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A Fifteenth-Century Chinese Diplomat in Herat

  • Felicia J. Hecker

Extract

In 1405 Sino–Iranian relations hit a nadir. Tīmūr (1336?–1405), never one to bother with the niceties of diplomacy, had detained and executed Chinese ambassadors sent to his court by the Ming emperors Hung-wu (r. 1368–98) and Yung-lo (r. 1403–24) in 1395, 1402 and 1403, had amused himself by regularly insulting Emperor Hung-wu, publicly calling him the “Pig Emperor”, and had finally decided to invade China to claim it for himself and Islam. Fortunately, for all concerned, Tīmūr drank himself into a stupor on the night of 18 February 1405 and expired at his base camp at Utrār where his troops were assembling for their march to China. The Chinese campaign was immediately abandoned as succession suddenly became a more pressing matter. It would continue to occupy Timurid energies until 1411 when Tīmūr's fourth son, Shāhrukh (1377–1447) gained control of the empire.

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