Tamerlane, or Timur Leng (the Lame), (1336?–1405), a Moslem Tatar chieftain. Tamerlane established an empire in the 14th century by reuniting fragments of the Mongol empire through a series of conquests in western Asia. He was born in the khanate of Jagatai (Russian Turkestan), one of the divisions of the former empire. In 1346 the Turkestan aristocracy to which he belonged freed itself from the rule of its hereditary khan. In 1370 Tamerlane made himself ruler, with his capital at Samarkand. He began at once to extend his authority by force to other divisions of the former empire, accomplishing his conquests with the utmost savagery and destructiveness.

In 1391, after his conquest of Persia, Tamerlane invaded southern Russia, where he defeated the Khanate of the Golden Horde but did not penetrate as far as the Principality of Muscovy (Moscow). He invaded northern India in 1398 and ravaged Delhi. He also attacked Syria, sacking Aleppo and Damascus in 1400. In 1402 he invaded Asia Minor, defeated the Ottoman Turks at Ankara, and then marched to the Aegean Sea. Tamerlane died in 1405 while preparing a campaign against China. He was buried in Samarkand.

Tamerlane had not set up civil governments in any of his conquered territories, so they quickly reestablished their independence. His heirs, the Timurids, continued to rule in Turkestan and later founded the Mogul Empire in India.