Tamerlane, Knights of

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Foundation: 1759-date
Capital: Bukara in Turkmen
Religion: Sunni Islam

By Martin Helsdon


The Knights of Tamerlane (also known as the Grivpani i’ Timurlenk) were formed from the wreckage of the Shahdom of Iran as an Islamic military order to support and strengthen the Islamic world.

The History:

Still to be written

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1759 – 1760 T215
Baluchistan: The Baluchistanis, meantime, had punched into Punjab and found the province defended by a very strong Iranian garrison – and one which now found itself on its own, as the Iranian shah had abdicated his throne. Sadly, no matter how strong their fortified cantonments were, barely three thousand Iranians just could not withstand the fierce assaults of 24,000 Baluchis.

Afghanistan: For his part, Ahmad Durrani had been very, very careful to keep out of the wars in India. His mountain kingdom was more than enough trouble for him – what with the feuding clans and the restive Hazaras and the Persian refugees and all of the strange religious groups creeping from cave to cave in the mountains. He had, however, joined the various kings and shahs of Persia, Iran and Prester John in settling the matter of Al’Qadir and his fate by establishing the Knights of Tamerlane.

In the south, meanwhile, Akhmed Bahulan and the Royal Army had marched out of the hills and into Carmania – all ready and willing to shoot it up – and found the Iranians waiting for them with a key to the city. Having turned over the province, the Iranians (now Knights of Tamerlane) rode off to the north to their new fortress near Bukhara.

Near Bokhara, Central Asia: Bukharm waited on his horse in the morning’s building dawn. A strong, melodic voice called the faithful to prayer in the mosque across the square that sat outside the old walls of the city, ancient walls that predated these difficult times. Pensive, he reflected on the recent years, the civil war and his father’s unshakeable fascination with India. “A new Moghul Empire,” Al'Qadir had promised. No dawn that dream; more like a sunset. No, thought Bukharm, a nightmare.

A cacophony of hooves yanked his attention back to the empty square. Riders, numbered to match his own bodyguards, carefully filled the far end of the square, eyes darting rapidly and alertly about the structure. Bahram followed them in and the two sovereigns approached one another, stopping by a fountain near the center of the structure. All others had been blocked from the market this morning. The two men greeted each other, warmly, but guardedly.

“Peace be upon you,” Bukharm mouthed ritualistically. Bahram paused and arched an eyebrow.

“Peace,” he repeated, a speculative tone belying his thoughts. “Will there be peace for Iran?”

He gets to the point quickly, mused Bukharm. But he said nothing. What he could say about that question was still terribly unclear. Iran’s prospects for retaining, really regaining, any control in the cesspool that was India seemed remote, at best. No one had suggested testing Persia, who had begun to grow strong again, even as Iran’s empire in India had crumbled under the impossible weight of the Indian dream. Besides, few could even remember the reasons for the war in the first place.

The sound of the morning prayers from the nearby mosque saved him from trying to provide an answer he did not possess. “It’s time,” he said, glancing at the now clear Eastern horizon. Bahram nodded agreement, and each man drew a rug from his horse’s riding gear and spread it on the ground, facing west and a bit south. Side by side, they knelt and prayed the ritual prayers near the gurgling fountain. As they finished, Bukharm was ready for what he was certain would come next. He can only want to discuss reconciliation. Bukharm wondered if should have come; he was not ready to stop being a Shah.

“What will it be, back into India?” asked Bahram, although his eyes betrayed that he knew the answer already. Clumsy, though Bukharm, he never did have the polish of a true diplomat. Still, Bukharm could not help find himself amused by, and even drawn to, the energetic young Shah: his face never failed to speak volumes, and he was difficult to dislike. Bukharm had known the younger King at court, then a prince, years before the war. Even then, mused Bukharm, he charmed them all.

“You have a better idea?”

“Few good choices seem to be available to you,” responded Bahram carefully. “You’re considering Africa, no doubt,” he dangled the hook. Bukharm’s silence was cut by an appraising look. “Yes, I agree,” said Bahram. “You think India was a powder keg? Just give Africa a try!”

“Fah! I’ve told my advisors the same thing a dozen times. They’re fools to look there for our future.”

