Central Asia

  • Jalal al-Din Rumi

    The latest news is that Beyoncé named one of her new babies after a Persian poet.  Everyone is abuzz with discussions of who this man was and what exactly this means.  Although the poetry was written in the 13th century, it has gathered popularity in the west beginning in the early 21st century.  So who was Jalal al-Din Rumi? Jalal al-Din Rumi was born September 30, 1207 in the city of Balkh, which is is in present day Afghanistan.  He lived with his family on this far eastern edge of the Persian Empire, and was raised in the tradition of his family as an Islamic jurist.  His father Baha ud-Din…

  • Tamar of Georgia-  Queen of Kings

    Despite the name, I am not talking about the state in the Southern United States.  There is a whole other country coincidentally called Georgia located on the Black Sea near Turkey.  The name “Georgia” is probably a corruption of the Persian name for the people there, gurğān.  There is also a theory put out there that the people loved the legend of St. George and the Dragon.  In any case, they were devoutly Orthodox Christian country with a reputation for being fierce warriors.  Their rulers also claimed to be descended from King David, the second king of Israel.  Yes, that David. Tamar was born in 1166 CE to King Georgi…

  • The Battle of Karansebes

    They say that ultimately someone can be their own worst enemy.  This is definitely the case for the Austrians in this battle. It was 1788 and Austria was at war with the Ottoman Empire.  At stake was control of the Danube River.  At the same time, the Ottoman Empire was fighting the Russians the same time.  All these people that hated the Ottoman Empire got together and became allies.  Great, right?  Well, no.  It was kind of Tower of Babel situation as the allied army had Austrians, Czechs, Germans, French, Serbs, Croats and Polish soldiers and commanders.  It was a communications nightmare and a disaster waiting to happen.  This even…

  • Timurlane

    After the death of Genghis Khan, the Mongol Empire had fragmented into separate khanates as his descendants squabbled amongst themselves.  The empire he built was too big for any of them to rule, so it was split into pieces and divided between them.  The northwestern portion was called Golden Horde, and by 1336 the majority of it was ruled by Sultan Mohammed Oz Beg.  His domain ran from Moscow to the Aral Sea and his capital was Sarai. Also in 1336, a son was born to a Turco-Mongol tribal leader of the Barlas in Transoxiana.  Transoxiana is located at the edge of the mountains just south of the beautiful city…

  • Genghis Khan in Khwarizm-  The Flail of God

    By 1218, Genghis Khan had united the Mongols and together they had conquered northern China.  The had expanded westward as well by conquering Kara-Khitai and were collecting tribute from Korea.  They first encountered the Empire of Khorezm, which extended from the Aral Sea to the Persian Gulf in one direction and from Iraq to India in the other.  The Empire was led by the Shah Ala ad-Din Mohammed II. He also had designs of China, and was miffed the Mongols had gotten their first. As the way of things, envoys met and exchanged expensive gifts.  The Mongols sent   jade, ivory, gold, cloaks of rare white camel wool to Samarkand, the…