The Timurid Empire, self-designated as Gurkani (lit. ‘son-in-law of Genghisids’ ), was a Persianate Turco-Mongol empire comprising modern-day Uzbekistan, Iran, the southern Caucasus, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, much of Central Asia, as well as parts of contemporary India, Pakistan, Syria and Turkey.
The empire was founded by Timur (also known as Tamerlane), a warlord of Turco-Mongol lineage, who established the empire between 1370 and his death in 1405. He envisioned himself as the great restorer of the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan, regarded himself as Genghis’s heir, and associated much with the Borjigin. Timur continued vigorous trade relations with Ming China and the Golden Horde, with Chinese diplomats like Ma Huan and Chen Cheng regularly travelling west to Samarkand to collect tribute and sell goods, continuing Mongol empire tradition. The empire led to the Timurid Renaissance, particularly during the reign of astronomer and mathematician Ulugh Begh.
In 1467, the ruling Timurid dynasty, or Timurids, lost most of Persia to Azerbaijanis and the Aq Qoyunlu confederation. But members of the Timurid dynasty continued to rule smaller states, sometimes known as Timurid emirates, in Central Asia and parts of India. In the 16th century, Babur, a Timurid prince from Ferghana (modern Uzbekistan), invaded Kabulistan (modern Afghanistan) and established a small kingdom there. Twenty years later, he used this kingdom as a staging ground to invade India and establish the Mughal Empire.
Timur conquered large parts of ancient great Persian territories in Central Asia, primarily Transoxiana and Khorasan, from 1363 onwards with various alliances (Samarkand in 1366, and Balkh in 1369), and was recognized as ruler over them in 1370. Acting officially in the name of Suurgatmish, the Chagatai khan, he subjugated Transoxania and Khwarazm in the years that followed. Already in the 1360s, he had gained control of the western Chagatai Khanate and while as emir he was nominally subordinate to the khan, in reality, it was now Timur that picked the khans who became mere puppet rulers. The western Chagatai khans were continually dominated by Timurid princes in the 15th and 16th centuries and their figurehead importance were eventually reduced into total insignificance.
The power of Timurids declined rapidly during the second half of the 15th century, largely due to the Timurid tradition of partitioning the empire and by 1500, the divided and wartorn Timurid Empire had lost control of most of its territory, and in the following years was effectively pushed back on all fronts. Persia, the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, and Eastern Anatolia fell quickly to the Shiite Safavid dynasty, secured by Shah Ismail I in the following decade. Much of the Central Asian lands was overrun by the Uzbeks of Muhammad Shaybani who conquered the key cities of Samarkand and Herat in 1505 and 1507, and who founded the Khanate of Bukhara. From Kabul, the Mughal Empire was established in 1526 by Babur, a descendant of Timur through his father and possibly a descendant of Genghis Khan through his mother. The dynasty he established is commonly known as the Mughal dynasty though it was directly inherited from the Timurids. By the 17th century, the Mughal Empire ruled most of India but eventually declined during the following century. The Timurid dynasty finally came to an end as the remaining nominal rule of the Mughals was abolished by the British Empire following the 1857 rebellion.
Timurid Emperors (Emir)
- Timur (1370-1405)
- Pir Muhammad (son of Jahangir) (1405–1407)
- Khalil Sultan (1405-1409)
- Shah Rukh (1405-1447)
- Ulugh Beg (1447-1449)
- Abdal-Latif Mirza (1449-1450)
- Abdullah Mirza (1450-1451)
- Sultan Muhammad (1447-1451)
- Abul-Qasim Babur Mirza (1449-1457)
- Sultan Ahmed Mirza (1469-1494)
- Sultan Mahmud Mirza (1495-1495)
- Mirza Shah Mahmud (1457)
- Ibrahim Mirza (1457-1459)
- Abu Sa’id Mirza (1451-1469)
- Sultan Husayn Bayqara (1469-1506)
- Yadgar Muhammad Mirza (ruled 1469–1470)
- Badi’ al-Zaman Mirza (1506-1507)