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Siege of Kabul, 1504

Siege of Kabul, 1504

Siege of Kabul, 1504

Babur's conquest of Kabul in October 1504 gave him a safe base to rebuild his fortunes after the Uzbek leader Muhammad Shaibani Khan expelled him from Samarkand and Babur's own family squabbles pushed him out of his own kingdom of Ferghana.

Until 1502 Kabul had been held by members of Babur's family. His uncle Ulugh Beg Mirza had ruled as an independent king until his death in 1501. His son, Abd-ur-razzak Mirza, was an infant, leaving a power vacuum which was soon filled by Muhammad Muqim, a member of the Arghunid dynasty of Kandahar. Muqim married a daughter of Ulugh Beg, and held the throne for the next two years.

During the same period Babur made an unsuccessful attempt to recover Ferghana which ended with him as a powerless refuge at the head of a band of 200-300 retainers. Despite this unpromising position he decided to attempt to capture Kabul, hoping to use it as a secure base in further wars against the Uzbeks.

Babur now received some fortunate reinforcements. Early in his career, when he had been the young king of Ferghana, Babur had benefited from the unexpected death of his uncle Sultan Mahmud Mirza of Samarkand, an event which had ended an invasion of Ferghana and led to political chaos in Samarkand. The wazir of Samarkand, Khosru Shah, had attempted to seize the city and treasury, but had been expelled by a popular revolt, and ended up in Kunduz (to the north of Kabul), where he became a semi-independent prince. He held the city against an attack from Khorasan, and when Samarkand felt to Babur for the first time offered shelter to Mahmud's son Baisanghar Mirza (1498).

In the next year Khorsu darkened his reputation. Baisanghar's older brother Mas'ud sought sanctuary with him, but was instead taken and blinded. Soon after this Baisanghar was murdered and Khorsu ruled as an independent prince. He was also increasingly threatened by the Uzbek leader Shaibani, who by 1504 was securing in control of Samarkand. As Babur advanced towards Kabul Khorsu's Mongol soldiers realised that he offered them a much better chance of long term success than Khorsu, and deserted to Babur in large numbers. Khorsu had no choice but to submit to Babur, and was allowed to leave with his personal goods, but leaving behind the military equipment in his camp.

It isn't entirely clear from Babur's own account of the campaign exactly when Khorsu's former troops joined his army, but it probably came after the one serious fight of the invasion. Part of Muqim's army, under his chief beg Sherak Arghun, had been posted away from the city, not to watch for Babur but to guard against a possible return by Abd-ur-razzak Mirza. Babur's army came across this force, and defeated it in a brief fight. Most of Sherak's force escaped, although 70-80 were taken prisoner. Sherak was clearly amongst them, for he joined Babur's service.

Babur never really rated his Mongol troops very highly, but they did mean that his army looked rather more impressive as it advanced on Kabul. Although there was some small scale fighting outside the city, Muhammad Muqim made no serious attempt to defend his position and almost immediately began negotiations with Babur. After a limited siege only ten days long he surrendered, and was allowed to leave the city with his dependents, goods and effects. A few days later he was allowed to return to his father in Kandahar.

Kabul was an ideal base for Babur. He was now reasonably secure from Shaibani, and was in a position from where he could operate against the Uzbeks or move into Hindustan. His first raid into northern India, later in the same year, was something of a failure, but it would only be the first of many such raids, which would eventually lead to the establishment of the Mogul Empire.


Contents

Ẓahīr-ud-Dīn is Arabic for "Defender of the Faith" (of Islam), and Muhammad honours the Islamic Prophet. The name was chosen for Babur by the Sufi saint Khwaja Ahrar, who was the spiritual master of his father. [17] The difficulty of pronouncing the name for his Central Asian Turco-Mongol army may have been responsible for the greater popularity of his nickname Babur, [18] also variously spelled Baber, [3] Babar, [19] and Bābor. [6] The name is generally taken in reference to the Persian word babur ( ببر ), meaning "tiger". [3] [4] The word repeatedly appears in Ferdowsi's Shahnameh and was borrowed into the Turkic languages of Central Asia. [19] [20] Thackston argues for an alternate derivation from the PIE word "beaver", pointing to similarities between the pronunciation Bābor and the Russian bobr ( бобр , "beaver"). [21]

Babur bore the royal titles Badshah and al-ṣultānu 'l-ʿazam wa 'l-ḫāqān al-mukkarram pādshāh-e ġāzī. He and later Mughal emperors used the title of Mirza and Gurkani as regalia. [ citation needed ]

Babur's memoirs form the main source for details of his life. They are known as the Baburnama and were written in Chaghatai Turkic, his mother-tongue, [22] though, according to Dale, "his Turkic prose is highly Persianized in its sentence structure, morphology or word formation and vocabulary." [4] Baburnama was translated into Persian during the rule of Babur's grandson Akbar. [22]

Babur was born on 14 February 1483 in the city of Andijan, Andijan Province, Fergana Valley, contemporary Uzbekistan. He was the eldest son of Umar Sheikh Mirza, [23] ruler of the Fergana Valley, the son of Abū Saʿīd Mirza (and grandson of Miran Shah, who was himself son of Timur) and his wife Qutlugh Nigar Khanum, daughter of Yunus Khan, the ruler of Moghulistan (a descendant of Genghis Khan). [24]

Babur hailed from the Barlas tribe, which was of Mongol origin and had embraced Turkic [25] and Persian culture. [26] They had also converted to Islam centuries earlier and resided in Turkestan and Khorasan. Aside from the Chaghatai language, Babur was equally fluent in Persian, the lingua franca of the Timurid elite. [27]

Hence, Babur, though nominally a Mongol (or Moghul in Persian language), drew much of his support from the local Turkic and Iranian people of Central Asia, and his army was diverse in its ethnic makeup. It included Persians (known to Babur as "Sarts" and "Tajiks"), ethnic Afghans, Arabs, as well as Barlas and Chaghatayid Turko-Mongols from Central Asia. [28]

