This course is about historical destiny and historical contingency; the search for knowledge and the search for power, and the world visions each may engender; the unity of a faith, Islam, and the diversity of cultures within it; and the stages on which history is played out and those on which history is acted out. It is about how we tell the story of the meeting of two persons from opposite poles, west and east, of the known world before Columbus, why they met where they did, and the historical significance of their encounter. In 1400/1401, near the battlefields of Damascus, Syria, the lives of the historian-philosopher and statesman Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a North African Berber of Andalusian descent, and of the nomad conqueror Timur the Great (1336-1405), or Tamerlane, of Turco-Mongolian descent, crossed. Ibn Khaldun’s own account of that meeting survives and a contemporary, Ibn Arabshah (1392-1450), reported on the meeting in his biography of Tamerlane. We will read both accounts. In order to understand what the two men talked about we will be discussing Ibn Khaldun’s Muqqadimah, legendary biographies of Tamerlane, and the social geographies of Mamluk Cairo, from where Ibn Khaldun set off for his interview with Tamerlane, and the deserts and steppes of Central Asia, out of which Tamerlane came to reach his goal of Cairo. We will set alongside the historical stage of the meeting, the dramatic stagings of the life of Tamerlane by Christopher Marlowe (1564-593) and Nicholas Rowe (1674-1718), as we reflect on how two early modern English dramatists and their audiences crossed with the life of Tamerlane. Neither of the plays included the meeting with Ibn Khaldun, but we will bring that meeting into those works. The historical canvas is huge, but the focus is throughout two men and the worlds they brought together.