Tamerlan (en persan Timur1 Lang2) ou Timour le Boiteux, Timour le Grand (né le à Kech près de Chakhrisabz dans l'actuel Ouzbékistan, et mort le à Otrar dans l'actuel Kazakhstan), est un guerrier turco-mongol3 du xive siècle, conquérant d'une grande partie de l'Asie centrale et occidentale, fondateur de la dynastie des Timourides qui a existé jusqu'en 1507.
Devenu émir de Transoxiane4, Tamerlan se révèle un redoutable chef de guerre, bâtissant un immense empire reposant sur la puissance militaire et sur la terreur. Les historiens parlent souvent de « catastrophe timouride » tant ses destructions et massacres ont été spectaculaires ; les estimations sur le nombre de morts de ses campagnes militaires vont de 1 million5 à 17 millions de personnes (soit environ 5 % de la population mondiale de l'époque)6. Lors de ses conquêtes, il n'hésite pas à massacrer la totalité de la population des villes qui lui résistent, à l'exception des artisans qu'il déporte à Samarcande, sa capitale. C'est à ce titre qu'il se montra aussi protecteur des arts et des lettres qui firent la grandeur de Samarcande.
Après la mort de Tamerlan en 1405, son empire, gouverné par ses descendants (les Timourides), est grignoté par les puissances voisines jusqu'à l'assaut final des Ouzbeks de la dynastie des Chaybanides.source : https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamerlan
En 1387, Tamerlan effectue des raids en Iran. Il fit ainsi le siège de la ville perse d'Ispahan. Lorsque les habitants se rendirent, Tamerlan exigea qu'ils lui versent un impôt en échange de leurs vies et de leurs biens. Durant la nuit du 16 novembre, un soulèvement se produisit dans la ville et les rebelles massacrèrent de nombreux percepteurs ainsi que des soldats. En représailles, Tamerlan ordonna l'extermination de la population d'Ispahan. Bien qu'on rencontre fréquemment une estimation de 70 000 victimes, des évaluations plus précises chiffrent le massacre à 40 000 morts. Cette comptabilité macabre est établie à partir du récit d'un témoin oculaire évoquant 28 pyramides d'environ 1 500 crânes chacune.
Narrative of the Embassy of Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo to the Court of Timour at Samarcand, A.D. 1403-6, de Ruy González de Clavijo, Clements Robert Markham [archive]
[en] Fisher, W.B.; Jackson, P.; Lockhart, L.; Boyle, J.A. : The Cambridge History of Iran, p. 55.
1) L’impôt mentionné s’appelle la jizya ou capitation.
« Combattez ceux qui ne croient ni en Allah ni au Jour dernier, qui n’interdisent pas ce qu’Allah et son messager ont interdit et qui ne professent pas la religion de la vérité, parmi ceux qui ont reçu le Livre (les Juifs et les Chrétiens), jusqu’à ce qu’ils versent la capitation par leurs propres mains, après s’être humiliés ». (Coran, Sourate 9, 29)
2) J’ai déjà lu ce raisonnement : « La population s’est rendu de son plein gré. Donc l’Islam s’est répandu sans violence. » L’Islam propose trois choix aux gens du Livre : l’affrontement, la conversion ou le paiement de la jizya. Un peu comme un bandit qui propose la bourse ou la vie. Celui qui choisit ne pas donner sa bourse a choisi l’affrontement, c’est lui le vrai provocateur.
3) Les décapitations ne sont pas une invention de Tamerlan. En bon musulman, il suit simplement l’exemple du prophète Mahomet (massacre des Banu Qurayza).
Timur Lenk (1369-1405) [make link]
- Peter Ford, “Ex-Russian Satellite Enjoys Setting Its Own Agenda,” Christian Science Monitor, June 3, 1997: “Tamerlane… was responsible for the deaths of as many as 20 million people...”
- Stephen Kinzer, "A Kinder, Gentler Tamerlane Inspires Uzbekistan," New York Times, November 10, 1997: “His Turkish and Mongol army is said to have killed 17 million men, women and children in his 14th century rampage…” [http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/53/107.html]
- Dave Carpenter, "Barbaric Tamerlane anointed a whitewashed hero in Uzbekistan," Associated Press, January 5, 1998: “His armies… are estimated to have massacred as many as 17 million people.”
- Colin McMahon, "The Rehabilitation of Tamerlane," Chicago Tribune, January 17, 1999: "...an estimated death toll of as many as 17 million people..."
- Jonathan Fenby, "Crossroads of conquest," Hong Kong: South China Morning Post, November 20, 1999: "...a local warrior with a limp from arrow wounds marched north, east, west and south to found an empire of his own on some 17 million corpses."
- H.D.S. Greenway, "New waves across the steppes," Boston Globe, May 27, 1998: "He is said to have killed 15 million people..." (incl. 90,000 in Baghdad.)
- Allen Howard Godbey, The Lost Tribes a Myth: Suggestions Towards Rewriting Hebrew History, p.385 (1974): "Genghis Khan is estimated to have destroyed twenty million people, Tamerlane twelve million."
- Israel Smith Clare, Library of universal history: containing a record of the human ..., v.7, p.2474 (1906): "... his ambition and cruelty brought twelve million human beings to violent deaths..."
- Ian McWilliam, "Uzbekistan Restores Samarkand To Boost Nationalist Pride," Los Angeles Times, August 23, 1994: "... a ruthless conqueror who, by one estimate at least, caused the deaths of about 7 million people."