As ruler of Fergana Edit

In 1494, eleven-year-old Babur became the ruler of Fergana, in present-day Uzbekistan, after Umar Sheikh Mirza died "while tending pigeons in an ill-constructed dovecote that toppled into the ravine below the palace". [29] During this time, two of his uncles from the neighbouring kingdoms, who were hostile to his father, and a group of nobles who wanted his younger brother Jahangir to be the ruler, threatened his succession to the throne. [18] His uncles were relentless in their attempts to dislodge him from this position as well as from many of his other territorial possessions to come. [30] Babur was able to secure his throne mainly because of help from his maternal grandmother, Aisan Daulat Begum, although there was also some luck involved. [18]

Most territories around his kingdom were ruled by his relatives, who were descendants of either Timur or Genghis Khan, and were constantly in conflict. [18] At that time, rival princes were fighting over the city of Samarkand to the west, which was ruled by his paternal cousin. [ citation needed ] Babur had a great ambition to capture the city. [ citation needed ] In 1497, he besieged Samarkand for seven months before eventually gaining control over it. [31] He was fifteen years old and for him the campaign was a huge achievement. [18] Babur was able to hold the city despite desertions in his army, but he later fell seriously ill. [ citation needed ] Meanwhile, a rebellion back home, approximately 350 kilometres (220 mi) away, amongst nobles who favoured his brother, robbed him of Fergana. [31] As he was marching to recover it, he lost Samarkand to a rival prince, leaving him with neither. [18] He had held Samarkand for 100 days, and he considered this defeat as his biggest loss, obsessing over it even later in his life after his conquests in India. [18]

For three years, Babur concentrated on building a strong army, recruiting widely amongst the Tajiks of Badakhshan in particular. In 1500–1501, he again laid siege to Samarkand, and indeed he took the city briefly, but he was in turn besieged by his most formidable rival, Muhammad Shaybani, Khan of the Uzbeks. [31] [32] The situation became such that Babar was compelled to give his sister, Khanzada, to Shaybani in marriage as part of the peace settlement. Only after this were Babur and his troops allowed to depart the city in safety. Samarkand, his lifelong obsession, was thus lost again. He then tried to reclaim Fergana, but lost the battle there also and, escaping with a small band of followers, he wandered the mountains of central Asia and took refuge with hill tribes. By 1502, he had resigned all hopes of recovering Fergana he was left with nothing and was forced to try his luck elsewhere. [33] [34] He finally went to Tashkent, which was ruled by his maternal uncle, but he found himself less than welcome there. Babur wrote, "During my stay in Tashkent, I endured much poverty and humiliation. No country, or hope of one!" [34] Thus, during the ten years since becoming the ruler of Fergana, Babur suffered many short-lived victories and was without shelter and in exile, aided by friends and peasants.

At Kabul Edit

Kabul was ruled by Babur's paternal uncle Ulugh Beg II, who died leaving only an infant as heir. [34] The city was then claimed by Mukin Begh, who was considered to be a usurper and was opposed by the local populace. In 1504, Babur was able to cross the snowy Hindu Kush mountains and capture Kabul from the remaining Arghunids, who were forced to retreat to Kandahar. [31] With this move, he gained a new kingdom, re-established his fortunes and would remain its ruler until 1526. [33] In 1505, because of the low revenue generated by his new mountain kingdom, Babur began his first expedition to India in his memoirs, he wrote, "My desire for Hindustan had been constant. It was in the month of Shaban, the Sun being in Aquarius, that we rode out of Kabul for Hindustan". It was a brief raid across the Khyber Pass. [34]

In the same year, Babur united with Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqarah of Herat, a fellow Timurid and distant relative, against their common enemy, the Uzbek Shaybani. [35] However, this venture did not take place because Husayn Mirza died in 1506 and his two sons were reluctant to go to war. [34] Babur instead stayed at Herat after being invited by the two Mirza brothers. It was then the cultural capital of the eastern Muslim world. Though he was disgusted by the vices and luxuries of the city, [36] he marvelled at the intellectual abundance there, which he stated was "filled with learned and matched men". [37] He became acquainted with the work of the Chagatai poet Mir Ali Shir Nava'i, who encouraged the use of Chagatai as a literary language. Nava'i's proficiency with the language, which he is credited with founding, [38] may have influenced Babur in his decision to use it for his memoirs. He spent two months there before being forced to leave because of diminishing resources [35] it later was overrun by Shaybani and the Mirzas fled. [36] Babur became the only reigning ruler of the Timurid dynasty after the loss of Herat, and many princes sought refuge with him at Kabul because of Shaybani's invasion in the west. [36] He thus assumed the title of Padshah (emperor) among the Timurids—though this title was insignificant since most of his ancestral lands were taken, Kabul itself was in danger and Shaybani continued to be a threat. [36] Babur prevailed during a potential rebellion in Kabul, but two years later a revolt among some of his leading generals drove him out of Kabul. Escaping with very few companions, Babur soon returned to the city, capturing Kabul again and regaining the allegiance of the rebels. Meanwhile, Shaybani was defeated and killed by Ismail I, Shah of Shia Safavid Persia, in 1510. [39]

Babur and the remaining Timurids used this opportunity to reconquer their ancestral territories. Over the following few years, Babur and Shah Ismail formed a partnership in an attempt to take over parts of Central Asia. In return for Ismail's assistance, Babur permitted the Safavids to act as a suzerain over him and his followers. [40] Thus, in 1513, after leaving his brother Nasir Mirza to rule Kabul, he managed to take Samarkand for the third time he also took Bokhara but lost both again to the Uzbeks. [33] [36] Shah Ismail reunited Babur with his sister Khānzāda, who had been imprisoned by and forced to marry the recently deceased Shaybani. [41] Babur returned to Kabul after three years in 1514. The following 11 years of his rule mainly involved dealing with relatively insignificant rebellions from Afghan tribes, his nobles and relatives, in addition to conducting raids across the eastern mountains. [36] Babur began to modernise and train his army despite it being, for him, relatively peaceful times. [42]

