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TUCEMEMS Monthly Talk: Global Politics in the 15th Century? Information on and Assessments of Tamerlane and His Sons by Latin European Powers

Welcome to the monthly talk organised by TUCEMEMS (Turku Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies). Dr. Felicitas Schmieder from Fernuniversität in Hagen, will give a talk about the relationship between Mongolian conquerors and Europe during the Late Middle Age.

Since in the 13th century the Latin European reaction on the Mongol empire building had resulted in a much deeper, actualized, and usable knowledge in Europe about the regions beyond the Holy Land and the Black Sea, this knowledge was used to plan cooperation against the Muslim enemies oppressing Christian Jerusalem. Around 1500, a new Muslim enemy, now threatening Christian lands within Europe (however you define it), had risen: the Ottoman Turks were successfully conquering the lands of the Byzantine Empire up to the gates of Constantinople itself. In that Moment, a new “Mongol” rose in their back when Timur lenk (Timur the lame, known in the Latin world henceforth as Tamerlane) took power in the region of modern Uzbekistan, of the trading cities of Samarkand and Buchara. Expanding to the West (as well as to the East) Timur beat the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid (who would, as a result, die) in the Battle of Ankara 1402 – postponing, as we know now, the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople for another half century. Timur died in 1405, his sons were much less successful, other powers took over in the back of the Ottomans: but as if reminded of their hopes from more than a century ago, Western powers kept contact, sent envoys, tried to plan globally – and Early modern Europe never forgot the legacy of Tamerlane.


Picture: Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons