(Last Updated on : 20/01/2012)
Humayun (1530-1556) ascended the throne after the death of his father Babur
. He was born on 6th of March 1508 A.D. Humayun did not inherit the wisdom of his father and had to encounter several difficulties on his accession to the throne. Humayun was threatened from all sides by the imminent danger posed by the Afghan claimants to the throne and dispute over his succession. His own character, his brothers and relatives and the legacy from Babur created several problems for him.
Early Difficulties of Humayun
The Empire that Babur inherited from Babur was unstable as Babur did not get time to consolidate the conquests in India. All the three brothers of Humayun proved not only incapable but disloyal as well to their elder brother. When the Mughal Empire needed the cooperation and unity in the Mughal camp, the brothers of Humayun divided its resources by emphasising on their selfish ends and ambitions. While Humayun needed help from his brothers, they became indifferent towards him. Thus, each of his brothers created problems for Humayun at one time or the other. Babur had assigned large jagirs to his relatives. That made them quite powerful and enhanced their ambitions. One of them Mahdi Khwaja aspired for the throne just after the death of Babur. Another two relations of Humayun, viz Muhammad Zaman Mirza, his brother-in-law and Muhammad Sultan Mirza, his cousin, revolted against him and helped his enemies. The absence of a unified army also created a lot of trouble for Humayun.
Contest with the Afghans
The worst enemies of Humayun were, however, the Afghans. They were the masters of Delhi
only a few years back and they did not give up the ambition to capture it again. Mahmud Lodi had fled towards Bihar
and was getting active support from Masrat Shah of Bengal to make a fresh attempt to capture Delhi. Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat was also an Afghan. He was brave and ambitious. He had conquered Malwa and was increasing his pressure on Rajasthan
, particularly, on Mewar
. Many fugitive Afghan nobles had found shelter under him. Another Afghan chief, Sher Khan, was shrewdly attempting to organise the Afghans against the Mughals. He was an insignificant opponent of Humayun at that time but later on he proved himself to be the strongest enemy of Humayun and finally succeeded to turn out Humayun from India.
Contest with Sher Shah
Humayun was absolutely puzzled, handling Sher Shah Suri. Heedless of Sher Shah's or Sher Khan's scheme for his dethronement, Humayan smelt risk only in the eleventh hour. He suffered a depressing defeat in the hands of the extraordinary commander, Sher Shah Suri in the Battle of Chausa, 1539. He escaped to Persia in 1540, to fly away from the clutches of this powerful enemy. Sher Shah proved to be a much better ruler with astonishing administrative capabilities. Akbar later followed the model of Sher Shah's administrative structure. Humayun spent many years meaninglessly, being housed as a refugee in the Safavid court of Shah Tahmasp, the Shah of Iran. Ultimately his chance of retrieving the lost glory came in the year 1544. Humayun was diplomatic enough to win Shah Tahmasp's patronage with a gift of a precious diamond. The support of the huge Iranian army recollected for Humayun the land of Afghanistan. Sher Khan's untimely demise cleared all obstructions for Humayun. Even Sher Shah Suri's son, Islam Shah died. The dispersed Suri states, fighting among themselves, were no big trouble for Humayun. In 1554 he attacked them. Finally in 1555 the dream hold of Delhi became the reality.
Humayun was a brave person. But, as a king, he suffered from certain weaknesses. He was neither a capable commander nor a diplomat. He failed to understand the magnanimity of his problems, to provide strong leadership to his followers and lacked the capability of continuing hard labour. However, the greatest weakness of Humayun was his extreme generosity which became one of the causes of his failure. As a person, Humayun possessed many qualities of head and heart. He was well-educated and cultured. He knew Turki and Persian well. Besides, he was interested in the study of Geography, Mathematics, Astronomy and Muslim theology. He was an obedient son, lovable husband, affectionate father and a good relative. He was extremely generous towards his nobles and soldiers arc shared with them all his successes and failures. He provided patronage to all scholars without discriminating on grounds of religion or race and, thereby, his court had become the centre of learning and culture. He was a courageous and a capable soldier prepared to face all odds in his life. He participated in all important battles of his life and risked his life many a times.
In 1556, Humayun died a sad death falling off the stairs. With all his weaknesses, Humayun has a significant place in the history of medieval India. He was succeeded by his able and competent son Akbar.