Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (Third Series)

Research Article

Temür and the problem of a conqueror's legacy

Beatrice Forbes Manz

Temür has been many things to many people. He was nomad and city-builder, Turk and promoter of Persian culture, restorer of the Mongol order and warrior for the spread of Islam. One thing he was to all: a conqueror of unequalled scope, able to subdue both the vast areas of nomad power to the north and the centres of agrarian Islamic culture to the south. The history of his successors was one of increasing political fragmentation and economic stress. Yet they too won fame, as patrons over a period of brilliant cultural achievement in Persian and Turkic. Temür's career raises a number of questions. Why did he find it necessary to pile conquest upon conquest, each more ambitious than the last? Having conceived dreams of dominion, where did he get the power and money to fulfill them? When he died, what legacy did Temür leave to his successors and to the world which they tried to control? Finally, what was this world of Turk and Persian, and where did Temür and the Timurids belong within it?