The two Shahs walked through the East arch of the square, serious riders securing the path ahead of them.

“It all seems a waste to me,” offered Bahram. “Chopped to bits in India, or Africa, or even Asia. To what end? What will men say about you, about Iran? That you died for pride?”

“But still an independent country!” shot back Bukharm. “Not one that went crawling back to Persia, begging to be taken back or protected!”

“We both know the time for that is past. Iran has a life of its own, now, however little is left of it. But we are all Persians at heart. All Muslims. Can we not find important work to be done?”

“What, the Hussites?” Bukharm spat Hussites as if it were the foulest profanity ever to issue from the mouth of Shaitan.

“Are the Hussites really our most important work?” Bahram shot back disdainfully. “Can you name even one Hussite nation that you have reason to fear today? No, not a single one,” he continued artfully. “Besides, the Hussites still have an important part to play in the work ahead of us, and have yet to prove themselves to be our enemies.”

“But someday….” countered the older Shah, wearing his foresight on his sleeve. “They say they covet the lands between India and the Mediterranean. And India may yet be the launching point for such a move.”

“And you will forestall them by attacking them now?” Another meaningful pause emphasized Bahram’s point. “We must look to our own house, and let someday take care of itself. Look around us. To the West is the Union, from whom we must buy grain to feed our people.”

“Foul heretics.” Bukharm’s distaste was plain.

“Muslims, still…if barely,” Bahram reminded him. “More importantly, our lands are infested by those who practice abominations. Our ally in Europe has been cleaved in two, and asteroids shower the earth in fire and death. We cannot allow ourselves to bicker each other into oblivion, like the idiot Europeans. We must strengthen our own hand, be our own allies, and draw together the people of faith. We dare not repeat the mistakes of others.” Bahram could see his counterpart struggle with his reasoning. He sees the wisdom of this, if only he can let go of his hate, he noted, as they passed a stand of trees, a small mosque coming into sight before them.

“How do you propose to do this thing? This thing that has not been done in three and a half centuries of Persian history,” Bukharm reminded him, pointedly.

“Not me, brother. You.”

“How can the Shah of a bare two million accomplish all this?” Bukharm turned to look at Bahram, challenging his seemingly insane statement. The mosque was emptying, and the street, although remote, filled steadily with people. The privacy of their conversation, though, was guarded by the menacing stares of the dozens of elite horsemen who occupied the grounds.

“As a Shah, you can’t,” replied Bahram slowly. He paused to allow Bukharm a moment to gather himself. “But as a Prelate,” he went on, “as the leader of a Sunni order, with your army,“ he gestured at the elite Iranian riders, many of whom he’d known when they had guarded his family, “you could be a formidable tool of Allah. Measure that against the slow wasting, or the sudden violent death, of all Iran.” His stare glanced from Bukharm to his riders, and he could see that he was beginning to win them over, too.

Persia” he continued, “cannot do that, not alone. She can be the voice of Sunni Islam, as she has, but her hands are weighed down by the administration of government. You can be the free hand that advances our cause, and that binds together those of our faith in action, and that eventually bridges the gaps between us and our wayward brothers.” Bahram knew that his companion would understand: peaceful reconciliation between Sunni and the Shia…perhaps even the Kharadjites; it was crucial.

Bukharm paused, but Bahram saw in his eyes that his mind was made up. Bukharm knew that he was right: those eyes held a hope, a hope and a purpose that was not there before. He had not misjudged the character of this able and battle-scarred leader; he would rise to this occasion as any other great man of purpose and faith would. It would be a start. Bahram smiled a broad smile that broke down the last wall of reluctance in Bukharm’s heart.

“And what will we call this order of yours…of ours?” he corrected himself.

The mosque whose doorway they were now nearly standing in was small, and little known to those who lived in the city, now or in the past. It was not among the most beautiful in the city, nor the largest. Its tiles had long since faded from their original bright blue patterns, and many were missing, lending it a sad, scarred character. It had been built centuries before when the city was much smaller, and far from the city’s center. Its outside was unremarkable, except that it in the courtyard to the side of its humble arched entrance it kept a modest stone statue of the ruler to whom it had been dedicated so long ago. “I suggest,” said Bahram the Bold, Shah of Persia, indicating the statue with a sweep of his arm, “that we call it The Order of Tamerlane.”

