Siege of Yazd, 1396

The siege of Yazd (1396) saw an army led by two of Tamerlane's grandsons defeat a rebellion centred on the city of Yazd and ended with a rare example of clemency on the part of Tamerlane.

The city of Yazd is around 175 miles to the south-east of Isfahan, and in 1396 was governed by Temouke Coutchin. In the aftermath of Tamerlane's successful campaign against the Golden Horde, Temouke left the city to visit the Imperial court, leaving a lieutenant in command of the city.

The rebellion was led by Sultan Mehemet, son of Abousaid Tebesi, and involved some troops from Khurasasn who had formerly been employed by the Muzaffarids. The rebellion got off to a promising start. Temouke's lieutenant was killed, and two year's worth of revenue from the province was captured, as were some goods heading for the Empress. Mehemet used some of these goods to make cloths for his expanding little army.

The rebellion was serious enough to attract the attention of Pir Mohammed, son of Omar Shaykh (Tamerlane's second son), and governor of Fars. He led his army from Shiraz towards Yazd, and was joined by other armies from neighbouring provinces. This combined army was able to restore order around Yazd and force the rebels back into the city, where they were besieged.

When Tamerlane learnt about the rebellion he sent a second army under the command of Pir Mohammed (the son of Jahangir, his first son) to conduct the siege. When this army arrived at Yazd it received orders to take its horses to pasture around Isfahan and return on foot to conduct the siege itself.

According to the Zafarnama (Book of Victory) of Sharaf ad-din Ali Yazdi Pir Mohammed conducted a vigorous siege, carrying out assaults each day, but the city held out. Eventually it was starvation that ended the siege. 30,000 people died of starvation, and the defenders were in such a poor state that they dug a tunnel under the town's ditch and attempted to escape.

Pir Mohammed's men spotted the fleeing rebels, and pursued them, catching them at the town of Esfarayan. The rebel leader was killed, while his supporters were either cut in pieces or burnt alive.

The inhabitants of Yazd were treated remarkably leniently, apparently because Tamerlane believed that they had had no part in the rebellion. The army was forbidden to hurt or pillage the inhabitants, and Temouke Coutchin was ordered to go into the city to prevent the soldiers from ignoring this order. The two years worth of revenues seized by the rebels were written off, and Tamerlane ordered his officers to help restore the city, which had lost most of its inhabitants and all of its houses.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 August 2010), Siege of Yazd, 1396 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_yazd.html

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