The Safavid army led by Najm-e Sani massacred civilians in Central Asia and then sought the assistance of Babur, who advised the Safavids to withdraw. The Safavids, however, refused and were defeated during the Battle of Ghazdewan by the warlord Ubaydullah Khan. [43]

Babur's early relations with the Ottomans were poor because the Ottoman Sultan Selim I provided his rival Ubaydullah Khan with powerful matchlocks and cannons. In 1507, when ordered to accept Selim I as his rightful suzerain, Babur refused and gathered Qizilbash servicemen in order to counter the forces of Ubaydullah Khan during the Battle of Ghazdewan. In 1513, Selim I reconciled with Babur (fearing that he would join the Safavids), dispatched Ustad Ali Quli the artilleryman and Mustafa Rumi the matchlock marksman, and many other Ottoman Turks, in order to assist Babur in his conquests this particular assistance proved to be the basis of future Mughal-Ottoman relations. [44] From them, he also adopted the tactic of using matchlocks and cannons in field (rather than only in sieges), which would give him an important advantage in India. [42]

Babur still wanted to escape from the Uzbeks, and he chose India as a refuge instead of Badakhshan, which was to the north of Kabul. He wrote, "In the presence of such power and potency, we had to think of some place for ourselves and, at this crisis and in the crack of time there was, put a wider space between us and the strong foeman." [42] After his third loss of Samarkand, Babur gave full attention to the conquest of North India, launching a campaign he reached the Chenab River, now in Pakistan, in 1519. [33] Until 1524, his aim was to only expand his rule to Punjab, mainly to fulfill the legacy of his ancestor Timur, since it used to be part of his empire. [42] At the time parts of North India were under the rule of Ibrahim Lodi of the Lodi dynasty, but the empire was crumbling and there were many defectors. He received invitations from Daulat Khan Lodi, Governor of Punjab and Ala-ud-Din, uncle of Ibrahim. [45] He sent an ambassador to Ibrahim, claiming himself the rightful heir to the throne, but the ambassador was detained at Lahore and released months later. [33]

Babur started for Lahore, Punjab, in 1524 but found that Daulat Khan Lodi had been driven out by forces sent by Ibrahim Lodi. [46] When Babur arrived at Lahore, the Lodi army marched out and his army was routed. In response, Babur burned Lahore for two days, then marched to Dibalpur, placing Alam Khan, another rebel uncle of Lodi, as governor. [47] Alam Khan was quickly overthrown and fled to Kabul. In response, Babur supplied Alam Khan with troops who later joined up with Daulat Khan Lodi, and together with about 30,000 troops, they besieged Ibrahim Lodi at Delhi. [48] He easily defeated and drove off Alam's army and Babur realised Lodi would not allow him to occupy the Punjab. [48]

First battle of Panipat Edit

In November 1525 Babur got news at Peshawar that Daulat Khan Lodi had switched sides, and he drove out Ala-ud-Din. [ clarification needed ] Babur then marched onto Lahore to confront Daulat Khan Lodi, only to see Daulat's army melt away at their approach. [33] Daulat surrendered and was pardoned. Thus within three weeks of crossing the Indus River Babur had become the master of Punjab. [ citation needed ]

Babur marched on to Delhi via Sirhind. He reached Panipat on 20 April 1526 and there met Ibrahim Lodi's numerically superior army of about 100,000 soldiers and 100 elephants. [33] [45] In the battle that began on the following day, Babur used the tactic of Tulugma, encircling Ibrahim Lodi's army and forcing it to face artillery fire directly, as well as frightening its war elephants. [45] Ibrahim Lodi died during the battle, thus ending the Lodi dynasty. [33]

Babur wrote in his memoirs about his victory:

By the grace of the Almighty God, this difficult task was made easy to me and that mighty army, in the space of a half a day was laid in dust. [33]

After the battle, Babur occupied Delhi and Agra, took the throne of Lodi, and laid the foundation for the eventual rise of Mughal rule in India. However, before he became North India's ruler, he had to fend off challengers, such as Rana Sanga. [49]

Battle of Khanwa Edit

The Battle of Khanwa was fought between Babur and the Rajput ruler of Mewar, Rana Sanga on 16 March 1527. Rana Sanga wanted to overthrow Babur, whom he considered to be a foreigner ruling in India, and also to extend the Rajput territories by annexing Delhi and Agra. He was supported by Afghan chiefs who felt Babur had been deceptive by refusing to fulfil promises made to them. Upon receiving news of Rana Sangha's advance towards Agra, Babur took a defensive position at Khanwa (currently in the Indian state of Rajasthan), from where he hoped to launch a counterattack later. According to K.V. Krishna Rao, Babur won the battle because of his "superior generalship" and modern tactics: the battle was one of the first in India that featured cannons and muskets. Rao also notes that Rana Sanga faced "treachery" when the Hindu chief Silhadi joined Babur's army with a garrison of 6,000 soldiers. [51]

Battle of Chanderi Edit

This battle took place in the aftermath of the Battle of Khanwa. On receiving news that Rana Sanga had made preparations to renew the conflict with him, Babur decided to isolate the Rana by inflicting a military defeat on one of his staunchest allies, Medini Rai, who was the ruler of Malwa. [52] [53] [ page needed ]

Upon reaching Chanderi, on 20 January 1528, Babur offered Shamsabad to Medini Rao in exchange for Chanderi as a peace overture, but the offer was rejected. [53] The outer fortress of Chanderi was taken by Babur's army at night, and the next morning the upper fort was captured. Babur himself expressed surprise that the upper fort had fallen within an hour of the final assault. [52] Medini Rai organized a Jauhar ceremony during which women and children within the fortress immolated themselves. [52] [53] A small number of soldiers also collected in Medini Rao's house and proceeded to kill each other in collective suicide. This sacrifice did not seem to have impressed Babur who did not express a word of admiration for the enemy in his autobiography. [52]

