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Forum LockedWhat if Tamerlane lived long enough to invade China as his plan?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Conan the destroyer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Dec-2005 at 22:03

Originally posted by erwin erwin wrote:

I think Timur would have conquered Beijing. His army was the best in the world of his time. He had even defeated the "Sword of Islam", the Osman sultan Bajazid I in the famous battle of Ankara. He had no enemy left on his way to become self-proclaimed Conqueror of the World (see his personal emblem, the three circles in a triangle, representing the three know continents), except the Ming Emperor. Sure Ming China was s formidable enemy. But numbers, which favoured China, do not always matter. Military prowess are as important. See WW II. Anyway there exist many parallels between Timur and Hitler. I think the "Battle of Beijing" would have been a major battle of world military history. Not only by numbers: 200.000 well-trained Turkic warriors (plus satellites) against 900.000 less-well trained Chinese warriors. Both sides had at their disposal cannons. It would have been highly interesting to see how the two sides used them. After defeat, the Ming emperor would have withdrawn to the south. Maybe Timur would have been content with pillaging Beijing as he did with Delhi. But maybe he would have tried to restore the Mongol Yuan dynasty in China. He saw himself as Genghis Khan's heir. He may have tried to push south. But the Ming emperor had a counter strategy. Possibly the greatest strategy of whole human military history. Who wants to guess?

What do you mean "less well trained Chinese army?"

During the Yongle reign, three training camps were set up to train infantry, cavalry (using Mongolian instructors) and artillery. Plus, how would 200.000 warriors succesfully siege a city with 900.000 defenders?  

Timur had superior cavalry, but all things considered the Chinese would have a decisive advantage. unlike during the earlier Mongol invasions, the great wall was in full operation, and was guarded with a variety of cannons, including five heavy bombards placed at each frontier pass. In addition, Yongle and his generals had extensive experience fighting nomad-type cavalry.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BigL Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 03:45
not to mention that the mings army was 90 percent gunpowder based
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote poirot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 13:15

Ok, here is my take on this situation:

Timur missed the best time to attack China.  Three years prior to his campaign, China was in the process of civil war, with Zhu Di (the later Yongle Emperor) commanding his Northern armies South to take the Southern capital Nanjing, against his nephew, who was emperor at the time.  Zhu Di eventually won the civil war, but I can imagine the damage that Timur would be able to do to disrupt the Ming if he started three years in advance.

I have no doubt about the ferocity of Timur and believe that he is a good warrior.  I would place my bets on Timur if his army and the Ming army met somewhere in central Asia.

However, for an invasion of China, the situation would be different, due to logistical reasons.  The Ming Empire under Yongle Emperor was at its height and its armies had plenty of experience fighting against Mongols in the campaigns into Mongolia during the latter years of the 1300s.  After a century of Mongol rule, the Chinese population was extremely hostile against foreigners, especially Mongols and Persians.  Remember that it took the Mongols 40 years to take over the Song Dynasty in Southern China, and that the Song army was much. much weaker than the Ming army. 

Thus, my conclusion:

Phase 1

A. Timur would use his strengths to seriously damage the Ming Chinese garrisons and border troops in the west

B. Timur woud lay seige to a couple of cities in the western border of the Ming state, taking his time to rape and plunder

C. The Mongols would probably ally with Timur and lead an expedition south of the Gobi Desert

Phase 2

D. Emperor Yongle's strengths lay in the North (he was Prince of Yan and consolidated his power in the North), so he would not have too much trouble rallying his personal troops against the Mongols.  Yongle was a fierce commander who excelled in cavalry warfare.  He would either slaughter Mongols, scare them North, or sign a secret treaty with them.  (I am not exaggerating Yongle's ability and aggressiveness - the man could be as bloodthirsty as Timur at times.  If Timur is compared to Hitler, then Yongle would be compared to Stalin.  Yongle was above all a militant leader who excelled in killing, and was noted for his love of the martial arts.  As Prince of Yan, he was posted in Beijing for years to counter Mongols, and had personal experience fighting in cavalry warfare.)

E. Timur would rely on his blood and iron tactics to gobble up all the lands west of Tongguan Pass.  More rape and plunder follows.

F. The Chinese generals hold Tongguan Pass and Hanzhong, taking advantage of the mountaineous terrain.  Timur's cavalry would become useless at the chokepoints, and any further advance would result in falling into well laid traps.  Chinese reinforcements from the Southern and Eastern provinces would come to aid, barracading Tamerlane and preparing to launch a counter-offensive.

Phase 3.