- Individual events:
- Delhi (1398)
- James Trager, The People's Chronology (1992): 100,000 Hindu prisoners massacred at Delhi
- Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage: 100,000 POWs massacred
- Frank Smitha [http://www.fsmitha.com/h3/h13tt.htm]
- Isfahan: 70-100,000 massacred
- Sabzavar: 2,000 slaves massacred
- Baghdad (1401): 20,000
- 1 Feb. 2005 History Today: "At Baghdad he had 90,000 of the inhabitants beheaded so that he could build towers with their skulls. At Sivas in Turkey, where he promised no bloodshed in return for surrender, he had 3,000 prisoners buried alive and pointed out that he had kept to the letter of his oath."
- 9 Aug. 2004 Evening Standard (London) review of Marozzi's Tamerlane
- Baghdad: 90,000
- Isfahan: 70,000
- outside Aleppo: 20,000
- Delhi: more than 100,000 executions
- The (London) Independent (1 June 1998): 5M k. in 6 mos. in 1398 in India
- Delhi (1398)
The Rehabilitation Of Tamerlane
January 17, 1999|By Colin McMahon. Colin McMahon is the Tribune's Moscow correspondent.
SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan — The first picture in the book "Amir Temur in World History" does not show Amir Temur, the legendary Central Asian warlord known in the West as Tamerlane. Nor does the second. Nor the third.
In fact, none of the opening photos of this government-approved hero-ography features the image of the 14th Century conqueror. Instead, they show the current president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov.
At first blush, Tamerlane and Karimov hardly make a natural pair. One was a nomadic adventurer and empire builder, not to mention a frightful butcher. The other is a former Communist Party climber described as cautious and pragmatic.
Yet Tamerlane serves Karimov today as a kind of poster boy for unbending leadership. And both men are riding high.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Tamerlane has been rehabilitated as a symbol of Uzbek pride, never mind that he was not Uzbek but a Mongol Turk. The nation is counseled to turn to him for inspiration, almost paradoxically, even as it struggles to build a modern economy, a civil society and a political system with a whiff of democracy about it.
Monuments honor Tamerlane in the Silk Road city of Samarkand, where his tomb is a tourist draw. In Tashkent, in a spot where a statue of Karl Marx once stood, a somewhat European-looking Tamerlane sits on a very European-looking horse. A gleaming museum, built in record time by three shifts working around the clock, propagates the Tamerlane myth.
Karimov, meanwhile, is always somewhere in the picture, his wisdom and image sharing space with Tamerlane's.
"If somebody wants to understand who the Uzbeks are," Karimov said in words immortalized on the Tashkent museum walls, "if somebody wants to comprehend all the power, might, justice and unlimited abilities of the Uzbek people, their contribution to the global development, their belief in the future, he should recall the image of Amir Temur."
What image depends on who does the recalling.
Amir Temur was born April 8, 1336, near Kesh, what is now Shahrisabz in southeastern Uzbekistan. His father and grandfather were devout Muslims, and at an early age, he was sent to religious school.
The history that follows is more open to interpretation.
Many independent scholars see in Tamerlane a lust for power, conquest and blood. They point not only to Tamerlane's remarkable military campaigns and an estimated death toll of as many as 17 million people but also to his words.
"The inhabited quarter of the world isn't such a place that two men can claim," Tamerlane is said to have said. "The only creator of the world is God, so there should be only one king in the world."
The Tamerlane coffee-table book counters reassuringly that its hero "had no intention to take possession of the world." His subjugation of what are now Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, southern Russia, Syria, India and elsewhere, like his final, unrealized campaign to China that ended with his death in 1405, were driven mostly by a desire to help the oppressed and build civilizations, the book claims.
The book indicates he was also a great thinker (experts say he probably was illiterate), and a pocket version of "The Utterances of Amir Temur" (with, naturally, an introduction by Karimov) collects his wisdom along the lines of Mao Tse-tung's Little Red Book.
"In ruling the country, I was guided by gentleness, goodwill and patience," is one utterance.
The dead of Baghdad, whose skulls were built into pyramids by Tamerlane's soldiers as a message to other future subjects, might have quibbled. So too the Indians. Tamerlane's armies massacred much of the population when they took Delhi in 1398, but in the coffee-table book, the India campaign is said merely to have been "full of adventures."
If Tamerlane's ways are sometimes misunderstood, if his excesses exaggerated, Karimov says he can relate.
The Uzbek political opposition has been whittled to irrelevancy through harassment, repression and media censorship. Devout Muslims are detained or jailed without charges amid a campaign that Karimov says is aimed at controlling Islamic fundamentalism.
Karimov scrapped the last presidential election by putting forth a referendum proposal to extend his term. He got 99 percent of the vote in favor, and here is why: Those who wanted to support the president merely had to turn in their ballots unmarked. Those voting against the proposal were made to take a ballot from government officials supervising the vote, then go into a special "no" booth to mark the sheet. There were few takers.
Karimov dismisses complaints. His heavy hand, he says, is employed to ensure economic justice and to pave the way for democracy.
"I understand that some forces are anxious to present Karimov as a dictator," he said. "I agree that some of my actions seem authoritarian. But I can easily explain this:
"In historic periods, especially when a people attains statehood or in transition periods from one system to another, a strong executive power is indispensable. It is necessary to avoid confrontations and bloodshed."
Tamerlane knew about historic periods, about strong executive power, about bloodshed. Despite suffering battle wounds--his name in the West comes from Temur the Lame--he built a vast empire encompassing competing ethnic groups and warring khans and emirs.
He also forcibly gathered the best architectural and design talent of the time to turn Samarkand into a treasure. Its mosques remain a marvel, as does the Tamerlane mausoleum.
Nearby is a huge monument of Tamerlane seated on a throne. In a city thousands of years old, in a land where most traditions date back centuries, a new custom has been born.
Newlyweds and their wedding parties gather at the site for photos, taking turns in groups to huddle at Tamerlane's knee and smile for the camera.