The message was clear. The mission was bigger than Persia or Iran. It encompassed the soul of a whole people, the urgency of their survival and prosperity, and the legacy of the hundred thousand horsemen who had followed Tamerlane out of the steppes into the lush civilization of Persia centuries before, and in doing so had created a new order in the Middle East. Now the rich morning light seemed to breathe the appearance of renewal into the worn marble horse and rider. Bukharm Al’Qadir, Shah of Iran, studied the enormity of the mission that the grimacing, mounted stone Tamerlane laid before him…and with a moment’s hesitation, judged himself worthy of it. He signaled silently to his groom for his horse. “I’m going back to Al-Harkam. There’s much to do,” he said, without fully recognizing the prophecy of his words.

Bahram nodded, and reached for his own mount. Much to do, indeed.

Knights of Tamerlane: Bukharm accepted his fate, bitter though it seemed, and turned his face to the future.

In this late hour, I realize that holding together the Shahdom of Iran is hopeless. The Hussite Kingdom of Baluchistan cannot be held, and my remaining provinces are too weak to stand alone.
Throughout the lands, memory of the civil war with Persia grows dim, hastened by Persia’s recent aid, both that which was visible and that which was not. Bahram’s emmisaries have told me also of Bahram’s lament of the failed experiment in India. They say he laments the loss of good Persian blood, which has been shed too easily and too often in recent decades.
What future is left for Iran? The dark continent of Africa offers few prospects for my people and little reward for my armies. India is a dark hole into which blood and gold seem to endlessly fall. All that is left is our faith, so it is there we must turn. With my lieutenants, I shall form a holy order. The Knights of the Islamic Order of Tamerlane. There is much good work to be done.
Riders approach, bringing word from the far reaches of the Islamic world. Persia and Prester John will help found the order, and Tewfik sends word of its recognition of the order and welcome gold.
Then it is done. I shall renounce my crown and go forth with my faithful elite, trusted advisors, beaurocrats, and a cadre of intelligence agents and spies to a Sunni stronghold deep in Central Asian Persia. There my men and I will find purpose, for there is much that needs to be done.

After much discussion among the Iranian lords and holy men in attendance upon the shah, the following tenets were adopted for the Order of the Timurhadeen:

1) To be the caretakers of the Sunni faith and protectors of the welfare of Sunni people
2) Serve the Light and protect it from abominations
3) Advance the just causes of peace and prosperity throughout Islam and the Middle East
4) Form a bridge between Sunni and Shia, seeking eventual reconciliation between the two sects

The Timurhadeen resolved to observe the rights of any non-heretical strain of Islam in a country recognizing the Order. They foreswore seeking to sow discord between Sunni and Shia, but rather to seek reconciliation. Agreements were struck to return the province of Bandar and the city of Ormuz to Persia, while Carmania and Al-Harkam were granted to Afghanistan.

Bukharm marched his remaining troops north, into the heart of Persia, where a great estate had been granted by the Safavid Shah to house the knights near Bukhara. Mahmoud al’Basrah and Subir Al’Jawzi remained prisoners of the Hussites in Multan. Indeed, al’Jawzi did not last out ’59, dying of pneumonia in a dirty cell.

Other allotments and gifts were made by the rulers of Persia, Afghanistan, the House of Tewfik and Prester John, including lands and revenues in Samarkhand, Merv, Kophat Dagh, Rayy, Khiva, Dzambul, Ufra, Tabaristan, Transoxania, Bokhara and Sinkiang.

Tewfik: Hoping to foster peace in the region (ah, what folly!) the House contributed a substantial amount to the formation of the Knights of Tamerlane.

Safavid Persia: The Iranians slunk home, tails between their legs, and set up shop in the old capital at Burkhara.