Babur defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodi, the last Sultan of the Lodi dynasty, in 1526. Babur ruled for 4 years and was succeeded by his son Humayun whose reign was temporarily usurped by the Suri dynasty. During their 30-year rule, religious violence continued in India. Records of the violence and trauma, from Sikh-Muslim perspective, include those recorded in Sikh literature of the 16th century. [54] The violence of Babur, the father of Humayun, in the 1520s, was witnessed by Guru Nanak , who commented upon them in four hymns. [ citation needed ] Historians suggest the early Mughal era period of religious violence contributed to introspection and then transformation from pacifism to militancy for self-defense in Sikhism. [54] According to autobiographical historical record of Emperor Babur, Tuzak-i Babari, Babur's campaign in northwest India targeted Hindus and Sikhs as well as apostates (non-Sunni sects of Islam), and an immense number were killed, with Muslim camps building "towers of skulls of the infidels" on hillocks. [55]

There are no descriptions about Babur's physical appearance, except from the paintings in the translation of the Baburnama prepared during the reign of Akbar. [34] In his autobiography, Babur claimed to be strong and physically fit, and that he had swum across every major river he encountered, including twice across the Ganges River in North India. [56]

Unlike his father, he had ascetic tendencies and did not have any great interest in women. In his first marriage, he was "bashful" towards Aisha Sultan Begum, later losing his affection for her. [57] Babur showed similar shyness in his interactions with Baburi, a boy in his camp with whom he had an infatuation around this time, reccounting that: "Occasionally Baburi came to me, but I was so bashful that I could not look him in the face, much less converse freely with him. In my excitement and agitation I could not thank him for coming, much less complain of his leaving. Who could bear to demand the ceremonies of fealty?" [58] However, Babur acquired several more wives and concubines over the years, and as required for a prince, he was able to ensure the continuity of his line.

Babur's first wife, Aisha Sultan Begum, was his paternal cousin, the daughter of Sultan Ahmad Mirza, his father's brother. She was an infant when betrothed to Babur, who was himself five years old. They married eleven years later, c. 1498–99 . The couple had one daughter, Fakhr-un-Nissa, who died within a year in 1500. Three years later, after Babur's first defeat at Fergana, Aisha left him and returned to her father's household. [59] [42] In 1504, Babur married Zaynab Sultan Begum, who died childless within two years. In the period 1506–08, Babur married four women, Maham Begum (in 1506), Masuma Sultan Begum, Gulrukh Begum and Dildar Begum. [59] Babur had four children by Maham Begum, of whom only one survived infancy. This was his eldest son and heir, Humayun. Masuma Sultan Begum died during childbirth the year of her death is disputed (either 1508 or 1519). Gulrukh bore Babur two sons, Kamran and Askari, and Dildar Begum was the mother of Babur's youngest son, Hindal. [59] Babur later married Mubaraka Yusufzai, a Pashtun woman of the Yusufzai tribe. Gulnar Aghacha and Nargul Aghacha were two Circassian slaves given to Babur as gifts by Tahmasp Shah Safavi, the Shah of Persia. They became "recognized ladies of the royal household." [59]

During his rule in Kabul, when there was a time of relative peace, Babur pursued his interests in literature, art, music and gardening. [42] Previously, he never drank alcohol and avoided it when he was in Herat. In Kabul, he first tasted it at the age of thirty. He then began to drink regularly, host wine parties and consume preparations made from opium. [36] Though religion had a central place in his life, Babur also approvingly quoted a line of poetry by one of his contemporaries: "I am drunk, officer. Punish me when I am sober". He quit drinking for health reasons before the Battle of Khanwa, just two years before his death, and demanded that his court do the same. But he did not stop chewing narcotic preparations, and did not lose his sense of irony. He wrote, "Everyone regrets drinking and swears an oath (of abstinence) I swore the oath and regret that." [60]

Consorts Edit

    (married in 1506), chief consort (married 1499–1503), daughter of Sultan Ahmed Mirza (married in 1504), daughter of Sultan Mahmud Mirza (married in 1507), daughter of Sultan Ahmed Mirza and half-sister of Aisha Sultan Begum (married in 1519), Pashtun of the Yusufzai tribe
  • Gulrukh Begum (not to be confused with Babur's daughter Gulrukh Begum, who was also known as Gulbarg Begum)
  • Dildar Begum
  • Gulnar Aghacha, Circassian concubine
  • Nargul Aghacha, Circassian concubine

The identity of the mother of one of Babur's daughters, Gulrukh Begum is disputed. Gulrukh's mother may have been the daughter of Sultan Mahmud Mirza by his wife Pasha Begum who is referred to as Saliha Sultan Begum in certain secondary sources, however this name is not mentioned in the Baburnama or the works of Gulbadan Begum, which casts doubt on her existence. This woman may never have existed at all or she may even be the same woman as Dildar Begum.

Issue Edit

Babur had several children with his consorts:

Sons Edit

    (6 March 1508 – 27 January 1556), son with Maham Begum, succeeded Babur as the second Mughal Emperor (died 1557), son with Gulrukh Begum , son with Gulrukh Begum , son with Dildar Begum
  • Ahmad Mirza, son with Gulrukh Begum, died young
  • Shahrukh Mirza, son with Gulrukh Begum, died young
  • Barbul Mirza, son with Maham Begum, died in infancy
  • Alwar Mirza, son with Dildar Begum, died in childhood
  • Faruq Mirza, son with Maham Begum, died in infancy

Daughters Edit

    Begum, daughter with Aisha Sultan Begum, died in infancy.
  • Aisan Daulat Begum, daughter with Maham Begum, died in infancy.
  • Mehr Jahan Begum, daughter with Maham Begum, died in infancy. , daughter with Masuma Sultan Begum. Married to Muhammad Zaman Mirza.
  • Gulzar Begum, daughter with Gulrukh Begum, died young. (Gulbarg Begum). Identity of mother is disputed, may have been Dildar Begum or Saliha Sultan Begum. Married to Nuruddin Muhammad Mirza, son of Khwaja Hasan Naqshbandi, with whom she had Salima Sultan Begum, wife of Bairam Khan and later the Mughal Emperor Akbar. (c. 1523 – 7 February 1603), daughter with Dildar Begum. Married Khizr Khwaja Khan, son of her father's cousin Aiman Khwajah Sultan of Moghulistan, son of Ahmad Alaq of Moghulistan, the maternal uncle of Emperor Babur. , daughter with Dildar Begum. Married firstly in 1530 to Sultan Tukhta Bugha Khan, son of Ahmad Alaq of Moghulistan, the maternal uncle of Emperor Babur. Married secondly to Abbas Sultan Uzbeg.
  • Gulrang Begum, daughter with Dildar Begum. Married in 1530 to Isan Timur Sultan, ninth son of Ahmad Alaq of Moghulistan, the maternal uncle of Emperor Babur.

