Serendipitous Inspiration #7 — Tamerlane

There are a lot of conquerors who are remembered fondly in Western Civilization, and they come in all shapes and sizes.  We’ve got Alexander the Great of Macedonia, Julius Caeser of Rome, Hannibal of Carthage, etc.  They’re all remembered for two things, their very unlikely rise to power in a violent time, and their typically tragic and/or mysterious deaths. (We’re looking at you Hannibal…)

Yet, none of these gents are my favorites.

Who is my favorite?

Well you might remember him as Tamerlane or, as I like to remember him by, his true name Timur-i-Lang.

Why do you ask?

Well it’s kind of an odd story.

One summer after high school I didn’t have much to do around my part-time job.  A cousin visiting from out-of-town wanted to hit Barnes and Noble as they were closing down so that they could move locations and were selling things off at a deep, deep, discount.

That’s when I found this book:

As I was browsing through the bins, his name struck me.  I vaguely remember learning about Tamerlane being the last of the Mongol emperors and all that in school.  Since neither his heritage, nor the ethnicity and form of his empire is important to what I have to say here today, I’ll leave you to find all that yourselves should it peak your interest.

The two things that are important about this man who I want to speak of follow as such:

1. The Man was Crippled!

That’s right, you heard me.  One of the greatest conquerors the world has ever known was crippled.  You see, when he was a small boy he was a goat thief.  And one day, a shepherd shot him in the hip with an arrow, which caused his left leg to grow improperly.  I forget the details, but his left leg was markedly shorter than his right once he reached adulthood.

Did he let this stop him?  Hell no!  He simply had someone make him a specialized boot, where the taller sole balanced out for the lameness in his leg.

Another important part about this?

In the Western world we know him as Tamerlane, only because we decided to bastardize the meaning of his true name:  Timur-i-Lang.  Guess what that means?  Timur the Lame.  He went down in history as Timur the Cripple and yet people still quaked in fear when they found out he was coming their way.

How amazing is that?

2. His Sheer Indomitable Will.

Another thing that always stuck out to me about this guy was the will power he had to create the empire he dreamed of.  Rising through the strange political ranks of his time aside, which is still mighty impressive, I’m focusing on what he managed to do after he took control of the Chagatai Khanate.

One of his policies for conquering the world was to take all the best of the conquered lands and bring it back to his capital city of Istanbul.

What did this mean?

First of all it meant that once he did conquer a distant land, the first he would do is take all the scholars and skilled labor and send them right back home.  He welcomed them with open arms insisting that they share their wisdom and/or exquisite craftsmanship with his homeland, and made them citizens of his empire.

Second, he then sacked every city within an inch of its life, before setting up his own people in charge of it and rebuilding it as more or less a colony of Istanbul.  One of his commonly used tactics was salting the earth of the kingdoms he had conquered so that they could never amass the resources to fight him again.

He salted the earth so badly in some areas, that there are still deserts that can be found today in Eurasia that can be traced back to his brutal practices!

Do you understand how terrible and amazing that is?

The man was so will driven to keep control that he actually changed the landscape of the world to suit his needs.

The man could not be stopped.

So why am I going on about this?

Well how many people do you meet with a self-defeating attitude in your daily lives?

Hell, I know I meet plenty and, on the worse days, I am that fool.

Whenever I catch myself saying things like, “it’s too hard,” or, “I can’t do this,” I think of Timur.

I think of the crippled man who rose to power in one of the most war-torn eras and environments ever on this planet who rose up and took control of the known world.

Then I look at myself.  Any deformities?  No.  Anyone trying to kill me?  No.  Am I trying to anything as hard as conquer the world?  No.  (Heh… maybe…)

Then it hits me.

What kind of idiot am I to complain about any challenges I may have to face compared to this titan of will power that came before me?

Who am I to say that something’s too hard?

So ladies and gents, the next time any of you say that things are too hard, think of Timur, and just feel lucky that both of your legs are strong, healthy and the same damned length before you put your backs into whatever you’re doing.

Don’t let circumstances get in your way.

They never stopped Timur, and think of all the resources you have now, compared to what he had to work with then.

The truly amazing part is I’ve paraphrased the man’s story here to the point of almost butchery with all the other amazing facts and accomplishments I’ve left out about this man.

If you have any interest in historical topics such as this I highly recommend reading the book I mentioned above,Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World, as the man only gets more amazing.

So what do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  Think I’m nuts?  Whatever you’re thinking leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


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