Nasir-ud-Din Muḥammad (translit=Nasīr-ad-Dīn Muhammad; 6 March 1508 – 27 January 1556), better known by his regnal name, Humayun (translit=Humāyūn), was the Mughal emperors of the Mughal Empire, who ruled over territory in what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern India, and Bangladesh from 1530–1540 and again from 1555–1556. Like his father, Babur, he lost his kingdom early but regained it with the aid of the Safavid dynasty of Persia, with additional territory. At the time of his death in 1556, the Mughal Empire spanned almost one million square kilometres.
In December 1530, Humayun succeeded his father to the throne of Delhi as ruler of the Mughal territories in the Indian subcontinent. Humayun was an inexperienced ruler when he came to power, at the age of 22. His half-brother Kamran Mirza inherited Kabul and Kandahar, the northernmost parts of their father's empire. Mirza was to become a bitter rival of Humayun.
Humayun lost Mughal territories to Sher Shah Suri, but regained them 15 years later with Safavid aid. Humayun's return from Persia was accompanied by a large retinue of Persian noblemen and signalled an important change in Mughal court culture. The Moghulistan of the dynasty were largely overshadowed by the influences of Persian art, architecture, Persian language, and literature. There are many stone carvings and thousands of Persian manuscripts in India dating from the time of Humayun.
Subsequently, Humayun further expanded the Empire in a very short time, leaving a substantial legacy for his son, Akbar.
Timur himself had divided his territories among Pir Muhammad, Miran Shah, Khalil Sultan and Shah Rukh, which resulted in inter-family warfare.Sharaf Al-Din: "Zafar-nama". Upon Babur's death, Humayun's territories were the least secure. He had ruled only four years, and not all umarah (nobles) viewed Humayun as the rightful ruler. Indeed, earlier, when Babur had become ill, some of the nobles had tried to install his Brother-in-law, Mahdi Khwaja, as ruler. Although this attempt failed, it was a sign of problems to come.Nizamuddin Ahmad: "Tabaqat-i-Akbari".
Humayun had two major rivals for his lands: Sultan Bahadur of Gujarat to the southwest and Sher Shah Suri (Sher Khan) settled along the river Ganges in Bihar to the east. Humayun's first campaign was to confront Sher Shah Suri. Halfway through this offensive Humayun had to abandon it and concentrate on Gujarat, where a threat from Ahmed Shah had to be met. Humayun was victorious annexing Gujarat, Malwa, Champaner and the great fort of Mandu.
During the first five years of Humayun's reign, Bahadur and Sher Khan extended their rule, although Sultan Bahadur faced pressure in the east from sporadic conflicts with the Portugal. While the Mughals had obtained firearms via the Ottoman Empire, Bahadur's Gujarat had acquired them through a series of contracts drawn up with the Portuguese, allowing the Portuguese to establish a strategic foothold in north western India.
In 1535 Humayun was made aware that the Sultan of Gujarat was planning an assault on the Mughal territories with Portuguese aid. Humayun gathered an army and marched on Bahadur. Within a month he had captured the forts of Mandu and Champaner. However, instead of pressing his attack, Humayun ceased the campaign and consolidated his newly conquered territory. Sultan Bahadur, meanwhile escaped and took up refuge with the Portuguese.
Whilst Humayun succeeded in protecting Agra from Sher Shah, the second city of the Empire, Gaur the capital of the vilayat of Bengal, was sacked. Humayun's troops had been delayed while trying to take Chunar, a fort occupied by Sher Shah's son, in order to protect his troops from an attack from the rear. The stores of grain at Gauri, the largest in the empire, were emptied, and Humayun arrived to see corpses littering the roads. The vast wealth of Bengal was depleted and brought East, giving Sher Shah a substantial war chest.
Sher Shah withdrew to the east, but Humayun did not follow: instead he "shut himself up for a considerable time in his Harem, and indulged himself in every kind of luxury".Jauhar: "Tadhkirat al-Waqiat". Hindal, Humayun's 19-year-old brother, had agreed to aid him in this battle and protect the rear from attack, but he abandoned his position and withdrew to Agra, where he decreed himself acting emperor. When Humayun sent the grand Mufti, Sheikh Buhlul, to reason with him; the Sheikh was killed. Further provoking the rebellion, Hindal ordered that the Khutba, or sermon, in the main mosque surrounded.: "Hindal ... had been stationed ... for the purpose of securing Humayun's rear, but he had deserted his post ... another brother, Kamran, ... was also converging on Delhi from his territories in the Punjap – ostensibly to help Humayun but in reality ... to stake his own claim to his brother's crumbling empire. Kamran dissuaded Hindal from further open disloyalty, but ... the two brothers now disregarded Humayun's urgent appeals for help on his dangerous journey back through the territory which had been relinquished by Hindal to Sher Khan."