Babur died in Agra at the age of 47 on 5 January [O.S. 26 December 1530] 1531 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Humayun. He was first buried in Agra but, as per his wishes, his mortal remains were moved to Kabul and reburied in Bagh-e Babur in Kabul sometime between 1539 and 1544. [16] [49]

It is generally agreed that, as a Timurid, Babur was not only significantly influenced by the Persian culture, but also that his empire gave rise to the expansion of the Persianate ethos in the Indian subcontinent. [6] [7] He emerged in his own telling as a Timurid Renaissance inheritor, leaving signs of Islamic, artistic literary, and social aspects in India. [61] [62]

For example, F. Lehmann states in the Encyclopædia Iranica:

His origin, milieu, training, and culture were steeped in Persian culture and so Babur was largely responsible for the fostering of this culture by his descendants, the Mughals of India, and for the expansion of Persian cultural influence in the Indian subcontinent, with brilliant literary, artistic, and historiographical results. [26]

Although all applications of modern Central Asian ethnicities to people of Babur's time are anachronistic, Soviet and Uzbek sources regard Babur as an ethnic Uzbek. [63] [64] [65] At the same time, during the Soviet Union Uzbek scholars were censored for idealising and praising Babur and other historical figures such as Ali-Shir Nava'i. [66]

Babur is considered a national hero in Uzbekistan. [67] On 14 February 2008, stamps in his name were issued in the country to commemorate his 525th birth anniversary. [68] Many of Babur's poems have become popular Uzbek folk songs, especially by Sherali Jo'rayev. [69] Some sources claim that Babur is a national hero in Kyrgyzstan too. [70] In October 2005, Pakistan developed the Babur Cruise Missile, named in his honour.

Shahenshah Babar, an Indian film about the emperor directed by Wajahat Mirza was released in 1944. The 1960 Indian biographical film Babar by Hemen Gupta covered the emperor's life with Gajanan Jagirdar in the lead role. [71]

One of the enduring features of Babur's life was that he left behind the lively and well-written autobiography known as Baburnama. [21] Quoting Henry Beveridge, Stanley Lane-Poole writes:

His autobiography is one of those priceless records which are for all time, and is fit to rank with the confessions of St. Augustine and Rousseau, and the memoirs of Gibbon and Newton. In Asia it stands almost alone.

[72] In his own words, "The cream of my testimony is this, do nothing against your brothers even though they may deserve it." Also, "The new year, the spring, the wine and the beloved are joyful. Babur make merry, for the world will not be there for you a second time." [73]

Babri Masjid Edit

The Babri Masjid ("Babur's Mosque") in Ayodhya is said to have been constructed on the orders of Mir Baqi, one of the commanders of his army. In 2003 the Allahabad High Court ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a more in-depth study and an excavation to ascertain the type of structure beneath the mosque. [74] The excavation was conducted from 12 March 2003 to 7 August 2003, resulting in 1360 discoveries. [75]

The summary of the ASI report indicated the presence of a 10th-century temple under the mosque. [76] [77] The ASI team said that, human activity at the site dates back to the 13th century BCE. The next few layers date back to the Shunga period (second-first century BCE) and the Kushan period. During the early medieval period (11–12th century CE), a huge but short-lived structure of nearly 50 metres north–south orientation was constructed. On the remains of this structure, another massive structure was constructed: this structure had at least three structural phases and three successive floors attached with it. The report concluded that it was over the top of this construction that the disputed structure was constructed during the early 16th century. [78] Archaeologist KK Muhammed, the only Muslim member in the team of people surveying the excavation, also confirmed individually that there existed a temple like structure before the Babri Masjid was constructed over it. [79] The Supreme Court judgement of 2019 held that there is nothing to prove that the structure, which was destroyed before the construction of the mosque, was a temple and that the remains of the structure was used for its construction. [80] [81]


Spanish retreat from Aztec capital

Faced with an Aztec revolt against their rule, forces under the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés fight their way out of Tenochtitlan at heavy cost. Known to the Spanish as La Noche Triste, or “the Night of Sadness,” many soldiers drowned in Lake Texcoco when the vessel carrying them and Aztec treasures hoarded by Cortés sank. Montezuma II, the Aztec emperor who had become merely a subject of਌ortés in the previous year, was also killed during the struggle by the Aztecs or the Spanish, it is not known.

Tenochtitlan was founded in 1325 A.D. by a wandering tribe of hunters and gatherers on islands in Lake Texcoco, near the present site of Mexico City. In only one century, this civilization grew into the Aztec Empire, due largely to its advanced system of agriculture. The empire came to dominate central Mexico and by the ascendance of Montezuma II in 1502 had reached its greatest extent, reaching as far south as perhaps modern-day Nicaragua. At the time, the empire was held together primarily by Aztec military strength, and Montezuma II set about establishing a bureaucracy, creating provinces that would pay tribute to the imperial capital of Tenochtitlan. The conquered peoples resented the Aztec demands for tribute and victims for the religious sacrifices, but the Aztec military kept rebellion at bay.

