Shāhrukh Mīrzā (Persian: شاهرخ میرزا Šāhrokh Mīrzā) (August 20, 1377 – March 13, 1447) was the Timurid ruler of the eastern portion of the empire established by his father, Central Asian warlord Timur (Tamerlane) who founded the Timurid dynasty, governing most of Persia and Transoxiana between 1405 and 1447. Shāhrukh was the fourth and youngest son of Timur and child of one of his concubines.
After Timur's death in 1405, his empire fell apart with various tribes and warlords competing for dominance. The Kara Koyunlu Turkmen destroyed the western empire in 1410 when they captured Baghdad, but in Persia and Transoxiana Shāhrukh was able to secure effective control from about 1409. His empire controlled the main trade routes between East and West, including the legendary Silk Road, and became immensely wealthy as a result.
The devastation of Persia's main cities led to the cultural centre of the empire shifting to Samarqand in modern Uzbekistan and Herat in modern Afghanistan. Shāhrukh chose to have his capital not in Samarqand, but in Herat. This was to become the political centre of the Timurid empire, and residence of his principal successors, though both cities benefited from the wealth and privilege of Shāhrukh's court, which was a great patron of the arts and sciences.
Shah Rukh's wife, Gowwhar Shād, funded the construction of two outstanding mosques and theological colleges in Mashhad and Herāt. The Gowwhar-Shād-Mosque was finished in 1418. The mixed ethnic origins of the ruling dynasty led to a distinctive character in its cultural outlook, which was a combination of Persian civilization and art, with borrowings from China, and literature written in Persian as well as Chagatay and Arabic.
Shah Rukh commissioned the production of a number of historical and geographic works by Hafiz-i Abru. Among them is Tāriḵ-e Šāhroḵ(i), the history of Shah Rukh's reign through AH 816 (AD 1413-14). It was later incorporated by its author into larger "universal history" compilations, Majmuʿa-ye Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru (a universal history work) and Majmaʿ al-tawāriḵ [al-solṭāni(ya)] (section Zobdat al-tawāriḵ-e Bāysonḡori).
During Shah Rukh's rule, relations between the Timurid state and the Ming China of Yongle and his descendants normalized, as compared to the era of Timur and the Hongwu Emperor, who almost started a war (which was averted only due to the death of Timur). Chinese embassies, led by Chen Cheng, visited Samarqand and Herat several times in 1414-1420,  while a large embassy sent by Shah Rukh (and immortalized by its diarist, Ghiyāth al-dīn Naqqāsh) traveled to China in 1419-1422.
Death and succession
In total, Shāhrukh had five sons.
- Ulugh Beg, viceroy of Transoxiana, was the oldest.
- Sultan Ibrahim Mirza, viceroy of Persia, was second oldest but predeceased Shāhrukh.
- Baysonqor (1397–1433), Shāhrukh's artistic third son never had a vice-royal position, but played an important part in his father's government in Samarqand, also pre-deceased his father, perhaps due to over consumption of alcohol.
- His fourth son, Mirza Soyurghatmïsh Khan, was viceroy of India and Ghazni but also died before Shāhrukh, as did
- His fifth son Mirza Muhammad Juki.
Thus, only Ulugh Beg, who was an excellent mathematician but an incapable ruler, was left to succeed his father.
Soviet anthropologist Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gerasimov reconstructed the heads of Timur, his son Shah Rukh and grandson Ulug Beg, with Timurlane being closer to the Mongoloid type, while Shah Rukh, the son of a Tajik woman, had Europoid features. Shah-Rukh indeed was a typical representative of the brachycephalic Europoid, the so-called Ferghana- Pamir type. However, because Timurlane was closer to the mongoloid type, this would make Shah Rukh in reality an genetic hybrid of the Euro-Mongoloid race despite the fact he has little to no mongoloid features.
- Alternatives: Shāhruh, Shāhrokh or Shāhrukh
- The Persian meaning of the name is (literally) "face of a king"; it is also the Persian name for the chess move "castling". According to Ibn ‘Arabshāh, his father was playing chess when he received the news of his birth, using this chess move as a name for the newborn child (Ibn Arabshah, Ahmed (1936). Tamerlane or Timur the Great Amir. Trans. J.H. Sanders. London: Luzac and Co., p. 47).
- Maria Eva Subtelny and Charles Melville, Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru at Encyclopædia Iranica
- Tsai, Shih-Shan Henry (2002), Perpetual Happiness: The Ming Emperor Yongle, University of Washington Press, p. 162, ISBN 0-295-98124-5
- Goodrich, L. Carrington; Tay, C.N. (1976), "Ch'en Ch'eng", in Goodrich, L. Carrington; Fang, Chaoying, Dictionary of Ming Biography, 1368–1644. Volume I (A-L), Columbia University Press, pp. 144–145, ISBN 0-231-03801-1
- Brook, Timothy (1978), "Chapter 10, Communications and commerce", in Twitchett, Denis Crispin; Fairbank, John King, The Cambridge History of China, 8, "The Ming Dynasty: 1368-1644", Part 2, Cambridge University Press, pp. 583–584, ISBN 0-521-24333-5
- Brook, Timothy (1998), The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China, University of California Press, pp. 34–38, ISBN 0-520-21091-3
- Stevens, John. The history of Persia. Containing, the lives and memorable actions of its kings from the first erecting of that monarchy to this time; an exact Description of all its Dominions; a curious Account of India, China, Tartary, Kermon, Arabia, Nixabur, and the Islands of Ceylon and Timor; as also of all Cities occasionally mention'd, as Schiras, Samarkand, Bokara, &c. Manners and Customs of those People, Persian Worshippers of Fire; Plants, Beasts, Product, and Trade. With many instructive and pleasant digressions, being remarkable Stories or Passages, occasionally occurring, as Strange Burials; Burning of the Dead; Liquors of several Countries; Hunting; Fishing; Practice of Physick; famous Physicians in the East; Actions of Tamerlan, &c. To which is added, an abridgment of the lives of the kings of Harmuz, or Ormuz. The Persian history written in Arabick, by Mirkond, a famous Eastern Author that of Ormuz, by Torunxa, King of that Island, both of them translated into Spanish, by Antony Teixeira, who liv'd several Years in Persia and India; and now render'd into English.
- BĀYSONḠOR, ḠĪĀT-AL-DĪN B. ŠĀHROḴ B. TĪMŪR in Encyclopedia Iranica
- Greater Iran: a 20th-century odyssey. Author
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