Timur Lenk began his notorious career as a small cattle thief and bandit who led a 300-strong troupe in his early 20s. He deeply esteemed Genghis Khan, and his self-declared goal was no less than to step into his inheritance.
Like Khan, Timur also knew how to play off stronger opponents, and in 1360 he was able to appoint himself leader of the Barlas clan. In 1368 he led the Chagatai Confederation in what is now Uzbekistan.
In late 1379 he began his campaigns. First he turned eastward into the Altai region and north into the area of the golden horde, an empire in what is now Russian territory, which emerged from the Mongol conquests.
After securing Central Asia, Timur turned his attention to the South and West. So he began in 1381 with his campaign on the territory of Iran and smaller states, which were previously united in the former Mongol Ilkhanen. Only a few states or cities offered real resistance to their army, and thus the territories could be conquered quickly.
A constant companion of his rapid conquests was also his tremendous cruelty to renegades. So it happened that e.g. in Sabzevar after a rebellion, a wall of 2,000 prisoners was formed, which he had bricked over. He also had the habit of conquering pyramids from the skulls of his opponents as a memorial to his enemies and his subjects.
After his campaigns in the Middle East, Timur continued to drive west. so he conquered Azerbaijan and Georgia where he forced the king to convert from Christianity to Islam. About the detour through Armenia, he led his army back to Iran, from where it continued in 1387 to Isfahan. In 1398, after a break of several years, Timur extended his dominion over the Hindu Kush and from Punjab to Delhi he drove a path of desolation and looting.
In 1402 his attention turned to the west again. There he defeated Ankara Sultan Bajasid I of the Ottoman Turks. Thus, Timur dominated almost the entire Near East in 1404.
In 1405, Timur and his empire died, as fast as it originated, but fell as quickly due to internal power struggles over his successor.