Humayun's other brother, Kamran Mirza, marched from his territories in the Punjab, ostensibly to aid Humayun. However, his return home had treacherous motives as he intended to stake a claim for Humayun's apparently collapsing empire. He brokered a deal with Hindal providing that his brother would cease all acts of disloyalty in return for a share in the new empire, which Kamran would create once Humayun was deposed.
In June 1539 Sher Shah met Humayun in the Battle of Chausa on the banks of the Ganges, near Buxar. This was to become an entrenched battle in which both sides spent a lot of time digging themselves into positions. The major part of the Mughal army, the artillery, was now immobile, and Humayun decided to engage in some diplomacy using Muhammad Aziz as ambassador. Humayun agreed to allow Sher Shah to rule over Bengal and Bihar, but only as provinces granted to him by his Emperor, Humayun, falling short of outright sovereignty. The two rulers also struck a bargain in order to save face: Humayun's troops would charge those of Sher Shah whose forces then retreat in feigned fear. Thus honour would, supposedly, be satisfied.Badauni: "Muntakhab al-Tawarikh".
Once the Army of Humayun had made its charge and Sher Shah's troops made their agreed-upon retreat, the Mughal troops relaxed their defensive preparations and returned to their entrenchments without posting a proper guard. Observing the Mughals' vulnerability, Sher Shah reneged on his earlier agreement. That very night, his army approached the Mughal camp and finding the Mughal troops unprepared with a majority asleep, they advanced and killed most of them. The Emperor survived by swimming across the Ganges using an air-filled "water skin", and quietly returned to Agra.Rama Shankar Avasthy: "The Mughal Emperor Humayun".: "Humayun's brief advance brought his army out of its prepared defensive position, and Sher Shah, having withdrawn a few miles, returned at night to find the Mogul camp asleep and unprepared. The emperor himself escaped only because one of his water-bearers inflated his water-skin with air for Humayun to hold in his arms and float across ... Humayun crept back to Agra." Humayun was assisted across the Ganges by Shams al-Din Muhammad.
When Kamran returned to Lahore, Humayun, with his other brothers Askari and Hindal, marched to meet Sher Shah east of Agra at the battle of Kannauj on 17 May 1540. Humayun was soundly defeated. He retreated to Agra, pursued by Sher Shah, and thence through Delhi to Lahore. Sher Shah's founding of the short-lived Sur Empire, with its capital at Delhi, resulted in Humayun's exile for 15 years in the court of Shah Tahmasp I.
Rana Prasad Rao of Umerkot duly welcomed Humayun into his home and sheltered the refugees for several months. Here, in the household of a Hindu Rajput nobleman, Humayun's wife Hamida Bano, daughter of a Sindhi family, gave birth to the future Emperor Akbar on 15 October 1542. The date of birth is well established because Humayun consulted his astronomer to utilise the astrolabe and check the location of the planets. The infant was the long-awaited heir-apparent to the 34-year-old Humayun and the answer of many prayers. Shortly after the birth, Humayun and his party left Amarkot for Sindh, leaving Akbar behind, who was not ready for the grueling journey ahead in his infancy. He was later adopted by Askari Mirza.
For a change, Humayun was not deceived in the character of the man on whom he has pinned his hopes. Emir Hussein Umrani, ruler of Sindh, welcomed Humayun's presence and was loyal to Humayun just as he had been loyal to Babur against the renegade . While in Sindh, Humayun alongside Emir Hussein Umrani, gathered horses and weapons and formed new alliances that helped regain lost territories. Until finally Humayun had gathered hundreds of Sindhis and Baloch people tribesmen alongside his Mughals and then marched towards Kandahar and later Kabul, thousands more gathered by his side as Humayun continually declared himself the rightful Timurid dynasty heir of the first Mughal Emperor, Babur.
In Kamran Mirza's territory, Hindal Mirza had been placed under house arrest in Kabul after refusing to have the Khutba recited in Kamran Mirza's name. His other brother Askari Mirza was now ordered to gather an army and march on Humayun. When Humayun received word of the approaching hostile army he decided against facing them, and instead sought refuge elsewhere. Akbar was left behind in camp close to Kandahar for, as it was December it would have been too cold and dangerous to include the 14-month-old toddler in the forthcoming march through the dangerous and snowy mountains of the Hindu Kush. Askari Mirza found Akbar in the camp, and embraced him, and allowed his own wife to parent him, she apparently started treating him as her own.
