Power, Politics and Religion in Timurid Iran (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 224–228.

(12.) V. V. Barthold, Four Studies in the History of Central Asia, trans. V. Minorsky and T. Minorsky, Vol. 2: Ulugh Beg; Vol. 3 Mīr `Alī Shīr (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1958–1962.)

(13.) See, for example: G. A. Pugachenkova, Pamiatniki arkhitektury Sredneĭ Azii ėpokhy Nava’i (Tashkent, Uzbekistan: SAGU, 1957) and Chefs d’oeuvres d’architecture de l’Asie Centrale XIVe-XVe siècle (Paris: Unesco, 1981); O. D. Chekhovich, Samarkandskie dokumenty XV–XVI vv.: O vladeniiakh Khodzhi Akhrāra v Sredneĭ Azii i Afganistane, Pamiatniki pis’mennosti Vostoka, 31 (Moscow: Nauka, 1974).

(14.) For example; Jean Aubin, “Comment Tamerlan prenait les villes.” Studia Islamica 19 (1963): 83–122 and Deux sayyids de Bam au xv.siècle . Contribution `a l’histoire de l’Iran timouride (Wiesbaden, Germany: Steiner, 1956) (Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Abhandlungen der Geistes- und sozialwissenschaflichen Klasse, 1957 #7.

(15.) Peter Jackson and Laurence Lockhart, eds., The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 6 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

(16.) See “Further Reading.”

(17.) For example: David Roxburgh, The Persian Album, 1400–1600: from Dispersal to Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005); Priscilla Soucek, “Ibrāhīm Sulṭān ibn Shāhrukh,” in Iran and Iranian Studies: Essays in Honor of Iraj Afshar, Kambiz Eslami, ed. (Princeton, NJ: Zagros Press, 1998); Linda Komaroff, The Golden Disk of Heaven; Metalwork of Timurid Iran (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, 1992).

(18.) For Sufi orders in Transoxiana, see the many articles by Devin A. DeWeese; for perceptions of the Naqshbandi, see, for example, Jo-Ann Gross, “Authority and Miraculous Behavior: Reflections on Karāmāt Stories of Khwāja `Ubaydullāh Aḥrār,” in The Legacy of Medieval Persian Sufism, Leonard Lewisohn, ed. (London: Khanaqahi-Nimatullahi Publications, 1992), 159–171.

(19.) See in particular the work of Shahzad Bashir, mentioned in “Further Reading.”

(20.) See, for example: John E. Woods, “Timur’s Genealogy,” in Intellectual Studies on Islam, Essays Written in Honor of Martin B. Dickson, Michel M. Mazzaoui and Vera B. Moreen, eds. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990), 85–126; Maria Subtelny, “Centralizing Reform and its Opponents in the Late Timurid Period,” Iranian Studies 21.1–2 (1988): 123–151, Michele Bernardini, Mémoire et propaganda à l’époque timouride, Studia Iranica, cahier 37 (Paris: Peeters, 2008).

(21.) See the work of Shahzad Bashir and Ilker Evrem Binbaş, cited in “Further Reading,” and A. Azfar Moin, The Millenial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), which portrays the Timurid period as the beginning of a lasting phenomenon in South Asia.

(22.) Niẓām al-Dīn Shāmī, Histoire des conquêtes de Tamerlan intitulée Ẓafarnāma, par Niẓāmuddīn Šāmī, ed. F. Tauer (Prague: Oriental Institute, vol. I, 1937, vol. II, 1956. (Volume II contains additions made by Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū.)

(23.) Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū, Zubdat al-tawārīkh, ed. Sayyid Kamāl Ḥājj Sayyid Javādī (Tehran, Iran: Nashr-i Nay, 1380sh./2001–2002).

(24.) First section: `Abd al-Razzāq Samarqandī, Maṭla` al-sa`dayn wa majma` al-baḥrayn, qismat-i awwal, ed. `Abd al-Ḥusayn Navā’ī (Tehran, Iran: Kitābkhānah-i Ṭahūrī, 1353 sh./1974–5). Second section, after 1426: `Abd al-Razzāq Samarqandī, Maṭla` al-sa`dayn wa majma` al-baḥrayn, ed. Muḥammad Shafī` (Lahore, Pakistan: Kitābkhānah-i Gīlānī, 1360–1368/1941–1949). Also available reset: Tehran: Pizhūhishgāh-i `ulūm-i insānī va muṭāla`āt-i farhangī, 1383sh./2004–2005.

