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Tokhtamysh–Timur war
Statue of Timur in Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan
Date1380s and early 1390s
LocationCaucasus mountains, Turkistan and Eastern Europe.
Result Timurid victory
Golden Horde flag 1339.svgGolden Horde Timurid.svg Timurid dynasty
Commanders and leaders
Golden Horde flag 1339.svgKhan Tokhtamysh Timurid.svgEmir Timur

The Tokhtamysh–Timur war was fought in the 1380s and early 1390s between Tokhtamysh, khan of the Golden Horde and the Mongol warlord and conqueror Timur, in the areas of the Caucasus mountains, Turkistan and Eastern Europe. The battle between the two Mongol rulers played a key role in the decline of the Mongol power over early Russian principalities.


In the late 1370s and early 1380s, Timur helped Tokhtamysh to assume supreme power in the White Horde against Tokhtamysh's uncle Urus Khan. After this he united the White and Blue Hordes, forming the Golden Horde, and launched a massive military punitive campaign against the Russian principalities between 1381 and 1382, restoring the Turko(tartar)Mongol power in Russia after the defeat in the Battle of Kulikovo. The Golden Horde, after a period of anarchy between early 1360s and late 1370s, passed for a briefly reestablishing as a dominant regional power, defeating Lithuania in Poltava around 1383. But Tokhtamysh had territorial ambitions in Persia and Central Asia, and on account of this he turned against his old ally, Timur.

The war

Timur's movements, 1391-1392.

After the death of Abu Sa'id in 1335, the last ruler of the Ilkhanid Dynasty, a power vacuum emerged in Persia. Persia's vulnerability led to military incursions from Persia's neighbours. In 1383 Timur started his military conquest of that country. In 1385 he captured Herat, Khorasan and all of eastern Persia. In the same year Tokhtamysh raided Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran. The city of Tabriz was plundered and Tokhtamysh could retire with a rich booty.

Timur's movements, 1392-1396.

Between 1389 and 1391, Timur and Tokhtamysh started fighting, with the Battle of the Kondurcha River awarding victory to Timur. Despite the setback, Tokhtamysh recovered his position and in the spring of 1395 raided the Timurid territory of Shirvan. Timur then counter-attacked, reconquering the area and raiding the Golden Horde's territories. He decisively routed Tokhtamysh in the Battle of the Terek river on April 15, 1395. In the same year Timur also plundered Sarai, Ukek, Majar, Azaq and burnt Astrakhan.


Emir Timur defeats the Golden Horde and its Kipchak warriors led by Tokhtamysh.

After his resounding defeat in the Battle of the Terek River, Tokhtamysh was deposed and replaced by Edigu, fleeing to the Ukrainian steppes and asking for help from Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania. The two combined their forces in the Battle of the Vorskla River in 1399, but were defeated and annihilated by Khan Temur Qutlugh and Edigu, two of Timur's generals. Around 1406 Tokhtamysh was killed in Siberia by Edigu's men; in turn, Edigu would be slain thirteen years later by one of Tokhtamysh's sons. The Golden Horde never recovered from this war. In the middle of the 15th century, it fragmented in smaller khanates: the Kazan khanate, Nogai Horde, Qasim Khanate, Crimean Khanate and Astrakhan Khanate. Thus Tatar-Mongol power in Russia was weakened and in 1480 the 'Tatar yoke' over Russia, a reminder of the bloody Mongol conquest, was definitively shaken in the Great standing on the Ugra River. The last remnant of the Golden Horde was destroyed by the Crimean Khanate in 1502, and the Khanates that arose after the Golden Horde's fragmentation were annexed by Muscovite Russia between the 1550s and early 17th century, except the Crimean Khanate which survived until 1783, under Ottoman protection.


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  • Marozzi, Justin (2004). Tamerlane Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-711611-X. 
  • Hookham, Hilda (1962). Tamburlaine the Conqueror. Hodder and Stoughton. 

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