G. Timur would realize that he had reached the extent of his campaign. He would be faced with three choices

1. Include the newly conquered western Chinese provinces into his empire, like the Mongols 

2.  Set up a vassal/puppet state under the nominial rule of a Chinese governor 

3. Rape, pillage, and plunder as much as he could and return to Samarkand with his loot.

If he chose 1, the populance would soon revolt due to widespread hatred of Mongol/Persian/Turkic rule, with the help of a strong, militarily versatile Ming Empire.

If he chose 2, the new vassal state would either declare independence or, most likely, be annexed back into the Ming.

The most logical choice would be 3.  Tamerlane would gain most by plundering while the Chinese troops are still in defensive stance and then withdrawing to Samarkand, becoming the richest man in the world and avoiding major losses to his troops.  The western borders of Ming China would be ravaged again on the way back.  It would take years for recovery and thus Tamerlane would secure his monopoly of the Silk Road.

Strategically, Tamerlane would win most if he attacked China, plundered, and swiftly returned to Samarkand before a counter-offensive of the Ming army could be organized.

That is, provided Tamerlane did not die on the way there (which he did)

Sidenote: Any mention of a battle in Beijing is unrealistic unless Tamerlane forms an alliance with the Mongols.  Tamerlane's army is marching from west to east; that means travelling from the Tarim Basin to Gansu and then into the Guanzhong region west of Tongguan Pass.  To reach Beijing via the speedest route, Tamerlane would have to either ally with the Mongols or subdue the Mongols to bypass the Tongguan Pass and attack Beijing via Mongolia.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote poirot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 13:57

As a fun diversion, I played Genghis Khan IV when I was younger, and this is how Koei ranked Yongle and Tamerlane.  Then compare to how these two figures match up to Chingghis Khan and others according to Koei(a Japanese company, so no bias to either side).  Again, this is purely hypothetical and for entertainment purposes only.  The highest ranking in any category, politics, warfare, and intelligence, is 100.

Tamerlane: Politics->80   Warfare->98   Intelligence->91

Zhu Di or Yongle Emperor: Politics->84   Warfare->96   Intelligence->86

Bayzid, Ottoman Sultan: Politics->78  Warfare->85  Intelligence->77

Chingghis Khan: Politics->80   Warfare->97   Intelligence->92

Khublai Khan: Politics->87  Warfare->84  Intelligence->85

Hulegu Khan: Politics-> 78  Warfare->86  Intelligence->83

Subotai: Politics->upper 50s  Warfare->93  Intelligence->not sure

Jebe: Politics->mid 50s  Warfare->92  Intelligence->81

Muquali:  Politics->78  Warfare->91  Intelligence->82

Jalal-ad-Din: Politics->don't remember  Warfare->85  Intelligence->not sure

Richard I the Lionheart: Politics->upper 40s  Warfare->98  Intelligence->85

Saladin: Politics->78  Warfare->91  Intelligence->85

Baybars: Politics->78  Warfare->94  Intelligence->82

Frederick II: Politics->77  Warfare->72  Intelligence->100

William Wallace(haha):  Politics->upper 40s  Warfare->94  Intelligence->92

Edward the Black Prince: Politics-> upper 50s  Warfare->95  Intelligence->not sure

Zhu Yuanzhang (Yongle's father and first Ming Emperor): Politics->91  Warfare->72  Intelligence->92

Hsu Da, Ming general: Politics->65  Warfare->90  Intelligence->85

Zheng He, Ming Admiral and envoy:  Politics->78  Warfare->87  Intelligence->85

 

 

Simply ranking warfare, these figures ranked highest:

1. Tamerlane, Richard I ->98

2. Chingghis Khan ->97

3. Zhu Di or Yongle ->96

4. Edward the Black Prince -> 95

5. Baybars, Willl Wallace(too much Braveheart!) ->94

6. Subotai->93

7. Jebe->92

8. Muquali, Saladin ->91

9. Hsu Da -> 90



Edited by poirot
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vulkan02 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 19:03
Nice analysis....i was honestly thinking something of the sort would probably happen as well. The population in Western china would be devastated by Timur. Does anyone know how many people were living under Yong Le's rule??
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote poirot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 20:17

Originally posted by Temujin Temujin wrote:

personally, i would like to imagine that Timurs China-campaign would have looked similar to Napoleons Russian campaign

I agree to an extent, but I would say Hitler's Operation Barbarossa is even more appropriate.  A quick advance, followed by an extruciating standstill, and followed by inevitable defeat and retreat.  The extent of Timur's conquest of Ming China will be around 1/8 of the Ming Empire, meaning the northwestern provinces of Gansu and Shannxi. 