Meanwhile, Hernán Cortés, a young Spanish-born noble, came to Hispaniola in the West Indies in 1504. In 1511, he sailed with Diego Velazquez to conquer Cuba and twice was elected mayor of Santiago, the capital of Hispaniola. In 1518, he was appointed captain general of a new Spanish expedition to the American mainland. Velazquez, the governor of Cuba, later rescinded the order, and਌ortés sailed without permission. He visited the coast of Yucatan and in March 1519 landed at Tabasco in Mexico’s Bay of Campeche with 500 soldiers, 100 sailors, and 16 horses. There, he won over the local Indians and was given a female slave, Malinche�ptized Marina–who became his mistress and later bore him a son. She knew both Maya and Aztec and served as an interpreter. The expedition then proceeded up the Mexican coast, where Cortes founded Veracruz, mainly for the purpose of having himself elected captain general by the colony, thus shaking off the authority of Velazquez and making him responsible only to King Charles V of Spain.

At Veracruz, Cortés trained his army and then burned his ships to ensure loyalty to his plans for conquest. Having learned of political strife in the Aztec Empire,਌ortés led his force into the Mexican interior. On the way to Tenochtitlan, he clashed with local Indians, but many of these peoples, including the nation of Tlaxcala, became his allies after learning of his plan to conquer their hated Aztec rulers. Hearing of the approach of Cortes, with his frightful horses and sophisticated weapons, Montezuma II tried to buy him off, but Cortes would not be dissuaded. On November 8, 1519, the Spaniards and their 1,000 Tlaxcaltec warriors were allowed to enter Tenochtitlan unopposed.

Montezuma suspected them to be divine envoys of the god Quetzalcoatl, who was prophesied to return from the east in a “One Reed” year, which 1519 was on the Aztec calendar. The Spaniards were greeted with great honor, and਌ortés seized the opportunity, taking Montezuma hostage so that he might govern the empire through him. His mistress, Marina, was a great help in this endeavor and succeeded in convincing Montezuma to cooperate fully.

In the spring of 1520, Cortés learned of the arrival of a Spanish force from Cuba, led by Panfilo Narvaez and sent by Velazquez to deprive਌ortés of his command.਌ortés led his army out of Tenochtitlan to meet them, leaving behind a garrison of 80 Spaniards and a few hundred Tlaxcaltecs to govern the city.਌ortés�ted Narvaez and enlisted Narvaez’ army into his own. When he returned to Tenochtitlan in June, he found the garrison under siege from the Aztecs, who had rebelled after the subordinate that਌ortés left in command of the city massacred several Aztec chiefs, and the population on the brink of revolt. On June 30, under pressure and lacking food,਌ortésਊnd his men fled the capital at night. In the fighting that ensued, Montezuma was killed–in Aztec reports by the Spaniards, and in Spanish reports by an Aztec mob bitter at Montezuma’s subservience to Spanish rule. He was succeeded as emperor by his brother, Cuitlahuac.

During the Spaniards’ retreat, they defeated a large Aztec army at Otumba and then rejoined their Tlaxcaltec allies. In May 1521,਌ortés returned to Tenochtitlan, and after a three-month siege the city fell. This victory marked the fall of the Aztec empire. Cuauhtemoc, Cuitlahuac’s successor as emperor, was taken prisoner and later executed, and਌ortés�me the ruler of vast Mexican empire.

The Spanish conquistador led an expedition to Honduras in 1524 and in 1528 returned to Spain to see the king. Charles made him Marques del Valle but refused to name him governor because of his quarrels with Velazquez and others. In 1530, he returned to Mexico, now known as New Spain, and found the country in disarray. After restoring some order, he retired to his estate south of Mexico City and sent out maritime expeditions from the Pacific coast. In 1540, he returned to Spain and was neglected by the court. He died in 1547.


Cultural life

Among the major cultural facilities in Kabul is the National Museum of Afghanistan, in the Dārulāmān area, reopened in 2004 after being looted and damaged during factional fighting in 1993–94. Due to constraints on space, only a small proportion of its rich collection of artifacts is on display. The National Archives, in the Āsmāʾī Wāt area, has an excellent collection of rare manuscripts, but access is restricted. The National Gallery in Andārabī houses a permanent collection of paintings. There is also a French Cultural Centre, adjoining the Lycée Istiqlal, and the Goethe Institute.

The Bāgh-e Bābur, one of several gardens built by the Mughal emperor Bābur in the 16th century, was reopened to the public after restoration in 2008. The19th-century Queen’s Palace, located in the southeast corner of the garden, is regularly used for cultural events including exhibitions and music recitals.


Battle of Kabul and the retreat to Gandamak

Date of the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak: January 1842.

Place of the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak: Central Afghanistan.

Combatants at the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak: British and Indians of the Bengal Army and the army of Shah Shuja against Afghans and Ghilzai tribesmen.

Commanders at the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak: General Elphinstone against the Ameers of Kabul, particularly Akbar Khan, and the Ghilzai tribal chiefs.

Size of the armies: 4,500 British and Indian troops against an indeterminate number of Ghilzai tribesmen, possibly as many as 30,000.

Wazir Akhbar Khan: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War

Uniforms, arms and equipment at the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak:
The British infantry, wearing cut away red jackets, white trousers and shako hats, were armed with the old Brown Bess musket and bayonet. The Indian infantry were similarly armed and uniformed.

The Ghilzai tribesmen carried swords and jezail, long barrelled muskets.
Winner: The British and Indian force was wiped out other than a small number of prisoners and one survivor.

British Regiments at the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak:
44 th Foot, later the Essex Regiment and now the Royal Anglian Regiment.
Regiments of the Bengal Army:
2 nd Bengal Light Cavalry
1 st Bengal European Infantry
37 th Bengal Native Infantry
48 th Bengal Native Infantry

Dost Mohammed Khan: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War

2 nd Bengal Native Infantry
27 th Bengal Native Infantry
Bengal Horse Artillery

The First Afghan War:
The British colonies in India in the early 19th Century were held by the Honourable East India Company, a powerful trading corporation based in London, answerable to its shareholders and to the British Parliament.

In the first half of the century France as the British bogeyman gave way to Russia, leading finally to the Crimean War in 1854. In 1839 the obsession in British India was that the Russians, extending the Tsar’s empire east into Asia, would invade India through Afghanistan.

This widely held obsession led Lord Auckland, the British governor general in India, to enter into the First Afghan War, one of Britain’s most ill-advised and disastrous wars.