He was introduced to the work of the Persian miniaturists, and Kamaleddin Behzad had two of his pupils join Humayun in his court. Humayun was amazed at their work and asked if they would work for him if he were to regain the sovereignty of Hindustan: they agreed. With so much going on Humayun did not even meet the Shah until July, some six months after his arrival in Persia. After a lengthy journey from Herat the two met in Qazvin where a large feast and parties were held for the event. The meeting of the two monarchs is depicted in a famous wall-painting in the Chehel Sotoun (Forty Columns) palace in Esfahan.
The Shah urged that Humayun convert from Sunni to Shia Islam, and Humayun eventually accepted, in order to keep himself and several hundred followers alive. Although the Mughals initially disagreed to their conversion they knew that with this outward acceptance of Shi'ism, Shah Tahmasp was eventually prepared to offer Humayun more substantial support. When Humayun's brother, Kamran Mirza, offered to cede Kandahar to the Persians in exchange for Humayun, dead or alive, Shah Tahmasp refused. Instead the Shah staged a celebration for Humayun, with 300 tents, an imperial Persian carpet, 12 musical bands and "meat of all kinds". Here the Shah announced that all this, and 12,000 elite cavalry were his to lead an attack on his brother Kamran. All that Shah Tahmasp asked for was that, if Humayun's forces were victorious, Kandahar would be his.
Humayun now prepared to take Kabul, ruled by his brother Kamran Mirza. In the end, there was no actual siege. Kamran Mirza was detested as a leader and as Humayun's Persian army approached the city hundreds of Kamran Mirza's troops changed sides, flocking to join Humayun and swelling his ranks. Kamran Mirza absconded and began building an army outside the city. In November 1545, Hamida and Humayun were reunited with their son Akbar, and held a huge feast. They also held another, larger, feast in the child's honour when he was Circumcision.
However, while Humayun had a larger army than his brother and had the upper hand, on two occasions his poor military judgement allowed Kamran Mirza to retake Kabul and Kandahar, forcing Humayun to mount further campaigns for their recapture. He may have been aided in this by his reputation for leniency towards the troops who had defended the cities against him, as opposed to Kamran Mirza, whose brief periods of possession were marked by atrocities against the inhabitants who, he supposed, had helped his brother.
His youngest brother, Hindal Mirza, formerly the most disloyal of his siblings, died fighting on his behalf. His brother Askari Mirza was shackled in chains at the behest of his nobles and aides. He was allowed go on Hajj, and died en route in the desert outside Damascus.
Humayun's other brother, Kamran Mirza, had repeatedly sought to have Humayun killed. In 1552 Kamran Mirza attempted to make a pact with Islam Shah, Sher Shah's successor, but was apprehended by a Gakhars. The Gakhars were one of the minority of tribal groups who had consistently remained loyal to their oath to the Mughals. Sultan Adam of the Gakhars handed Kamran Mirza over to Humayun. Humayun was inclined to forgive his brother. However he was warned that allowing Kamran Mirza's repeated acts of treachery to go unpunished could foment rebellion amongst his own supporters. So, instead of killing his brother, Humayun had Kamran Mirza blinded which would end any claim by the latter to the throne. Humayun sent Kamran Mirza on Hajj, as he hoped to see his brother thereby absolved of his offences. However Kamran Mirza died close to Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula in 1557.
The Mughal Emperor Humayun gathered a vast army and attempted the challenging task of retaking the throne in Delhi. Humayun placed the army under the leadership of Bairam Khan, a wise move given Humayun's own record of military ineptitude, and it turned out to be prescient as Bairam proved himself a great tactician. At the Battle of Sirhind on 22 June 1555, the armies of Sikandar Shah Suri were decisively defeated and the Mughal Empire was re-established in India.
Bairam Khan led the army through the Punjab virtually unopposed. The fort of Rohtas Fort, which was built in 1541–1543 by Sher Shah Suri to crush the Gakhars who were loyal to Humayun, was surrendered without a shot by a treacherous commander. The walls of the Rohtas Fort measure up to 12.5 meters in thickness and up to 18.28 meters in height. They extend for 4 km and feature 68 semi-circular bastions. Its sandstone gates, both massive and ornate, are thought to have exerted a profound influence on Mughal military architecture.
The only major battle faced by Humayun's armies was against Sikander Suri in Sirhind, where Bairam Khan employed a tactic whereby he engaged his enemy in open battle, but then retreated quickly in apparent fear. When the enemy followed after them they were surprised by entrenched defensive positions and were easily annihilated.
After Sirhind, most towns and villages chose to welcome the invading army as it made its way to the capital. On 23 July 1555, Humayun once again sat on Babur's throne in Delhi.
Humayun ordered the crushing by elephant of an imam he mistakenly believed to be critical of his reign.Eraly, Abraham. ' Mughal Throne: The Saga of India's Great Emperors'', Phoenix House, 2005. , p. 45.