Reference Work Entry

The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 1157-1159

Ulugh Beg: Muḥammad Ṭaraghāy ibn Shāhrukh ibn Tīmūr

  • Benno van Dalen

BornSulṭāniyya, (Iran), 22 March 1394

Diednear Samarqand, (Uzbekistan), 27 October 1449

Ulugh Beg (Turkish for “great prince”) was governor of Transoxiana and Turkestan and, during the last 2 years of his life, Timurid Sultan. However, he is mostly remembered as a patron of mathematics and astronomy. In Samarqand, he founded a school and the famous astronomical observatory, where the most extensive observations of planets and fixed stars at any Islamic observatory were made. Ulugh Beg is associated with a Persian astronomical handbook (zīj) that stands out for the accuracy with which its tables were computed.

Ulugh Beg was the first‐born son of Shāhrukh (youngest son of the infamous conqueror Tīmūr or Tamerlane) and his first wife Gawharshād. He was raised at the court of his grandfather and, at the age of 10, was married to his cousin Agha Bīkī, whose mother was a direct descendent of Chingiz Khan. Thus Ulugh Beg could use the epithet Gūrgān, “roya ...

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