1761 – 1762 T216
Knights of Tamerlane: Diplomacy Ahvaz (^oh), Kashgar (^oh), Khwarzim (ˇun)
Hat in hand, Bukharm abased himself before the Persian Finance Ministry, and was rewarded with enough coin to keep his pilgrim-knights in shoes, prayer mats and hummus for another year or two. The turn of circumstance was galling in the extreme, but there was Allah’s will to be done and that made things a little more palatable. A little.

A haggard rider arrived from the east, bearing news from the deserts on the edge of ancient Chin. The Grand Master listened politely – his heart moved by the plight of the Gurvanites in their long struggle against the infidel Christians who dominated the Middle Kingdom – but knew the order was still too poor and weak to venture jihad against Judea. Not yet, at any rate.

Poor Mahmoud al’Basrah continued to languish in a Baluchi prison. Hahmad bin Subir (a recently elevated commander in the Order) was dispatched to Khwarzim to establish a greater presence there. Unfortunately for the Knights, no sooner than Hahmad had arrived than violence broke out in the city between certain Ismali’i adherents and the Knights. The Knights responded vigorously, knocking down many doors, arresting all the Ismali’i followers they could find and generally wrecking things. Though they were successful, they also cost themselves the good will of the citizens.

In the east, Giv Gudarz led most of the Knights themselves in a foray up the valleys of Ferghana, where they smacked around the local princes, shot up some houses, arrested random people and then released them and forced the local villages to pay them tribute.

1763 – 1764 T217
Kingdom of the Kushans: The meddling of the Kushans in Ferghana resulted in the temporary conquest of the Grivpani i’ Tamerlane being overthrown – particularly as the Grivpani had marched away to fight evil somewhere else.

Grivpani i’ Timurlenk: Diplomacy Kara-Khitai (^oh), Abadan (^oh), Turkmen (^oh)
A pittance from the hand of the Safavid padishah kept the Grivpani in barley-meal and oats for their horses – a strict life which, surprisingly they found most amenable. “The knowledge of Allah,” Bukharm said, sitting on a dirt floor in a hut in rural Kara-khitai, “is honed by want.” Despite their poverty, Giv Gudarz was dispatched to the east with a string of mules laden with gold to aid the Queen of Prester John in her struggle against the Ice tribes.

The Grand Master also turned his attention to the west, where the expansion of the Orangists out from the stronghold at Holy Mecca had set the entire Moslem world on edge. A number of the Grivpani were dispatched to go among the tribes of Araby, reminding them not to embrace this strange, ill-understood faith which pretended to succeed Islam as Islam had succeeded Christianity and Judaism.

1765 – 1766 T218
Grivpani i’ Timurlenk: Diplomacy Bokhara (^op)
Efforts by the Knights to forestall steadily rising Karidjite influence in Abadan failed miserably, as the Marsh Arabs were a queer lot of Sixth-generation Polynesians, outlaw Iraqis and expatriate Persians who really didn’t like the ‘highlanders’.

Safavid Persia: Unrest continued to plague the Mesopotamian borders of the realm, with more Karidjites creeping through the frontier (despite the efforts of the Grivpani and the Safavid authorities to turn them back).

1767 – 1768 T219
Grivpani i’ Timurlenk: Diplomacy Abadan (^op)
Monies at last began to flow into the hands of the Grivpani, letting them establish themselves. Rumors of war and turmoil echoed out of the east and Bukharm had a good hearty laugh at the failure of the Baluchis to fend off the Great Prince of Astakana. (That the Hindu army was well-equipped with Persian artillery was a delightful coincidence not lost upon the Grand Master.)

Tewfik: While the House was open-handed on one part – providing the Grivpani with large sums of money in exchange for the Knights protecting their far-flung mercantile interests – Saul also made sure to garner up every kind of money-making venture he could lay hands on.

1769–1770 T220
Grivpani i’ Timurlenk: Diplomacy Kara-Khitai (^op)
Despite their overwhelming pride (were they not the Light of the Aryans, blessed of the world?) the Grivpani had their hands out to all suitors. Bukharm needed gold to feed his horses, clothe his men, pay for rifles and artillery for his regiments.

Grand Masters of the Tamerhadeen

  • Bukharm Al’Qadir 1759-date

The Players

  • Keith Trinkle T215-date

Last updated 6 January 2005

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