Samarkand (Samarqand)

Samarqand was an urban city of Central Asia, more specifically located in modern day¬†Uzbekistan. The city was taken over in c. 1210 by the Khwarazmians. During this time, Chinggis was focused on China and had no desire to start a fight with Khwarazmians. At this time he pursued a working relationship, sending political envoys to Samarkand in 1218. The envoys were attacked brutally and killed. Chinggis demanded reparation from the Khwarazmian Shah. He refused and responded by killing one of the ambassadors that was sent to his court. He also proceeded to shave the beards of the other two. The shaving of a beard was a grave insult. In response to these insults, as well as, Samarqand being part of Chinggis’ campaign he attacked the city¬†in 1219.

Image result for samarkand map

Before attacking the city, Chinggis decided to pick-off the outlaying villages surrounding the city. This was a common tactic of Mongols when they were on the attack. If the people in the villages submitted to his will he bestowed no harm on them. This is also was a common gesture for the Mongols. Although the Mongols did not harm the villagers that did not resist, they would conscript those that had specific trades or were able bodied. Also in some cases the people were taxed. If the villagers stood against the Mongols, Chinggis would leave troops behind to besiege them.

After the outlaying country was secured the Mongols set up camp just outside of the city. Chinggis circled the town personally as he devised his siege on the city. On the third day, he assembled the warriors and encircled the town. Arrows were drawn against the enemy. The Mongols and Samarqand people engaged in battles through the remainder of that day. At the end of the day the warriors retired, but Chinggis persisted.

Building the Great Mosque of Samarkand. Illustration by Bihzad for the Zafar-Nameh. Text copied in Herat in 1467-68 and illuminated c. the late 1480s.
Building the Great Mosque of Samarkand. Illustration by Bihzad for the Zafar-Nameh. Text copied in 1467-68 and illuminated ca. in the 1480s.

As the battle of the city of Samarqand waged on, the Samarqand defenders turned loose their elephants to try and gain some ground in the battle. The fearless Mongol warriors did not turn their backs from the battle. Even these desperate measures were no match for the fearless Mongol army and Samarqand was overrun and pillaged. When the battle was finally over the Mongols released the elephants into the wild to graze on the grassy plains.