Until the First Afghan War the Sirkar (the Indian colloquial name for the East India Company) had an overwhelming reputation for efficiency and good luck. The British were considered to be unconquerable and omnipotent. The Afghan War severely undermined this view. The retreat from Kabul in January 1842 and the annihilation of Elphinstone’s Kabul garrison dealt a mortal blow to British prestige in the East only rivalled by the fall of Singapore 100 years later.

Balar Hissar Fortress at Kabul: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War

The causes of the disaster are easily stated: the difficulties of campaigning in Afghanistan’s inhospitable mountainous terrain with its extremes of weather, the turbulent politics of the country and its armed and refractory population and finally the failure of the British authorities to appoint senior officers capable of conducting the campaign competently and decisively.

The substantially Hindu East India Company army crossed the Indus with trepidation, fearing to lose caste by leaving Hindustan and appalled by the country they were entering. The troops died of heat, disease and lack of supplies on the desolate route to Kandahar, subject, in the mountain passes, to constant attack by the Afghan tribes. Once in Kabul the army was reduced to a perilously small force and left in the command of incompetents. As Sita Ram in his memoirs complained: “If only the army had been commanded by the memsahibs all might have been well.”

The disaster of the First Afghan War was a substantial contributing factor to the outbreak of the Great Mutiny in the Bengal Army in 1857.

The successful defence of Jellalabad and the progress of the Army of Retribution in 1842 could do only a little in retrieving the loss of the East India Company’s reputation.

Map of the route from Kabul to Jellalabad and the border of India: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War: map by John Fawkes

Account of the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak:
Following the British capture of Kandahar and Ghuznee, Dost Mohammed, whose replacement on the throne in Kabul by Shah Shujah was the purpose of the British expedition into Afghanistan, despairing of the support of his army fled to the hills. On 7 th August 1839 Shah Shujah and the British and Indian Army entered Kabul.

Dost Mohammed’s abandoned guns: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War: contemporary picture by James Atkinson

The British official controlling the expedition was Sir William Macnaghten, the Viceroy’s Envoy, acting with his staff of political officers.

At first all went well. British money and the powerful Anglo-Indian Army kept the Afghan tribes in controllable bounds, pacifying the Ameers with bribes and forays into the surrounding districts.

Surrender of Dost Mohammed to Sir William Macnaughten: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War

In November 1840 during a raid into Kohistan, two squadrons of Bengal cavalry failed to follow their officers in a charge against a small force of Afghans led by Dost Mohammed himself. Soon afterwards, despairing of his life in the mountains, Dost Mohammed surrendered to Macnaghten and went into exile in India, escorted by a division of British and Indian troops no longer required in Afghanistan and accompanied by the commander in chief Sir Willoughby Cotton.

In December 1840, Shah Shujah and Macnaghten withdrew to Jellalabad for the ferocious Afghan winter, returning to Kabul in the spring of 1841.

On the assumption that the establishment of Shah Shujah as Ameer was complete, the British and Indian troops were required to move out of the Balla Hissar, a fortified palace of considerable strength outside Kabul, and build for themselves conventional cantonments. A further complete brigade of the force was withdrawn, leaving the remaining regiments to settle into garrison life as if in India, summoning families to join them, building a race course and disporting themselves under the increasingly menacing Afghan gaze.

Balar Hissar and Kabul: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War

There were plenty of signs of trouble. The Ghilzai tribes in the Khyber repeatedly attacked British supply columns from India. Tribal revolt made Northern Baluchistan virtually ungovernable. Shah Shujah’s writ did not run outside the main cities, particularly in the south-western areas around the Helmond River.

Sir William Cotton was replaced as commander in chief of the British and Indian forces by General Elphinstone, an elderly invalid now incapable of directing an army in the field, but with sufficient spirit to prevent any other officer from exercising proper command in his place.

The fate of the British and Indian forces in Afghanistan in the winter of 1840 to 1841 provides a striking illustration of the collapse of morale and military efficiency, where the officers in command are indecisive and lacking in initiative and self-confidence. The only senior officer left in Afghanistan with any ability was Brigadier Nott, the garrison commander at Kandahar.

Balar Hissar Fortress and the city of Kabul: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War

Crisis struck in October 1841. In that month, Brigadier Sale took his brigade out of Kabul as part of the force reductions and began the march through the mountain passes to Peshawar and India. During the journey, his column was subjected to repeated attack by Ghilzai tribesmen and the armed retainers of the Kabul Ameers. Sale’s brigade, which included the 13th Foot, fought through to Gandamak, where a message was received summoning the force back to Kabul, Sale did not comply with the order and continued to Jellalabad.

Murder of Sir Alexander Burnes in Kabul: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War: picture by Richard Caton Woodville

In Kabul, serious trouble had broken out. On 2 nd November 1841, an Afghan mob stormed the house of Sir Alexander Burnes, one of the senior British political officers, and murdered him and several of his staff. It is the authoritative assessment that if the British had reacted with vigour and severity the Kabul rising could have been controlled. But such a reaction was beyond Elphinstone’s abilities. All he could do was refuse to give his deputy, Brigadier Shelton, the discretion to take such measures.

Until the end of the year the situation of the Kabul force deteriorated, as the Afghans harried them and deprived them of supplies and pressed them more closely.

On 23 rd December 1841 Macnaghten was lured to a meeting with several Afghan Ameers and murdered. While the Kabulis awaited a swift retribution the British and Indian regiments cowered fearful in their cantonments.

The Murder of Sir William Macnaughten: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War

Attempts to clear the high ground that enabled the Afghans to dominate the cantonments failed miserably, because the troops were too cowed to be capable of aggressive action.

Afghan tribesmen: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War: contemporary picture by James Atkinson

The beginning of the end came on 6 th January 1842, when the British and Indian garrison, 4,500 soldiers, including 690 Europeans, and 12,000 wives, children and civilian servants, following a purported agreement with the Ameers guaranteeing safe conduct to India, marched out of the cantonments and began the terrible journey to the Khyber Pass and on to India.

