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The Rise and Rule of Tamerlane (Canto original series) Paperback – 12 Jan 2008
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'It should be said at once that this is an excellent book.' Charles Melville, BSOAS
'In thirty years' time this book will still look like a turning point.' Peter Allen, Society for South Asia Studies
'Beatrice Manz has established the standards and criteria upon which all future studies of the warlord conqueror must be based.' John E. Woods, International Journal of Middle-East Studies
In the first full study of an extraordinary person, Beatrice Forbes Manz examines Tamerlane as the founder of a nomad conquest dynasty and as a supremely talented individual, raising many current questions about the mechanisms of state formation, the dynamics of tribal politics, and the relations of tribes to central leadership.See all Product description
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The essential ingredients for a good historical study are some clear maps, family trees and a who's who. This book had none.
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Indeed, what was true for their culture and religious practices was also true for their politics. Beatrice Forbes Manz's book The Rise and Rule of Tamerlane is not a biography. She is not interested in the colourful or (as she suggests) fictitious youth of Temur as a sheep-stealer and provides a rather brief account of his rise to power as a warlord in Khorasan and Transoxania in the late fourteenth century. Nor is she interested in the military history and details of Temur's conquests; the conquest of Delhi (1398) and the Battle of Ankara (1402) are described in a line each. Legends of Temur's ruthlessness and persecution of victims (including the pyramids of bloody skulls outside smoking cities) are also not to be found in this work. Instead Manz focuses on analyzing how Temur manipulated the nomadic and political traditions of the Chaghatay in order to take control and power over them, and how he later undermined those traditions and effectively destroyed the independent power of the tribes.
The conquests of Temur were quite different from those of Chinggis Khan and predecessors (even though Temur ceaselessly invoked Chinggis as his model). This is partly because the world that Temur conquered was not an alien one, but a known entity, almost all of which had been previously conquered by Mongols. And although by the fourteenth century the power of the Chinggisid dynasty had declined and the Mongol empire had fallen apart, the steppe nomads still retained much of their power and prestige. In fact, the tribal confederation within which Temur rose to power and the world he conquered were the products of the Mongol empire. As aforementioned, these nomads preserved the Mongolian heritage of their ancestors in a new guise suitable to the rule of settled people with whom they were now intimately involved. They were able to constitute themselves as a separate ruling level over the subject population by manipulating both steppe and Islamic traditions and institutions. Manz suggests that it is only from Temur's time that the Turkic people and the traditions of the steppe became truly indigenous to the Middle East.
Despite Temur's ambition to approximate and imitate the methods of conquests and career of Chinggis Khan, his own achievements were less substantial. Manz attributes the downfall of Temur's dynasty to his extremely jealous and untrusting nature. When Temur assigned his sons and grandsons to take care of provinces, he took care to limit their powers and to keep them securely under his eye. This was to some extent necessary to prevent the formation of rival powers within such a loosely structured army and administration. Unfortunately however, Temur carried this policy so far that he damaged the efficiency of his administration and more importantly, made it difficult to his descendants to maintain control over their own territories after his death. Within a few days of Temur's passing away in February 1405, his sons, grandsons, and closest followers had begun a struggle for power that occupied the next fifteen years, leaving behind it a dynasty both economically and politically weak.
Beatrice Manz's work is intelligently written and well researched. The book is divided into eight chapters and three appendices. Extensive notes, a bibliography of sources and literature, and an index help guide the reader through the complexities and intricacies of Temur's rule. She organizes the book, first by outlining the historical, political, and cultural milieu of the Mongol period, developments since Chinggis Khan and his second son to the middle of the fourteenth century before then focusing on the rise and fall of Temur. Supplementing the main text, the appendices provide information on Temur's sources of manpower, his family, and his administration. Manz also has a tendency to place great emphasis on the importance of Temur's personal following, referring to it several times though the text. Also, besides traditional sources on Temur such as the two Zafarnama and several others, Manz has not taken advantage of other possible areas of research for sources such as coinage, inscriptions, or archaeology. This can be forgiven however, since perhaps they do not contribute greatly to her arguments.
These are minor flaws, in an otherwise excellent work on the rise and rule of Temur. Manz's work may very well serve as an important contribution to our understanding today of tribal politics. Ultimately with this work, Manz has unveiled the pattern behind the seemingly random approach of the last great conqueror of the steppe empire.
There is almost nothing in the book on Timurs actual battles and campiaigns. Just a couple of sentances. Instead the book becomes a never ending list of Turcoman Mongolian names and tribes. It becomes very tedious.
Concentrating on Timurs realtionship with the many internal Turcoman Mongolian tribes, it becomes extremely frustrating, as you begin to long for some intersting story or narrative of a great battle or exploit. Anything of any interest is skipped over in lines!
One point that i felt was not adressed in Manz's obsession with Turco/Mongolian internal tribal politics was the factor of how differing percentages of Turco or Mogloinan heritage within the tribes affected tribal relationships.
Summing up..... a great deal of deatiled information on Timur is included in this book, but not all the exciting information you want to know about!!