“I focus on a face in Samarkand…”

Tom Shippey, Studies in Medievalism XIV (2005), p. 3:

“The issues, however, remain, and no modern reader can quite escape a sense, once again, that the medieval world with all its cruelty and fanaticism has not been entirely buried, is all too capable of returning to haunt us. Medievalisms remain dangerous, and dangerously vital: that is one reason why they require careful and dispassionate study, of the kind they too rarely receive inside or outside the academy.”

Eliza Shapiro, The Daily Beast, April 19, 2013:

Amir Temur, also known as Tamerlane, was a Central Asian ruler and warlord who lived in the 14th and 15th centuries. Scholars estimate that his military campaigns throughout Central Asia, Africa, Europe, and the modern Middle East killed about 17 million people, or 5 percent of the world’s population at the time.

Identifying strongly with Mongol culture, Tamerlane wanted to restore the empire of Genghis Khan and conquered the modern nations of Iran, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Syria, India, and southern regions of Russia. He was a devout Muslim who referred to himself as the “Sword of Islam,” even though he razed many of the Islamic world’s greatest cities at the time.

Although Tamerlane died six centuries ago, his legacy still carries enormous weight throughout Central Asia. The Tsarnaev brothers are Chechen, and Tamerlan, the older of the two, fled Chechnya with his family in the early 1990s to escape the bloodshed that followed the fall of the Soviet Union. He came to the United States with his family in either 2002 or 2003 under refugee status from Kyrgyzstan.

“To say Tamerlane evokes mixed reaction across Central Asia would be an understatement,” Justin Marozzi, author of Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the Worldtold the Daily Beast. “Respected as a national hero in Uzbekistan, site of his imperial capital of Samarkand, he is regarded with loathing—with good reason—by the country’s neighbors, who remember, more than 600 years after his death, the numerous outrages he committed against them.”

Tom Shippey, Studies in Medievalism XVII (2009), p. 52:

“There are . . . many medievalisms in the world, and some of them are as safe as William Morris wallpaper: but not all of them.”

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