As part of the agreement with the Ameers, all the guns were to be left to the Afghans except for one horse artillery battery and three mountain guns, and a number of British officers and their families were required to surrender as hostages, taking them from the nightmare slaughter of the march into relative security.

In spite of the binding undertaking to protect the retreating army, the column was attacked from the moment it left the Kabul cantonments.

The army managed to march six miles on the first day. The night was spent without tents or cover, many troops and camp followers dying of cold.

The next day, 7 th January 1842, the march continued. Brigadier Shelton, after his ineffectiveness as Elphinstone’s deputy, showed his worth by leading the counter attacks of the rear-guard to cover the main body.

Grove and Valley of Jugduluk: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War

At Bootkhak, the Kabul Ameer, Akbar Khan, arrived, claiming he had been deputed to ensure the army completed its journey without further harassment. He insisted that the column halt and camp, extorting a large sum of money and insisting that further officers be given up as hostages. One of the conditions negotiated was that the British abandon Kandahar and Jellalabad. Akbar Khan required the hostages to ensure Brigadier Sale left Jellalabad and withdrew to India.

The next day found the force so debilitated by the freezing night that few of the soldiers were fit for duty. The column struggled into the narrow five-mile-long Khoord Cabul pass, to be fired on for its whole length by the tribesmen posted on the heights on each side. The rear-guard was formed of men from the 44 th Regiment, who fought to keep the tribesmen at bay. 3,000 casualties were left in the gorge.

Afghan tribesmen attacking the Anglo-Indian army in the Koord Kabul pass: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War

On 9 th January 1842, Akbar Khan required further hostages, being the remaining married officers with their families. For the next two days, the column pushed on through the passes, fighting off the incessant attacks of the tribesmen.

On the evening of 11 th January 1842, Akbar Khan compelled General Elphinstone and Brigadier Shelton to surrender as hostages, leaving the command to Brigadier Anquetil. The troops reached the Jugdulluk crest to find the road blocked by a thorn abatis manned by Ghilzai tribesmen. A desperate attack was mounted, the horse artillery driving their remaining guns at the abatis, but few managed to pass this fatal obstruction.

The final stand took place at Gandamak on the morning of 13 th January 1842 in the snow. 20 officers and 45 European soldiers, mostly from the 44 th Foot, found themselves surrounded on a hillock. The Afghans attempted to persuade the soldiers that they intended them no harm. Then the sniping began, followed a series of rushes. Captain Souter wrapped the colours of the regiment around his body and was dragged into captivity with two or three soldiers. The remainder were shot or cut down. Only six mounted officers escaped. Of these, five were murdered along the road.

Afghan tribesmen attacking the Anglo-Indian army in the Koord Kabul pass: Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak 1842 during the First Afghan War

On the afternoon of 13 th January 1842, the British troops in Jellalabad, watching for their comrades of the Kabul garrison, saw a single figure ride up to the town walls. It was Dr Brydon, the sole survivor of the column.

Casualties at the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak:
The entire force of 690 British soldiers, 2,840 Indian soldiers and 12,000 followers were killed, or, in a few cases, taken prisoner. The 44 th Foot lost 22 officers and 645 soldiers, mostly killed. Afghan casualties, largely Ghilzai tribesmen, are unknown.

Follow-up to the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak:
The massacre of this substantial British and Indian force caused a profound shock throughout the British Empire. Lord Auckland, the Viceroy of India, is said to have suffered a stroke on hearing the news. Brigadier Sale and his troops in Jellalabad for a time contemplated retreating to India, but more resolute councils prevailed, particularly from Captains Broadfoot and Havelock, and the garrison hung on to act as the springboard for the entry of the ‘Army of Retribution’ into Afghanistan the next year.

‘Remnants of an Army’: Dr Brydon, last survivor of the Anglo-Indian Army in the retreat from Kabul and the Battle of Gandamak in January 1842 during the First Afghan War: picture by Lady Butler

Anecdotes and traditions from the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak:

  • The First Afghan War provided the clear lesson to the British authorities that, while it may be relatively straightforward to invade Afghanistan, it is wholly impracticable to occupy the country or attempt to impose a government not welcomed by the inhabitants. The only result will be failure and great expense in treasure and lives.
  • The British Army learnt a number of lessons from this sorry episode. One was that the political officers must not be permitted to predominate over military judgments.
  • The War provides a fascinating illustration of how the character and determination of its leaders can be decisive in determining the morale and success of a military expedition.
  • It is extraordinary that officers, particularly senior officers like Elphinstone and Shelton, felt able to surrender themselves as hostages, thereby ensuring their survival, while their soldiers struggled on, to be massacred by the Afghans.

References for the Battle of Kabul and the Retreat to Gandamak:
Afghanistan From Darius to Amanullah by Lieutenant General Sir George McMunn.

The Afghan Wars by Archibald Forbes.

History of the British Army by Fortescue

The previous battle in the First Afghan War is the Battle of Ghuznee

The next battle in the First Afghan War is the Siege of Jellalabad


Birthdays in History

    Caspar Cruciger, German church reformer Pius V [Antonio Ghislieri], Italian Pope (1566-72) who excommunicated Elizabeth I of England and arranged the formation of the Holy League (Battle of Lepanto), born in Bosco, Duchy of Milan (d. 1572) Guru Angad Dev, second Sikh guru, born in Matte Di Sarai, Muktsar, Panjab (d. 1552) George/Joris van Egmont, bishop of Utrecht Heinrich Bullinger, Swiss religious reformer, born in Bremgarten, Switzerland (d. 1575) Matthew "Nosey" Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, born in Norwich, England (d. 1575) Philip I (the Generous), Landgrave of Hesse and important early protestant ruler, born in Marburg, Landgraviate of Hesse, Holy Roman Empire (d. 1567)

Years: 1504 - 1876 Subject: History, Regional and National History
Publisher: HistoryWorld Online Publication Date: 2012
Current online version: 2012 eISBN: 9780191737626

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Watch the video: Kabul: Now and Then (January 2022).