Humayun’s (1530–1540) | Retreat & Back


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After the death of Babur in 1530, his son Humayun succeeded him.

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Major Problems

The situation under Humayun was quite desperate. The main problems faced by Humayun were:

  1. The newly conquered territories and administration was not consolidated.
  2. Unlike Babur, Humayun did not command the respect and esteem of Mughal nobility.
  3. The Chaghatai nobles were not favourably inclined towards him and the Indian nobles, who had joined Babur’s service, deserted the Mughals at Humayun’s accession.
  4. He also confronted the hostility of the Afghans mainly Sher Khan in Bihar on the one hand and Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat, on the other.
  5. As per the Timurid tradition Humayun had to share power with his brothers. The newly established Mughal empire had two centres of power –
    • Humayun was in control of Delhi, Agra and Central India;
    • His brother Kamran had Afghanistan and Punjab under him.

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Tough Way Ahead

Humayun felt that the Afghans were a bigger threat. He wanted to avoid a combined opposition of Afghans from east and the west. At that time Bahadur Shah had occupied Bhilsa, Raisen, Ujjain and Gagron and was consolidating his power. While Humayun was besieging Chunar in the east, Bahadur Shah had started expanding towards Malwa and Rajputana. In such a situation Humayun was forced to rush back to Agra (1532–33).

Continuing his expansionist policy, Bahadur Shah attacked Chittor in 1534. Chittor had strategic advantage as it could provide a strong base. It would have helped his expansion in Rajasthan particularly towards Ajmer, Nagor and Ranthambhor.

Humayun captured Mandu and camped there because he thought that from here he can block Bahadur Shah’s return to Gujarat. Humayun’s long absence from Agra resulted in rebellions in Doab and Agra and he had to rush back. Mandu was now left under the charge of Mirza Askari, the brother of Humayun.

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During the period when Humayun was busy in Gujarat to check Bahadur Shah, Sher Shah started consolidating himself in Bihar and Bengal.

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Sher Shah & Humayun

Humayun was quite suspicious of Sher Shah’s ambitions but failed to estimate his capabilities. He asked his governor of Jaunpur, Hindu Beg to check the movements of Sher Shah. While Humayun was moving towards Bengal, Sher Shah took control of route to Agra making communication difficult for Humayun.

On the other hand, Hindal Mirza, brother of Humayun, who was supposed to provide supplies for his army, declared his independence. Now, Humayun decided to return to Chunar.

When he reached Chausa (1539), he encamped on the western side of the river Karmnasa. Sher Shah attacked Humayun at the bank of the river and defeated him.

Sher Shah declared himself as an independent king. Humayun could escape but most of his army was destroyed. With difficulty he could reach Agra.

His brother Kamran moved out of Agra towards Lahore leaving Humayun with small force.

Sher Shah now moved towards Agra. Humayun also came forward with his army and the armies of the two clashed at Kannauj. Humayun was defeated badly in the battle of Kannauj (1540).

After defeating Humayun, Sher Khan took control of the Mughal Empire and became sovereign ruler in the year 1540 and assumed the title of Sher Shah. This led to the foundation of Second Afghan Empire.

Sher Shah followed Humayun on his flight till Sindh in the North West and expelled him out.

More on Sher Shah

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Return Of Humayun

In 1545, while besieging the fort of Kalinjar, Sher Shah died in an accidental blast of gun powder. Sher Shah was succeeded by his son Islam Shah. Islam Shah had to face a number of conflicts with his brother Adil Khan and many Afghan nobles. He died in 1553. The second Afghan empire was now substantially weakened.

Humayun saw an opportunity and moved towards India. He again captured his lost kingdom by 1555. In 1555 Humayun conquered Agra and Delhi and established himself as the emperor of India. Before he could consolidate his position he died after falling from the stairs of the library at Sher Mandal (in Delhi) in 1556.

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Bibliography : NIOS – Medieval India

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