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On this day in 1405 A.D., one of history's most effective, vicious and unlikely conquerors died of overwork. He was one of a succession of Mongol warriors (and claimed to be a descendant of Genghis Khan). He began by conquering his native land, the Russian Republic we now call Uzbekistan (if you don't have a map handy it used to be called Transoxiana or more recently Soviet
Turkmenistan....there, now that its location is clear in your head let's go on).
Once he got control of the old neighborhood, he set up a capital (Samarkand....maybe you heard). He then set about overrunning and plundering all the neighboring areas. In the next 30 years, he conquered over 1/4 of the earth.
But then like most successful folks he had a system. His system was to show up at the gates of your town (with da boys) and announce - "Surrender and you may live…..Oppose me and all will die…..for each moment you take to decide I will behead ten villagers at random".....It was a remarkably effective system. And....if some folks seemed indecisive, he would build a pyramid of their skulls along the nearest trade route. Even without electronic super-highways, the message seemed to get around.
On this day in 1405 A.D., as he was planning to overrun China, exhausted, he fell ill and died. In a terrified Europe, this Mongol Hero Solider was "Tamerlane." Some think this was just a bad translation of his name among his own people....he was "Timur the Lame." He was handicapped from birth and often had to be carried on a platform into battle. In an age when the strongest, ablest and most powerful ruled....this barely educated genius used his mind not his body to rise to the top. We assume that's the last time something like that happened.
Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.