(25.) Ghiyās al-Dīn b. Humām al-Dīn Khvāndamīr, Ḥabīb al-siyar fī akhbār-i afrād-i bashar, ed. Muḥammad Dabīr Siyāqī (Tehran, Iran: Khayyām, 1333sh./1954–1955); Ghiyās al-Dīn b. Humām al-Dīn Khvāndamīr, trans. Wheeler M. Thackston, Habibu’s-siyar, Tome Three (Cambridge, MA: Sources of Oriental Languages and Literatures, 24, 1994).

(26.) Sharaf al-Dīn `Alī Yazdī, Ẓafarnāmah, ed. Muḥammad `Abbāsī (Tehran, Iran: Amīr Kabīr, 1336sh./1957); Aḥmad Ibn `Arabshāh, `Ajā’ib al-maqdūr fī nawā’íb Tīmūr, ed. Aḥmad Fāyiz al-Ḥimsī (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-risālah, 1407/1986); Aḥmad Ibn `Arabshāh, Tamerlane or Timur, the Great Amir, trans. J.H. Sanders (London: Luzac, 1936).

(27.) Ẓahīr al-Dīn Babur, Bāburnāmah, ed. Mano Eiji (Kyoto: Nakanishi, 1995). Trans. Wheeler M. Thackston, The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor (New York: Modern Library, 2002).

(28.) MīrzāMuḥammad Ḥaydar Dughlat, ed. and trans., Wheeler M. Thackston, Tarikh-i Rashidi. A History of the Khans of Moghulistan. Sources of Oriental Languages and Literatures, 38, Central Asian Sources III (Cambridge, MA, 1996).

(29.) Sayyid Ẓahīr al-Dīn b. Naṣīr al-Dīn Mar`ashī, Tārīkh-i Ṭabaristān wa Rūyān wa Māzandarān, ed. Muḥammad Ḥusayn Tasbīḥī (Tehran, Iran: Bunyād-i Farhang-i Īrān, 1345 sh./1966).

(30.) Mu`īn al-Dīn Zamchī Isfizārī, Rawḍāt al-jannāt fī awṣāf-i madīnat-i Harāt, Sayyid Muḥammad Kāẓim Imām, ed. (Tehran, Iran: Dānishgāh-i Tihrān, 1338 sh./1959).

(31.) Dawlatshāh Samarqandī, The Tadhkiratu’sh-Shu`ara (“Memoirs of the Poets”), E. G. Browne, ed. (London: Luzac, 1901); reprinted with corrections, ed. Fāṭima ʿAlāqa, (Tehran, Iran: Pizhūhishgāh-i `ulūm-i insānī va muṭāla`āt-i farhangī 1385 sh./2006).

(32.) `Abd al-Raḥmān b. Aḥmad Jāmī, Nafaḥāt al-uns min ḥiḍarāt al-quds, Mahdī Tawḥīdīpūr, ed. (Tehran, Iran: Intishārāt-i `Ilmī, 1375 sh./1996–1997).

(33.) Fakhr al-Dīn `Alī b. Ḥusayn Vā’iẓ Kāshifī, Rashaḥāt `ayn al-ḥayāt, `Alī Aṣghar Mu`īniyān, ed. (Tehran, Iran: Bunyād-i Nīkūkārī-‘i Nūriyānī, 2536 shāhī/1977).

(34.) `Abd al-Ḥusayn Navā’ī, ed., Asnād wa makātibāt-i tārīkhī-i Īrān: az Tīmūr tā Shāh Ismā`īl (Tehran, Iran: Bungāh-i Tarjumah va Nashr-i Kitāb, 2536 shāhī/1977).

(35.) Jo-Ann Gross and Asom Urunbaev, eds. and trans., The Letters of Khwāja `Ubayd Allāh Aḥrār and his Associates (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002).

(36.) See Beatrice F. Manz, Johannes Schiltberger and other outside sources on the Timurids, in Pablo Martín Asuero and Michele Bernardini, eds., España y el Oriente islámico entre los siglos XV y XVI: Imperio Otomano, Persia y Asia central: actas del congreso Università degli Studi di Napoli “l’Orientale” Nápoles 30 de septiembre—2 de octubre de 2004 (Istanbul, 2007).