Timur will quickly conquer all lands west of Tongguan Pass and North of Hanzhong.  After that it will be a standstill, before the eventual Ming counterattack.  In terms of field battle, Timur has the upper hand.  However, Timur will be fighting in a foreign land, and the Ming has fortifications and gunpowder to its advantage.  Plus, this is a Ming military better geared towards cavalry warfare than its precedessors - only a decade ago, it sacked the Mongol heartland and almost captured the Mongol Khan.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Imperator Invictus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 23:35
Wow interesting stats. I wonder how  William Wallace got into a game about Genghis Khan. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote amherstsean Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Dec-2005 at 23:39

I am not very sure....looks there were more than 70,000,000 at the end of 14th century, you can get this from a history of chinese population numbers by a chinese historian called Ge, Jianxiong

Originally posted by vulkan02 vulkan02 wrote:

Nice analysis....i was honestly thinking something of the sort would probably happen as well. The population in Western china would be devastated by Timur. Does anyone know how many people were living under Yong Le's rule??



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote poirot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 00:57

Originally posted by Imperator Invictus Imperator Invictus wrote:

Wow interesting stats. I wonder how  William Wallace got into a game about Genghis Khan. 

You can play as England in this game.  In fact, you can play as any faction within the Eurasian continent. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Degredado Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Dec-2005 at 12:43
I don't think Timur would have managed it. The distances are just too daunting. And it wouldn't be just the chinese he would have to contend with either. Weren't there other peoples living between Timur's empire and China proper? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote erwin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Jan-2006 at 05:40

Firearms were not decisive weapons for victory until much later. And Tamerlane defeated quite a few powerful firearm-infantry based armies of the period, including those of Sultan Bayazit and those of the Delhi Sultanate.The decisive victorious weapons of the day still were the quick and enduring horses of the northern steppe and the Mongolian bow. But the real secret of Timurs military success was his composite army, consisting of light Mongolian and heavy Central Asian cavallery, Indian elephants, infantry, fire arms, although invented in China but improved in the 14th century in India, western Asia and Europe, and advanced western Asian besieging technology. Depending on the military situation in a battle Timur was able to use one or the other of these weapons to reach a decisive advantage (f.e. elephants against Bayazid). Alexander the Great before him and Napoleon after him followed the same rule.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ikki Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Jan-2006 at 06:01
Originally posted by erwin erwin wrote:

...
I think the chinese can fight against all those weapons, the chinese cavalry was not very far from the Timur cavalry, the siege weapons of China was powerful too and their infantry better. The only  problem  are the elephants, but,  are the elephants a problem? An animal that  run away if you shot to their eyes and hear other trumpets


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Qin Dynasty Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Jan-2006 at 09:23

Chinese army had lot of experience to fight those huge animals like elephant. Dated back to more than 1000 years before Ming dynasty, chinese army had yet encountered and defeated the elephant based vietnam or Yue troops in the South Asia and South east Asia.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote erwin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jan-2006 at 12:44
And what about the heavy cavalry, Timur's core troupes, and the light cavalry which the Yongle Emperor was so desperate to emulate? Concerning fire-arms I have read that although China had invented them, their use  rapidly spread to the west in the time of the Mongol Empire and was  improved there, i.e. in India, Syria, Iran but also Moscow and Europe. Continuous warfare in these countries provided strong selection pressure for improvement. This pressure probably was lower in China itself, the mother country of modern warfare.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Conan the destroyer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Jan-2006 at 13:58

Chinese firearm technology was improved in only Europe. One 16thc European observed that Iranian soldiers were so unfamiliar with firearms that they were "Afraid of artillery beyond measure" (source: Firearms: a Global History to 1700, Kenneth Chase) they never made any such observations about the Chinese. Indeed, Chinese firearm technology was only surpassed in Europe by the late 15th century.

On a sidenote, where are your sources?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote honeybee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jan-2006 at 15:08

Whats your prove that Timur's cavalry is superior to the Ming? Its not like Timur is a nomad, he is sedentary just like the Ming. So what is the prove that his cavalry are better? actually in equipment, Ming is far superior, they had much better armours and weapons, the MingGuan Jia is one of the best armours in the world. Ming cavalry had the heavy two handed shaft weapons that can cut down opponent's heavy cavalries.

Other than that, Timur's infantry is nothing close to the discipline and efficiency of the Ming, the Ming army is the best in both quality and quantity at that time, Timur's invasion would be a suicide, its like a mosquito trying to bite an elephant. The elephant will just step on it like nothing happened.

 

Timurs 200,000 cavalry will be utterly destroyed by the Ming's millions of men army, even if Zhu Di just brought 200,000 vs. 200,000 in a fair fight, Timur will still be defeated and run back to Persia, It would be lucky then that Zhu Di wouldn't pursue ainto his capital itself and make it into a prefecture.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Salazar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jan-2006 at 17:14

No way, Genghis had surprise and a weaker opponent.

At best his armies would have tired out sooner or later, the quality, numbers and home advantage of the Ming Army would have required constant tactical supremacy for several years in order to properly occupy China for generations to come. 

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