THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, APRIL 29, 2012
THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, APRIL 29, 2012
2 The Great Conquerors
3 TAMERLANE ‘Timur the Lame’ or ‘Taimur the Lung’ in Urdu was so called because he walked with a limp since half of his body was paralysed, was born in modern day Uzbekistan and was a Turko-Mongol ruler. During his lifetime Timur emerged as the most powerful ruler in the Muslim world after defeating the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, the emerging Ottoman Empire and the declining Sultanate of Delhi. It is written in the Silk Road about Tamerlane: “He was steadfast in mind and robust in body, brave and fearless, firm as rock. He loved bold and valiant soldiers, by whose aid he opened the locks of terror, tore men to pieces like lions, and overturned mountains. He was faultless in strategy, constant in fortune, firm of purpose and truthful in business”. Tamerlane conquered Persia, Armenia, Georgia and part of Russia. Tamerlane died in 1405 on his way to an invasion of China.
Are you a history buff? Or do you like reading about war and past conquerors and their military tactics? From Alexander the Great’s campaigns to Tamerlane’s rule of territories, read about the conquests and personalities of some of the greatest conquerors.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT Alexander the Great was king of Macedon, a state in northern Greece. Alexander was tutored by Aristotle (Greek philosopher and important founding figure of Western philosophy) until the age of 16. Alexander’s legacy includes the cultural influence his conquests left behind. Plutarch in his book, Life of Alexander the Great, states: “Alexander had a great desire for knowledge, a love for philosophy and was an avid reader… Alexander’s most evident personality traits have been his violent temper and rash, impulsive nature.” He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history’s most successful commanders. Alexander’s military tactics are taught in military schools around the world till today. Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC from an illness.
Fun Fact: He founded some twenty cities that bore his name, most notably Alexandria in Egypt.
Area: By the age of 22, he had conquered Greece and set sail to Asia Minor. He entered Egypt as a liberator and continued to Persia where he fought a series of decisive battles and gained control of the entire Eastern Mediterranean coast. Seeking to reach the “ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea”, he invaded India and Pakistan. Alexander passed through the Khyber Pass in 326 BC, built a fleet of ships, and sailed down the Indus River to conquer what is now the Punjab state. It was in the Punjab that Alexander’s soldiers refused to go any further east, prompting an enormously difficult march homeward through the harsh desert regions of Baluchistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. This is also where his legendary horse Bucephalus was killed.
CHARLEMAGNE Called the “Father of Europe”, Charlemagne’s empire united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire. In Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, a biography, Charlemagne is described as a generous man who helped the poor and loved his family. According to Encyclopedia of World Biography, “Charlemagne supported the arts and letters to provide an educated clergy (a group of religious servants) that could undertake many of the administrative tasks of government and to win the acceptance of the church to unify the administration of the empire”. The intellectual traditions and educational institutions supported by Charlemagne greatly influenced the development of Western culture. Charlemagne believed in the power of educations and expanded the number of schools to improve the quality of education. Charlemagne died aged 72 from a fever.
Fun Fact: Although he could not write, he spoke Germanic, Latin and Greek.
Area: Charles the Great, King of the Franks, ruled a European empire based mainly around France, Germany and parts of Italy. Charlemagne’s first campaign came at the age of 27, when the Pope sought his aid in repelling the Lombards (people belonging to Lombardi, city in Italy). From his capital of Aachen in modern-day Germany, he went on to fight 53 campaigns, most of which he led himself.
GENGHIS KHAN Originally known as Temujin, meaning blacksmith, he was later named Genghis Khan meaning the ‘universal leader’. After his father’s death, Temujin’s family fell into poverty. The early success of the Mongol army owed much to the brilliant military tactics of Genghis Khan and his understanding of his enemies’ motivations. He employed an extensive spy network and was quick to adopt new technologies from his enemies. Genghis Khan had great physical strength and an unbreakable will. In all, Genghis conquered almost four times the lands of Alexander the Great and paved the way for his grandson Kublai Khan to become emperor of a united China. Genghis Khan died in 1227. The reason for his death is uncertain. Some believe he fell off his horse due to old age during a battle while others believe he was killed by the princess of Tangut (the state Genghis conquered in China) to avenge her people. He is still revered in Mongolia and in parts of China.
Fun Fact: He loved to play chess and invented his own version of the game called ‘Tamerlane chess.’
Area: He conquered West, South and Central Asia and found the Timurid dynasty. He was the great-great-greatgrandfather of Babur, founder of the Mughal Empire, which ruled parts of South Asia for around four centuries. Timur envisioned the restoration of the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan.
Fun Fact: In Ulaanbaatar, capital of
Mongolia, Genghis Khan’s face is on the thousand-tugrik bill (Mongolian currency).
From the most brutal beginning possible, Genghis survived to unite the Mongolian tribes and conquerd territories as far apart as Afghanistan and northern China. Genghis was the founder and Great Khan (emperor) of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest continuous empire in history after his demise. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia.